The 49ers improved to 10-1 on the season, marking their best start through 11 games since 1997 (11-1). San Francisco won their first game on Sunday Night Football since 10/6/13 vs. Hou. (W, 34-3).
The 49ers held Green Bay to 198 net yards, which came to 2.83 yards per play. That 2.83 yards per play are the fewest yards allowed by a 49ers defense since 11/19/12, when San Francisco held the Bears to 2.55 yards per play.
The defense held Green Bay without a third down conversion in the first half. That’s the most attempts without a conversion by any team in an opening half in the last 20 seasons, per NFL research.
San Francisco had five sacks on the night. They’ve registered three or more sacks in eight consecutive games. That’s the first time since 1982(when sacks became an official stat) that the 49ers have accomplished three or more sacks in eight consecutive games.
The 49ers have had a 100-yard receiver each of the past four games. That marks the first time that has happened since 2001, when Terrell Owens did it three games and Garrison Hearst did it once.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan discussed everything that went on during the game. Check it out.
“Alright guys, injuries from the game: [RB] Jeff Wilson [Jr.] left with illness, he returned. [CB Akhello] Witherspoon had cramps, he returned. [OL] Mike Person, stinger. He had that at the end, so he dint return. [DL Julian] Taylor, jaw. We’re still evaluating that. That’s it. Go ahead.”
This is probably a stupid question, but what does TE George Kittle mean to this team?
“I was going to mess with you, but he means a ton. You guys all know that. It was hard without him and to have him back tonight, obviously what he did in the pass game. But, what he does in the run game is equally as important. It was great to have him out there.”
Is he playing with a broken bone is that what’s happening here?
“Yes, there’s all types of different broken bones, but he definitely has one. He had one right on the first play of the Arizona game. But it was stable then. It’s a bone chip, so it was stable then but he’s got to play through some pain with it. We had to rest him for his knee to get healthy, which took a couple weeks. The bone was stable, but that’s going to cause him some pain for a little bit.”
Everyone talks about Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and his off-schedule plays. He’s made a career of that. He didn’t have much of that tonight. What did you guys do so effectively?
“It looked like pass rush and coverage and we kept him in the pocket, I think, fairly well. Guys weren’t open in rhythm, from what it seemed like. We did a good job mixing up our plan, where sometimes those four, I know we brought some pressure in the first third down and we got them, just changing the stuff up schematically so they had to change up their protections. Obviously, we have a good front four too, who can rush on their own. From the clips I saw live, it looked like our coverage was very tight also.”
You talked the other day how few of your guys have been on winning teams and I’m just wondering how impressed are you with how they handled this moment? Primetime, big opponent.
“I’ve been very impressed with them. I’ve been very impressed with our guys since we got together in OTAs. We’ve got a really good group of people. We’ve got a smart group. We’ve got guys who love football. Very high character in how much they work and how much they dedicate to football. I think that’s what started us out this year, playing so tough, playing so well together. We got a lot of wins early, which I think a lot of people didn’t expect. And when that does happen, you always worry if it’s going to change people and things like that, but our guys haven’t changed at all. I think they’ve got even more locked in, even more focused. Our guys aren’t just in there pumped about where they’re at, they’re pumped about the possibilities of where we can go and that’s what excites them the most. Hopefully we can keep working and make that happen.”
Can you talk about the night LB Fred Warner had and the way he’s really developed in this defense?
“Yeah, Fred has been unbelievable all year. Today, I’ll see it better when I watch the film, but just every time I looked up he was making plays. Going sideline to sideline being able to make some big hits and not get penalties while doing it. And, what he does just from getting us in the right call standpoint, he’s unbelievable. We’ve got a bunch of checks, mix our scheme up a lot and Fred doesn’t make a mistake all game.”
Why did CB Emmanuel Moseley start and play the first quarter and then Akhello took over for him the rest of the game?
“We’re still just trying to ease Akhello back in. Akhello had a pretty good week of practice. Still thought he was about a week away to get his starting job back. It’s a matter of time before he does get that. we planned on putting Akhello in a couple series each half. We knew when this day ended that he was going to get a couple series and then E-Man, I think his ankle is a little bit sore. On special teams, I forget what happened, he never had to come out, but he got a little bit banged up and when we gave Akhello his role that we planned to put him in, he was feeling better. We just kept him in.”
With the familiarity between the two teams, what was the challenge of mixing things up, but still sticking with what you believe in?
“That’s almost a challenge every week, just because people know each other and have worked together. You kind of have an idea of what people like to do and where they go, but the tape is still the tape and every team in this league knows each other pretty well, especially when you’ve been calling plays for a while. Unless you just got in the league and you’re first doing it, then people have to wait and see what you’re about. [Green Bay Packers head coach] Matt’s [LaFleur] done this long enough, I’ve done this long enough, [Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike] Pettine has, [San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh has, so I see it the same as every other week.”
What’d you think of San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance?
“I thought Jimmy was great. I thought we did very well in the run and the pass game. The opportunities that he had in the pass game, from what I can think back to, seemed pretty flawless. I think he protected the ball, weren’t close to any picks. I thought he protected the ball when they did get there in pass rush and made some big plays when he had too.”
