For those of you curious, Jeff Wilson Jr. played only one snap on offense. That snap was a touchdown. Below is Shanahan’s press conference talking about that along with rest of the 49ers available to the media to wrap things up.
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
“Alright guys, for the injuries, [DL Dee] Ford had a hamstring, no return. [CB Emmanuel] Moseley, cramped, did return. [CB] K’Waun Williams had a stinger, returned. [WR] Deebo [Samuels] had a shoulder, he returned. [WR] Emmanuel Sanders, ribs, he did not return.”
What were you feeling about this game and the way it progressed and certainly the way it ended?
“A lot of ups and downs in that. There were definitely some good things and there were some really bad things. It actually reminded me a lot of Monday Night. To where there were some things we got very excited about and then it felt like you blew it a number of times to where you kind of get crushed. The guys were just resilient and just kept coming. We were able to finish out the right way unlike we did last week. Two similar games like that and by no means was it perfect, but real proud of the guys how they just kept fighting. Found a way to get it done.”
What was the discussion like during the review for TE Ross Dwelley’s catch? Were you assuming it was going to be a first down?
“I was assuming but it was a very stressful discussion. You didn’t know, so it was a lot of … we thought about everything in that long minute and a half that it took.”
Did you call that play specifically for a first down or was it maybe a fourth down play? How do you call that play?
“No, that was for first-and-10. That wasn’t going to be our fourth-and-inches call. Maybe, I don’t want to give all the secrets.”
Would you have gone for it?
“Yeah, that was the plan.”
What was your thinking having RB Jeff Wilson Jr. on the field at that time?
“That was the route we liked him on. Something that we worked out with him in the week. All of our guys are capable of doing it, but you try to do it how you practice it in the week. It was nice that we had enough time afterwards so we could make the decision to get the sub in. It was neat watching him just because that was the play we were calling as long as we got the first. When they were reviewing it and watching Jeff do high knees in the huddle, trying to get warmed up for the route. Glad he had the time to get loose, because we got it versus the right look and he beat it versus zero and good job by [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] retreating because they brought a lot more than we could block. The O-Line gave him enough time and Jeff did his job perfect on it.”
Is that a play call designed for the zero?
“It’s designed for everything, but that’s what you’ve got to do versus zero. Either that works or it’s going to be a good play for one of the teams. You hold on. It’s not like it’s automatic by any means. You had five guys in protection and they are usually bringing six, so it can be a very bad call versus zero or it can be a very good call. It’s going to be one or the other when it’s over.”
Did you say anything to the team or make a specific adjustment once you guys fell behind 16-nothing just to kind of get everyone going?
“No, I think you just try not to freak out, keep things in perspective. Our ‘D’ got them off the field and we ended up having some penalties that kept them on. Some of those PI calls that they had. It was awesome on the first drive that they held them to a field goal. The offense couldn’t get anything going most of the first half until that touchdown. When you don’t run the ball well on first and second down and you don’t convert on third down, it’s pretty obvious why we were down 16-0. We were able to convert a few thirds, get some stuff going in the pass game, some screens that I think loosened it up a little bit. I think that screen to [WR] Richie James [Jr.] loosened them up at least, probably our first first down of the game. At least it felt like it. We were able to score before half and come out and it was good the guys rebounded the second half.”
You’ve been a head coach for only a few years. I know this sounds like a question that is a little esoteric but what is it like coaching back-to-back games like this on the sidelines from an emotional standpoint? I know your Xs and Os and got to hone in, but you’ve got to be churning inside too.
“It’s exhausting, whether you’re a head coach or a coordinator. There’s not much difference when you’ve got to focus that long. It’s exhausting for me. I’m sure it’s exhausting for our players. I know it’s exhausting for my wife watching it and I’m sure it’s exhausting for all the fans. That’s an intense game that goes back and forth. I think that’s why everyone loves this sport. It’s a lot more fun for us when it’s easier, but after the game it’s always so fun when you go through stuff like that and it’s not perfect and you still find a way to win.”
How much did not being able to run the ball effectively change maybe some things you did at halftime and what’s it say about Jimmy to be able to overcome not having a run game, really for the first time this year it feels like?
