This is the transcript of Kyle Shanahan’s Week 4 Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers P.R. department.
Has it gotten to the point with QB Brian Hoyer that you would consider making a change at quarterback?
“No, I wouldn’t. I look at each game where, I know we’re 0-4 and it feels extremely bad when you’re 0-4, I’ve been in that situation in the NFL and it doesn’t feel good, but you don’t want to lose perspective. So, you try to look at each game as it is, and I know we’re 0-4 right now, but when you lose a total of three games by eight points, I know we very easily could be 3-1, and you don’t want to make drastic changes just for one reason, as there’s a lot of things that go into losing games, it’s never just one guy, and I try to put all that into thought.”
How do you evaluate how Hoyer’s playing?
“Well, I think he needs to play better, and I think we need to play better around him. It’s similar to what I said last night, when you have the time and you’ve got guys open, you need to hit them. And I thought he struggled with that at times last night, which I know he can do better, and he does also, but I also know when he did make some key throws, guys weren’t great at catching them for him, either. I think it’s a two-way street. I think it takes everyone, coaches included. We all need to do better, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
It seems like he’s playing with such confidence, certainly on the practice field during camp. Is he playing and letting it rip like you would like him to?
“Yeah, I think that happens to everyone. Real confidence is from experiencing success, and that’s when it’s real. If you’re not, you’re kind of trying to talk yourself into it, and that to me isn’t very real. When we haven’t played great in these games, and he hasn’t played his best in these games, you don’t have the same type of confidence. It takes some plays to get out of that. I thought that happened a little bit in LA, against LA. I thought we had a number of opportunities of that versus the Cardinals, especially in the first half, and we didn’t come down with it, and I think that makes everyone press a little bit more.”
Every job is a competition. At that spot, do you see this where QB C.J. Beathard and he are sort of competing? Could you get Beathard some more time with the ones in practice to kind of take a look at this?
“Yeah, I don’t look at it just as it’s Brian versus C.J. right now. I look at it as what’s the best for our team right now. And if I did feel that was the best thing for our team at this time, I wouldn’t hesitate at all. That would be an easy decision for me if I thought it was the best thing for our team right now. So, I look into the big picture of where we’re at right now, four games into it, where our offense is, our defense is and really just our whole building, and I don’t feel it is the best thing for our team right now, so that’s something that I haven’t started to consider.”
On that third down throwaway when you’re in overtime, is that the right play for him to make?
“The one in the red zone?”
Not just give someone a chance to make a play there?
“I mean, the chance to throw a pick if you do, no one was open. I mean, [WR] Trent Taylor was the first read and he was completely covered. We thought [Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick] Peterson was going to stay in man-to-man on [WR] Pierre [Garçon], which he usually does, but he passed it when Pierre went into an in-breaking route. We had [WR] Aldrick [Robinson] on the out-breaking route, which he would have been open, but Patrick Peterson was sitting out there because he passed Pierre to someone else, and that was the play, and those two were covered. You need to get rid of the ball at that time.”
ME: You’ve been very successful on defense when you brought an extra rusher. That seemed to rattle Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, but when the Cardinals had the ball in overtime, they drove into field goal range in just three plays and you only rushed four, you didn’t bring an extra rusher. You could see that underneath passes to Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington. Why weren’t you more aggressive in that particular sequence?
“I think it was the first two downs we played zone coverage. When you play zone with a four-man rush, you drop and they checked it down to the back right away. We want those to be five-yard gains. We’ve got to break to the ball a little bit faster, make better tackles in that situation to not make it, I want to say they got an 11-yard gain and a 12-yard gain.”
And a 17.
“And then a 17. I don’t remember what the third play was. I know the first two were completed to the backs. I don’t remember what the third play was. But, we were in zone both those first two plays and they got check-downs and we’ve got to be better in the kill zone tackling and getting that ball, getting there faster. Then we got into our man coverage, and we brought some pressure, got the sack once, but you do it too much, just as you see, that’s what gets them to, gets the better looks down the field like they did on the go-route that [CB] Rashard [Robinson] almost picked, and then we had the PI on the one later with [DB] Jimmie Ward. It’s a fine line. You’ve got to mix stuff up. It’s very easy to, if you know they’re going to get 12 yards on a check-down, obviously you’d love to go man or pressure, one or the other, because those check-downs aren’t there when you do that. But also, would they have gone to a go-route at that time? You don’t know. So, you’ve got to mix it up, and when we do play zone, we’ve got to make sure it’s a five-yard check down and not a 10-17-yard check-down.”
