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Kyle Shanahan talks missed opportunities, scheme decisions, not watching Monday Night Football

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The 49ers head coach met with the media on Monday to wrap up the team’s Week 1 loss. We’ve got a full transcript, and you can watch video here.

Do you have any injury updates?

“Yeah. [G Joshua] Garnett and [OL Mike] Person, got a foot strain with Person, Garnett dislocated his toe. We don’t know how long it’s going to be. The good news was nothing is broken with either of them. So, no IR or anything. But, we’ve got to see how they respond to treatment during the week to kind of have an idea whether they have a chance this week and going forward whether it will be week-to-week after that. They need a few more days to kind of understand that. Then, after that, [WR Marquise] Goodwin had a deep thigh bruise. So, he’s day-to-day with that. And then, [LB] Brock [Coyle] is in the protocol.”

Who would be your backup center if Person can’t go on Sunday?

“That’s a good question. We’ve got [OL Erik] Magnuson trying to get back this week. So, he’s got a chance. We’ve got [OL Matt] Tobin in here that we signed right at the end of training camp who has got some versatility. One of those. Garnett still won’t be ruled out. Person still could go. So, we’ve got a lot of options that we’ll be fluid with that stuff throughout the week. But, we’re going to have to try a number of guys just in case worst case scenarios happen.”

It didn’t seem like CB Richard Sherman got targeted much. How did you think he did from what you saw on the tape?

“I thought he did a real good job. I think it was good for him just to get out there. Any time you’re coming out after a big injury like he had last year, I know there’s some anxiety and things like that. He was excited to get going. I think getting a game under his belt, just talking to him today, I think he felt good. I think he was really happy with it. I know I was from what I saw on tape.”

How do you a day later kind of look at what happened offensively and some of the missed opportunities?

“Not much differently than probably when I saw you guys last night. We get on the plane and we get to watch it all again and we go through it a number of times. We do it as coaches, kind of individually on the plane, we do it as a staff this morning, then we do it with the players all afternoon. I think it was very evident that there were a lot of opportunities we missed out there. I think the guys knew that before they saw the tape and after. A lot of that, you can feel two ways about it. You have mixed emotions about it because it’s frustrating when you let opportunities go, but also when you come in feeling like crap after a loss like you always do, it’s also good to see that you’re capable of doing a lot better. We can see that and we’ve just got to do it.”

One issue the offense has had since before QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been your quarterback was scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Any theories as to why that’s happening?

“Yeah, it’s just the same for every other team in the NFL, it gets harder the tighter you get. It always does. That’s every team. Last year, I think we got better in the red zone as the year went, just like I think we got better on offense as the year went. Usually, a really good offense will do better in the red zone because they’re really good. I think we’ve made a lot of strides, but it definitely does get tougher down there. I thought we had a number of opportunities. Obviously, starting with the fumble on second-and-one, I’d like to think we would have got in there on the next two tries. I know there were a couple throws that Jimmy would like to have back, which I know he’d be the first to tell you. When you miss opportunities versus a defense who’s, I’m not sure exactly what they were ranked, but I know they’re in the top-five of everything, a top-five defense in the red zone. It’s hard to get space and when you do get a little bit and you miss those opportunities, that’s going to be the result.”

Obviously, the execution has to be on point in the red zone, and that can always improve. But, do you feel like there’s anything you can do better in the red zone?

“Yeah, always. Every time you don’t do well you look at, I mean you try to get guys as open as possible. That’s something I take very personally on every single play in the game. When people aren’t open I always look at myself. Yeah, you need guys to beat man coverage, and those are the type of guys we want here, and I think our guys have done a good job at beating man coverage, but we always look into that, for sure.”

I’m going to ask you a scheme question. You don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to. But, have you considered integrating RPOs into your red zone offense to take advantage of aggressive linebackers and safeties playing the run?

