Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Transcripts: What Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Richard Hightower said ahead of 49ers-Eagles

Sep 15, 2021 at 11:57 AM--

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, special teams coordinator Richard Hightower, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo spoke with reporters before today's practice at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. The team is preparing to play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Opening comments:

"Injuries for today: [LB Dre] Greenlaw groin will not practice, [DT Javon] Kinlaw knee won't practice, [CB Emmanuel] Moseley knee won't practice, [DL] Arik Armstead has an adductor will not practice, [DL] Dee Ford ankle limited and [LB] Marcell Harris, oblique limited."

As far as RB Raheem Mostert, is the procedure he's going to have now more extensive than what you thought he might have when you talked to us on Monday?

"Yeah. The prognosis on Monday was what we had, six to eight. In further review, looking at other opinions, there's a longer surgery you can do that will put him out for the year and that's the way we're going to go."

Was that a surprise to you?

"When I talked to him and I heard all the other stuff, it's not a surprise to me. The first prognosis I got was what I told you guys and that's all I got at the time. But once I heard more stuff after the press conference, no, it made sense. I don't think there was much of a decision to make after hearing some of the stuff."

How do you feel like about the whole running back situation? Obviously, you drafted two guys. Do you feel like, as much as Raheem gives you, other guys can just keep you rolling?

"Anytime you lose a player like Raheem, Raheem's a captain, one of the best players on our team, so that definitely hurts. As you can see with the way [RB] Elijah [Mitchell] stepped up when he came in he did a hell of a job. I have a lot of confidence in [RB JaMycal] Hasty to do the same and same with [RB] Trey [Sermon]. He'll get his opportunity now, most likely to be up. So, we have some depth there. I think we always have, but I don't think we've gone through a year here where we haven't used all four of our running backs. So, I hope to not have to do that, but after one we're down one and hopefully it's sometime this year, we'll get [RB] Jeff Wilson [Jr.] back too. But, it's always that way in the league, especially with running backs, it's next man up and we expect those guys to not miss a beat."

Did you guys bring on RB Kerryon Johnson?

"Yeah. We brought him on practice squad. Yeah."

Is he already here?

"Yes. Yeah. He should be out at practice today."

Do you have more clarity on Wilson's timeline?

"No, I don't. I think he just started running. I hate to give a date because just like I did on Monday, I could be wrong, and it seems to be a big deal if I correct myself. I'm hoping in November, I guess the area that we're saying, but it could be a little earlier. It could be later."

Is Kinlaw's injury something he's going to just have to manage throughout the year or is that something he could get over?

"We're not sure. That's why we're trying to take it slow with him. And when we have it's gotten better. So, we've got to see how that continues to react. I think we'll be easy with him today. Hopefully if it continues to go well today, he'll get out there more tomorrow. When he hurt his knee in Dallas last year, it was a pretty bad injury that he ended up going on IR for. He got it cleaned up, but it still hasn't healed quite as right as we want. So, it seems like when he's gone, it's started to affect him. So, hopefully taking it easy these last 10 days or so, it'll start to get better and we'll see how it goes day to day.

With Moseley, is there concern that this is a long-term injury?

"No, I don't think so. I think we knew we had a chance last week, really which would make me feel pretty good this week. I think the traveling, stuff like that, doesn't help a ton and that's why he's not practicing today. We'll reevaluate it tomorrow, but I don't think it will be a long-term thing."

You guys brought in CB Dre Kirkpatrick during training camp for a workout. Is that just one of those things you knew where he was, you knew what kind of shape he was in, in case you needed someone he was at the top of the list?

"Yeah, definitely. [CB] Josh [Norman] was someone we were talking to too, we talked to Dre earlier on trying to get him into camp. I think we ended up signing an extra safety at that time in [former 49ers S] Ha Ha [Clinton-Dix]. But yeah, these are people we've been keeping track on."

When you were watching film, how impressed were you by the offensive line? How much of a bigger challenge do the Eagles present when you faced them last year?

"I was very impressed with the O-Line last Sunday in the run game and the pass game. And I know it will be a huge challenge this week. Just watching the tape of Philly, I feel like I've been watching the tape of them since I was in the NFC East, like 10 years ago, it almost seems like the same guys out there. They still are the same effectiveness. You still see [Eagles DL] Fletcher Cox doing the same stuff, [Eagles DE] Brandon Graham doing the same stuff. Anyone who's new is right up to their level. So, watching them last week I think there as good of a D-Line as there is in this league. And we definitely have a huge challenge this week."

