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Kyle Shanahan discusses injuries, rookie performances, that Jimmie Ward play

The 49ers head coach met with the media following the team’s preseason opening victory. We’ve got a full transcript, and you can watch video here.

8/9 Postgame Presser

Kyle Shanahan at the podium following the exciting preseason victory over Dallas.

Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, August 9, 2018

Did you get the injury report?

“I didn’t get them yet. Off the top of my head, I know [TE George] Kittle and [RB Matt] Breida had a shoulder injury. I know it’s going to be some time. So, I don’t know how long, but I have a feeling it’s going to be some time. I’d be surprised if they’d be around next week. I didn’t get anything official. I just know that from the game. I know [DL Solomon Thomas] Solly and [OL Garry] Gilliam left with concussion symptoms early.”

Are both guys with head injuries concussions?

“I was told they weren’t going to return and I haven’t had a chance to talk to them yet.”

What were you thinking with three guys down in, I think the first 10 minutes and then five guys injured seconds into the second quarter in your first preseason game?

“It is what it is. That’s what scares you about training camp and what scares you about the preseason. You kind of just want the game to end when things start happening, because you want those guys when the season starts, but we also need to practice and get better. So, it’s just something you have to deal with and is part of this business.”

The first injury with LB Malcolm Smith, a hamstring?


How serious is that?

“Not sure. I know it was early, like the second or third play. Maybe even the first. I know it was right away. Right away they told me it was a hamstring and he wasn’t going to return.”

Malcolm hasn’t been able to get on the field so much, how concerning is that?

“Malcom has played a lot of football. So, he’s not a guy that I’m concerned with that we need to see him play a lot more. I think it was unfortunate for him. I know he just wants to get back out there. Last year he ripped his peck on a freak strip in our scrimmage and today he hurt his hamstring, but I expect Malcolm to be there and help us out this year.”

I’m sure it’s a difficult calculation to try to figure how much to play guys and risk injury when you have a game that might affect that calculation next week?

“Not really. You only have a certain amount of guys and you don’t want anyone to have to play that whole game. It’s tough. Anytime a guy goes out, the next guy has to play more and we’re not trying to have anyone play the whole game. I hope we never go to over time in the preseason either. I got nervous there for a little. It’s just part of the games. There’s four of them and we’ve got to get through them somehow.”

Why go for two?

“What’s that?”

Why go for two there at the end of the game?

“Because I don’t want to lose either. I thought they were going to throw a hail mary. Usually you want to make it a field goal, thinking that they won’t do a field goal, knowing they don’t want to go to overtime either. Thinking that they will throw a hail mary at the end.

You were down by three, you wouldn’t have driven down to make the field goal at the end?

“We’ll see. We’ll see. I won’t know that until that time comes. I am sure I will be trying to win.”

Does that get you genuine, valuable experience late in games calling plays, managing the clock going into regular season? Is that good reps for you just like it is for QB Nick Mullens and everybody else?

“We do it a lot in practice. I’ve done a lot in my career. It’s not just as a head coach, as an offensive coordinator you’re always calling plays thinking of the time. But, it was great to run our two-minute drill. It was a great job by Nick and the O-Line giving him time and some of the guys making plays. It was real fun to watch and I know the guys were pumped up about it.”

How did DT Jullian Taylor look to you?

“I saw him make a bunch of plays. He’s done a good job for us in camp and it looked like he showed up tonight. Looking forward to seeing him on the film when we get in there.”

Was the plan to play him as much as you did?

“We knew we were going to play him a lot. I think he went over a little more than we planned on. I know Eli went out in the game. I know we lost some guys. That whole D-Line, we shuffled, mixed it up a ton. It’s not just set in stone where this inside player backs up this player. It has to do with base, nickel, speed groups, run groups. It’s tough how we mix those guys up.”

With WR Trent Taylor out, why did you have WR Richie James Jr. as the slot guy? What has he done to earn that?

“Were just trying a few guys out. We think we have a number of guys capable of it. We’ve got a bunch of guys here trying to get reps to balance it out. We could have put [WR Dante] Pettis in the slot. We could have put [WR Victor] Bolden [Jr.] in the slot. We could have put [Kendrick] Bourne in the slot. We kept Pettis outside. We kept Bourne outside. If Rich would have got hurt, we would have shuffled them all around too. So, you don’t want to look too much into it. We’re getting those guys opportunities.”

You said that Eli got hurt in the game?

“No, he got hurt also.”

What happened?

“I don’t know. I’m not exactly sure. It was a lower leg.”

Your impression of running backs lower on the depth chart: RB Joe Williams and RB Raheem Mosert and how that competition is shaping up?

“I thought they ran hard. I don’t think we gave them a ton of spacetoday. The times that we did have space, I thought they made some good runs. Then RB Jeremy [McNichols] came in and made some also. But, I did not think there was a lot of space in the game from what I saw. I know Raheem had that fumble, which it’s tough for me to see. I couldn’t tell on the replay and I didn’t see it live, so I’m not sure how that played out. But, I was happy with how hard they ran. It didn’t seem like they left much out there.”

Will you give McNichols a chance maybe in the next game?

“Yeah, we try to balance it up throughout the whole preseason where we get a chance to see all the running backs. I know Jeremy was spelling for Joe at the end there when I know Joe was spelling for Raheem in the third. So, it’s how it plays out, but he’ll eventually get some more opportunities.”

What was your assessment of the run blocking on McKinnon’s runs?

“I didn’t think they looked very good to me. We didn’t get into much of a rhythm either. I didn’t see a ton of space on them, it will be easier when I watch the endzone copy when we get in. But, there was none that I was saying after that we missed some.”

Thoughts on OT Mike McGlinchey’s performance. You left him in there longer than the other starters?

“Yeah, we planned to leave him in longer. For the most part, if I don’t notice an O-lineman very much in the game especially on pass plays it usually means they did fairly good. So I was happy with him, but again, I wasn’t watching. So, I’ll watch them when I get inside.”

From the angle you had on the Cowboys first touchdown, was that just a mistake by DB Jimmie Ward on the coverage?

“From what I saw it looked like he did a pretty good job on the jam forcing him to the sideline. From what I saw, it looked like he just squatted on the routes that weren’t being ran. It was a go route and he slipped by him. It looked like he just stopped his feet and thought something else was coming.”

Was the plan for DB D.J. Reed to go outside and then go to free safety and go back and forth?

“D.J. Reed, like a lot of our DBs, has some versatility. We want him to play safety and get those reps there. Especially with [CB] K’Waun [Williams] out too, we were going to play him at nickel as it goes down. I know he played both tonight. He played some corner in college too, so we’ve got some versatility with him.”