President of Football Operations and General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

President of Football Operations and General Manager

John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – April 26, 2024

San Francisco 49ers

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We were just on the conference call with OL Dominick Puni and he suggested that you guys are probably looking at him as a guard, obviously he played tackle as well. What’s the plan for him?

John Lynch: “Yeah, our belief is that we’re going to start him on the inside as a guard. But the cool thing about Dominick is, it’s not often you can say this about a player, that he can play all five. And we believe that’s the case with him. He snapped in practice, he snapped in the Senior Bowl down in Mobile, played some center in the game, played left tackle in ’23, guard in the previous year. And so, we believe he has it in him, and that’s really a cool thing to have in a player. And he can do it at a high level. So, it’s part of the reason we moved up to take him there and really fired up about him.”


I think I caught that he didn’t give up a single sack after he transferred to Kansas. Is his past protection something that really stood out to you?

JL: “Yeah, he’s a solid football player. He is. And he’s a guy we got out here on a 30 and I think got comfortable with the person and just got to, it’s always nice to, it’s not essential, but it’s nice to be around them a little bit more and see them in an environment with their peers and how they interact and how they interact with our coaches. And there was a good feel there. We liked the tape, liked the versatility and wanted to make him a Niner.”


CB Renardo Green indicated that he has the ability to play outside corner, nickel and safety. Was his versatility one of the things that drew you to him?

Kyle Shanahan: “Yeah, we liked that a lot. I mean, we’ve seen him play outside and we know he can play outside, but he’s also wired the right way to play inside. Just doesn’t have a lot of tape of it, but that’s something we believe he can do both. I’m glad he feels the same and we’ll give him an opportunity to do both.”


JL: “He’s got a heck of a mentality, Renardo. I mean, that’s the thing we really loved about him. 186 pounds, but he wants to hit you. And everyone correlates, I think interceptions to ball production. We look at it, PBUs, and he had 13 PBUs, one of the tops in the nation last year, had one interception, one forced fumble, really good tackler, plays a tough physical game. He told us 15 times when we called him, you got a dog, you got a dog. And that’s exactly what we thought when we drafted him. He can play man-to-man, he’ll get up, challenge receivers, has done it against some really top level players and fired up to have him as well.”


Green said that defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks said that he wouldn’t want to fight him because he would fight like a dog and fight till the death.

JL: “That’s what the film looks like and we like that [laughter].”


Did the LSU game sort of stand out to you when you looked at him?

JL: “Yeah. We saw two of those players at LSU, [WR Malik] Nabers and [WR] Brian Thomas [Jr.] go in the first round. And it’s really awesome when you get a chance to see guys go up against the best college football has to offer. And you can tell he’s a guy that welcomes that type of challenge. And he certainly did on that day, held his own and he held his own all year.”


When you traded down, did you know who the Chiefs were taking?

JL: “No.”


Did it end up mattering?

JL: “No, we had a couple people we liked, but we were hoping Renardo, we had a good idea. You always have hunches, but you don’t know. We did not ask them. It worked out.”


Was it kind of strange to swing deals with the Chiefs and the Eagles considering they ended your last two seasons?

JL: “That did just dawn on me walking down here.”


Was there any other trade talks of people kind of looking hard at WR Deebo Samuel or WR Brandon Aiyuk today?

JL: “We didn’t entertain any of that today. We’re happy with our wide receiver group. Actually, more than happy. We’re really thrilled with it and thrilled to have added [WR] Ricky [Pearsall] to that group and even make it stronger.”


Did you watch film between Ricky and Green when they played each other?

KS: “I actually had it on when Ricky came in and I met him.”


JL: “Did you?”




JL: “That’s cool.”


KS: “I was watching Florida State-Florida and I didn’t want him to think I was still judging him. So, I turned the Florida off, but it was Florida State I was watching. They didn’t match up a lot. But there was some cool clips in that game.”


Who got the upper hand on those?

KS: “They didn’t match up very much. It was more, he was on the outside. They had Ricky inside, but I think Florida State was undefeated.”


JL: “It was fun to be around Ricky and his family today.”


KS: “That was cool.”


JL: “Yeah, that was really cool. He’s a neat kid. We didn’t do much. It works like that sometimes. Sometimes you have questions, sometimes you just want to feel somebody a little more you bring them in for the 30 visits. Other times you just want it not let it be known that there’s an interest. Ricky, we were pretty certain we liked the film. We knew a lot of people that knew him, but it was fun to meet his dad. His dad’s a firefighter and a cool guy. I guess he was quite a football player at Northern Arizona himself. And it was fun to meet his family.”


With Dominick Puni, what do you see from his run block in particular? What do you like about the way he fit your scheme that way?

KS: “I like the quickness he has. I think he had one of the top 20 shuttles at Indy, which shows it. There’s always different styles of how you can run block and what they ask of you, but you can see it on tape and there’s more in there with how you even test it out at the Combine. That’s the thing that you like the most. Most of his clips are at tackle when you picture his length and his quickness. We think we’re going to start him inside at guard. He did center at the Senior Bowl. His coaches rave about how he knows all five positions, but we think he’s got our best chance inside.”


At 63 I think a lot of people were looking tackle, especially with Baltimore Ravens OL Roger Rosengarden went right before. Then you guys traded down and Kansas City Chiefs OL Kingsley Suamataia went. What was your view of that situation? Were you disappointed that Roger went off the board there? What was your view in that?

