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Kyle Shanahan talks Aaron Burbridge’s Development, Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin’s emergence

The 49ers head coach met with the media to close out Wednesday’s practice. We’ve got a full transcript, and you can watch video here.

What impressed you the most out there? Pretty good ending.

“Yeah. I just thought it was good all around. Guys battled and went back and forth. I didn’t give the advantage to anyone today. I thought it was a good practice. I thought all three phases got better.”

Did you plan on giving the first-team offense one more drive?

“No. I was trying to get all of those guys a certain amount of reps and we’re moving the ball and it’s unscripted. The first time up, the defense held them to three-and-out. So, I just feel like the one defense, or either side of the ball, got enough reps on that. Wanted to at least give them a few more. We got a few first downs and whenever it stops, we would’ve ended it.”

What was your take on that last play, in particular, and how WR Dante Pettis has looked early on in camp?

“I think he’s gotten better each day. He’s going through some of his rookie bumps, like they all do. But, I think he’s gotten better each day. It seemed like he had a real good day out there today and I hope it continues.”

When you were reviewing Pettis’ college film, did you ever notice him going against CB Ahkello Witherspoon?

“No, I didn’t. We didn’t go back far enough. He had enough from recent years. But yeah, I never saw them matchup.”

Is this the most physical camp so far?

“The practice?”


“Yeah, it seemed like that a little bit more today. It seemed like a little more hits down the field on a few screens and stuff. I didn’t get to see the end of them. I’ll see when I get to the tape. But yeah, I did feel the same thing you did out there, which I was happy about.”

How much time do you spend with QB Jimmy Garoppolo breaking down film after practice like this, typically on a training camp day?

“Every day. Yeah, there’s not a practice that goes by that we don’t watch together.”

Is it usually one-one-one?

“No, it’s all the quarterbacks and the quarterbacks coach [Rich Scangarello]. Sometimes, we’ll get the whole offense together. We haven’t yet, but we will when we feel it’s needed.”

Is it mostly a one-sided conversation?

“No, it’s never one-sided. I usually say what I think should happen and what they should do and then you ask, ‘Why?’ Sometimes they messed up or sometimes they might see it differently, but I always want to hear that.”

Yesterday, you said you were already looking to get DT Jullian Taylor some reps with the ones even before DL Arik Armstead got hurt. Does that mean you were already looking and saying, ‘Maybe this guy could start for us?’

“No. It’s just, he went against the threes a bunch and he had done a pretty good job. You do that consistently and you want to see how he goes against some different guys. We wanted more to put him in some situations to see him against some different O-Linemen. I’m sure we’ll continue to do that with a ton of positions.”

How do you think he did?

“I thought he did a very good job. He’s continued to be consistent. It’s always a learning experience, just like I said with Pettis and everything. It’s one good play, two bad plays and then you hope they learn from the bad plays. But, it’s in his body and he’s willing. He plays physical. Now, it’s about how many reps you can get him in situations to see if he gets better or worse as you put more on his plate.”

He’s big, tall and has got long arms. He moves really well, it seems like. How does a guy like that slip until the seventh round? Was it all injury-related do you think?

“Yeah, I think so. It’s very hard to find, especially D-Linemen. It’s a tough position to find. It’s very hard to find them late, so you’ve got to take some risk on guys with injuries and stuff like that. That’s why I think we were fortunate enough to have him available there for that reason.”

What’s your plan for QB C.J. Beathard? Is he going to go back for his grandfather’s Hall of Fame induction?

“Yeah, he’s going to go back. I know it means a lot to him. He would never tell us, and he definitely didn’t ask. Then when I told him he had to go and he didn’t have a choice, then he told us how thankful he was. Yeah, he’s going to go there Saturday, which is a day off, so it works out well. Unfortunately, with this west coast time difference that I’ve gotten used to in the last year, he’s got to fly back Sunday morning and he won’t get here until like practice starts. He’ll probably miss that practice that Sunday, but it’ll be a good chance to get [QB] Nick [Mullens] and [QB] Jack [Heneghan] a few more reps.”

