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Kyle Shanahan talks mobile vs. immobile quarterbacks, Trent Taylor, pads, & more

The 49ers head coach met with the media following Saturday’s practice. We’ve got a full transcript courtesy of 49ers PR. Watch video here.

Getting DL Solomon Thomas out there, I don’t know if you were focused in on him at all, but what was your takeaway?

“It was just good to get him out there. We wanted him to go a little yesterday and he came but he missed stretch and individuals, so we weren’t going to throw him out there without going through that process. He was a part of our walk-through yesterday afternoon and we got him out there full-go today. I know he was jacked to do that finally with all the other guys. I really won’t know exactly how he did until I get in and watch the tape. If he would have done real bad I would have probably noticed out there, so or if he would have been real dominate I would have noticed. I think he did a pretty good job. I’ll probably tell you tomorrow after I watch the tape.”

I know it’s early, but do you have early impressions of LB Elvis Dumervil?

“I mean, Elvis is a guy that I’ve seen over the years. We’ve gotten two practices. We don’t have pads on. Elvis has got a lot of length. He comes off the ball hard. He’s a pro. He works hard every single play. I’ve never worked with him before. I know a lot of people who have. I’ve gone against him a number of times and he’s exactly as advertised.”

Does he kind of help run the warmup portion? It looked like he was giving some ideas or some input.

“Yeah, I think [defensive line coach Jeff] Zgonina uses him a lot. Elvis, when I say a pro, I mean he’s truly, has dedicated his life to getting the quarterback and anybody like that you want to get as much knowledge as possible and Elvis has a lot of that. Zgonina loves when he talks to the guys and helps out with some of his tricks.”

We could see you having some exchanges with some defensive players. I know you’ve been an offensive side guy obviously and you’re calling the plays. How easy is it for you to communicate? How important is it for you to kind of keep talking to those guys?

“I think it’s very important. I do it on the field some. Sometimes it’s tough when I’m calling the plays. I do it a lot in the meeting rooms. We get together and we go over a bunch of stuff together. It makes it more fun. Defense is the main thing I watch as an offensive coach, because that’s usually what you’re attacking. It’s nice to be able to get in meetings more often with them and really talk through it instead of just attacking it all the time. So, I enjoy it. You’ve also got to develop relationships with guys on the team. When you’re not always in those individual meetings one-on-one, it’s really hard to do it unless you constantly communicate with them.”

Is there a true slot receiver in this offense you’re building here? I’ve seen WR Trent Taylor bounce around a lot. A lot of guys are moving around. Where is the slot receiving role in this offense?

“Very similar to other people’s. I mean, usually when you have a slot receiver, they’re the type of guys that are extremely important on third down. They’re the guys who work everything underneath when you get those two-man coverages, you get those two safety coverages, where you can’t stretch it outside the numbers. They really attack the middle part of the field. It’s something that I think is important in every offense, but it’s definitely something that I always look for and I try to have a designated type of guy.”

You want one guy to hold that down, but--?

“It’s different. There’s only so many guys who can make the team. Sometimes slot guys are wired differently than guys that play outside. Sometimes you have slot guys who can do both. Sometimes a guy can really only make the team as a slot player with those type of routes and doesn’t have the exact skillset to go outside the numbers. It depends on what you’re looking for, how your four, or five, or six guys you group together. You’d love all six guys to be able to play all three positions, but it rarely works out that way, so you try to pair up what their skillset is and how you can use them in different plays and attack different coverages.”

WR Marquise Goodwin had some plays today, I think he broke off routes and he created separation. His speed and being a deep threat is kind of his calling card, but is that the next step in his game, is it using that speed to his advantage to stop and cornerbacks playing him?

“Yeah, speed is one of the best things in this game if you have it. Speed scares everyone. When you have that speed to scare people, which not many people in this league do because a lot of people can run, but when you have elite speed like Marquise does, people are going to back up. And, Marquise can breakdown pretty good, but when you run like he does you don’t have to breakdown as good as someone who doesn’t scare people. But, if you’re scaring people and they’re making sure they’re going to defend that go route, then it makes it a little bit easier to get some completions underneath. Now, you’ve got to have a guy who has hands still and who can breakdown. If you do that enough, now they have to back up and you know they can’t run with him. So, it kind of opens up everything for everyone else too.”

Do you see that part of his game, has that evolved since the offseason since he’s come?

“Yeah, that’s something that he believes in. We do too. That’s why we brought him here. I think it’s very tough to succeed in this league for very long when all you are is a speed guy, because people can run with you if they get a 15-yard head start. They just meet you where you’re ending up. You’ve got to be able to run the route tree or have the threat of it. Marquise, we believed he could do it and so far he’s shown us that. He’s worked at it. He’s worked at his hands, he’s breaking down and he’s doing a good job so far.”

You get a long touchdown like that today with QB Brian Hoyer to Goodwin. Does that do a lot for the offense that’s on the field during that practice, back in the film they can go see it unfold?