There was a question about how T Mike McGlinchey would operate in the rushing attack in space with all that extra weight. How did he come out of that game? How did he look?

"I thought he played real well. I know he came into camp a little heavier because I think he was a little lighter last year, but I see the same guy and I think he played a hell of a game."

Do you know Eagles head coach Nick Siriani at all?

"I don't. I talked to him on the phone once. Seems like a hell of a guy. I really like how he's carrying himself and you can tell his team's playing real hard and they looked real well coached in their first week. I know some players who know him and they speak very highly of him."

Does his background, the trees he came from, does it show up on film, like what he tries to do?

"Yeah, you can see some of the places he's been. I think he started out as a receiver coach with the [Los Angeles] Chargers and I think he really helped [Los Angeles Chargers WR] Keenan Allen out there. Especially talking to [CB Jason] Verrett about that. You can see how well coached their receivers are, which I'm sure he had an impact on. Their offense does a lot of new things, does so many things, but they're using their skill set very well."

WR Brandon Aiyuk is obviously extremely attentive and very strong rookie season? Is there any sense of an exhale there, like he took his foot off the gas pedal a little bit?

"Not totally. Anytime you do have a setback with a hamstring and you have a guy behind you playing as well as [WR] Trent's [Sherfield] played, I know Trent wasn't a first-round draft pick, so that might not be as obvious with the talent level, but he's been a hell of a football player since he's been here. Aiyuk's been a little inconsistent because he's been in and out with his injury. And that's what we felt was the best chance for us last week. Aiyuk's still got a chance to get that spot up and not rotate as much, Trent just doesn't make that very easy. So, these three days are important in practice, how we balance out our game plan, how we balance out our routes. And I'm happy with Aiyuk. It's nothing against Aiyuk. I'm just also happy with Trent too. And I think both of them can continue to get better."

Where does he, he just started his second season, Aiyuk, where does he still need to grow?

"I'm not trying to single out any specifics, because it's like every player you've got to grow in every single area. So, I know this is all kind of like we're punishing Aiyuk or something, because Trent got even reps with them or we rotated those guys. I'm not going to sit here and say, he's got to do the A, B and C to get back out there. It's more, we've been practicing the last month and one guy has been there every day and the quarterback's got a lot of confidence in him. I do. If he wants to be out there every single play, he's got to be a lot better than the guy behind him."

A lot of pressure on QB Jimmy Garoppolo using a variety of young running backs throughout the game. How hard is it to get those young guys to be able to pick up those blocks and protect Jimmy Garoppolo?

"It's tough. The one that he there to [WR] Deebo [Samuel], the touchdown pass, they brought two to the back. Hasty I thought did as good of a job he could do on that. The way that backer blitzed him in the A gap, it's a little bit of a tough situation that you can't make a living putting him in that situation too much. And it was nice that Jimmy hung in there and made the big play to kind of scare people out of that. And he missed one blitz pick-up, on a play action route down there in the strike zone. I like to say that should never happen, but it does. And definitely happens a lot more than usual in someone's first game. It wasn't something he wasn't sure of, he just hesitated a little second. And once you do that, you can't go or you run into the quarterback. So, he knew it as soon as it happened. And because we came out with the win, I look at as it could be a good thing because I think that'll help him not miss it again."

QB Trey Lance, does he run your scout team in practice during the week? And if so, how much can it help you when you're facing a mobile quarterback?

"Yeah, he does the majority of the scout team. I'd say he gets about 80-percent of it. And then we give [QB] Nate [Sudfeld] about 20-percent, roughly. That's usually the main reps that your number two quarterback gets throughout the year. So, that's always tough on that guy. But it's awesome when you do go against a running quarterback and your scout team quarterback has that skillset. And when you don't have that situation, we try to put in some more athletic guys at that spot, but the defense who is trying to play honest kind of gets an idea when you see, like in the last couple of years, [Jacksonville Jaguars QB] C.J. [Beathard] or [Cleveland Browns QB] Nick [Mullens] doing the passing plays and you see [WR] Richie James come in and do a zone-read type play or something like that. So, it's cool when they get the same guy every time and you never know what's going to happen, which will be how It is for them on Sunday."

Does it make you almost feel like you're killing two birds with one stone? He's getting scout team running their plays, but maybe there's some crossover, their plays and your plays, that can help him if he gets into the game?

