Here is the transcript of Kyle Shanahan’s Week 14 Monday conference call with Bay Area reporters, courtesy of the 49ers P.R. department.
“I’ll start with injuries: [DL] D.J. Jones, he has an ankle sprain, we’ll see how he’s doing on Wednesday. He should be day to day. [CB Richard Sherman] Sherm, knee sprain, same thing, day to day. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, rib fracture, same thing, day to day. [DL] Jullian Taylor has a ligament issue with his elbow, he’s likely to be out for a couple of weeks, maybe more.”
For Jaquiski, is it something where it’s just kind of pain tolerance at this point?
“Yes. Yeah, always with those ribs. So, we’ll see how it reacts this week, but those are always real painful things and each one’s a little bit different for each person, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Do you expect to get DL Dee Ford, RB Matt Breida, T Joe Staley and WR Dante Pettis back for this week?
“I’m holding out hope on all of them. I’m definitely more optimistic about Breida, Ford and Staley. I would be surprised to get Pettis back. None of them are for sure, though. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get three of the four.”
Can you give us the rundown of what you saw after watching the film, things that kind of jumped out to you when you went through the game again?
“Yeah, I thought it was a real good football game. A lot how we anticipated it to go. We knew it was going to be a very physical dogfight between both teams, especially when the weather got like it was. I think that only added to it to make it more. It was a very physical game. I liked how our defense played. There’s still things they can do better. I liked how our offense did in a number of moments, especially how we ran the ball. Made a couple big plays in the pass game, but I thought we had our opportunities there at the end. Big miss not being able to convert that fourth-and-one. I think we would’ve had a good chance to win the game if we did that, especially our defense holding them on a fourth-and-five the series before. A hard-fought game and two good teams that I think both played well and we ended up not being able to get the win.”
What were the adjustments that you and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh made at halftime that kept you in that game? What do you think was the most important?
“There really weren’t any big, dramatic adjustments. I think it was settling guys down. We didn’t change anything up schematically on defense, but guys get used to seeing that stuff. It’s kind of hard to replicate on the scout team, even though I thought our guys did a pretty good job of doing it. It takes a little bit of time in games. We got out of a couple gaps, which does happen with a lot of the zone-read and things like that. Our guys settled down a little bit and once they did I thought we made it a lot tougher on them in the second half. Offensively, I think it was very similar. The game, schematically, didn’t change a lot through the four quarters. I think both sides of the ball went pretty similar to how both teams anticipated. We just tried to execute it better and get a little more consistent as the game went.”
Just talk about the decision to play RB Raheem Mostert more than RB Tevin Coleman? Coleman had 10 snaps, Mostert had 40. Was that just the game-flow or why did you make that decision?
“Just the game-flow. That does happen at times and we knew going into that game Raheem was going to be the second back, we knew Tevin was going to start. When Raheem came in, just the way he ran and some of the looks he got. He got some good looks, but then he took advantage of those looks. The way he was going, we just stuck with the hot hand. We were ready to get Tevin in at any time, but just the way the game went, we were going with Raheem and he was able to stay in, stay healthy, so we didn’t mess with him much.”
After four games against these multi-dimensional, mobile quarterbacks, do you think this defense has kind of learned a little bit how to contain those guys, especially with one more on the slate at least this season?
“To a degree. I think all three of those teams are totally different and how you play against them. Yes, there’s three quarterbacks that can make plays with their legs, but Baltimore is a totally different story. They’re running a completely different offense that as I was saying is a Wildcat offense which is different than the other two teams, but it’s not a Wildcat player. [Baltimore Ravens QB] Lamar [Jackson] is definitely a quarterback. You do have to adjust things differently for that. I think obviously playing against all three of these guys, I thought we got better each game we’ve done and I know we’ve got at least one more left, hopefully it’ll be more than that. The more we go against that type of stuff, it always helps.”
It seemed like it would have been more opportune to be facing the same direction the Ravens were in the fourth quarter with the wind. Do you talk to the guys about which direction they should go before the coin toss?
“Yeah, it’s something I always talk to [special teams coordinator Richard] Hightower about because he always does it with [K] Robbie [Gould]. If it’s really strong and obvious then it’s pretty easy for me, but sometimes when you get into those stadiums I can’t totally tell. It’s moving around a lot. They always tell me the distance that they can kick from each end zone and at the beginning of the game it was the same yard line on both sides, which means the wind was either circling or not being consistent. There wasn’t a difference for us in that game just because the wind didn’t stay consistent.”
