clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Shanahan on Kittle and Jimmy G: “Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves”

The 49ers head coach talked about some of the team’s injuries Friday and Trey Lance making his starting debut

Las Vegas Raiders v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Here’s a look at Kyle Shanahan’s transcript from Friday. He talks about Trey Lance making his debut, the potential of George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo playing, and provided other injury updates.

Full-steam ahead then on QB Trey Lance making his starting debut?

“Yep.”

What was the week like for you? What were you feeling when you were drawing up a game plan tailored to Trey, a new starting quarterback?

“Just with his being his first start, just trying to give him stuff he’s comfortable with, stuff we’ve put him through. You don’t want to sit there and make up too much new stuff. There’s only a couple of days to practice it and you just want to make sure he’s comfortable as possible.”

Just making sure I heard you correctly, Kittle is doubtful you said?

“Yes.”

How much worse is he maybe at this point this week than he was last week?

“The main thing was last week, he was able to go today and today he didn’t feel like he could. So, we have up until Sunday to decide, but that’s why it’s doubtful this week where as it was questionable last week.”

And it’s the calf, it’s not the knee?

“Yeah. No, he never had anything with the knee. Even though it looked like it, it was just violent.”

This has to be an all hands-on deck kind of thing. How much do you expect everybody to kind of raise their level to compensate for the loss of two very important offensive players?

“Kittle’s not for sure yet, but that’s been the plan all week. We weren’t sure all week, we weren’t sure all last week either. I know it started out that way, but it got a little scary on Wednesday and Thursday. So, we’ve been down this road before, so you don’t make a big deal about it. We’re playing a good team and regardless of whether they were out there or not we’re going to need all hands-on deck.”

Obviously, you’ll elevate QB Nate Sudfeld. How far along is he? Maybe, just in terms of knowing the gameplan?

“Nate’s been great. He’s been in this league a while. He knows how to prepare when he doesn’t get a lot of the reps. He’s done it every single week. He had an idea earlier this week that he had a better chance of getting up with Jimmy being questionable throughout the week. So, I know how excited he is and I know how much more fun he had getting the majority of the scout team reps this week where usually Trey has. So, it’s been good.”

Are you encouraged with the progress Jimmy Garoppolo made this week and are you confident that he could play coming off of the Bye Week?

“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that, but I thought he had a chance this week, so I feel he’s got a chance then too.”

Is RB Elijah Mitchell good to go?

“Yep.”

In turn with that, with not knowing how Jimmy will react, this is not an anointment of Trey saying this is his job from here on out?

“Correct. Yeah, our starting quarterback is hurt. If he would’ve been a hundred percent today, we would have gone with him.”

You mentioned on the radio yesterday Jimmy wanted to give it a go. Was he just not or did you guys or he make the determination?

“It’s a group effort, but when you’ve got guys like Jimmy, guys like Kittle, sometimes you have to protect them from themselves. They’re all thinking they can go, but a lot of that’s hope. You’ve got to see the next day when you come out to practice and when you get warmed up for it. And that’s when reality kind of hits when you got to do it right before and try to get warmed up for it, try to get ready to go and it’s just not reacting the right way. And then we all have to make the smarter decision.”

I assume that’s the case with Kittle?

“Yes.”

Obviously, he has a chance to play—?

“Yeah, he had a chance to practice today. But he wasn’t ready to go today. So, we’ll try him out tomorrow.”

Has there been any competitive advantage to just how little film there is out on Trey?

“I think sometimes, a little bit. You can ask them that, but it’s not like the whole game’s different. You’ve got a different guy at the position, but it’s not like it’s a whole different team. There’s only so many different things you can do. And obviously when there are different players in there, there will be some different things, but I don’t think it’s that big of a difference.”

What are the challenges for you with basically your top two running backs are rookies, your quarterback is a rookie, just to get that area going with the three guys who have very little experience?

“I think it’s just balancing out, trying to do the best of what you think to attack somebody. You always try to put the players in the best position possible, which is trying to give them an advantage schematically. But you also have to be careful that no matter how hard you try to do that, they also have to be able to play fast and do what they’ve done their whole careers to get them to this point. So, you have to find that balance as a coach. You don’t just throw them out and stay simple because they’re rookies because it’s a tough league and you go against some good people. So sometimes that sets them up to fail, but sometimes if you do too much to try to help them that also can kind of handcuff them a little bit. So, you try to find that balance throughout the week, throughout games, and you see how it goes.”

Hall of Fame QB Steve Young went on the radio this week and said that Trey Lance reminds him of a young Steve Young. Do you see that at all when you watch Lance play?

“I can see why he says that. I was pretty young when Steve first started, but I have an idea of it. And Steve, I don’t know when he first started, if it was always good or bad, but he was running around and getting after it. And so, I think he always gave his teams a chance to win, regardless. I think Steve became, basically the later parts I know Steve from when I was in high school at least, he was a surgeon. I mean the ball went to that right spot every time. I don’t know if that was always the case but that’s how it is for a lot of people in this league. When you start out, it takes time to get that automatic at stuff like that and very few people do get there. But guys like Steve, in the meantime while he learned, he was still making a ton of plays and I think that’s how he could relate to him.”

What happened with DL D.J. Jones?

“His knee was hurting Thursday. Yeah, Thursday when he came in, he tried to give it a go and it was just aching too much. So, he took it off, but today was good, so no problems.”

When Former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick made his first start in 2012, everyone was like, ‘oh jeez, he’s not ready, hopefully he can hand the ball off and function.’ And then he put on like a passing clinic. With that mentioned, do you have like an idea as far as how good or whatever Trey Lance might be on Sunday, is it kind of exciting, but do you have that idea of like, this could go a lot of different ways?

“Yeah. That’s how I feel every week though. Even quarterbacks who’ve played a thousand games before. I still, when you have quarterbacks who are great throwers and all of a sudden one day they struggle. So that’s how the league is every single Sunday. I’m excited to see him play. I know he’s got the ability to do a lot of things. But it’s going to be his first time out there for the whole game and I’m just pumped to see him play, but I don’t go into it expecting anything. You try to prepare a guy as good as you can. From our standpoint, I know he’s done his part in preparing. And then when Sunday comes, that’s usually the spot where you get to have fun and just cut it loose and you live with the results.”

Just briefly, not briefly, but the Arizona Cardinals, you face them every year, obviously, twice a year. Are they different this year? Is there something that you can watch film and go, ‘okay, this is an area that, you can tell that they’ve made improvements’?

“Yeah, I think they’ve gotten better in every facet. I thought they had a good team last year. I think their offense has gotten better, just playing with a lot of the same guys still who have gotten better, but the guys that they’ve added have helped them a ton too. I think on defense playing in [Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator] Vance’s [Joesph] system another year helps all the guys who have done it and their additions have really helped. Their secondary to me is a lot better. Their front is healthy, some of the guys that they lost last year, plus adding guys like [Arizona Cardinals DE] J.J. Watt is huge. And the investments they made at linebacker added some talent out there. So yeah, just across the board, they’ve gotten a lot better.”