San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media Tuesday on a conference call to talk about how the first-team offense performed, who impressed him on defense, and the wide receiver position. He refuses to tip his hand on who will be the backup quarterback. Here is the transcript:
Now that you’re back and you’ve been able to kind of size up what happened with the first-team offense, any revelations, any concerns about what you saw?
“I mean, you always want to play better. But, to get concerned over 10 plays or however many it was, that’s pretty irresponsible. You try to evaluate those 10 plays. I think it’s pretty similar to how I did it with you guys last night. The one thing that I saw differently once I watched the tape was the interception. It wasn’t a TE. We got miscommunication in protection, so some guys came in there so the D-End, what’s his name, [Denver Broncos OLB Bradley] Chubb, got in there early, earlier than expected. I thought [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] got hit as he was throwing it, he didn’t. He got rid of it too early to avoid the hit and the route hadn’t developed yet, so it didn’t go far enough down the field. We need to do a better job in protection there by getting everyone on the same page and we need to do better at throwing that ball away, or if you can’t, you have to take that sack.”
I noticed you kept Jimmy Garoppolo in the gun for all six of his pass attempts. Was there any particular reason for that?
“No, it probably had to do with some of the down and distance that we wanted to motion to empty. When you go to empty, there’s not much point in being under center unless you’re going to do a quarterback sneak. So, when you go to empty, you might as well be in gun, because there’s no threat of run. I think two of his passes were empty, I think the others were on third down. He only got 10 plays, so.”
What did you think about TE Kaden Smith’s blocking, especially in the RB Raheem Mostert touchdown and the second one when he pulled up the middle?
“I thought he’s done a good job. He’s gotten better here with these opportunities with the tight ends being down. He had a good week of practice and he did real well in the game, those two runs in particular, and he helped us out in the pass game also.”
I think over these next couple days we’re going to get to that 18 days out for RB Jerick McKinnon. Do you have an update on where he’s at with his PRP and is he going to practice this week?
“Yeah, I was hoping that he could, starting, I think, tomorrow is 18 days. With it being the short week and the practices that we have, I don’t think we will do it tomorrow. Maybe the day after we’ll start putting him in individual and stuff, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to do team drills and stuff this week.”
How encouraging was it to see DL Solomon Thomas? He was pretty active all night. Can you just talk about his performance?
“Yeah, I was real happy for Solomon. He’s been that way in practice every day for us. He’s been moving around a lot. We like to get him inside more than outside, but he still had to be outside with all these injuries that we’ve had, even in the preseason. He’s moving different. He’s playing a lot more aggressive, I think his mind’s a lot clearer and it’s showing. I thought he had a good game yesterday and we expect him to because it’s been looking that way in practice.”
On a scale of 1-10, how shocked or surprised were you with P Mitch Wishnowsky’s tackle?
“I was not shocked at all. That’s what rugby players do. I don’t know if we want to make a living out of that, but it’s good for the other 10 guys to see. If they’re not on it, he might get down there and take their stats away. I was very impressed with it. It was a perfect form leverage side tackle that was very impressive.”
What’s your impression of DL Kevin Givens? It seemed like he was in the backfield a lot last night?
“I thought he did a good job. A lot of our guys were making those guys miss at the line and getting back there. Sometimes, they were off on a couple of their calls and stuff and our guys took advantage of it by not hesitating coming off the ball, but we’ve gotten a lot of opportunities for these guys with so many people out, and it’s been very cool and very encouraging to watch guys who have been towards the bottom of the 90 who are making names for themselves and taking advantage of these opportunities. Kevin did that yesterday and I think a bunch of these guys have done that in both of these games.”
Did you make any transactions today?
“No, we haven’t yet. I heard that it was reported on a receiver, [WR Shawn] Poindexter still has to get his x-rays and everything. We were expecting the worst with the ACL, but we haven’t gotten it confirmed yet. When we do, we plan on making that move with [WR] Chris Thompson.”
