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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Richard Hightower said ahead of 49ers-Bengals

Dec 8, 2021 at 1:59 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to play the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan, special teams coordinator Richard Hightower, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo spoke with reporters before today's practice. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Opening comments:

"The injuries today. [DL Maurice] Mo Hurst, calf, won't practice. [RB] Trenton Cannon, concussion, won't practice. [LB Dre] Greenlaw, groin, won't practice. [WR] Deebo [Samuel], groin, won't practice. [RB] Elijah Mitchell, concussion/knee, won't practice. [CB] Emmanuel [Moseley], ankle, won't practice. [RB] Jeff Wilson [Jr.], knee, limited. [C] Alex Mack and [T] Trent [Williams] won't practice, but not injury related. Go ahead."

LB Fred Warner is a full-go?

"Yeah, Warner is full-go. [LB] Marcell [Harris] is full-go."

You mentioned Elijah Mitchell's knee. What's the extent of that?

"I think they're calling it knee irritation right now and we didn't have the imagining back when I talked you guys last, but some stuff that makes him day-to-day."

With Deebo, do you expect him to be able to practice his week or it still--?

"I'm hoping he'll practice tomorrow."

DL Dee Ford?

"Hoping tomorrow too."

What do you see out of the Bengals when you look at their defense and how they've come along?

"I think it's a real good defense. They've done a real good job stopping the run this year. They do a lot schematically that keeps teams off base with their fronts and coverages. And their 11 guys play very hard too."

They're missing their leading tackler, so how does that maybe change things up for them?

"He is a good player and stuff. I don't think it'll change much up though. I don't think they're going to reinvent the wheel over it and they probably expect the guy who comes in to make those tackles too."

A couple weeks ago, when Emmanuel Moseley left in the Jaguars game, CB Ambry Thomas came in for him immediately. And then this time, obviously, it was DB Deommodore Lenoir who came in. What goes into that? Is it how those guys practice, looked during the week that kind of determines the hierarchy there?

"Yeah, they're all right there. They're all real close on about the same level. And we obviously haven't thought they're there to just throw them in the starting position yet. So we're trying to get one of those guys to separate himself."

You mentioned Ambry's special teams play on Sunday. Does that sort of suggest that he's more confident, that he's stronger? Is that what you're kind of seeing when you see a guy kind of zone in like that and make all his tackles?

"Yeah, it shows you're more ready to get out on the field to me. It's tough if you don't look ready on special teams to think that you're ready on offense or defense too. I think that's a spot that he did struggle in in preseason, which made it tougher for him to dress. Because if you aren't one of those starting guys, that's usually what makes our decision, who gives us the best chance on special teams. I think he's come very far on special teams and I think it showed the most last week with his three tackles. And that's how he's been looking on defense too in practice."

Is that just sort of a physical strength difference between him in August and him right now?

"No, just speed of the game. Getting used to doing that stuff. I don't know how many times he's ran down on special teams. It's great to get stronger, but just improving your bench press and squats over a three-month period is not going to help you run down there and hit a guy. That's just about form and not hesitating and trying to go through guys."

Did you sign a running back from the tryouts yesterday?

"Yes. We signed [RB Brian] Hill. Brian, I believe is his first name."

Is that someone you can get ready to go Sunday? Could that happen?

"Yeah, I think that was our main factor in it. He's played in this league before and he's been on some similar offenses, so we feel like he'd be the fastest to get ready."

Where is RB JaMycal Hasty right now just in terms of he's dealt with a lot of health things and maybe that's limited his progress? Where do you evaluate him?

"I think Hasty came real far. I think he got a lot better this year to where he was at last year. I thought he had a hell of a training camp. When [RB] Raheem [Mostert] went down, he kind of solidified himself as our third-down back. And then he got a, I believe it was a high ankle sprain, versus Philly, which set him back about a month. Came back in and was starting to ease back in there and do some pretty good things and then got another one, which has put him out the last month. So last week was his first practice back and I thought he did a good job and hopefully he'll continue to get healthier and not have any setbacks."

