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Kyle Shanahan talks injuries, Pierre Garçon’s chemistry with Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard’s return from Canton

The 49ers head coach met with the media following Sunday’s practice. We’ve got a full transcript

Do you have an update or any clarity on G Joshua Garnett?

“His knee’s bothering him. He’s gotten some other opinions and stuff. We’re going to give him a week, take this week off, continue to get treatment and then reassess it next week.”

Was the acquisition of G Chris Gonzalez in any way colored by not being able to have Josh?

“Yeah, so it was Josh and [OL] Alan Knott’s dad passed away this morning so he had to go home and obviously be with his family.”

Any update coming off the field on CB K’Waun Williams?

“I heard he just rolled his ankle. Maybe we’ll find out more later. Right now, we don’t think it’s high, but we’ll see.”

CB Richard Sherman is out for at least a week. Is that right?

“Yeah, at least a week. Similar to Garnett. We’re definitely going to rest him at least a week. We don’t think it should be long-term. It’s grade one, but it’s a little higher than we expected so we’ve got to be careful with that.”

Can you talk a little bit about what you’re seeing out of this running back group?

“We’ve got a good group. We’ve got a bunch of guys who can run with speed, as far as 40 times. But, we’ve got some tough guys who are running hard and it’s going to be a good battle. A lot of the younger guys have gotten better from last year, we’ve added some more competition and they’re going to make this tough on us.”

I have a more of an off-beat question. Is there a favorite stat that you have, maybe from the advanced-stat realm that you track offensively from week to week?

“No, not really. Gosh, I can’t think of many stats I look at that consistently. People will bring stuff to you and stuff. But, you really kind of just figure it out as the week goes watching tape. Sometimes you’ll finish a third-down cut-up and you watch it for a few hours and you’re like, ‘Man, I don’t have many plays for this. Gosh, they look good. What are they ranked?’ Then, you find out when you ask someone and they’re number one, you’re like, ‘Alright, it looks like it.’ But, there’s nothing we really look into real hard. But, you have an idea what you’re going against once you see those cut-ups.”

What about stats of your own like third-down efficiency or something? Is there--?

“Yeah, the number one stat is the win-loss stat, which is pretty important. After that, every year I think every team is the same. The team who wins the turnover battles and who has the plus-margin. Usually those top-five teams are always playoff teams. Usually the two teams in the Super Bowl are always in the top five. I think the one most consistent stat is turnovers. You know, third down is a huge thing. Third down is very hard to score points and get a lot of runs called if you’re not doing good on third down, because you just don’t stay on the field very long. Then, defense to me, it’s always about points. You can give up yards and stuff and that can come at weird times, but the defense it’s about keeping them out of the end zone.”

How frustrating or troublesome has that right guard spot been? I know at the beginning of camp that was the spot you needed to figure out it seemed like.

“Yeah, it’s still early. That’s the one we’ve got the most competition at, that’s for sure, and two of the guys who should be right in that competition aren’t practicing fully yet. Obviously, they haven’t been in it, but it’s given other opportunities to guys like [OL Erik] Magnuson, guys like [OL Mike] Person. Those guys have played football. They have started games in this league before. It’s definitely got them right in this mix.”

What was QB C.J. Beathard’s itinerary like to get back here?

“I don’t know. He surprised the heck out of me. I was in the middle of calling a play and he was just staring at me. He shocked me. I didn’t think he’d be here until after practice. I didn’t have time to ask him how he got here, but something must have happened. He was supposed to be later.”

How much do you enjoy the period where you get to throw it around a little bit with the defensive team drills?

“It’s the best thing about being a head coach. It’s really fun. No, I’m just joking. It’s fun for me because it’s fun to try things out just to mess around to do. It’s fun for our equipment guys and our strength coaches and stuff because they put the cleats on and try to run around. It’s also fun to try things you try to coach the quarterback on and do stuff. We only like going against zone, though. We’re not good versus man to man. We struggle. It’s easier knowing they’re not going to hit me, either. But, it’s fun to be over there with the guys and talk about stuff and what you see. I think it helps both sides.”

Do you have a go-to target?