“I think it might for some guys. I didn’t even notice it. Once they catch it I go onto the next play, so I didn’t even notice that we had a deep one. I think he had a go route too. I did notice that one. You’re trying to attack coverages and you’re not always game planning your defense. So, guys do get, sometimes you have a bunch of plays in that you would never even run versus what you’re going against that day and the guys are not too into the play and it’s for obvious reasons. Because, it’s going against the wrong coverage and then you get into a game and you use it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, it does work.’ So, it’s nice sometimes when you do get someone open just to give them a little bit more juice and you have more fun in practice when you do well. But, that’s not really as much of a concern to definitely the coaches and I think a lot of the players.”

You said during the draft that one of the things that jumped out about RB Joe Williams was his ability to make a cut and then get up to full speed. Did you guys see the same thing with RB Matt Breida when you looked at his film and is that what attracted you to him as well?

“Yeah, definitely. You’ve got two guys who have a lot of speed and who also can cut. It’s similar to, I mean a lot of track people aren’t good football players because they only can run in a straight line and around a loop. It’s very hard to run very fast and cut. When you can do both it gives you a huge advantage and you do look for that in players. You try to get the full package, but speed scares everyone. But, eventually if they know you’re fast, they’ll just meet you out there. So, you’ve got to be able to make those cuts, get downhill, and you’ve got to be physical. We saw that in both of them in college and we hope they can carry it to this level.”

Are both those guys, guys you’re especially eager to see tomorrow when the pads go on?

“Yeah, I think the running back position as much as any position, you can’t, you really can’t develop an opinion until the pads are on. You can’t play in this league if you don’t run through arm tackles and break through arm tackles and you really don’t even know that until you get the pads on. You don’t truly know that until you get into these preseason games also. So, that’s a constant evaluation. We never try to get too high or too low on anybody. We kind of let the process take care of itself and make sure they get the full opportunities in every facet.”

In regards to the big hill on the ramp that’s been brought in on the practice field, what are the benefit and what has been some of the reaction of the players doing it?

“Their reaction is probably the same as mine. I don’t think, I don’t get how anyone could go up that hill. It looks like a mountain. But, that was something our strength coach [head strength & conditioning coach] Ray Wright believed in and it was important to him. He really liked it, so we supported him on it. He thinks it can help guys. From what I’ve been told, and it’s not my expertise, it can strengthen your legs by going uphill and it’s also nice to run full speed. When you’re going full speed up hill you’re actually not going full speed because you’re going uphill, so it’s very hard to pull hamstrings and stuff like that when you’re going uphill. Those are the advantages that I’ve heard of it. It really wasn’t too big of a deal to me, but it was something that Ray wanted and I believe in Ray from a strength and conditioning standpoint. So, they got it for us.”

And, today was most, the skill position guys running up?

“That’s what I saw when I walked off. It looked like the DBs were doing back pedals up it and stuff. I would love if you guys asked for Ray to come in here and you guys could drill him with any hill questions you guys want.”

Have you gone up it?

“No, my kids were actually out there today and they asked me to do it. I was a little scared of my kids coming down it, because they are going to roll if they fall. So, I haven’t done it yet. I’m not going to do it in front of you guys either, late at night when I’m by myself.”

Was there any injury talk about that thing? It’s kind of a crazy structure, right?

“Yeah, I hope they’re not sprinting down it. I hope they’re not going up it when it’s icy and wet. You have to be athletic and smart. That’s why none of us should do it, but I agree it looks pretty high and stuff but there’s pluses to it, but you’ve got to be smart with it.”

Is the plan still to put pads on tomorrow?


Are you eager for tomorrow’s practice?

“Yeah, very eager. I think everyone is. We’ve seen enough in OTAs of what our guys can do without pads. That’s how it was yesterday and today. Tomorrow’s a little bit different. It’s really when it starts.”

We’ve all seen WR Trent Taylor caught five, six passes in 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s, what does that mean, a guy like that catching all those balls? Do quarterbacks like throwing to him?

“No, it means that’s what the coverages were. If it’s zone, it just had to do with the play that was called and he was in the right spot. If it was man-to-man and he was the number one option and he’s winning consistently, then he’s getting the ball. Stats do tell you some stuff, but there’s guys who can have seven catches in a game, but they threw four screens, they got two check downs and they beat man once. The man-to-man one is the one that I really judge them off of, but you do want them to catch it in zone. You want them to get up the field, see what they can do after they catch the ball. But, the number of catches, I’d be, you could really get me on a bunch of stuff if you ask me how many catches receivers had at the end of the year. It’s not something I’ve ever really looked at.”

What do you think of CB Rashard Robinson being loud and boisterous and all his chatter? What do you think that does for him and his game?

“I just like that he’s himself. I think that’s who Rashard is. I just want people to be themselves. He acts the same way on the practice field as he does when I see him. He’s always talking. He’s got a smile on his face. He likes to mess with you. We like to mess with him back. I like that he’s a confident guy who’s not scared to be himself. Someone’s talking a lot and that’s not who they are, they’re putting on a show, everyone can see through that and those are the guys who will irritate you. I think Rashard’s been that since the day he was born and will probably be that until the day he dies and I respect him for it.”

Do you think you need that in secondary particularly with somebody who might be your top corner?