Just a quick clarification. Mitchell had an MRI and it came back?


There's no major damage? It's an irritation?

"Yeah, just irritation. Yeah."

You said you didn't think about putting QB Trey Lance in for that play that went weird that was supposed to be a zone-read. Did you get any pushback at the start of the year when you used Trey on that touchdown play on the first drive? Did players have any sort of weirdness about taking Jimmy out on a successful drive?


Has that been a consideration at all? Just the weirdness and the feel of taking Jimmy out?

"No, I don't think players really notice or think it's weird at all. So I don't think that's a big deal at all. Just people do that. People put in wildcats, people put in a second quarterback. When you have guys who have different skill sets, I'd say you see it on about 20 out of the 32 teams. People use guys in those situations. So I think players are pretty used to it."

How did CB Dontae Johnson do in the secondary?

"I thought he did a real good job. He came in, didn't hesitate. He gets reps at safety, gets reps at corner. Doesn't get enough at corner. And he was ready for the moment and went in and played like a pro."

You probably evaluated WR Tee Higgins when he was coming out in the draft. What about that wide receiving corps? The top three guys seem to be pretty prolific. Where does group rank?

"As good as anyone. I think [WR Tyler] Boyd has been one of the more underrated receivers in this league over the last five years. They just got a, it looks like a pretty generational talent in [WR Jamarr] Chase this year. And Higgins was one of the best receivers in the draft last year. So that's three guys, a good quarterback, good tight and a good running back."

DL Arik Armstead, team nominate for Walter Payton Man of the Year again. What can you say about the kind of guy he is and the work he does off the field?

"It seems like Arik does a ton. I hear about it. I've seen him talk to our team about stuff. I think he's very passionate in what he does. I know he goes back to Sacramento, helps a lot where he is from, and I think he's well deserving of that award."

How much of a help is the 2019 game preparing for them? Obviously, a lot of new talent including the quarterback and wide receiver. Is it still the basic same principles on both sides of the ball?

"Yeah, they haven't changed coordinators or their philosophies. Schematically, it's very similar, some similar players and some different players. So there's some carryovers, but stuff always is changing."

DL D.J. Jones, I think whenever he has been on the field in this career, he's been pretty good. He's obviously been able to stay on the field and it seems like he's better than ever. Is that accurate? And if so, how do you think he's made that jump?

"I think D.J. played one of his best games versus Seattle. I think D.J.'s always played at a pretty high level, I think he's stayed healthy this year. He's gotten hurt and finished the year in IR back to '19. He was one of our biggest losses there. I think we lost him in the New Orleans week for the year. And I know we lost him last year, but when D.J.'s out there, he's pretty much always the same guy."

Armstead, do you think he's a better player inside than at defensive end or is he just doing what you need him to do?

"I think it depends on the type of play, the type of things you're doing. Offensively, just me going against him, I think he's more of a problem inside. It's just harder to avoid those guys and harder to gameplan, but I know the problems he causes when he is on the outside too. I think that's one of the neat things about him that you can put him where you think helps schematically, with whatever switch you're going against, and he could be a problem both places."

When you're dealing with a series of injuries, you mentioned this a bit on Monday, how tangibly does that affect the coverage units on special teams when you have to plug and play a guy that you just picked up off the street on Sunday?

"Just in general, that's one of the biggest things with injuries, not just for us, but for the whole league. The more guys that go down, it hurts you in obvious spots that everyone gets to see, but special teams usually carries most of that. You play with guys sometimes that definitely aren't ready to be out there because you have to put them out there so fast and they haven't been trained and usually if they're available at that time they're not totally ready to go out there either."

What's DL Nick Bosa's temperament been like throughout this season? He seems to get a sack or two a game and kind of just cruising through, but do you see any highs and lows?

