Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media Monday afternoon and provided injury updates, his assessment of how the 49ers played, and hinted at a free agent signing.
On WR Deebo Samuel, what happened last week that changed your thinking from him being close to him being on IR and did he have a setback?
“Yeah, we didn’t think it was a setback because he was just real sore after running one day, but the soreness never got better. It just got worse and worse after one specific day. Usually after one day when it was sore, we thought it was just because he worked it hard, but when that got worse each day and not better, we knew it ended up being a little bit of a setback. So, we ended up putting him on IR.”
What’s TE George Kittle’s situation? Did he have any kind of MRI or exam today?
“Yeah, he has a knee sprain. We’ll see how he comes in on Wednesday. He was a little sore today, but we’ll wait to see how he is on Wednesday to see if he’s able to practice or be able to go this week. We know there’ll be some question.”
In just looking at the film, what did you think of the interior of the offensive line and how they fared with some of the juggling you did there?
“Yeah, I was happy with them. By no means were they perfect, but I thought we took a step forward in how we played them last year. I thought we run blocked better than we have in our last two games last year, especially our game at home. I think we had like thirty-something yards rushing, our worst one of the year. Thought we created a lot better holes and I thought we held up in protection better. There’s a couple of times they got us there at the end, but I thought the line played pretty well.”
After watching the film, how do you feel that your wide receivers separated yesterday?
“From a separation standpoint, they did pretty good. From the coverages they were doing and part of our game plan, they didn’t get a ton of opportunities, but when they did, when we went to [WR Kendrick] Bourne, he was open and made the plays. I think we went to [WR] Trent [Taylor] twice. I think he caught one and the second one, the ball was a little bit behind him. [WR] Dante [Pettis] got open down field, but it didn’t get there. We didn’t use them a ton, but when they did, they did their job.”
On the final drive, the first down pass to Bourne in the end zone and then the fourth down pass to Trent, both looked like they ran good routes and were open. Were those just simply bad passes on QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s part?
“I mean, yeah, they weren’t perfect passes. He did get by them, you guys all saw it. It would’ve been nice I think if Bourne would’ve gone up for it, I think he would’ve got the PE. So, that’s something he’ll learn from that because he did get him. It didn’t look like [Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson] Pat was going to be able to get to it, but I think it ended up hitting his hand. I think if Bourne jumps up and goes for it, we’ll end up getting the PI. Then the one to Trent, their timing was a little bit off on it. He did a little extra move at the top and Jimmy hesitated just a little bit and tried to recover with his arm and left a little bit behind him. So, just got to get better there with throwing and catching.
I know you’ve said in the past you don’t really care who starts at running back, that doesn’t matter. RB Raheem Mostert did get his first start yesterday. What went into that decision and what kind of improvements have you seen from him, even just in this camp and this year?
“I think Raheem just earned it last year. The way he came on in the middle of the year, the way he finished the year. I think every running back would agree with me also that Raheem earned that. If you talk to [RB] Tevin [Coleman], you talk to [RB Jerick] Jet [McKinnon] and [WR] Jeff [Wilson Jr.], I think they would agree. So, he earned it. He went out there and kept doing what he did last year. I thought Raheem did have a good game. We got him going on a couple of things. Did a good job in the pass game, too, so I was excited for him.”
Defensively, what was the toughest part to watch on that film or what disappointed you the most?
“Just how many opportunities we gave them just as a team, not just defense. I thought our defense played pretty well. I think we broke down there at the end, which I thought we had a chance to run away with it early and we didn’t make a couple plays on offense that I thought we could have made. We kind of let them hang around, especially when they got that blocked punt, which got them back into it. After their two missed field goals, I thought we had a chance to take over again. We really didn’t on offense. So, to keep watching the defensive film where they kept having to go out there, series after series, and it being 13 and 10 for so long, that was disappointing to put them in that situation. Once the offense did score and got up on it, we kind of needed them to answer it and that’s when they got real tired. I think we held them backed up. That drive was kept alive with a penalty, but when he got out of the pocket just a little bit, it was close again, that safety, but they had a holding on the backside, which it is what it is. It wasn’t part of the play, but letter of the law, that could go either way. That kept the drive open. I think they had about three penalties that kept some drives going, which those are calls that are part of football. By that time, I think we broke down and missed a couple. They went no huddle a ton, which is a little frustrating with no crowd noise. They did a couple things at the last second and we didn’t communicate it out to the corners quick enough and had a couple busted coverages in there that had some big plays, too. Besides that, they played a pretty clean game, but when you leave that quarterback out there for that long, you give him that many opportunities. You give him 80 plays, he’s bound to make some, and he did a lot there in the fourth.”