With Pettis, he says that people have told him that he has crazy legs and he runs a little bit differently. But, one thing that stands out is he still moves efficiently, particularly at the line of scrimmage beating press and things like that. Are those things you’ve noticed when breaking him down? How do you feel about his ability to win at the line of scrimmage early on in camp?

“I feel very good. I think that’s one of the reasons we had him targeted very early in the draft. I think that’s why we traded up to go get him because we knew he had a skill set that fit us. It’s sometimes hard to see in college because they don’t see a lot of man-to-man coverage. It’s so much zone and you don’t have to be great with your feet when you’re pretty talented because you can beat a lot of guys you’re better than anyways. But, you could see it sometimes. He was such a good kick returner and got so many opportunities returning the ball, you could see he had the movement with the ball in his hands. Now, it’s about showing him that he naturally can do it and get him to do it in his routes. If you can make guys miss with your feet when you have the ball in your hand, you should be able to do it in routes, too. To combine that with his speed and his hands and his intelligence, which he is very smart, you feel pretty confident that he’s going to continue to get better.”

He has blue hair and likes cats and maybe is a little bit of a different personality than you would find in a normal NFL locker room. Have you noticed his teammates embracing that? Has he received any duff from anybody about stuff like that?

“I still consider myself somewhat young, but that’s definitely the sign of the difference in generations. My age, we didn’t roll like that. Now, I feel like it’s kind of cool so it’s whatever. I think guys accept people who are themselves and they’re not trying to be someone they’re not. What’s really cool about Dante, yeah, he’s got the blue hair, yeah he’s artistic, I don’t know. That’s who he is. He doesn’t care what you think. He’s not doing it for someone else. That’s who he is and that’s all you’ve got to be in this league. Just be yourself and guys respect you. He’s the same person every day and he doesn’t care what people think about him. I think people respect him a lot for that.”

On the other end of the spectrum, a guy like NT Earl Mitchell was one of the first guys that you signed when you got here. How much is having a dependable veteran guy like that really help set the foundation for what you’ve done?

“It’s huge. Especially when we came in, because no one knows us and they don’t know what we want. We tried to bring in the type of guys we wanted from a work standpoint. It always starts with your talent level. You have to be good enough to do the job we’re asking you to do. But, it’s very important that people watch the people you bring in. You watch the people you give money to. That’s why people like him and [WR] Pierre [Garçon] and [FB Kyle Juszczyk], Juice even guys like [Atlanta Falcons TE] Logan [Paulsen] last year, they were important guys to bring in because we needed them to play, to be successful. But also, because they’re the exact type of culture and workplace that we want. I think guys gravitate to them. It’s a lot easier this year. Our team works very hard. I very rarely have to come in and tell guys to work harder. It makes it easier as a coach and stuff that you can focus on making them better at football and things instead of just trying to get them to be the best they are. We’ve got the right type of guys. It’s just as important for them to get their max potential as it is to us.”

When you say it’s a lot easier, do you mean you’ve reached a point where the locker room kind of polices itself? Is it that kind of thing?

“Yes, and it’s not real until that happens. You can talk here all you want and people can please us one day and when it gets tough, they’re going to show their true colors. You never know if it’s working until you don’t have to do it and we’ve noticed that since we came back. We noticed that a lot towards the end of last year. We got stronger throughout OTAs and it’s continued into training camp.”

WR Marquise Goodwin obviously took a big jump last year. It seems like he could be on the verge of taking another big jump. We don’t get into saying how good can he be or where does he rank in the NFL, but what do you think could be his potential this year?

“I mean, as high as the things you’re saying. You need the opportunities, you need the coverages to be right. You never know stat-wise and stuff how that will play out. To be considered that, you always need the stats to go with that because that’s what people are going to notice. Marquise, we brought him in here as a speed guy who could blow the top off who we thought could do other stuff and it didn’t happen right away. It’s a credit to him, it’s a credit to [wide receivers/passing game coordinator] Mike LaFleur. They’ve really worked at it and he does every day. We gave ‘Quise the day off today and everywhere you look he’s in the background working on his feet, doing little things. It’s slow motion and stuff, but that’s how he’s developed in his routes and he’s gotten a lot of confidence caching the ball. When you can beat man coverage like that on almost any route we give you, and he’s catching it consistently, we’re excited about his year and expect him to get a lot of opportunities. If he doesn’t, it’s because he’s pulling coverage to him and he can give a lot of other guys opportunities. So, I expect him to be a big part of our success this year.”

