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Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan provides final updates ahead of 49ers-Cowboys Divisional Round matchup

Jan 20, 2023 at 4:13 PM

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters after Friday's practice, providing final updates ahead of the team's Divisional Round playoff matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Here is everything he had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Opening Comments:

"Alright, injuries. [QB Jimmy] Garoppolo will be out. [CB] Ambry Thomas, out. That's it."

No questionables?

"Nope, they're all full."

We saw Jimmy coming off the practice field. How's he coming along? Is he working out on the side?

"Yeah, it was the first week he was able to come out in the field, walk around a little bit, do some work out there, so we saw him doing his rehab stuff too as we came out."

How'd he look?


Do you think he might be ready for an NFC Championship game if that's--?

"I'd be surprised, but I think it depends how this whole weekend goes, but I think it's an outside chance."

Super Bowl obviously would be why he's still on the roster?

"I think there'd be a better chance then."

With Ambry, is there an expectation that he'd be available to come back at all?

"Yeah, I think there's a chance he could come back next week too. I don't think we have to now, but he wasn't an IR candidate, so I think he has a chance."

The Cowboys have ruled out Dallas Cowboys OL Jason Peters at left tackle, so how do you see that matchup playing out with a rookie against DL Nick Bosa?

"He's done a hell of a job this year, especially in his first year in this league, so he's played a pretty high level throughout the year. That's where he has been most of the year, so he'll be right back there and it'll be a good matchup to watch."

QB Brock Purdy talked yesterday about in college, he believed he could make something out of anything and sometimes learned that that wasn't true. How would you balance his ability to extend plays and not make mistakes this season?

"I think he's done a real good job. He's extended a number of plays. I think he's made a few mistakes. There's a fine line between all of that, but when there's no play there, you always want guys to extend plays. I think guys get in trouble when they start relying on extending plays before making the play that's there. I think that's sometimes things you have to be careful of, especially when you have some playmaking ability like that. And I think that's stuff that Brock has learned and he's done a pretty good job of. There were a of couple times he extended the play last week where he almost got in trouble and he was able to survive it. And I thought one of the scariest ones was the one he threw to, I think it was [RB] Elijah Mitchell] or [RB] Christian [McCaffrey], I forget which one, because he did it to both of them there at the end, but made a great off schedule that ended up being one of his better plays, so he's done a great job so far and hopefully that'll continue."

Did that happen at the end of second quarter?

"It was the second one he did, so I think it was in the third quarter. I can't remember, it was so long ago."

What was he like off schedule at Iowa State? Did you see a lot of that when you were watching him?

"Yeah, he ran around a lot. I think his first play as a freshman or in his first game, I think he broke like a 50-yarder and did some high stepping on it, which you guys see that come out in him sometimes. That's not why we got him, but it's definitely a huge asset that he leaned on in college and that he's been able to lean on too here in the league so far."

WR Brandon Aiyuk said that sometimes, last year, in his career, he wouldn't get things right away and you'd have to say it another way or have somebody else give an example or teach it in a different way. I guess what's it like as a coach, trying to figure out creative ways, every guy's different, of how to get a concept across and how valuable and rewarding is it to see that finally come to fruition?

"I think that's really what coaching is. I think that's what raising kids are. You work at something, it's your job to help someone, to teach someone something, and that's really all you want it to be. And I think when you have players who realize that's what you're trying to do and they respect you, that's when it really gets fun, but not everyone learns the same way either. You can tell one kid one thing and another kid the other and they see it a totally different way and players are no different, but when you got a guy who's willing to learn and wants to, if you try and they're not learning it, but they put the work in and they understand, but they're just not seeing it that way, then it's your job to find another way. And we always talk about how you frame things and how you frame one thing to one person might sound completely different to another and so that's why you, you can articulate it, but then you like to see the tape, then you like to show them examples then you like to see how they do it without talking to them. And sometimes you can get to the end result faster with some than others, but the main thing is if guys are willing and you work at it, you can eventually get there."

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said that he's not preparing for Brock Purdy as if he were a rookie. Was there a moment in time when you came to the realization like, yeah, we've got a non-typical first year player?

"I felt that during the Miami game. That was a game with a lot of high stakes. We were playing a real good team. He came in real early in the game and we were under a lot of duress, the way that their defense was playing, the way they were coming after us and he didn't play at all like a rookie in that game. And I remember getting home that night and all of us being pretty down about losing Jimmy, that we did get in there with Brock and as I was going to bed and it kind of hit me that he definitely didn't play like a third-stringer today. And we'll see how it goes this week, but we felt pretty good then. And you have to see when you go to his first start, but he looked the same way in practice that whole week and had a hell of a first start. And I think we all quickly forgot that he's a rookie."

The different overtime playoff rules, how does that impact your strategy if it comes up? Have you thought much about that?

