San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media about injuries, Dante Pettis, his tight ends, and more after Friday’s practice.
“For the injuries for today, [TE George] Kittle will be out. [CB Jason] Verrett will be out and [DL Dee] Ford will be questionable. Go ahead.”
Former San Francisco 49ers QB Steve Young said something interesting on the radio this week about QB Jimmy Garoppolo and he said he thought Garoppolo might’ve been going through his reads too quickly, which ultimately might have slowed him down. He said it was something that your dad noticed in Steve early in his career. I’m curious if you noticed the same thing and what the coaching points may be to slow down Jimmy, but also be sure he’s making his reads properly?
“Yeah, that’s a very common thing. All the time throughout every game, there’s going to be times where a quarterback either goes too fast through a progression or too slow. Sometimes it’s harder when you’re amped up and everything, so you’re just trying to find that even keeled throughout the game, that balance of being amped up and trying to keep your rhythm of the game. So, there was a couple he might’ve been a little too fast on, a couple a little too slow, but that’s pretty normal. That wasn’t everything, but there was a couple he was like that on.”
In terms of Dee Ford, is it a muscle strain with his neck or is there a disc issue that you guys have to be really concerned about?
“No, yesterday was just neck spasms and stuff. So, we rested him. I know today he came in with some, so I know he’s meeting with guys and trying to make sure it’s safe and everything. So that’s why it’s questionable. Don’t have much more than that, but it’s Friday, so we’re just trying to play it slow here and see how it goes for the next two days.”
Obviously, lost the first game and now you’ve got to go on the road for two games. You’ve got some injury issues. Do you look at this as just a little bit of an early test of adversity? Or is it just like, ‘Dude, we lost one game. Everyone has injuries, calm down?’
“Yeah. I’d look at it as a pretty normal situation. We do have some injuries, but I thought we had some last week also. That’s stuff you’ve been dealing with. I thought we dealt with that a little bit last year when we started, too. Offensively and defensively, too. A lot of guys missed all of camp and then got back right for the Tampa Bay game and played a little banged up and got a little healthier as it went. Then going on the road, there’s not much difference right now between playing at home or on the road, they’re all silent. So, I’m actually looking forward to that. The time change can be a little bit different as it always is and that’s why we go out on Friday, today, and we’ll work on getting used to that. But, I think our guys are looking forward to a nice plane ride where we can relax a little bit and change the environment up a little bit.”
I know it was only a walkthrough today, but what was your impression of just actually getting to see WR Mohamed Sanu again in person on the field? Then you said you feel pretty comfortable if you had to play him a significant amount. What was your expectation for him on Sunday?
“If we have five receivers up, he’ll be up. We still haven’t decided that yet with everything going on. I know we had four last week, but we’ll see how it balances out this weekend. He’s been in the zoom meetings, watching all the installs and stuff, and we threw him out there today and he didn’t make any mistakes, was able to line up with confidence and Mo’s a pro. Mo works at it and it was good to see him today. I haven’t seen him for a while and I’m glad to have him here. I know if we go with five, we won’t hesitate to have him out there and I know he’ll be ready.”
There were a couple of guys that came out of a Sunday’s game and took some criticism. CB Dontae Johnson on the punt block and then WR Dante Pettis on the long pass to him. What was your take on those two plays? Is that criticism warranted?
“No, I don’t believe so. In those two plays you’re talking about. Not many people are going to block two people, which was Dontae’s issue on the punt rush. We had a mess up inside and I’m not going to get into exactly what that was, but Dontae’s there to save the day, but we never put two guys on him. I know there’s only supposed to be one guy on him. So, that wasn’t Dontae. He could have saved it with an unbelievable block, but I’m not expecting a guy to take on two. And then, Dante on the deep throw down the field, he got held up a little bit on a reroute by [Arizona Cardinals S] Budda [Baker] and we took our shot. It was the look we want wanted. The timing was a little bit off when he got rerouted a little bit by the free safety. It was a perfect throw if he didn’t get rerouted and that’s why he didn’t get to it. Of course, I’d love for him to dive, layout, do everything he can to get to it. I still don’t think he was going to be able to though. Credit Budda with the reroute there.”
