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Transcript for Kyle Shanahan interview with ESPN’s Adam Schefter

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The San Francisco 49ers head coach had a lengthy interview talking about free agency and Jimmy Garoppolo. Here’s everything he said. You can listen to the full interview here.

Adam Schefter: “So what was it like for the 49ers to go out and have the busy offseason that they had? They added Richard Sherman, Jerick McKinnon, and Weston Richburg amongst others this offseason. I guess we’ll start with Richard Sherman and the pursuit there.”

Kyle Shanahan: “It was fun, we knew we wanted to add a corner going into this offseason, went through all the options. Richard came available a few days before free agency. We had some plans on what we wanted to do free agent-wise, once that started that Wednesday, but he became available on a Friday. The fact he flew down there Friday night, had a good dinner with him. They negotiated a contract on Saturday. It was a hell of a deal three days before free agency, getting Richard Sherman, made a lot less stressful going into Wednesday.”

AS: “He comes in Friday. Did you actually think you two would go unrecognized in Northern California? That no one would see Richard Sherman visiting with you and your wife

KS: “Well, he had a hood on, which covered his dreads and everything, so I thought he wouldn’t stick out as much. And no one really notices me out there. I don’t get noticed that much, so I thought we’d be all right. But, I was definitely wrong.”

AS: “And then Friday night, all the sudden it shows up on Twitter: Richard Sherman and Kyle Shanahan having dinner. Did you think that deal would be getting done the next day?”

KS: “No, not at all. I thought it would eventually. Anytime you got a guy coming off an injury who had surgery three weeks prior for bone spurs. When you have that situation; he just got let go the day before and it’s his first trip, very rarely does something happen that fast. That was what was so cool, because Richard wanted to get something done and we did obviously too. And when you’re in that situation—especially coming off of injury—it’s hard for a club to show a big commitment, and it’s hard for the player to show a big risk. I think it was cool that the Niners to guarantee over $5 million dollars at that time, three weeks from injury and for Richard to put some pressure on himself for a situation where he has to come in and be healthy and play. It put pressure on both sides and it was a little give from both sides, and that’s why we were able to get it done.”

AS: What’s the biggest thing he’ll bring to the 49ers?

KS: “Well, one, just his ability. He’s a Pro Bowl corner. He’s played a high level for a long time and to get that type of player out there it is very needed. We needed that last year and we’ll hope to have that going this year. But having a guy with his knowledge, his experience of the game, how important football is to him, how important his legacy is to him, he’s not just playing to play. He’s not just playing for the money. He really enjoys this game and it means a lot to him. I always noticed that by how he plays, but getting to talk to him and hear from him personally, it’s not a secret why he’s so successful.”

AS: “Now Jerick McKinnon, the running back you signed away from Minnesota [Vikings], also an interesting case study here because, the [Tampa Bay] Buccaneers were interested in his services, the [New York] Jets were interested in his services and when the free agent wave ended, Jerick McKinnon became the highest paid running back in free agency, which I think would have surprised some people. What did you see in Jerick McKinnon that put him into that spot, where he did become the highest paid running back in free agency?”

KS: “It’s a lot more simple than people think. You look at all the free agent running backs that are available, and you evaluate them. We liked Jerick more than anyone. He was our top guy, and it surprised me too because anytime someone doesn’t have a ton of stats and everything, I’m always thinking that maybe I’m the only one that’s going to see him that way. That, “Alright, we’ll get this guy middle of the pack compared to all the other free agents, but we’ll be excited because we think he’s the best one.” And then you go through negotiations like that and you know it wasn’t a secret. Other teams saw it on tape too. He was our target—that was the guy we wanted. It means we were right, other teams saw him the same way, the market is what it is, and we did what we needed to get a good player.”

AS: “What role do you envision for Jerick McKinnon this season?”

KS: “He’s coming in, he’s our starting running back. I don’t care what running back you are though, you’re never going to do that on your own, so he’s going to need help from other people in that group. But I expect him to help us in the run game a ton,and I expect him to do it in the pass game -- what he’s always done, if not more. He’s been a great third down back in this league and we plan on using him that way, but we also expect to bring him in and him run the ball for us well too.”

AS: “And what will Weston Richburg, the offensive lineman you’ve added from the Giants bring to your offense?”

KS: “Very similar to Jerick, we wanted to improve the interior of our O-line. And when we looked at all the guards and the centers available in free agency, we thought he was the best player. Especially with what we want to do schematically. When it comes to a center reaching a shade and things like that in our outside zone, I thought he was an idea fit. We all thought he was an ideal fit for what we do. Reminded me a ton of Alex Mack when we went for him at Atlanta and I saw it as a very similar situation. I know what Alex did for our team out there and I see Richburg similar to that type of player.”