"Yeah, I got a whole huge write up on it from our analytics department. I'll read most of that probably at the hotel or Sunday morning, but I don't think it changes much. We'll see if any percentages they tell me change, but I think it comes down to trying to score every time you can and that helps you win if you do."

This game has brought in fans from all over the nation, the 49ers. We've talked fans from Dallas, 49ers fans from Miami. Tell us what the fans mean to the team and to you for a weekend like this. Do the fans matter?

"Yes, are you trying to set me up? I'm not trying to be cheesy also and say the fans are everything, but they are. We all love football, but we also all love making a living and supporting our families and that's because the fans love watching this sport and the more they get into it the bigger the sport is. And I've been a fan of football my whole life. I think I was as big as a fan you can be and I was always a fan of wherever my dad was working, but when you watch people who have the same passion who feel that same way that you can relate to, it's really cool. And we had a big deal today just going back and kind of showing our players the history of the Niners and we started with the '82 game, the catch then I showed them the '92 game, the '93 game, the '94 game and just to see all that history that, so everyone kind of has an idea of what Dallas and the Niners mean to people. When I moved here in '92, I didn't really know, I just knew the Niners were the team of the 80s and I felt like they were the Yankees of football and I was in sixth grade, but all I heard about was this big rivalry with Dallas that I guess it was from '82, but I was too young to know that. And then I knew all about the rivalry because I was here in '92, '93, '94 and then our players go there last year and they don't really know about it, but it was cool this year to kind of go back and show everything and then we kind of finished with our game last year, which was 2021 to show them that they're part of it and to see stuff might change, some of the film changes, but it's all really the same and it was really cool to watch and see the differences and to know that they're in that moment right now."

In retrospect with the benefit of hindsight, the first play for Brock against Tampa Bay, the blitz, did that end up in the big picture, being using good for his development there to get him snapped onto the right page to be able to notice that stuff? Or was just a blip?

"That was just a blip. I think it was good for that game because he got hit so hard and he didn't get injured from it, sometimes that gets you a lot more alert, but he was just amped up and ready to go and he got a little overzealous on a check and made a quick mistake and he's been pretty good at not making them again, but that was an interesting first play, probably one of the worst guys that you could miss protection against in [Tampa Bay Buccaneers S] Keanu Neal, but fortunately, he got 15 yards out of it."

Is there a moment maybe the Miami game where he hit TE George Kittle on the cover zero where you look at it in hindsight now and you're like, oh, maybe something clicked for him on a gameday kind of level?

"Yeah, I think it happened a number of times in that first game. Like I think there was just a couple times he came out and he had a guy there who was open, but he thought he might be able to get a guy deeper or maybe a guy who could maybe be more open if he looked to someone else and he did that a couple times in that game and he ended up with no yards. And I think that is good that happened, because you have to go in there and understand it. I love the attitude. You'd always take the longer one, chicks dig the long ball and there's a reason for that. It's a lot more fun and easier and that's why I like the mentality of Brock, but if you go out there looking for that every single time, you're going to learn the hard way, so you have to be aggressive, attack what they give you, never hesitate to go if they give you that one, but you can ride with a guy with that type of mentality, that type of attitude, but you don't want people being stupid and decided on Wednesday where they're going with that ball. You have to decide in that pocket and you realize that he is an aggressive dude, but he learned this is the league. People are fast. You have to make the right decision. You can't just go for the more fun one."

Can you give me your assessment of OL Spencer Burford with just how he's played his rookie season and how he did in his first playoff game and what it is you like about him in general?

"He's done a great job. Some of the people we lost on our o-line last year and some of the new things we had to do this year going into the draft. We took a shot on him there in the fourth round. He had a lot of talent. Got to play a lot there, but we didn't know if he'd be able to come in and be ready right away. We thought we might have to develop him a little bit and for him to come in and us throw him in there, right in OTAs and him be able to hold that spot down, he's done a great job. Battled through an ankle sprain about a month ago, but it was really cool because I thought that last week was his best game of the year, so he's been getting better each game and he's got a chance to really help us here over the next few years."

How was the Niners Cowboy stuff presented? Did you have the old TV copy?

"Yeah, I just watched all the games and we have it all intercut so I could just pick plays that I like and you have to pick the right ones or it takes way too long."

You didn't show them former Dallas Cowboys WR Alvin Harper's big play?

"I did. Oh, in '93, I didn't do much in '93. I did in '92. He got a big jump ball. It was cool. He got a big one. It was on [former 49ers DB] Eric Davis. It was an unbelievable jump ball. Had him covered well, it was a skinny pump and made the play, but it was also cool then the show the things that Eric Davis did two years later in '94 with that third play the pick-six, the next drive on third-and-18 stripping [HOF WR Michael] Irvin on the fumble. It cool to show them [HOF QB] Steve [Young] and all the pressure that was on him in '92 and then to try again in '93 and even get more pressure and then to come back and to see how much it means to people when you have to really fight for something and I thought that was the cool stuff to watch."
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