SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Kyle Shanahan’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers P.R. department.
“Guys not practicing today; we’ve got [DL Nick] Bosa, [DB Adrian] Colbert, [DL Dee] Ford, [CB] Tim Harris [Jr.], [TE George] Kittle, [LB Elijah] Lee, [RB Jerick] McKinnon, [DT] Jullian Taylor, [WR] Trent Taylor, [DB Jason] Verrett and [CB] K’Waun Williams.”
Earlier you discussed that Kittle would be playing if he could. Is that just you guys using a lot of caution with that?
“Yeah, definitely. He also has something. If he was 100-percent he would be going, but it’s not something we’re very concerned about. Doing the traveling and short week and stuff, I know he could push it today, but it’s still bothering him a little bit so we are being cautious.”
Is McKinnon practicing today?
“No, no he’s not.”
DB Jimmie Ward is?
“Yeah, Jimmie Ward is.”
What kind of extent is he doing? Is he in team drills now or is he still just in individual?
“He’s in team drills. He’s allowed contact now and we expect him to play this week.”
ME: Do you expect Kittle to play this week?
“With him not practicing today I would be surprised if he does. I haven’t decided that yet, though.”
You said the other day that you wouldn’t decide on the backup quarterback decision until the 53-man roster is decided. People interpreted that that means that you’re going to keep two. Have you decided two or three at this point?
“No, I haven’t really. I know there’s three guys that I’d like to keep, but that has to do with D-Linemen, receivers, running backs, safeties, everybody. That’s why you don’t decide until the 53.”
What kind of impression do you get from QB Jimmy Garoppolo about going back to Kansas City and whether there’s any mental catharsis he can gain from going back there and getting through it?
“I don’t know that word you just said (laughter).”
I went to Cal-Poly
“I went to some good schools too. I just went to football practice, not school. No, I haven’t talked to him specifically about Kansas City. I know last week was his first time with the possibility to get tackled. He didn’t. He’s going to play more this week so I know that any time you come back from an injury there’s a bunch of mental hurdles you’ve got to get over even when you are healthy and feeling good. I’m sure there’s some stuff with it just being eerie, that’s the only word I could use there going back to that same place, but I haven’t talked to him about that specifically.”
When you’re doing the film review of his 10 or 11 snaps, whatever it was, was there a lot to go over or was he encouraging or was he down in the dumps?
“There was one play to go over. The miscommunication on the protections that starts usually with the quarterback, changing the protection, you’ve got to make sure everyone gets it. Then, when we don’t have guys blocked because of miscommunication, that you don’t throw it to their team. Worst case scenario you just go down and take a sack. Besides the other ones, you could talk about tipped throws and things like that, 41 driving on the one play that we had. You could talk about the throw, you could also talk about the route, but the main thing was just the one interception.”
When you talk about mental hurdles, do you feel that that was part of the issue last week?
“Possibly. I think that it is for everyone when you get out there. I think guys have, I mean, everyone’s amped up to play in these games whether it’s just a normal NFL game, a normal preseason game, whether it’s the first game of the year or whether it’s your first game back from injury, you like to get guys some things to get a quarterback in rhythm, the entire offense in rhythm, and we didn’t do that. I truly believe if we would have stayed in there it would have been a matter of time. It’s just really hard in the preseason when you have three bad drives like that and they want to stay in longer and every part of my body wants to keep him in longer, but you’ve got to make the smart decision and get him out.”
Are you going to go with what you did last year and have him play through the first half and maybe a series into the second half with the willingness to pull him out whenever you want?
“No, I would like them to get a whole half in, but sometimes halves can be 20 plays, sometimes they can be 45. So, it’s more about the play count, but you’d like them to get a normal half in. If they do, depending on how you start with the ball, how many series you get, if you feel good about it. We’d like to not put him back out in the third quarter, but if you don’t feel good and you don’t feel like you got the reps, that’s always an option.”
Is it about play count or is it about qualitatively sort of what you see from him?
“It’s both. From a quarterback standpoint, it’d be great for Jimmy to leave him in all games and let him do this and go through reps. Even not coming back from an injury, just missing last year except for the two and a half games and then not playing much before that, that’s all Jimmy needs is just to play football whether he’s coming back from an injury or not. We thought we were going to get that last year and unfortunately we didn’t and that was out of everyone’s control. Now we’re back to that, plus he’s coming off an injury with it. I want Jimmy to play as much as possible in the preseason and into the regular season, but that’s a fine line too. [T] Joe Staley’s not in the same situation and neither is [T Mike] McGlinchey, right now our whole O-Line. You don’t want to put your quarterback in there versus a starting defensive line when you don’t have your starting O-Line in there. So, trying to balance that out.”