What was happening on the touchdown play, and did LB NaVorro Bowman throwing that shoe off the field impact that at all?
“I’m not sure. I didn’t get to talk to NaVorro about that. It’s like two-minute always. Things are going fast, you’re trying to get the communication in for the calls, you get it to NaVorro, he relays it to the D-Linemen, the secondary. They got up there, they got set fast, and there was just a little hesitation in our secondary. We ended up getting to the right spots, but we were a foot behind, and when you do that versus a good quarterback and especially [Arizona Cardinals WR] Larry [Fitzgerald] going down the seam, they made us pay.”
What was happening there? What should have, the defense that you guys were in, everybody was on their assignments ultimately?
“We ended up being on our assignments. We were a little off our landmarks.”
I watched that play a few times, I wasn’t sure, was Larry Rashard’s man on that one, or was that meant to be Jimmie coming over?
“Yeah, it’s zone coverage, three deep, four under. So, no one has a man in that. But safeties, I don’t want to tell you guys all of our rules for our coverages, but any time you have three deep, four under and you’ve got someone going down the seam there’s the responsibility of people mid-pointing underneath hook droppers, getting depth so you’ve got to throw over them, which allows a middle third safety to play two verticals on the top, and we were off on a little bit of everything. So, there was a bigger hole in the zone than there normally is, and Carson threw a very good ball to a very big body, and they got us.”
Does a slot receiver typically get a free release in that coverage?
ME: Is there someone you consult with during games on decisions such as whether to accept a penalty or whether to challenge a play?
“Yes. The guy I said a couple weeks ago. I don’t want to give his name twice because he got upset with me last time. He’s in our box, does all the replays.”
Is LB Reuben Foster close to getting back on the practice field? Is that something that you’re moving towards?
“We’ll see how his rehab goes these next three days. I’d be surprised if he got back this week. I’m not totally ruling him out, but it would surprise me. Being optimistic about it, but if we don’t get him back this week, hopefully we’ll get him out there next week.”
Does the fact that you guys are playing on turf have anything to do with this?
“No, I don’t think so. When he’s healthy, he’ll be ready to go.”
What have you seen from Beathard just in the last few weeks? We saw him in camp, haven’t really seen him since. Has he been taking steps that you have noticed?
“Yeah, the more reps you get, the easier it is to play. But, that’s also a problem in the NFL, too. There’s not a ton of reps. There’s not a ton of players out there. He gets almost all the scout team reps, especially when he’s running another team’s offense that’s similar to ours it really helps him. Doing some of the LA work, he got to spend all those practices, even though they weren’t full speed, running some plays very similar to ours. When he did the Carolina week, it wasn’t as much. We got to watch him try to run the zone read and things like that, which I don’t know how much we’ll use him on that when he eventually plays, but you’ve got to take advantage with the reps you get on scout team, and then we do mix him in with our starters, also, whenever he’s spelling Brian. So, it’s kind of the same story for everyone across the league. You’ve got to take advantage of those scout team reps, and the few you do get with your offense, you’ve got to be ready, and that’s why you stay out after with the quarterback coach, you go through stuff. That’s why you keep the receivers who aren’t going as much, just keep those practice squad receivers, some of the guys who aren’t getting as many reps as practice, you keep them after and try to simulate everything.”
From your previous experiences, will it take time for your offense to get the chemistry, get the timing together? Has it been a fast-starting offense in year one, or has it changed from–?
“I mean, depends on the year. Depends where you’re at when you get there, how familiar they are. I mean, definitely you don’t just come out and expect to be your best right away. You get good going through things, failing together, learning from it, going through experiences, going through different fronts, different coverages, guys get better as it goes, guys get better as you add to it to build the right stuff for it. I always expect to get better. You’d have to look at my career the last nine years, however we did in our first year. I’ll tell you kind of more probably that answer at the end of this year. But yeah, it does take time.”