“Yeah, we did one yesterday. It got tipped. I’ve done them for the last 15 years. The RPO questions are getting hilarious to me. It’s not just you, it’s the whole planet right now. I know Philly had success with them in the playoffs. That’s’ what every team in the NFL does, and they still are. It’s just something that all defenses have to deal with and when they’re there, it’s great to put those guys in binds. It makes it tough to do some RPOs when you have middle-third safeties who are as aggressive as Minnesota’s, who are always there in the holes. But, we definitely tried one yesterday and we wasted a call trying it because it didn’t work.”

Getting a look at RB Matt Breida and RB Alfred Morris kind of alternating together as a one-two push running back, what did you think of them as a combo yesterday?

“I thought they did a good job. Both of them, I thought they ran well. There were a number of times I thought they both got more than what we blocked for. We’re still trying to get a feel for that and how to balance out. They’re two guys we’ve got a lot of confidence in. Still getting a feel for when to work [RB] Raheem [Mostert] in and things like that, also. But, I was happy with how they played. I’m excited with them going forward. I think we’ll start to get a better feel with that each week and what our 2018 team ends up being.”

Have you added a 53rd guy yet?

“No, we haven’t yet.”

Do you have a plan as far as--?

“I know we’ve got some workouts, bringing in a number of positions tomorrow. So, we’ve got some guys going that are possibilities. We’ve always got guys that are possibilities on practice squad. I’m sure we will add someone before Wednesday, before we practice again.”

You always talk about wanting to see how your team responds with adversity. In Jimmy’s case, this is the first time he’s had a loss in that terms of adversity since he’s been here. From what you know about him and maybe even what you’ve seen just here in the last few hours, how has he handled it?

“Exactly how you’d want him to. And he was from when the game was over. You never know until you go through that with guys. Jimmy has had a lot of success in the games he’s played. But, he’s a guy you don’t have to beat around the bush with. Even talking to him on the plane last night, he knows the plays he missed and you don’t have to sit there and talk very long about it. He’s as disappointed when he misses a play as anyone. That makes him fun to coach. You can be honest with him. You can keep it real with him. You don’t have to worry about offending him because he’s a guy who is realistic and understands when he does well and when he does bad. That’s what will give him a chance to recover from not playing as good as he could.”

On some of his throws that were inaccurate, are there coaching points with that, or is it a situation like you just mentioned where you don’t really have to say anything to him and just assume that--?

“When you get to a certain level like in the NFL, and you have guys that are this gifted of throwers, for me to sit there and tell him how I would have thrown it or something like that they usually laugh at you. He’s a very gifted thrower. Those guys still miss. Everything you go to from a coaching standpoint is about timing, where to put your eyes, how to keep your feet under you, when to progress, when to hang on a guy, when to go to number two, when to go to number three. Those are all the things that I feel like I can help with, or [quarterbacks coach] Rich [Scangarello] can help with. But, when it comes to just the throwing, I could think of some good words to say, but Jimmy knows how to throw the ball.”

Will LB Fred Warner remain in the starting lineup after LB Reuben Foster comes back?

“I’m not sure yet. That’s still another week away. The way he played yesterday, it’d be hard to get that guy off of the field. He did a hell of a job yesterday in his first game. But, that was yesterday. We’ll see how he does this week.”

How did he do communication-wise having the green dot on his helmet?

“He did fine. I didn’t hear anything wrong with it. I’m not the one giving him the plays and stuff. I know the guys were very happy with how he communicated. The defense got guys lined up and made a lot of plays in the game, too.”

Why did DL Solomon Thomas only get 35 snaps?

“Just rotations and just how the game ended up. I know on third down, just in our package that week, we had a number of packages where only three guys were rushing. Not that that just affected Solomon, that affects the rotation with everyone. But, it will be different week in and week out.”

When you talk about the missed opportunities, obviously very frustrating at the time. When you see it on video, how much of it was stuff you feel like you can do better? And as you referenced, the Vikings obviously have a very good defense. How much of a factor was that in just the offense stalling at times?

