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Kyle Shanahan on 49ers preseason opener, running drills, meetings with John Lynch

The 49ers head coach met with the media after the team’s final full practice before heading to Kansas City. We’ve got a transcript, courtesy of 49ers PR. Watch video here.

Have you gotten an update on LB Reuben Foster?

“No, I haven’t gotten one yet. His ankle has been bothering him a little each day. It looked like he kind of did the same thing, just kind of got stepped on a little bit. No one ran up to me right away so I feel pretty optimistic about it. But, I’ll find out more when I get back in.”

There was a stretch there where QB C.J. Beathard really looked to find a rhythm coming off of, especially off play-action. Where would you say his development is at as far as learning the system?

“He’s still working through it, still in the process of trying to get better each day. I think C.J. has done a good job since he’s been here. He’s attacked it as hard as he can. I thought he’s got a good grasp of the offense throughout OTAs. Some days are better than others, just like all guys. There’s a few times I did think he got in a rhythm today and hopefully he can keep continuing going forward.”

I think it was on reporting day you said after 10 days you would take the time to reevaluate, reassess things. I think yesterday was practice 10. Did you indeed do that, and what have you seen so far in terms of your overall assessment?

“It was more, we had a big personnel meeting last night. Things like that. Once you’ve gone through about 10 days of practice you’ve seen more, you’ve seen guys come out fresh, you’ve seen them get sore, you’ve seen guys try to recover, you’ve seen guys in pads enough. So, it’s been nice to be able to talk to the players and some of our roster and depth charts. Especially going into these preseason games, we really needed to plan out not for just this week but the next three after it. So, a lot more of those discussions have become a little more realistic.”

Do you have a plan then for this week and how much you’ll play the starters and that kind of stuff?

“Yeah, we have a plan. We go through it all. You know, hopefully they’re not playing much more than the first quarter. It depends on the plays, the amount of plays they have. We’ve got a certain limit we want to give for each guy. Some different than others. Always with the first game, we won’t keep them out there too long.”

When you look at the roster what was the reason to release OL Jeremy Zuttah and did the team at all reach out to CB Tramaine Brock? Was there any interest on the 49ers part to bring him back?

“No one has reached out to Tramaine, so no on that. You know, with Zuttah, that was a tough decision. That was something we were really looking at last night. I think a lot of that, first off I can say is I think it says a lot about how [C Daniel] Kilgore has been playing. He’s done a real good job in practice with that center spot. Really kind of grasping that with the ones. Then just going through our whole plan for the preseason, how we’re going to play these guys and the guys we really needed to look at. It just looked to us that we weren’t going to give Zuttah a lot of playing time throughout the preseason. He’s a guy I have a lot of respect for. He’s done a lot of good things in this league. I told him this morning, I had a hard time doing that to him. We wanted to give him a chance to go somewhere else instead of keeping him here and making him go through that. So, we told him this morning. You know, I’d love to keep everybody, especially a guy who I think can still play in this league, but we thought it was better for him and better for us to move on.”

I saw Kilgore yesterday get some snaps at guard. What’s the thinking there?

“Just trying to go through all possibilities. Knowing [G Joshua] Garnett is going to be out a little bit, just seeing what can be our best three out there for Week 1. You want to try all possibilities. We know Kilgore has done a good job at center. We wanted to see him a little bit more at guard. We’ve got to shuffle all that stuff because we’re still a ways away too. You know, you’ve got to be prepared for any other type of injuries. You’ve got to be prepared on game day. Depending on how many guys you dress, what are you going to do when you lose guys. I mean, you have to move guys around, so that’s something that we did yesterday and we’ll continue to do throughout camp.”

So also a way to see what C Tim Barnes can give you?

“Yes, definitely. Barnes, we brought him in here as a center, but he also has to play guard too. I think it’s very hard to make a final roster when you have a bunch of center-only’s. Because then it’s just a domino effect. You lose a guard, then you’ve got to change two positions. Now your center has got to go to guard, and the center-only has got to come in. You want to see these guys’ versatility. It’s not always exactly who’s the best, it’s how to fill out the best 53-man roster. There’s not always an obvious right answer. There’s stuff that you’ve got to fight through and you’ve got to pair guys together and you’ve got to think about injuries a ton. That’s why there’s a lot of different stuff you’ve got to try.”

Do you guys have an update on Garnett’s injury and a timeframe?

“Yeah, he’s going to get his knee cleaned out tomorrow. Timeframe, I haven’t been given one yet. I know I’m hoping that he has a chance for Week 1, but I know that’s going to be a battle.”

Will Beathard be your second quarterback who plays in the game?

“We’re going to play both of them. I plan on [QB Matt] Barkley coming out first. Barkley is going to replace [QB Brian] Hoyer when Hoyer’s done. Then we’ll see how that goes in the second game.”

One more about Beathard; I know you have experience coaching young guys who run, Beathard is more of a pocket-style guy. Has there been a benefit to that in his development since he ran that pro-style pocket offense at Iowa coming here?

“Yeah. I think it’s easier. It’s all about reps, and if you’ve had reps in college similar to the stuff that you’re doing in the NFL it’s going to be much easier for you. If you’ve never taken a snap under center, it’s not that hard, but if you’ve never done it, it is hard. Especially in the heat of battle. So, anyone who’s doing similar stuff in college that they are in the NFL, I think for obvious reasons it’s going to be an advantage for any of those guys.”

