Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – October 27, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Opening Comments:

“Injuries for today, [DL Maurice] Mo Hurst, calf, won’t be out there. [DT Javon] Kinlaw, knee, won’t practice. T [Trent] Williams, ankle, won’t practice. [LB] Azeez [Al-Shaair], concussion, won’t practice. [WR] Deebo [Samuel] has a calf, won’t practice. [DL] Dee Ford, concussion won’t practice. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, knee, won’t practice. [LB] Marcell [Harris], thumb, limited and [QB] Trey Lance, knee, limited. Go ahead.”

Is Deebo’s calf injury a concern?

“He can’t go today. He was out there in walk-through, I’m pretty optimistic he’ll be alright though.”

With Kinlaw, I know you’re talking about the next steps. Is it conceivable the next step would be a season-ending surgery?

“Yes. Right now, he’s down in L.A., trying to figure that out, whether he’s going to get surgery or not, and what kind of surgery. And I think we’ll get some news on that pretty soon.”

As far as Azeez and the linebacker situation, I think there was discussion that LB Dre Greenlaw, his practice window would open this week? Is that still the case?

“It’s not looking like it right now.”

Do you have any updates on Greenlaw, DL Kevin Givens and RB Jeff Wilson Jr.?

“Givens starts today, his window. I’m hoping Greenlaw will come back next week. Jeff, probably will be a couple of weeks.”

Are you optimistic that you’ll get contributions from Jeff this season?

“Yes. Yeah. It’s going well, these last two weeks have been good. So hopefully he’s on track to be back here in a couple of weeks. Maybe the outside chance to practice next week, but you know how that goes.”

Nothing with WR Jalen Hurd?

“No, nothing with Hurd.”

How much is Trey able to do today?

“That’s what we’re going to see. We’re going to put him in a couple of reps there on scout team and see how he feels moving around. See how he does in individual and see how it goes that way. If he feels alright and no soreness after practice we’ll pick it up tomorrow.”

Obviously, there’s a lot of interest in the quarterback situation and how you handle this. Do you get those questions from ownership and general manager John Lynch as well? Do you guys talk a lot about just the organizational strategy on how to handle both QB Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey?

“Yeah. We’re always on the same page with that stuff, there’s not that much to talk to them about it. They know how I feel and I know how they feel. I get all the questions and everything like that, but we didn’t draft Trey to just fix this year. We drafted him so he could be the quarterback here of the future. And I get that’s a matter of time, but we’re not playing him just because of what our record is or just because of that. So that’s why our first thing in our discussions is how healthy is he and how’s he going to look today? But just because of how our last four games have gone, that doesn’t really effect whether we’re playing Trey or not right now.”

Do you get any suggestions or input from ownership and management on how to proceed or is it just totally your call?

“Everything’s your boss’s call, but there isn’t a disagreement, I think, in everything we talk about. So, I think we’re pretty much on the same page with all that.”

You talked a lot during training camp about the progress Trey made from OTAs to the start of training camp. What’s his progress been like since the start of training camp to now?

“I think it’s been good. I think it was real unfortunate that, at the time he got to play, I thought he was ready to take off a little bit after that getting that experience. I thought that that was going to be great for him to come back the next week, especially with Jimmy banged up a little bit, but he had an unfortunate injury and it’s lasting a little longer than expected. So, I’m excited to get him out there today. But he hasn’t done anything in a couple of weeks, so we’ll see where his progress is now.”

In what areas does a rookie quarterback who’s not playing in games make the most progress? Is the scout team work valuable for him, and if so, what is it that’s valuable?

“Everything’s valuable. Trey has played one year in college at a smaller school. Had a year off after that. Not because of him, but just because of the rules of their COVID and everything. Got about five practices in OTAs and we went through training camp. So the more football you can play the better, especially at this level. I think scout team’s great for guys, because they’re going in against a different game plan every week. They’re trying different plays every week. And it’s stuff where you can try the plays out, get a feel for the pocket and when to break and stuff like that. And I think if you look at a lot of rookie quarterbacks and you talk to a lot, not always do guys get to play much on scout team. And I think everyone who has, would tell you that it was very beneficial.”

I know you’re not a doctor and neither am I, but my initial diagnosis based on what you said about Trey was it sounded like a grade one MCL. Is that what it was?

“I don’t think they labeled it that way, but we were hoping that it would be alright next week and it wasn’t. I think they said sprain knee. They didn’t tell me grade one MCL though.”

