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Kyle Shanahan talks Sherman’s recovery, Colbert starting at safety, and Kittle’s development

The San Francisco 49ers head coach was available for questions on Tuesday. We have the full transcript.

Are you getting anybody back as far as guys that missed some time in OTAs?

“Guys that have been held out aren’t practicing, but we’ve got a few guys going into individuals. We’re going to let [CB] Richard [Sherman] go in individual today. [WR] Max [McCaffrey] is going to do individuals. He’s been out with a hamstring, McCaffrey. And [DB] Jimmie Ward, who missed last week with an ankle, so he’ll get some work today, too.”

So, LB Malcolm Smith isn’t full-go?

“Sorry, Malcolm is a full-go also.”

Is Richard still on track to return day one of training camp?

“Yeah, there’s been no setbacks. I know that’s the goal. That’s what we’re targeting, really what we’re expecting. We’re going to be very cautious, too. Not promising you it’ll be that day, but that’s what we’re looking to and there’s been no reason to think differently.”

Is there something wrong with WR Trent Taylor?

“Same thing. He had some back issues that were bothering him this offseason. We were patient with it and it was still bothering him right before OTAs. So, we went in and cleaned some things up. He’ll be good to go by training camp.”

Did he have surgery?

“Yeah. I think it was a scope or something. He’s not the doctor either. I’m looking at him like he is. No, when you say back surgery it sounds like a huge deal. It was more of a minor thing that I think [TE Garrett] Celek had a few years ago, something similar, something we feel very good about. It’s going to take a little time to heal, but he should be good if not right away in camp, a week into it.”

How did that happen?

“I think it was just wear and tear from the offseason. You could ask him on it. I’m not exactly sure when. I don’t think it was anything specific because it didn’t happen with us in practice. It was just, going through the offseason, it’s been bothering him and wanted to get it cleaned up.”

How has LB Reuben Foster been since he’s been back and how much has he been doing?

“It’s been good. He tried hard to get thrown in there the very first day he got back and we definitely had to hold him back. Him and [head strength & conditioning coach] Ray [Wright] just went one-on-one for about a week and a half, got him in shape and we started to ease him in more last week with the reps. We built him up each day and starting today, he should be treated just like everyone else out there based off rep-wise. He’s in shape and ready to go and it’s been fun having him back.”


“Pretty entrenched. Reuben’s capable of doing both. He played only MIKE in college. He played some of it for us this year. We kind of like Reuben just running around and not having to worry about as much. You don’t have to do that as much at WILL linebacker. But, he’s capable of both. It’s not too much of a difference. Just have to communicate a lot more at MIKE.”

What about LB Fred Warner? Has he been--?

“He’s been doing MIKE now. But again, all those guys, depending on injuries, how everything all plays out, they all do need to be interchangeable. But, we’ve been repping him at MIKE in camp right now.

It seems like since QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been here he has kept a pretty low profile and doesn’t appear to be someone who seeks attention. Do you see it that way and why do you think he has chosen that approach?

“I just think he’s himself. I don’t think he needs to seek attention. I think he gets plenty of it. So, I just think he’s kind of the same guy he’s always been. I think that’s why guys like him. Guys liked him right when he got here, they liked him as he played well and everyone knows the contract he signed this offseason. He’s not going to come in and act differently. He’s been the same guy each day and I think that’s why the people here really appreciate him.”

How far has RB Joe Williams come over the past year?

“Joe’s come a long way. I think his body looks a lot better than it did last year. He’s put on a lot of muscle mass just how he’s worked and taken advantage of the year not playing. I think he has just a different mindset, understands a little bit more of the standard of the NFL and the difference. Sometimes it takes guys time. It’s not always malicious and they’re not trying, it just takes time to understand it and what you have to do day in and day out. I think Joe has made some huge strides between now and last year and I think that’s why he’ll have a chance.”

Do you still see the reasons that attracted you to him in the first place?

“Yeah, definitely. Joe’s an extremely explosive back. Look at his yards per carry in the preseason last year. I don’t think it was a surprise that he was close to seven and had more than most of the guys. When it is blocked right, he’s got the size and the burst to get through there as fast as anyone. But, it’s just about doing it day in and day out and protecting the football, what do you do when the run doesn’t look good, what do you do without the ball in your hands and just everything. Being the same guy every day. Joe has come a long way this year and I’m really excited about him coming back to training camp.”

How has RB Jerick McKinnon looked throughout OTAs?

“Yeah, Jerick’s been great. He missed some time. We were pretty cautious with him with some ankle stuff, too, in the middle of OTAs. But, he’s got enough reps and he’s been what we’ve hoped.”

A few weeks ago, you mentioned the big difference from last year to this year was guys kind of knowing what to do. Has that affected or changed the quality of what you’ve been getting from them on the field and if so, how?