"Yeah I think some. I think that's one of the best things for a quarterback. When there is crossover plays, that's great. But, also it's kind of good for rookie quarterbacks when you're on scout team all year, it's also the only spots you get to relax and play football. When you're trying to do your own offense and go through training camp all the time, you're trying to learn all this new stuff and attack a certain defense. And that one, when you get a card that's handed up, you just look at it and you try to put it into our own play. It doesn't always match, but you kind of get to experiment a lot of stuff. And I think that's a lot more beneficial for the guys if they do get that opportunity."

How is it being back at the Greenbrier because you were in this position just 12 months ago, coming here in between back-to-back road games so having that experience, how much is that going to help you moving forward?

"Any time you know what you're getting into, I think it always helps. The unknown to me when you get off your routine is what messes guys up a little bit, but that's why we like coming here. They do it awesome, but we also know exactly what we're getting into. We have a great facility that we don't have to leave for all the football stuff. We've got two practice fields, two full fields, which is great. The wallpaper is rough in our rooms, that hasn't changed. But everything else is pretty awesome."

Is there a specific thing you ask Trey Lance you do when going through scout team?

"Yeah. If you recognize the play and you can put it in our stuff, try to follow that. The timing of the play, when to look, when you don't have enough time to wait on a play, because your scout team O-Line is getting beat, don't just sit there and take it, react like you would in a game. It's also nice when you can do that and you have a quarterback like that too, that the defense is playing against. So, if it's not there in rhythm, the same thing I'm going to want Trey to do in the game, run around, break the pocket, try to make a play. And that's where he can practice it and at the same time, prepare our defense."

Is there any concern about Armstead's availability for Sunday?

"No. He can't go today, which is always a concern. But he wasn't too concerned about it after the game. I think it started getting sore for him the last two days. So, we're going to be smart with him today and I'd be surprised if he didn't go, but I can't guarantee that."

Special Teams Coordinator Richard Hightower

WR Brandon Aiyuk took one return and then you went to WR Mohamed Sanu Sr.. Why the change?

"Yeah. Everything we do is situational and gameplan. So, we're looking at the best situation for that particular situation. Things are always thought out, they're always calculated in terms of what is our opponent doing? What are their tendencies? What area of the field are we on? Are you going to get a huge return? Are you not? So, some of those things go into play. So, hopefully he'll get a lot more opportunities this week. There really weren't many opportunities last week. So, we're looking forward to that and looking forward to this week."

How did CB Ambry Thomas do?

"Ambry Thomas played gunner for us. He played on the vice for us or corner for us. Then obviously he played kick returner as well. So, he played kickoff and he did okay. It was the first game for him, that's a tough opponent for him to go against. Detroit is a really good special teams unit. I don't care what their record was last year. They were a good unit. They were a top-10 unit in most polls and some poles they were top-five. So that is a tough opponent for him to go against. There is a lot of room to grow, a lot of improvement to be had across the board. So, I'm still excited about Ambry and he's up for the challenge. He was in here yesterday bright and early wanting to get better. And it's been that way every day. And we'll see this week. Hoping he makes a jump this week."

You've gone between P Mitch Wishnowsky and K Robbie Gould on kickoffs. What goes into the thought process there and what do each of them bring?

"Yeah, same thing. Situationally it depends on what we're doing that game as far as the gameplan and what we see on tape and what we think we can take advantage of. I thought our guys did a heck of a job covering. I thought those guys did a really good job kicking off as well when they had their opportunity. And we'll just look at that, obviously, week to week and we'll always take a look and see what's going to give us the best chance to win and what's going to give us the best chance to set our defense up with good field position so we can take advantage of every opportunity we get."

What kind of confidence boost was it to have Robbie kick the 52-yarder and make it after missing from the same distance?

"Yeah. You guys know Robbie. It's definitely a confidence booster for him, for the whole team, for everybody. But you guys know he works as hard as anyone and we always preach resilience and that's what we want throughout all our players, all the players that we have. So, I was really excited to see us get that exact kick in that exact same spot and us deliver on that for the team. That was outstanding. And again, I tell these guys all the time, it's not what happens to you. It's really how you react and how you respond. So, you always have the chance to respond. You'd like to have a chance to respond, but if you go around sulking about the first thing that happens, then you miss out on your second opportunity. And I think that's in life as well."

The only time you guys get seem to get stung on a kickoff return is when a guy returns it out of the end zone. Why not just kick it into the end zone and take it at the 25-yard line every time?

