Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan says Nick Mullens could start on Thursday, discusses Jon Gruden as 49ers prepare for Raiders

Oct 30, 2018 at 3:18 PM--

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with the media on Tuesday as the team prepares for its Thursday-night game against the Oakland Raiders.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Opening comments:

"Injury report today, guys who won't practice; [QB] C.J. Beathard with a wrist, [DB Antone] Exum [Jr.] with a concussion, he's in the protocol, [LB] Reuben [Foster], hamstring, [S Jaquiski] Tartt, shoulder. We're walking through today, so these guys are able to participate, but we'll still list them as limited; [RB Matt] Breida with an ankle, [WR] Pierre [Garçon], shoulder and knee, [RB] Raheem [Mostert], ankle, [OL Mike] Person, ankle, [C/G Weston] Richburg, knee, [CB Richard] Sherman, calf and [T Joe] Staley, ankle. Go ahead."

Can you just give us a description of what C.J. is going through and how that will hinder his availability for Thursday?

"His wrist hurts. He's struggling today to hold a ball. So, we'll see how he is tomorrow."

Obviously, if he doesn't go, not able to go, QB Nick Mullens and then activate QB Tom Savage?

"Yes. C.J. would be good if we were playing on Sunday. But, it's going to be a test for Thursday and probably won't know until then."

How ready is Nick Mullens? I know he hasn't gotten a whole lot of number one snaps here. But, how ready would he be if you're forced in that direction?

"As ready as you can be. Nick works his tail off whether he was on practice squad all last year, some of this year, since he's been the two. Nick's a very smart guy who works at it nonstop. He'll be able to go in there and execute the offense and knows what he's doing."

What drew you to Nick in the first place? What do you like about Nick?

"Just studying him on college. Our personnel department and [quarterbacks coach] Rich [Scangarello] brought him to us because they found, Scangarello, our quarterbacks coach, watched a lot of film on him. Got to play a ton, played at a high level. He was very consistent in what he did. Played in more of a spread offense, but you could see how hard he would compete when running the ball and things like that, even though that wasn't his number one strength. But, also can play in the pocket when they asked him to. I remember one thing that we liked, I forget whether it was the East-West game or another one of those all-star games, I remember Rich telling me he interviewed him and asked him how he got ready for that game and he had to look up on YouTube how to do drops and stuff under center because he was always in gun throughout college. That's the type of guy he was. He's going to figure it out. He's going to work all day to figure it out on his own, with the help of coaches and stuff, he takes that as well as anyone."

How did you assess his performance during the preseason?

"I thought he played well in the preseason. He did good. Nick comes in there, moves the chains, competes hard, made some plays with his legs and his arm. Guys believe in him and he's as competitive and confident as a guy I've been around. If he needs to play this week, he'll be on it."

Will the entire playbook be open if he were forced into that role?

"Yes. When you say the entire playbook, that just means does he know everything, can he spit it out. Nick's as good as them. He's been here for a year-and-a-half, the whole time we've been here. So, Nick's as prepared to call the plays and get everyone in the right spots as anyone we could have out there."

Was C.J. hurt on the final play against the Cardinals?

"No, no. He hit his hand on a helmet in, I want to say the second quarter."

That scenario means Tom Savage might have to be the number two guy. Where is he in his learning process?

"He's three weeks into it, so not nearly as far as the other people I mentioned. Just the whole offense and everything, that would have to be limited just because that's too much for a guy to learn, any guy in the world to me, in this amount of time. Just spitting it out and calling the plays and getting everyone lined up and knowing where people are, so you'd have to tail back a little bit on that. He's been working hard. He doesn't get a ton of reps, as no third guy does, but he gets a lot after, just on air and stuff, with some of the receivers. He's been working and preparing for it. If his number is up, he'll be ready."

Are you going to make any trades in the next 30 minutes that you're aware of?

"I know our guys are working their tails off. They're on the phones, and they'll be doing that all the way up to the time. But, as of right now, no."

Did you know during the game C.J.'s wrist was bothering him? Was it just through talk?

"After, yeah."

You obviously began with Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. What was that experience like?