“Yeah, it changes a lot. I think that was the first time I consciously got away from it in the second half, just because it didn’t look like it was going well. I think they were playing really well upfront. We weren’t creating a ton of lanes, so we had to make that decision and when you do that, you put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. If you know Jimmy, if you give him a lot of opportunities, he’s going to get some stats and get some yards, because he’s that good of a player. But, it makes it hard not to turn it over too. So, that’s something we haven’t put him in this year. We had to there, we had no choice. He did a hell of a job. Really played unbelievable. Those two turnovers he had on third down, they were tough. Defense got him the ball back and for him to overcome those two turnovers on third down and go and finish it like that, he played a hell of a game.”
Garoppolo made a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage before the play. How important were those unnoticed things in the game?
“Same as always. We’ve got two calls usually in most of our stuff, so it depends on the looks, but they mixed it up a lot on defense. When they do that you’ve got to have a lot of two play calls and switch it up too.”
You’ve mentioned finding different ways to win this year. Have you learned anything just these two particular games about your team’s resolve? And, if so, what?
“I think in this game, a lot. Last week, we played real hard, so did Seattle. It was just a tough emotional loss and to not have much time to recover from that. It lingered a little bit this week. We had to address a ton of it, which I think our guys did great. I think we were feeling good about it and ready to go to this game, but you never really can put that to bed until you end up winning another one. This game had a lot of similarities to it, which I think really challenged our will. Challenged the guy’s character. I think the guys are ready for it. They rose to the occasion. I think we got stronger from the Seattle week, even though it didn’t go the way we wanted. I think we got stronger from it, I believe we got stronger today.”
What’d you think of TE Ross Dwelley’s afternoon? Obviously, filling in for TE George Kittle, a pair of touchdowns. What’d you see from him and how did you like his job kind of filling in?
“Ross has been great. He’s been great all year. He was unbelievable stepping up, taking over for Juice when Juice was out and he’s been great stepping up for Kittle when he’s been out. Ross has been one of the better football players on our team this year and doesn’t get a lot of accolades because he’s not going to sit there and get a bunch of explosive plays, but he’s as good of a football player as we’ve got going right now.”
Do you feel like your wide receivers stepped up to the plate after having so many drops last week?
“I did. We still had some drops. What I liked was that the guys didn’t go into a shell over it. There were a couple drops in the game. I know Deebo missed that one early and came back and had one of his best games. He had a tough injury with his shoulder, a lot of pain, was able to play through it. Came in, came back out and had some big plays there for us. Our guys, they stepped it up. I know they had a challenging week last week and I think they were one of the reasons we won today.”
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Just take us through the touchdown pass to RB Jeff Wilson Jr., how you guys have worked on that and the look you saw?
“Yeah, we got a great look, it was zero. The D-end peeled with Jeff. I felt the pressure up the middle and kind of just put it out there and let him just make a play on it. I just heard the crowd erupt, I didn’t even see him catch it and knew it was great news after that.”
Only two 49ers have ever put up 400 yards and 4 TDs before your performance today: that’s QB Steve Young and QB Joe Montana. What does it mean to you personally to be put with those guys?
“Anytime you’re in a sentence with those two names, it’s always an honor. I’ve got a long way to go to catch up with those two. They did some great things around here.”
What’s your frustration level knowing that you threw two red zone interceptions and what was your mindset like knowing you had the opportunity late to win?
“You’re thankful that the defense puts us in that situation. The defense played great, battled and just made it hard on those guys all day. I thought guys stepped up in big situations. When guys got their number called, a little banged up, some guys, and they just played through it. Up front, those guys are tremendous and the skill positions were awesome. It was a good team effort today.”
What’s your confidence level like with WR Deebo Samuel, particularly these last couple weeks while some of your other guys have gone down?
“He’s one of those guys you love to have in your foxhole. He just gets banged up out there, keeps coming back, doesn’t even question it or anything. He’s a fighter, man. You love having guys like that on your team.”
Do you see his confidence growing?
“Oh, yeah. Every week and it’s not even just his confidence, I think it’s just the understanding of the offense. He’s becoming more comfortable with it. He’s playing at a high level. He’s still got a long way to go, but it’s just fun to see that.”
