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Everything Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo said ahead of 49ers-Saints Week 12 matchup

Nov 25, 2022 at 4:59 PM

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo spoke with reporters after Friday's practice, providing final updates ahead of the team's Week 12 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Opening Comments:

"Alright, the injuries. [DL Arik] Armstead is doubtful. [WR] Deebo [Samuel], questionable. That's all we got."

What has Armstead been doing to be able to elevate him from out the previous weeks to doubtful?

"He just keeps passing every test and today was his first day to get into practice, so it was a big step for him."

Is Deebo's hamstring a continuation of his earlier issue?

"No, it was something different. We got back at like seven in the morning, I'm sure he went home and slept for a while. It was a little weird day. He didn't feel it much on Tuesday. Got the information on Wednesday and then we were safe about it."

I'm sure the Pro Football Focus stats are hardly the gospel as far as coaches go, but there was one the other day that had DL Charles Omenihu over the last two games with the same amount of pressures as DL Nick Bosa and Buffalo Bills LB Von Miller league-wide, I guess they all have 14. Just curious as your thoughts on what he's done for you and meant for you this year, he was an in-season acquisition last year and seems to have ascended from there?

"Yeah, I think Charles has done a real good job. I think he helped us out last year when we got him. I know he did that right at the trade deadline and I think especially towards the end of the year he started making some plays for us, going back to the Dallas game and everything. He's even better this year, more used to what we do. He's put in a lot of work and he's been huge as this year's gone. Especially missing some guys and not having [DL] Samson [Ebukam] last week. And the depth of our D-line is very important to us to keep all those guys fresh and when you have some talented dudes you can roll in there, you can keep making plays."

One more Pro Football Focus question, they gave T Trent Williams the highest grade of his career in the Cardinals game. You obviously have seen quite a bit of Trent Williams, where would you kind of rank that outing?

"Not the highest of his career."

Is there a game that stands out?

"It's so hard with me with O-lineman because the memorable plays are… I mean he had some cool ones in the Arizona game, getting him out there on [S] Budda [Baker] on the trailer we ran. He's got some neat highlight plays, but the best games are usually the ones that I don't even remember with the O-line because they just didn't do one mistake the entire game, but Trent always does something neat every game that is fun for anybody to watch."

With the offense coming together at this point, is it not that surprising that it's taken some time and the whole offseason was with one quarterback and then it's adjusting to a completely different one?

"Yeah, usually it takes care of itself unless you have a bunch of drastic injuries and I think we had a few at some key positions early in the year. Starting with the quarterback, you know the most important part. Also, with the running back losing [RB] Elijah [Mitchell], so you do have to do some adjusting, but I also think in all those games it wasn't that we weren't capable. I thought we weren't very consistent. When you're not very consistent you don't get as many opportunities. I didn't think we had many games where we just laid an egg in terms of not being able to move the ball and stuff, but we didn't score enough points and to me, that's just everyone working together and trying to get consistent and I thought we have been doing that more in the last month or so, but it was nice to finally fully put together a game together last week. But yeah, I feel like we are getting better. The more we play together, the better we do, but we're still not there yet at all and we have to keep making sure we're getting better because if not, you're going to end up getting worse."

Kind of big picture thing, you guys always talk about yards after catch, yards after contact. When and how did physicality always become such a primary tenant of what you want to do offensively?

"I think it's adjusting to your players and what you do best. I always truly believe in that. I think, especially when you run the ball, you have to have that mentality. I always played receiver growing up and really enjoyed receiver the most and got into the league starting to coach receivers and so I've always challenged those guys a lot and I think when you put that into a coordinator's perspective or a head coach's perspective, I always feel it can really make your team a lot more aggressive and then when you get guys like Deebo, who plays a certain way and then everyone sees him play that way and then you show it a lot, you tie it in how it into helps the team, I think it kind of feeds off each other and I think that's been the most important thing with our physicality, that we got the guys to do it, we emphasize it and we know it helps us win."

When you see it work the way it does, does it become more of an emphasis for you in the draft and free agency and things like that?

"There's so many different ways to do it. Sometimes when you go a certain direction with stuff and you make a mistake or it doesn't pan out the same way you want, you kind of overdo the opposite. A lot of times in my life, you always look for a receiver who has the skillset to separate the most and beat people and then you sometimes see a guy who maybe isn't quite the same, but he affects the game so much more because the physicality of it. Either way, but sometimes, we really wanted to go that way with Deebo, we felt we were lacking some physicality like in our first few years with receivers. I loved that with [WR] Pierre [Garcon]. That's why we brought Pierre here and then Pierre after he got his neck he ended up retiring and I feel like we hadn't had that since and I thought that's what we were missing just from a toughness team and that's why we like Deebo so much and Deebo came in, we knew we were getting that. And then he brought so much more to it. And once you see that you don't ever want to draft another guy who's not like that, at least has that physicality. It might not be the same, but you want to draft people who are similar and I think that's just the way we've ended up becoming."

Coming off the holiday and like you said, a weird week. Where would you say the team's energy is headed into Saturday's walkthrough and after Tuesday?