AS: “How do you put into words what Jimmy Garoppolo has meant to the organization?

KS: “The time when he came in. We really were wanting to find a quarterback of his caliber. He came in and excited everybody, but there was a lot of unknown. He only played in two games. Everyone knew the ability he had and the throwing ability; getting him in the building and everyone getting to meet the guy, everyone really enjoyed his personality and who he is as a man. Once he got on that field, the way he played, the way he did it each week—he got better each week. We know, we threw him in tough situations, so did the players. He didn’t have the time to really know everything he was doing, know the offense inside and out. He didn’t stress about it, didn’t make excuses, he just went out there and played well and got better each week and so did the guys around him.”

AS: John Lynch said recently that your master plan was to bring in Kirk Cousins. How long did it take you to get over the fact that your master plan could not be deployed.”

KS: “It took about three weeks, to be honest with you.”

AS: “Three weeks?”

KS: “Well, in terms of, he had to go out there and play.

“I thought were in a good situation after our first year in terms of, record-wise we weren’t in a good situation, but I thought we were in a good situation to find a very good quarterback. Jimmy kind of fell into our laps for a second round pick, and I knew how talented he was from college — spent a lot of time on him. We loved his two games we evaluated, so once we knew we could get him for a second round pick, that’s something that we would not have hesitated on. But then when we had him, the reason it took a few weeks was, we weren’t gonna lock our self into an unknown.

“We knew a guy possibly, like Kirk Cousins was going to become available, most likely in free agency. We also didn’t have one win, so we thought we might have the first pick in the draft, and a bunch of good quarterbacks are coming out. So we knew we were in a good situation, so we weren’t just going to jump in and, ‘hey we got Jimmy, he’s played in two games, let’s sign him longterm, and bypass maybe the first pick in the draft, or someone like Kirk in free agency.’

“So we just played it out, and see what would happen. And Jimmy went out there and played very well in the first game. I was extremely excited. The second game I was even more excited. By the third game, I think we all kinda forgot about free agency and about the draft, and we were like, ‘alright, we can isolate on one guy right now,’ and we were very happy that it happened.”

AS: “By the third game, you were ready to hand him a contract, that at that time would make him the highest paid quarterback in the game?”

KS: “We wanted a franchise quarterback. When they get to the market, that’s how much they cost. You got to decide on what those guys are. We knew Jimmy had the ability to do it; that’s what he showed in college, that’s what he showed in his two games playing, but you never know until you get with someone. Yeah, I wish we could have had him for more than the five games he played. I wish we could have played him for three years before we did this. This is the situation we had. Jimmy, I didn’t think it could be possible with the limited amount of time, him not knowing the offense and the fact we weren’t playing very well at the time either. I didn’t think it was going to be possible for him to go in and prove himself the way he did, but a credit to him and his teammates—he proved that. We’re very excited he did and it’s made things a lot easier going into this offseason.”

AS: “So what are your hopes in the 2018 season for Jimmy Garoppolo?”

KS: “I just want him to improve. I think he played very well last year. Everything went right. We hadn’t won many games. We only won one game before him and then five in a row with him. That’s a lot of success right there. But I know it’s not going to be like that all this year. I’m pretty confident to say we won’t go undefeated. If we do, congrats. I hope I’m wrong about that. I’m not thinking that we will. I’m looking forward to watching him play through a season. I know he’s going to have some highs and I know he’s going to have some lows. I want to see how he responds to it, how his teammates respond to it. Playing quarterback in this league isn’t just how talented you are and how good you are, it’s how you can respond to all this pressure that not many can relate to except maybe an NFL quarterback. I’m interested to watch him go through those growing pains. Hopefully we can help him out with it and let him know he’s not going through it alone. He’s a good player and he’s really going to help out San Francisco over the years.”

AS: “Had you not made that trade for Jimmy Garoppolo in late October, do you think it’s fair to say there’s a good chance that Kirk Cousins would have wound up in San Francisco playing for the 49ers?”

KS: “I think everyone knows how I feel about Kirk. I think most of the league feels that way. I don’t think that’s anything different. I think anybody in free agency of anyone who needed a quarterback, if they thought they had a chance at Kirk, I know pretty sure every team in the league would have gone for him. I don’t think I was any different than anyone else. I can’t promise you he would have been available though if we didn’t get a quarterback either. I’m really happy how it ended up for all sides.”

AS: “So you have no doubt that Cousins will be the type of quarterback the Vikings are hoping that they get.”

KS: “He was on tape the whole time he was in Washington and will continue to be the rest of his career. I think most people, there’s no doubt in that.”