John Lynch is scheduled to speak to the media at 9:45 AM PT Tuesday about Deebo Samuel’s contract extension. Until then, and before we get out to practice, here’s Kyle Shanahan’s transcript from Monday, courtesy of the 49ers PR team.
Anything happen here lately?
“A nice day off, real relaxing for me. Got to see the family a little bit, but no, it was awesome to get [WR] Deebo [Samuel]’s deal done. You guys know it’s been a while, but I’m just pumped they got it done and I know how pumped he is, how pumped we are and I’m glad to have him back out here at practice.”
Is it officially ratified? Signed?
“I think he just signed it. They just have to turn it into the league.”
When he showed up for mini-camp was there any doubt in your mind that something would get done?
“There wasn’t much doubt for a while. We have a great relationship with Deebo, this stuff is always hard. Like I said yesterday or the last time I talked about it, it’s a big business. There’s a lot of money involved and big decisions for everybody, but we have a great relationship with Deebo and that’s never changed.”
You were optimistic throughout the whole time that you were going to get this done. Was there ever a turning point or anything that you felt like you had to get through to him on anything that helped make it happen?
“No, I just think it was getting back with each other, a lot is at hand, so when you separate from each other, not just him and I, but just him and the whole building. And you go away and you know the big decisions that are coming, I think things happen and you’re away from each other, but I think as soon as we got back close to mini-camp, we’re able to hang around each other. It was pretty obvious that everyone was the same people we’ve always been and we just had to get back together and start communicating more.”
Did you have to structure this contract kind of different than other guys in terms of how he would be used?
Did that ever come up?
“Deebo and I, probably the best way I could explain it is as so much stuff comes out and you hear things and I have respect for all that, but what I’ve learned throughout my career, especially when there’s big decisions coming in, if you pay attention to everything you will go crazy. And if you take everything 100%, you’ll take things very personal. That’s why I just pride myself and ourselves on just talk to the person and what comes out of that person’s mouth is usually what I hang my hat on and that’s kind of all I go with, so I don’t listen to anything except the communications I have with the individual.”
From your standpoint, you were never involved in, Hey, Kyle, we need this from you?
“Deebo and I talk about a lot of things and I know how Deebo feels. He knows how I feel and that’s about all I’m going to get into.”
Just the way he was used at the end of last season, seven to 11 carries a game. Would you see that happening again over a long stretch?
“I think based off of whatever happens, from my standpoint, schematically from our team’s personnel, from Deebo’s, from what we think gives us the best chance to win, if we wanted to move Deebo to running back that would’ve been something that we were honest with him about towards the end of last year and the last few games he became our one, two punch. And also [RB] Elijah [Mitchell], who was our most physical back, he wasn’t the healthiest either. And we thought we had to play our two best guys to get done what we wanted to with our team, which was awesome. To have that option to do that, you can’t do that with anybody you have to do that with a special player and Deebo is a special player. And I think that’s why he’s earned this contract that he’s got. And I think that’s why he is going to continue to earn it going forward.”
Is the way this team is set up maybe less inclined to do that? I know you don’t want to tip off anything, but maybe the way things are working, he would do that less?
“We’re four days into practice, so we’ll see who we’re playing. I know who we’re playing Week One, but we’ll see how they look on film. We’ll see where our team’s at, how our 53 shakes up. And we’ll see based on down and distance, based off personnel groupings, but we don’t plan exactly how we’re going to do something. You do it based off of what other people are doing and you base it off of what gives you the best chance to win. And that’s why I love being around Deebo. I mean watch how he plays. My favorite thing about Deebo is how much he inspires people. And he inspires me more than almost any player I’ve watched on a field. The way he runs the ball, whether you’re handing it to him, whether you’re throwing it to him, whether he is catching on a kick and these aren’t things that you have to talk him into doing, he usually talks you into doing it because Deebo loves playing football and he loves helping us win. And I think that’s what everybody sees on Sunday when you guys watch him on TV. And I think that’s why this country really likes Deebo also.”