"It was great. That was the first place I ever coached in the NFL. I got to start out at UCLA. I was there for about six months, just one season, and then got to go to Tampa and I was with Jon for two years. I grew up in a football house, being the son of a head coach. But, that was the first time I ever worked in a building from a football standpoint. It was as good of a place as I could ever go. They were one year removed from winning the Super Bowl, went there with Jon, who was just doing a ton of things offensively. I was the quality control, so I had to do all the grunt work and draw all the playbooks, break down all the film. Every building is different. You're a product of your environment, but it was such a good place for me to go to because Jon was doing everything. It wasn't just his stuff. He was always on top of it with the film, which everyone is now because of the computers and everything, but he was one of the first guys doing that stuff, probably being a little bit younger than most guys at that time and just introduced me to pretty much every play known to man. I had to draw them all, had to make books on them. That's where you pay your dues and do all that stuff. The fact that I was doing it for Jon, I got experience in just about anything. On top of Jon, just that building, the defensive staff I was able to be around. The defensive staff included [former NFL defensive coordinator] Monte Kiffin and [Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike] Tomlin and [Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator] Rod Marinelli and [Los Angeles Rams assistant head coach and linebackers coach] Joe Barry and [Falcons assistant head coach and wide receivers coach] Raheem Morris and [Denver Broncos defensive coordinator] Joe Woods. There was a ton of guys in that building that those were two years that I owe a lot to my foundation for what I do."

That first year when you were there looking through all of the offense, how new was it, how complex was it that you had to break it down?

"Extremely, just like it is for players when they come in, it is for a coach too when you come in. You don't know what any of the words mean. It sounds like a foreign language and no one is going to sit there with you and take all day to teach you, either. You've got to figure it out. You've got to read the books before and try to learn it. You've got to watch film. Jon would come in on a Tuesday morning at somewhere around 4:30 or five and drop a list on your desk with about 140 dropback passes you've got to draw. Back then, it was basically all just SuperPaint. It was something that, which probably no one has heard of, I think it was copyrighted in 1986. I'm not joking. So, you had to sit there and do it all. That's what I did the first year. It took forever. We got a better program the second year. But, you just sat in a room and you did that really until 10 at night. Then, you try to break down film after. Listened to a lot of music and learn a lot of ball."

When you were an entry-level guy, would you try to beat the head coach into the office?

"No. I didn't try. I tried to stay there later than him. It's hard to stay somewhere until one and come in at four. People act like they do. But, people don't function on three hours of sleep, seven days a week, no matter what they say."

It seems like Gruden would be a guy that could give a young guy some crap. Did you have some give and take with him? What was that personal relationship like?

"Jon was great. I think Jon likes to give people crap, just like I do. It's kind of hard to communicate just man to man if you're not messing with each other. I think I fit in pretty well with that, with Jon, and had a fun two years with him. Haven't got to see him much since. It was cool when he'd do Monday night games. It was kind of different. He was always the guy doing the broadcast meetings with. He was a great coach. He had a hell of a deal there with Monday Night Football. But, I know he's a coach at heart and I was real happy to see him back in the league."

How has his system evolved with the 10 years being away? How does it look now?

"Well, Jon lives and dies football. So, he never got away from it. He probably had even more time to sit and look at everything, and not get so caught up in his own team. The whole league's evolved since then. It evolves year to year. But, you watch his system, he has a foundation of what he used to do and things like that, but he's kept up with everything. He's mixing in whatever's working with everyone else week-to-week. He's finding a way to implement it in his offense, also."

You said on Sunday that Pierre was on track to play in this game. Is that still the case? As far as the trade stuff, do you need to have a talk with him?

"Yeah, I communicate with P on everything. He's still here and there's 21 minutes left. So, I feel pretty confident that he's going to be here. I'm excited about that. Pierre's excited about that. He still is limited today, but I think he'll be good to go. I'll be surprised if he can't make it on Thursday."

What was your evaluation of when Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr came out? You were looking at quarterbacks. How did you evaluate him?

