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Kyle Shanahan talks weather in Tampa Bay, Hurd, and the challenge of preparing for a new coach

Shanahan said that practice will determine the starting free safety

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Kyle Shanahan met with the media before practice on Wednesday, where he talked about some of the San Francisco 49ers injuries, dealing with the weather in Tampa Bay, and some positional battles. Check it out.

Opening comments:

“Guys for practice today; limited will be [DL Nick] Bosa, his ankle, [WR Dante] Pettis, groin, [C/G/ Weston] Richburg, knee, [CB Jason] Verrett ankle, [CB] K’Waun [Williams], knee, we’ll be giving [T Joe] Staley a vet day and [WR Jalen] Hurd and [WR] Trent Taylor aren’t practicing.”

What the latest with Hurd’s back?

“Most likely not going to play this week, haven’t ruled him out yet. But, if I had to say something today, he’s doubtful.”

Last week, you said you didn’t think it was a long-term deal. Are you thinking the same?

“I’m thinking it’s more week-to-week as opposed to day-to-day.”

You had said back tightness initially. Has it turned into anything more serious the further you’ve looked at it?

“No, that’s the furthest I’ve gone with it.”

How do you expect to rotate those wide receivers or do you expect to just go with a couple? What’s your view as you open the season?

“No, that’s going to be interesting as we go through each game. A lot will do with how they practice in these three practices, what routes we have on, what personnel we have on, a lot goes into blocking, running routes the right way. That’s something that isn’t set and it depends on the play called and the personnel in.”

Do you consider yourself having two wide receivers on base downs?

“I consider everyone who will be up will play.”

Week 1 is always kind of a crap shoot it feels like to get a feel. Now that you’ve had a couple years under your belt, what are you kind of expecting as you approach this one?

“About the same. You’ve got a pretty good idea on your own team. We’re still working through some things, like with the last question, but you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect with your own players. You really never know what to expect on the other side especially when it’s a new staff, so you try not to overthink things too much. I mean, you’ll look at everything and you’ve got every idea in your head, but you don’t know until you see their team. So, you’re ready for whatever and you’ve got a plan going into it, but you’ve got to be ready to adjust throughout the game.”

When you look at the big picture, what’s going to make the offense successful with QB Jimmy Garoppolo coming back this year?

“I think the first thing we’ve got to do is not turn the ball over. I mean, if we don’t turn the ball over, I think we’ll have a chance to win every game we’re in. I definitely plan on us getting more turnovers on defense this year. I think that’d be the most important thing for us to get more than we had these last two years. After that, it’s just all 11 guys executing, not just Jimmy, but the other 10 guys on the field doing their assignments, staying ahead of the chains, not having pre-snap penalties and just not trying to have those setbacks.”

Where do you think Jimmy is mentally after going through the long rehab process, the long preseason, heading into this year just knowing the mental hurdles that await?

“I think he’s as far along as he can be. I think that’s the challenge for everyone. No one gets to play a lot in the preseason, especially quarterbacks. You get hit, I think he got hit a couple time, but not too much, but it’s the same for everyone coming back from an ACL. They go through the whole preparation of getting their body ready, trying to get their mind ready, which they are always as ready as they can be, but they’ve got to go out there and go through it. You hope it happens in the first quarter of the first game, but that usually takes a little bit of time.”

What kind of feel do you have for where Jimmy’s at right now? It seems like outside this building people’s opinions wobble from he’s going to be the guy from 2017 to we really have no idea.

“I know Jimmy can plan. I can’t tell you exactly how he’s going to play, every single play or every single game. I know Jimmy is going to have some ups and downs, but I don’t sit there and try to make a different decision based off of one practice or one preseason game and then flip the next game. Jimmy’s working his way back. He’s ready to go. He’s as far along as he can be. I know he’s confident, excited for the season, but we need Sunday to come not just for him but for all of us. We’ve all been itching for this game since the season ended last year and when you’re coming back from an injury I think that’s even heightened for those type of players.”

Talking about Tampa Bay, is there a specific aspect of the game you guys have to absolutely dominate to get the win on Sunday?

“That’s pretty much what I said earlier and that will probably be the same thing for everyone, but turnovers, turnovers without a doubt and it’s even heightened when you’re on the road too.”

