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Kyle Shanahan talks Jimmy Garoppolo injury, C.J. Beathard, Colin Kaepernick

It was a very depressing day for the San Francisco 49ers head coach. He discussed the injury to Jimmy Garoppoo, the quarterback depth chart going forward and where the team goes from here.

Opening comments:

“[QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] has, as you guys already know, a torn ACL. [CB Richard Sherman] Sherm has a calf strain. He’ll be out a couple weeks. Most of these other players we’re going to have to re-check on Wednesday with it being the day after the game. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, still the same thing with the stinger. We’ll have to check on him and how he is on Wednesday. [OL Mike] Person had a slight knee sprain in this game, so he’ll probably be questionable this week. [G Joshua] Garnett, still the same situation. I’d be surprised if we got him back this week. [RB Matt] Breida hyperextended his knee in the game, a little calf soreness. So, he’ll be questionable this week. [WR Marquise] Goodwin made it through the game, so I expect him to be alright. And [DB Adrian] Colbert, with his hip. We’ll have to re-check him Wednesday.”

What about RB Alfred Morris?

“Alfred went out for a little bit with an ankle. He came back in. We’ll re-check him on Wednesday. I expect him to be alright, but yeah he did go out of the game for a bit.”

Is the Garoppolo injury limited to the ACL? Was there any other damage in the knee?

“None specific that I’ve been told. But, I know any time, I don’t think you ever know for sure until you open it up. It seems kind of like with all ACLs there’s always some other stuff in there. The message I got today was that it was fairly good news, relatively speaking.”

Did you get a chance to spend some time with Jimmy? What are his spirits like right now?

“As good as they can be. He’s down, just as everyone would expect. Jimmy was real excited about this year and we were real excited to go through it with him. Got to go through a few games, but I know he was very disappointed. I know it was hard for him last night, it was hard today and it’ll be hard over these next few weeks. But, Jimmy is a tough person. He’ll bounce back from this and he’ll be ready to go next year.”

When is he expected to receive treatment on his knee?

“They’ve got to wait until the swelling goes down. So, I don’t think we have an exact time on that, but I’d guess that it’d be at least one to two weeks.”

Is the plan right now to elevate QB Nick Mullens from the practice squad and then maybe bringing in a third quarterback?

“I know we’re working out a number of guys tomorrow. Right now our plan is to bring Nick up so we have two at least right away. We’re working out a bunch of guys tomorrow. I’m not sure how many. We’ll see how that goes and we’ll assess it after that.”

QB Tom Savage is one of those guys?

“I know he’s one of them, yeah.”

Is Baltimore Ravens QB Robert Griffin III on the radar, too?

“No. He’s on a team. He’s at Baltimore.”

Any other names that you’ve had experience with, the guys that will be coming in?

“I don’t know the whole list of them.”

How many are coming in?

“As many as we can get. No, I’m just joking. I think [QB] Kellen Clemens is coming in. One I know for sure. I believe [QB] T.J. Yates might possibly be coming in. We asked [QB] Matt Moore. I’m not sure if he is or not. That’s all I know right now.”

Why are you confident moving ahead with QB C.J. Beathard?

“I have a lot of confidence in C.J. I think C.J. got a lot of experience last year. We liked him a lot coming out of college. He got a lot of experience last year. He got thrown into as tough of a situation as I could imagine putting a rookie quarterback in. The guy didn’t blink. He had a lot of ups and downs throughout his time playing. I thought he started out very well, went through a little bit of a slump in the middle and I thought he ended very well, especially with the win that we got versus the Giants. C.J. is as tough and fearless as any quarterback I’ve ever been around. He’s got the arm talent to make every throw. He’s extremely smart. I know he’s the type of guy that I know our team believes in, also.”

What does he give you that’s special? Is it those qualities right there?

“Yeah, those qualities.”

Where have you seen the biggest improvement with him on the practice field this offseason?

