San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media after Friday’s practice to discuss the value of Jimmie Ward, why Kentavius Street may have to find a flight to Seattle on his own, DK Metcalf, and much more.
How did the three IR guys who you opened their window this week, how did they make it through and what are your expectations for them for Sunday?
“I know that all three of them have a chance. I’d say [CB] K’Waun [Williams] and [RB] Tevin [Coleman] more than [TE] Jordan [Reed]. Today was just walkthrough though, and I haven’t got a chance to talk to the trainers. I’ll talk to them more today, but hopefully there’s no setbacks and we’ll get at least two of them up, but I never know until I talk to the trainers. We have until, I think, one tomorrow.”
You had mentioned the game planning that you and your staff do when the players are gone early in the week. Have you thought about a scenario, potentially, where you might be losing any of those guys and what that process might be like for you?
“The guys that we plan on playing?”
Sorry, the assistant coaches, like losing those guys in the future given they’re probably going to be candidates for some jobs.
“Gotcha. Yeah, I mean, you think about it all the time. That’s why you’re always trying to train people. You can’t speak enough about, one, having talented people, but just the time and the experience of working with people. You can’t make that up in one year. So, you’re always trying to get guys with you and train in the best way, and you want to hold onto them as long as possible, but we’ve got a number of really good coaches and I understand you can’t do that forever.”
This is going back to last season, to the last game in Seattle. On that final play, can you remember what was going through your head at that moment?
“Probably not much. In terms of, it was very clear, you’re just completely locked in and just watching the moment and sitting there wishing you could do something about it and just sitting there, just watching your guys. It’s just completely silent, at least that’s how it feels to me. I feel like you can’t hear anything and then all of a sudden, everyone just erupts on our sideline. I’ve been burned before where I erupt and it ends up being overturned or something like that. So, even though I watched ours guys run all the way to the other way and everyone was celebrating, it took me about five minutes before I fully accepted it and it wasn’t until we fully had the ball, until we were actually on the field that I knew that we had won, but it was a cool moment.”
Speaking of everyone running the other way into the end zone, general manager John Lynch sprinted there into the end zone and was wildly celebrating. Did you catch that, either in the moment or on tape, and have you discussed that with him?
“Oh yeah, I didn’t catch it in the moment, but it was one of the most fun things the next day, making fun of him and showing it to the team and pointing it out. He’s usually Captain America, but every once in a while, Red 47 comes out. You see that moment in games when he gets excited at the end. Him, [T Mike] McGlinchey, [TE George] Kittle and [OL] Laken [Tomlinson] are all the most violent celebrators and it’s a matter of time before one of those guys injure me. So, I try to stay away when they’re excited.”
How do you assess the fatigue level of your team after completing the second cross country trip of the season before the Bye Week?
“It definitely affects you. You can feel it during the week. I used to not know what people were talking about and now I think I just notice it a lot more. I notice in myself even, and then you start to ask some of the other coaches and you see it in guys, but you recover as the week goes. At least you feel better and you get more used to it. Right now, you don’t have time to think about it. I keep telling our guys, we’ve got two games here in six days, which is a lot, but everyone’s got to go through that. I plan on us not having anything left after six days from now. I try to tell them that that’s all right, because after our two games in six days, I believe we have one game in 24 days. You’re going to go from one extreme to the other. And both can sometimes be a negative, but both, sometimes, can be a positive. Just depends how you react to it. I think our guys have been through about everything, so I expect us to react well.”
Throughout the season, you guys have had a pretty full injury report and I’m sure you don’t mind having the opposition guess along and try to figure out who’s playing and who’s not. How do you handle it on the other side, when you see the Seahawks and you kind of monitor who’s practicing and who’s not? They have two running backs, questionable, one doubtful, Seattle Seahawks S Jamal Adams is questionable. How do you approach that during the course of the week, preparing for somebody who may or may not be available for a game?
“If it affects your game plan, then you always prepare that they’re going to play. That’s pretty much what I do with anyone who will change how we call a game or what we put in. So, you always assume they’re going to play. You never get surprised by that and you just wait until kickoff. If they’re not, then I’m definitely not upset about it. It’s a lot easier to react, but when you count on someone not playing and then they do, that’s something that I just try to never let happen to us. You always assume people are playing and it’s just like some guys go down on the first play of the game. It doesn’t change much when someone leaves, as long as you prepare for them to be out there.”
You mentioned the Thursday game that’s coming up. When that’s the case, do you look at snap counts, do you make decisions on who comes off of IR, knowing that you’ve got a game coming up right away or is it sort of unwise or dangerous to sort of look ahead that far when it comes to the immediate game, the Sunday game?
“I think it’s pretty dangerous to do that, but if there’s something that makes sense and you can control something, then you definitely do. It’s tough to play those two games, but I don’t think about that during the game. I’m not counting people’s reps because of it or anything like that, but if you ever have a situation where they’re like, ‘Hey, we think maybe this guy could really, you know, it might be a little bit ahead of schedule, but he could tough this game out and probably get through it, but there’s no way he could play Thursday,’ then usually you don’t play him. Then you wait until Thursday, where on a full week, if they’re like that, it’s usually if you could go, you can play the next game because it’s seven days away. If you can go in this, but not play four days away, then I think a little differently than if they’re not healthy enough to play in this game or to be recovering for days, then they shouldn’t be going in this game.”
