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Kyle Shanahan talks Mike McGlinchey blocking, George Kittle, 49ers playbook

The 49ers head coach met with the media on Thursday as the team continued preparations for Week 6 vs. the Green Bay Packers. We’ve got a full transcript.

49ers Week 6 Media Availability

Hear from head coach Kyle Shanahan and QB CJ Beathard ahead of #SFvsGB.

Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, October 11, 2018

Opening comments:

“Injuries; out today, it’s going to be [T Joe] Staley, [C/G Weston] Richburg, [OL Mike] Person, [RB Matt] Breida, [WR Pierre] Garçon, [WR] Trent Taylor, [WR Dante] Pettis and [TE George] Kittle. [TE Garrett] Celek, [DB] Jimmie Ward, [CB Richard] Sherman and [LB Reuben] Foster will all be limited.”

What’s Taylor’s injury?

“Back. Some of his lingering things from that.”

And Garçon?

“Garçon had a shoulder in the game, and his knee.”

Do you anticipate any roster moves to bring people in or bump people up?

“Possibly. We’ll see how the week goes, because you’ve got to see who is up. In order to bring other people in, you’ve got to put people on IR or let them go. So, there’s a lot of guys that I just mentioned there that aren’t guys we’re letting go and they aren’t guys that are eligible to go on IR. We’ve got to see how the week goes to see what maybe we can do with the practice squad or stuff like that at the end of the week.”

You said on Monday that Breida was probably going to be doubtful this week. Is that still the case? Are you kind of ruling him out?

“No. I’m not ruling him out. He’ll be day-to-day. Still the same case. Still keeping our fingers crossed for it.”

Since Taylor had the back procedure in the offseason, is that potentially concerning or a big injury?

“I think it’s been concerning all year. Any time you have a surgery on your back, whether they say it’s a big deal or a little deal, always when you’re dealing with your back it affects things. It’s not just your back always. It can trickle down to other parts of your body. That’s just some wear and tear that I think was a little bit expected after he got that. It’s hurting him more now than it has, so we’re trying to be smart with it.”

Do you think the lack of depth when you have to deal with some of these injuries may be in part due to the fact that you guys are in your second year of a multi-year process and you just don’t have enough guys that you’ve drafted or brought in that are your guys?

“I think that’s every team. I think I just listed eight guys on offense who aren’t going today. That’s eight out of 11. There’s already two on IR, which would make it 10 out of 11. So, regardless of any situation you’re in, I think that’s something I haven’t been a part of much in my entire career. But, yeah, the more that you are at a place and longer the more you build not just your starters but also your depth. You shape the whole roster that way. A little, yes. But, more no. That would be a struggle for anybody no matter how long we’ve been here.”

Is Green Bay Packer QB Aaron Rodgers much different than you remember, just given the fact that he’s a little banged up?

“No. He’s still the best or is tied for the best on the planet. He always has been. He’s the man. I know he’s not 100-percent, everyone knows that, but he seems to be a little bit better each week. He’s still the best. Good player.”

Does he have to change his playing style at all?

“I don’t think so. I think he does a pretty good job. His 40 might not be the same, but he’s still moving around in that pocket good, buying time and can make any throw on the field at any time.”

Is there anything you guys can do to kind of hone in on and really concentrate on eliminating or reducing the number or turnovers?

“Yes. We’ve got to protect the ball better. You can go to your typical five points of pressure, carrying it high and tight. If you go to each one and talk about them individually. That’s what happened with [RB] Raheem [Mostert] last week. In the pocket, a number of things. [QB] C.J. [Beathard] has got to protect that ball better and not let guys get hands on it. I think we can get open faster and I think we can block better to get him a little more time. We can call better plays to get guys open so it’s not as hard. A little bit of everything, but we’re very well aware that our five turnovers last week cost us the game. That wasn’t just last week. If you ever do that, that’ll be pretty much every week. So, we’ve got to get that fixed. We’ve also got to get our hands on the ball a little more too to help us.”