“Yeah. The more you’re ahead, the faster you can continue to get ahead. When you have to spend a lot of time on how you want to practice, that we need to work hard here, how you do a walk-through, how you finish a drill, how you make a play and run. Just little things in the standard of how you practice. When you’re new somewhere and everyone is new, it just takes a while to do that no matter how much you preach it. You’ve got to keep showing it every day and trying to train guys how you want to practice. Now, everyone kind of knows and they just follow each other. The new guys are in and there’s already a standard set so they just jump in line and go with everyone else. You don’t have to talk about that stuff every day. You get to talk about other things. You get what you emphasize and allows you to emphasize some things that you would like to say are more important, but if you don’t have a standard on how you start and everything, you can’t get to those next steps. We have that standard. We’re a lot further along with it. I think it just allows us to be further along in other areas.”

What are some of those things that you’re free to focus on?

“Just stuff we can cover in team meetings. We don’t always have to cover getting people to work. Everyone’s working, that’s not a question. Let’s just detail up our technique, let’s talk about our steps, let’s look at it closer, think of how it is versus this coverage, versus this front, studying people’s stances whatever position you are, how to change things up. There are so many different intricacies to a game and to a front, to a technique, to a coverage, to teams, that changes every week so there’s no absolutes but the one absolute is it’s very hard. So, you’ve got to work and grind every single day. I think we’ve got a team who is not scared of that. Guys like to work, guys like to put in the time and now we just have a bunch of guys focused on getting better.”

You’re only having a two-day camp?


Was that the same as last year?

“Yeah. I’m trying to keep it a secret but it’s been really hard. Last year I kept it a secret too long and then no one could have babysitters. So, I’m kind of telling them, and obviously it’s not a secret anymore. The last day of school, you don’t want to have too long of a practice. We’re just going to try to get the family up here, barbeque a little bit and get the jumpy castles and stuff. We’ll let [T Joe] Staley and [T Mike] McGlinchey play king of the hill in there or something.”

How is that relationship working out between the two of them? How fast have they developed a bond?

“I think they’ve been good. They’re funny. It’s like two giant 12-year-olds hanging out together. But, I think they have a lot of fun together. I think we’ve got a real good room there. Joe is obviously the veteran, Mike is the new rookie and we’ve got a lot of guys in between those guys who fall right in with the group, too. I think we have a very close room in there. I think we’ve got a close team and it makes it a lot more fun to come into work.”

Given the fact that they came from the same coach and the same background, when you were doing your research on Mike with the coaches at Notre Dame, how much did Joe come up because he is kind of a template when they were developing him?

“It doesn’t come up a ton. It makes sense. They both had two very good college coaches. They’re both two very talented guys. They both are playing very close to their ability in the college level, which I think has a to do a lot with them and they were coached well. Then, hopefully you can get them to the NFL and with their talent and the way they work, just more experience and stuff, it’s hard not to improve each year as long as you take care of your body and you can stay healthy. I think we’ve got two similar guys with similar backgrounds and that’s why you feel very confident that they’re made of the right stuff, which will allow them to improve as their career goes.”

Last week during practice, I think it was a fourth-down play, Jimmy found WR Pierre Garçon. They didn’t play together last year. Can you offer some insight on what their relationship is like throughout this offseason program?

“I think it’s been part of the process. It’s been good for them to get to play with each other. Jimmy came here last year and I think he got to see Pierre maybe for one game and then Pierre was on IR. I think he only got to see him play once. Saw a lot of film from the cut-ups and stuff that we were trying to teach Jimmy with. But, didn’t really know him as a person and it’s been a good process for them to get here, spend some time together, get to know each other, go through all of the reps of having some successful ones, some bad ones, stuff they can talk about. Some days are better than others, but they’re getting to know each other. I think it’ll be good going into training camp and it’ll definitely be nice to have Pierre back this year.”

Has C Weston Richburg impressed so far?

“Yeah, he’s been great. It’s been real fun with him out there. You’ve got to be careful with how you run the ball in OTAs, but it kind of works to our advantage because we do so much outside zone and not as much gap schemes and things like that. He’s been great. Him and [NT] Earl [Mitchell] battle every day, get [DL] D.J. [Jones] in there. They know what’s coming. We know what gaps they’re in and those two just got to do the same thing over and over and he’s created a lot of space for us. I think he’s fit in with the guys and he works as hard as everyone else. We’ve been real happy so far.

In general, do you see chemistry forming with a quarterback and his receivers over practice? If so, have you seen that with Jimmy and the rest of the guys?

“Yeah, definitely. We saw it last year. The more guys work together, especially when guys enjoy each other’s company, I don’t think everyone is best friends or anything, but I think everyone respects each other and enjoys each other. Those guys put a lot of work in here when we’re around. I think they put in a ton of work when we’re not around. We’ve got a lot of guys that football is very important to so you’re going to get that. But, like I keep saying, our guys enjoy each other, also. It just makes it easier to keep working. The chemistry you can’t force. You can’t talk about it. It just has to happen and it takes time. I think that’s happening.”

