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Kyle Shanahan talks impressions against Cowboys, injuries, Richie James’/Mike McGlinchey’s first starts

The 49ers head coach talked with the media the day after the team’s preseason opening victory. We’ve got a full transcript and you can listen to the audio here.

Can you kind of go through the injuries maybe beginning with LB Malcolm Smith and does it look like all of these guys will be available Week 1 of the regular season?

“Yes, it looks like, we’re hoping they’ll all be available Week 1 to start the season. I know Malcolm, he has a hamstring, I do not think he will be available this week in Houston but I think he’ll be week-to-week and I think he’ll have a chance after this week. As far as our shoulder guys, [RB Matt] Breida and [TE George] Kittle, they both separated their shoulders and we won’t have either of them until Week 1. [OL Garry] Gilliam and [DL] Solomon [Thomas] are both in the concussion protocol so we’ll see how that plays out here over the next few days. [LB] Eli [Harold], he’s day-to-day with a knee contusion, but he should be day-to-day. I think you’ve got all of the same guys who were hurt before the game. Did I miss anyone?”

What about the players who were injured entering the game? Are you going to get any of those guys back this week of practice?

“I’m just going through the list here. [DL Arik] Armstead, no. [DL Jeremiah] Attaochu, he’s day-to-day so I would be surprised if we didn’t. [G Jonathan] Cooper, we started letting him practice a little bit last week. We’ll up his reps this week so he should start getting more reps and we’ll decide how we feel about him in the game. [LB] Brock [Coyle], same thing. He’s continuing to get rehab. I think we should start to ease him in this Sunday at practice. [OL] JP Flynn, he’s also a possibility to get back to practice this Sunday. [G] Joshua Garnett, he’s in the same boat as these last few guys. Hopefully we’ll get some news so we can ease them into individual and stuff on Sunday. Hopefully we get him practiced fully by Houston. [S] Marcell [Harris], we’ve been using him. We just held him out of the game to let him continue to get healthy. We’ll up his reps this week. [WR] Max McCaffrey we’re not sure of. We’re going to wait and see. He’s day-to-day. I know the players have tomorrow off and then we’ll see him on Sunday whether he’ll be able to practice or not. [CB Richard] Sherman, I have a feeling he’s going to try to go, but I’d be very surprised if he played this week. We plan on holding him out. [WR] Trent Taylor we’re easing back in too. He got some reps last week and he’ll get more this week so he falls into that same boat as Cooper and all of those guys. [LB] Fred Warner, still day-to-day. We’re letting his chest heal so we’ll see how he looks on Sunday, whether he can be in pads or not. [TE] Cole Wick, same boat. We’ll reevaluate him on Sunday whether he can practice. He is close. [CB] K’Waun [Williams], don’t expect to have K’Waun this week.”

When you looked at the right guard situation, how did OL Mike Person hold up and what have you seen from him from the day he arrived at camp?

“Having familiarity with Mike, I played a whole season with him as a starter at center. I’d say Mike’s been the same guy that we knew of, if not a little bit better. He’s got some experience. He’s been around the league. I think he’s gained some confidence and I thought he looked similar to how he always looks in the game. I thought he did a good job.”

You’d indicated that you thought DT Jullian Taylor had a pretty decent game. Did what you’ve seen on tape confirm that?

“Yes, definitely. He made a lot of plays that everyone saw and he also did his job, didn’t make many mental mistakes. He played a lot which we needed him to. I thought he played good throughout the whole game.”

How did T Mike McGlinchey look in his debut?

“I was really happy with Mike. First game for him. That’s why we left him in there a little bit longer. By no means was it perfect, but it was very easy to see that the game is not too big for him. He’s very comfortable out there. He looks like the player he looked in college when we studied him, how he’s looked in practice. He got out there and didn’t change. He’s a guy who I think gets better as the game goes on because he is talented, but he also is very smart and doesn’t get overwhelmed with things. When he does make a mistake, he usually learns from it.”