"I don't think Bosa changes. You guys see the way he talks. He's a pretty chill guy, I think he thinks a lot. I think he's very intelligent, but he doesn't just talk to talk and he's not a big rah-rah guy. He loves football. He does everything he can to be prepared for those three and a half hours on Sunday. And he does that all-year round and when he gets to Sunday, he gives it everything he's got."

It looked to all the world like the hit that led to Elijah Mitchell's head injury was a cheap shot, a dirty hit. I'm wondering what you saw on that play and if you agree with me, what you guys can do? Do you alert the league, just trust that they're going see it too? How does the team respond when something like that happens?

"We turn everything in a written report and you send it to them with the clips and you get a written report back and they say whether they missed it or not, and that's about it. Dirty to me usually intends that someone had intent to hurt someone on it. So that's why I don't really call it that way. I think it's third-and-one and every inch matters and guys are going hard and a guy came around from the side and Elijah was in a vulnerable position and the guy hit him in a tough spot. That's why I wouldn't say that's dirty on the guy because I don't think he's trying to do that. He's just trying everything he can to stop the guy and you wish that stuff could get seen and you wish it could get called. I also know how fast it is to see things in the heat of battle too for everybody."

On that play, Elijah immediately dropped to the ground, he dropped the ball, T Trent Williams and TE George Kittle immediately waved to the sideline for help. He wasn't moving. Obviously, it's not your call to determine if the guy has a concussion, but is that an example of like the league's protocol and getting cleared on the sideline isn't fool proof because it did look like he in that moment had a concussion?

"Yeah, he got knocked down, got hit pretty hard. I don't think there is any fool proof for that stuff. I think that's what's so tough about it. I think that's why they go through three doctors to get back. They have to go through independent doctors and they didn't think he had concussion symptoms at the time. I know the next day he did have a headache, which with that hit, combined with a headache, you definitely think concussion. That's what's tough about this league and tough about it, but that's what they're trying to get better at. I think we've gotten a lot better at that each year, but I think everybody tries to get better and I don't think we have players on our team, especially Elijah, who if they feel concussed at the time and feel bad, they're not passing that test. Elijah felt alright, came in the next day and feel a little bit different, which happens. You come in the next day with a headache, anything like that, you're going to go in that protocol, as you should, and take some time to get out of that."

On the safety on Sunday, is there anything that Jimmy could have done differently or was that a play where the protection broke down?

"No, that was just too bad of protection right there."

Earlier in year, you talked about one of the things you liked about a potential two-quarterback system was that it would make the upcoming opponent have to prepare for both quarterbacks. Is it just one of those things where like you found that the negatives outweigh that positive?

"Yeah, and also I still continue to like everybody preparing for a quarterback that we might use in situational stuff. But I also know when you put a guy in in situations, they're preparing for what they expect and sometimes you want to get the unexpected."

What happened on the fourth-down play that led to George Kittle not being on the field?

"Because we don't want him for that play. It's schematic stuff, but it has to do with what we think people are best at."

Special Teams Coordinator Richard Hightower

Let's just start off with the first or the second special teams play of the game. What happened on that play on the fake punt?

"Yeah. I'll talk about the first play first because the first play, it was a scary play. And we all were in that situation and I just know [RB Trenton Cannon] Trent means a lot to our team. He means a lot to our special teams unit. He means a lot to this whole organization and to see him go down right there, it was scary. But I don't feel right not talking about that play first, but the second play, we can dive right into that. The second play, we had a call on and it's totally on me. The players couldn't have done anything in that situation at all. We had a call on where we were trying to set up the offense in good field position there and they had the perfect play on, they got us. Bottom line, they got us, they had the perfect play on. So that's what happened on that play."

And do you think you guys have shown that look before and that was kind of an automatic thing for Seattle?

"No, it's not an automatic deal at all and it's a risky deal too. And they got us on that play. That's the bottom line."

Has Seattle ever done that play before to your knowledge? Have you ever seen it on tape?

"The thing about that play is everybody does it. Yeah, everybody's done it before. It's not like people don't do it. Like people do it. And we were in a situation where if they did it right there, it was going to be the perfect play and they got us."