Other than the two picks, you were throwing a lot of tight window throws. Is that hard knowing that this is a ball that might be deflected like the other one got? Is that anything difficult to work through?
“That’s part of being the quarterback, though. You’ve got to make those tight, quick decisions and live with it after. Obviously, I want the two picks back and they were two bad decisions, bad throws. At the end of the day, you’ve got to trust your guys and let them go make plays.”
Was that throw to WR Richie James Jr. nerve-racking at all, crossing the field like that?
“A little bit, yeah. I mean, there were a couple of those today, but like I said, I have total trust in those guys, the receivers, tight ends, running backs. Those guys earn it throughout the week and so I think we’ll just keep gaining that trust as we go. It was good to see that out there today.”
What’s it like in the huddle before that final play not knowing whether you had the first down or whether you were going fourth down? What’s just the situation?
“Yeah, a lot of decision very quickly. Quick decisions have to get made. I thought the coaching staff, [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan], all those guys just did a great job being clear and decisive of what we were going to do, whether it was fourth down or first down in that situation. Obviously happy we got the first down, made it a lot easier, but it was good communication across the board.”
How important has TE Ross Dwelley been to this offense, obviously stepping in for FB Kyle Juszczyk when he was out with the knee and obviously now filling in for TE George Kittle? Two of your touchdown passes went to him. How important has he been out there for you guys?
“Yeah, he’s kind of the Swiss army knife in our offense right now. He does a little bit of everything, lines up split out at receiver sometimes, so you’ve got to tip your hat to him. He’s had a lot on his plate the last however many weeks just with guys being down. He doesn’t even hesitate. He just attacks it, gets the formation and goes out there and performs. When his number is called, he does a great job.”
The NFL is more of a passing league these days, but did it make it tougher on you today knowing that you pretty much had to rely on the pass? There wasn’t much of a running game today for you guys.
“Our team, you know, we have a good group of guys where it doesn’t matter whether it’s the run game, pass game, offense, defense, special teams. Whatever it takes to win, that’s what we’re willing to do. That defense, they’re good. They’re a good defense. They took away some of the things we wanted to do early and we just had to change some things up as the game went.”
I know you’re not playing against him, but what were your impressions when you got to watch Cardinals QB Kyler Murray out there? Looked like he was pretty fast on his feet.
“Oh, yeah. I saw the one he kept to our left, I was right at the end there, but he was moving. It’s tough on defenders, but he’s a hell of a player, man.”
After the touchdown, there was a big hug between you and Juszczyk. Was that just because he was there or was it something you were hugging him-
“The last one?
Yeah, the touchdown.
“I would’ve hugged anyone who was next to me, man. The stadium was on fire today, the fans were going nuts. The energy in that stadium, it’s contagious.”
There were a few calls before the snap. Did you have a good read what the Cardinals were doing defensively?
“Similar to other games. It wasn’t anything out of our norm, but we got a good feel for them going into the second half and played it out from there.”
It seemed like everybody was a little more successful in having a short memory today after mistakes. Was there some approach to it this week?
“I wouldn’t say it was a huge emphasis, but guys were locked in. I think that the game against Seattle will do us good going forward, just having been put in that tough situation. Things are going to go wrong in these games at some point. It’s just how you respond. I thought things weren’t going our way early, but guys stayed focused, stayed locked in on the sideline and just went out and did their job.”
Kyle Shanahan said that he wanted Jeff Wilson in on that particular play because he’s good at that route. What makes him good at that route and is it a lot to see somebody in the game in that situation making his first offensive snap?
“Honestly, we were in the huddle initially and it was [RB] Tevin [Coleman] next to me and then I went to the sideline, was talking to Kyle and came back in and all of a sudden it was Jeff next to me. You’ve got to tip your hat to him to be ready in that situation. As big of a moment that was. I think it was his first offensive snap and to do that, it’s incredible. I’m so happy for him.”
Did you notice him in the huddle warming up his legs?
“I mean literally he was right next to me and it was like, ‘Oh, alright Jeff’s in, not Tevin.’ You just have to register it real quickly, but it was a hell of a play.”