Are you anxious to get that right guard competition in full swing here, just to be able to find some continuity with your running game?

“Yeah. I’m anxious. I want to get the best guy there. I know we’ve had a couple guys not competing there yet just because of injuries they’ve had. Once we can get everyone there and going and competing, it gives you a better chance to find the best guy. Hopefully, we’ll get Coop back and also get Josh back this week so we can add two more guys to the mix.”

Did you ever get clarity on what the knee injury was for Garnett?

“No, I don’t think there was an exact, there’s not an exact injury. I think you could ask him exactly about that. He had big issues last year. We knew he was coming into this year and he hurt it in a practice. He took an anti-inflammatory to get some of the swelling out and when that happens, and there was some swelling, we just wanted to rest it. We’ve got an extra week here, which was the plan to give him a week more of rest which I think helped him. Just hearing what he has told guys, that he feels better now than he did a week ago. I’m hoping that continues into Sunday and he feels good enough that he can give it a go. Hopefully, once he does that he can put together a few strings of practices together where hopefully he can recover and his knee can handle it.”

Are you considering moving DB Jimmie Ward back to nickel? How do you think he is transitioning to cornerback in your scheme?

“He still is nickel. We give guys work at a lot of things. We know K’Waun is listed as our starting nickel right now. If we would have played right now and K’Waun wasn’t there, I know we started [CB] D.J. Reed [Jr.] yesterday, but it very easily could have been Jimmie. Jimmie has taken reps at nickel. He’s taken reps at outside corner. The only thing he hasn’t been taking reps at right now is safety.”

I ask this just because you and general manager John Lynch had mentioned Kittle and just him trying to stay healthy this year. I know he battled through a lot last year. What are you going to do if you’ve fallen on your shoulder and it separates? I don’t know. Is there still some level of concern about whether he can withstand the field week-to-week in the NFL?

“I mean, there always will be until guys put together a couple years of staying healthy. I’m not faulting Kittle at all for what happened. All you can do as a player is work as hard as you can as possible to prepare yourself to play football. Kittle, what he’s done this offseason from working with the strength and conditioning staff, working with [director of functional performance] Elliott [Williams] to work on all of his posture and things like that, to working with [vice president of medical services/head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson] Ferg. I mean, Kittle is as much of a pro as there is. That’s why he’s had such a good camp. He’s come back in as good of shape and as healthy as anyone on our team. I think that’s why he’s looked so good. He’s going to play aggressive. He’s going to put it all out on the line. Unfortunately, he dove for a ball, landed on his shoulder in an awkward position and that’s part of football. But, I’m not going to have any hard judgments on him for that accident.”

WR Richie James Jr. seemed to mesh with whichever unit he was out there with. I think he had an early catch on third-down from QB Jimmy Garoppolo and obviously had the winning touchdown at the end. Has that been a theme in practice for you too that he’s been a quick learner fitting into your system?

“Yeah. I think all our receivers have done a good job. Like we talked since camp started, we have some very tough competition there. A lot of it plays out how the coverages go. On both of those, he wasn’t the number one read. But, you get a certain coverage. One we got a blitz look at the end of the game so we had to go there right now because we’re hot and he did a great job doing his job and [TE Ross] Dwelley did a great job of giving a little bit of a rub to help him separate. The first third down, we’re trying to hit [RB] Jerick [McKinnon] in a man-to-man and the linebacker played it well over the top of an underneath route. Then, we went right to number two in the progression, which was Richie, and he did a good job of beating his coverage for the second choice. You never know how it’s going to play out. It’s always nice for those guys when they do beat man coverage. It’s nice for them to get the ball, because that’s when fans notice. That’s when you guys notice. So, they get a little more credit. But, we have guys beating man coverage pretty consistently from what we’ve seen and you’re just hoping that happens when the ball comes their way. Now, you want to see what they can do with it. What we love about Richie is that I think you guys can all see is he’s fearless with the ball in his hands, also. He’s making good cuts and getting himself after the catch. I think he did pretty good with his kick return, also.”