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Kyle Shanahan talks injuries, primetime, George Kittle

The San Francisco 49ers head coach had his final press conference before the San Francisco 49ers’ primetime matchup against the Green Bay Packers. We have a full transcript.

Opening comments:

“Questionable guys, we’ve got [RB Matt] Breida questionable, [WR] Pierre [Garçon], [TE George] Kittle, [C/G Weston] Richburg, [CB] K’Waun [Williams] came down with an illness today, [T Joe] Staley and [OL Mike] Person. [WR] Trent Taylor is doubtful. [WR Dante] Pettis is out.”

How did Breida look when he was out there today?

“He looked limited.”

Is it surprising that he was even out here?

“It was early in the week. Just knowing Breida and how he is, he always gives himself a chance. Got enough to at least go out a little bit today. That’s something that’ll come down to right before game time.”

Do you have to make a decision tomorrow on whether to elevate one of your practice squaders up?

“No. You would normally. When you play on Sunday, we’ve got to make that by 1 o’clock on Saturday because you’re not allowed to do anything on Sunday. But, you can on Monday. So, we have until 1 o’clock on Monday to make that decision. So, thank goodness because a lot more decisions will come down to that time.”

Are you waiting to see if Breida makes any more progress?

“Yeah. We’re going to need these full two days. Not just for Breida, but for a few other people.”

Do you get a sense throughout your career that you can feel guys getting amped for primetime? If so, do you just let them feel that or do you try to pretend it’s a normal week? Do you kind of let the guys embrace that it is a bigger stage?

“You’ve got to do a little of both. We try to always say, ‘Don’t make it the Catalina wine mixer.’ You try to treat every game the same. I do understand that when everyone is watching, guys get a little bit more amped up. There’s a little more juice flowing. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Sometimes, it’s a bad thing. You’ve got to temper that a little bit. It’s great to be amped up and have a little bit more energy, but the main thing is you’ve got to focus and do your job. So, that can play two ways against you. You’ve got to balance it out.”

Does being pulled from one of those primetime slots with the Sunday Night game against Los Angeles, does that make you guys want to show that you guys are worth it playing in primetime on Monday?

“I think we want to win as bad as anything, so I don’t think there’s anything that can make us want to win more. Any time people count you out and don’t think there’s something you can do, I think that challenges a lot of people. I know when you go into something and you want to show people what you can do, you hope the whole world is watching, not just your own state. So, yeah, we like being on national TV. We like to prove people wrong. We’re excited we get to do it this week. That won’t be the case next week, but we’re glad right now that we get that opportunity.”

It seemed like George, we talked to him on Thursday, he seemed to take it a little personal, that he was going to shut people up. Have you noticed that any other players on this team have taken that personally?

“I haven’t sat and asked each person, but it doesn’t surprise me. It would disappoint me if it didn’t.”

A year ago at this time, CB Ahkello Witherspoon was starting to get work in the games and then he started in I think Week 8 in Philadelphia. What does he need to do to make that next step so that he’s a permanent starter with no questions asked?

“Ahkello made a lot of strides last year. He wasn’t ready to go at the beginning of the year. He worked every day and earned the opportunity to play. As he got that opportunity, he got better and better each week and finished the season on a high note. I always say, this in everything, not just football but in life, ‘You’re either getting better or worse. You can never stay the same.’ Ahkello needs to grind every single day. I think he had a very good week of practice this week. He had a good week last week. I think he is going the right direction. We’re trying to get him back to the level that he was at last year, which he has shown at times. But, we want that to be more consistent and we don’t want it to stop there. We want him to keep improving. Right now, starting on the practice field, you can see that going the right way.”

Is DB Tarvarius Moore on a similar path?

“Yeah. Tarvarius is a similar path. It’s his first time playing corner. We drafted him out of college, where he played safety. He’s done a great job with the transition so far. We haven’t been holding him back in terms of that he’s not ready. There’s guys ahead of him right now. Someday, you hope that there’s no injuries and things like that, but eventually he will get his opportunity. When he does, he better be ready.”

Where is Lambeau on your list of favorite places to play away from home?

“It’s right up there. I think everyone knows the tradition there. So, it’s always neat to go there, especially to go to a night game where you get to see everyone getting ready for it all game. Any time you go to a place with a bunch of history. I know it’s always a little bit colder there. I know I’m glad we’re going there now and not December. It’s a fun place to play and something that I’ve had the opportunity to do. Not a lot of our guys on our team have and I think they’ll see it’s a pretty special place when they get there.”

Do you have a favorite Lambeau memory?