You put OL Daniel Brunskill in for OL Justin Skule at a certain point. What did you see from each of those two guys and why the replacement?
“That was just a call [San Francisco offensive line coach] John Benton made, our O-Line coach, during the game. I know Skule, there was a couple push in the pocket on two of them. I believe one of them was a sack. I’m not sure what happened on the other. Brunskill has played a lot of football too, just like Skule. Both of them did a great job when [T Mike] McGlinchey and [T Joe] Staley were out. with Skule, we weren’t going to make him go the whole time. So, we planned on getting Brunskill in. He came in and I really don’t even know which one is in when the play happens. I only notice if a bad play happens. I ask who it was, so I don’t know how long he stayed in for, but since I didn’t say his name again, I’m sure he did a pretty good job.”
It’s safe to say DL Arik Armstead benefited from an even better edge rush, but what else has gone into his season in your mind?
“Arik has been great since we got here. Going against Arik in training camp and OTAs, even from our first year, he’s a guy who I hated going against him as an offensive coach. He’s very hard to block in the run and pass game. I thought he did some real good things for us the first two years. I think he’s had some unfortunate injuries. I think this year he’s been able to stay healthy, play in every game and I think just the way we’ve changed up our D-Line. Our style of play, it’s benefitted all of them, but probably him the most, just in terms of never having to kind of read and react. Just being aggressive every play, going right at the quarterback, reacting to run. With his length and size, just allowing him to be a little bit more decisive and the rest has been him. He’s had no hesitation and he’s stayed healthy.”
What was the explanation you got for the foul on CB Richard Sherman in the endzone?
“They just thought it was unnecessary. I didn’t see it, but they said he pushed a receiver out of bounds in the back. I do know that with these quarterbacks, especially scrambling quarterbacks like Aaron, as soon as they break the pocket, that’s something we want them doing if they are by the sideline. Push them out. Usually you’re allowed to do that once they leave the pocket, then they can’t come back in and make a catch. They told me it was unnecessary and I didn’t have time, so I didn’t totally know what they were talking about.”
Is it accurate that the chipped bone in Kittle’s ankle is less of a problem than his knee at the moment?
“Yeah, in terms of reinjuring and stuff. When you find out a guy has a broken ankle after the first play of the Arizona game and then we’re told he can come back in, that doesn’t make sense to me either. So, I get it when people hear broken bone. Just to help you guys with that, because I needed it too, it’s like a piece of tree bark came off. It was just a shaved part of the bone came off and when you do that, it’s still stable. You can’t break it worse and you’re able to go with it, but it’s extremely painful. So that was a choice he made in that game, which we’ll make it for him if it’s not stable. But, if it’s stable as long as he can tolerate the pain. But, the stuff he had in his knee, since we’re getting more detailed on it, I think it was a popped capsule, whatever that means. That took a couple more weeks to heal up and once that was healed, it was pain tolerance with the ankle. Hopefully I don’t have to talk about medical stuff longer than that.”
Talk game plan then. What opens up for you just generally when you have Kittle in there as opposed to when you don’t?
“Kittle helps out so much on the edges with our runs. When we lost our tackles, that’s always tougher when you take a step back even though Brunskill and Skule have done a great job, they haven’t been out there like McGlinchey and Staley have and when you lose the edge like that just a little bit in the run game, but you have a tight end who’s like Kittle in the run game, then it can really help you on the edges. So, when he’s out there we just can stretch the defense more, which helps us get outside. It also helps us cut back, so it gets our run game going. And when it gets our run game going, everyone knows what he can do in the pass game. I think a lot of his catches today were off of run actions, especially the 60-yarder. They came up on the run, cut the crosser and got him over the top. It kind of opens up everything just like all good players do.”
Did you know it was going to be there when you called it?
“Yes. That’s what we were hoping for. We were hoping to get a quarters look and we did and then you just hope you have the time for it to set up, which is why we faked and rolled out to the left and we had the time and they cut the crosser and the rest was just those guys making the play.”
It’s a really tight race at the top of the NFC. Do you guys pay attention to the other teams in the standings or do you focus on inside the building here?
“We’re very well aware of how tight of a race it is, but it’s way too early to sit there and focus on it. the way things are going, I’m sure that’ll be the last week that really is worth knowing what’s out there. There’s a lot of football to play and a lot of games and a lot of good teams out there.”
Like Arik Armstead, DB Jimmie Ward is finally healthy and being able to show what he’s able to do.
“Yes, definitely. Jimmie Ward, as I think I’ve said in here, has been one of my favorite players since I’ve walked in this door just because of the way he plays, how important football is to him. He goes out there and gives it his all. I think it’s been hard for me to watch for him because people have gotten down on him just because he’s gotten hurt most of his years here. But, that doesn’t take away from how good of a football player he is. Jimmie is a guy who plays hurt, plays through anything. He’s just had some very bad breaks in his career so far and this year he hasn’t. To me, he’s playing like he always has since he became a rookie in this league. But, the longer he stays out there, the more people notice.”