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Kyle Shanahan talks injuries, injuries, and more injuries

There’s a running theme right now.

What have you done to kind of compensate or help compensate for all of the losses and all the guys that aren’t able to practice?

“We haven’t been able to go threes as much when those guys are out because the twos are kind of threes. We’ve had unscripted periods where coaches can’t really plan out the substitutions and stuff. We just take one group off of it. That’s been the only difference.”

Were you going to go shells today regardless?

“Yeah, that was the plan all along. That had nothing to do with our injuries. It just has to do with having to get on a plane right now and things like that.”

Will you be leaving a lot of guys back here to train or rehab all week?

“No, we’re going to bring everyone with us. We’re going for so long, and also we’ve got 90 people so we’ve got to bring so many of our training staff with us for them. There’s just not enough guys that we’d want to leave back. So, we’re just bringing everyone.”

How much value do you find in those joint practices?

“I find a lot. I think it can depend on your team. It can depend on your schemes. But, we’re very sick of going against the same scheme every day. It’ll be nice to go against something else, you know? Offensively and defensively, and it gives you two practices where you can go against different stuff, which prepares all your players for what they’re going to see during the year. And, just the monotony of camp. It’s good to change it up.”

Is the plan for CB Richard Sherman going forward similar to what happened today? Get some reps in 11’s and get subbed out again?

“Yeah, we’ll see. We talk to him a lot about that, and we go with the doctors. He knows his body pretty well. We’re trying to ease him in. He wanted to get a few reps today in team and stuff where we kind of had an idea what plays they were and stuff. You could just mirror his feet and get a little bit of competition. We’re still taking it very slowly with him. We’ll reassess that and how we feel when we go against another team.”

Is that in your scheme, with the new helmet rule, we’ve now seen it implemented a couple of times, do you feel that your scheme has an advantage now that the safeties are kind of having to play a bit more pensively?

“I mean, I don’t really know. We’ll see what that rule is and how it ends up playing out. I think we’re all still trying to wait and see how to adjust to it. Once we do get a consistent feeling of it, there’s going to be huge advantages to both sides, but I think to all schemes. So, we’ll see.”

Can you do anything as far as the running back situation to compensate for the three guys who aren’t out there?

“Yeah, we’re actually bringing in [RB] Alfred Morris in tomorrow. We’re going to bring him up to Houston, so he’s got to pass a physical and we’ll be able to look at him there. But, I’m assuming everything will go alright and hopefully we’ll get him in practice for us out in Houston.”

He obviously played for you before. What do you like about him?

“Alf did a great job for us the two years I was with him. It’s not flashy, but he runs extremely hard. He’s very reliable. You’re blocking for zero, usually he can get at least one. He’s a hard-nosed runner who you can keep handing the ball off to. He’s very reliable.”

This is a guy who has had a good career. What assurances do you give him? He’s not going to come here with just, ‘I’m going to be here for a few days until people get healthy.’ What have you said to him as far as his ability to make this team?

“I just told him I waited so long to invite him because I wouldn’t invite him unless I believed he had the chance to make the team. I do believe he has the chance to make the team here, and that’s all Alf wants. He wants a chance to compete and I think with some of these injuries that we’ve had, now he does have a chance to compete. So, he’s getting in late but we’ll see how he does over these next few weeks. If he’s running the same way he always has, he’ll have a chance.”

Is RB Joe Williams going to be back with you guys?

“Yes. He plans on meeting us out there.”

On Wednesday?

“Yeah. I believe he gets in Tuesday. Then, he’ll be there for practice. The players are having Tuesday off. You’ve got to give them one day off every seven days, so it falls tomorrow.”

Do these injuries change anything with these joint practices? Obviously going against yourselves, it’s a bit easier to control the environment.

“It does a little. You’d like to have three deep at every position. In camp, you have four a lot of times. Once you start losing those guys, it adds a lot on another person. Once you see a guy having to take reps with the twos and with the threes, it’s just a matter of time before that guy gets hurt. Those are the things you’ve got to pay attention to. You can get away with it for a little bit and you know you’re going to put a lot on a guy, but eventually once you see it’s too much you’ve got to stop the drill and just move on. It’s not worth it.”

Where is Alfred coming in from?

“I think Texas.”

General manager John Lynch talked in the offseason about doing some research into all of the injuries you guys had last year and see if there were things you could do to prevent that. Is there anything that you can point to, is there any sort of theme with these injuries and could any of them have maybe been prevented or is it all just kind of a freak football--?

“Oh yeah you can go through each one. [TE George] Kittle falling on his arm awkwardly and separating his shoulder, that could be prevented by not having him run the route. Guys getting concussions in games could be prevented from them not tackling people I guess.”

What about soft tissue injuries in particular?

“Soft tissue injuries, yeah they can be prevented by having them not doing anything and sit there and just not get hurt and then it will happen in Week 1, to me. It’s just part of it. I think we are pretty smart with what we do. There’s a fine line, a very fine line. If a player is complaining about being tight, we can sit there and shut him down and then every single person who ever complains about being tight, you can shut down and then ask a group of 90 people in training camp to raise their hands on who’s tight, 90 people will raise their hand. The last thing I want to do is a player who knows it’s tighter than usual and he’s about to do something, to go in. It’s the responsibility on his position coach to know that, our trainer to know that, myself to know that and the player to know that. That’s why guys have to communicate. But, you’ve got a lot of guys who say, ‘Oh we can go out if we’re tight.’ Now 30 of them are out and you’ve got 10 guys who are battling and those guys get hurt. So, it’s football, it’s everywhere around the league. It’s camp. You’ve got to work hard to prepare hard and I think for the most part, most of our injuries are something that are extremely hard to control.”

How’s RB Jerick McKinnon feeling a day later?

“I think everyone gets a little worried when it’s by your knee, but yesterday he said it didn’t hurt that bad so he wasn’t that worried. Anything that’s a high calf deal, no one realizes your calf goes that high. So, I think he was worried about it just where it was and then once he got the assurance that it was his calf, it made sense that he didn’t have that much pain. I think he felt much better today. I think he’s frustrated that he can’t get that work and stuff that he needs and we all need until Week 1, but at least he feels good that he’ll be ready for Week 1.”

He was talking earlier in camp how it was hard initially for him to pick up the playbook. Do you feel like now he’s got enough grasp of it where if he has to go in Week 1 without any other practice he’s ready to go?

“Yeah, he knows the playbook and stuff and it’s just other things that you want to get him prepared for. The more reps you get, the better you get at it, the different looks you can give. He’s prepared to go against a lot of cover three, but we’re going to see other things besides cover three. So, it’s just how we work those as it goes. It’s disappointing he doesn’t get this week versus Houston which is totally different coverages. We’ll try to get those when we card him versus our scout team ‘D’ when he gets back, but that’s just part of what we deal with.”

Will Alfred be able to just step in or are there nuances or big changes from what he’s used to in your former playbook?

“No, there’s not big changes and it’s not that tough for a back. They’ve got to set their track the right way and you hand it off to them and go run. We have a way that we coach guys and stuff, but everyone, when you’re away from something, it’s going to take some time. He is going to be rusty with that stuff, but he’ll get the hang of it, get his tracks consistent and run hard.”

Did you work him out this spring at all?