“[Defensive quality control coach] Bobby Slowik without a doubt. He’s gotten better each week, too.”

We talk a lot about QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s second season and full offseason learning the why’s. Where do you think he is in that process?

“I mean, he’s still coming along with that. I think he’ll be even better next year. This is his first training camp. I know we’ve thrown everything at him and it’s the second time going through it because the first time was OTAs. We’re done with the install, so now we’re isolating out a few more things that we come back to that we haven’t since like day one. But, much further along obviously than he was last year. I think he’ll be much further along next year, too, at this time.”

TE Garrett Celek actually was the guy who brought up overcoming coaching. He said it in relation to Jimmy last year that, I don’t know if he was parroting what you said or he brought it with him. Could you answer that first, was it something Jimmy already had as part of him, telling guys, “Hey, you’ve got to overcome coaching?”

“Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t think he ever used that verbiage before. You’d have to ask him that. I don’t know. It’s something we say a lot in our meetings. I assume that he used that verbiage from here. But no, Jimmy loves talking about routes. Man-to-man and what guys are expecting and stuff. That’s the part of football he really enjoys. I don’t know if he got that from someone or if that’s something that he just likes to do. The guys get to know him throughout the year and it’s good that they’re always communicating and I think it helps them.”

You didn’t trademark that term?

“No, I know. I should have. Who knows. I probably got it from someone else too. There’s not much that coaches come up with for the first time ever.”

Do you feel the league will have a quote, unquote better book on Jimmy Garoppolo this season and is that a challenge for him?

“I don’t know. I mean, people talk about better books. Like, ‘We’ve got to figure the guy out.’ You here that all the time with quarterbacks. You figure the scheme out and then you stop plays. Then, you put other stuff in to get other people open and you see if the quarterback is capable of doing other stuff. I think Jimmy’s capable of making any type of throw. I think he sees the field very well. It’s not like they’re going to learn how to stop him from running with the ball and then stop him from throwing it. Jimmy has a very talented arm. He knows how to play in the pocket. Hopefully we can continue to get guys here to separate, help get people open in zone and give him time to go through progressions and give him a running game not to put all the pressure on him. Eliminate turnovers. Play defense. When it’s like that, if the guy has the ability to do it usually they do.”

Is that what you kind of strive for as an offensive coach is to not have gimmicks that basically what you see is what you get, and make it more difficult for teams?

“Yeah, I think that’s the basis of our scheme that you never just put in a play that stands alone. You put in a play that’s attacking something and you have an idea of what they have to do to stop it. When they do stop that, it definitely stops that play. You don’t keep running it. It opened up another play and that’s what you go to.”

Following up on that, with some of the guys you brought in skill position-wise, with the versatility they have and the different things they do, do you feel like you’ve reached a point or has it been a goal to reach a point where you can call just about anything with the same personnel? In other words, you don’t have certain guys coming in for certain things that kind of give things away?

“Yeah, you’ve got to chance, but we’ve got a bunch of different options on our team and guys who have different traits. You’re an injury away from one thing going down where you’ve got to block that out for a quarter or a week. So, stuff changes all the time. That’s why you want more options. The more options, the better things that you can adjust to as injuries happen and scheme takes stuff away. But, that’s the goal here. Just continuing to get guys who can do things that put defenses in binds. Then, it’s our job to put those guys in those situations.”

One of the reasons I asked that question about the stats before, LB Korey Toomer in run-stop rate, in one of the advanced metrics, led the NFL a couple years ago in pretty limited time, but it wasn’t the smallest size. Was that something that you guys noticed?

“No. No, I didn’t know that. Our analytics guys would probably be pumped, though, knowing that you’re on the same page as them. It all starts out with what we see. Then, sometimes we’ll make some points and then you’ll hear something to say, ‘Yeah, you’re right. This is what the stat says.’ Or to say, ‘No, we don’t see it that way because it’s this stat.’ Sometimes someone will have a yards per carry and say something like, ‘Man, there’s not a lot there and I think he’s a good runner and I think he gets more after, even though he’s only three yards a carry. But, I feel like it’s only blocked for one.’ Then we’ll have stats that, ‘Well yeah, he’s second in the league after contact getting more yards and that kind of will prove your point a little bit there.’ Things like that. I don’t not listen to anything. But, you take it all in and some stuff makes sense and some stuff there’s a little too many variables for it to be black and white.”