You only had three wide receivers that played. Why was that? And as you look ahead, could that be the status quo?
“We feel those three guys have earned the right to be out there more than the rest. We feel they have been the most consistent and started playing the best here over the last month or so. So, we have planned to do that more. I don’t like how much they went. I think we do have to rotate a little bit more and keep those guys fresh. We also have confidence in the other two guys that are there so we need to use them. [WR] Richie [James Jr.] came in and I know made a huge block on [RB] Raheem’s [Mostert] long touchdown run and I know [WR Marquise Goodwin] Quise is ready to go. So, we’ve got to make sure that we do get them in a little bit more. That has changed here and it’s gotten a little more each week here over the last month. Our three guys that have really started to separate themselves a little bit from the group.”
Can you talk about T Mike McGlinchey’s play? He’s played really well the last couple weeks. He helped spring a couple long runs yesterday.
“No doubt. I thought Mike had his best game of the year versus Green Bay and then I think he followed that up with his new best game of the year yesterday. I know Mike’s been battling through some injuries to get back. I know when he did get back, it still takes some time to get back to your old self, but I saw that last week definitely and I think he only got better this week.”
I know TE George Kittle blocking well is nothing new, but as far as his performance yesterday on some of those outside-zone runs, what was your assessment? Semi-serious question here, could he, if given a year to transform his body, could he be an offensive lineman and what position would he be?
“I’m sure Kittle could figure out a way to turn himself to have the body of any position on the field because he has the mindset. But no, in terms of just how he did, that was probably as good of a run blocking game in terms of how much a tight end, in the outside-zone, could move the edge. He dominated that game. Our edges were as good as they’ve almost ever been and that’s why we were able to put a fast running back in there and just stay on track and hit the numbers pretty hard. He was very impressive, so was McGlinchey on the edge too.”
You mentioned that you thought the biggest part of making it close in the second half and getting it down to the wire was just the team settling down a bit. Do you include QB Jimmy Garoppolo in that? Did you think that he wasn’t completely settled at first?
“No, I think I put that more to our defense. Our defense played real well in the first half, but the more they settled down, they only played better in the second half. Offensively, the first half and second half, I think it was very similar. It was hit or miss, kind of, the whole game. We got the run game going on a number of big plays. We did have a couple big pass plays, but not enough. It was kind of the elements, the type of style of defense they play I think made it a little bit sloppy. There’s no doubt we need to clean it up and be better, but it wasn’t anything different in the second half to the first half. I thought offensively, it was pretty similar the entire game.”
Richard Sherman did not look great trying to move around after the game. Does his ability to play through stuff through the years, I guess similar to Kittle, give you confidence that he’ll have a chance for Sunday?
“Yes, definitely. I mean, Sherm with what he’s done over his career, us being with him now going into our second year, he’s a guy that I would never rule out. I understand though. I see him walking the way you guys did, too. A normal person I probably would rule out just by the eye test, but you can never rule those type of guys out. They usually find a way to get there and as long as they show us enough then you usually give those guys an opportunity. That’s also why we’ve got to make sure that he’s good. Sometimes we’ve got to make tough decisions to protect them from themselves.”
Kind of following up on that, considering how well CB Emmanuel Moseley played in the absence of CB Ahkello Witherspoon this season, does that give you guys some confidence that you guys do have a pair of corners that can kind of hold the fort down if Sherman is unable to go against New Orleans?
“Yes. It always helps the more depth you have. But, it always starts with is the guy going to be able to protect himself? How much worse can he make it? Then if it’s not, then does he give you the best chance to win? It’s always good when you have some depth and Moseley has proven that this year. We definitely feel better at that than we have in the past, but if Sherm’s healthy enough to go, it’s going to be tough for us not to put him out there.”
How about the game that LB Fred Warner played? He had a couple really good pass breakups. How did he do against the run with Jackson and Baltimore Ravens RB Mark Ingram?
“I thought he did a good job. When you play that type of scheme, the stuff you have to do as basically the quarterback of the defense with getting everyone setup with all their weird personnel groupings, formations, it is very hard just from a mental standpoint to know what’s going on. All the misdirection and everything they have, especially with the quarterback runs, can really lock a guy up. I thought he played as good as any of the linebackers that I’ve seen play them on tape and as it got going, all of them, that’s what I meant by settling down a little bit. They were good in the beginning, but they got better as the game went because the more you see that stuff, the more you get a feel for it. When you’ve got a guy like Fred, who’s very natural at things and football comes to him the right way, he just got better as the game went.