You guys threw to the running backs a lot last year. This year, it seems more efficient. There are fewer drops. The completion rate is higher. Is that a factor of being in year two? Is it the personnel? How do you account for that improvement?

“You do what guys are best at. We brought in a very good pass-receiving running back who we would’ve thrown it to a lot, and probably thrown it to more than we did last year. But, we lost him at the beginning of the year. So, that changes. Our backs can do some things in the pass game. But, that’s not what they major in. They more major in running the ball. So, we try to go to their strengths. That’s stuff that eventually you have to do both. You’ve got to do a little bit of everything. The more our guys can do, the more we will do.”

RB Alfred Morris doesn’t have the reputation of a pass-catcher, but he’s been pretty good at that so far. Is that just he never got enough opportunities early on?

“No. That’s just stats. It’s how you look at it. How do you want to feature guys? Are guys number one in their route? Were they scat out of the backfield and can beat man-to-man coverage very consistently? Or, are there play-action plays where they’re looking deep and they play zone and they drop and you hit it to guys on check downs? Most backs in the league should have the capability to catch a check down and be consistent catching it and then you hope they just get up the field and get as much yards as possible. Being number one in the progression and not in the protection and coming out and actually running man-to-man routes against linebackers, against safeties and sometimes nickel corners. That’s a little bit more of a challenge and requires a certain type of back.”

With all the chips you’re trying to overcome, how do you shift mentally to a stage like Monday Night Football, at a place like Lambeau, especially for some of the younger rookies on the team?

“You like to say that every game is the same, so you don’t want to make too big a deal of that stuff, but I think it’s a bonus. Yeah, we’re going through some stuff. But, we get a chance to go play Monday night in Green Bay, which is as cool of a place to play. I’d much rather prefer to play in front of our own fans and play at home, but if we’re not going to, I want to go to a fun place to play. Yeah, you’ve got to handle the noise and that always comes with tough stadiums like that. But, you get that out of the way. It’s a great opportunity for our entire team. It’s a great opportunity for young guys, also. It’s stuff you grow up watching and we get a chance to go there and we’re the ones who get to play. Everyone gets to watch us. So, that’s something you enjoy, not something that you worry about.”

You mentioned it early. There’s only so much you can do without having to put guys on IR. Is there anything going to come of the running backs you guys brought in early this week on the practice squad or otherwise?

“Maybe. We’ll see how guys are health-wise. We did add a guy to our practice squad. So, we’ll see how this week pans out. You need guys ready to go. Your running backs are banged up. It’s a lot easier when you know people are banged up and they’re going to be out for a month. But, when guys are day-to-day and you’re not quite sure, you’ve got to kind of wait to balance it out. That’s why it’s a day-to-day thing that we constantly are discussing.”

Did you work out RB Joe Williams?


Why didn’t things work out with him?

“He got beat out by all the other guys. I think I’ve answered this at training camp. But, he wasn’t good enough as the guys on the roster.”

What did you learn from that experience drafting him, developing him and having him not work out?

“I learned that no matter who you draft, you can draft people that beat people out. We had an undrafted free agent in Matt Breida who beat him out. We really enjoyed Joe’s talent that he had. We didn’t get it out of him on the field. We also found other guys that were better. So, it’s not just the running back position. It happens at a lot of positions.”

Will this week be a competition with RB Jeff Wilson Jr. and the guy you brought in to kind of figure out if you’re going to elevate somebody who’s it going to be or would it be Wilson?

“It’ll be a competition between those two. It’ll be a competition between Raheem Mostert, Alfred and then trying to balance out how healthy Breida is, how healthy he can keep himself in the game and how effective he would be.”

You have players that execute some complex schemes, but at the same time they struggle sometimes with the fundamentals like tackling, penalties, turnovers. How do you reconcile their ability to execute a complex thing that you run, but also having trouble with fundamentals?