You look at that and watching it over, it looked like you guys had just no chance to defend it with the two guys out on the gunner and RB JaMycal Hasty, I think was the end and you had a six-man line kind of bunched together. So do you have to weigh into that, just how vulnerable that makes you guys for that play?

"Yeah, no doubt. And that's a fair question. It really is. But you also have to weigh in the risk and reward on that play and they took a huge risk and they got a huge reward and most people don't do that, at times in that situation. But could I have had them in a different call? Definitely. And that's totally on me. It's not on the players at all. And I've told them that and they know that and what we're going to do is we're not going to dwell on it. It is like when we win games or when we have great plays, like when we had the play with [DL] D.J. [Jones] and he stopped the fake, we have to move on. Like we can't beat our chest and say, it's great. And we can't dwell on that play and not get ready for Cincy. So they got us, we have to move on and that's part of it. You go into every game thinking you have a great game plan, you really do. And what you work on in practice, what you work on in meetings, countless hours of practice on the field, countless hours of preparation. And when things don't work out, they're frustrating. And when they do work out, they're extremely rewarding. But whether we win or lose, have a good play, bad play, still have to move on. And that's what I'm telling the guys and the competitive fire that drives us is the fire for us to want to be a part of something special and stop a play like that, so that's where we are on that one. And those are all fair questions."

To have those two things that you've had to refer to, the play with Trent and then that other thing happens, the punt return happens so quickly. That's two gut punches. How did you think they responded the rest of the way?

"I think in this league and I've been coaching for 16 years, even more than that if you count other years, but that happens every Sunday. So you have to be able to respond in terms of if you get punched or not punched. The Trent Cannon play doesn't happen every week, that doesn't happen all the time. It's not what I'm saying, but it is going to happen. So we're all professionals and we have to move on and they responded decently for a bit and we all did, but then we had another negative play in the ball game. So we can't have those plays happen and expect to win. And I know that and I have to get better as a coach and all those guys in the locker room are telling me, 'Hey, we have to play better.' And I'm telling them, 'no, I have to coach better.' And that's what kind of family we have. That's what kind of team we have. So I just have to be better as a coach. And they got us on that play. And then they got us on the kickoff play where they punched the ball out on their kickoff coverage, our kickoff return. And it's frustrating. Trust me. It is, but we have to move on. We have to move on and we have to go to the Bengals."

The returners have to hold the ball in the arm that's closest to the boundary, correct?

"It depends. You would like them to do that. You would like the returners to hold the ball in their arm closest to the sideline, but all returners don't do that."

He's a veteran too, so that's something he knows. He hasn't been in that position a while. Is that why?

"No, we coach ball security. [WR] Travis [Benjamin] practices that all the time. And this is an organization I've been with that we talk about ball security more than any other organization that I've ever been with. Every day, every week we have time allotted for it. And Travis has been in this league a long time. Travis knows he needs to hold onto the ball, but again, I have to coach him better. I have to get the ball in his other arm. And even if the ball's in his other arm, he still has to hold onto it. And the thing you have to know on kickoff return, when you're a kickoff returner, is when the traffic comes you need to put the off hand on the ball. We got seven points of pressure that we talk about, that [running backs coach Robert Turner Jr.] Bobby T talks about. We've got all kind of dialogue and dissertation on how to carry a ball, how to do a ball. And we didn't do it in that situation. And that's on me and we have to hold onto the ball."

When facing a team with eight losses, you know they're liable to try something like a fake punt because they're desperate. Was it just one of those situations where you weren't expecting to do it backed up like that?

"Anytime, we've played desperate teams in the past, especially when we were rolling on our Super Bowl run, we've played desperate teams all the time. They had the perfect play in that situation. And we played a ton of desperate teams that didn't do it, but they got us and they got us."

Against the Vikings, they had the kickoff return touchdown. Seattle wasn't wonderful. You mentioned 16 years in the league. Is this the most kind of personal adversity you felt like you've faced?