Are some of the penalties related to that? It seems like some of the passing, the blocking on the passes is a step or two off at this point. Is that timing?
“No, I wouldn’t say that’s timing. You know, it would depend on what exact play you’re talking about. I thought yesterday from the throws and stuff, I think I kind of said that it was just pretty simple as throwing and catching from both the person that throws it and the people who catch it. The penalties are obviously something we’ve got to get corrected. We’ve done it way too much. I thought the more we were motioning earlier on those first few games, we had some penalties on that stuff. Haven’t gotten those the last couple games. We have had false starts and things like that. But yeah, we’ve got to clean up those penalties. It’s not just offense but special teams, too, and defensively. It’s going to be tough to overcome some things when you have those types of penalties.”
When it came to accepting that holding penalty, after watching it, do you still feel the same way you did last night?
“Any time that you end up not winning the game, I’ll second-guess everything. But, I felt good with what I thought at the time. They’re going to be third and 15 on the 30-yard line, and I had a very strong feeling it’s third and 15, I felt it was pretty much a guaranteed field goal for them knowing that we would probably, they’d do a little just check-down play the next deal, probably get seven yards and it would be a guaranteed field goal. My thought process in there is if you push them back a little bit more, you’ll entice them to get greedy. I know we’ll play man coverage and come after them and we’ll have a chance to sack them, and if we don’t have a sack, you get a chance for them to get a holding call. So either one of those, now they’re out of field goal range, and now I think we can win the game. All I’m thinking about right then is what gives us the best chance to win the game, and I thought by declining that penalty, I thought we gave us the best chance to win the game. Now we got the penalty the next play and now we’ve got to start over, reset, and still got to make sure to keep them out of the end zone and hold them to a field goal and then wound up tying, which is better than losing, but we got that PI, got the first down and then they hit the touchdown the next play.”
Have you ever caught a pass in the NFL?
“I have, yeah, earlier in my career I have.”
You didn’t look real thrilled with that. Was it emotion over not completing the play?
“Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel throughout a game. I’m wound pretty tight, and I never got a chance to spike a ball, so that was my first spike.”
Do you have any updated on RB Carlos Hyde and how he is feeling today?
“I mean, Carlos, similar as last week. I know he battled through that game. I know he wasn’t feeling great, but he played well. Appreciate him being out there and playing hard, and I know I didn’t get to talk to him personally. I’m sure he’s extremely sore from it, but we’ll see Wednesday when he comes back in.”
And guys like WR Marquise Goodwin and DB Adrian Colbert and LB Dekoda Watson?
“Yeah, Marquise will be in the protocol. He got a concussion. Colbert, hamstring, so I’d be surprised if we had him this week. And then Dekoda, his groin, so I’m pretty sure we’re not going to have him this week.”
How is S Eric Reid coming along?
“He’s coming along. I think he’s similar to Reuben. I’d be surprised if he was out there this week. A little more optimistic for next week, but still, no guarantees.”
Solomon is playing as well as he is. Can you do different, is defensive coordinator Robert Saleh doing different things with him or is it just let’s keep him doing what he’s doing really well?
“We’ve used him a little differently each week, trying to find the best groove for him. He’s a guy who goes hard, as hard as anyone out there. He can play all the positions, so that’s kind of to me what one of his biggest strengths are, that you can put him everywhere. You’ve got to be a little careful with that, too, because you want him to be able to get good at a certain spot, also. But, I’ve been very excited about Solomon. I know he got his first numbers in that game, but people who run like he does and play as hard as he does, it’s a matter of time before good things happen.”
What’s been his best spot?
“I wouldn’t say he’s had an exact best spot. I think he causes some big mismatches when he’s inside. I think he’s got the quickness to beat the guards. I think on the outside he still has the speed to come off the ball and beat some tackles, and I think he’s better in the run game on the outside, also. Depends what the situation is in the game, but I think he can be a weapon at both.”