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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan talks move to Arizona, Deebo Samuel, Richard Sherman ahead of 49ers-Bills

Dec 3, 2020 at 2:10 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters from Glendale, Arizona on Thursday as the team prepares to host the Buffalo Bills at State Farm Stadium. Here is everything he had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Opening comments:

"All right guys, injuries for today. We're going to hold [WR] Deebo [Samuel] out, just so his hamstring, same as last time. Just being smart with him. [CB] K'Waun Williams, still the ankle. Won't practice today, likely we won't be available this week. That's all I've got here right now."

You talked about you wanted to go somewhere safe. So, I guess a two-part question here is how safe do you guys feel down there? And then Santa Clara County's executive Jeff Smith had some pointed comments about the 49ers and questioning their values and saying that he thought the players and the community were being put in harm's way by continuing to play through the season. So, I wanted to get your reaction to that as well.

"I have no reaction to that, someone who questions our values that doesn't know us. Shows what we're dealing with. So, that doesn't matter. With here, yeah, the hotel, the situation we're in is very safe. City's a little different just compared to where we were at, but we're going to try as hard as we can not to be a part of the city. It makes it real easy showing up here on the day we are because players don't have a day off or anything. So, it's completely a workday, but we've only been here for about 18 hours. So, we'll see how it goes."

I think that this upcoming game is your second game in 22 days and some of the guys who have missed games in recent weeks have missed them, not because of mechanical issues, but because they were close contacts to COVID patients, things like that. I'm just wondering whether you see any sort of freshness among the players or at least whether they seem more fresh than a team typically does in early December. Is there any silver lining to everything that you guys have been through, I guess is what I'm asking?

"Yeah, I don't know about yet, because I haven't seen us go full speed since Sunday, but I thought on Sunday, just our team speed looked faster. We looked like a team that was a lot more rested than we had been the previous nine weeks. So, the bye week helped, not being able to practice a ton on that week helped our overall team speed. I think we struggled a little bit with stamina and things like that and just stuff that you lose a little bit when you're not practicing all the time, but we had practiced so much throughout the year that I think we were better off than you would normally expect when you miss the amount of days that we missed in that two-week span.

I'm just curious what your initial impressions are of the of the facilities that you guys have set up with the weight room and the training rooms and the hotel and everything like that?

"That's what I mean by it's as good as we could have hoped for in our situation. We're in a big hotel. It's not a convention center, but it almost feels like it. We're able to have like a 15,000 square foot ballroom that we can turn into a part-time locker room, so we don't have to change over there. We can change before we go and also, so we can have a minor weight room in here, too. So, a lot of space in here for us, and that's why it's been convenient."

Some of the feedback I've gotten on some of the things I've written is like, 'Oh, boo hoo, these poor millionaires might be away from their families.' I was just wondering, obviously we're not just talking about players. We're talking about a whole bevy of people who are at various levels. I'm wondering, do you address everyone on staff and how do you make this, I know you guys when you're here, it's a good combined 'all for one' effort, but how do you make sure that the people who aren't the high-profile members of the 49ers are understanding the sacrifice they're making and feeling a part of it? And then also just for you personally, you have kids, you have a wife. How are you emotionally just dealing with this question of what December is going to look like?