"Yeah, well it's football. To me football is personal adversity and it builds character. And that's what I like about our locker room and our guys, because we've got the right type of character guys. What we're going to do is we're going to go back to work. Like we've always done, just like we do after a win or a loss and I need to coach better. And obviously they feel like they need to play better. We've had two weeks that are not up to our standard in a row and we can't have that happen if we want to go where we want to go. And we know it's not up to our standard and I believe that we'll get back to our standard. They know, I've told them. We played three bad games this year, two Seattle games and the Minnesota game. Every other game, I have to give those guys credit because they went out there and they did what they were supposed to do. And they did a hell of a job. And those other three games, when we didn't play well, that falls on me and I have to get them better."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan has talked about CB Ambry Thomas having his best game on special teams. What did he do so well?

"Ambry, he just is developing more confidence and he's playing faster and he's starting to learn how to read returns more. And he's just developing more of a mindset of what it takes to play special teams. And he had three tackles in the ball game. We put something in for him that allowed him to go and use his talents the way he knows how to use them. And he felt confident. He was excited about it. He was in my office yesterday again, geeked up. What's the plan this week? So these guys are ready to go. They're ready to respond. And that's what life is. Life is challenges. And what I tell of them is we have to respond, man. That's what we have to do. And Ambry had some adversity early on. He did, he didn't get a chance to dress and do some of those things, but I couldn't be more proud of the way he's responded. But that's what our special team's rooms about. Trenton Cannon had some adversity in the beginning. You guys remember that. You guys were all over it. We were all over Trenton Cannon. I was as a coach, you guys were, everybody was and he responded and played at almost Pro Bowl level. [P] Mitch [Wishnowsky] had some things that he wanted to get better at this offseason. He's gotten so much better in punting and responding to adversity. That's what I want to do. I want to build guys up, build their character, make them respond to adversity, teach them fundamentals, technique and help the football team while doing it. And I can't wait to go to practice. These guys can't wait to go to practice. We can't wait to get back out there and respond to the challenge that's ahead of us, because that's football and that's what we do. That's what we do as coaches. That's what we do for a living, so I love it. I don't blink at adversity. It's time to respond now. And the guys know it."

Is there anything specific that you want to fix on kick coverage after they had a couple big returns in Seattle?

"Yeah, it's a lot of things in that area we need to get better on. And we're working to get better on that. In those areas, the guys are working on getting off blocks. I'm working on my calls, what I'm calling for them to get off blocks and to set them up in different positions. And they're working on tackling and we're going to work on it again today. We've designed some drill work today, cut out just for kickoff coverage. We're always going to do what we always do, but we want to do something a little bit different that we do in training camp today to work on our tackling and work on getting off blocks. And these guys are going to work their tails off. I don't have any qualms about how hard they are going to work and try to get back after it. And they are going to play with relentless effort and they are going to go out there and try to put something on tape that we can be proud of."

Not to make excuses for you since this happens all the time in the NFL, but was Sunday uniquely challenging just because WR Trent Sherfield didn't play on special teams, Cannon obviously got hurt, LB Marcell Harris wasn't there, LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles was mostly defense? Just obviously there's a trickledown effect. Was that uniquely challenging or just kind of just another week?

"Sure. You know me, I'm not going to make excuses. It happens all across the league, all the time and it's my job to, whether it's uniquely challenging or just another day, we have to go out there and we have to play and make plays. And I have to get them ready in the right situation to go out there and make those plays. My dad, obviously, God rest his soul, he didn't allow me to make to make excuses. So to me, it doesn't matter what players on the field. We have to get them ready to go, because the team needs us to get them ready to go. And that's our focus against Cincy is to get them ready to go. That's just where I am. It is challenging, but it's no excuse, no excuse. I don't care when they got here. I don't care if they just got here. I don't care if they've been here. No excuses."

What kind of challenges do you face this week against Cincinnati? What's kind of the hallmark of their special teams?

