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Shanahan on Samuel: I have been extremely impressed with Deebo this year

The 49ers head coach spoke to the media after Sunday’s practice.

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

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to reporters after Thursday’s practice to discuss injuries, the greatest show on turf, Brunskill playing guard, and much more.

Opening comments:

“Injuries: out will be [DL] Dee Ford, [S Jaquiski] Tartt and [DL] Jullian Taylor, and then we have [OL Mike] Person as questionable.”

Everything looked good with CB Richard Sherman this week?

“Yeah, went real good.”

What is it about Richard that allows him to overcome a grade-two hamstring in one week?

“From what I’ve seen, obviously his body can heal a little bit differently, but I think it starts with his mind. The dude is adamant. He’s not just saying it, he’s adamant always that he’s going to be ready the next day. It’s not always quite the next day, but it’s usually half the time that we’re expecting. He talked that way from the beginning in New Orleans, told us the whole plane ride back. You kind of just nod and let him do it, but he usually provers himself right the following week. I’m happy he did.”

When a lot of folks think of Sherm, they think of the coverage, the interceptions, but what about the run support and the physicality he allows you to do, whether he’s forcing a play or making a tackle and how that kind of sets a tone as well?

“Just because he shows our whole team that he’s a very good football player. To me, that’s what you want. You don’t want guys who are just good at one thing, you want guys that can help you win the game in whatever type of way is needed. Whether that’s covering a guy, whether that’s coming up on run support, whether it’s communicating with the other guys to help the 11 play together better. I think Sherm is one of the better football players in this league, which has made him be one of the better corners in this league over the last seven or eight years, whatever it is.”

What’s been your viewpoint on the defense this week after the last three weeks allowing go-ahead scores late in those games?

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our D. I mean, they’ve earned that. I know we gave away two scores here these last two weeks. I thought we let them hang around way too long in Atlanta. We were up 19-10 and I think we could have finished that there on the last play and given it back to them with 14 seconds left and no timeouts, but we didn’t. We let a good quarterback and a Hall-of-Fame receiver, NFL MVP, have too many chances and that’s what happens. The week before, I thought [New Orleans Saints QB] Drew Brees made some pretty good plays also. We definitely could play better, but I have no concerns about those guys not being able to get the job done.”

If Person can’t go, OL Daniel Brunskill can play guard? What are your options there?

“Yeah, Brunskill can play guard. [OL Justin] Skule could play guard. We would most likely lean towards Brunskill though.”

You’ve had a lot of rookies obviously get in the lineups because of injuries, whether it be Brunskill or whatever. How’s WR Deebo Samuel come along through his rookie season and whether it’s catching passes, blocking or running the ball?

“I have been extremely impressed with Deebo this year. Just the fact that I think he’s had to play a lot more than expected as a rookie. For him to play with a physicality he has and just to play like a man throughout the year, whether he’s been hurt or not, has been very impressive. He still has his rookie moments. He’s playing a lot longer than he’s used to, I don’t know what it is, three weeks longer right now and hopefully there’s a lot more to go. It’s very challenging for rookies and that’s why we’ll never stop riding him because he’s not close to arrived yet. He’s got a lot longer to go, but he’s earned a lot of respect on this team for how tough he’s been out there.”

When you say that, what are you referring to that you know that we don’t necessarily see about Deebo?

“What part?”

Just him getting better and what he needs to clean up.

“I mean, it’s very rare when rookie receivers come in the league, that they’re polished in all the stuff they do. They know how to do it down in and down out. We watch a lot of college receivers, they’re out there for 100 plays and you only have to go full speed like five of them. It’s all no huddle and fast. So, it just takes a while to understand how hard it is to run routes every single play in a game and how hard you have to work to get open. A lot of guys it takes a couple years. They have the ability to run good routes, but they get away with being a little but sloppy in college and it doesn’t matter. Then they get to the NFL and they’ve got to learn the hard way. They usually do that going into their second year. Deebo still has those moments and stuff, definitely, like they all do. But, he’s been able to overcome them with how physical he’s played, how tough he’s been. Also, when he does struggle with that stuff, just because he has some good numbers and stuff, he doesn’t just sit there and think that we’re just talking the talk. ‘Yeah I know what you’re saying, but look at how good I’m doing.’ No, he’s as hard on himself as we are. He knows he can get a lot better and in the meantime he’s still doing pretty good.”

You got some rain this week and it looks like there’s going to be some on the schedule. Do you do any extra rain-related preparations for Saturday?

“No, there’s nothing, until someone can tell me what you do for rain, specifically. We practiced in it, so we got a little bit of it, but that’s about all I know how to do.”

You’re not a proponent for water bottles on the football and stuff like that?

“No, I’m not. You just deal with it if it happens. We did practice in rain this week so I didn’t have to be. It happened naturally. We don’t have a bubble so I’m just glad that it didn’t lightning because I don’t want to get pushed on those rules, whether I have to bring people in on lightning or not.”

