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Shanahan said neither Tartt, Alexander, or Ford would have been available last week

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The bye week did wonders for the 49ers in so many ways.

Divisional Round - Minnesota Vikings v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media after defeating the Minnesota Vikings to discuss if he just lost his defensive coordinator, how the bye week helped everyone, and much more.

Opening comments:

“Injuries; [DL Nick] Bosa had the wind knocked out of him, [LB Mark] Nzeocha had a stinger, returned. [RB Raheem] Mostert had a calf cramp we’ll look at. [RB Tevin] Coleman had an elbow, we’ll look more into.”

How did you feel about the defensive performance today? Are you worried you just lost your defensive coordinator to the Browns?

“No. I mean, hopefully they’re not making their decision just off that game. He’s done a good job all year. But, I hope I didn’t. We’ll see how that plays out. I was pumped with the defense. We had a goal going into this game. We thought the team that got over 30 runs would win this game. We truly looked at that as a team goal. We ended up getting 47 on offense. It’s a lot easier to do when the other team goes 2-of-12 on third down. I think we were at 45%. I think they ended up only being able to get 10. When you just see the way the defense is playing it makes it so much easier to stay with that. I think our whole team kind of fed off of it.”

It sounds like you almost got those 30 runs on that one drive after the interception. What was the mindset and how determined were you just to ram it down their throats at that point?

“We didn’t start it out that way. You don’t start it out before saying, ‘We’re going to run it every down.’ You just call a run to start out and just stick with it and eventually we scored. Half of us were asking where the throws were on it and we looked back at the picture and realized we didn’t throw any. It was just a hell of a job by the O-Line coming off the ball, getting some push. When you can do that, you wear the guys down and force them to change some of their coverages a little bit. And, the defense kept getting us the ball back. Same with the special teams. That long punt that they had, that we had and Raheem being able to come down there, cause that fumble. That was huge, too. Just a great overall win for the whole team.”

Obviously, the run game was very effective. How much was that the defense playing so well?

“It’s a little bit of both. That’s kind of how it always works out usually. It’s easier to get a lot of runs when you’re getting the ball back a lot. But, if you don’t convert on third down, that’s not going to happen either. Sometimes it’s tough to score points just running. You’ve got to throw some, but we didn’t on one drive. Thought we came out early throwing the ball pretty good on that opening drive. Our plan was to be like that. The way the defense played made it a heck of a lot easier.”

What did you like best about this particular victory in terms of the style--?

“The way we did it. That was our goal. That was our goal that we said on Monday, right when we found out. We really believed the team that got over 30 runs would win. We thought only one team would and that was a complete team goal. The offense would not have been able to get that many runs if the defense didn’t play like they did and if the special teams didn’t play that way also.”

Did you make the decision to make the change at cornerback after the first touchdown?

“Corner? Yes.”

You thought he had seen enough there?

“No, I told [CB] Ahkello [Witherspoon] that going into the game, and [CB Emmanuel] Moseley. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Ahkello. I’ve got a lot of confidence in E-Man, what he’s done when he’s come in. we gave Ahkello the start, but he knew. It was a very tough decision with the way that E-Man has been playing. He knew if he was struggling at all, we weren’t going to hesitate. I’m sure if we left him in, he would have had a chance to play himself out of it. He was aware of that before the game and I loved how Mosely came in and played.”

How important was the first drive in terms of setting the tone and getting the crowd engaged?

“You’d like to say that’s always the most important drive until it doesn’t work, then the next one is. It’s huge. We didn’t play all last week. You’re at your home crowd and you want to come out and be like that. You could hear the fans just in pregame warmups. The stadium was electric. It was different than it’s been. When our defense holds them, I want to say it was three-and-out to start. We get in there, are able to go down and get seven. It’s a great feeling. They came back and answered with that go route, which tied it up. Felt pretty good throughout the first half. We made a pretty bad mistake with that turnover at the end of the second quarter. It was great that our defense held them to three points, which allowed us to recover the rest of the game.”

The return of DL Dee Ford, LB Kwon Alexander, and S Jaquiski Tartt impact just the emotions of the defense. How much did it let guys sort of settle into their roles?

“I think the emotion is probably the same for the fans as it is for the players. When you get guys back who are really good players and made an impact all year, everyone is a lot more excited. The more players you have out there, the better chance you have. Once the game starts, that’s over. But, when you watch it out there, you’ll see more on tape, but it looks different. Starting with the rush with Dee Ford out there, just getting off the ball, whether he’s doing it or the other guys do it, the speed. Having Kwon out there. The times I’m looking up watching him, the way he flew around, made some plays on the screens. Even when he flew and missed the guy on the screen, he makes the back have to come to a complete stop and cut back the other way, then our pass rushers can get there. Tartt back there. Tartt has been great for us when he’s been out there. I knew it took him some time to get back with the injury that he had, but from what I saw, he played very well today. I’m pumped to have him next week playing.”

How much did the Bye Week help?

“The Bye Week helped the most, just all those guys you mentioned. None of those guys would have been available last week. So, it was perfect to give them the week that they had, so their first game back was now. I think they all got out of it, from what I know of, pretty clean and should be ready to go again next week.”

The run game, Coleman hasn’t had a game like that since Carolina. How big was that Bye Week as far as getting his legs fresh?

“He looked good out there today. Tevin, I know his numbers haven’t been as great. Raheem has had some real good runs. I think Tevin has had some unfortunate looks, just the luck of the draw a little bit. I think he got some better looks today, took advantage of them. When you do that, I think it got him in a little bit of momentum. He was able to stay out there a little bit longer. I think he got some extra carries at the end, didn’t have to split them as much with Raheem cramping and stuff. That’s why we haven’t changed much. We’ve been excited about Tevin all year. Glad he got his opportunities today. He came through big for us.”

What was your level of concern with Dee Ford’s hammy? Was that something you were monitoring throughout the game?

“I didn’t monitor it throughout the game because I don’t know how to do that. I just wait till someone comes and tells me. He never told me and the trainers never told me. What I saw with my eyes looked pretty good. I was a little worried during the week because it was his first week back and had a little bit of a scare on Wednesday, I think. I’m messed up because today is Saturday, but whatever day that was, it was a little tight. We didn’t push him too hard. He came out, had a good practice there on Thursday. Didn’t feel great until we made it into about halftime. I saw he had gone the whole first half. I’m like, ‘All right, it’s not too tight today.’ He’s doing a good job, I think it’s going to continue.”

Do you think this stage is the right one for DL Nick Bosa?

“He played pretty good all year. I don’t know how many sacks he got today, but he’s been pressuring the quarterback all year. It was great that he ended it. I thought he sat there and milked his injury for a little bit longer just to hear the crowd chant his name. No, he’s been a stud. He’s been awesome on the field, off the field. Extremely happy to have him on our team.”

It’s not time for reflection because you have more games to play. You’ve won 14 out of 17. How confident were you coming into this season this was a possibility?

“I mean, we knew coming into the season that we were going to have a chance to compete in every game. Didn’t really look at it much past that. Even when we were 8-0, that’s all you look at. We thought we could compete in every game and we had won them up to that. We were like that all the way to the end. Once we got into the playoffs and got that Bye Week, I did personally sit back for a day and think about the season. It was great how we got home-field advantage. Once you get that, that is completely over. All you think about is this game. We just got that done. Not trying to go celebrate anything. We celebrated winning the Division in the Bye Week, which was nice. Now, it’s can’t wait to watch these games tomorrow and find out who we’re playing.”

You played both teams. Is that a help?

“You’re familiar with them and they’re familiar with us. We’ll see which one it helps more.”