"Well, Cincinnati, I'm glad you asked. They've been outstanding on special teams for years with [Cincinnati Bengals assistant head coach/special teams coordinator] Darrin [Simmons]. He's been there 19 years as a coach. He's a phenomenal coach. He knows punters and kickers and special teams just as well as anybody. They've got a good returner in [Cincinnati Bengals CB] Darius Phillips, he's a good player. He's a 4.3 player. They got a really good core, got a former pro bowler over there. [Cincinnati Bengals S] Michael Thomas, who I actually know personally, but he's a good player. He's actually from the same area of Houston I'm from. And he's a really good player for them. They picked him up and he's a challenge. We have to make sure we get him taken care of and they've got some really good players. 17, [Cincinnati Bengals WR] Stanley Morgan's a good player. So they play sound. They play relentless. They get after it. They've been good for years and it's going to be a huge challenge for us, but we're excited for the challenge. We can't wait to play these guys. I'm just telling you. So it'll be fun this week."

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

What do you see from the Bengals defense?

"Just overall?"


"They're dealing with a couple injuries. It's kind of where it starts, but they're very talented, good at stopping the run. They kind of crowd the box a little bit and make it tough on you. But yeah, they're talented. The backend, their free safety plays very well reading eyes and just things like that."

Speaking of injuries, Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow's dealing with a pinky injury. You don't think that a pinky is very serious, but for a quarterback, how important is that and how can that sort of affect you when you're throwing?

"I mean, anything on your right hand all comes into play just a little differently. Could affect a spiral. I mean, it all depends how has severe it is, what exactly it is, but it could affect the spiral a little bit, just your grip on the ball overall. And especially when you get into these colder games, it could play a factor."

One of the things your teammates talk about a lot is no matter what, you're always the same guy in the huddle, you're always the same guy on the field. The other day obviously it was a little bit of a rough day. Does that still bother you? Have you flushed it? Have you moved on? Are you on to Cincinnati?

"Definitely bothered me. It's more of just the first 24 hours after the game. I try to, you know, be hard on myself, grade everything like I normally would. And then once you hit that certain point, you've got to move on to the next week. Cincinnati's coming quick. We'll leave on Friday, so feel like a short, different week for us. But yeah, whenever you come off a game like that, you always want to bounce back this week and perform the right way."

When you talk about grading yourself, is that just like a technical look at the tape? And do you have a process for looking at each play and your decision?

"Yeah. I mean, the coaches do their grading process. I kind of have my own just system of going back through things and you try to replay the play in your head, how you saw it. You know, did you do everything the correct way? What did you miss? Where did the error occur? And you just kind try to go back through that process and figure things out that way and it's done well for me in the past."

Is there any one particular play from Seattle that I wish I could have had that one again?

"Yeah. The second interception, definitely. I got greedy with it, kind of put something in my head that I thought it was gonna play out a certain way and certain things didn't happen on the play, so it played out differently. But I just got greedy with it and instead of taking the check down and keep the ball moving, I got greedy."

How does the uncertainty in the backfield this week affect your preparation since those guys are such an important part of your protection and all that?

"It'll affect some things. I think it's more with the coaches, just how they put together the game plan. But whoever we have back there, those guys are pretty interchangeable. They all bring a different flavor to it, but it's just whoever's back, we'll be ready to roll."

You went to Cincinnati two years ago when you were kind of starting out. Have you looked at that film and how different are the Bengals now and what can you take away from that game?

"We looked at it a little bit. They're a much different team, different players, some of the same players have grown and matured. They were rookies back then. But yeah, that's kind of, we want to get back to that style. I mean, we got off to a fast start. Defense had a couple turnovers of that game I remember. And if we could do that, that's when we are really playing our best, play from ahead and let the rest take care of itself."

We saw kind of the winning formula for three games in a row. And then things didn't go that way on Sunday. How do you guys view it? Do you look at that as a step back or just kind of big picture how do you think you guys are right now?