What were impressions of the shape that he came back in and what’s the plan for him to kind of reacclimate to practice?
“He’s been running on the side, so he’s been hitting all his speeds and stuff, so we feel good about his conditioning. I always worry, just throwing a guy in with the amount of routes because routes are different. So we’ll ease him in, he won’t be 100% with the reps that he would normally get, but we’ll increase it each day and watch how he is once he gets in those reps.”
You have a lot of your core guys now signed for the foreseeable future and QB Trey Lance’s timeline is aligned with that in terms of him being on that rookie contract. How does that shape the expectations the organization has over the next three or four years?
“That’s one of the reasons that we made the move that we did. Contracts and salary caps are a big deal and you want to keep everybody and I wish you could pay everybody, but that’s what’s tough. And that was one of the decisions we made last year that we saw some of the guys coming forward. We knew where we were at a quarterback and we knew that was something that could help us a lot solve some of these problems with guys who have played well and who deserve to get paid this much. And we still got more guys. There’s lots of guys on our team that we don’t want to lose, so hopefully we can keep working that stuff out.”
You got so much out of Deebo already, what’s the next step? Is there a next step for him?
“Yeah, just to continue doing what he’s done. When Deebo stays healthy and he’s able to practice and able to go through things, Deebo is capable of doing anything and that’s why he has helped us so much to win, whether it’s in the pass game or the run game, whether it’s blocking, whether it’s throwing the one time we asked him to throw. When you have guys who have skill sets, who can do a number of things, you want to always keep building off of that.”
I think you were alluding to last year with Elijah’s health and maybe some other circumstances, Deebo was used more as a running back out of necessity and that may not necessarily be the case this year. Is that an accurate translation?
“No, your question was so confusing to me. I’ve said every way how we’re going to use Deebo possible. I don’t know the exact answer, I’ll know that on Tuesday night when we’re putting in our game plan install on Wednesday.”
How much were you checking in just to make sure things were on the right track or maybe even like, Hey, let’s get this done?
“Not much. I try to just be there in case. I always want to be available in case, you never know. There’s two sides talking, two sides negotiating. I’m not involved in that. I’m down trying to run a camp and coach a football team, but I also have to deal with personalities, so I always just check on Deebo. Things like, ‘you doing all right, Hey, you got anything come ask me,’ because you never know. And so I always want to keep that communication good. And it’s been real smooth through this whole week and Deebo has been patient, we’ve been patient. And I was hoping that we’d get it done by the first day of pads. That was my personal goal. If we hadn’t by today, the question you asked, I might have started acting a little bit more that way, but from the beginning I kind of had an idea that it’d probably take these first four days of non-pads and hopefully we could do it on the off day. And my goal was today, personally. And I was glad that they got that done.”
What do you make of the receiver market in the NFL now given so many guys this offseason have signed so many big contracts. At a time where there are so many receivers coming into the league and teams are making decisions on whether or not they want to pay these guys versus drafting and what the Chiefs did and in your mind, what’s that balance like trying to strike that?
“There’s no right or wrong answer. I mean, you could go either way. And when we first got here, we didn’t have one receiver on the roster that we kept, so we had to find six new ones which is tough to do just in the draft. So we knew we had to go sign a free agent and we brought in [former NFL WR] Pierre Garçon who was able to do that for two years for us. Then we ended up drafting a ton of guys because each year that we really wanted a receiver, but you look into the market. Our number one thing was to get a receiver in 2018, I believe it was, and all the receivers we didn’t think there was a true one or two that we liked and for the money. And so we went a different direction and we went and signed a back for a lot less that we thought could help us in the pass game. And then we ended up spending draft picks on receivers and that’s kind of what, just looking into free agency, how expensive they’ve been. We’ve gone the route of drafts. But now our guys, we don’t want to lose them once they get there. You see how many receivers that we’ve drafted and that doesn’t mean you’re just going to hit on them. The guys that usually you can count on are the guys who have done it at this level and that’s why you have to pay for it. And you have to hope the character and what they’re made of and what really drives them will continue to get what they put on tape. But it’s always a risk when you go for college. I mean, you see it on tape, but you don’t know how they’re going adjust to it. And that’s why you have to make that decision. I have no problem going to pay a guy a lot of money who you know what he’s going to do. But if you can go get cheaper in the draft, that’s a whole different avenue to go spend it in other places, so each position’s very similar. I look at it in D-lineman, if you want to go get a D-lineman in free agency, it’s going cost a lot of money and that can be worth it. But if you can go hit them on it in the draft that can help your team in a lot of other ways. But when you miss on those guys a lot in the draft it’s a matter of time.”