“Both. It’s huge. You’re going to always get opportunities and you’re not going to capitalize on every one. That’s football. I always say that you’re never going to have the perfect game and there’s always going to be missed opportunities. But, you can’t beat many people when you miss a lot of them and when you play a good team like that, you can’t miss many and we definitely missed too many. So, they also make it hard because they’re good. That’s why you miss some. They have a good pass rush, they’ve got good blitzes, a great scheme and they’ve got great players all over the place. So, you’ve got to be on it. You can’t hesitate. When you see it you’ve got to make the catch. We didn’t’ do that well enough.”

Will you watch the game tonight for the audio of calls or how do you approach it when the team you’re playing is on Monday Night Football?

“I wait until it’s on tape that I can see everything. I don’t know how people get opinions off of watching it on TV because you see the quarterback, you see where the ball goes, you have no idea what the front’s coverages are. It’s just, I think it’s very hard to see unless you can have a fast forward and rewind remote, you can see the sideline copy, the end zone copy. So, I’m not going to waste too much time watching it until we get it into our computers.”

Is there anything you can pick up from the audio?

“Yeah, you can. We have other guys who do that type of stuff. I know a lot of coaches and organizations, they have someone sitting there listening to every call the center makes, all that stuff, stuff you can give D-Linemen, snap counts, things like that. It gets harder the more people are mic’d up, but also it’s fun for people to think the words you’re going to use and then change them the next week also and get people to jump offsides. So, there’s always that cat and mouse game, how much you want to commit to that stuff. You commit a lot to that stuff and it doesn’t work out the way you planned then you’re going to be in trouble. So, you take a little and then you ignore it sometimes, too.”

How did T Mike McGlinchey do? He was obviously put in a tough spot yesterday.

“I was so impressed with McGlinchey. By no means did he play perfect, but we were in a situation that I haven’t been in too much in my career. He was in a situation that he has never been in in his career, going back to Pop Warner or whatever league he played in when he was younger. But, losing all of those guys and having to throw someone in at guard, it was just neat to see how he reacted to it on the sideline. It was his first NFL game, he’s never played guard and you could see that there was nothing about him that was scared to go try it. He knew he had to do it and he didn’t’ flinch at all. He went in there, competed, did the best he could and did a pretty good job. I know there were a couple of mistakes, as expected, but it was not too big for him. Him going there, he did give us a chance to have a chance to come back and win that game.”

One more scheme question. Do you feel your commitment to the outside zone and your preference for smaller offensive lineman who can run, is that somewhat of a double-edged sword on first and goal on the one when you want to knock people back and run up the middle?

“Yeah, definitely. That’s why we didn’t run one outside zone inside the 10 yesterday. Three inside zones and one gap scheme. But, that’s not exactly it. I don’t want small offensive linemen who can run. I want big, huge guys who can run. The problem with big, huge guys who can run, you’ve got to have like the first pick in the draft to take them and I hope we don’t have that five years in a row to get five of them. So, you need guys who can run to do some of it. Some of them happen to be a little bit smaller. That’s not your choice, but you can get by with some guys while other people can’t because we can do some things that can protect them in the outside zone, play-actions off of it. Things like that where you can have an undersized guy who really doesn’t have to sit back and block a guy as much as he would on other teams. So, that helps. The tighter you get, everything gets heavier, everything gets harder and when penetration is bad, it’s tough to get outside. So sometimes to do it, you’ve got to block down on people and toss it. You’ve got to run some more gap-schemes and things like that. Sometimes if they play the outside zone down on the goal line, it’s extremely easy to run inside zone. I think it’d be very hard for people to tell the difference on TV whether they’re running outside or inside, but there’s a huge difference.”

Did WR Dante Pettis have to do things that maybe weren’t in the initial game plan or your initial plan for him with Marquise going out?