With WR Aaron Burbridge, what did you see in him to keep him around even through the injury and how has he been through camp so far? Is he making a splash a little bit?

“With Burb, it started with special teams. When I came here and interviewed a number of special teams coaches and everyone spoke so highly of him. He was very well respected in the special teams world around the league and when you do that, there’s usually a place for you in this league. He was a little slower of a starter for us at receiver. It took him some time last year. I don’t know how ready he was to help us with special teams last year, but he had a great chance to make this team. I mean, I don’t know much he had a chance to help us on offense last year, but he had a great chance last year to make it on special teams. He ended up getting hurt, we had to IR him. The year off, he’s always been good at special teams, but he’s really come around as a receiver. He’s in this mix at receiver, not just special teams and he’s been really good in camp so far.”

Yesterday, FB Kyle Juszczyk talked about you using CB Richard Sherman getting beat by Goodwin as a coaching point. He talked about how it was his first route, he wasn’t scared, he was aggressive and that you used it. Can you maybe elaborate a little why that impressed you?

“I just used it as an example. You guys have got to put yourselves in these players’ shoes. We didn’t used to get reports of stats on our practices and I don’t get the reports and judge our guys off of them. You tell everyone to ignore them, but I guarantee people hear it, their wives hear it, someone hears it. You know Jimmy’s completion percentage every day, how many picks he threw and I just try to put myself in players’ shoes. You’re going out trying to practice and get better at stuff, trying new things, stuff you don’t always do in games and you’re getting reports on stuff that you had a bad completion percentage or you can’t do this. That stuff worries me for players because now I’m afraid they’re going to go there and be like, ‘Man, I know you want to try this new thing, but I don’t want this to go viral for the next week, I don’t want people to say I can’t throw this type of ball.’ Then they don’t get better and they just try to survive the day so they can please people who don’t really know what they’re working on. It takes a very mentally strong person to not care about that. That’s what I liked about Sherm on that play. I’ve been around a lot of successful corners who have a name that everyone knows and they get beat on a go-route and they hold their hamstring or they just ease up a little bit. I get it, that’s probably what I would do. Or I’d back up and be very scared. I’m not going to go try to jam one of the fastest guys on the planet on my first rep back knowing what’s going to happen. I respect Sherm because he doesn’t care. He’s not worried about anything. He’s out there working on his craft trying to get better and not caring what people say. That’s why you get better from that rep. It’s a good example to show young guys, to show everyone that that stuff doesn’t matter. You getting better is what matters so you can do it on Sunday.”

By the way, during drills you had five incompletions today.

“I know. I’m trying to give the defense more confidence.”

What have your impressions been of C/G Weston Richburg so far?

“He’s been great. He’s been everything we hoped he would be. He gives us a huge advantage there in the run game just reaching shades and things like that. He’s been great in protection. This is his second time going through our install which are about done. He’s been great and I expect him to continue to get better.”

I know it’s early and obviously G Jonathan Cooper’s been hurt, G Joshua Garnett’s dealing with something, but have you been able to glean anything from that right guard competition so far?

“I’d like those two to get out there. It’s tough to make this team and do it if you’re not out there. I was a little surprised Garnett didn’t make it today. I’d be more surprised if he’s not out there tomorrow. Coop’s really day-to-day. We just put him in individual, I think today was his second day of individual in a row. We’ll probably continue this week and see if he’s ready for practice next week after an entire day off. But, it’s given opportunities to other guys, guys like [OL Erik] Magnuson and [OL Mike] Person. Some guys have gotten more reps, but that’s a part of football. We’ll see who our guy is there, but hopefully those guys can get out there so they have a chance for it to be them.”