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Kyle Shanahan talks 49ers injuries, running back workload, 10 a.m. starts

The 49ers head coach met with the media Friday afternoon. We’ve got a full transcript.

Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Kyle Shanahan provides a status report and final preview of the upcoming trip to Kansas City.

Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Friday, September 21, 2018

Can you just catch us up on some injuries? Can you start with WR Marquise Goodwin? What is his status?

“Yeah. Goodwin and [S Jaquiski] Tartt are the only guys who will be questionable for the game. [G] Josh [Garnett] is ruled out.

Goodwin able to practice today?

“Yeah. He was limited.”

Is he favoring that leg significantly or do you think he’s going to be able to --?

“I’m questioning it. It’s questionable.”

CB Richard Sherman is fine?

“Yeah. He practiced today. He’s not questionable. So, he’ll be going.”

Is it related to the Achilles? Is it that leg or is it the other issue with his other leg?

“You can ask him. I think there’s wear and tear. I’d like to give him some time off, anyways. He’s going through some stuff, as he will probably be all year. Don’t want him going hard for all three days. Yesterday, we felt it was a better day to rest him.”

I’ve heard general manager John Lynch say this, that the offense is different without Goodwin. What is different about it when you don’t have Goodwin to deploy?

“It’s very important in our offense to have an extremely fast person out there. Any time you have someone who can run by everybody on their field at any given time, it backs people off. It makes it harder for guys to come up there and grab your guys and hold as much because you can go by them. And it also takes pressure off the other guys. [WR Dante] Pettis has played a little too much here in the last couple weeks. Just for these first two weeks. Got a lot of confidence in him, but it’s a lot to throw on him early. It’s just a trickle-down effect. You always want his speed out there. That’s why we got him here. Then, it helps out the other receivers, also.”

When you look at divvying up carries with RB Matt Breida and RB Alfred Morris, do you look at the averages and say, “We’d like to give Breida more carries because he’s averaging eight yards a carry,” or is that average part of his limited role in the way he’s being used now?

“I think both. Average can tell you some things, but not everything. It depends if you look at all the runs. He definitely had the longest one, which really helps your average. But, he was doing good on the others too. So, I wouldn’t say that’s the case. I think it’s very important for both of those guys to be fresh. I think they play off each other very well. We’ll go with the hot hand, but whoever the hot hand is eventually tires out. We try to keep them both as fresh as possible. But, when a guy does get on a role he’s usually going to get more than the other.”

How has LB Reuben Foster looked this week now that he’s back?

“He looked good. We were pumped to have him back. He spent these two weeks away taking care of himself. He didn’t skip a beat. He looked in shape. He was up-beat. We loved having him around.”

You had a couple of 10 a.m. starts, if I remember correctly, at the end of last season. Anything to it? Any knack to it? Any things you’ve picked up from that that brings you to this one?

“Yeah, it changes the schedule up on those wins and it changed everything. No, I’ve heard a lot about that stuff. I learned last year that it does wear on you traveling from the west to east. I’ve been on the east coast most of my coaching career. I never thought it was that big of a deal going east to west. I thought it would be the same when I came here, and it is a little different. I can’t explain why, I’m sure science can. When you go to those 10 a.m. starts, there is an effect. That’s why we always try to go on Friday two days in advance. But, we didn’t change anything up. The better you play, the better you have a chance of winning. Every time you don’t win, there’s plenty of excuses that can go into it. It doesn’t matter. You’ve got to find a way to get it done.”

You said the other day you went to Arrowhead a couple of times as a fan. Is that right?

“No. I went there as a cord holder. I used to hold the cords for the head coach because we didn’t have wireless back in the day. My last time there was 1997. It was the Divisional Round game. I think they were 13-3. Rich Gannon had played, took over for Elvis Grbac, who broke his collarbone earlier in the year. Then, Elvis came back in for that playoff game. I think the Broncos won like 17-10, but that was the last year that people were holding cords.”

Were you holding cords in the ’94 game when former 49ers QB Joe Montana played former 49ers QB Steve Young, the Chiefs and Niners, when your dad was coordinator there?

“No, I wasn’t. My dad wasn’t the head coach then, so I didn’t have as much of a hookup. I was a little younger, too. I always joke that a good trivia is, I was the last guy to hold cords in the Super Bowl. Broncos versus Green Bay Packers. That was the last year they had them before they went wireless. That’s my claim to fame.”

You didn’t mess it up? Is that why they had to wireless?

“Definitely. I tripped a little too many people.”

Generally, when a player like New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon becomes available, how much time do you spend just on that process with John when in the middle of the season, you are game planning?

“We take time and talk about all that stuff, especially having a relationship with Josh, knowing him and spending some time with him. So, we talk about all those things. We looked into it. Josh would’ve been a great bonus for anybody, but there’s always stuff that you’ve got to give up things to get it. That stuff can hurt you and affect you in the future. Josh is a guy that I really like a lot as a person. Everyone knows how good of a player he is. He’s in a real good place. They’ll give him a good chance, and I wish him the best there.”

You guys obviously made the trade for QB Jimmy Garoppolo. John had said you were talking about Chicago Bears LB Khalil Mack. That’s an aggressive mindset. Do you want an aggressive mindset? Obviously you like the players you have, but do you tell John, “Let’s be out there. Let’s take a look at what’s available?”

“Yeah, of course. When you’re talking about people who are extreme difference makers, you do everything you can to try to add those type of guys to your team, especially when it came to the first guy you mentioned with the pass rush and everything. Those are legit things that I hope everyone in the league would look into hard. Then, you’ve got to think about salary cap. Thinking about how you’re going to balance contracts, what that means not just right now, but what it means next year, who you can re-sign next year, who you have to lose, how you’re going to spend the draft next year. There’s so many more things that go into it than just, ‘Is that guy a good player or not?’”