Kind of looking at the wide receivers’ snap counts, WR Kendrick Bourne and WR Richie James, Jr. had the most. Is that kind of they are battling out a roster spot? You kind of kept WR Jalen Hurd out, he was only in there for eight snaps.
“Yeah, Hurd was going to play more, but he had some back tightness all week in practice and then he had a little bit in the game, so he definitely could’ve gone, but that was just the decision I made to get him out of there. Didn’t want that to be worse with the fact that we have three games in 10 days, so we did that. The other guys we planned on playing awhile, and I thought they did a good job taking advantage of that.”
Is there a guy that you think gave the team more than you expected from him yesterday in any position?
“No, because when I give you guys quotes like that, then everyone knows the guys that I really like and I want to have on practice squad and stuff, so I’ve got to be smarter than that. I was impressed with Mitch’s hit. That was pretty cool.”
Has WR Deebo Samuel earned more playing time with the starters or would you still like to see more from him?
“Yeah, I want to see more from all of them. We’ve got a very good group and they’re all tight and so I’m trying to get those guys to take the spot from people and make it an easy decision. I think we’ve got a lot of candidates to start on our team, guys who have been here and the new guys. There’s two positions, depending on if we start in 12 or 21 and there’s three positions if we start in 11. Especially with [WR] Trent [Taylor] being down right now, there’s a lot of opportunities for these guys. Deebo had a good play on the reverse or the round, we call it the round, but the reverse he had yesterday. But, that’s what we expect him to do. The D-End closed and he’s fast and we expect him to outrun people, but all these guys can keep getting better a lot. We want them to be good at blocking, be good at running the ball when it’s in their hands and they need to be able to get open. Deebo has the ability to do everything, but he’s still continuing to develop.”
When you guys were in 11 yesterday, WR Jordan Matthews was the number three receiver in the slot. So, is that going to be a thing moving forward or is that going to just switch with Taylor down?
“That’s what we’ll go over this afternoon. We’ll have two practices to prepare for Kansas City. We kind of think all this stuff out, we give guys different opportunities certain weeks, but by no means is anything set for Week 1. We’ve got an idea of what some guys can do, some guys we need to see more from and some guys we already feel like we know what they can do. So, we mix it all around and I wouldn’t look into anything until you guys see our final 53.”
Speaking of Jordan Matthews, does special teams ability factor into the mix for him? Is that something that he’s going to have to do to be on the 53-man?
“It factors in for everybody. If you’re not a starter, and if you are a starter sometimes you help, but you usually like to keep six receivers, usually only have five up on game day. So, sometimes that sixth one isn’t necessarily your best special teams guy because he doesn’t even get up. The sixth’s one got to be able to come in and play if you lose a starter. Yes, it matters, but it’s not as clear cut as that. It depends on who makes the 53 and who’s up on the 46 on gamedays. Usually your fifth guy is going to be that special teams player where your sixth guy is usually a better receiver.”
In regards to Jimmy’s confidence, I know you said it was 10 snaps last night, but obviously that becomes somewhat of a national story and then even just his practice performance from Wednesday becomes a bit of a story. Do you have to check in with him or do you know what he’s made out of and where his head’s at?
“That’s something we deal with with all our players every day. We’re around these guys a lot, so it’s not like, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that stuff is hard on people. I don’t ever sense it from Jimmy. Jimmy comes in and he’s the same guy every day. He’s great in the meetings, he works, he listens. That doesn’t change much. I know anytime that you get all that publicity for things that you’re not happy with, that’s going to affect a lot of people. You’ve got to go out there and play and you get your confidence back by playing. There’s not a magical motivational speech or anything. Jimmy’s got the ability to do it. We know he will do it. What stinks is when you go out there and you just get a few opportunities and it doesn’t go right and you’re not in a position to play yourself out of it. Hopefully he’ll get to be in there longer versus Kansas City. I hope it’s all good things, but most likely there will be some good, some bad and then we’ll see how long he can stay in and grow from it.”