DT Javon Kinlaw spoke to us yesterday. He maybe said about 50 words total in about five minutes. He’s talked about being very hard on himself. He said he played below average. How do you manage that kind of mentality for a rookie and kind of keeping him prepared and up for Week Two?
“I love that mentality. I want guys to always know they can do better because nobody’s perfect. So, you’ve always got to think you can do better and better. It was his first game, it was good to get his feet wet out there. He did some good things, but there’s no doubt he can play a lot better. Not to take anything away from him last week, but we expect him to get better each week and if he doesn’t expect that, then that won’t happen. He’s got to hold himself to a high standard just like we will. We expect him to get better each week doing that.”
When it comes to George, obviously you guys want to have caution with him, I would assume, but is it something where it has to do with the surface or was there something with his knee this week that gave you guys a little bit more concern than you had initially?
“No, I think it was just the normal person. We probably would have ruled them out earlier in the week, but we never do that really with George because of what he’s shown us here over these three years with him. We would’ve held out two more days to wait and see if it was a home game, but with us having to decide to travel today, whether it was worth it to bring him. I mean, if he’s not going to play, it’s much better for him to leave him here for a couple of days and let him get his rehab and everything. We had to make that decision a little bit earlier today and that’ll help him and benefit him and he’ll meet us in West Virginia and hopefully these two days staying here will help him. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go next week.”
You said TE Jordan Reed was kind of, early in camp, kind of working back from some stuff and has gradually progressed. Given that George is out, where do you feel like he’s at? Do you feel comfortable increasing his role?
“Yeah, we do. I think it’s been like that really each week for him. I think he ended up getting about ten plays last week and that was about how much we planned on. If you go back to the practice weeks and stuff, it’s been about that. We’ve been building up to ten plays and we were going to build up a little bit more this week. It doesn’t change much with George out. I can give him a couple more opportunities, but we still have our other two tight ends out there. We’ll still carry three. Last week we were able to carry four, which is why we went short at receiver. I feel good with him and he’s getting better each week at it, getting healthier and getting more confident in what he’s doing in our offense.”
General Manager John Lynch said that you went through about 78 plays with the guys at your team meeting coming out of Week One. How do you find a balance of where it’s too much information or where it’s not? He thought that originally it may be too much, but then afterwards said, ‘No, it was the perfect amount of review of what was going on in Week One.’
“Whatever it takes to show guys what happened. Lots of people can talk and try to tell people, but most people are probably like me and it’s very hard to listen to someone talk that long and really follow them. So, when you have the film behind you and people can see it, it’s much easier to show the story of what happened. I think a lot of people would be surprised, coaches included. You work so hard to go into games and then you lose and you come up short and you know a couple of things that you saw, a couple of things that affected you that your eyes are on all the time and very quickly you’re upset about it. But, you’ve got to move to the next week. So, I think it’s very important in situations like that when you truly believe that you could have won, but you came up short. You want everyone to know why. Not just to point people out, not to embarrass people, but so people understand and don’t start making stuff up. I don’t like when people make stuff up and if you don’t educate people and show them why, most people are going to. So, it’s about educating guys, showing them, not trying to sell anything. Just letting them see the truth. Then it helps you put things to bed a lot easier.”
I imagine the plan is to just use Jordan Reed more, as you said, but does that mean we’re going to see more TE Charlie Woerner on Sunday and how confident are you using him in the passing game?
“I’m confident in all three of our guys out there. All of them have their traits that they do some things better than others, but all three of them are capable of running, blocking, catching. They all can do it all, so it’s not like you’re going to make any of them just one dimensional. We’ve got a number of personnel groups, I expect all of them to play more. So, it was a little bit tough. We were rotating four of them last week. With only three up this week, they’ll all get more playing time.”