I don’t want to get into details, but was it your offer, their offer, your offer? Were you as far deep into that? For Mack.

“Yeah, we went pretty hard. We went real hard.”

Reuben said sometimes he gets overwhelmed or he got overwhelmed when he had to make the calls on the field. Obviously, you took that responsibility away for him and now LB Fred Warner has that. But, looking at them, it seems that they have very different personalities. Fred’s a little more reserved, soft spoken and Reuben is very out there and he’s a big personality. Was that part of the evaluation you made, how those personalities fit and do you think those guys balance each other out?

“Yeah, I do. But, everything starts with how you play and once you pass that, which usually you can see it on tape, then you look into everything else. You love what you see on tape and then you met someone and I’ve overrated how they act and their personality and made it change my opinion on how good of a player he is. I’ve made mistakes doing that. Sometimes you fall in love with what you see on tape and then you ignore how he acts as a person. I’ve made some mistakes with that too. So, every situation is different. We love both of those guys from what we saw on tape. When we got them here, we loved how both of them handled themselves. Very different personalities, but what we feel are very good people who you can count on who football is extremely important to. So, putting them in there, they both have talents that really help each other and their personalities, I do think it helps. I think you said it perfect. Reuben is revved up and ready to go and Fred can get like that too also, but I think the calls and stuff don’t affect him as much as it did Reub.”

How much confidence were you able to have in Fred that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed in that Week 1 environment being his first ever game and having to relay the signals?

“We had a lot just because of how he handled himself the first day he got here. I compare him and [T Mike] McGlinchey who are very similar in that way. They both kind of came in and from their first press conference to their first game in Minnesota, they were never too high or never too low. Those guys were always the same. Nothing seemed too big for them which means they are confident people. They’re people who they’re not going to be perfect, but I think they’re the type of guys who feel if you give them the time, they’ll figure it out and they’ll always find a way to get it done.”

Has he had the headset ever go out on him yet in a game?

“Fred? I don’t know, I don’t think so.”

How about Jimmy?

“Yeah, Jimmy has. I don’t get what the stress is on defense. The play call is cover-three. On offense, it’s a lot longer. So, I don’t get the stress.”

Did it happen this season? At Minnesota?

“With Jimmy?”


“Well it always goes out at 15 seconds so that’s always a problem if we have a late sub or something, or you want to change the play and you’re starting it at 17 seconds. Sometimes it takes two and a half seconds to call it and it goes out right in the middle. Then it’s like, ‘All right, did he know what I was going to say?’ If not, then you’ve got to burn a timeout or we go into an automatic play that he’s just ready for.”

Alfred has mentioned that he feels that the offense as far as running backs catching passes has changed since his time first with you in Washington and obviously he caught two passes with you last Sunday. Where do you think the shift happened? Was that in Atlanta with those backs?

“It just depends on personnel. It’ll change every year depending on who we have. No offense to Alf, but he wasn’t a featured back out of the backfield when I had him early in his career so we weren’t going to keep doing that to him over and over. When we were in Cleveland, we had a very similar thing. When we got to Atlanta, [Atlanta Falcons RB] Devonta [Freeman] excelled in that area. So, it’s something that you always want to have a huge part in that offense and if you have a guy that can do it, it puts a ton of stress on a defense. I messed with Alf. He had two explosives last week. They were both check downs versus zone, but he had 16 yards on both. So, he’s turning into a pass game guy. Hopefully we can use him more that way.”

You’ve been involved in personnel, certainly in Atlanta, probably a little bit in Cleveland, Washington for sure, certainly now. Some coaches aren’t as involved as assistants. When did you realize how important that was? Was it from your dad? And when did you feel like you had a knack for it?

“I don’t know. I don’t think there was ever a time, I have a hard time understanding how you can be a good coach without doing that stuff. We didn’t steal someone’s playbook when I was 10-years-old and just carry it around like in ‘Water Boy’ and call the plays that were written up. You study offense and you learn stuff and you think of how to put body movements in positions and matchups that make people successful. So, in order to know why to call plays and how to put people in positions, you better have a good understanding on how a running back can beat a linebacker, how a tight end could beat a safety, how a slot receiver can separate even though he might not have the same speed, how you use a fast guy on the outside. If you don’t understand all of that, I think it’s pretty hard to put in an offense.”

Earlier this week you said you wanted to wait to see how things settled in with Reuben being back. Do you have a clear picture now of that linebacker alignment?

“Yes, very clear.”

Do you want to share?

“Nope, sorry. Good try though.”

With Richard, as far of the rest of the year, do you have to like maybe change his practice schedule?

“Yeah and we do that, you’ll probably get mad at me for saying the word older players, it’s not old, but the older players, you do that a lot. I think Sherm is 30. Anybody right at that 30 age, we try to change their practice schedule a little bit. Everyone at that age, and everyone’s a little bit different, but once you hit that 30 mark, from a starting point, we don’t always like to practice you all three days. Some guys we do, it depends on how much they go and stuff. But, as the year gets going, not just Sherm but anyone really over 30 will probably be having their practice schedule altered.”

If Jaquiski can’t go, how do you find the balance? Is it just one guy that would replace him and play that one spot the whole game or do you mix and match a group of guys?

“We have a number of options with that, so that’s also why I’m not going to say exactly. We could go a bunch of different directions. You guys all know [DB] Jimmie Ward could play that spot, [DB] D.J. Reed [Jr.] can play both safeties. We have [S Antone] Exum who has backed up Tartt who could come in at any time. We have guys on the practice squad we could bring up. So, lots of options we could do.”