I have a question for you, not necessarily a football question, but it has to do with your staff. Not sure if you saw, but wide receivers coach Wes Walker posted a video of his son eating candy that was, I guess, provided by you and your family. One, did you see the video? Two, how did that this all come about? Also, could you just detail that relationship between you and the rest of your coaching staff?
“I have seen the video because Wes and my wife both sent it to me and it was really funny. I wish I could take credit for it. [Runnings backs coach] Bobby Turner thanked me today for whatever we gave them and I had no idea what he was talking about. That was my wife who did that. So, I’m not even sure what they got, but she gave all of them something. I wish I could have taken credit for it, but then she and Wes showed me that their son wished it was from [WR] Deebo [Samuel] and not me and my wife, which I totally understand. I would feel the same. So, it was pretty funny.”
Looking ahead again towards that Thursday, how do you plan and prepare for yourself and the way you’re scheduled throughout these next few days?
“For me, I don’t do anything. I’m all about Sunday in Seattle and I just fully accept that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and up until kickoff on Thursday are going to be a grind. That’s something that you just get used to playing Thursday Night games. That’s usually probably the most times that coaches sleep in the office and stuff like that, but I love it, personally. Just because you don’t get days off in the league unless you have a Bye Week. I don’t mind toughing out any days, knowing that you’ll get a few days off at the end of the week, which I think is really needed for our team right now, players and coaches and just everyone, just to rest a little bit. So, I’m looking forward to a tough Monday through Thursday. You always hope that it finishes well and then you enjoy a few days off, that’s nice to sit around and watch everyone else for a little bit. A lot of the other coaches, they’ve got to get stuff prepared, so we’re ready to put that grind in on Monday right away. So, a lot of other coaches have got to stay around a little bit later today. Do some stuff at the hotel tomorrow, where all the cut ups and their projects and all the stuff that they get for us are ready to go right away Monday morning.”
Important follow-up question. Red 47, is that an official nickname? Where did that come from? I know the jersey number, obviously, but where did that originate?
“I’m not sure where it originated, but everyone’s seen John Lynch play football and that’s Red 47. Everyone’s seen how he acts and how he carries himself and that’s Captain America. You see those two personalities clash sometimes, but usually it’s hard to get him to Red 47. Usually, you see it on the football field and you can randomly see it when he gets a little worked up with football stuff. So, it’s in there. We know that.”
How’s WR Kevin White progressed in his three months on the roster?
“Kevin’s done a real good job. It’s been great to get him up twice. Wish we could do that more, but he’s a guy that, if ever need be, won’t hesitate to bring him up full time. He’s working to learn this stuff, which he got a late start on. He’s done real well. Everyone knows the ability he has and the way he’s carried himself. Fits in really well here and we’re really enjoying the person and the athlete.”
I’d like to sneak in two questions. So, I’m going to assume your facility does not have to be closed on election day because you have the Thursday game. Then also, I just wanted to ask you what your thoughts were on Seattle Seahawks WR DK Metcalf, just kind of your scouting report when he was coming out in the draft?
“Yes, I hope it’s not closed on Tuesday, just because we have a Thursday Night game and that would make it very tough. So, I have not asked that yet, but I’m assuming that ours and Green Bay’s are the ones that are allowed to be open. And then what was it with DK?”
What were your thoughts on him? I know everyone thought he was a physical freak. Maybe there were some questions like-”
“Oh, coming out?”
“Oh yeah. You could see how big he was, how he ran, had the ability to do everything. In his offense a little bit, they didn’t, you know, he’s kind of stayed at one spot. He didn’t get to do as much routes as he’s doing now, so you couldn’t see all of that. He had some bad luck with some injuries, which I think made some people worried, but everyone sees now. He’s as good as there gets right now. He’s been healthy, plays hard and he’s got a big future. Wish he wasn’t in our division.”
Jimmie Ward is your starting free safety, but on third down, it seems like he kind of does anything but play single high free safety. How does his versatility help your defense, particularly on third down?
“Anytime you have a safety who’s extremely good in the middle of the field, extremely good tackler, he could blitz and I think he’s been one of our best cover guys, whether on a tight end or receiver or a back since I’ve been here. So, when you can do that, you can just use him a lot of different ways. Gives our defense a lot of different decisions on match-ups and man-to-man and different places to put him because of the physicality he plays with. It’s always really good to have Jimmie out there throughout the game, but especially third down.”
Is Kentavius dealing with an illness? If the answer is yes, what does that mean for his availability on Sunday? Does he have to pass a number of tests before he can be cleared?
“Yeah, he’s got to pass one more test tomorrow and then he’ll be cleared. So, hopefully we’ll get him out there. I don’t know if it’s going to work out to fly with the team or anything like that, so we’ll have to figure it out because I don’t know when the test gets back. I’m sure it’ll get back after we’ve already left, but if he has no symptoms tomorrow and he passes his second test, then he’ll be allowed to play on Sunday.”
Would he have to fly by himself in that scenario?
“I think it’s too far to drive, so I don’t think he could get there and I don’t know the exact rules over that. I just know he can’t fly with us until we get the test results back. So, I’m sure he can fly with someone, but I’m sure we’d have to get him a plane or something like that.”