Your defense had trouble keeping Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray in the pocket. You’ll have to face him again this season and many more times in the future. Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson as well. What’s your plan to keep those types of mobile quarterbacks in the pocket?
“That’s always a challenge. It’s a challenge with all mobile quarterbacks. So, you’re going to try as hard as you can, but you’re not always going to be able to do that. I thought there were a number of times yesterday that when he did break out of the pocket, we were able to contain him pretty well. The worst one was the third and long, where we didn’t stay in our lanes very well. We got up the field too much. I think it was the third and 17 and he broke to the left and we have too many guys in coverage. That was one we were very undisciplined on. Besides that, I thought we handled him decent until it started to break towards the end. He’s going to get his yard scrambling. We’re just trying to hold it before he gets a first down. Unfortunately, we had two personal fouls on those, so you end up giving him 18 more plays on the day, which is way too many more opportunities. Then we got a blitz and when we blitzed, we got aggressive, which I’m glad we did, but he got through there. When that happens, he ran for a touchdown. I would like to not have given those 18 more tries. When he slides, we can’t touch him. That’s part of it. When he dives, we can’t touch him either. I know they’re not the most aggressive fouls and they frustrate everybody, but it is the letter of the law and that is the rule and it’s kept them on their field. It’s hard enough to do that, we can’t give them free first downs.”
There was report a couple of days ago that you guys were poised to sign former Seattle Seahawks DE Ziggy Ansah. Is that still happening and if the answer’s yes, is he somebody that you’ve looked at in free agency in the past couple of years?
“Oh, yeah. I’ve always been a fan of Ziggy, playing against him and stuff. He’s always been a real good player. With [defensive line coach] Kris [Kocurek] having such a good relationship with him over the years, coaching him in Detroit. So, we’ve always kept in contact with him and I don’t know what the plan is yet, but we’re bringing him in tomorrow to work him out. See where he’s at and we’ll see how it goes, but we’ll decide that tomorrow.”
What have you seen so far from Jerick McKinnon? It’s been a long time since he’s been on the field. He had a nice showing yesterday. Is his progress going according to plan? And then also, how did your offensive line look to you after watching the film?
“Yeah, I was real happy for Jet. I thought Jet played well. Had some key plays for us. I know he would have liked to catch that ball, which I think we would have gotten a field goal there at least. I think it was like third and eight, or at least attempted to field goal. We end up having to punt. Jet played very well and just him being out there was an accomplishment. I think it had been about a thousand days since he had played. What he’s gone through to get back, he’s as good of a guy as there is, so everybody was pulling for him. He’s worked as hard as he can and he’s also a player who’s going to help us out a lot. And the O-Line I was happy with. I kind of said it a little bit earlier, but we took a step forward in how we played them last year as an O-Line. Thought we protected better and ran the ball better.”
Were you guys able to further assess WR Richie James’ hamstring injury and also with that, how comfortable do you guys feel right now with your depth at wide receiver?
“We’ve got to see how he feels Wednesday, but I’m definitely concerned. Our guys are going out. We lost three before this started and then with Richie would make four, if he’s not able to go this week. So, got a couple of guys on practice squad. We’ll see how this pans out just like last week. We didn’t really know until the end of the week and I’m still hoping to get possibly [WR Brandon] Aiyuk back this week. I’d be surprised if we don’t, which helps. But Richie, I don’t know yet. So, that’ll definitely be a fluid situation all week, just like it was last week.”
Kittle played throughout the second half, obviously wasn’t as big a factor in the passing game as he usually is. I’m not sure how you evaluated him in the run game, but was there any thought to sitting him for parts or all of that half?
“When someone’s hurt, there always is. You don’t go get the X-rays or MRIs unless something is there and they need to. You go off what the player says and what the doctors say. Kittle was good to go, came back and did a hell of a job first in the second half. That had nothing to do with his stats and stuff, that has more to do with how they’re playing and the people that they are putting on him. When that happens, you’ve got to go in a different direction. But no, we were happy with Kittle and when he tells you he’s all right and you look at him, you watch him move, he was good to go in that game.”
After looking at the film, how would you assess DL Javon Kinlaw’s first performance?
“I was really happy with Javon. He’d been battling here through camp trying to learn how to play D-Line in the NFL while going against all our run stuff and everything. I think it was really nice for him to get out there and go against someone else. I thought he had a hell of a game. He made a number of plays. It’s also a tough team to do that against. Just the way their scheme is, how quickly they have the screens and everything and the way their quarterback plays. It was a real good first game for him.”
