I wanted to share Kyle Shanahan’s transcript from his media availability from Monday. I thought the local media challenged Shanahan more than ever about his decision-making. There are times when Shanahan shuts down. That was not the case Monday.
What is QB Trey Lance’s situation, physically? What do you expect from him and how much does his physical condition factor into what you want to do this coming week at the quarterback position?
“It has to do whether we can play him or not. I think he, coming back from the injury, they tell me he’s on pace to be able to come out to practice on Wednesday. So, he might be a little limited at it though, but that’s what we’re hoping for. But in terms of deciding who’s going at quarterback, that has to do with [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo]’s health. Jimmy, I wanted to see how his calf was, it’s good today and so he’ll be starting. And hopefully, Trey will be able to get back into practice and have a good enough week to where he can dress, and if Trey’s up dressing then there is always a good chance I’ll get him some plays in there.”
Did you spend this morning mulling that over as far as taking a deep dive on how Jimmy has been playing? What potentially a healthy Trey can bring to the table or in your mind, was it an open and shut case that Jimmy’s going to be the starter on Sunday against the Bears, if he’s healthy?
“Yeah, no, we didn’t go into that game thinking that Jimmy was one bad game away from losing his job or anything like that. Jimmy didn’t play as good as he could, which he knows that. I know that. Also, I think it was some pretty hard, circumstances for him, for both quarterbacks considering some of the weather. But I definitely thought he could’ve played better, but that was not a game to where, ‘hey, if Jimmy has one bad game, he’s losing his job.’ We know Trey is the future here and we’re trying to get do what’s best for him and for our team. And Trey’s coming off a pretty big injury and we’re going to keep bringing him along and keep getting him prepared as good as he can be to always be ready to come in and help on the plays that we ask him to do. Always be ready to take over if Jimmy gets hurt and being ready to be the future for us too.”
On the three turnovers that Garoppolo had, the fumble on the sack strip and then the two interceptions, those weren’t really young mistakes that a guy would make. So what irks you the most when you’re reviewing those on film? And on the interception that looked like he had some open guys on each play.
“Yeah, the interception, I would have liked him to go to a different spot with the ball, but also where he was trying to go, I don’t think it was completely, the ball slipped out of his hands and it was a pick. It doesn’t have to do with you being older or younger or anything, it has to do with when you throw them much in rain, some bad things are going to happen. I wish we were in some more manageable third downs, so we didn’t have to throw it like that or especially on that pick that he had when we were down two scores at the end. Just like you saw with their quarterback though, there’s a few balls that got away from those guys in that game. And I think everyone can understand why, but nothing in comparing him to our rookie quarterback.”
As you mentioned last night, you’re getting criticized, you understand why. And I think when you look at the losing seasons you all have had in the past, there have been extenuating circumstances. You inherited a 2-14 team, Garoppolo got injured in 2018, we know what happened last year with the injuries. It seems like this year, everyone’s like, ‘okay, enough of the extenuating circumstances, this should be at least a playoff team.’ Whether it’s media, fans, just not the same level of patience, do you understand that? And do you feel like, you all have fallen short of expectations? Obviously you have so far, but I guess, do you understand the disappointment and maybe like, ‘okay, enough excuses’, not that you’ve made excuses, but I think you know what I’m saying.
“Yeah. I totally understand. And I totally expect everything that goes with the territory. I think our fans have treated us great since we’ve been here. I think [general manager] John [Lynch] and I came in, we knew what we were signing up for in those first two years. You never like to say you’re planning on having a bad season, but we understood coming in where we were at.
And we knew it was going to be very tough to get to where we wanted to go to. And we did that by our third year, which was about a year ahead of where we kind of planned on, which we were very proud of and came up just a little bit short of that Super Bowl and right into COVID and we’re trying to run it back and quickly in that year after the Super Bowl, things didn’t go well. And we did have a disappointing season, which I know there were a number of circumstances that people did talk about, which I do appreciate that, but I totally understand how it goes. And I think people still, even though they were pretty cool about it, they were frustrated last year and we were extremely disappointed. And going into this year the same thing. It is a different team. You’re not just going to sit there.
