San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media after Tuesday’s practice, spoke about the return of Jerick McKinnon, the plan for Jimmy Garoppolo, and showed plenty of Kendrick Bourne love. Check it out:
Did you watch RB Jerick McKinnon at all today in his first day back and if you did what did you see from him?
“We were just glad to have him out. I know he probably had a lot of butterflies getting out for the first time, but we only let him go on air. He was just able to do individual and stuff like that. We’ll watch it again on the tape when we get in and evaluate it, but he’s been looking good for a little bit now on air. It’s nice to get pads out there and get him with the team since he’s off PUP now and he’ll be in walk-through this afternoon and we’ll keep doing it day by day and hopefully sooner than later we’ll get him out there in some team drills.”
Is there enough time do you think to get him ready so that he takes part in the preseason game or is it too far along?
“I mean, I think there’s enough time, but that depends on, that’s why you want to be so smart, how things go. That’s why you always try to avoid setbacks. That’s why we’re easing him in slowly. That’s what we’ve done here these last two weeks and even though he’s off PUP now we’ll continue to do the same thing.”
Just speaking of the preseason, have you mapped out what you want to see from QB Jimmy Garoppolo yet? Obviously, he’s not going to play in Saturday’s game, but two and three, are those possibilities for him?
“Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good idea, and I expect him to definitely play in two and three. But, nothing’s mapped out and set in stone yet. We kind of take it day by day with that, but that’s something you’re always thinking about. Definitely planning on going in two and three.”
Kind of going back to Jerick, has the medical staff given you a timeline of when he’ll be able to jump right into 11-on-11s and one-on-one drills?
“No, because that’s something you’ve got to evaluate. We think it’ll be sooner than later, and I’m sure, I mean, health-wise and stuff, he feels like he could jump in today. We felt that at least a week ago. But, there’s a whole process you’ve got to go through. He’s been rehabbing for a year now, and there’s a lot that goes into that and especially a running back, you throw him into the mess and sometimes we try not to ever go to the ground, but that’s almost impossible throughout a whole practice. You don’t want people rolling on his legs and things like that. You watch him each day, you keep trying to encourage him when we see stuff that’s good and you’ve got to talk to the player and make sure that he feels confident mentally and physically before we do that.”
How much closer is DB Jimmie Ward to being able to do some more stuff in practice?
“I mean, he’s getting closer, because each day’s going. The goal is Denver, though. We’d like to get him back for the Denver week. I know he’s able to run and do stuff like that, but anytime you’re dealing with a clavicle, you’ve got to make sure it’s strong enough to take a hit. That’s what we’ll be patient with.”
DB Tarvarius Moore seems to be getting more and more time with the first team. Has he been making marked progress as far as his knowledge of that safety position?
“Yeah, each day he’s gotten better. We’re throwing a lot at him, and we moved him there in the middle, I think, of OTAs and he’s come back on his 40 days away ready to attack it. He’s gotten better each day and he’s earned more reps. We’ve been rotating a lot of those guys back there trying to see who can try to take that job, especially with Jimmie Ward out, and there’s some stiff competition there, but Tarvarius is getting better.”
How will the offense benefit from McKinnon’s return? What does he add to the attack?
“I mean, we brought McKinnon here, you know, last year he was going to be a huge part of the offense. When we looked and evaluated stuff, we knew we wanted to get a running back for sure, but we also wanted to get a receiver also who could help in the pass game. We tried to get that. We studied Jet and compared him to everyone else. We feel like we kind of got the best of both worlds. You’ve got a guy who is very good at beating man-to-man coverage when going against linebackers and safeties. You’ve got a guy who’s got the size to protect and really step up in the A-gap and handle some of these bigger backers. Also, he’s a good running back, so we’re being patient with Jet. We know what he can do, we know what he’s capable of, we’re just trying to take the pressure off of him and give him some time to get where he’s been.”
How is TE Kaden Smith doing with just the learning curve and the transition to this level?
“He’s coming. I mean, he’s further along now than he was in OTAs. I’d say out of almost any position we do, we throw a lot at the tight ends. How much we move them, how much they need to know in the run game, and how they need to know everything in the pass game, just like all the receivers. There’s a lot on their plate. Behind the quarterback, it’s probably the most. He’s been doing a good job, but all those tight ends, it’s never perfect. [TE George] Kittle still is up and down on some of his days with the amount of offense we have in right now, the amount of fronts they’ve got to go against. He’s coming a long way and he’s learning and hopefully he’ll continue to improve.”
When you look at a guy like TE Ross Dwelley, second year here, does it show?
“Definitely. Dwelley went from when he got here to he was on the outside looking in. We didn’t know if he would be a practice squad guy or not and towards the end of preseason last year, he showed some stuff to where we put him on our practice squad and he continued to get better throughout the year in practice to where we ended up putting him up over, I think it was [Tennessee Titans TE] Cole Wick at the time, and he earned that third tight end spot. He basically played Kittle every Wednesday, because Kittle was banged up a lot through the year, so he had to do his routes and everything. Just got better throughout the year and now this year, he’s a legit NFL player and he’s going to help us.”