“Yeah, definitely. You get five receivers up on game day and our starting ‘X’ is Marquise. Dante backs him up. [WR] Aldrick [Robinson] backed him up last year. Dante was scheduled as a backup ‘X.’ He’s got plays at ‘Z’, plays at ‘F’, which is our slot player. Marquise goes down so he’s got to take all of the ‘X.’ Then he’s got to continue to run his plays at ‘F’ and ‘Z’ that we had in the game plan originally which then means [WR] Trent [Taylor] has got to bump out and play some of the ‘X’ that he’s never played before. So, all of that stuff becomes a mess and that’s why it’s such a big deal who your five up are on game day. That’s why it’s a big deal on whether you go with extra tight ends, extra receivers, extra O-Linemen. You never know what the right or wrong answer is until it happens in the game. So, there’s stuff that we’re going over today that, you study a game plan, but in the NFL that’s not all you’re responsible for. When you only get a certain amount up on game day, something’s going to happen and you’re going to have to go play a position that you didn’t get reps in all week. You can say it’s fair or unfair, that’s just what the NFL is and you’ve got to be prepared for that.”

That fifth spot, is it versatility? Is that why WR Kendrick Bourne over WR Richie James Jr.?

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it, but it’s the main guys who backup what. When a guy goes down, what guy does certain things, who we think is the most ready for the spots, who can handle everything. It’s hard on all of them, but it’s not just as simple as that. There are a lot of things that go into it and stuff that we spend a lot of time thinking about.”

Dante had the touchdown and the big play, but how do you think he did overall with that expanded load that he took on?

“I thought he did a good job. He made some big plays. He beat man coverage really well on that third and three. I think he got about a 40-yarder, almost made a hell of a catch, I think he did catch it. I think [Minnesota Vikings CB Trae] Waynes made a real good play of getting his hand in there from what I could see on our copy, ripping it out. Then he made the off-schedule play on the touchdown that he had. So, Dante did a real good job. I think a lot was thrown on his plate once Marquise got hurt. And he wasn’t perfect, he had some mistakes and stuff which does hurt and you’ve got to overcome them, but it was good that his first game he saw all of the things that could happen. I think that will make him that much better next week and that much more prepared next week.”

Back on McGlinchey real quick. When you have a guy like that who hasn’t played a position like that, how do you balance coaching him up and getting him ready with making sure not to overwhelm him because he’s in a unique situation?

“That’s kind of why you put in rules and you put in stuff that you rep every single day from OTAs through training camp. You give him an entire game plan on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, but it shouldn’t be much different than what he’s always been doing. It’s just, you try to tell him why we’re doing it and then he’s doing what he’s always done. If we get this look, we’re going to change it and go to this. But, all you’re doing is mixing and matching stuff that you’ve been asking him to do since day one. Now, we haven’t been asking him to play guard since day one so that was a huge adjustment for him and he stepped up to the table for it, but there’s a very fine line. If he has to look at every play as a different play, like a coach does calling him and things like that, that is overwhelming. But, you can narrow things down to where, ‘all right, we have these 60 plays in and on 45 of them I’m blocking this guy, on another eight I’m blocking this guy.’ You can simplify things when you look at it from your position and not all 11. I think that’s the world most players are in. Not all of them know what the other 10 guys are doing. They know how to get their job done and that’s why you can use verbiage and plays and stuff to move 11 chess pieces any way you want.”

You mentioned it, but is Magnuson a real possibility for this week?

“I know this is going to be the first time that I’m told he’s going to be limited. I know he’s got a chance to be at individual on Wednesday which I definitely think will be an outside chance as a possibility on Sunday. It’s about a good of a chance as I know with Garnett and Person and all of them. I know it’s going to be a big topic this week, but it’s definitely something that we don’t know yet.”

Person and Garnett. Is one ahead of the other as far as having a better chance to play Sunday?

“No, they’re both about in the same boat.”