"You know, there were some good things that came from that game. You know, it obviously didn't turn out the way we wanted to, but at the end there, moving the ball like we did, getting it down to the whatever two-yard line or whatever that was. I mean, you do all these, we were just talking about it, all these good, bad and different things that go into the game and all that comes down to is that one play at the end, you know, did he tip it? Did he not? Like you said, you have to look at the big picture of it. We did a lot of good things. What can you take from that game? And then at the same time, all the things that you did wrong, how could you correct them so you don't to make that same mistake again. So there's a balance between the two of them and we're trying to find that."

When WR Deebo Samuel comes back and TE George Kittle puts that kind of game on film, which of course he has in the past, just how much more dynamic does it make the offense, especially in those situations where a defense can't just say we're gonna devote all these sources to George?

"Yeah. It makes it tough, especially in situational ball. When you get to third down, red zone, things like that, that's when they really have to make a choice. Who do we wanna take away? Do we want to give a one-on-one to George, to Deebo and it's really my job to find that one-on-one and take advantage of that."

Obviously you're not going to be unhappy with plays that result in yardage. But when you have a play that you look back on tape and you take the check down and it's successful, but you look back and there's like a clear, explosive option on the table that you could have taken. How do you sort of evaluate that?

"I think it goes into the situation of the game, plays a big role of it. You know, how the momentum is, do you have control of the game? And there's a lot of factors that come into it. Pass rush is also tied into that. But, there's a time and place where towards the end of the game we had to start making some chunk plays and take some bigger chances. But when you could take those check downs and those check downs are getting you eight, 10, 12 yards, it's hard to pass those up. And so, you want to stay on track and do whatever you can to do that, but you've got to be aggressive at the same time."

When you went back and saw Kittle's second touchdown on film and the tight rope act along the sideline, how impressive was that and how helpful is it when he's causing chaos on a field?

"It's very helpful. It was an impressive play by George, but [WR]Jauan [Jennings] and [WR Brandon Aiyuk] B.A. had a nice little hit by, but Jauan really sparked that play just the aggressiveness that he had after he saw George catch it. And that's really the type of team we've got. Guys who are willing to block for each other, guys who are willing to take one for the team and get your brother open so that he could go make a play. And I think when guys could play like that, that unselfish mindset, it creates big plays and creates big plays for everybody."

On the Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner interception, the fact that RB Elijah Mitchell had to go help with the blitz and Seattle Seahawks S Jamal Adams was blitzing, it didn't have much of a play fake. Is that a factor? I know you talked about it after the game, but would you have expected Wagner to bite a little harder if you'd been able to have that play fake?

"You'd think so. Yeah. I think just naturally he would've felt the backfield action that we were doing. I think he would've taken a couple steps down further, but they caught us in a nice blitz right there. Good call by them. And you've just got to be patient and wait to clear the next window, knowing that Bobby didn't get sucked up as much as you wanted to."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he was probably going to go for two if you guys had scored a touchdown at the end. Were you thinking that way as well? I mean, was that sort of the mentality going that you would get eight points on that drive?

"Honestly, I was just trying to get the touchdown first. In the back of my mind, I know Kyle, and just how he's been in the past. I had a pretty good idea that we would go for two, especially, we had the momentum, we were moving the ball, all those things. And yeah, unfortunately we didn't get to that situation, but yeah, I kind of had that feeling."

When you go into a game, do you even know that what the play call will be going for two?

"You have a good idea. We have an idea going into it, but just as a game dictates Kyle will make that call."

You've been involved in giving back to the community. DL Arik Armstead was just nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. How important is it for you as football players to give back, to be a part of your respectful community?

"I think it's a huge part. We have a lot of responsibility when given this platform and just all the eyes that are on us and everything like that. I think when we do something, it stands out and it carries a little bit more weight to it, and it just kind of sets its tone for other people in the community. I'm big with giving back to the kids, love any opportunity, game day, whatever it is, to get a little kid out there and just give them a cool experience, something that a lot of people don't get to experience and these kids are privileged enough to get that chance."


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