San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media after Sunday’s practice. He spoke about the backup quarterback, Dante Pettis improving, players fighting, and much more. Here’s the transcript:
As far as the timing of each of these sessions, I mean today was obviously longer than yesterday. Is it going to ramp up to a peak at some point?
“Yeah, eventually you’ll hit a plateau, but it’s going to be up and down throughout it all. I want to try to figure out the algorithm. If I was you guys, I can’t. It’s going to be all over the place, so there is a rhyme or reason, but I don’t have the graphs or the time or I’m not smart enough to present it.”
I mean, this has all been charted out with conditioning and injuries?
Are you generally pleased just with the condition everyone came back in and all that stuff?
“Yeah, I was. I thought our guys have worked hard. I thought we had a real good OTAs. Our first offseason with our new strength and conditioning staff and our trainers, I thought it was really good. I think we’ve got a lot of hard workers on our team, so no one came in overweight and everyone’s looked in shape.”
As far as the number two quarterback, how are you dividing those snaps between QB Nick Mullens and QB C.J. Beathard?
“Just like OTAs, they’re flipping back and forth. I really, I don’t even know who was the two today. I don’t even know if they were switching every period or day to day, but it’s dead even. We rotate our receivers so much, too, so it’s kind of hard to tell the difference at least for myself when I’m out there.”
Any stuff you want to see out of WR Dante Pettis? Finished out the season strong, where do you want to see him improve his game?
“I want to see him improve a lot. I’ve got a lot of belief in Dante, but I don’t think he’s there yet. I think there’s a whole other level that he can reach. He needs to do it with size, with mentality and just getting after it every single day.”
A couple scuffles out there today. I mean, you’ve got to be pleased with that energy, but where are you at in that kind of interaction with your players?
“I’m a little gray on it right now because I didn’t actually see it. I saw the people on top of each other, so I don’t have a strong opinion yet on what led to it, but I don’t like guys fighting at practice, I don’t like punches thrown. I like guys pissing each other off. I like guys competing, but I think real toughness is controlling that because you’re going to get penalties in the game and things like that. So, fighting is something I don’t want at practice. I’d like guys to get as close as possible to fighting, because that is the mentality of football, but that’s got to be a controlled aggression. If you can’t control that, it’s your liability.”
Is that something you almost want to see this early in camp, to sort of get that out of the way and be able to talk to those guys about it?
“Yeah, and I’ve talked about it. We’ve talked about it a lot with our team. I think there’s a few new guys out there today, so it gives me a bunch of good stuff to address probably tomorrow when I get with them for our team meeting. Guys don’t have to prove that they’re tough by fighting people. If you’re not tough, we’re going to know that and so will the players. You’re not going to be on this team, so that is a very silly way to prove it, especially when you have helmets on.”
TE George Kittle said yesterday or two days ago, whenever it was, that his favorite plays are the plays where he doesn’t actually touch the ball and that blocking is a huge thing for him. Just how important is that mentality for someone who is on the leadership council of the team to share that sort of that team-first thing and not necessarily care about?
“I think it’s great. I’m sure he’s not telling the whole truth. Everybody would much rather have the ball. George is a football player, and that’s what you want. Football players don’t care. I mean, they’re as competitive as can be and if they believe in themselves, they want to help the team win. But, if you’re a football player, you can help the team win in any way possible. That’s what George does. I mean, that’s exactly how [Atlanta Falcons WR] Julio [Jones] was. If he’s getting double teamed, he’s not yelling at us for not getting him the ball, he’s telling other guys they’ve got to make plays to help get him open. That’s how good football players are and that’s how good teams are. When your better players act like that I think it teaches younger guys how they should be.”
You guys have said different times that you want George to improve the other aspects of his game. What aspects are those?
“I want every time he’s going against a guy that he’s better than that he beats them. I want him to be more consistent in his route running, I want him to keep improving. He was only in his second year last year and he’s an extremely good tight end. He broke a record, so everyone knows. I mean, he can get better at a lot of things. He can get better at blocking, I’d like to say he can get better at the run after the catch, but I do think that’s the thing he’s doing the best, because he did that better than anyone last year. But, just the consistency of beating man-to-man coverage, catching the ball, and trying to be the best.”
Do you see tight ends being a bigger part of the offense around the league?
“I don’t know, I think it depends on your team, depends on our personnel. I mean, I don’t see how tight ends aren’t always a big part. If you don’t have one, then they’re not as big of a part. I think there’s not 32 Pro Bowl tight ends out there, so you usually do the best with your personnel. But, it’s very tough when you don’t have one.”
