San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan provided injury updates after Friday’s practice as well was the air quality and the challenges Arizona presents.
Can you give us an update on WR Deebo Samuel’s health?
“Yeah, injuries for today: [WR Brandon] Aiyuk’s questionable, [G Ben] Garland is questionable, Deebo will be out and [CB Jason] Verrett’s out. [RB Tevin] Coleman missed today. It wasn’t injury related.”
In regards to Deebo, why not just put him on Injured Reserve so you can practice him up the next couple of weeks before he would debut in Week Four?
“Because we believed he had a good chance to play this week. It didn’t go the way we hoped, but he’ll still be day-to-day going on that next week. We felt there was a chance, so to make a decision that would be three weeks when we thought he did have a chance. We didn’t think that would be very smart, but we’ll see how next week goes. Also, it’s something with the rules that because it happened before training camp started, which is considered non-football injury, there was some reason we couldn’t do that, either.”
How close were you to having to tweak the schedule today because of the smoke and what is your level of concern for Sunday in that regard?
“We didn’t have to tweak it. We would have if it had gotten to 200, but it didn’t. So, people with preexisting conditions today, they couldn’t practice with it being just past 150. If it happens Sunday, my understanding is if it gets to 200, that’s when the NFL will start really discussing what to do with the game. I don’t think that’s my decision at all. I know it’s not. Thank goodness. So, we’ll just see what happens. Hopefully it won’t get there. Hopefully it’ll be safe, but we’ve got to see what the wind does.”
Several of your players spoke about being very disciplined this week. That was a focus. Was that a messages going forward, just for Week One or just because you’re playing against Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray or just kind of a message just to get everybody going for the beginning of the season?
“It’s always a message, but I think going against a player like Kyler, having the first week of the season, I think everything’s heightened even more on that. Guys are fired up. They’re ready to play, but you’ve got to go out there and make sure you execute. We haven’t been out there yet. Neither have they. So, you’re going to see that stuff to me a lot around the league. No matter how excited you are to play, you’ve got to make sure you lock into doing your job, doing your assignment. Both of those things don’t always go hand in hand and it takes both of those things to be successful, but sometimes they can contradict each other. I know the excitement’s there. I know the guys will be ready to go, but you can’t lose track of thinking that’s all that you’ve got to worry about. You’ve got to be locked in. There’s a lot of assignments that you’ve got to do to execute this stuff. Usually, both teams are playing really hard, which I fully expect. The team that executes better will win.”
I think there had been a contingency to play the game in Arizona, to swap the games with the Cardinals. The fact that that the NFL hasn’t done that, does that signal that you guys are optimistic that the weather conditions will improve by Sunday? And if the answer’s no, what would the contingency be at that point?
“I’m not sure. I try not to worry about things I’m not involved in. So, I’m just trying to get our team ready to play this game. I’m sure that the NFL has had some discussions with other people, not any coaches, I don’t think. Not [Arizona Cardinals head coach] Kliff [Kingsbury] or I. So, we’re just getting ready for this game. If it is at 200, I know that’s when they’ll decide whether we play or not, how to go forward with that, but I’m not really sure of the contingency plans.”
You’ve made it pretty clear in the past that you support NFL athletes on a lot of the social justice measures that have been in the news. I’m just wondering now, as the season starts, it’s still in the news, but is that another thing that you try to put out of your mind? How do you approach it as the head coach and does your team specifically have anything planned for Sunday?
“I don’t think, they haven’t mentioned anything to me about having anything planned. I think they’re going to do what they’ve always done, but you’d have to ask them individually. I know as a team, we’re not planning anything, but individuals might have something planned, however they want to handle the situation. I think that is more of an individual thing, personally. But no, I think we’ve dealt with this since I’ve been here and I know they’ve dealt with it before I got here. It’s never been a problem for our organization. It’s never been a problem for any of our coaching staff. It’s never been a problem for our players. So, whatever they decide to do this weekend as an individual, whatever I decide to do, whatever anyone does is their prerogative. That really has nothing to do, to me, with our job or the game that’s going on. That has to do with what people think and how they feel on the inside.”
With Deebo being out, with Brandon and Garland being questionable, do you anticipate making any moves by tomorrow, 1:00 PM, to bring guys up from the practice squad?