"Yeah, it depends. I think a lot of times, a lot of people try to get it out of the back of the end zone. And we've had times when we're trying to get it out the back of the end zone. We have times when it doesn't go out the back of the end zone. And I think guys will try to kick it out the back of the end zone. We don't really tell our opponents or give away a competitive advantage when we're doing it or when we're not doing it. But yeah, people say that all the time and then people will tackle them inside the 10 and say, why don't you kick it in play all the time, if you can tackle them inside the 10. You would love to kick it out the back every time, but it just unfortunately doesn't happen all the time."

And Mitch Wishnowsky gives you a better chance to do that?

"Robbie can do it too. Yeah, Robbie had four touchbacks last game. Yeah. So, they both can do it."

With punts and kicks, what different skillsets are there for returners?

"So, kickoff in my personal opinion and I think most player's personal opinions, maybe even in league circles, kickoffs are a lot easier to catch because they're end over end and they typically come down the same way. Punts, they vary a lot like the spin on them. And if you're playing a left-footed punter versus a right-foot punter. Is it spinning to the right? Is it spinning to the left? Does he have banana balls where he could start one way and kick it the other way? Does he have balls that go up and drop and fall down? So, it's just really that the flight of the ball is a lot harder to catch on punts than it is on kickoffs. You know you've got a confident guy when he wants to do both. You'll get some kick returners that you ask them, you say, 'Hey, can you catch punts too?' And they'll be 'I can try coach. I can try.' So those are the differences. It's really the flight of the ball and different distances. Kickoff, you can just stand at the goal line, so punt you could be 40, you could be 50, you could be running back, it's just a lot harder."

A lot of your guys fly under the radar, like coverage-team guys. Who graded out particularly well or was stellar against Detroit that maybe you were a little worried about?

"I think guys do fly under the radar a lot when it comes to special teams. I think that special teams in general is all about field position and helping take advantage. So, if you want to say a guy that probably stood out what you guys can see it was [DL] Samson [Ebukam] last week. He had the tackle at the 10-yard line. He had two tackles in the ballgame. We've been really pleased with Samson. He's done everything we wanted him to do. When he came here, we thought he would be a good defensive player. We really thought he would be a great special teams player and a really great defensive player. Everything we thought he was, he is. And we're happy that we have him and [WR Trent] Sherfield is the same way. So those two guys, the personnel department did a heck of a job finding those guys and those guys are living up to what we thought they would bring to the table. So that's been awesome."

Is that unusual to have a guy like Ebukam, a defensive end, do some of the stuff he's doing?

"It depends on different teams. Some teams I've been on you have those guys. It depends if you're a 3-4 team, if you're a 4-3 team, what body type that guy is. You typically don't have a ton of defensive lineman that could help, but if you have one or two that can help, that really can help your units out for sure. And especially one like Samson. He's been doing it. And it's not like I'm saying anything that Samson hadn't been doing when he was at the [Los Angeles] Rams. I quite honestly was sick of blocking him and Sherfield, so now they're over here."

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

How's it going?

"A little humid. I'm liking it so far, man. It's I think my third time here, I think so becoming a regular here kind of."

What have you learned from the previous two trips?

"I'm trying to think. I've learned the Greenbrier is a complicated layout. So just getting around in there, it was difficult at first, but I feel like I've come a long way with that. So yeah, just that and it's a lot more humid out here than California. So got to get used to that."

Having done this just 12 months ago, you know, back-to-back road games and staying here in between, how does last year help you guys with familiarity?

"I think just knowing the layout. Like I said, knowing the layout is a big part of it, just with the scheduling and everything. It's a little bit different than what we're used to back home. So getting place to place, the bus drivers are awesome. Those guys, learn more about West Virginia every time from those guys. They're a fun time. But yeah, just the familiarity with it getting used to it. And I mean, out here, it's gorgeous. So you can't beat this."

Obviously losing RB Raheem Mostert for the season is a big deal. How do you feel about the young guys, three guys that are still here as far as how they can kind of keep things rolling?

"You know, with Raheem it really sucks. It does. Just there's no way around it. It's one of those tough breaks for him, just get started, off to a hot start like that, and then you lose him. So we're going to miss him. But the young guys, like [RB] Elijah [Mitchell] did in the game and [RB JaMycal] Hasty, I've seen it last year with Haste, he's always ready to roll. He's a gamer. And then we'll bring [RB] Trey [Sermon] along, get him ready for this week. I mean, they're a good group and they really are. They complement each other really well. It's a little bit of different tastes with each one of them. They each have their own style of doing it, but it's all effective. And I think with the O-Line we've got, tight ends, fullbacks, even receivers blocking it. It makes for a good group."