“Just being more consistent, like they all are. The more time you get to play, the more situations you go through. Sometimes when you get thrown in, you play a lot and a lot of guys they see how hard it is and they kind of go the other direction. That’s what’s been so encouraging about C.J. No matter what his situation was last year, he’s a guy who has been through it and truly believes that he can do it, just like we believe he can do it, also. He got that confidence going through some ups and downs last year. I know the guy is very eager to play. I know he’s understood his situation since Jimmy has been here, which he’s been very supportive of. I know he hurt for Jimmy last night. But, C.J. is a gamer, a guy who loves to play. I know even though he doesn’t like how it happened, I know he is as excited about his opportunity.”

It’s so easy for us to look and say Jimmy should have just run out of bounds. What’s your take on that? I know he is just trying to make a play, but what’s his thought process?

“I think everyone’s is the same after it happened. ‘Why didn’t you just get out of bounds?’ I think it’s a reminder to all quarterbacks and coaches. Just turn on the tape any Sunday and you’re going to watch 15 plays by quarterbacks jumping over people, not getting out of bounds, doing a little extra to move the chains where it’s a hell of a play and everyone’s glad they did it. Then, you see some guys get out of bounds, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s what you’re supposed to do.’ Then, you have something like this that you’re reminded of why you do coach that and why quarterbacks should do it. But, those guys are competitive guys who want to do whatever they can to win the game. You’re not assuming just by going and staying in bounds you’re going to tear your knee up. Sometimes, you get hit a lot harder because of that, which is what I thought happened until I heard later. But, I think that’s something that Jimmy will probably look at differently going forward because I know he’ll remember this the rest of his life. Nothing against him. I think this happens with everyone. Like I said, you see it every Sunday. I think it’s just a reminder for everyone why that is the obvious coaching point and why you need to stick with that.”

The experience that he’s missing this season, how big is that? How crucial is that moving forward into 2019 and beyond?

“I don’t know. I don’t know what would’ve happened and I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. I know I’m extremely excited about Jimmy being here next year. Jimmy is a very talented quarterback. He’s played at a high level in the games that he has played. It’s very unfortunate. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It was hard waking up today. We were down, disappointed about it because we were looking forward to a lot playing with Jimmy this year and going through the good and the bad that would happen, knowing that he would benefit from all of it. Now, we don’t get to do that. I know Jimmy is really down about it. So are we. But, we’re still going to be alright. This is part of the league. It’s part of the NFL. It’s part of life. You have to adjust to it and you’ve got to make the best out of it. Jimmy’s got the ability to be very successful in this league. He’s got the mentality to be very successful in this league. He’s not going to get a lot of reps this year now. He’s got a lot leading up to this, and now he doesn’t. So, he gets to sit back and watch. What’s he going to make out of that? You can always make things a positive. It’ll help him to sit and watch more, especially to sit there and watch C.J. go through this. When we get into the offseason, we’ll get an early start with him going through his rehab and everything. I think it’ll make him that much more hungry next year. There’s not a doubt in my mind that he’ll come back and be the exact same guy.”

With C.J. you were able to learn a lot about him on the field last year when he was starting. After Jimmy took over, how did he handle that last year because he kind of moved into the background at some point, also?

“I think he handled it very well. I have a lot of respect for both of those guys. Definitely as players, but just as people. C.J., we threw him into a tough position. I keep saying that, last year. He got the crap kicked out of him a bunch and never flinched, didn’t change who he was, still wanted to be in there and was disappointed when we took him out and put Jimmy in because that’s the competitor he is and he believes he can do it. So, it was hard for him at first. But, he was very supportive. He saw how well Jimmy played and he keeps it real, and he understood it. He’s worked. He hasn’t sat back and just been happy with being a backup. I think C.J. has very high expectations for himself. He sees himself being a starter one day, and he’s going to get an opportunity now. This isn’t something that has just surprised him. He’s been waiting for this moment and that’s why I know he’ll take advantage of it.”

Will RB Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy be able to do some rehab together? Will they be kind of going through the same process together?