You guys have mentioned a few time this year the importance of winning games in different ways. What are the benefits of that for a team and what do you take away from that?

“I think it’s just so important in the NFL, just the way our sport is. I think that’s what makes the NFL different than all other sports, is it’s not a seven-game series. I think it’s very hard in a seven-game series for the best team not to always win, it just usually happens unless there’s injuries in that seven-game series. But, when it’s one game, it doesn’t matter at all who the better team is. It just matters who’s the better team for three and a half hours. The best team isn’t always, they’re not always on in one game. They usually are majority of the time out of seven, but when it’s just one day, one game, weather elements go in, calls go in that are always going to happen with the refs whether it’s good ones or bad ones. Injuries happen, the way the ball bounces. There are so many different things that happen in a game that even if you’re the best team and you just expect to beat everyone with ease, you’re going to see that that doesn’t happen. And when it doesn’t you can’t be shocked because you only get one chance, so you’ve got to be able to win it any way.”

Do you find that is a common thread amongst teams that win championships? I mean, obviously they win a lot, but winning a ton of different ways.

“Definitely. I think you look all the way back. You look at teams who’ve won Super Bowls because they’ve had such a great offense. I go back to the Rams of, ‘The Greatest Show on Turf.’ I think they beat the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship, I don’t remember the score, but they got their first touchdown to [former St. Louis Rams WR] Ricky Proehl I think on the last play and then they battled defensively. That game the offense didn’t freak out, but they did enough to get it done at the end. You watch some defenses who, some of the best defenses ever, you talk about some of those Seattle teams and [defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh even talking about it, he was on one of those teams, the team that won the Super Bowl and I think someone put up 40 points on them earlier in that year. No matter what you are and what you’re built of, there’s going to come a time where you can’t rely on that and it’s nice when it’s in the year because you learn how to fight through all that stuff, but you get to the playoffs who knows. It’s one game at a time.”

I know it’s probably not at the forefront of your mind right now, but do you have any idea what your Sunday is going to be like just in terms of watching other games while also preparing for next weekend in Seattle?

“Other games won’t have anything to do with us. I think it’s pretty simple for us. We need to beat the Rams first and foremost this week. Regardless of what happens, we know we have to beat Seattle also. I’m not concerned about any other game. I know on Sunday we’ll be coming in here right away because we’ve got an eight-day week and I think we’re fortunate to have an eight-day week because it’s nice to get an extra day to rest, but also it’ll be nice to be able to have some free time for Christmas a little bit, which would have been a lot harder if we only had seven days.”

Does Dee Ford’s experience with a hamstring injury give you any pause about CB Richard Sherman and sending him out for this game?

“Yeah, I mean you always, you take all that stuff into account. That’s the stuff you don’t want to happen at all. That’s why you always listen to the athlete, you always listen to the doctors and you always give it the eye test with your own eyes just to see how it looks. Everyone’s trying to do their best and no one wants to make a bad decision, and I don’t even consider them bad or good. You really don’t find out whether it was until it already happens. You try to do always do what’s right and I think we’ve got a pretty good history with Sherm. I think he’s got a pretty good history in knowing his own body. There have been times that he has talked the way he does and then it has gotten there and he’s like, ‘Eh, maybe it’s not quite as good as I thought it would be.’ When he doesn’t talk that way, I believe him. I also believe our doctors and I also believe what I see when he’s running around on the field all week.”

As far as Jullian Taylor, he was out today right, for practice?

“Yes, I think he was limited.”

Is he on track to possibly play in Seattle?

“I hope so. I hope so. You never know for sure. He’s not going to be going this week, but I’m hoping he’s ready next week.”

You talked about watching the greatest show on turf. How often do you go back and watch old tape of old championship teams and how far back do you go?

“I’ve never gone back. I just remember those from growing up. I don’t remember anything I did in school, I remember watching those football games. No, the only time I’ve gone back and watched old film and stuff, I did that a lot when we were playing in the Super Bowl, going against the Patriots, because I knew how long they had done stuff and how long [New England Patriots head coach] Bill [Belichick] had been around and run the system, so you try and go back and watch stuff like that. I don’t do it much. If it’s on. I used to watch NFL’s greatest moments, those were always after primetime growing up. I’d sneak it on because I wasn’t allowed to stay up that late. Now, the only time I watch it if that stuff’s on and my son or my daughters are around, just trying to get them into it. It’s not as stimulating as their iPads are, though.”

Do you have any plays from when you were the ball boy of the ’94 Niners on the sideline? Is there something that stood out to you that you incorporate now?

“Then, I wasn’t really thinking much about plays. I was trying to dress like [former NFL DB] Deion [Sanders] and lay all my clothes out before the game just like him and [former NFL WR] Jerry [Rice] would. I was trying to figure out what wristbands they were wearing, things like that. I was much more into trying to be a player at that time.”