Given what you guys went through last year injury-wise, as a captain, do you feel the need to tell guys like, hey, let's not fall into this here we go again kind of mindset with stuff like that?

"Yeah. Yeah. I think it kind of happens naturally too. Just I mean, with the last two days working out here it's been talked about. It's something that you have to address. It's not like it's a, I don't know, you could avoid it in any way. So it's just one of those things. You've got to stay hydrated, do all the right things, the little things behind the scenes, getting with the trainers, getting with the body maintenance people. I mean, there's a million little things that go into it and we just can't get lazy, especially early in the season, it's going to translate to later in the year and just on and on. It's all tied together. So I think attacking it early and getting on the right page, we'll be in the right spot."

Talking about COVID as well as another angle of that. What's kind of been talks and conversation with that throughout the team?

"Just be safe, especially out here. New territory for us and everything. Always trying to wear masks as much as possible. Not try to go out too much and get into the West Virginia life. I don't really know what's out there. I haven't been outside of the Greenbrier, but just being smart with it really."

When you look at the Eagles on film, reminiscent of last season even though you didn't play against them and just what do you see from those guys?

"Yeah. Similar to last year, a little bit of a different scheme with the new coaches and things like that. But the front's the same. A lot of talent up front. They're as talented and as fast as they get. So it will be a good test for us. But in the backend they've got some talent too, you know, with the new corners and everything. It'll be a good test for us."

How impressive did the offensive line play against Detroit?

"Very, very impressive. In the run and pass game really. Those guys, they got off to a good start. They were rolling up front and it makes everything easier when those guys play like that. And just when the five of them were working together, even with the tight ends and [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice as the fullback makes for a good scheme."

Talking about those young running backs, how do you guys get them adjusted to what they're supposed to do when they're not carrying the ball?

"I think that just comes from practice. It'll come from the reps, the communication with the O-Line, me. Coach [running backs coach Robert] Turner [Jr.] does a great job of getting those guys ready. They're always ready to come in and just, I mean, we have a pretty good rotation with the three of them. And so it's kind of pick your poison, but those guys are always ready to roll. And so just the communication part of it, being on the road in Philly, it will be loud this week. So that will be a good test for us too, but I think those guys are ready for it."

Can you talk about a specific pass or play that just highlighted, just that you're even more comfortable in this offense? Just more natural. I think people would just assume either that was last year or two years ago. You know what I mean? But I mean, is there just, could you feel that in Week 1, just a different level of comfort?

"Yeah, it's hard to pinpoint one specific one, like you're saying, but I think just the overall seeing the big picture of the defense, the smooth operation between the huddle to the line, all that stuff I think just comes with experience and having run it through practice, through preseason, through the games. It's all starting to add up now. And it's just slowing down for me out there. So starting to see it a lot better than I was in the past. And just calling it as a whole, feeling the rhythm of [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan], the offense it's really, I mean we've still got a long way to go, don't get me wrong, but it's coming along."

Well you had that fumble.

"Yeah. See, I appreciate that. Keep me honest, man."

There's been a lot of talk about WR Trent Sherfield and him getting playing time and WR Brandon Aiyuk. What have you seen from Trent that you think has contributed to that?

"You know, it's one of those situations where it's competition is going to bring out the best in everyone. Trent and B.A., they bring it every day. They're guys who you know, you can rely on them in tough situations. They're always battling. As a quarterback, when you can have a receiver that you know where he's going to be, when he needs to be there, it puts your mind at ease and it's one of those things where you're thinking about a million things as it is. If you could cut one of those things out, it makes for a lot easier of a play. So the two of them, just those little things like that go a long way in a quarterback's eyes."

Do you see a difference in WR Deebo Samuel this year and Deebo in the previous years and if so which areas would you say is the change?

"On the field? I haven't, I mean Deebo's been a dog. He's been a player for us since he got here as a rookie. And so not too much has changed in that aspect, I would say, but off the field and on the field, I guess, his leadership has come a long way. Just the way that he leads that group. One-on-ones he's the first one up to go. Usually he's ready to roll and kind of sets the tone for those guys. And you know, I give him a lot of credit for that because I don't think that came naturally for him, especially as a rookie, you're kind of learning as you go, but he really embraced that role this year. It's really helped us out."

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