“What do you mean by complex scheme? What do you mean by that?”

Well, your offense is ranked 15th. It’s considered one of the more involved offenses in the league and they seem to be doing a pretty good job with it. But, at the same time, they’re struggling with tackling and missed assignments, penalties, giveaways. How do reconcile that?

“Well, we don’t tackle on offense unless we have a turnover. So, I’m not too worried about that. That’s what you’re talking about right, offense?”

The entire team seems to be struggling with discipline, fundamentals, those types of things.

“Yeah, I don’t think tackling is discipline. I don’t think turnovers are discipline. It’s called making a bad play or missing a tackle. I think we did get a lot better at that last week in terms of tackling, and we’re going to try to get better at it this week. When it comes to turnovers, we had our worst turnover game of the year last week. We had two fumbles in the pocket. We had a fumble by a running back and we had a tipped throw and a throw behind someone on fourth-and-20. So, I don’t look at that as complex, difficult. I look at that as what happens when people turn the ball over all across the NFL. You can make it whatever you want to make it, but we actually make it what it is. You look at why the picks happened, why the turnovers happened, why a missed tackle happens, you address that and you try to get better.”

So, discipline isn’t an issue? You don’t feel?

“In what area.”

For your team, offense, defense, special teams, in any way?

“Yeah, yeah. I don’t think we’re undisciplined and that’s why we missed a tackle or we’re undisciplined and that’s why we have a tipped pass. No, I don’t.”

George Kittle, when you guys were studying him coming out of Iowa, I know that there wasn’t as much on film of him catching the ball. But, blocking-wise, did you see a lot of what we saw with him just mauling guys this past Sunday on his Iowa tape?

“Yeah. Kittle, he was a very good blocker in college. I think that’s what most people saw in him. He blocked a lot. The way his body leverage is, the way he has a forward lean and how he can drive people. He’s got a very good balance. His feet are always under him, so it makes him a good blocker. Then, he’s got a lot of skillset to be good in the pass game, too.”

Then, with McGlinchey, how much outside zone did you get to see him block on his college tape? I know his blocking grades have been great, but I’m wondering how you’ve kind of evaluated his transition into blocking for your scheme.

“You’ve just got to see if he has the movement to do it, which most of them do. Then, you want to see how consistent he plays and the type of player he is, how important it is to him. When it comes to O-Linemen, you can go off of height, weight and speed and make some great highlight tapes off people. That’s the one position that that stuff doesn’t matter. It’s how you play over a course of a game, how many times you execute your block. Yeah, you would love pancakes and knocking people over, but that doesn’t score you points. It’s cooler. It’s more fun. But, it doesn’t help. The main thing is your guy doesn’t make the play, and McGlinchey is a very consistent football player. He did it every single game he was in college and he’s done that for us here. He’s got the skillset to do it. What separates those guys when they do have the skillset is the mindset, how tough they are, how detailed they can be, how consistent they can be throughout a game and that’s what we liked about him most.”

Do you have a sense of where WR Marquise Goodwin is and if he has any chance to play this week?

“He’s full-go today. So, the chances are much better. He has no setbacks today, so we’re very excited about that.”

He’s played fewer than 100 snaps and I think when he’s been out there sometimes he hasn’t been quite himself. How has that effected things?

“It’s effected a lot. When he got hurt on the 17th play versus Minnesota and he’s tried to come back, the times he has come back, he’s been alright for about a quarter and then his injuries caught back up with him. He hurt his thigh versus Minnesota and that was a big, deep thigh bruise where he’s had to get a lot drained. That’s affected a lot of his leg. So, he’s pushed it through a number of weeks where he’s come out and it’s hurt him by the second quarter. Then you’re down a guy for most of the game. Then with losing [WR Dante] Pettis also, having our first and second X out after the Chargers game, that’s why we had to be a lot smarter with Quise last week. He wanted to go and if he could have gone for a little bit, it was going to be the same thing where he had to go out very quickly in the game and we needed more guys up. So, it’s good news that he feels as good as he does today. That’s much better than last week and hopefully that’ll continue throughout the week.”