"I just love the practice that we had. The main thing we've had to adjust was just getting back so late and being on the short week. Today was the first day that we took a full speed rep. We usually don't do that after Monday night games, we always do so on Wednesday, but we always do full speed on Thursday. This was the first time that we've waited all the way until Friday. We felt that we needed to, but because we did that we had more full speed stuff today than usual, so I was curious how they were going to be after not doing that all week and having Thanksgiving yesterday and those guys came out and they were going. You could tell they're feeling good and you could tell that they're excited and ready to go for Sunday."

On Deebo's touchdown run, TE Tyler Kroft's block where he starts right and then does a 180, I assume that wasn't invented it's been done before, but when did you first start implementing that?

"I think the first time we did it was 2019. We did a few times that year. Had a lot of success with it and after that year you see it on every single team at least almost once a game, but it ties well to what we do because you pull the guard, which is what you do on a lot of plays, but then when the tight end's going it looks like what you do on counter, so the linebacker has got to go and run over, so you just get them to go, then you get the lead blocker, but it ties to a lot of runs. It's stuff a lot of people do now though."

Who was the tight end when you when you first used it?

"We've done it with all the guys. It's been a tight end or fullback though, so."

And where did that inspiration come from?

"I think just watching how people played our gap schemes, just watching them run and we started running a lot more rounds because people were defending our run very well and we got some really good guys to do it, so once you did the normal ones you had to come up with some more creative ones. And the best way to come up with a creative one is to watch how they're stopping your runs and see where the overplay is and try to plan something off of that."

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

What was Mexico like for you? To walk in and see that?

"The media part? Pretty wild. I had some warning in the locker room that it was a lot of people, I didn't expect it to be like that. That was literally like the Super Bowl, but it was cool. It was the whole world watching. It was fun."

When you look back to the Denver game and what a struggle that was. And there was so much negative publicity afterwards about you and the team and the offense, now you're like the toast of the town several weeks later. I'm just curious to say your perspective on that. And is that just what the position is about?

"Yeah, that's that the life of a quarterback. It's always going to be a rollercoaster. Every season is, no one's going to just be perfect the whole season, but I think the good teams find a way to just be right down the middle during the ups and downs. A lot of things are said out there. A lot of people have opinions, but our locker room is steady. I think we have a good group of leaders in there, which plays a big role and the rest of the guys kind of follow suit and it's worked out well for us."

This isn't a shot at any of the previous running backs you've had, but your third down percentage since RB Christian McCaffrey got here has gone up like 12% or something like that. Particularly in the pass game, how much easier does he make your life on that down?

"A lot easier. A lot easier. All the backs though. I mean, [RB] Elijah [Mitchell] and [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice have gotten in there a decent amount too. It's a good group. It's a good group, when you as a quarterback can look at a concept, read it out, and if you don't like it, you know you got an outlet on the backside or whatever it is and that's going to get you a first down. That's a really good feeling. It's a comfort, a blanket, whatever you want to call it, but just having a group like that, that's smart. Christian's awesome and everything, but that whole group, as a whole, has been really impressive this year and I commend them."

So, for you, let's say it's third-and-six or something in a normal situation where you maybe would want to throw it past the sticks, if you see RB Christian McCaffrey three yards short, you're maybe a little more willing to take that check down now, is that fair to say?

"Yeah. Yeah. Honestly, Christian for sure, any of these guys. [WR] Deebo [Samuel] gets ball in his hands he's going to get yards. [TE] George [Kittle], [WR Brandon Aiyuk] B.A., [WR] Jauan [Jennings] has made a ton of plays. Our guys are tough to tackle and it makes it tough on a secondary."

When you go to a game like the one Monday night, I'm assuming you're at some point anticipating a six-man line and that running the ball is going to be like pounding your head against the wall. Do you get kind of the heads up, 'like, hey, if they're doing this, we're going to throw a lot.' How do you go into that game mindset wise?

"That's kind of more [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] thinking that way. Honestly, going into that game, I knew we were going get that six-man line. I was just waiting for it. That defensive coordinator has done that to us in the past, so kind of a good idea it was coming. I was excited, as a quarterback, that's your dream. Getting six linemen in there, you know it's going to be easy to throw on that stuff, so when our run game is doing what it does like that anda teams want to take that away, it makes the pass game a lot easier."

Do you kind of look at that often times and say, 'oh, you're playing a six-man line, we'll make you pay,' like you're not given the passing game enough respect?

"Yeah, I mean with five skill guys like we got, plus the guys coming in exchange, I don't know why you'd do it, but it's a pick your poison type of thing. It honestly is. We just got be able to play both ways and I think we did a good job of that on Monday. We got to do that again this week."

During the end of your press conference Monday, you mentioned, not for the first time this year, but you and Kyle growing together. You've touched on this a little bit in the past, you've been here since 2017. What is different about this year?