Do you have an idea when OL Mike Person could get back into the mix and also is there an update on C/G Weston Richburg and when he might come back off PUP?
“Richburg, we’re hoping the Chargers week where he can maybe get out and practice a little bit and if he could then we’d decide whether to play him in that game, get him ready for Week 1. That’s what we’re kind of hoping for. We’ll see. Then Mike Person, he’s still day-to-day. Knowing Person, I’m sure he’s going to try to practice tomorrow, but we’ve just got to see where he’s at. We’ve still got to decide on what type of practice we’re going to have. We’ve got to do the reps and stuff because we’re only going to get two practices in before a game. But, I don’t see us having a full-speed practice tomorrow anyways. Hopefully he’ll be out there two days from now.”
With those backup line positions, OL Justin Skule and OL Najee Toran seemed to struggle with holding calls. How much does that concern you and how comfortable do you feel with the depth on that offensive line?
“It concerns me. You need to be able to block and you need to be able to do it without holding and we’ve gotten way too many of those in these last two weeks. It’s something that we definitely have to improve. Depth in an O-Line is something that every team is trying to work at and we need some guys to step up. We’ve lost the two guys who were competing at guard, with Person and [G] Joshua Garnett. That’s opened up some opportunities for these guys and that’s why they’ve been there a ton in these two games. They have had some really good plays that show that they can play in this league. But, just like you guys have noticed, they’ve had too many penalties and they’ve had some bad plays. The good thing about this stuff is that we do have two more games. It’s something that we haven’t seen yet to where we can figure it out. We need more game tape and hopefully one of these guys will step it up.”
What did you see of T Sam Young yesterday in his first game and what did the tape tell you about QB C.J. Beathard and QB Nick Mullens’ game?
“Sam was solid. We didn’t put him in a bunch of tough situations, but he was solid. Then, C.J. and Nick, C.J. played the most. Every time C.J.’s in there you’ve got a chance for a big play. He loves the big play. He missed one to Richie that was a little him, it was a little Richie and then he had a really good throw to Bourne that would have been a real big one that Bourne didn’t get. I thought C.J. missed a couple plays early, but nothing too bad and then Nick came in and didn’t have many opportunities but made the best, I think the throw he had was the fade for the touchdown, but he didn’t really get a chance to play too much.”
Is DL Dee Ford going to practice this week?
“That was the goal. We got back from traveling. Right now, if you had to ask me I don’t think we would throw him in tomorrow just traveling like this and the fact that we’re going to not be full speed. We’ll look at it again the next day. With this short week happening, I know that was the goal for it or we thought there was a possibility. I still think there is, but I think we are going to be leaning a little bit more towards next week.”
Where are you in deciding who’s going to be your backup quarterback?
“I’m in a pretty good spot, where are you? (laughter)”
I think pretty good as well.
“Alright, do you want me to tell you?”
“I believe in both those guys. I believe they can play. We’ll see who we decide to go with in the second group this week. I haven’t decided that yet and whoever we do we plan on the next guy getting a lot in Week 4. I’ll never make a decision before the fourth preseason game comes, but usually the backups are the guys who play really the entire game. So, there’s a lot more playing time for both of them to get here. I feel very good with both the guys, we’ve had both of the guys here in a lot of game situations. But, it’s been a fun battle to watch. I think both of them are playing better than they have the last two years.”
Are you saying whoever goes in second in game three will be the backup?
“No, I didn’t say that. Nope.”
“There are so many things that play into this. The stuff that goes into this for the final 53 to the quarterbacks on. I know we have two backup quarterbacks who are both capable of starting and I would be happy with either one as our backup. One of those guys is going to win the job and we will make that decision. I do not see myself making that decision until I absolutely have to and that probably won’t be until the final 53. But, if we make it before that and there’s no advantage in hiding it, I promise we’ll let you guys know.”