You had to be very creative given what was happening offensively, particularly with the more dynamic guys. Is there any fun in that challenge of trying to figure out how to make it work?

“It’s something that you go through all the time as a coach, and players. Things aren’t perfect. It is what it is and you’ve got to go out there and find the best way to help your guys be successful. That’s not always exactly the ways you want to do it, but it is a challenge and guys do enjoy it. Sometimes right after a loss and stuff, it takes a couple of days to get back up. But, now our players are in here, we’ve got a good game plan in and our guys are very attentive and are ready to go. I’m excited to go to Green Bay with our group. We’ll see how it pans out through the week. I know we’ve had some guys put on IR, but we’ve also got a lot of guys who have got a chance to play this week. So, we’ll see how it goes and if they can’t we’ve got a lot of guys in our building that we have confidence in. That’s why they’re here and I expect our guys to go out, not hesitate, be up for the challenge and make this a tough game that gives us a chance to win.”

FB Kyle Juszczyk is your second leading receiver. He’s playing more than last year, even when he led the league of all fullbacks. I think he’s playing 62 or 63-percent of snaps. Have you relied upon him more with injuries or have you just found more ways to incorporate him this year?

“Both. Kyle is a great player. He’s as good of a fullback as there is or probably has been. He did a great job for us last year. Yeah, the more injuries you have, the more you keep him out there because you don’t have the option to mix up personnel groups as much. But, even without that, you want him out there because he does a lot of good things in the run game and pass game. Any time you have a fullback on the field, it limits what the defense does.”

You’ve mentioned in the past how self-critical you are of your own play calling and things like that. Can you offer some insight into how you go about self-evaluating yourself after a game?

“Every play that doesn’t work, every time that you’ve got a guy not open, you go through all of the situations. You don’t give yourself a grade at the end of it, you know, was that an A, B or an F? It’s, ‘Hey was this a good play call here? Did the guy have a chance to do what you told him to do? Was that what happened or did he have to make an off-schedule play?’ Things that you put guys through that you expect to happen and you tell them to happen and it does happen. Those are the things that you feel real good about. When you get surprised and stuff, which then the player gets surprised, that’s when you want to make it easier on him.”

Do you create new plays as the season goes? Have all of these injuries prompted you to go to the drawing board and draw up new things or do you have to dig deeper in the play book?

“There’s not this big, deep playbook that you go to the vault on. You have a system and you know how to mix and match guys. There’s five eligible and you can move them a lot of different directions. But, there’s only so many ways you can attack cover three, distribute the field. There’s only so many ways you can attack Tampa two. Then you’ve got to have the ways you beat man. So, you don’t reinvent the wheel every week because if you do, you’re not going to be very good at those plays regardless. But, you hope that you have a scheme that enough’s built in to where you can work throughout your system that you have a lot of different directions you can go. That’s what we have been able to do whether it’s receivers, tight ends, running game. Whether it’s screens, whether it’s play action, whether it’s keepers. We try to figure out the best way to attack a team schematically and then at the same time whenever that’s going into your thought process, you’ve got to make sure that’s the best way to use your own personnel. So, both of those things go together.”

I think Green Bay is fifth in the league in sacks. Is that more just a product of what they’re doing up front or is it maybe what they’re doing coverage-wise?

“I think that’s always both. They play a lot of man coverage. They’ve invested a lot of top picks, first and second round picks in corners and the backfield. They’ve got corners who can cover. They’ve got safeties who can cover and the five guys that they have on the line of scrimmage are as good as any five that we’ve played this year. They can stop the run very well. The inside guys are great against the run and very good versus the pass and they have some good edge rushers too.”

Pass rush specialist Chris Kiffin is a pass rush specialist. Does he have any input in the overall third-down packages, coverages, things like that?

“Pass rush, yeah.”