Special Teams Coordinator Brian Schneider Press Conference

Special Teams Coordinator Brian Schneider

Press Conference – June 8, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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What made this the right opportunity for you?

“First of all, [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan]. I’ve had great respect for him over the years. Not only personally, but just the team and the organization. Playing against these guys for 11 years, a couple times a year, one time, three times a year, I had great respect for the way they play. I’ve always thought this is the most physical opponent when I played against the 49ers. And it was just the right time to come here for me and my family to make a transition.”

Do you remember the last time the 49ers had a punt return for a touchdown?

“Nope. Hopefully we’ll get one soon.”

It came against your team in ’11, that first game of the season, I think. Former NFL WR Ted Ginn Jr.

“Yes, thanks for reminding me. That was my second year there, first game of the year. And we’ve all had games like that, and that was one of the all-time worst, but yeah, no, I remember that.”

Is that becoming a more rare thing in the NFL that the coverage units, the punting has become so good that it’s difficult to do?

“I think the biggest thing is the punters have become so good at playing keep away. Different punts that they’ve done, just a different talent level of the punters has really changed, probably more than the coverage, I would say. So just the level of that play has really changed.”

There was a big emphasis on special teams personnel this offseason with LB Oren Burks, S George Odum. It just seems that the front office made that a big priority. What are your thoughts on some of the new pieces and how they can help the unit?

“Oh, I’m really fired up. When you look at those guys that we brought in, I think they’re even better than I originally thought on tape, which is awesome. Burks is such a good athlete and that was really obvious on the tape, but even when you get to work with him, it’s even better. Odum is the same thing. When you get those guys in a room, you get to talk with them every day, you get to coach them and you see how hard they work, not only in this setting, but on the field, it’s just really exciting. There’s no question why they have the reputation they have. And then you throw [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud III] in there and that’s just unbelievable, so I was extremely happy at the time, and I’m probably even a little more excited now that I’ve worked with them.”

Did you have a chance to lobby for some of those signings?

“They always ask me and I always try to, because we evaluate everybody. And they were at the top of my list and so when I said to him this is who I think is the best, who I like the best. And hopefully it works out the way they see it too and I try to stay away from all the money issues and all the big-time decisions and hopefully that fits into our team. And for that, it did, so I’m really excited about that.”

When you stepped away, was it always your intention to return to coaching?

“Yeah, I think so. Life happens and you start walking through some things, but I always knew this is what I was always made to do. And the passion I have for it, that never changed. I was just happy to get the opportunity here. It’s perfect for us.”

Do you want to say why you or do you want to keep that private?

“Just personal stuff. We all have things we go through in life and it gave me new perspective to be able to step back, which looking on it, I’m very fortunate to be able to do that. When you have four kids and a wife, it’s just life. And so a new perspective on a lot of things and I know that’s made me a better coach being able to step away and really to feel how important this is to me.”

What did you do last season? Did you stay up with the game? Did you watch?

“I bugged my wife a lot, that was the number one thing I did, but it was an opportunity to watch my youngest son play football every weekend. I kept in contact with friends, but I really kind of stayed away and looked at the whole game and the whole experience from a distance, which again was a really cool experience that I don’t know, I just needed to go through at the time. And I didn’t know what was going to happen in the future and I was okay with that. But it was a great time to reconnect with my family. I got to see another son, who coaches in Montana. I got to go to a couple of those games, which I’ve never been able to go to. I got to visit a daughter in San Diego. I got to see a son in Colorado, so things that I’ve never experienced were really cool to do.”

With the grind every day, taking some time off, do you think you come back as a better coach, more perspective on whatever, how to relate to players, scheme-wise, whatever?

“Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m the best I’ve ever been in terms of all those things. And it just gave me a different perspective and I know what it means to me. And I know, again, I’ve always loved this job so much and I love being around the players and around the coaches and to have this organization, the type of people that are here, it just reinforces that. So yeah, there’s no question. I’m better because of that.”

You mentioned some of the newcomers on your units. When you went back and you looked at the film from ’21, as far as the carryover players, which of those guys kind of stood out to you?

“Well, instead of looking at it that way, I just look at each of the 90 people that are here. And the history of playing against this organization, I’ve known all the players throughout how I viewed them when you play them. And that’s always a little bit different when you get in the room with them, for whatever reason, you get to know their personality a little bit better. So really the approach I take is everyone in this room, if this is our team, everyone in this room, I’m coaching. I don’t care if you’re the free agent rookie. I don’t care if you’re our all-pro safety/linebacker, I coach everyone. And the offseason to me is big, fundamental drill work stuff, so everybody’s involved in that. So when I try to make my evaluations, I do it off that and I try to really press to the players every drill we do is going to make you a better football player, whatever position you’re in. So that’s why we have everyone drilling, because I don’t know who’s going make the team, but I want to prepare everyone to have the best chance. And that’s the first thing I tell them too, is I want everyone to make our 53-man roster, but out of 90, it just doesn’t happen. So if we don’t make that, I want you to make our practice squad. If you’re not able to make that, I want to help you enough to be a football player, to make another roster. That’s the way I approach it so really, we’re training everybody. And however that shakes out, then we decide where the depth chart looks like and how we go from there.”

Kyle said that he always liked your energy and the way that your teams competed against each other. Were you aware of his interest at all? Or did it come as a surprise when this job opportunity came up or was it something that you were like ‘oh, that would be perfect?’ Or how did you look at it?

“I always followed Kyle and it wasn’t like we kept in touch a lot, but I always had a lot of respect for him and obviously this organization. So when the opportunity arose, I was really excited because I know what he’s about. And it was really important to me for him to know what I’m about too, because that that’s always part of the deal too.”

What’s your impression of K Robbie Gould and why was FB Kyle Juszczyk having to hold today? Was P Mitch Wishnowsky not around?

“Yeah, Mitch had a personal thing, so he wasn’t here and it’s always good anyway to get Juice in there. Robbie’s great, we’ve competed a lot over the years. A real professional, obviously, he’s been doing a long time. One of the first specialists that loves to go talk football, so that that’s a cool experience for me too. He knows football, he knows kickoff return frontline play, he’s interested in that. He’s interested in breaking down and looking at the opposing team’s kickoff return, so that’s cool. That’s been a fun experience, instead of most specialists who are just so specialized in what they do that they’re not seeing the big picture a lot. He really enjoys it, so I’ve loved it.”

When you describe last year, it sounds very nice. Montana and San Diego and high school football. A lot of NFL coaches say it’s a crazy grind and life, were you ever like, ‘maybe I want to be a normal person again?’

“No. It made me feel more normal. What was weird to me though, is if I’d go out on Sunday and people would just be doing normal everyday stuff, I was like, ‘what? there’s football going on? Don’t You know?’ So it took me a while to get that, but I think I just needed the perspective, because sometimes we can get lost in this. I’ve been doing it since ‘94 and it is. You miss a lot of high school games, which drove me crazy. And you miss a lot of things and you try to get to everything you can and then as your third child goes to college, it’s like what happened? So I needed to step back and I’m really happy I did, but it is. The best way to explain it to me is just perspective has changed on everything in my life.”