"Shoot, it was a different type of offseason. I think everything that happened with [QB] Trey [Lance], I think it kind of happened like that. Just the whole situation and I don't know, we just have a more mature group this year I think. When Kyle is calling plays like he is and just letting me get the ball out and letting the guys run with it, it makes for an easy style of offense. And I think when you tie that to a good running game, it's hard to stop. Me and Kyle, we got ways to go, obviously, we're nowhere near perfect, but it's just moving in the right direction and we're talking the same language right now, which is good."

Does your mind ever wander to what you're going to be doing a year from now?

"I'm trying to worry about red zone today, man (laughing). No, I'll worry about that at the end of the year. There's too much going on right now, especially in a short week like this. It's been a bit of a catch-up week, so had to catch up on sleep, catch up on our film stuff, but yeah, we'll worry about that when we get there."

How do you keep that focus? Like does that come natural to you or is it something you have to kind of work at? Just how you balance your day, your week and just remain on point?

"I think routine's a big part of it. I just love football, man, so that kind of makes it easy. There will be times throughout the season where you want to kick back a little bit and relax, but no, I love football. It's easy waking up every morning, going after it, and we don't have to work real jobs, we're football players, so we're lucky man, you have to take advantage of it."

Piggybacking on Branch's question a little bit. Is it not surprising that it's taken a little time for the offense to gel, considering that they spent the offseason preparing with one quarterback and then like you said, just like that it was a new one?

"Yeah, I know people don't want to hear this, but I think the reality of it is I didn't go through training camp with these guys and I know I've played a lot of football with them, but just that timing aspect. Going back to Denver and things like that, we were going through training camp that week of practice. And as weird as that sounds, I think we've gotten better and better each week. Guys are just on the same page. We're talking the same language and when you can do that as a skill group and a quarterback, I think it makes you dangerous. And I think we're moving in that right direction."

You mentioned the term pick your poison a few times. When you have as many guys as you do who are star players, effective players that they've talked about maybe needing to sacrifice for the other one. How do you, as the quarterback kind of digest I want to make sure everybody's involved, like Monday obviously would be ideal if you could do that every time, but realistically, knowing that it can't, how do you kind of work through that?

"It starts with the guys, it really does the mindset of them, just our whole team, I think in general. If you have a selfish group, you couldn't make this work, but that's what I love about our team so much. Especially this O-line, those guys are awesome. They've been doing a phenomenal job, but the skill guys have really just bought into, alright, it's not me, it's we. We have to buy into it as a team. And that's when teams go far and make these runs in the playoffs and things like that. It's unselfish football, it's having good people in the building, I think top down that's very important. We've been doing a good job of that and I think shows on the field."

You didn't go through training camp with them, but seeing the preseason games, it didn't always look good with the offensive line. Have you been pleasantly surprised? What's been your thought at just how that group has come together?

"I honestly haven't been that surprised. I knew they were a good group. Last year they were good group, brought in a couple different guys this year, but they work well together. I think [Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator] Chris Foerster doesn't get enough credit just getting those guys ready. How they prepare for the blitz packages, third down, everything. It's very impressive and it makes my life really easy, when they block like they did on Monday, it makes everything easier and that's where it all starts."

Can you tell with OL Jake Brendel, he has been around, I guess he wasn't here the COVID year, but being around him, did you feel like you guys could just pick up where you left off with former 49ers C Alex Mack?

"He had some big shoes to fill. Alex did a great job last year, but I thought Jake stepped in this year. Jake's as on it as anybody, he's getting these tough looks in practice, it's not easy for a center, especially in our offense with everything we do, all the motion that isn't easy. And he makes it look easy and does a great job of it. Just getting those guys on the same page, even with the rotation that we do at right guard, it's been impressive. I love those guys up front, man. They fight."

There's been some discussion about some of your off-schedule plays, like your first touchdown to TE George Kittle in Mexico and the throw to WR Ray-Ray McCloud III against the Chargers. It's not like you were a robot before, but is there something to that? That you do have a little more freedom because there was a throw to George where you could have run for a first down or you could have thrown.

"I appreciate that. I think I could have got it too running. I think it just comes with familiarity of the offense. There're certain plays where I get the ball and whether it's not a good play or they ran the perfect coverage to defend it and you just kind of have a feeling. This play's not perfect here and I might have to make something work. That's just being a football player. I thought we've done it a couple times this year. I think back to the Rams game, [RB] Christian [McCaffrey] had a great one on his touchdown catch, Ray-Ray like you said, those plays just kind of happen. It's hard to practice those in practice, but when you have guys who are just football players and feel space and they want the ball, I think that's a big part of it, that these guys want the ball in their hands and they're going to do whatever they can to get open. That's just playing ball at the end of the day. And we have guys that do that and that's what I love about them."

Do you have the freedom to just play ball?

"I think that just kind of comes with the position. I don't know, freedom, familiarity, whatever you want call it. I think it's kind of all the same thing, but yeah, we feel good."

Did you get a chance to talk to HOF QB Steve Young on the flight home Monday Night?

"No, I was watching film and sleeping."

Did you see him?

"No, we're kind of separated, the players and everyone else, so I didn't get a chance. I didn't even know he was on the flight to be honest."
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