“It’s some things we can discuss. There’s always a possibility. With Garland and Aiyuk being questionable, we’ve got to be ready to do something depending on that. So, we’ll see how that goes. We do have until that time. It might take us all the way until game time to decide if they can go or not because they are that close to doing it. They also have been prepared in camp and done enough stuff to be ready, which is a little different than how Deebo is. But we’ll see. If we know for sure that they’re not going earlier, we’ll probably have to do something. If we still won’t know, we might still have to do something. Just to have that just in case when it comes on Sunday.”
If the air quality doesn’t change significantly, I would assume, is Tevin’s status for the game in question?
“Yeah, that’s why he didn’t go out there today. Just taking a precautionary decision to help him for Sunday. I know when it is up to 150, that’s when it can affect some people with different conditions. So, that’s something that Tevin, it’ll be a personal decision when he gets there. It’s not just an automatic “no.” Similar to when you play in high altitude and stuff like that, it’s not an automatic “no.” That’s stuff you’ve got to discuss with the doctor and be comfortable with, dealing with oxygen tanks and things there can help, but talking to Tevin, I’ve been through some situations with him before, dealing with things like playing in Denver and stuff. Tevin will do what’s right for him, what’s safe. I know he’s going to want to play extremely hard and be out there. I know that it kills him not to be, but I also know Tevin will make the right decision. I know our doctors will help him with that.”
You had mentioned previously that Brandon Aiyuk, given his preparation and how he came into camp from a mental perspective, could probably handle playing despite missing some time. But, when he has an injury and he only has two days of practice, what’s your process in making that determination in terms of how much to put on his plate if he is healthy enough to play?
“Yeah. My process is different with each individual. Kind of depends on how I feel about the individual and what they can handle, what they can do with the limited reps. One good thing is we usually don’t let guys come back and put them in practice until they’ve had a few healthy days before that. So, it means he’s going in the right direction. It means he probably right now, I feel he could get through it. We’ve just got to decide on what that risk is. That’ll be something that you constantly talk to the trainers about, but it’s also, at this point, something that we’ve got to keep really talking to Brandon about. We’ll make sure that we do what’s best for him.”
Are you, I guess, curious to see how Arizona uses Arizona Cardinals LB Isaiah Simmons on Sunday given his versatility and obviously you haven’t seen him play since Clemson?
“Yeah. I mean, definitely curious. Curious about a lot of things, as I’m sure they’re curious about a lot of things, too. You kind of get an idea about everything just watching preseason tape a little bit and none of us have that for the first time. There’s a lot of things like that that we all want to think about and talk about, and I’m sure everyone’s discussing outside of here also, but we’re not going to find that until Sunday and once we do, I think it’ll be pretty evident. Then you’ll know how to adjust.”
Arizona Cardinals LB Chandler Jones has been doing it for a long time at a high level, maybe doesn’t get the credit he deserves. What is it that makes him so good and so hard to deal with?
“A number of things. It starts with he’s a freak, just talent-wise just like his brother is watching them fight. They’re tall, long guys with the right mentality to play football. I also think he’s an extremely smart player. Going against him over the years, he recognizes plays. He plays very hard. He’s very unpredictable. He’s got the athletic ability to kind of freelance, but he kind of freelances a little bit, but still tries to find a way to play within the scheme. You can tell, when you have a smart guy like that, who is also a smart football player, who’s extremely talented, doesn’t shock you at all why I think he’s got more sacks than anyone here over the last few years.”
When you talked to your coordinators about how to approach Sunday’s game, do you see a scenario where, because of all these unknowns, that you guys might use three timeouts in the first quarter, just to make adjustments from things that you weren’t sure that the Cardinals would show you?
“No, I don’t think that really will happen with timeouts or anything. I worry about the timeouts using them with just being rusty and getting in and out of the huddle, substitutions and stuff where you can get caught, where it looks like a certain personnel is on the field and we send in a personnel and you have the wrong one. Then it’s past 15 seconds on the play clock, so I can’t talk to [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] then or [defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh can’t talk to [LB] Fred [Warner]. That’s when it kind of messes stuff up, because you’ve got the wrong stuff in there. You get better at that throughout reps and everything and going through it fast, but there will be some - I keep telling everyone, or everyone wants to know if we’re ready to play. I promise everyone’s ready to play, but it’s the execution of the things that the players got to do on the field. The execution of the things that the coaches have to do. Those are the things that sometimes when you’re not as quick with it, or you hesitate a little bit, you’ve got to decide whether you want to use the time out and burn it or if you just want to take that five yards and we usually decide that in the heat of battle and it depends on the situation, but hopefully everything will go perfect, which I never count on.”