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Shanahan hints at Jeff Wilson being active on Sunday

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He made it seem like the team doesn’t have much of a choice

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Kyle Shanahan talked about the 49ers’ improvement on defense if the Rams game is a measuring stick if Jeff Wilson suits up, and more. Check it out.

Opening comments:

”Injuries from today: just out for the game will be [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice, [T Mike] McGlinchey, [T Joe] Staley and [CB] Ahkello [Witherspoon]. [TE George] Kittle was limited today with a groin, so he’ll be questionable and [WR Marquise] Goodwin didn’t practice today, he was excused for personal reasons.”

Do you expect Marquise to play?

”Yes, yeah.”

The Kittle thing in practice yesterday?

”No, it was today. I don’t have much information on it. They’ll check it out here this afternoon, but he was limited because of it today.”

Do you expect him?

”Right now, I do. But, it still is a little bit early, so that’s why he will be questionable. We’ll see what news I get later after he gets with the trainers and stuff and gets it checked out.”

I’m assuming not a whole lot of sympathy coming from you with the Rams’ own injury situation?

”Yeah, none at all.”

How do you feel going into this game with you guys shorthanded, them shorthanded with some key players? How do you get your guys kind of understanding how they have to compensate, pick up the slack, and keep moving forward?

”I think our guys understand that on their own. They know how big it is losing Juice, they knew what it was like losing Staley, and they know it’s doubled even losing McGlinchey here. The guys understand that. I don’t have to tell them too much. We’ve just got to keep working as a team like we have been doing. The guys they got out, totally understandable. I’m not upset about it, but there are some good players, but it’s not going to change their team much. They’ve got some good guys all over, and it’s still going to be a huge challenge.”

Are you guys more apt to kind of change what you’ve been doing do you think as opposed to the Rams losing their running back?

”Um, yeah, we’re going to change up everything. It’s going to totally look different on Sunday.”

I assume ideally you have 11 Pro Bowlers on offense, and you just roll like that, but does part of you enjoy the challenge of “How do we kind of figure this out and make it work with,” your tackles and fullback out?

”I mean, you always, it’s a lot more fun. The easier it is, the more fun it is. That’s what I think we all like about coaching is the challenge each week of putting together a game plan with your team and trying to practice it and get better at it and then see how good everyone does on it versus whatever their plans are on Sunday. That’s what I enjoy about coaching most. That’s why I enjoy the NFL and hope I never have to go recruit and things like that. I don’t think I would enjoy that as much. But it’s always fun. It’s part of the NFL, though; you have injuries every year, so you always have to adjust. The more you get to go through those situations, I think, the better you get at doing it. The first time I had to deal with injuries as a coordinator and stuff, you think that there’s no chance, but you start to realize the more you’re in this league that that happens all the time, so you’ve got to deal with it. That’s why depth’s so important. That’s why you’re always working with guys, working with the practice squad, working with the first guy on the roster, and the last guy on the roster. The true cliché of you’re always one play away from starting. It happens a lot.”

Obviously, you always want to win division games, and you want to win the division, the first thing they say is win in the division, but haven’t had a lot of success in the division. Did you circle division games this season or any particular season and think to get better, we have to beat these teams?

”Yes, there’s no doubt about it. We haven’t won enough games to think about the playoffs here in these last two years. Just from the starting of football, everyone knows the best way to get into the playoffs is to win your division. If you take care of your division, usually that’s what happens. We have not done that well. We started out well this year, but this is our first division opponent, and this is a big step for us. Not just the Rams, but the other two teams we’re going to be facing. We know we’re going to get them all twice, and this is the beginning of it, and it’s something that is very important.”

What did you see from OL Daniel Brunskill as the week went on as far as his comprehension of the game plan and what’s expected of him?

”Very similar to [OL Justin] Skule’s. That’s what was very encouraging about it. Not trying to say the same things as I said about Skule, but it is very similar. It was not too big for him. When guys get thrown into these roles, not just the media eyes are all on them, but teammates’ eyes are all on them too. They know how big of a deal it is, they know someone is doing something for the first time. When a guy does that and looks the same as he has every other day, that is encouraging. The moment won’t be too big. He’ll go out there; he’ll have some good plays, some bad plays, and hopefully, we can string more good than bad.”

