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Shanahan gives Witherspoon his vote of confidence: I know he’ll come out firing next week and be ready to redeem himself

The 49ers head coach spoke to the media late Sunday afternoon

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media Sunday afternoon to discuss the Rams game, what his plan at right guard is, the Seahawks, and Ahkello Witherspoon.

Opening comments:

“Hey guys. Nothing to add with the injuries. It’s still just [DB] Tarvarius Moore in the concussion protocol. That’s it.”

Do you know if he’s still experiencing symptoms?

“Yes. He is still experiencing symptoms, but I think we are on pace. Looking good so far and hopefully it will continue.”

How is it looking with S Jaquiski Tartt, DL Jullian Taylor and DL Dee Ford going into Sunday’s game?

Ford, we’ll see how this week progresses, but I’m not expecting to have him this week. [OL Mike] Person, we’ll continue to limit him in practice with his neck. Tartt, we’ll see how his ribs are Tuesday. That’s the right day right? Yeah, Tuesday when we get ready for practice. Not sure, depends on how he feels that day. Then Jullian Taylor, coming back from his elbow and I’m anticipating him to be able to practice on Tuesday.”

What was the thinking in having Mike Person up and in uniform but not starting?

“Just because Mike plays through a lot of things. He was willing to play through that. His neck has been bothering him on and off for a little bit. We thought it would bother him too much in the game that it would prohibit him from playing at a high level. We know it will help him to rest, but we also wanted to have him up in case of emergency if someone did get hurt. The fact that he does have center experience and can also play both of the guards, he was an important guy to have up.”

What about RB Matt Breida?

Matt Breida, we didn’t go in not planning for him to not have any plays on offense. It just worked out that way. We started [RB] Tevin [Coleman], we wanted to get [RB] Raheem [Mostert] in fast and get him the bulk of the stuff. Went through a little bit of a lull in the third quarter where we had a number of three-and-outs, so it was tough to sub him in. We didn’t have any long drives. The runs that the other two guys did get, they were being effective. It was nothing against Matt. Just unfortunate how the game worked out for him.”

He obviously had the two fumbles against the Falcons. Was that any sort of factor in him not playing on offense?

“No, it wasn’t. We just planned on Tevin starting, like the week before, we planned on going to Raheem pretty fast. It just never came up that way.”

What was your reaction knowing that this game is getting flexed into primetime and what that is going to add to the atmosphere on Sunday night?

“I kind of expected it and it’s exciting. We always like that. The only negative is that it probably gives Seattle fans a little bit more time, but that doesn’t matter too much because it’s always as loud as it can be there. But, we’re excited. It’s always fun and an honor to have the 2019 season, for us and Seattle, to be the only two teams playing there at the end where everyone gets a chance to watch you. I know it’s a big game and we’re excited the whole country gets to see it.”

How did OL Daniel Brunskill perform at right guard?

“I thought he stepped in and did very well. He had a huge challenge with him going against a very good D-Line and one of the best players in the league in [Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron] Donald and he definitely got him a couple times, but he competed hard with him, he got him and I thought he had a very impressive game.”

What about OL Ben Garland? Were there any issues with the snapping in shotgun?

“Yeah definitely, there were two big ones. The first one, the second shotgun snap of the game I think it was, I’m not sure which number it was, but it was down there in the red zone, had a bad one going back there and Aaron Donald just jumped the snap and tried to split our two and Garland did everything he could to get to him, which he wouldn’t have been able to so he’s got to make sure he snaps the ball right and we just survive that down. I think he had a high one later that didn’t hurt us, we were able to get it off, but had us behind a little bit on the run. Besides those two, I thought he did pretty good.”

Going back to Brunskill, if Person is able to play, do you guys have to make a decision there on which way you want to go at right guard or has Person simply done enough this season that if he’s good to go fully, he plays?

“Person has done enough this season so that we know that if Mike’s fully healthy that he is our starting right guard. He’s earned that throughout the year, but Mike hasn’t been fully healthy and he hasn’t been for a little bit and we respect the hell out of him for battling through all this stuff and still getting out there and playing, but we’ve got to make sure we don’t put Mike out there when he’s not at his best. Especially with Dan getting the experience he got at tackle, now he’s been able to come in and step up at guard, getting a fresh guy out there who’s healthy has helped the team. I know Mike will battle and be ready whenever need be. If his neck can heal up and allow him to practice then we’ll get him out there right away, but right now I don’t see that happening this week unless we see some drastic things change at practice.”

DL Nick Bosa said that he felt 100-percent better after being held out for a couple snaps, getting a little bit more of his wind back. Was that part of the plan going forward just to get those guys a better rotation?

“Yes, we haven’t done what we’ve anticipated going into the games the last couple weeks and it’s always tough to get those guys off the field because of how good of players they are, but we haven’t done that well enough the last two weeks so we wanted to do better this week. We did, and I think it paid off. We survived those downs and the guys stayed fresher.”

With all the games going on today, obviously the Seahawks are playing right now, do you watch any TV or do you just wait for the all-22 to come through?

“I’ve been doing our stuff all day. Right now, actually while this press conference is on, I just turned the games on in the back so I see it’s 20-7 and I’m watching the score a little bit, but no as soon as we’re done with this we’ll get on to the coaches’ tape and try to get some stuff in here and then we’ll do the rest of our game plan tomorrow and then we’ll get the players in here on Tuesday and treat it like a Wednesday.”

Looking at the film of QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s big pass to WR Emmanuel Sanders at the end of the game, how badly was he hit on that play and how impressive was it that he was able to get that kind of air on that ball?

“It was real impressive. That’s why it wobbled a bit coming out. I know just talking to Jimmy, he was afraid it was going to be a pick because right when he let it go a guy did get his arm a little bit. You could see the guy right on the back got through on our back and Raheem held him up long enough to get Jimmy to be able take a hitch on a seven-step drop and launch it, but the guy got his arm just a little bit, so it didn’t come out that clean and that’s why it wobbled a little bit. Emmanuel had to adjust and made a good catch. Sometimes those are the hardest ones when you’re wide open and all you can do to mess it up is drop it. It came out a little bit weird when that guy touched it, but it was a hell of a job still having the strength to get it down the field that far and Emmanuel making the route and the play.”

You talked about this a little bit last night, but with all the different ways you guys have found to win, how confident are you, whether or not you win the division, that no matter where you play, you’re going to be able to pull out a victory?

“I think our team feels very confident. You’d like to feel confident going into the year, but true confidence comes from doing things and having those experiences. I think we’ve gotten a lot of that this year and we’ve been able to win in a number of ways. That’s why I think our team feels confident that we can do it in any way, whether you’re playing at your best or not, that you always can find a way to finish it. That helps going into the playoffs. The goal here is always we’d much rather only have to play two games than three games, so that’s obviously what we’re going for. Regardless of how this ends up, we’re pumped to be in the playoffs and whether we’re playing at home for two or on the road, we’re going to be excited and confident to go into any of those situations.”

I just had a question about the cornerback situation. It seemed like CB Ahkello Witherspoon struggled a little bit. How do you look at that and is that competition now with CB Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello?

“No, I’m alright with Ahkello. I think Ahkello, he definitely could play better, but they got him on a bootleg. It wasn’t man-to-man coverage, they got him on a bootleg that he just needed to squeeze something and was a little bit late to do it and they got him on two man-to-man crossing routes that got him. Ahkello’s done some good things. I think he’ll play better next week, but I saw him this morning, he wasn’t happy with how he played. He knows he could play better. I feel very confident with him recognizing that, even before we watched the tape that I know he’ll come out firing next week and be ready to redeem himself.”