“No, I think you need confident, good players and then you want them to be themselves. And, confident, good players, who are themselves and show up every day, they’re leaders. There’s thousands of ways to do it, but you don’t want to tell, ‘Hey, you’re this top guy, you’ve got to be this way. You’re the second guy, you’ve got to be this way.’ You want to give guys opportunities to play and opportunities for guys to be themselves.”

Do you think for a quarterback, the ability to run and run well, escape the pocket, can be a detriment?

“Well, it’s never a detriment. It’s an attribute that every single quarterback in the league would like to have. My personal opinion is when you can move and stuff at an early age, probably going to get in trouble here, but when I played quarterback when I was little, I didn’t have the best arm, but I was more of a receiver. So, as soon as in pop warner the ball snapped, I knew no one was going to block, I was just trying to think of how to run right away. You’re not staying in the pocket looking down the field reading coverages. I think you have some quarterbacks, and I would guess [New England Patriots QB] Tom Brady and [former NFL QB] Peyton Manning, I don’t think they were ever mobile when they were seven, when they were 18, when they were 30. I think they’ve always been guys who have to sit in there and look down the field and learn how to get rid of the ball and if you’ve been doing that since you’re seven years old to the NFL, you’ve had a hell-of-a lot more reps then this guy who’s been able to run around and make plays all the time. Now, he gets to the NFL and someone’s saying, ‘Hey, do that sometimes, but most of the time you’ve got to sit in there and keep your eyes downfield,’ and you’re asking a guy to do that for the first time in his life when you only get so many reps in training camp, so many in OTAs, and now you’re going into Week 1 of the NFL and you’re going to tell a guy to play like that. I mean, they’re going to play what’s made them successful their whole life. So, it’s more about what you’ve worked at your whole life. If I could go win a Heisman running around and just making plays, I think any of us would go do that. Now you get to the NFL and you can’t do that anymore and it just takes time. It’s more about reps. It’s not that they can’t do it. It’s how long have they been doing it for.”

None of your quarterbacks you brought, last year’s quarterbacks here were all fairly mobile. None of your guys this year are known necessarily for moving around. Just kind of piggy backing off of what you said, is there correlation there I guess?

“It’s what gives your team the best chance to be successful. If there’s an extremely athletic, a mobile quarterback who is legitimately mobile, who can make a guy miss in front of him, that takes a very special athlete. Those few guys you have, you need to put in a type of scheme that includes stuff like the zone read and things like that to give them a chance to use all their attributes. If they’re not like that and they can’t do that, which is the majority of people, you put in the scheme that allows them to distribute the ball and allow other people to do it. I’ll say that we run a lot of bootlegs and things like that. Usually the most success I’ve had with quarterbacks who can do that are the ones who aren’t mobile, because I only want to run bootlegs and stuff if people aren’t playing them and when you have a mobile guy, they’re playing them. When you don’t, they play the run and then you get slow quarterbacks out on the edge and they can throw all day. Not because they’re just super athletes with their legs, but they’re good enough to throw on the move and you can use them. They don’t have to always just be fast, but there’s a different type of guy. When you have that speed and cutting ability as a quarterback, that different level, then you start thinking about zone read and things like that.”

The one play you referenced earlier, the deep ball to Marquise. What was the defense and why was that play successful?

“I think we hit one on the seam. It was a zone coverage. We motioned to it. You have a safety as a curl-flat player and you have a linebacker as a hook player and when you motion empty they have to switch, and so they change two quick responsibilities and we snap it and they communicate and if, when you talk to someone for half a second and you have a 4.3 guy in the slot and he’s gone, you can’t hesitate. He’s wide open. So, it’s just about going, being fast and changing a little bit of your formation and watching two defensive guys talk. That’s why you’ve got to walk-through so much. That’s why you’ve got to rep. It happens fast and when you want to change something, if there’s any hesitation, they can make you pay.”

Was that a good route for the defense?

“Great route. It’s perfect, and if we wouldn’t have had that play called, they would have never saw that and then people are like, ‘No, you’ve got to communicate. Great.’ Yeah, we got it. You don’t really know until you can make them pay and now they know, ‘Yeah, [defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh’s right we do have to communicate pretty fast.’ What if they had that called? So, those are the things you hope for for both sides of the ball. Makes the offense feels good, but I guarantee the next time we do that formation of play, they’ll cover it.”

Do they read the quarterback to see if they see the guys talk to each other?

“No, it’s a zone. So, the safety’s in the middle field and you throw to the seam away from the guy. They should have a guy carrying it and then you check it down to a back. The guy didn’t carry it so he’s wide open. If he would have, the ball would have gone to Trent Taylor over the ball versus zone.”

Any word on the severity of the injuries with WR BJ Johnson III and OL JP Flynn today?

“Yeah BJ was a hamstring. We’re not exactly sure of the length of it. We’re still doing more stuff, but it was a hamstring it wasn’t a knee. What was your other question?


“Yeah, that happened today. I’m not sure. It looked more like that, but I can’t say for sure. I haven’t talked to [vice president of medical services/head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson] Ferg, but I’ll have that for you guys tomorrow.”