"I'm all right. You can get through anything when you know the time of it. Three weeks, four weeks, whatever it is, we'll be all right. It's not the end of the world. I'm not trying to talk about all this stuff for every week. It was just more the disappointment of people got to make decisions. Everyone's got their job to do, and that's not my profession. You guys know what mine is and what I feel I'm good at. I just like communication. That's all, and how people treat each other, most human beings. So, that's what we were disappointed with and we've got to deal with the situation, just like a lot of people are dealing with stuff, not just the Niners, I mean all over football. I know we're the only ones who've had to move, but all over the country. So, everyone's got to deal with stuff. You don't want to sit here and be 'woe is me.' There's just a way to do it and that's what we were bothered with. You adjust, you see what you've got to deal with and you move on. I know everyone's dealing with their own little things. Now's the easy part, just because we got here on a workday and we're going hard all the way until our game on Monday. So, it's more of the times after that and things I just try to stress to people is everyone's going to be at different levels and some people are going to deal with this different than others. Someone who hits that wall, whatever it is, you read about the NBA players in the bubble and all the mental issues they went through and stuff. Those guys were at least allowed to hang with each other. We're not, so we're basically just in rooms here. Haven't seen the guys except when we Zoom meet them and then when we go out to the field for walkthrough, so it's not like we're in a bubble hanging out. So, those things will build up on guys and each guy will handle it differently. So, I just try to tell everyone, no matter what, when someone has a problem, whatever it is, there's no problem too big or too small. A lot of guys keep that stuff internally, but I met with a bunch of the players and I grabbed about 20 of them last night and just told them to look out for that stuff and make sure that whether they come to me, a position coach, we have lots of people here who aren't coaches or players who can help people. So, it's just understanding that it's human nature. Some stuff's going to come up over the next three weeks and no one ignore it. Just always bring it to someone's attention because the worst thing you could be in these situations is feel kind of alone on an island and we've got a big group going through it, so we can rally together and make sure we help each other through it."

I'm just following up with Deebo. Did he have a setback or are you guys just being safe with him, being smart?

"No, no setback. He's just still sore from the game. Especially after traveling yesterday and stuff, being on a plane, we don't want to get him out there with what's happened to him this year and have him go full speed and risk anything with the hamstring."

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott shared with us that he looked at Deebo Samuel through the draft process. Was Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen someone you looked at through the draft process when he was coming out?

"Yes. Not a ton. It was him with a number of other guys, guys I was hoping were going to come out earlier, but they didn't and so we looked at guys more that year and next year we had [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo]. We study everyone every year, but as far as going through the process and interviews and all that, not as much."

I realize you're looking at CB Richard Sherman and his performance as it relates to winning games right now, but given his recent leg issues, his age, will this, how he performs, determine kind of whether he's back next year?

"I don't think it ever is as simple as that. Sherm's a guy that I know I personally, and I know [general manager] John [Lynch] feels the same, we went on our team at all times. Sherm's a guy that when he does get older and he does descend, he's such a good football player, he finds a way. I understand his contract issue this year. I understand there's a number of guys on our team with that this year, but whoever can help us win football games our guys are trying to figure out how to bring back, especially guys who do it the right way. Sherm is as good as anyone in those categories. Now there's lots of stuff that go into it at the end of the year and how we're going to balance all this out and wait to figure out what the salary cap is and stuff with what happens, but I know Sherm's time here, he's been everything we've hoped and more. And I really hope that these next whatever games we have left, I really hope that's not the end of it."

What strikes you about the Buffalo Bills defense and how well they've done these last couple of years and become a true playoff contender?

"They're just doing it the right way. I think very highly of Sean, just going against him a number of years, being in his division as a coordinator, even when I wasn't playing them a lot in NFC when we were in separate divisions. Coming in there, taking over a team, I feel like they've drafted the right way. They've done it the right way. They got their quarterback and Sean's always had a good defense and they compete. They play very physical, very sound defense who always plays hard and it's not a surprise at all why they've been winning some games and why they seem to get better each year."

What was your assessment of OL Colton McKivitz, his first ever start? Obviously, he had quite a bit on his plate, but seemed to keep fighting until the end of that game.

"I was really happy with Colton. It was a tough challenge to put him in, just to carry that load, especially versus some of the personnel they had, but I thought he did a good job. I think he's gotten better each game for us and hopefully that continues through the rest of the year."

You haven't had a whole lot of opportunity to get Deebo and WR Brandon Aiyuk on the field at the same time and with RB Raheem Mostert, too. I would imagine all three of those guys can sort of complement each other, but what do you hope to accomplish in terms of getting everybody together on the same page and ultimately, how frustrated have you been with not being able to have your offense have all of those guys throughout most of the season?