Speaking of being on the road, what’s the key to having success on the road in the NFL, especially when you have to go across the country?

“I think it’s a little bit different for us, I’ve learned that. It is different when you travel three time zones away, especially going from West to East. It does help us going out a couple days early. That’s why we are going to stay out there the following week when we go against Cincinnati. I think that stuff can help you, but you win or lose based off how good you play. So, you’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to play good football, you can’t turn it over, you’ve got to be detailed and execute. You can have excuses when you go on the road. Crowd noise and stuff like that to me is always the biggest factor because it’s tough when you can’t hear and it’s a huge advantage for the defensive line to jump the cadence too. That can work both ways, but crowd noise is always the biggest difference to me. That’s why I’ve always felt it’s a little different in hockey or baseball or basketball. I don’t know how much those guys have to communicate and stuff, but in football, it’s very imperative.”

In what ways can it benefit you to do what you’re doing, staying out there for the two games?

“Just going through it for two years I just realized how much it takes a toll on your team traveling from coast to coast. I’ve been in the NFL for a while and I was mainly on the east coast for most of my career so I didn’t think it was as big of a deal traveling from coast to coast when I was there. But, I’ve noticed over two years that it’s a difference here, with the time difference it takes a little bit of a toll on your players. So, just by staying out there, it’s not going to affect us much this week, but I think it will help us be a lot better next week because when you go there and go through the time difference, travel back, the long plane ride and everything, which everyone deals with, it makes injuries a little longer to recovery from and things like that with the swelling, but when your sleep cycle, your sleep-wake cycle gets messed up, especially for athletes, but I think all people it affects.”

How much of a concern is the humidity and how do you prepare the players for that?

“Humidity is always a concern too. I coached in Tampa when I started my career so I know how big of an advantage that was for us early in the year. Been in a lot of humid places to begin and it is tough for guys if they aren’t prepared for it. Just like it can be tough going to Denver and playing in that altitude if you aren’t prepared for it. You’ve got to be mindful of it. You’ve got to make sure that you don’t just start hydrating when you get to Florida and realize how humid it is. That starts Monday and you’ve got to do that for a full week which will help and you just hope that you’re hydrated and that you prepared the right way. I know we have a team who has prepared the right way. I feel we’re very well-conditioned. We’ll keep trying to stuff water down their throats for the next week and after that and then I don’t want to talk about it. It’s going to be hot. It’s not going to be fun, but it’s hot and not fun almost everywhere right now so let’s make sure we’re prepared and go try to win a game.”

You guys prepared by turning up the temperature in the weight room, is that right?

“They’ve done that in a number of rooms, I guess. I think they did the weight room. I think we had a tent outside. My office is very hot in my room for some reason. I think it’s bad ventilation. But, we’re doing everything just to make sure guys are mindful of it. It is a big deal, but the main thing I have regardless is drink water every second, please.”

What’s the challenge of trying to prepare for a defense with a new defensive coordinator and such a young defense where there’s not so much NFL tape, especially on their secondary?

“It happens a lot. It’s going to be similar for us next week when we go to Cincinnati too. That’s why we like to get into the season because people hate watching preseason tape because a lot of times you are watching guys who are not on the team and a lot of people don’t show a lot in the preseason so it does get frustrating throughout the week. You can’t wait until you get to about Week 4 or Week 5 so you don’t have to watch preseason games anymore and things like that. [Defensive coordinator] Todd [Bowles] has been in this league for a long time. He’s a hell of a defensive coordinator. We definitely prepare for him, but Todd’s a tough guy to prepare for too. He’s done about everything in his career, so we’ll see what he wants to do with Tampa Bay. So, we do have to be prepared for everything, but that’s something that’s going to take a few games for people realize what he wants to do in Tampa.”

With your running backs, how much do you go in with a plan of how you want to use RB Matt Breida and RB Tevin Coleman, and then how much do you leave it open to giving yourself the flexibility of going with the hot hand?