Kyle said at some point he consciously said to himself we have to scrap the run, this isn’t working. Does he communicate that to you or do you just get a sense of the way it’s pass, pass, pass, pass?
“I think we all kind of felt the same way throughout the game. Some things were working, some things weren’t. Every game is different. Some games we’ve rushed for 200-plus yards and some games we pass for less yards. It’s just how our team is built; you know? It doesn’t matter which way we have to win, we will find a way and that’s what you like to see.”
Seemed like their defensive game plan was to stop run and make, you know, you beat them. Do you welcome that?
“Oh yeah. It was, similar to what they did last time. When you’re rushing the ball as good as our offense does, that’s what you kind of expect.”
DL DeForest Buckner
You guys gave up the lead a couple times in the second half and fought back. What was the mentality as you guys kept going out?
“Yeah, next play. The game is long. Every time you step on the field, you’ve got an opportunity to change the game. [Arizona Cardinals Head Coach] Kliff [Kingsbury] drew up some really good plays and was exposing us a little bit. The guys just rallied and came up with big plays when we needed to.”
You got Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray a couple times. Is that angles or something you’re learning about playing him?
“Yeah, especially going against guys who are faster than me and things like that. I like to think I act game speed. I ran like a five-flat in the 40 in the combine. So yeah, knowing that guys are faster than me, I just take certain angles and try and cut them off and leverage the tackle.”
When you sacked Kyler Murray, you did DL Ronald Blair III’s sack celebration. What did it mean to you to get the opportunity to do that?
“Yeah man, I love Ron. He’s a brother to me. We’ve been roommates. We were drafted together. We’re family and just not having him out there hurts inside. He means a lot to everybody on the D-Line and everybody on the team. He’s one of the leaders, one of the quiet leaders on the team. Having the opportunity, it was just awesome.”
TE Ross Dwelley
You have been everywhere this team has needed you to be. What does it take to fill those shoes and be such a versatile asset for this team?
“I just try to be myself every day. It was nice having a week to prepare for the fullback role. Like I said you have full support of the guys who you are filling in for with [49ers FB Kyle] Juice [Juszczyk] and [49ers TE] George [Kittle]. Our team is special.”
What kind of help was San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle for you this week?
“He is a big help in all assets. He is a big help every week, whether he is playing, whether he is not playing. He is huge.”
What is it like playing in two games back-to-back like this? They were incredible to watch.
“They were super emotional games. It was a heartbreaker last week on Monday and then a short week getting ready for this game. This was another physical game. I am just glad that we were able to pull this one out.”
What is your impression of Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray?
“He is a gamer. He is going to make the play when it is there. He is going to keep his team in the game, no matter what.”
How important is it to have a short memory when you have drops, mistakes and turnovers? What is talked about on the sidelines?
“It kind of goes back to [49ers QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo], he is such a good leader. He just has that next play mentality. That rubs off on everybody else.”
FB Kyle Juszczyk
The defenders have said they have trouble with--?
“It’s tough. There’s so much going on in that play, your eyes are going everywhere and then all of a sudden there’s a guy sitting on the sideline with a bunch of offensive linemen in front of him. It’s a pretty good design.”
Was San Francisco 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr. in the game because there was going to be a fourth-and-one there at the end or you thought it might be?
“I’m not totally sure, but Jeff has been doing a phenomenal job in 1-on-1 routes in practice. So, I knew there was an opportunity. That was a choice route he had there 1-on-1. I knew there was an opportunity that [San Francisco 49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] would call on him to go in there and win it, and he did it.”
What are you thinking when he’s in the huddle warming up his legs for his first offensive snap of the game?
“I thought it was pretty hilarious, honestly. Luckily, he had a few special team snaps to get in the groove, but just really happy for him, and not surprised at all. He’s a gamer man. I knew, he’s done things like that all season where he really hasn’t had a ton of snaps during the game, but he comes in and wins it for us.”
What does that say about you guys that different, even unlikely people keep stepping up every week?
“Man, it’s pretty awesome. It just says that we have a confident bunch that knows whoever gets called on, that guy’s going to step up and make the play, and we just continue to do that.”
You guys had the two picks but then, what was it like in that last drive? What was San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo like? What was the huddle like?