Have you formed an opinion yet on where Jimmie Ward can help you out most once training camp begins?

“Jimmie can help us out most where he’s needed the most, which is a very good thing for a team to have. It’s a very big compliment to say to Jimmie that he’s capable of helping us out at nickel, corner and safety. Where do we need him the most? We’re not quite sure yet. But, what I’ve been excited about is how he looked through all the OTAs. We only kept him at corner. He did a very good job. He showed that he can be a starting corner in this league and it’s good to have him as an option. We’ll see how training camp pans out. He’s shown throughout his career and last year when he played for us that he can play and be a starter at safety and we know he can play nickel, also. I’ve been very happy with Jimmie. Got a little tweak, I believe it was his ankle, last week. So, a little bit of a setback but nothing to be too concerned about. But, I think he had a very good OTAs and we’ll see if he gets out there. Probably not today, but maybe tomorrow.”

When you look at the defensive backfield, is DB Adrian Colbert solid at free safety as your starter? Is he going to be your starter?

“Right now it looks that way. I’m not going to make any guarantees, but if anyone watches the level he played at last year was very good and he got better the more he played. We were very happy with him as our middle-third player. Before Jimmie got hurt, he was playing like that, too. But Colbert’s came in, especially with our corner situation, he’s had all of the reps. I’m not going to tell him he’s arrived. You get better or worse, so he’s got to continue to get better. But, we were very happy with him as our middle-third safety and if someone comes out and beats him out and plays better, then that’s not the coolest thing for Colbert but that’s a good thing for the team. That’s a good problem to have to deal with.

What kind of growth have you seen from TE George Kittle?

“I think George can be a very good tight end in this league. It’s rare that you have a guy who is built to block very well who also runs in the 4.5s and who is quick enough to separate. I think George was a big part of our team last year. I think George played last year hurt almost the entire year. He was hurt a lot in training camp, too. We put a lot of pressure on George early because we needed to and it was up and down throughout the year but he never shied away. We always knew he was hurting, but for him to get away, clean his body up, get healthy, to come back and just watch how he moves right now, it just shows us how banged up he was. He is a tough guy who is going to play through things, but he’s healthy right now. He’s moving great and it’s allowing him to get better in the run and pass. That’ll continue. George has got a lot of ability.”

What have your impressions been of DL Jeremiah Attaochu?

“I’ve been excited with him. They’re trying a bunch of different things with him. [Pass rush specialist] Chris [Kiffin] and [defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina] Z have done a good job working with him in the run game and the pass game. I think he came in trying to isolate on some moves. We try to hold all judgment until guys put pads on because they’re very hard to block when you don’t have pads on. They’re too slippery so you can get the blocks on him. But, he’s gotten better each day and that’s to me a sign that it’s legit. The last few OTAs were so much better than the first few OTAs. I think the more he gets comfortable, the more he works. He’s got the ability to do it and he’s going to be a candidate to help us in training camp here.”

You don’t have any established pass rusher. You have potential, but I don’t think you’ve got a guy with more than 10 career sacks. How do you fill that--?

“I believe that we’ve got guys with ability who work and who have a chance to get better. I think in order for that to improve, every single guy we have on our roster, whoever it ends up being, needs to take a step forward from our best guy to our last guy. I believe that we are capable of that. I don’t think that we’re maxed out on D-Line. Yeah, I would love to bring a guy in who gets 20 sacks or would love for him to be sitting right there in the draft for us to where there’s just no doubt about it, everyone knows you’ve got that person. But that’s hard to find and I don’t think every team in this league has that person. I think we have some guys who are capable and who have a chance of possibly getting there and that’s what excites me. I think we had some guys who played good last year, but man can we get a lot better. We’ll always look to improve, we’ll always look to add, but we’ve got to find people better and it’s got to be available first of all. In the meantime, I’m excited about our guys. They can get better and they’re working to get better. I’ve seen it throughout OTAs. I thought when guys came back here, they were better than when they left. I think we were better in OTA nine than we were in one. Hopefully we can stay healthy through these two days and they’ll keep working on their own for this month we’re away and we’ll come back in training camp ready to go.”

Do you sense excitement in G Joshua Garnett to get an opportunity and show what he can do? What do you think of his development?

“Yeah, I do. I just watch in how he moves around. I can tell he was excited just by watching, as I told you guys, he took care of his body in the time away. He took advantage of the year he had off to take care of his knee, but also to get in the best shape possible. Where he is right now is much further ahead to where he was last year in OTAs when I met him. He’s in better shape, he runs better, he’s stronger, he’s lighter and he is giving himself a chance to compete now.”

Where is G Jonathan Cooper in his recovery?

“He’s coming along. He’s not going to be there until training camp. That’s been the plan with him from the start. There hasn’t been any setbacks so once he gets out there I think it’ll add a lot more competition for those guys and I’m looking forward to watching it.”