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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan discusses Reuben Foster’s return, previews 49ers’ matchup against the Chiefs

Sep 19, 2018 at 2:54 PM

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Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Do you know what roster move you're going to make for LB Reuben Foster?

"Yeah, [OL Matt] Tobin. I don't know if it's officially been done, but I know it has to be by one. It should be any minute."

So, with Reuben coming back into the fold, where is he at physically, mentally? Ready to go?

"He seems great mentally. I'll find out physically. He's been away two weeks, but I'm pretty optimistic he's going to be all right physically. But, we'll see it out on the field today."

What have you guys missed from him on defense these last two games?

"Reuben's one of our best players. I think he plays the position very well. Everyone knows how good of a tackler he is. But, he's also good in coverage. Her can blitz the quarterback. He can do a lot of things. Just having his presence out there, just from a leadership standpoint, guys gravitate to him. We really enjoy having him around."

Is this game important to have that versatility considering how many weapons the Chiefs have?

"Yeah, of course. The more good players we can have out there, the more it will help us. Reuben is a very good player, so I'm very excited to have him out there."

You said the other day that you wanted to wait and see how everyone is physically before you figure out who your starters are. Is there a part of you, though, that is interested to see Reuben and LB Fred Warner together, just given what they bring to the table?

"Yeah, and also, I'd like to see [LB] Malcolm [Smith], too. We haven't gotten to see that either. If I knew what way we were going to go this week, I wouldn't tell you guys, but I do mean I don't know yet. Rueben hasn't been here in two weeks. Today is going to be Malcolm's first day of full practice. So, we want to see how all of those guys do and it'll be a tough decision at the end of the week, but a tough decision I'm going to be happy to have to make."

Is the plan to play all three of them together at some point?

"We don't have the plan yet. We've got to see how they are, how they play. The plan is to do whatever we think gives us the best chance to win. Hopefully, we'll be able to make a better guess at that decision these three days of practice."

What is WR Marquise Goodwin's status?

"He's going to be limited today. Expecting him to go some. He's still limited."

Now that you've had time to evaluate a little bit the six sacks, is there a consistent theme? Was it coverage sacks? Was there something you saw consistently?

"No, it wasn't consistent. I think it was a little bit of what I said a couple days ago I think. There's times we didn't get open fast enough and there were times where guys don't get open fast enough you'd like the quarterback to throw it away, which I think could've happened on a couple of them. There were a couple that didn't. He's waiting on a guy and giving him a chance, which you should do, and someone got loose. There were a couple where guys got through there too quick. Then, there were some where we've got to give a him a better chance where guys get open with play calls. It was all three of those things combined."

Right guard is kind of an anonymous position, and I feel like most 49ers fans don't quite understand what OL Mike Person did on Sunday. Can you talk about how important is was and how impressed it was that he played in that game?

"Yeah, it was unbelievable what Mike Person did. He told us all week he was going to play and we didn't take him that seriously because we didn't think he should be able to. Then when he came out there on Friday and we worked him out, he surprised us because he showed that he had a possibility to make a game-time decision. Then, when we worked him out on game day, he looked good. You always worry with that. I've been through that before, guys can look good when we're holding bags and stuff and we're doing it on the O-Line coaches. They're big, but they're not D-Linemen. You don't know how it's going to go through the game, if it only lasts a quarter and stuff. I know he was battling through it. Not only did he make it through the whole game, but he played at a very high level, which was very impressive."

If you didn't have him, how much would that have limited your offense? Would you have been able to run right as effectively?

"You think about that stuff sometimes in the game. You don't know how the fronts are going to be. When we run outside zone to the left, it ends up behind the center, which makes it on the right more than 50-percent of the time. You run tight zone to the right, it ends up to the left about 80-percent of the time. You don't know how to do that stuff, so just as a coach you try to control it a little bit, but it's guessing a lot so you end up going with the game plan and seeing how it works."

A lot of people say this is a copycat league. Where does Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid rank in terms of what kind of figure is he in terms of how much his systems over the years have been replicated? How much has he influenced you and your offense?