“Jimmy’s confidence never waivers. It’s been like that all year. Any time he’s made a mistake there’s no letup on him. Everybody has all the confidence in the world in him and he always just does a good job of showing that confidence when he’s in the huddle.”
T Mike McGlinchey
You have some big games the next three weeks. How much do you look forward to that challenge?
“We look forward to it all the time. This is why you play football for this kind of a stretch. We put ourselves in a pretty solid position here, but it means nothing if we don’t get our jobs done over these next few weeks. We have a great Green Bay Packer team coming in here next week and the Baltimore Ravens after that. We have our work cut out for us. We have the right coaching staff to get us in the game plan, and I believe in this locker room to execute and get the jobs done.”
Did you say anything to San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo after the picks? Do you need to say anything?
You don’t need to say anything to Jimmy. He knows it is okay. It was a couple of tipped balls that wound up in their hands. That is the way the ball falls sometimes and there is no moment that is too big or that waivers Jimmy Garoppolo. He stands in there with the look of fire in his eyes that you know that everything is going to be okay. You know that there is going to be a big play that is made. Just like our defense seems to come up with all the time, Jimmy has been able to do that. He is a clutch player and he is the only guy we want at our helm.”
You have had some really high-pressured offensive situations these last couple of games when you had to go down and get points. How does that potentially prepare you for what you are going to see the rest of the way?
“Up front in the offensive line, but as an entire football team you are judged in the obvious situations. When the moments are the biggest, when everybody in the stadium knows you are running the ball, and everyone in the stadium knows you are throwing the ball, or you need to make a big stop on defense. We have come up with a bunch of those this year, which is a big reason why we are 9-1. We have all 53 guys in this locker room step up time after time. Somebody makes a play somewhere that sparks a run, sparks a comeback, or sparks something that gets us to be able to win a football game. Today it was [San Francisco 49ers WR] Deebo [Samuel] and [San Francisco 49ers RB] Jeff Wilson [Jr]. Deebo kept moving those chains and churning his legs. Jimmy obviously, standing in there making big throw after big throw. It is awesome. It is awesome to be an offensive lineman to protect when I see guys with the ball in their hands doing that.”
DL Damontre Moore
This team has had injuries and it has been the next man up model. What has it been like to play in this game and make a difference?
“First and foremost, I just have to give honor to god and honestly to this organization for taking the opportunity on me and bringing me back. I told everybody that when I left that this is home. I went on a couple of tryouts, but my heart was here. To see the energy and passion that these guys play with on the field and with me not being here, I was happy. Now that I am back with them, I am even more happy and excited. To go through the adversity of this being such a close game and to see how we pulled it out, that just goes to show our character. It was a testimony to this team. To be a part of it was great and not to be on the couch anymore feels even better.”
When you came off the field it was an emotional moment for you.
“Yes, it definitely was. To have this long journey, I am 27 and blessed enough to say that I am going into my seventh year. I have had all of these ups and downs in my career, like my dad always say, it is not how you start, it how you finish. The fact that this team took the opportunity on me knowing everything about me and still wanted me to come out here to play, work and then to bring me back later on, I just can’t say enough good things. To experience all of this from an injury and being out all of these weeks wondering if this is really the end of my career, it is always emotional. One thing on my journey that I have realized is that I have to give thanks to god. It was so emotional.”
What were you doing last Sunday?
“Watching my son and watching football games, waiting for an opportunity. I was cooking at the house. It is a lot of change now that I am out here playing. I am now going to go home and cook. The only thing missing is my son.”
WR Deebo Samuel
How is your shoulder?
“It is doing pretty good.”
What was your confidence level like these last couple of games?
“I was just following the game plan. As a receiver you are taught to go out there and make plays and that is what I did.”
It seemed like everybody had a shorter memory this week as opposed to last week in making mistakes going forward.
“We put more emphasis in the receiver room that we are going to catch like one hundred to two hundred balls every day in practice. So, we are more locked in, ready, and prepared.”
San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman was saying that most receivers look to see who is going to hit them, and you look to see which receiver you are going to hit. Can you talk about that mentality?
“It is just a mentality I always played with growing up. The mentality that not one guy is going to bring me down.”