JL: “We had a group of players we liked, Roger was one of them. But we knew we were very comfortable with Renardo as well. We had a couple more players, thought going back one, we had the freedom to do that and still end up with the guy we liked, and we were able to get the guy we really liked. And so that was cool for us.”


Is your intention to have Aiyuk and Samuel on the roster this season?

KS: “Same intentions as the way yesterday was.”


I don’t know if that’s exactly right.

KS: “It is, yeah. We love those guys. We thought they’d be on our team yesterday. Still do. We still always listen to everybody until till the end of, I don’t want to give a bad quote for you guys. I almost did it again. But yeah, that doesn’t change yesterday, today, tomorrow, ever.”


How much did Dominic Puni, what he did at the Senior Bowl kind of raise his stock?

KS: “It’s always cool to see him go against more of the best competition. It’s cool to see him try center there and see, you hear all the other stuff he can do and to be able to see it, have some of our guys there where they can watch it live, the practices and stuff. He definitely helped himself, didn’t hurt himself.”


JL: “Yeah. I want to give a nod to those guys. You know, [Executive Director of Reese’s Senior Bowl] Nagy, Jim Nagy down at the Senior Bowl. They really do a fantastic job. All these All-Star games do. And it’s really important for smaller school kids to be able to show against elite competition, but it’s really just good one-on-one competition and some of the things you love watching, I mean, coaches pull guys out and you know, there’s a line, but really you can kind of control how many reps you take. And we kind of love the guys that keep standing up there, even if they take L’s, you know, you want to see the guy who wants to keep going back and Puni was one of those guys and he kept going and they do have some control over that. And Senior Bowl’s really a great view and Jim Nagy and that group does a tremendous job. And we enjoyed that.”


You mentioned his shuttle. Is that something that you look at with guards and is that something that stood out with OL Aaron Banks a few years ago, his quickness coming off the ball?

KS: “I can’t exactly remember his shuttle, but I hope it was good. But we want to know how quick they are and that’s one of the measures to it. But there’s sometimes you’ve seen guys with good shuttles and for some reason it just doesn’t equate to the game. And I’ve seen it the opposite way. So, you do it long enough and whatever you look into can contradict itself. But that is one of the main things starting when I first got into football, and I thought that was one of the most important things in quickness for a slot receiver and things like that. And then you start to watch it with kind of everybody and I think when you talk to guards and running the ball and coming off the ball fast like we ask them to do and reach three techniques and things like that, quickness is probably the most important thing. The 10, which is a quick first step and rarely gets to the 40, but all the shorter stuff.”


You mentioned last night kind of trying to find that way to thread the needle between making sure 2024 is the best team possible and still kind of looking ahead to the future. How much more difficult has that gotten as the years have gone on and this nucleus you’ve kind of been with for so long?

KS: “It gets harder each year. Because one, it’s when you keep your nucleus together, there’s not as many holes for just people to come in and take. And so, especially later in the Draft, it can get harder in spots and things like that and obviously from what everyone knows, the better guys play and you re-sign your own guys, it just become very tough to keep a nucleus together. So, each time free agency is harder in that way. The Draft’s harder in that way and we always try to make decisions always about what’s best for now with always going into the future and as the money gets higher and our situation gets like this, it definitely gets harder.”


You mentioned the other day that with the 83 players that didn’t come out because of the options the players have with either NIL or transfer portal will make the end of the Draft possibly a little weaker. What kind of challenge do you face for day three with that regard?

JL: “There’s still good players out there. That’s our job to go find them. I do think there’s probably not the quantity that there typically is in a draft, it probably runs out of some gas. But our challenge is to find who those guys are and find the guys who have an opportunity to help make our team better. And you know, there’s some element to just throwing more darts and seeing who sticks. So, a little combo of those. We did think of just getting it all over with, trading our draft. No. I’m just joking, but we will always work until the end and then free agency is always critical. It’s fun, Kyle and I were down there today, but the whole group, the coaches, the scouts all go in and they’re having the free agent meeting already trying to anticipate who, and that’s always a delicate thing to call these kids who really are confident that they’re getting drafted, but just kind of start putting the bug in their ear that, ‘hey, if you’re still there, we’d love to have you come join us.’ And our guys do a really good job of that. We look forward to having a really productive day tomorrow and that means all the way into free agency, all the way through our post-draft party. We’re going to have fun.”


All three of your guys today spoke about their football intelligence. Not that you ever go after guys that don’t have that, but it seemed like that was an emphasis of your selection so far.

JL: “Yeah, I think we always focus on that. One thing Kyle and I tried to do when we got here is we felt like everybody should have a clear understanding of exactly what we want in a player. And that’s not only on the field, but it’s the qualities we want them to embody. We want 49ers to embody, you know, we don’t need Phi Beta Kappas, but we need people who understand football and can process quickly and all that and who love football more than anything. I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s a hard sport and so seasons are long, seasons are tough. The game hurts, so you need people who love it and you know, we’ve got [LB] Fred Warner, what he does out there is contagious to everyone on his team. And we want to continue to bring people. And when I think of these guys, these guys fit that bill. Ricky fits that bill. So, we want to continue to bring guys in like that. And the more like-minded people you do, you’ve got an opportunity to do something special and I think that’s what we have.”