It was reported yesterday that the New England Patriots offered a second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo sometime around the draft and the 49ers said no. Is there any truth to that?

“No, none. I’d also like to not keep answering questions about a book. I promise if that was the case, then I would have talked to their head coach.”

You indicated on Monday, you said even, a situation where maybe you’re out of the playoffs, getting Trey quarterback experience just to get experience isn’t always beneficial. And obviously there are examples throughout NFL history where that’s correct former NFL QB David Carr got ruined or whatever, but then Hall of Fame QBs Troy Aikman, John Elway, and Peyton Manning went through their struggles and obviously survived. How do you make the determination of whether, ‘Hey, actually, this guy is going to be okay and this will be beneficial, or eh this is maybe just not their time?’

“Well, you never know until they get in. And that does take time. You want to put a guy in the best circumstances for him so you have better percentages and chances of it working out in a good way for him. Whether it is good or bad, you don’t know, you want that to lead to him having a good offseason and what goes into the next season. But the reason I answered that is because I understand the 2000 different ways for us to ask the same type of question. And I get that because we’ve lost four games in a row and we’re sitting here at 2-4 and that’s the easy thing to talk about, but that’s not a very smart thing of us. You don’t just do that because you’re not playing the way you want to play and think you’re just going to put in a rookie and he’s going to be the answer to everything. I don’t think that’s fair to him and I don’t think that’s right for our team.”

I have another quarterback question but it’s totally different.

“Alright, good. I’m sure it’s real different.”

After you got Jimmy in 2017, you said your wife was even saying, ‘come on, when are you going to actually play him?’ Is she interested in when Trey Lance is going to get in?

“No, she’s not actually. She gets more answers from me, but I think it was a little different circumstance. We were 0-9 at the time and we traded for a guy who had been in the NFL for three years and had been patiently waiting and needed to get out there. It wasn’t about that and for him it was about giving him a chance to actually know what direction to look and to learn our offense so he had an idea of where people were when you called a different language for him. And I think that took him about three weeks.”

That first start he made for you was the same place you’re going this weekend. In that time since then, how has he grown in your eyes? What ways is he better now than maybe he was, even in 2019?

“You go into those times and that was his first time there and he’s just playing catch up every week. Throughout practice the whole week and everything, he didn’t really have a grasp of what we were doing until that Saturday night. And that’s why we were so impressed, what he did in those five and a half games I think it was or six games. The next year he tore his ACL within two games. The year after that he got off to a slow start in ‘19, not having the offseason, recovering from his ACL. But about halfway through there, he got going and was able to stay healthy that whole year and played as one full season. And then since then, I haven’t gotten many games in a row with him. And I know he’s battled through a lot of that stuff. I think he’s had a great offseason. I thought he’s been having a good year, up to when he got hurt versus Seattle. And he had a tough game there in that rainstorm, which not giving excuses, but when it comes to throwing the ball, I know that’s not fun for anybody. But that’s where we’re at right now.”

Is it fair to say that you simply don’t think Trey Lance is ready to start full-time yet?

“I don’t think it’s the right thing for him to start full-time right now, especially when I don’t even know if he can get through practice today. So, I told you guys I understood why the questions are coming, but that’s why I don’t understand why that keeps coming because I want to see if he’s healthy today first. And then when he’s healthy for at least more than one day, then we’ll start to see when it’s the best time for him, which I don’t think that’s crazy at all to think now’s the best time for him when he’s going to come out to practice limited for first time in two weeks.”

When you look at the pass interference penalties, do you guys have a plan in place? Do you change things up in practice or just the topic of conversation? How do you limit those?

“Yeah, we’re changing up all our individual drills today. No footwork stuff, we’re throwing jump balls and having them trying to locate the ball, which is the only way to practice it. You don’t do one-on-one every day, we do one-on-one on Thursday, so we’ll get them a lot more live full-speed reps at that. And not work at the other stuff. Just work at that because it’s way too bad right now. No matter what the situation is, it’s tough to win games if you don’t fix that.”

Do you have an update on TE George Kittle? Do you expect him back at practice next week?

“Yeah, I expect him to come back next week. They haven’t guaranteed that to me yet, but just watching him, talking to him, I’d be surprised if he didn’t.”

What were your impressions of Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields?

“Right now?”

Just coming out, the way you evaluated him.

“Yeah. I can’t sit here and talk too much about another quarterback in that way, but I really liked Justin. I thought that he was extremely tough, very talented, getting to know him through it, I thought he was a great guy. He’s getting thrown in there and playing and he’s having some up and down moments, which is expected. But you have to always be ready for him. If he breaks away, he’s got the size and he’s got the speed to out run almost anybody, he throws a great deep ball, has got a big arm, can make every throw and he’s getting better each week.”