Are there things OL Najee Toran could have done to prevent the defensive tackle from knocking those two passes down?
“I’d like to say yes, but it ends up being a little bit coach talk. Sometimes when you have guys who do not rush at all, that’s one of the problems. It’s nice because they don’t sack you, but it is very tough for a quarterback. The guy was right in the window. I mean, Najee, we look at everything hard. If he eased up or anything at all we’d say that. If Jimmy was bad with his eyes or anything at all we’d say that, but you look into both of that and sometimes when those guys do as much as they can that’s a problem with tipped balls.”
ME: It seemed like he kind of just had a week from hell, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. And that’s happened to players before. It happened to Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Schaub where he threw a bunch of pick-sixes in a row. How does a player get over that and move on? What’s the key to getting over such a bad streak?
“That’s to me what is the hardest thing about our business. That’s what’s the hardest thing about the position. I think I kind of talk about it a lot. You have to have a certain amount of ability to get into the club of being an NFL quarterback. But, there’s a lot of guys in the NFL who do have that ability and once you can get into that club then it’s all about the stuff you were just mentioning. How can you handle that pressure week in and week out? How can you play in the game when you’re in the pocket and things are moving? When you’re very clear minded and everything’s going right and you have that ability it’s not too tough. But, I promise you no matter who you are as a quarterback, especially, you will go through rough patches and everyone will come down on you whether it’s your fault or not. It doesn’t matter. You’ve got to deal with it. That’s the challenge of this position. That’s why I’ve got a lot of respect for this position. And that’s something that Jimmy’s been through a little of it, but not as much as a guy in his second contract or a guy that’s been around or that people in this league have respect for. He hasn’t played a ton and that was one of the most discouraging things about last year because he was going to get that regardless of how the season went. We’ve got a better team now, a lot more excited for this year. But I also, in defense of Jimmy, he hasn’t played a lot. When he has played, everyone has seen his ability and everyone knows he’s in that club and everyone knows he not only has the ability to be in the NFL, he’s got the ability to be one of the better ones. But, we’ve got to go through those ups and downs. It’s not going to be is he good enough to do it. We all know he’s good enough to do it. It’s going to be how he reacts to that and how we help him with that and that is what no one can account for what these guys go through in this league, at this position.”
Even though it’s preseason, there’s still a lot of noise about Jimmy, a lot of, you probably don’t want to listen to sports talk radio but if he turned it on. I’m just wondering, he’s not really been in a position where he’s been criticized. Like you said, he hasn’t played enough, when he did play it’s gone well. Do you think he can shut that stuff out or do you know what his mindset is when it comes to that?
“He has the ability to do it. Jimmy’s not a guy who is out all the time and really wanting to read about himself. He’s a very humble guy and has the right personality. But, he’s also human, too. I had success my first couple years in Houston as a coordinator and I was really young and I just thought that everything was easy and why does anyone get stressed out and then I go to Washington and I wasn’t as good anymore. I accidentally read a paper one day and it told me how bad I was and that was my first job ever and I only got it because of my dad and I’d like to say that didn’t mess me up but it did for a little bit. That’s human nature and you start to learn that stuff and you realize holy cow that can affect you and I’m not going to read that ever again and I’m also not going to read it when it tells me how good I am because if it tells me how good I am then that makes me feel a lot better about myself then I’m going to feel that much worse when it tells me how bad I am. You do the best you can every week. It’s a hard league and just because you don’t have success one week it does not mean you’re not good. It’s week in and week out, it changes every week and the strong people survive in this league. You have to have talent, you’ve got to be a special person, you’ve got to be a special coach, a special player. Whatever it is you’ve got to be a little bit different, but it’s not easy and you’ve got to work through that.”
How can your wideouts help your quarterback in that way and what can they do as a unit to help you further evaluate them?
“We do have a young group. We’ve got, our veterans in here are our second and third-year players. We brought [WR] Jordan [Matthews] in who’s our biggest veteran, but after that I mean Trent Taylor was and he hasn’t been out. But, we’ve missed his veteran presence here in the last couple weeks even though he is only a third-year player. When you’ve got a young quarterback like this and you’ve got some young wideouts, the more on it they can be, the more it takes pressure off the quarterback and so forth through everyone, the O-Line, the tight end. The more on it the quarterback can be, the less pressure the wideouts are on, the more they can help them out. But, we need a lot of guys to step it up so you take that pressure off guys because we do have the ability, I believe, at all positions and now it’s about execution which you guys here a lot. Execution is about being confident and just playing with a very clear mind and not having to think about a slip, a route adjustment, a protection, it’s just automatic. We’ve got guys who are intelligent where it is automatic in the classroom, but that’s about putting them out in the heat of the battle. It gets a lot harder in games, it’s a lot harder on the practice field. That’s what is good about some of these preseason games when you know guys can handle stuff and it’s not too big there isn’t as much for preseason games. That’s why, I said it earlier, I would prefer two of them, don’t want four. But, that is some of the stuff that you’re trying to figure out in games and you expect these guys to make mistakes and when that does happen and you can see it and they can see it, then it can be good because they can learn from it before it actually counts.”