How much over the last two weeks have you put on yourself to step up and be the guy that steps up?
“I wouldn’t say it is more pressure. All the receivers, we felt like we just had to step up and go out there and contribute to the game plan.”
On that circus catch on the sideline, is it like it is in slow motion when the ball is in the air and it is bouncing around off the defender. What is it like to be in the moment like that to continue to track that ball?
“You catch the ball with your eyes and your hands and without that you wouldn’t be able to track the ball. I never lost focus of the ball and went in and made the play.”
CB Richard Sherman
You guys found more ways to win but this stretch here with these two games, bouncing back, what did you learn about the resolve of this team?
“Just that the situation is never too big for them. This is arguably [QB] Jimmy’s [Garoppolo] best game and he carried us down the stretch. He made plays, I think he threw for over 400. Defensively, we kept them in the game. We kept making plays when we needed to. We kind of wilted on one of those drives, just a few mistakes but all things that you can coach up and you can correct. There aren’t any egregious errors like there were the first time we played them. I think we did a great job of containing him for the most part but he’s a good player. He’s going to make some plays. I think he threw for 130 yards, 140 yards and he ran for probably close to 100, but that’s what you’re going to get with him. I think we stayed in coverage. I think the D-Line hunted when they needed to. I think [DL DeForest Buckner] DeFo got a sack, [DL] Arik [Armstead] got a sack, [DL] Dee Ford got a sack, so guys were penetrating, guys were getting pressure and that’s the kind of game you’ve got to play.”
Over 200 yards in penalties in this game overall. How hard is it to keep the momentum going when you’ve got that stoppage?
“Well the penalties were obviously backbreakers. It’s football, you know? Everything is subjective. They could have called it or they could have not called it and they decided to call it a lot of times. That’s what you deal with sometimes in football and you can’t control it, just got to try and overcome and continue to battle and continue to fight, and that’s what our team did. You can’t make excuses, like ‘Hey, they should have called this’ or ‘They didn’t call that.’ It’s just on to the next play and try to make up for it.”
LB Fred Warner
What is your level of faith, when you know that San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has turned the ball over twice in the red zone, but if you guys just get a stop, you still have a chance to win the game?
“One hundred percent faith in Jimmy G. That is our franchise quarterback. We know if we put the ball in his hands that he will make something happen. I am proud of how the team responded in the clutch moment.”
Last week you guys don’t quite get the win, but San Francisco 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr. is an unlike hero, what does that say about your team?
“Jeff, that dude just grinds. I love Jeff, the way that he competes, the way he runs the football and obviously in the clutch moment he made a play for us even though I don’t think he got much action all game. It was his birthday the other day, so that was his birthday celebration right there.”
When things are not quite going your way and all of a sudden you guys come up clutch when you need to, where does that come from?
“I think that is just how tight knit that we are. The days where we grind early on in training camp and in the offseason, it all shows up in those types of moments. You are not just going to show up on game day and do the things that we do. It takes every single rep of walk-through and practice leading up to the game to perform in those situations.”
Does this feel like a playoff game?
“Yes. We know that we have to win by any means. We knew that it was going to be a battle. That is a good team that continues to get better every week. We knew that it was going to be a battle.”
RB Jeff Wilson Jr.
Can you talk about that play?
“I really don’t know what to say. I am still kind of in the moment. I don’t know how to feel. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. I am just happy that I was able to make a play for my team.”
Was that you only snap of the game?
Were you in there in case of it being fourth-and-one?
“I don’t know what the reason was. I just know to be ready when my number is called. That is something that my coach has stressed to me, even my teammates and other running backs in the room. They stress that to me all day as well. No matter what, just be ready. That is our motto for all of us.”
That was a long review were you guys preparing for it to be fourth-and-one. What was the discussion before the play?
“I don’t know. All that I know was that my number was called and to go in. With the discussion, I can’t really tell what went on prior to that. All that I know is that my number was called to go in and I went in.”
How surprised were you that you were so open?
“Well [San Francisco 49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] is a mastermind. I just have to give that all to him. I can’t take any of the credit. He called the right play for me and I just did what I had to do to make the play.”