“Yeah, definitely. That’s the only good news that Jimmy and I could talk about on the plane. At least he’s got a buddy to go through it with. Unfortunately, both of them are going through it. But, they’re both in the same boat. I know Jerick, I think, texted him and sent him a picture of his knee right after the game. Just said, ‘Looking forward to having a wingman,’ or something. They can talk a lot about it with each other. They can keep each other up, help each other when each other are down, but those are two very important players, they were for us to start out this year. Now, they’re not going to be a part of it. We know they’re going to be around and involved in a lot of stuff, but I really look forward to having both of them next year.”

You mentioned when Jerick went down it dramatically changed your plans in terms of game planning and things like that. I know it’s a different position, but how much do you have to tinker with your plan schematically going forward with C.J.?

“Not as much just because they’re real similar styles. They’re both good pocket-passing quarterbacks so you don’t have to change very much. Jerick was a little different.”

You said C.J. did get the crap kicked out of him last year, I think 19 sacks. How has he progressed in that area, making quick decisions, getting the ball out faster?

“We’ll see. I think he’s done a pretty good job in practice. I kind of think he always has. He didn’t get to play a ton in the preseason and you don’t get hit or sacked in practice. So, we’ll see as these weeks go. But, I think that experience, everything he went through last year when it was good and bad, he learned from it. The stuff he did bad at, I think he’ll do better at this year.”

I noticed Garoppolo wasn’t wearing a brace on his left knee during the game. Some quarterbacks do, Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan, Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff. Did you and your staff ever discuss with him the idea of wearing a brace?

“No, never. I’ve never discussed it with any quarterback unless they’ve had a knee injury before.”

That was just something that Matt did on his own?

“I think he did that because he played his whole second year, I think, without an MCL. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But, he had some issues so he decided to put one on.”

So many of the players were very quick to express their confidence in C.J. Beathard. What does that say not only about the resilience, but the brotherhood in this locker room?

“You have to earn respect. Guys aren’t just going to say that to say it and they’re not going to just say it because someone is their friend or a nice guy. It always starts with how you handle yourself on the field and C.J. earns a lot of respect how he handles himself on the field. He’s as tough and fearless as anyone I’ve been around and guys know he’ll hang in there and sling it. He’s not scared to make mistakes and he’ll give us a chance to win. The way he’s handled himself off the field make the guys that much stronger with him. He did get demoted last year when we gave Jimmy the starts and you would have never noticed it on how he handled himself and how he acted. He’s a great person.”

Has there been any discussion in the organization about bringing QB Colin Kaepernick back?

“No. I mean, there was last year and I think I made that decision just with the style of offense that we wanted to go with. That’s kind of what I said last year and it’s kind of the same situation now. If you’re thinking of if there’d be a different discussion now, I always look into what style of offense I want to do, what style of offense we’ve been doing for the last two years. When you start to get to these quarterbacks we’re talking about, C.J. is our guy and we have Nick Mullens backing him up. So, when you get into a third and fourth guy, whoever that is, you’d like to bring in guys that you felt you didn’t have to change as much of your offense for.”

With Sherman’s calf, did he hurt it on a specific play or was that just build up?

“I don’t know, I haven’t talked to him. I don’t know of a specific play. I’m not sure.”

With that injury, have you gotten any more clarity if it’s connected to the surgeries he had on his Achilles?

“I was told it’s not connected. I think the surgery that he had on his Achilles was his right leg and this is his left calf. I’m told it’s not connected.”

Considering that this is the second ACL, with Jerick obviously and then now Jimmy, is it something you guys look at from a training perspective, how to prevent these injuries from happening more? It’s your second starter.

“People can, if they want. I personally think they’re wasting time. One guy made a cut in Kansas City on some re-sodded turf after a Taylor Swift concert, I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, and the other guy made a cut on our practice field in the last play of practice. So, whatever information we get, it wouldn’t affect me very much. We can’t tell them to avoid Kansas City if we play there.”

What caused you to change your mind? You guys went for it and then after the penalty you kicked a field goal. What changed there?

“Just playing the percentages. Fourth and goal from the seven is tough. When you’re down two scores, I thought we had a decent chance to get it. Fourth and goal from the 17 I felt is a pretty low percentage to get it. If we didn’t have any timeouts, then we would have done it. But, we had three timeouts. It was a two-score game and there were five and a half minutes left. They’d only gotten 75-yards in the second half, we’d held them to three points. The odds of converting a fourth and goal from the 17, to me, are a lot less than stopping a team on a three and out with three timeouts. I thought we did that. Unfortunately, we got the PI call on the third and 12.”