“Yes. My first time I went there, it was six degrees. I was out in Houston. I tried to go to the box, but they made me stay on the field. I was freezing. It was pretty neat because I think we set a record. I think we had over 500 yards of offense and it was the most in any temperature under 10 degrees. That was a pretty neat win. I think it was [Green Bay Packers QB] Aaron’s [Rodgers] first year playing where he just replaced Favre. But, it was a fun time.”

How confident are you in RB Raheem Mostert in the event that Matt isn’t able to go on Monday?

“I’m confident because of the week of practice he had. I know he struggled last week with his opportunity. I had a good talk with Raheem this week. We challenged him real hard. He was up for the challenge. Everyone knows Raheem has earned his spot here as a special teams player. He’s done a hell of a job at that, but there’s going to come a time just like last week, and there will come a time again, where we need him to help us at running back. He has that ability. I do believe he has that mindset and the way he worked this week gives me a lot of confidence going into this game.”

How has WR Marquise Goodwin looked? How excited are you to get him back into the fold?

“I’m very excited. It was our first full week with Marquise since Week 1. He got three days in a row of practice. I believe that will give him a better chance to perform in the game.”

C.J. alluded to this earlier with the George Kittle quote. He’s an outspoken guy, George is, and very colorful. We hear that in the locker room, see that on the sideline. Did you know that when you were drafting that, that you would get all that energy and enthusiasm with a good tight end as well?

“We do a lot of, our personnel staff and everything, they’re going to those schools years before those guys are available. So, that’s stuff you kind of depend on from those guys. They get lots of information on people. You get to interview guys and find out a little bit there. Rarely do you get to see that stuff in the interview. It’s just like a job interview. You don’t always show everyone exactly who you are. But, Kittle has been great. He’s got a good personality. He acts like a WWE wrestler and I don’t think that’s an act, I think that’s who he is 24/7 which is fun to watch. But, you’ve always got to watch out for him. He’s pretty rowdy all the time.”

He’d probably consider that the utmost compliment too, being compared to a WWE wrestler.

“He would say thank you coach for me saying that.”

Regarding Kittle, someone smarter than me about football was talking about he has a feel in blocking. For example, the play-action game and the feel of when to kind of release and all that stuff. Is that stuff just feel or something he’s been able to develop since he’s gotten here?

“We do a lot of it. I think Kittle’s got a pretty good feel of everything. He’s got the ability to be a good blocker and a good passer. The more work he gets at stuff, the more he reps, I think he’s got a chance to be a very well-rounded tight end, as everyone’s seeing. So, I don’t think there’s anything that George can’t do and can’t do at a high level if he’s given the opportunity and can do it consistently.”

I asked George about this earlier in the week too about the chemistry he has with C.J. being that they were old college teammates. From what you’ve seen and obviously orchestrating this offense, how much does that make it easier for you to call those plays, call George’s number knowing that C.J. kind of knows where he’s supposed to be and they have that rapport?

“I think that stuff’s a little bit overrated. Guys who are good players, who get open, quarterbacks are going to throw those guys the ball. When guys have a relationship, it’s good that people understand each other as humans and how to talk to each other and understand when they’re right, when they’re not right, when things are bothering them, when they’re healthy, when they feel good. But, as far as when you get on the football field, we’ve all been here a year together, a little over a year. We run the same routes. People know where people are supposed to be. But, the more open people get, the better relationship, the more chemistry a quarterback and that person are going to have.”

How does your routine change on a primetime game?

“Not much, because I think today’s Friday because we’re leaving early. We got an extra day early in the week, which was kind of a bonus day a little bit. It’s more time to study the last game with Arizona. It’s a little bit more time to look into some personnel things and things like that. It’s another day to get ahead on Green Bay. So, I just look at it as a bonus day for the coaches. It’s nice for the players because they’ve got an extra day to rest. But, once that happens, we get that bonus day and then we treat it as a seven-day week. So, even though it was Tuesday for everyone else, that was our Monday and in our mind we’re playing on Sunday Night Football which everyone else is going to call Monday.”

I guess during the day they don’t get antsy of like, ‘Alright let’s get going?’

“Yeah, it’s not as fun to sit around all that day. Some people will look at the stuff the week ahead and things like that. I don’t do that. Everything is about that game. I don’t want anything to mess my mind up for that night. So, I try to sleep in as long as possible, which I wake up pretty early but then I force myself to go back to bed to try to catch up on some hours because I know we’re not going to get much the next day because we’re a day behind. Then I usually get over to the stadium early and just give myself more time to go through the process.”