He came in in 2019. At least Miami Dolphins WR Coach Wes Welker had a number in mind for Deebo Samuel on his weight. And that number has kind of gotten a little higher as he’s kind of proven that he can play at these higher weights. Is that still a concern? Was that discussed at all in negotiation? And is there a top limit that you want in that or is that creeping up?
“All our players and Deebo, that’s why he is so good at running back cause his body can handle it. But there is a weight that we believe he’s best at just like all of our guys and that hasn’t changed with us. And we always continue to push him on that just for us and for him.”
You said you’re not really too concerned by the interceptions that are being thrown in camp. The defensive backs are obviously improved, but do you expect that maybe to change a little bit with Deebo out there and at some point, are you going to get mad about all these interceptions?
“Yeah, definitely. I mean, it’s not like I come in, I’m happy about it, but I just don’t overreact to them. It’s part of camp; you can’t block D-lineman without pads on. So I don’t like them just sitting there and curling up into a fetal position and not letting it go. I like to be able to coach stuff. There’s been a number of tips out there and stuff there’s sometimes guys don’t break their route off the right way. And I like guys who don’t wait to see what their wideout is going to do. I like guys who rip it based off the right decision. And then you coach from there, but I’ve been also, I’m also the head coach. So I’m very happy with our defense, getting those picks. We make a lot of dumb decisions and that’s, if we do make a lot of dumb decisions you have to change that as a coach and if they aren’t, then you learn how to call plays differently. I know there’s been some picks but it hasn’t been a concern of mine so far.”
You gave RB Elijah Mitchell a large workload for a rookie. Now it looks like he could handle an even bigger workload. What’s the biggest difference between Elijah now and a year ago?
“Elijah’s just getting back healthy. We didn’t get him in OTAs. He did a lot of good things last year, but he was also banged up throughout the year. So, Elijah’s trying to get back to health and then once he is healthy, now he has to get in the routine of how to practice each day, how to do what he needs to do to play running back with the longevity of a year. Last year, he wasn’t able to do that, not to his fault. He broke a number of ribs; he had some serious injuries and he was tough as can be. He was able to go on Sunday a lot. But we need Elijah to get back into practicing and being consistent with that because what he did his first year was great. But if you miss that much, it’s just not built to last.”
Speaking of turnovers, you’ve been around defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans since 2017 and now a year as a defensive coordinator. How does he make you a better coach?
“DeMeco makes me a better coach because I don’t have to worry about DeMeco much. I know what DeMeco is made of. I know how smart he is. I know how hard he works at it. I know if something’s off I’m not going to have to go point it out to him to try to fix it. If something’s off, I already know he is in there working at it. So that gives me a lot of patience to where I don’t have to constantly be looking at something. I look at everything, but when you trust someone fully to do their job it’s much easier to go focus in other areas and I trust DeMeco as much as I’ve trusted any coach I’ve ever worked with.”
Obviously, it took a little while for this to work out with Deebo. Was the length of the contract hit him getting three years, you guys typically go longer with your bigger contracts. Was that one of the sticking points or a major issue?
“No. You can talk to [general manager] John [Lynch] more about that, I really don’t have the contract down that well, which I think is a good thing because I’m a coach. But I think it was going to be like this the whole time. I mean there was a number of them going against each other. All that stuff had to play off and it was just a process that had to go and maybe it could have gone faster. I don’t know. But I think this is how it was going to work out in almost any scenario we did.”