I know people make expectations and all that, but that doesn’t totally affect us. I go with OTAs and I go with training camp and try to coach our guys and get us as good as we can be and I don’t have us there yet. We’ve had some circumstances this year and just like almost everyone else in the league has and we’re sitting here at 2-4, we’ve lost four games in a row that I believe all four we were capable of winning, which is where you want to start.
You want to have a chance to win every game you go in, but it’s definitely starting with being up to me and going down to everyone else that we’ve got to find a way to win some of these close games. And win some of these games that we have found a way to lose. We’re sitting here at 2-4 and there’s a lot of football left to play. And I know there’s a lot of stuff we could talk about and I’ve got to do that in press conferences, but when the press conferences are over, I’ve got one focus and that’s trying to make sure to find a way that we play as good as we possibly can against Chicago. So, when this week ends we’re 3-4.”
What has Jimmy shown you to make you believe that you can be a competitive team this year with him as the quarterback?
“I thought Jimmy had his worst game yesterday. I thought Jimmy has done some good things in the, what was it? Three games, two and a half, no, three and a half games that he’s played. If you remember, I thought that he had some pretty good things in our first game, getting us up to 41-17 lead.
I think he came back and made some unbelievable plays to give us the lead with 30 seconds left versus Green Bay on Sunday Night Football, which a minus two unbelievable plays from [Green Bay Packers QB] Aaron [Rodgers], I thought he did what he had a good quarterback should do leading you down there and getting a big score on a number of passes. And then he got hurt early in the game versus Seattle. He just got his first game back last night in that monsoon and it didn’t go very good for any of us.”
A lot of your players have talked about the small mistakes that have made a difference in the offense without naming names or a specific play, can you give us an instance of where one of the small mistakes has caused a play to break down and maybe not be a gain and it turns out to be a loss or an incomplete pass?
“I can go into so many different plays, but that’s all of football and when you come back and you lose a couple of close ones, you’re going to say that a ton. And we had a number of opportunities. One, we got a guy downfield, which I know he completed a ball to [WR] Deebo [Samuel] on that, but the guy isn’t downfield, the linebacker won’t step up and Deebo will be covered and then we’re going to go to our number two guy who we’re trying to hit Juice [FB Kyle Juszczyk] alone down the sidelines for what probably could have been a 75-yard touchdown. Get a five-yard penalty after that, you go to the next one.
That’s first-and-15, call a rollout and we got [WR Brandon] Aiyuk going across the field completely uncovered, which I think would have been a 75-yard touchdown and we don’t hold up on the block long enough and we get a holding call and it gets tipped and that stuff does happen, that’s part of football.
But when that happens too much and you’re sitting there with a loss, those are the plays you are going to be talking about. And that’s what happens a lot in these games and you do four of those in a row, you get asked a lot of questions and that’s what the guys are going to say. Coming in and watching the tape and we have tons of examples of that stuff in all three phases.”
I have a question about two of the rookies. First OL Jaylon Moore, how you thought he played in his first start? And two, with Jaquiski out, how comfortable do you feel with S Talanoa Hufanga and his progression so far?
“I thought Jaylon did some good things. He showed the game’s not too big for him. No one was perfect in that game, he made a couple of mistakes, just like a lot of people did, but I just told him, just talking to him here, watching the tape with him, ‘welcome to the NFL.’ You can play 60 plays and if you have four bad ones, you’re going to feel like you cost us the game and that’s how you should feel. And it’s about how you can handle it. We have a number of guys in that position on the team.