What are your initial impressions of RB Austin Walter so far in camp?
“He’s done a good job. It took some time to get the pads on. We saw him in rookie camp, we knew he could do some things in the pass game, and he’s not the biggest guy, so we wanted to see how he was in pads and I thought the first day with pads on, I thought he hesitated a little bit so you’d like to see how they come back. And he’s been very aggressive getting downhill, not flinching, showing that we know he can do some stuff because of his quickness and ability out of the backfield. To lower his pads and really play physical in this last padded practice shows he’ll have a chance.”
How do you manage the roller coaster of the rookie receivers? WR Jalen Hurd today looked like he ran the wrong way on a run play and WR Deebo Samuel had a catch and didn’t keep running after he caught it, obviously the next play he dropped the ball. How do you just pick them up after that?
“Sometimes you pick them up and sometimes you’ve got to get on them. But, it’s not just the rookie receivers, it’s the veterans too. I mean [WR Dante] Pettis made a good play and caught a first down and then he fumbled it. So, there’s a number of guys out there and we need that group to step up. We have some ability in that group, but the consistency isn’t there. Of course with rookies, but also the vets too. I’m expecting all those guys to do better and they all need to pick it up.”
Do you get on the players to step it up too and get on them?
“Yeah, it’s on everyone in our building. I mean, those guys hold each other accountable, we hold each other accountable. The main thing is, are you holding yourself accountable. Each guy is different, but I’ve been very happy with how our rookies have acted. When talking about Deebo, when talking about Hurd, even [WR Shawn] Poindexter, [WR] Malik [Henry], they’ve attacked it. They’ve made mistakes, but they’re going hard, they’re playing aggressive and they’re not just trying to make this team, they’re trying to take people’s jobs.”
Pretty much from the time T Mike McGlinchey got here, he and T Joe Staley have kind of been like this. How has Mike benefited from having Joe and maybe ways that Joe has benefited from having Mike?
“I think they have fun together. We’re here every single day and they’re both kind of goof balls and stuff. They enjoy each other’s company and everything. But, when you are real close like that and you hang out not just in the building but outside the building, I guess it depends on the type of players you are, but they are both smart guys who really study their craft, who study each other. They both compete more than anything even though they are, I joke BFFs, but they still are going to hate on each other too and try to get after each other because they definitely are competitive. I think that’s something a veteran like Joe needs at this time in his career and I think it’s great for a younger guy like McGlinchey to have a reminder on the other side that he doesn’t have all the answers, that there’s a lot more he can learn and he can get a lot better also.”
Does the team benefit from the kind of joking around and the energy that they bring too?
“Yeah, I think when your team is tighter than the team you’re going against, I always think that’s an advantage. I mean, you’ve got to play well, you’ve got to have detail, you’ve got to be coached well. I think the ball’s got to bounce the right way, but every time on those sidelines if you have a tighter team, I always feel like you have an advantage going against the other group.”
What did you see from CB Ahkello Witherspoon today coming back from that minor glute issue?
“From what I saw, I mean, he had a good pick that got him out of a drive. Their backs were against the wall and we sailed a ball over the receivers’ head and he made a good job on that pick that ended it. It looked like he jumped in there in one-on-ones and was competing. I’ll have to see when I get the tape, but Ahkello was playing as well as he’s played since he got here before that injury. Then he had his first practice back today. From what I saw it seemed good, I’ll watch more in a second. But, we needed him to keep getting better and he was on his way before that injury and I’ve got to make sure that he doesn’t have a setback with this.”
Do you ever have to dial down WR Kendrick Bourne’s energy level?
“No, definitely not. He smiles no matter what, he’s running around no matter what and he’s come a long way. We’ve always liked KB, he’s got real strong hands and plays very hard. Being in the same offense now going into his third year, it’s been a lot easier to move him around and stuff, but he’s having a hell of a camp and we really enjoy him here.”
You had an issue with pre-snap penalties last year. There were a couple today in practice. Do you take time now to focus on that and talk to everybody?
“Yeah, definitely. I mean it’s a huge problem and we’ve got to always harp on it. It’s very easy to say, hey let’s just stop motioning and do everything and make it easier. That’s really not what we believe in though. We try to do a lot of stuff schematically which puts a lot of pressure on all five eligibles, it puts pressure on the quarterback and how he’s got to have command of that. That’s something that I think we need to coach better and something our players need to have better command at and do more. I saw too much of it today and luckily it’s not the finished product yet, but that’s something we’ve really got to harp on.”
Do you think that’s fair for you to say that KB’s having a hell of a camp? Why do you say that?
“Because he is. KB always works, but you can tell it was different this time. He didn’t leave at all in his 40 days away. I can see he’s stronger. I can see he’s in better shape. I can see he’s more locked in. I always like to see how much room they gain on the other people while they are gone and KB made big jumps compared to some other guys and it’s showing on the field and he deserves it.”