"That's frustration you deal with every year as a coach. I know this year has probably definitely been the worst, so it's been frustrating. Not just for me, but everyone in the building. I'm sure the fans, too. And I definitely know those guys. We've got some young guys who I know are going to only get better, that we got the right guys and stuff. And I know they're made of the right stuff. They played through stuff. They play hard and they've just been unfortunate with some things. It's a matter of time, kind of been hoping that all year, and we're getting here, we've got five left in the scheduled season and I'm really glad that we got them both out now, but the goal isn't to just, 'Alright, let's unload all this stuff.' Let's try to stack some days. Every time I've gotten confident with three days stacked, that's kind of been taken away. So, it's just one day at a time. It was great to get Aiyuk back today. It's the first time we've seen him in a little bit. I know Deebo's a little bit sore, so he's not going to do as much today and we'll see how Raheem is out there. Just getting all these guys back, it just brings some continuity to everyone. I know it's a lot easier for the quarterbacks, too. If I had to give you one thing, just as a whole, as a group I really want to cut down our turnovers. The games that we've lost, our turnovers had gotten way carried away and I thought they did last Sunday, too. We were fortunate that our defense had four. That to me is the first thing we've got to fix and having guys out there a little bit more, I think, will give us a better chance to do that."

You mentioned a little bit ago that you talked to certain guys about keeping an eye out for issues coming up. Is that something you've really stressed throughout a season like this? You said it was about 20 guys. Is it the same group of guys that you really rely on to kind of lead and keep an eye out in that way?

"It depends on the situation. I rarely talk to that many guys. I usually talk to the whole team or a smaller group, but just when we got in last night and I just wanted to grab a few before we got up to rooms and ran our luggage. Just the way it worked out. That's kind of a little bit of the burden of the head coach to just be, I mean, everything is good, but you've got to look into the future a little bit and think of some of the problems that are going to come up as you do this, because the game is on a day and for the most part, until this year, but usually it's always going to stay that day and no matter what comes up, you can't let things distract you too bad because the time's ticking until you've got to perform. So, you try to, when you get just blindsided by stuff that can mess up a day and sometimes you don't have that time. So, that's stuff that coaches and players and all our support staff everywhere is constantly working on because of how important it is to be prepared for whenever that game is. When you have the certain days to recover, the certain days to implement the plan, which is going to be a little overwhelming at first, and then you have a certain amount of days to practice it physically, every moment matters. That's why you've got to always look ahead to what might come up."

Last season, it seemed like lots of things went your way. This season, it seems like nothing's going your way. Everything's been a struggle and it doesn't really seem like the season's fun. Are there ways that this season has been gratifying, though? The struggle of it, even if you wouldn't describe it as fun, like last year?

"Yeah, and last year wasn't all fun either. When you're 8-0 and you're going to play Seattle and stuff, you're not just chilling all week, like, 'Man, this is so much fun.' I mean, every week's a grind. It's hard to do that. In order to go on runs like we did last year, you've got to prepare yourself every week like you are going to lose that game and you better work everything you can to give yourself a chance to win. When you think that way, and then you just look up and all of a sudden, you've strung together a lot of games. I feel that's how we've been this year, too, which has kept us close in some games, which has allowed us to come through and win a few at the end. Obviously, we've had more adversity than last year, but I thought we had some last year, we just overcame it pretty well and it wasn't quite as bad. So, it was a little bit easier to overcome, but those are the things that build people individually. It builds character within your team and it makes your team stronger. You always want to go through as what you'd say a fun year, which means playing well, but I also don't take anything for granted. I think some of the stuff we went through our first two years really made us able to go through that year last year and get to the Super Bowl. I think the stuff we've gotten in our three years is helping us survive what we've been going through this year more than anything, and also giving us a chance to still make something out of it. So, I'm just excited that we were able to pull off that win last week, because now we're in this situation and that's what we're thinking about, thinking about getting to Buffalo, because we don't want to mess this up. We want to get to Buffalo and play as good as we can so we can continue thinking that way the rest of this year."

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