But just watching how he played down in and down out, I didn’t think it was too big for him. He was ready for the challenge and I think the way he’ll respond to this, I think is going to get better and better and be a good player for us. And then we talk about Huf, Huf’s been doing a great job all year with the opportunities he’s gotten. We made it a point going into that game, that we were going to give him more opportunities and we got them out on the field more and I thought he did a real good job.
And then when Tartt got hurt, he obviously stayed out there and he’s been working his butt off since he’s got here. Really enjoys football. He’s made of the right stuff. And I expect him to really help us out here going forward.”
What’s the status of T Trent Williams and DT Javon Kinlaw?
“Trent Williams, he’s still day-to-day. We’ve got to see how this ankle reacts. I was surprised we didn’t get them last week, which showed that the ankle has responded worse than we anticipated. So, I can’t make any assumptions this week. I’m hoping to get him. But that will be day-to-day with him. And Kinlaw, no changes. He’s still being further evaluated with his knee and hopefully we can come to the decision this week on what we’re going to do.”
You’ve mentioned Trey when he was healthy, not getting a ton of reps during practice simply because he was the backup quarterback. But do you plan on changing your approach during the week in terms of how you divvy up practice reps, maybe to get him more runs?
“I got to make sure, Trey hasn’t practiced in two weeks, since his knee injury. So, when he does come back, which is hopefully Wednesday, he’s probably going to be limited as it is. So, I haven’t decided that yet. I got to see where he is, but odds are when it comes to the game plan and what we’re doing, you’re not going to just start rotating quarterbacks because it’s not an open competition right now.”
How far out of contention would you have to fall before you made Trey Lance your full-time starting quarterback? Or is there a possibility he won’t become your full-time starting quarterback this season?
“I think you’re asking, when do you start playing people just for experience? And when you’re playing people just to get them experience, you start to do that when you’re completely eliminated from playoffs. If you’re doing it for other reasons, then you do that when you feel a person’s ready.
Our record is 2-4, so I get it, and we’ve lost four in a row. So I get why I’m getting questions like that. But we’re 2-4, you get two games in a row and you’re right back to .500 and you’ve got a chance. I remember 10 years ago, I was on a Bye Week at 3-6 and it felt like the world was falling apart and we were last place in the division.
And we finished the year 10-6 and ended up winning the division and going into the playoffs. So I get all the questions, but it’s way too early for me to start thinking about just getting guys experience and giving up on the year in that way. I’m trying to do what’s best for our team. And also what’s best for those players, not just Trey, but other guys. Getting experience just to get it isn’t always beneficial.”
You had some success early with the bootleg game, especially on that first drive and then went away from it until sort of that end when you had that three-play drive. Why did you go away from the bootleg game?
“I didn’t. When you get a first down, you get to call more plays. And I think we went five-and-out. We had three-and-out like five times in a row, we went 1-11 on third down, so you don’t get to do all that. We called a couple of bootlegs, but you saw a lot of stuff on the drive that we had drives on.
I feel like there was two drives we scored touchdowns on, the opening drive and the drive in the fourth quarter. Neither of those had third downs, which meant we were running some plays and they were all working. Other times in it, especially in that second quarter when things really started to get pretty bad, we fumbled a snap, dropped a screen, flipped on a couple of runs and you just end up getting in some third-and-10 situations and in that weather, third-and-10 is not fun.
You’re not trying to make a living out of just dropping back and throwing the ball. Once we could move the chains on a couple of big ones, which I think we got on the first play, it was a fake rollout throw back to Deebo and then we went into two rollouts right away that got us going. And we tried to do it earlier, so there was one, we just got a holding call on it. Tried to throw that back earlier. And then on a play action one, we got a guy downfield.”
Jimmy’s lost three starts in a row, why are you so confident he gives you your best chance to win right now?
“Our team has lost four games in a row. I don’t look at football like pitchers. This is a team sport. So when you just go off of wins and losses for one person, I don’t think that’s fair to a person and I don’t think that is accurate when you’re dealing with football. That would mean a lot of our guys have lost four starts in a row if you looked at it that way.”