When and why was the decision made to move DB D.J. Reed Jr. outside?
“We just thought it would give him a better chance out there, with just some of the depth and things and we know he was more comfortable with it. He’s got some versatility, does a great job in nickel and he did well at safety for us last year. We know he can always go back to safety, but talking with him in this offseason, evaluating our roster, we thought it would be better, he thought so and we agreed with him, that it would give him a better chance at corner.”
Is that, for a guy like that, does it help to get him in uniform on gamedays because of that versatility that if someone goes down he can fill in every spot basically?
“Always. I mean, if you’re not one of those starting corners on the outside, and you want to dress on gameday, you better be able to play all three of the corner spots, which if you go dime, that’s another spot, which is just the opposite of nickel. To have experience at safety and everything, that you can get him in there. We know he’s helped us as a returner and when you can run and you’re not scared to hit, you can help at a lot of spots on special teams also.”
I’m sure when you signed WR Jordan Matthews you were hopefully his career would start to ascend again. Where is he in your eyes? Is he where you expected, has he been better since he got here?
“No, he’s been just what we expected. Jordan’s a very good receiver with some size and some speed. I didn’t know him personally, but having guys that did know him before he got here, guys like [offensive quality control coach] Miles [Austin] who was with him in Philly, just the type of pro he is, how smart he is, the way he goes to work. We wanted to get a veteran in here, we wanted to get a guy preferably with more size if we found one we liked. We wanted a smart guy who could help be an example, and he’s been exactly that. He’s pushing these guys. I mean, he’s going to be in the mix.”
You mentioned TE Niles Paul on Draft Day, somebody who you eventually converted from receiver. Is bringing him in, is there any sort of teaching element that goes on with him and WR Jalen Hurd, with him on this team, someone who’s done that?
“Not really. I kind of used him as an example just to show how guys can change positions all the time, because we drafted him as a receiver and the next year he was a tight end and after that we were using him as a fullback. So, just to show how bodies can change if you have a certain mentality. That’s kind of why I was comparing him to Jalen. No, we wanted to have six tight ends in this camp, just we use three tight ends every week on gameday. Tight ends, there’s not one play on the field where a tight end’s not in. We don’t do many four-wide or five-wide receiver sets. To go through a camp, we wanted to have six, especially so you don’t work Kittle the entire camp and with [TE Garrett] Celek being on PUP with his injuries and stuff, we knew we had five going into it, so we wanted to add another guy. Just to be fortunate enough to have Niles still out there, I didn’t realize until we looked through all of this and we wouldn’t have Celek and felt very fortunate that there was a player like him out there who also knows our offense and can come in and compete and not just be a camp guy.”
I know LB Kwon Alexander is easing his way back in, but what’s allowed LB Dre Greenlaw to step in and get a number of those reps?
“He got a lot of opportunities in OTAs because we had a number of guys down and he did a good job with them and we’ve got a number of guys in the mix. We’re playing three linebackers out there, we used to call them three linebackers, but it was really two linebackers and we played basically defensive end as a stand-up SAM linebacker so there’s more of them. There’s more guys out there and I really don’t even know who’s going with the one’s and two’s because I know [inside linebackers coach] DeMeco [Ryans] is mixing them in and throwing guys in certain periods and there’s a number of guys there and there’s going to be some competition there to see who our final group is.”
Have you been able to gauge his mindset or how he is away from the practice field that’s allowed him mentally to be there with the first team?
“Not totally. I haven’t been around these guys long enough yet. I’ve only been around him for two days since OTAs, but just watching how he carries himself on the field you can tell that he carries himself pretty well off the field. He knows what he’s doing for a rookie. There’s not much hesitation and you can tell he’s been doing it the right way so far.”
How do you evaluate how QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s doing in full team drills aside from completions, in terms of lining up the offense, getting the play call in, reading the defense and moving around?
“I mean, I really don’t yet. It’s two days into it, we’re just throwing him out there. Yesterday was the first time there was an O-Line in front of him. Today was the second time. But, it was nice to get him out there. There was a lot of, it was kind of a mess out there too. I’m very excited to get pads on tomorrow. It’s much easier to block people when there’s pads on, make it a little bit cleaner. I hope we can give him some cleaner looks. That’s something I really don’t think about yet, so early in. I used to do that a lot when I was younger and you realize I make decisions every single day and you realize two weeks later that you’ve made 14 different decisions and it confuses everybody. So, you just try to be patient and wait until the time is right. Usually, everything plays itself out over this camp and you get a pretty good idea as it goes.”