I don’t know how much time you’ve spent with him, but he seems like a pretty low-key, level, even keeled kind of guy.

”Very much so. Him and Skule, I very rarely hear them talk, which new guys are like that a little bit because Joe and McGlinchey don’t give much time for anybody to talk. But, no, those guys are part of the group. They’re quiet, but they go to work every day, and that’s kind of how their demeanor is on the field too.”

Another new guy, DL Nick Bosa, had a big sack display with the flag thing on Monday. What’s your take on that? Do you like your guys showing personality like that, or would you rather have the rookies be more in the background?

”I like guys to be themselves. As long as you’re not getting a taunting penalty or doing something completely disrespectful, I think it’s neat. I think fans enjoy it. I totally understood why he did it. I’m sure, if we’re just talking that instance, I’m sure [Cleveland Browns QB], Baker [Mayfield] understood too. He didn’t do it in his face or anything like that. It was something that stemmed from college. I think that was all fun and games, and I think Bosa definitely earned that. As long as you’re doing it and not taunting someone where you’re jeopardizing our team to get a penalty, that’s something I wish I could do. It’d be fun.”

Does WR Jordan Matthews or RB Jeff Wilson Jr. have a better chance of being up this week?

”No receivers went down, so it probably won’t change with Jordan. Jeff has a chance. We still have our other backs, we didn’t lose any of them, but not having Kyle and losing a fullback does give us an option there. It’s going to be between him and another position. That’s a decision we’ll make tomorrow, though.”

You guys are quite clearly better than you have been, and the Rams are quite clearly the best team you’ll have faced. Is there any curiosity playing them just to see exactly how much better you are? Will there be some sort of measuring stick to see where you are in this process?

”I don’t think so. I think we have a pretty good idea of where we’re at. It’s about how good do we play on Sunday? How good do the Rams play on Sunday? Both teams are capable of winning; both teams were capable of winning or losing last year. We know we’re a better team now. We’ll see how the Rams are. They look the same on tape. They’re a very good team and should be exactly like they were last year. I know we are better right now, but I also know we’ve got to continue to get better. We have the ability to do it, and we’ve got to play as good as our ability, and we’ve got to continue getting better. I expect us to on Sunday, but it’s all about how you play in those three and a half hours.”

You’ve joked or talked about how you get mad at the defense when you’re calling the plays in practice and in training camp. What specifically is better, other than the talent, what is better about them this season?

”Yeah, I mean, I think we know that the pass rushers we’ve added, which is a huge help to any team. I think the mentality we are playing with on the D-Line, the techniques we’ve changed bringing [defensive line coach Kris] Kocurek in and playing a little different style, playing pass first, reacting to the run, being able to do both of those with just our violence and everything. The violence they’ve brought and the mentality they’ve brought, with the two guys added, has kind of carried over to the whole defense. [LB] Fred [Warner] was a rookie last year who played a ton, and he was one of our leaders last year even as a rookie. Now into his second year, he has complete command of the defense, can get people lined up, can get us into so many different things. Bringing [LB] Kwon [Alexander] in, you know, I think he’s added an attitude to the defense, he loves football, there’s an energy about him out there that everyone gravitates to. Our secondary has played, we’re going into our second year with almost the same secondary. I know this is [CB] Richard’s [Sherman] second year [CB] Ahkello [Witherspoon] is going into his third, both of our safeties, so guys have played a lot more together, we’ve added more. I think we’ve gotten better, our coaches knowing each other better, adding a few things on scheme, which helps and just the mentality overall.”

How much are they in the wide-nine, or is it just a mentality?

”No, pretty much every play. You know, there’s some times when you’re not. We’re not in it 100-percent of the time. I’m totally just guessing this, but I’m guessing 85-percent where last year I would guess 35-percent.”