Obviously, you always want your star players to be your star players. Have you gotten enough from that group so far this year? And how much do you look to them to kind of be the guys that pull you out of this?

“Yeah, you do that a lot. I think Deebo has been doing some good things for us. It was a pretty big hit when we lost [RB] Raheem [Mostert] on that second play. I think [DL Nick] Bosa is getting better each week. I think Bosa has been pretty unbelievable, but you always want your star players to play like A players every week. And then everyone else, you need to play as good as they can, but your star players you need to play like star players every week.”

What can you say about the Bears?

“I think the numbers don’t lie and I think actually their defense is better than their numbers. I know they battled some injuries and some COVID stuff, but there’s a reason they’ve been in the hunt almost every year here, going back these last five years. It’s because their defenses is one of the best defenses I’ve seen here in the last couple of years when they’ve got everything going. I know they lost a lot last week points wise, but I also watched Tampa start with the ball three out of the first four times inside the 40-yard line and they came down 21-0 right after that, pretty fast. But their defense is as good as it gets right now, in my opinion. And I think they’ve got a really good running game. They’ve got a quarterback who can make plays. I know their numbers on offense are not very good. But I think they’re better than their numbers in terms of what they do really well. What they do really well is run the ball, which we’ve got to do a lot better at on defensive on stopping that. And they take more shots down the field than anyone in the NFL. So, we haven’t been good with, if we’d stopped the shots down the field, we’ve usually done it with a P.I. So that’s something that’s got to break this week, one way or the other for each team.”

The drill with the pass interference, most of the pass interference penalties have been on veteran guys, but so it’s like, ‘well, what can they learn at this point?’ But do you just reach a point where like, ‘well, maybe we do have to go back to the basics,’ no matter if you’ve been in the league?

“Yeah. When we’re doing that bad at it, you can’t just bench everybody and you can’t just sit there and keep your fingers crossed and hope it changes. So yeah, you do go back to the basics and I definitely think we’ve got guys, as you said, some veterans that are capable of not getting them. I look at like [CB] Josh’s [Norman] when he got beat. And he’s just got to let that guy make the play and make the tackle. Sometimes when you get beat, you try to P.I. on purpose to not give up the touchdown. But I thought he recovered enough, he just has to try to make the tackle and hope that guy drops it. And [CB Emmanuel] Moseley, he was in position a couple of times and just grabbed the guy. I know he can fix that. He doesn’t have to do that. And we’ve got to get him more comfortable doing that. And Tartt’s was a little tougher because he was beat. And when you get beat and that ball is underthrown, you have to look back or you are going to run into that guy and get that P.I. call. So each one’s different, there are things that can get better, but when it’s week after week, we’ve got to do everything we can in practice to get those guys better.”

What needs to happen with WR Brandon Aiyuk just to get more production out of him, whether it’s on his end or on your end as a coach with play calling?

“I want Aiyuk to keep getting better. I don’t think he’s quite back to where he was last year. And I expected him to be better this year than last year. I think he’s still trying to get back to that point, which I think he’s closer to that point right now than he was a couple of weeks ago because he has been working hard and trying to get there. And if he keeps doing that I believe things will get better for him and us.”

He told us in the offseason that he gained some weight, got a little bit stronger, a little bit heavier. Has that been problematic at all with him? His deep speed or anything like that?

“Possibly. I don’t think he quite looks to where he was at last year, so that could be a reason. That’s something that’s different. I’m sure it’s a few things though, but he needs to get there.”

Based on what you said about Kinlaw, it sounds like a guy like DL Kentavius Street is poised for a larger role. Where is he in his development, obviously he’s had injuries and all that stuff, but is he at a point where maybe he could take the next step?

“Yeah, he needs to. I thought Kentavius took the next step this offseason, which we have some depth and he had to do that to make our team. We had some good guys and I thought he clearly did make it, which gave us a pretty deep group. But when you look at our three techniques, you know, starting with Kinlaw and then Kevin Givens, then to Maurice Hurst, then Street. We knew Kinlaw was our starter and it was a little different based off of situations. So we want to go to those next three, but now he’s got a big challenge. Losing those three guys in front of him is tough. Getting Kevin back this week should help, so we’ve got another guy in there. But he’s improved enough to get where he’s at and we need him to take it to another level to help our team out.”