In more the physical or the mental?
“Both. Some guys it’s more mental, some guys it’s more physical. I know we’ve got all different types in our wide receivers which is really cool. We’ve got some guys who need to understand and get more confident in the physical part of the game. And then we’ve got some guys who have no issue with the physical part of the game. They’ve got to be able to chill out a little bit and quit trying to kill people and execute. It’s always like this, it’s trying to get that perfect balance and we’ve got all types of guys. We don’t have one type of guy so it’s a different answer for each player.”
It feels like we’re treating it, I guess, outside of this building, everyone’s treating Saturday’s game like there are pretty elevated stakes. Do you feel the same way for a preseason game?
“It’s elevated stakes if your goal is the day after the game to make sure people talk good about you. But, that’s not our goal. Our goal is to be as good as we can for Tampa. If your world and why you play this sport has to do with pleasing talk shows and making sure everyone says you’re good, even though that doesn’t mean you are, then yeah, it probably is. That’s why I really hope our guys are stronger than that. It’s not. I hope our guys go out and focus on doing the best they can, trying to execute. We’ll see how the game comes to us and then don’t let someone tell you something that freaks you out. All you can do is work and be the best you can, and we’ve got guys with the ability in here. I hope the game goes perfect. But, I also know if it does and everyone tells us how good we are, that doesn’t mean anything. I’ve been 4-0 in the preseason and had everyone love us and have started 0-4 after that. They don’t remember that. I’ve gone 0-4 in the preseason and won our first game. They forget very quick. I think it’s just easier with experience that you realize that, what matters and what doesn’t. All that matters is that you play the best you can and you have a clear mind. I’m glad that we’re going to get more playing time this week to go through that and train ourselves for when it does matter.”
Are there a couple under the radar players that did really well in the first two exhibitions that you want to see how they do?
“Yes, we’ve got a number of guys here. This is different than every other year where we’ve had to where getting down to this final 53 is going to be a lot more stressful for [general manager] John [Lynch] and I than it has in the past. Usually, you’re excited to do it a little bit more, because we already know who it is and we’re hoping, we think there’s five guys on someone else’s roster that can add to our 53. We know we have more than 53 players now and we’ve also got a lot of guys out, too. But, they’re guys that we think are going to return here in the first couple of weeks. So, that makes them very tough decisions on the final three, the first day is 46 and there’s going to be a player that we want to keep without a doubt that won’t be able to be on our team this year. It’s tough, it’s stressful, but that was our goal. I’m glad that we’re here at this point and hopefully that continues.”
How was G Joshua Garnett able to practice yesterday and will he play on Saturday?
“Yesterday we didn’t have pads on. We only had two live periods without pads. He’s got a cast on his hand, so he was able to go out there and protect himself. Today, we’ll have pads on, so we’ll be able to see a little bit more. I’d like to get him in the game, we haven’t decided yet though. So, depending on how much he goes will affect how much he goes the next week versus the Chargers.”
Is Jordan Matthews only getting a handful of snaps with the starters on offense? Is that an indication that you’ve been pretty happy with what you’ve seen from him?
“That’s an indication that we feel very good about we know what Jordan is. Jordan’s had a hell of a camp. He’s done very good in practice, he’s been consistent in OTAs, he’s been very consistent in training camp and we’ve seen him a lot on tape before he got here. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Jordan and I know we can win with Jordan. Trying to find out a little bit more about other guys that we don’t know as well and you’ve got to give those guys that opportunity. I did wish he played a little bit more versus Denver. We were going to have him go in at F and then switch in later with [WR Jalen] Hurd, and then Hurd ended up having back tightness, we ended up giving [WR] Richie [James Jr.] those opportunities. That says nothing about Jordan. We know what Jordan can do and we’re trying to find out what more of these other guys can do.”
ME: Is he taking most of his reps at F or at Z as well, Jordan?
“Last week, he took most at F. I think the week before at Z. He goes back and forth.”