"Watching Andy for a long time, he always has some neat, cool things. I don't know where they come from. He's in there looking up a lot of stuff because they do some unusual things. Sometimes I'm predicting it came from a high school team, maybe a college team. They know how to spread the field. They know how to run all those jet sweeps and do all the RPOs, all those things like that. They have the basic stuff they've been doing for a long time, which is their normal drop-back game and stuff. Over these last four years or so, they've really added an element of the misdirection and stuff. It's been an issue, not just because of the plays, but the people with the plays. They have the speed at every angle to run those things and really put defenses in a bind because if you hesitate with a 4.3 receiver, and they have three of them, that is a huge issue. If you just play all the 4.3 receivers all day, they've got a pretty good back and a pretty good tight end who can get after you, also."

With Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, you guys met with him before the draft. How difficult is it to evaluate somebody coming from that offense? How surprised or not surprised are you to see him be so successful early with Andy?

"It is tough to evaluate. You can evaluate talent and he has a ton of that. You can evaluate the person, who we loved. Handled himself great. Seems very intelligent. Seems like a very good kid. Everyone can see his arm strength. Everyone can see the ability. But, it's tough because in a lot of those systems, not just there, you don't get to see everyone really play the position just going through progressions and everything like that, staying in the pocket all the time. Now, we've got two games of him and he's played unbelievable. He's made some real big plays. With the talent that he has, with the talent that he has around him, with the system that he has, it doesn't surprise me."

We talked to Andy earlier today and he was talking about the value for Pat sitting last year and watching Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith. As a guy that's been around a long time, just in a general sense, do you think it's more valuable? Does it depend on that particular quarterback and how much he takes in?

"I think both. I think it's dependent on, every situation is different. Sometimes it's about the person and what their personality is. Sometimes, it's about the team. Some guys need to get in there and play whether they succeed or they don't succeed. They learn from every situation. Some guys need some early success to give them the confidence to lead them to continue to get better. So, I think you've always got to look into the person and think what's best for them. But, you've also got to look at the type of team you have, what your other choice is at quarterback and how good people are around him to where if you do put a guy in, what are his chances of succeeding?"

RB Matt Breida is the leading rusher in the NFL right now. Does that make you re-think his role at all? If he became more of a featured back, is he durable enough to be that kind of guy all season?

"Yeah, I believe he is. But, we're two games into this. I hope that continues. That'd be great. But, our whole thing with those guys is they both are two different types of runners. I think that's what they pair well together. They both have two different styles and they're both two guys that we believe who run the ball well. Breida was great two days ago in terms of we gave him a couple good lanes and he didn't just take that, he made it into a touchdown, and that really helped us in that game big time. But, it's going to be up to whoever is going into that game as the lead back. It's going to depend a lot on the first play of the game. It'll depend on how series are going, what fronts they're playing. But, we've got two guys we believe in and like I said a few days ago, I know there will come a time we're going to need a third guy, also."

Is there anything you can draw from from Week 1 where you go into Arrowhead, whether it's silent counts? I imagine the script has to be a little bit similar in terms of how you go about it.

"Yeah. You've got to definitely take into account the noise. I haven't been in Arrowhead for a non-preseason game in a long time. I grew up going to a lot of games there. I always used to think that it was the loudest place in the league. I know Seattle with their acoustics can get pretty loud and stuff, but just for the older stadiums and everything that was always the loudest one to me growing up from the outside. When those fans are going, which I know they will be with the team that they have, it's as tough of a place to play as any place."

Back to linebackers, with Warner, the playing time, the responsibility he took on with Reuben out, how much does that accelerate his growth do you think? How does that set him up now if he ends up playing alongside Reuben a little bit maybe?

"It's good. He's got two games under his belt. That was the position he was going to play regardless because we planned on putting Reuben at the other. But, for him to get out there and do that for two games, so if he's paired out there with Reuben, it's nice that it's not his first game. It'll be Reuben's first one back, if that's the way we decide to go. I know Reuben will be amped up and ready to go. Hopefully the guy next to him will be a little calmer."

How do you balance when you're working with QB Jimmy Garoppolo, a guy who has only had nine starts, working through some stuff with also being a guy who was able to do what he was able to do at the end of last year and got the big contract and the balance between those two things? How do you deal with that?