"I was a big fan of Derek, I think like everyone was. There was a number of quarterbacks who came out that year. I don't think I could talk about him too much, it's illegal. But no, I remember flying down there to Fresno. We worked him out, a number of us. Got to go out to dinner with him. I knew his brother because I coached in Houston with his brother for one year. So, great family, and then a very good player."

Will Richard Sherman be available Thursday night?

"I'm not sure. He's limited today, too. Hope so. With these few days of rest, we really probably won't know on any of these guys until Thursday. We've got two practices and there won't be one full-speed practice. There's just not enough time for these guys to recover. So, first time we'll run full speed is Thursday. On these Thursday games, it's not something you can go out and test these guys very well. You've got to talk to them, communicate with them. You don't want to decide now because we're barely two days removed form a game. So, we've got to take that all the way up to Thursday. If their bodies can go, will go. The good thing about Thursday is that we'll get 11 days before our next game. Even though it's a challenge now, I know our team going this long without a bye week or a Thursday night game, we do need some rest. So, we're going to get a few days after this and we'll play 11 days later on Monday Night Football. Then, we get our bye week. So, after this game, I think we have one game in 24 days. It's been a grind to get to this point. There is a break coming up. But, we've got to finish this out and get one."

In terms of the trade deadline, how much do you factor in the temperature of the locker room and personalities? If you trade somebody, maybe somebody looks at that the wrong way and maybe gets disgruntled? How much are you having to think on the pulse of things like that?

"I think I have my finger on the pulse of that stuff a lot. I think I think about it a lot. I think I can put myself in other people's shoes pretty well. I do worry about that stuff a lot. But, no matter how soft you can get in that type of area, and you can relate and understand, you've always got to go to block that out and what helps our organization. What helps us now, what helps us in the future. You can communicate with everyone and you'd love to explain yourself to people. You always know people won't always understand. Myself, [general manager] John [Lynch], our number one responsibility is to this organization. Every decision that we make is going to be in the best interest of the organization, and I hope that can tie into the best interest of individuals, also."

Have you been happy with DB Tarvarius Moore and S Marcell Harris, two DBs who may be getting more playing time here pretty soon?

"Yes. They're coming along. Tarvarius Moore has done a very good job on special teams for us. Hasn't gotten his opportunity out there at corner. With guys down and stuff, the more guys get hurt, the quicker his opportunity will come. It's bound to happen. It's been very close here. Could happen this week. But regardless, he's making a push anyways with the effort and the intensity he's playing on special teams, the way he looks in practice each week. I'm excited about Tarvarius. Then, Marcell, we've got to make a decision on him. He's been out there practicing the last two weeks. Haven't made that yet, but he's got a chance. Hopefully, we'll get him back here to finish it up for us this year."

What about a decision on LB Dekoda Watson?

"Yeah. Dekoda is out there practicing. We don't have to make that this week, but we can do that by Thursday. We'll see how these walk-throughs go and what our roster is like. To get both of those guys up, we've got to let people go, too. So, it's a huge dilemma when you've got a number of guys down that might not play. If you can't put them on IR, you've got to cut people to put people up. So, all this stuff kind of plays into that. Not just where Dekoda and Marcell are at."

With your issues at strong safety, is it possible that Marcell might not only be up, but could be starting?

"Yes. Everything is possible. The roster, for strong safety and our backup strong safety last week, they're not ruled out for the game yet, but on a Thursday night, if you're in the protocol on Monday, it's extremely hard to make it on Thursday. I'll just rule Exum out now. Tartt, we'll see. But, probably doubtful."

You would rule him out?

"Yeah, I'd rule him out now. Just how it works on a Thursday night game."

How much does the record impact your urgency in terms of getting guys back?

"That doesn't really affect my decision right now. We're in the middle of the year. I want to get guys back as fast as possible to help us get a win. I also want to get guys back as soon as possible to get guys better. There's two things that go into everything. Right now, it's about what can we do to get a win, and what can we do to build guys and get them better. The way you get better is you get out there and play. Whether you do good or you do bad, as long as you look at it the right way and you get something from it, you can get better from that. But, the only way to do that is to be healthy and get out there."

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