How has Toomer been as a player? Is he a guy that you can see plugging in to LB Reuben Foster’s spot there?

“Yeah, we’ve got some depth right now and some hard competition at inside linebacker and at outside linebacker. Toom has played in this system before, so he has an idea and he’s very athletic and talented. He can run well, he can cover well, he can help on special teams. There’s going to be a good player who doesn’t make our team at the end of this.”

What have you seen out of the young receivers WR Trent Taylor and WR Dante Pettis in this training camp?

“Well, Trent’s still battling to get back. Today was the first day we let him get a one-on-one rep. I think he had two reps of that today. So that was the first time he’d gone against someone in front of him since our last game of the year versus the Rams last year. Trent’s battling through that. He looked good in his two reps. We’ll see talking to him. Hopefully he’ll get back because he was a big help for us last year. And then Dante, just going through what everyone else is. They’re battling versus these corners every day. Some days the receivers get the best of them and some days the corners get the best of them. I know our guys are probably looking forward to going against another team. Dallas this week and we’ll be excited to practice against Houston next week, just to get some different looks and some different people.”

WR Pierre Garçon had some downfield catches today with Jimmy. I know you mentioned their chemistry and working on that earlier. Where are you at with Pierre? Is he sort of on a different schedule, I guess, early in training camp just given where he’s at in his career?

“I don’t worry too much about Pierre. Pierre looks the exact same as the guy we had last year and he did a real good job for us last year in those seven games he played. We depended on him a ton at that time and then once he left, we went through a few games where it was hard to depend on anyone. Guys just weren’t quite ready for it. It forced guys to step up. After we battled through some tough spots, there became a lot of guys that we could depend on. We know who Pierre is. We know what he brings to the table. I know what he will be on Sunday.”

Going back to Trent Taylor, what makes him so special in this offense? Obviously, he’s a shorter stature guy, but he shows up larger than life on the stat sheet.

“One, he can beat man coverage. He has the quickness to do that. He has the speed to do that. He has good hands. He does not drop many balls. He is one of the better guys I’ve been around at overcoming coaching. He doesn’t always run it exactly the same every time. He’s got a great feel for zones. Times you’re calling plays versus man and they’ve got to stay on the move and he just feels he’s about to get hit in the zone and he hooks up even though you didn’t tell him to hook up. It’s just very natural for him. That’s something you could see a lot from him in college, just playing in the spread system that he did. Any time you’re talking about a slot receiver and stuff, it’ll always go back to how consistently can you beat man-to-man coverage? Those are the guys that, to me, allow you to score points if they keep you on the field on third down. If you get off the field on third down, you won’t see a running game, you won’t see explosives, you won’t see points. You have to stay out there to run an offense.”

DL DeForest Buckner took a couple reps at right defensive end in one-on-ones against T Joe Staley and did pretty well. Do you feel he has some untapped potential on the edge?

“Yeah, I do. I think Buck has the talent to play anywhere. Obviously, a big man like that, you want him inside the most. But, when you have a guy like that that you have to be accountable for at all five O-Line positions and just protection rules and some of the different things you can do, just to have that versatility and the threat of being there makes offenses work on a lot of different things. He has the skill set to still get there, too.”

Another overcoming coaching question. Does that not pertain to timing routes?

“Yeah, not at all. You have to be anal as can be to get guys to be exact and to know the timing of stuff. That’s why coaches are. It is hard work to make things automatic. To do it automatic, there’s an element to doing it exact like a robot. Once you can get that embedded in people, then there’s a heck of a lot more to football. Both are important. A guy who just overcomes coaching every single play is a guy who is not going to make a team because no one is going to know what the heck he is doing and it’s going to always be someone else’s fault. So, there’s fine line to all of that. The player’s trying to do the best he can and we’re trying do the best we can to get him to succeed on Sunday. There’s 100 different ways that can happen.”