"I just try to not to overreact to anything. It's a limited sample size. We know how good Jimmy can play. We have seen how good he can play. I think everyone can see, and we do know how talented he is. But, that's why I don't jump to any conclusions after a game or anything. Each week is going to be a different story. If I answer everything pretty directly on what happened in one game, that might not be the case the next game. Every week is a different week. Jimmy has the ability to do everything and to be very good, and he has shown that. But, hasn't played a lot of football. It's going to be a long year. We're two games into this. Some games are going to be really good, some aren't and some are going to be right in the middle. When you do have the success that Jimmy had last year, when you do get that big contract off of limited sample size, when he does really good I think people are going to make a little bit too big a deal of it and I think when he doesn't do really good, I think we're all going to make a little bit too big a deal off of it, also. I try to stay just even-keeled with it, balanced and try to continue to coach him."

In Week 1, obviously WR Kendrick Bourne runs the wrong route and it's a pick-six. On Sunday, WR Dante Pettis runs the wrong route and it could have been even more disastrous. As a coach, these are two young guys. Do you say, 'We've really got to make sure we know what we're doing?' Do you simplify things? How do you respond to that?

"Yeah. You've got to make sure people know what they're doing, and you hope they learn that just simple mistakes can cost you a game. A number of things cost us that Minnesota game, so never put it just on one play. If we would've lost that game versus Detroit, it would've been a number of things. But, both of those would have been a huge factor. That's for guys to learn. Obviously, if that happens too much then they can't be out there. But, they are guys we believe in. They're guys that we think can help us win. I know Bourne did that for us and came a long way at the end of last year. I know Pettis has made some real good plays for us in these last two games. Neither of them have been perfect, just like the rest of our team and coaches. We've just got to make sure that we do better and not let that happen again."

Person's played for six teams, he played for you twice. What has drawn you to him and how has bouncing around the league helped him grow?

"I had him in Atlanta for a year, I think like four games or something. We brought him there to work as a center for us and the center that we had, we ended up letting go with some injury stuff and we went with Person. He did a real good job for us at center all year. I think he played in 15 games for us and I felt like he was good enough for us to win with at center. Then we ended up getting [Atlanta Falcons C] Alex Max so we moved on from that. I just know Person is a guy who has the talent to do what we want, to reach people and run with people in our run game. He's got the talent and the toughness and the mental toughness over a full game to pass block very well. He's been around a lot. He's a survivor. He finds a way to play. We didn't bring him in here thinking he was going to be our starting right guard. We came in here knowing we had a very good player who could help out at a lot of positions, similar to how [OL] Zane [Beadles] did for us last year. And, he came here and he's a better player now than he was a few years ago. He earned it and played that way all training camp and then had a very unfortunate injury. So, I wasn't expecting him to look that great on Sunday, but like I said earlier, he did a very good job."

A bunch of kickers missed key kicks over the weekend. Meanwhile, your kicker set a franchise record for consecutive field goals. What kind of peace of mind does a guy like K Robbie Gould give you?

"Oh, it's been great. You get scarred over the years and stuff. I used to want to go for it every single time because it's whatever your experiences are. I've had some bad years experiences. It was pretty good in Atlanta, [Atlanta Falcons K] Matt Bryant did a real good job. But, earlier on in my career, I just wanted to go for it because I was afraid we weren't going to make that field goal unless we were inside the 20. Now with Robbie, it's for good reasons he's made me very confident. He makes it the majority of the time. However many in a row that is, it's a record so that's pretty dang good. It's nice that I don't have to sit there and watch it all of the time wondering. Half the time I miss it because I'm assuming it's good and I'm starting to study the pictures and talk to players about the series that just happened and why we didn't move the chains on third down the play before."

Who's your least favorite kicker?

"I'll say someday."

Speaking broadly, your corners are more known for their length and physicality and things like that. What's the key when you go up against an offense that has so much speed like Kansas City's?

"They have speed and they're very good and the whole thing is being sound and not giving them freebies. When you mess up something and they've got a big arm quarterback and they've got speed all over and they've got good players there, they'll score fast. You get a guy out of position it's not usually an explosive, it's a touchdown. If they get a bunch of easy touchdowns and stuff like I think they have a little bit, the score is going to be what you guys have seen. You've got to make those guys earn it. You've got to make them work. You can't give them freebies and that's the key when you have explosive, talented players."


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