You talked to CB Jason Verrett after the quick series of 11-on-11s. What did you see from him today?
“I see a guy who’s getting his confidence back. Verrett has worked as hard as anyone. Really, I just went up to him in that period because I didn’t get a chance to talk to him yesterday after practice. I just went up to say congratulations on getting through your first day and I know that was mental hurdle for you and I hope you felt good about it. He was excited and said let’s just take it day by day and we’ll get there. He’s feeling healthy and stuff, but I just wanted to go check on him and stuff, see what that mental deal was for him because when guys have been hurt that much and they come back and they work at that high intensity for the first time, it’s not like he’s been playing pickup football at the YMCA the last few months. This is his first time playing football so that is a very big head game for him. He survived yesterday and I just wanted to see what he said and he was real happy and encouraged how it was and we’ll keep ramping it up as we go.”
What have your impressions been of your starting cornerbacks and do you sense that there is sort of a chip on their shoulder? Are they approaching this season with a different attitude knowing that people like us talk about them the way we do?
“I don’t know. I never call them in and ask them that. It depends how much they read. Hopefully they don’t read very much, sports very much, I don’t mind them reading. But, I hope they don’t look at that. If you don’t have a chip on your shoulder whether you’re the worst in the league or the best in the league, that means you’re on your way out of the league. It’s too competitive. You have to feel that way every single day and you always better feel like you have something to prove.”
Do you have an update on G Josh Garnett?
“Oh yeah, Josh Garnett came out. He dislocated his finger. He did that yesterday and they popped it back in and came out today and it popped back out so he had to leave practice and we’ll be taking a look at that, our doctors now.”
There were a couple fumbles today during 11-on-11s. How do you balance that between a defense that’s actively trying to create turnovers and obviously your offense who you want to build good habits and focus on ball security? So, how do you balance that and praise the defensive with the reprimanding of the offense for that?
“I mean, I go back and forth. When the defense does good I act like I’m a defensive coach and when the offense doesn’t turn it over I act like I’m an offensive guy so I win every day. It’s tough, but that’s why, it started with us in Atlanta. It gets very irritating for our runners to be running down the field, the play’s been over for 10 minutes and you have 11 guys still hitting them in the ribs trying to take the ball out. The first time I was on a team that did that stuff it drove me crazy as an offensive coach because I’m like guys this isn’t realistic, we’ve already been tackled by seven of you. Can you just let our guy run and finish? And then our guy would ease up and get fumble at the end. But, I love it now. Our running backs, at first they’ll complain because that’s how I used to feel too, but then they start to realize that’s just what we do and they think about it a lot more and it starts off with a little irritation, but as you get into the season I feel like that’s just what we do. They get used to it. The first team I was on and who did that all the time was Atlanta and I carried that here and I feel like we’ve been better at not fumbling the ball because of it.”
Do you meet with your Dad at the end of the day and go over what both of you saw in practice and hash out the day?
“No, I’m usually with [defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh. I don’t like to eat in front of people. I like to be alone and enjoy myself. No, I’m just joking, but kind of. No, my dad’s usually running around doing something else. He’ll come in at the end of the day sometimes and we’ll talk a little bit, but it’s usually not just him and I. He’s here having fun, probably acting a little bit how I did when I was younger, just hanging around the building doing whatever I wanted.”
Does it make you proud to have your dad watching you do what you do?
“I don’t know if it makes him feel proud. I mean, we’re used to it you know? But, it’s really cool and I’m happy for my dad. My dad loves football, and he’s retired completely, but my dad loves football. When I’m retired and bored at times I hope there is something my son can entertain me with, hopefully it’s not football. Hopefully he’s taking me on a boat or something, but I’m glad I can do that for my dad because he enjoys coming here and he enjoys talking to our coaches, he enjoys talking to players and it just makes me happy that he enjoys it.”
Hurd was involved in both scuffles today. He appeared to aggravate people yesterday with his downfield blocking. Is he still kind of a wide receiver with a power back mentality and is that something that needs to change?
“No, I don’t want any of that to change. I mean, that’s why we brought him here. But, I’ve got to see what happened. If he’s just physical and blocking people and physical and people are getting upset with that then shame on them. But, if he’s doing more than he should to his teammates and things like that then I have a problem with it. That’s something that luckily everything’s on tape so instead of guessing what happened, I’ll go watch it and decide and then address it.”