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Shanahan, Mullens, Kittle, Sherman discuss season finale loss to Rams

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The 49ers wrapped up their season with a Week 17 loss to the Rams. We’ve got some postgame transcripts, and you can watch video of the press conferences here.

Postgame Press Conference

Kyle Shanahan, George Kittle, Richard Sherman, Alfred Morris and Nick Mullens are at the podium.

Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, December 30, 2018

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

(Opening remarks)

“Injuries: (49ers RB Jeff) Wilson (Jr.) – shoulder, did not return; (49ers OL) Laken (Tomlinson) – knee, didn’t return; (49ers RB Alfred) Morris – shoulder, no return; and (49ers NB) K’Waun (Williams) was ribs.”

(On if he has any sense of 49ers OL Laken Tomlinson’s knee injury)

“Yeah, they can’t confirm for sure. There’s still a chance, so we’re hoping not for an ACL, but definitely a possibility.”

(On if he has an overall thought on his team’s 4-12 season)

“Not yet. We just finished this game. Obviously, we weren’t happy with our record. I was happy with some of the things we fought through and got better at, but we’ll be looking at that over the next month.”

(On how gratifying it was that 49ers TE George Kittle got the record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end)

”It was. It was huge. We were hoping that it would work out that way. The way the game went, I didn’t think it would go that way, but at the end he made a few big plays. I was real happy that the defense did stop them at the end there to give us a chance to go for it. We told them, ‘As soon as he gets it, we’re done,’ so it was pretty cool that he turned it into a touchdown. That’s what he’s been doing all year, so he’s done a hell of a job.”

(On if he was taking time outs at the end of the game with the purpose of letting 49ers TE George Kittle get the record)

”Yeah, totally. We had a pretty good idea the game was over, and we would have got people out of there, try to be as healthy as possible. But the whole team and us wanted to get that for (49ers TE George) Kittle.”

(On if he felt like he owed 49ers TE George Kittle one after he failed to earn the single-game receiving yards record against the Broncos)

”A little bit. I definitely did. He’s let me know about it. So has his mom and dad, so we tried to make it up to him.”

(On if he had to say anything to 49ers QB Nick Mullens about his three interceptions in the first half)

”Not really. He knows what he was doing wrong. They made a couple good plays. I know they’re all ones he’d want to have back. That was a disappointing thing about the game, not just Nick - those are on everybody, also the fumble. Starting that game off with four turnovers, the same way we did the last time versus them doesn’t give yourself much of a chance to play.”

(On if Mullens remained composed on the sideline)

”Yeah, Nick doesn’t change. That’s what I’ve said from the beginning in terms of he’s a machine. He doesn’t change. He gets down on himself but that doesn’t affect his play. He comes back, he’s competitive, and he never stops letting it rip.”

(On the season that 49ers OL Laken Tomlinson had)

”(OL) Laken (Tomlinson)’s been great all year. We got him a week before the season our first year here. He didn’t start our first game and then I think he started all 15 games after that. He’s gotten better each week. He came in this offseason, took a huge step forward. He’s stayed healthy for us all year. He’s been a very good player. Hoping for good news on him, but if not, I know he’ll do his rehab and be ready at sometime next year. He’s a huge part of what we do.”

(On if substituting CB Greg Mabin for CB Richard Sherman was just to see what Mabin could do)

”Yeah, a little bit. (CB Richard Sherman) had a little Achilles soreness and stuff with the situation, especially when we got to the second half. I know he would have liked to play longer, but we wanted to be smart with that and also give the other guys a little more chance out there.”

(On if he would have been shocked to hear that 49ers TE George Kittle would have had a year like this when the season started)

”Yeah, it would be a shock. He’s good enough to, but it’s hard to get one guy that stuff when you spread it around and we spread it around a ton this year, so that makes more sense to me there. We’ll see how next year goes, but he can have a much better year next year and not do that stuff. Stats don’t always tell that, but he had an unbelievable year.”

(On potentially dealing with 49ers TE George Kittle’s parents again next year)

”I know. The pressure is going to get on, I know. Got to be able to handle that though.”

(On if he thinks that high expectations played a factor in the team starting the season so slowly)

”I don’t think so. It just has to do with playing as good as you can. I don’t think we played as well as we can at the beginning and then we went into some tough injuries and stuff, which makes it harder. I think we found our groove a little bit more as the year went. We’ve got to find a way to start off playing as good as we can. In terms of ending last year, I don’t think that affects much, just like I don’t think this does. You take stuff from wins and losses, you try to get better, not worse. We better make sure we come back next year we ready to go and turn this around.”

QB Nick Mullens

(On how aware he was of the record for TE George Kittle throughout the game)

“We were very aware. I’m so happy for him, man. He deserves every bit of it. The things that he’s been able to do for himself, for the team, for the organization in the short two years he’s been here is incredible. I think he has a big impact off the field as much as he does on the field. So, I can’t speak – he deserves every bit of credit that he gets. Very talented player, great teammate, yards after the catch. His skills – you’ve seen it all year – he’s done a great job. So, it’s a really big deal for us to get him that record, and he deserves every bit of credit.”

(On the last play before TE George Kittle broke the record today)

“Yeah, so he was 9-yards away. The first one, we were like, alright, let’s throw the hitch, let’s let him catch it, get up the field. Pre-snap, they threw a backer out there so, like, alright, they’re not going to let him get the record. But, we’re like, screw it, we’re throwing it to him. So, he got eight yards. So, we’re like, alright, now two yards, this guy deserves the record, we’re throwing the freaking ball. So, then he caught it and finished his season with a touchdown. So, it’s a storybook finish for (TE) George (Kittle) and we’re really excited to be working with him.”