You restarted a drill because you seemed displeased by the pace at which the players were practicing. Was that an issue at all today?

“Yeah, today was our first day going on cards. Today was the first day that we wanted to give them some looks of Kansas City stuff. So, that was our first time doing that as a group and I just didn’t like the tempo of it. I kind of expected it, you know, for our first day in cards together. It’s our first time really not competing running our own schemes versus each other. I just felt, as soon as we did it I just felt the intensity of practice go way down. Tried to get it up, but it didn’t change after five plays so we just started it over and let them know what we want. I told them today I think that starts with the coaches. Obviously I didn’t explain it to them well enough, and we’ll get that done, us, and expect them to do a lot better next time.”

Did you feel the intensity picked up after you restarted it?

“Yeah I did. Yeah. I think guys went a lot harder. You know, it is cards, you’re moving guys in and out so sometimes you don’t have the 11 guys on the field and that breaks up the rhythm of practice. Everyone wants to freak out. So you try to keep your composure and stuff, but I wasn’t happy with the carded periods and I expect it to be totally different next week.”

Was it always the plan to go non-padded today or did you change based on what happened?

“No, that had nothing to do with it. We play a game in two days so I’ve had a plan for a while not to go pads two days before a game. Tomorrowwill be hats only.”

When you say cards, you’re reading off cards so you’re facing--?

“Yeah, when you’re trying to go against another scheme, our offense is going against Kansas City’s defense. They don’t run the exact same stuff as us. So, we can’t put it in our terminology so the coaches just draw it up on a card, we hold the card up, the players need to copy the card. It is kind of human nature for those guys to lose their edge a little bit. So, you’ve just got to let them know the standard and the expectations and that even though you’re running a card we expect it to be just as hard as when you’re running our own stuff. Because we need that look. You need to help prepare your teammate in front of you. I’ll be very surprised if it’s not what we want next week.”

What’s impressed you about RB Matt Breida so far?

“I think he’s just going for it. You’ve got a guy who comes in who’s undrafted. He’s got a chip on his shoulder, which you love. He’s trying to prove himself every single day. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a run play, a pass play, whether he’s in protection. The guy loves competing. He’s a talented guy on top of it and he’s a guy who you definitely can tell he’s giving it his all.”

How much, if any, pre-game planning do you do for preseason games?

“Not much at all. To be honest with you it’s miserable for a coach. You never want to go out and look bad and get embarrassed. But, I also am very well aware that any play that works in the preseason will not work in the regular season. So, you don’t want to waste anything either. So, there’s a fine line between that. You can feel good going 4-0 in the preseason, but I’ve done that before and lost the first game and no one cares what the preseason record was. We also want to do good too, as everyone does. So it’s that inner turmoil that you’re constantly battling as a coach. Try to be simple, try to be vanilla and try to win the game.”

As you get ready for your first preseason game with general manager John Lynch, I spoke to Mr. Lynch yesterday and he said you guys meet every day. Can you give me a little insight if you don’t mind? Do you meet in the mornings, the afternoons? Do you just go over the roster, how practice went?

“It’s pretty random. We’re pretty close. He’s right above me. We don’t have a designated time. Usually after team meetings I’ve got a little bit of free time in my office so he’ll come down and we’ll talk about whatever. Sometimes he’ll come down and ask me questions about practice. Usually after walk-through at night, after dinner and stuff, when some of the coaches are in meetings with rookies, that’s when I have some time where I’m by myself and he can come down and we can talk about roster stuff or watch some of the practice together.”

What percentage of your weekly game plans leave you the same plays, like plays that will carry over into all 16 games and are those basically the plays you work on in the preseason?

“You have to have a foundation of what you do, and that stuff’s going to be up every week. I think that’s the case for everyone. You can’t reinvent the wheel every week. It might sound good on paper, but you won’t be good at it. You’ve got to put the hours in and you’ve got to put the reps in, which is impossible in a three-day practice week. So, we have stuff that carries over week-to-week. I’d say only 10-percent of the game plan’s new, but it might look different. There might be a different person doing it, might be a different formation on how to do it. It might look the same, but there’s one route that changes that you try to set them up for something. But, you can’t just make stuff up every week no matter how good it sounds. Your guys have got to execute it and that’s tough enough even when you have the right look. We try to build a foundation, stick with it and we try to do that throughout training camp and know we’ll have adjustments as the year goes.”

Do you expect to have TE George Kittle on Friday?

“I’d be surprised. He came back out, we thought he was good. His ham tightened up a little bit on him yesterday in practice. That’s why we held him out today. I’d be surprised if he played.”

I don’t expect that Beathard’s arm has gotten stronger in camp, but he seems to have more zip on his passes, if I’m possibly right about that. Could that be a reflection of him just getting more comfortable and confident and just stepping into his throws because he knows what he’s doing?

“I feel like this arm’s been the same, but if it’s looking that way to you maybe he had more room in the pocket. Maybe he can step into one and show it. I think all of our quarterbacks have the arm strength to make every throw. Sometimes you take a second hitch when the ball’s supposed to be a one hitch. Now [WR] Marquise Goodwin is 80 yards away instead of 50 yards away and now it looks like you don’t have arm strength and it looks like a punt return down there. It’s all about timing and stuff and sometimes when quarterbacks throw it late it can look way underthrown. But, I believe C.J. has a strong arm and is capable of making every throw we need him to do.”