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“There were a number of plays we could have made today where it would have never come down to that”

Shanahan spoke to the media after the 49ers game today

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to reporters after Sunday’s game to discuss the touchdown, Kittle, how Jimmy G played, and much more.

Opening comments:

“Alright guys, no injuries to report right now, so go ahead.”

Were you satisfied that that call did break the plane of the goal on the Falcons WR Julio Jones touchdown?

“That’s what I saw on the scoreboard too. Yeah.”

Obviously, TE George Kittle was very involved in the game. Did you want your other receivers to step up and be more involved as well?

“Yeah, definitely. I thought they had a real good game plan. I thought their guys played real hard and schematically they did a real good job. We had a number of opportunities and came up short on a few. I know we’re going to watch the tape and there’s going to be a number of plays we’d like to have back. But, I take my hat off to those guys. They played hard and had a real good plan.”

I know schematically, you can’t just say we’re not going to allow Julio Jones to beat you, but how do you allow Julio Jones to keep getting the ball like that?

“He’s pretty good. We’ll look back into it. I think we did have bracket coverage there on him at the end, which is two people on him. It looked like when they motioned him across and got him outside the tight end and he came right under him, it looked like the second guy who had him was obviously a little but too deep on him.”

Can you discuss how difficult it is for a team to bounce back after playing those three games in a row against quality opponents? To have a team that isn’t going to the playoffs coming here, is there any type of emotional letdown when you come into a game like this?

“No, there wasn’t today. I think that team played better than us today. I didn’t see our guys not playing hard. I think our guys played hard but they played better and coached better.”

What happened on George Kittle’s fumble out of bounds?

“I couldn’t see. I think, I couldn’t see well, I’m guessing that when he switched arms it just got away from him because it didn’t look like anyone hit him on it. And George played his ass off today. He played really well, but I know that’ was one he’d probably like to have back. I think the ball just got away. That’s what he told me when he came off. I didn’t see it. You guys probably saw better than I did.”

Did you consider going for it on 4th-and-1 the next play?

“I didn’t. I mean, if would have been inside one, from what I saw, I thought it was closer to two. I wanted to make them go the whole field to see if they could get a touchdown.”

It’s not how you wanted, but you did clinch the playoffs. Does that make you feel better despite the loss?

“Not much right now. I’m glad we’re in. It starts with that. [Vice president of communications] Bob [Lange] just told me that walking in, so that’s cool but doesn’t make me feel better right now.”

What was your message to this team going into these last two weeks?

“Whoever you play, if you want to win you have to play and coach better than we did today. Again, I give those guys credit because it wasn’t like we played terrible, but we didn’t play good enough to beat that team. They played better than us. We have a short week here with the Rams coming in. On a short week, I know how important it is for guys to recover, get tomorrow off, just their bodies, really be smart on how they live their life every single day right here. Everything matters right now and you get towards the end of the year, there’s not a lot of guys left, guys are wearing down. Everything is about right now, so our guys need to bring their best. It’s not just what you do on Sunday, it’s what you do every single day to prepare for Sunday.”

Obviously you lost, but what’s it been like playing four out of five where the play goes down to the last minute? I don’t remember seeing that too often in football.

“I don’t even realize it to tell you the truth at the time. Lots of games come down to the last time. Our first year here, I think we lost five games in a row by three points or less. We’ve been able to pull out those close games, find a way to do it. We came up short today. I know we’d like to have that last play back. It didn’t just come down to that last play. There were a number of plays we could have made today where it would have never come down to that.”

I think Kittle had 16 targets, do you tread the line as a play caller thinking ‘maybe I’m using this too much, maybe you’re too dependent on Kittle sometimes’?

“No. If we were throwing to him in double coverage I would. We don’t have plays, except that last one that was a screen to him. You don’t just call plays that say ‘Go to Kittle’. You might want to start there and if they don’t double him, he usually gets it because he usually wins and if not you progress. There are a number of plays we try to get to other people, but Kittle got the majority of it today.”

Kittle broke the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in their first three seasons. Any thoughts on that?

“Credit to him. He’s a hell of a player. It doesn’t surprise me.”

The strength of your team seems to be the depth and I know today you lost, but does that give you a pretty good feeling going into the last few weeks having that depth and having those guys you can depend on?

“Yeah, it’s needed. We’ve been through that a lot this year. I think offensively, we had some bigger injuries in the beginning of the year and we were able to get most of the guys back, except losing [C Weston] Richburg last week, which is a huge one. I think our defense this game was the first time that they were battling a little bit more than they usually do with missing some starters. Hopefully we can weather the storm a little bit. I know we’re going to get a few of those guys back, but it’s been the theme with us all year. Our backups came in and play well. I thought they did a good job today, but everyone else out there has to play a little bit better too.”

Obviously, I know the result is not what you wanted. Considering that you guys have lost by such narrow margins in all three of your losses, is that something that’s encouraging for this team?

“No. We’re not looking for encouragement to tell you the truth. We’ve got a pretty good record and we feel good about where we’re at and that is cool we’re in the playoffs because that was our goal to get in that tournament. Now that we’re in it, now we want the best situation possible in that tournament and all we can do for that is win these next two games, So, I think when you get to this point of the year and where we’re at and what we’ve done, we’re encouraged by one thing right now and that’s winning. That’s what it’s going to be the rest of this year.”

How do you think QB Jimmy Garoppolo played and why do you think he was unable to get the consistent rhythm like he did last week?

“I think Jimmy played like the rest of the offense. I don’t think anybody stuck out and played bad or poorly, but I don’t think anybody played good enough to win. Definitely starts with me. I thought Jimmy had some good plays. Missed a couple like guys always do. I give a lot of credit to them. I thought their guys played hard and did a good job schematically with their plan. I thought they had a hell of a day and we need to be on our stuff to win and we weren’t.”

I apologize in this was already asked, but was this tough emotionally to play this game after what preceded it?

“No. I think they’re all like that now. No, I don’t see that by any means if you think about that right away and we address it early in the week, I didn’t feel, throughout the week in practice, I didn’t feel today on the field. Guys were into it and they were competing. When you play a team like that who, to me, played very well today. You better also and we didn’t. That starts with me and it goes to everyone else. We’ve got to play better. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing or when we’re playing.”