(On who is giving him and his team the information about how many more yards George Kittle needed to break the record)

“Just the people whose job that was. So, I guess the coaches or the staff.”

(On if he was fearful the Rams would do anything they could to make sure George Kittle didn’t break the record)

“A little bit. But, I was trying to get George what he deserved.”

(On what it was like to see George Kittle break the tackle and run down the field)

“Yeah, it was awesome. He only needed a couple, but I’m not surprised that he caught a short pass and took it the distance. That’s where he’s made his money this year. So, it was awesome, it was exciting. I’m glad we could finish with a touchdown and finish strong. Obviously, the start wasn’t what we wanted. But, to finish the way we did shows the toughness and the grit of this team.”

(On what it has been like throwing to Kittle the second half of the season with defenses starting to zero in on him more)

“Yeah, and they still haven’t been able to stop him. They definitely do. They know where he’s at at all times. Man coverage - a lot of times you’ll see them put an extra guy towards that way. And, he’s earned that respect. He’s earned that respect around the league and around our team for sure and he deserves that respect because he earned it.”

(On his thoughts on the team’s quarterback situation)

“No Sir.”

(On if he felt the Rams knew they were trying to get the ball to TE George Kittle)

“I’m not sure if they did or not. They were obviously trying to finish the game like we were and play every play their hardest. So, I’m not exactly sure.”

(On if he thinks he needs to improve on taking care of the football)

“Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean obviously, you’re doing everything you can to protect the football. It’s frustrating and I think it’s part of the game. I think I could have taken an easier read on the third-and-long. You know, if it’s third-and-long, you don’t have to make the big play just check it down. It’s something that I can definitely learn from. Then the tipped ball to George, it was a one-on-one, I guess you can just say it was bad luck. It was a one-on-one, I held the safety tried to just give George a chance on the opportunity ball, the ball got tipped up and unfortunate interception. But yeah, you turn the ball over like that and games get out of hand quick. I mean, we experienced that today. It’s frustrating. We know that we can compete with any team on the field if we protect the football, but we didn’t do that today.”

(On staying out of the grasp of DL Aaron Donald)

“Yeah, I felt him a couple times. He’s a great player and very quick for his size. He causes a lot of problems for a lot of offenses. I think everybody has seen how good of a player he is and we felt him today. He did a good job. He plays with good energy and he’s fast. He uses his skillset well.”

TE George Kittle

(On him breaking the record for most receiving yards by a tight end)

“It hasn’t really hit me yet, but it’s definitely exciting. It definitely wasn’t just me. You had three quarterbacks throwing me the ball, you had O-line, just ups and downs through out the whole year guys in and out. But that’s just a credit to our team to just keep pushing and grinding the whole year no matter what happens. Definitely would have enjoyed a win today, but this definitely makes it feel a little better.”

(On his recognition of how close he was from breaking the record)

“I did not know. My position coach and some of the other guys were giving me little updates here and there. I knew going into the last drive, I needed need nine yards, so make it 15 and I’ll just take it to the end zone.”

(On him trading his jersey with someone else)

“I refuse to. That’s mine, that one is mine. I actually hid that so no one can take it at all. I don’t want that Tom Brady thing happening when we got his jersey stolen, so yeah that’s mine.”

(On him surpassing past record holders)

“That means everything to me. Those are guys that I’ve looked up to. Those are guys I’ve watched their film countless hours just trying to take little tidbits from each of their games. The fact that Coach Shanahan gave me an opportunity to get that all season long, that is a lot of games. I appreciate everything and the fact that my name is on that list now with those guys, it means a lot. Like I said, it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m assuming it will in the next 10 or 15 minutes.”

CB Richard Sherman

(On 49ers TE George Kittle breaking NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season)

“He deserved it man. He’s such a hardworking player. The last play was like a microcosm of who he is as a player and a person. It’s a five-yard gain for the record and he takes it – whatever it was – 40 yards, scores a touchdown. He just never stops playing.”

(On how aware the defense was of Kittle’s chase for the record)

“They were so aware. They were really aware. The coaches told them, ‘We’ve got to get this stop for him so he can get a chance at it.’ I think everybody was aware of it throughout most of the game. Obviously, it got out of hand kind of early and guys were just trying to get him the ball back.”

(On what this season has been like for him considering he’s predominately played on winning teams previously in his career)

“It’s been up and down. We’ve won some and we’ve dealt with the injury bug more than anything, but it’s been a good learning experience. It’s good learning for the young guys. Some guys got some valuable experience. It’s been good learning. Obviously, it’s unfortunate the way it played out, but next year we’ll have another chance at it.”

(On how close the team is to being the playoff race next year)

“Well, it’s hard to say. It’s hard to tell without your guys out there. Without (49ers QB) Jimmy ‘G’ (Garoppolo), you’ve got your franchise quarterback you lose, what? – three games into the season. You lose the running back you just paid no games into the season. Your starting receivers get banged up. You lose a safety a game almost every game all the way up until the tenth, eleventh game. I think it’ll be tough to know how good we’ll be till we have a consistent unit out there and show some continuity.”

(On if he’ll need to do further maintenance on his Achilles this offseason or just rest)

“You’ve got to rest to it, but you always need more maintenance to get it stronger. Obviously, I’ll have offseason to actually work out and get it stronger and work on my quick twitch. Do the things that I didn’t have time to do once we got into season. It’s constant, once you get to a certain age it’s constant body maintenance.”