“There are certain plays when we do a game plan on a Monday and Tuesday where we have a specific vision of what player we want to have that play, which would be any of the three guys who are up. After that, it’s more of who’s fresh. There’s not a run plan that I don’t mind any of them on. Most of the pass plays you can put all of them on. There are certain guys you prefer more than others on certain plays, but we know that going in and those are the guys I’ll ask for on that play. But, besides those five to 10 times a game, usually closer to five than 10, that’s just [running backs coach] Bobby [Turner Jr.] trying to keep them fresh and rotate them.”

You’re obviously in week-to-week mode right now, but when you look at your big picture as far as your schedule is concerned, it’s almost a who’s who of quarterbacks and different styles. You have two of the most mobile guys in the league four times and some of the best pocket passers. As you look at that, how do you have to react from week-to-week depending on who the quarterbacks are?

“That does change. I know some of the more mobile guys come a little bit later, but that’s stuff that you’ve got address. That’s not just being mobile, but how they use them. Do they use them completely different? And that’s stuff that you’ve got to make adjustments with your scheme. That’s stuff you’ve got to be ready for. But, when you look at a schedule, I’ve done it and I used to always look at the schedule and try to decide whether it’s a tough schedule or easy schedule. When I was younger there were a couple of years where I was like hey this is going to be an easy schedule and it ends up being the hardest one I’ve ever been in by far. Then I realized that they are all hard and you don’t know what to expect and you don’t know when it’s going to come, who’s going to be playing later in the year. Things change so much with who your team is, who other teams are. Teams are different every year. It’s not the same as last year. I try not to look too far down the line, but to address your question, that is always a big deal on a running quarterback versus a pocket quarterback.”

You do have some of the best, I mean potential Hall of Famers? If you look, I mean you miss New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers are about the only two marquee guys that you miss this year it feels like.

“Well, that’s alright with me. Hopefully we see them in the last game of the year.”

The Bucs are kind of in a similar position where they are getting guys back? Is that why you kind of prepare for the scheme as opposed to the player?

“Yeah, both and how are they going to play in the new scheme too. I’ve played against their linebacker a bunch, [Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB] Lavonte [David]. I’ve played against him a ton, but I know they’ve got a new guy in who we saw a ton in college. They didn’t play a lot in the preseason so we will see how they use them. I know they are good players, but you’ve got to see how they are going to play in the scheme and what they are going to be like, how they’re going to play in their zones, how they’re going to play in their man, which takes some time. What you do know is that they are good players and they are going to be coached well. It’s going to be a challenge.”

What are the hallmarks of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians offense?

“Bruce is aggressive. I’ve always loved watching Bruce since I was a quality control. I watched him a ton when he was in Pittsburgh and I’ve followed him his whole career. Bruce is a fun guy to watch. He’s aggressive, he believes in what he does because he’s pretty consistent in what he’s done over the years, but he gets very creative in the pass game and he’s got a good mentality in the run game. Bruce is always a challenge. He’s not scared to air it out, put some pressure on his quarterbacks and that’s why his quarterbacks usually make a lot of plays.”

What’s your sense of LB Kwon Alexander’s mindset heading into this game?

“I think he’s fired up. He’s fired up every day I’ve ever been around him. I haven’t seen anything different. Now that we’re playing Tampa I think it would be hard for him to be more fired up, but I’m sure he’s got some big emotions going back to a place that he’s got a lot of respect for and that I know he enjoyed and I know it will be fun for him. I think it’s a good start for him and hopefully it’ll be successful.”

Who’s your starting free safety?

“I don’t know.”

What’s going to determine that?


Do you really not know?

“I mean, I have an idea today, but that could change. We’ve got a bunch of guys who can do it and, I mean, I’m definitely not going to say that stuff. But, we’ve definitely got a few guys who are capable and we’ll see how it shakes out for Sunday.”

DL DeForest Buckner is obviously one of your best players. He can be a bit, media-wise, under appreciated. This offseason has been here’s Bosa and here’s DL Dee Ford and CB Richard Sherman is healthy and all this stuff. Do you get a sense that he’s ever bugged by that or is he just wired correctly?

“I think he’s wired correctly. I mean, Buck’s one of the best players in this league and he wasn’t in the top 100 so that’s why I’ll never watch that. I’m just joking, I’ve watched it before. I think everyone knows Buck’s one of the best players in this league and hopefully this year he gets the recognition he deserves.”