It looks like LB Kwon Alexander is maybe not quite to where he was at the start of last year. Do you see that and then are you concerned about that at all?
“No, I thought last year, the way he came out, he played at such a high level right away. I think yesterday, with the space that their quarterback creates, some of the edges that we weren’t very good with and the D-Line, he put them in some situations that aren’t the easiest. He did cause three fumbles, which I was impressed with. We didn’t get any of them. He still runs around and wants to hit, but I don’t think it was his best game. I think he’ll have some better ones coming forward, but I’m not concerned.”
Back to Deebo, do you have an idea or could you share what the new prognosis would be? Is the October game against the Eagles too soon for him?
“No, that’s the goal. That’s why we had to make that decision because, at first, we were told we couldn’t put him on IR because the injury happened before camp started. Then with the setback that he did have, they said it was all right, but we had to decide then so that game could count. So, we can have three games in. So, really hoping to get him back by the Eagles game, but we’ve got to see how this heals and how it goes right now.”
You kind of alluded to this earlier, but those late slides that Kyler Murray does and kind of the position it puts defenders in of trying to bring down a running quarterback, but also not get too close or not attacking too aggressively. Is that something that, have you brought that up or will somebody there kind of address that issue with the league office? What’s your thought on just kind of the quandary that style of quarterback puts defenders in?
“It’s borderline impossible, but it’s just part of this day and age of football. I get it. You’ve got to protect everyone’s head. You’ve got to protect quarterbacks first and foremost. I think the harder thing that’s gotten is when a quarterback slides or dives, that’s declaring yourself down, which that makes it a lot harder for guys because when you dive, you’re gaining a lot more yards than sliding backwards. They always spot it where the ball is, so guys are going full speed. Now when they slide, you should be able to get off them without touching them. Sometimes when they go forward, you can’t tell the difference between running forward or diving forward. That is almost impossible. So, it’s a lot harder to not touch the guys. Now, what [DL] Kerry [Hyder Jr.] did do a really good job of when he was running to him and he dove, he tried not to land on him. He tried to get off him as well. You could tell his intent was not even close to try to hurt the guy. He’s just trying to get there and stop him from running for a hundred more yards, but it makes it hard and that’s part of this league and that’s part of the advantage running quarterbacks have. That’s just what it is. Every team’s going to have to deal with that.”
Just back to those two throws from Jimmy on the final drive, just separately were the issues a lack of recognition, mechanical, what were the problems there?
“The ball was under thrown a little bit. Balls are under thrown all the time. You don’t always hit guys perfectly in stride. You under throw a ball and it makes it not perfect, so the receivers got to go and make a play and they didn’t. There’s nothing more to it. It’s pretty simple. He underthrew it just a hair on both of them and guys still had chances, but that would’ve been a real good play if they made it.”
Two things kind of on fans or lack of fans and the atmosphere. Why was it important for you to kind of remind the team of what the fans do to help them through a game? Did you feel like there was maybe some sort of a dip in energy or anything, a point yesterday where they could have really used the fans and maybe they didn’t have that reserve to dip into?
“Yeah, the fans only help us. They don’t hurt us. I wanted to remind the guys just because of, we felt like the work we’ve put in here for a few years and kind of how Levi’s Stadium was when we first got here to how it was at the end of last year. There was a lot of, I think, pain that the fans have gone through and the players and everyone involved with the Niners have gone through. It was really, really cool and special where we got this place. I know it would have been like that yesterday. There’s not a doubt in my mind, watching our talent talking to our fans, like I know how fired up everyone was for Week One. It was unfortunate our players couldn’t feel it. I try to remind them that everyone’s doing it in their house. You’re just not going to hear them on the field. That’s not why we lost. We had plenty of chances to win that game, but that’s going to affect everybody throughout this league. It’s a different deal in that stadium. There’s no one in there. When you can hear their whole no huddle offense, when there’s no noise, really. Even the ambient noise was quiet. You barely could hear that. So, it’s a different deal. Hopefully it doesn’t last because I know we want our fans there and I know our fans want to be there. So, hopefully we can eventually get some people in there and at the same time, hopefully our kids are going back to school too.”
Two questions: Were there any other injuries that popped up today and two, is former New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu at all on your radar this week, given your receiver situation?
“Yeah, we’ll see how these injuries go, but I love Sanu. He’s a hell of a player, so him being out there is always a possibility. We’ll look into everything that we have, though. We’ve got to know our numbers are going to be up this week, which we don’t have that settled yet, but I wouldn’t rule that out at all. He’s available and he’s definitely a guy I really respect and I think everyone in this league respects. So, we’ll see how it goes this week.”