You guys have been, it seems like, really measured in terms of your overall, broad, long-term plan. How does Garoppolo’s injury maybe change that and have you guy talked about maybe changing course at all since the injury?

“No, not at all. I think we’re very fortunate that we have a backup quarterback that we’re confident in. We were really excited about this year with Jimmy, just to go through the whole thing with him. I knew there would be ups and downs because you’re going through his first full season and I thought Jimmy had been solid in these first three weeks and I thought there were a lot of things that he could get better from and learn from, also. Unfortunately, you don’t get to do that which I know he’s very disappointed about, so are we. But, Jimmy is still the same guy. Quarterbacks can come back from knee injuries. They do it all the time. I don’t think this will affect him going forward. Yeah, he’ll have a long recovery. He’ll have to heal. But, right when the offseason starts, I think he’ll be there. Whether he can be involved in everything, I know he’ll be able to sit there and throw and do things like that so it’s better in that aspect from a quarterback. So, I’m still very excited about Jimmy and the future of him here and I feel fortunate that we have a backup quarterback that we have a lot of confidence in.”

You referenced the offensive PI on FB Kyle Juszczyk. Have you heard from the league about that or how does that usually work?

“Yeah, they usually will say something whether they’re sorry for it or whether they thought they were right. I usually get that in a letter or something, probably tomorrow.”

When you look at that, is that a no call or is that defensive pass interference or offensive pass interference? What do you think?

“I know that’s what they do. They grab every single play in the red zone. That’s their philosophy. It’s very obvious. You see it on tape every single play. So, if they’re going to grab and do that and we’re not going to call that, just let them play. It kind of blew my mind when it was called the other way.”

What about the one on CB K’Waun Williams in the first half?

“Yeah, I saw it live and also saw it on tape. I saw a guy fall because he twisted his ankle and I saw him get up hobbling. I think they thought K’Waun was the one who twisted him and threw him down, but that’s not what happened.”

I don’t know how much you talked to Jimmy about this, but what is his involvement going to be with the team through this injury process? Is he going to still be in meeting rooms?

“I think Jimmy will handle it just like Jet. You don’t want to force anybody to do anything. I think everyone deals with this stuff differently. Jet’s been everywhere until he got his surgery and then he has to be away for a little bit. But, I know he’ll be back. I think Jimmy will be the same. Flying and stuff is a little bit different with those guys because of the swelling and the surgery and stuff that he will be going through eventually. But, Jimmy will be around a ton. Obviously, it’s better to play, but if you’re not going to be in, you can still get better watching things and handling it as good as you can and I know Jimmy will.”

Obviously this is a huge blow to the team, but how big of a challenge is it to you to be able to keep the team confident and motivated moving forward?

“It is what it is. It’s human nature, everyone’s going to be down today. You know, we lost a bad game yesterday. Went through that with Jimmy which was a big deal. Went through it with a lot of people yesterday, though. So, you come in today, you’re pissed off, you want to look at the tape, you’re a little bit down. But, you don’t sugarcoat it. You look at the reasons why we were down 35-10 at halftime, the reasons why we felt we had a chance to come back in the game, what we did good, what we need to do differently. Then you just try to keep it real with the guys. You don’t try to tell them, ‘Hey, we shouldn’t feel this way.’ I know guys are down. But, I also know guys can watch that tape and believe in what we have here. I know that guys do believe in C.J. I don’t have to convince them of that. That’s a good thing. If I felt I had to convince them of that, then you’d probably see a bad actor because I’m not very good at acting. So, it’s pretty nice when you come into a team where we can’t be down, but we can talk about the tape, we can watch it together, we can talk about the situation. Every time I leave with our team, I feel a heck of a lot better. I know when they come in here Wednesday, we have a full game plan in. I know those guys will be going, they’ll be juiced up. I know by the time Sunday comes, we’ll be ready to go.”