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Kyle Shanahan, Brock Purdy preview 49ers-Eagles NFC Championship Game matchup

Jan 25, 2023 at 8:27 PM--


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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brock Purdy spoke with reporters as the team prepares for its NFC Championship Game matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. 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. [QB] Jimmy Garoppolo, foot, will not practice. [RB] Christian McCaffrey, calf, won't practice. [WR] Deebo Samuel, ankle, won't practice. [RB] Elijah Mitchell, groin, won't practice. [DL] Charles Omenihu, oblique, will be limited. [CB] Ambry Thomas, ankle, limited. Go ahead."

What is Charles's status with the team after the arrest on Monday? You said he's going to practice, is he going to be available for the game.

"Yeah, we're letting the legal process take care of itself, so if he's healthy, he'll play this week."

If indeed what's been alleged or if you have reason to believe that's accurate, does it give you any pause to play him after he allegedly pushed his girlfriend down?

"We've looked into it for the last 24 hours or 48 hours, not necessarily myself, but other people, we feel very good letting the legal process take care of itself and we don't feel we should kick him off our team at this time."

Was the injury to Deebo something new or are you concerned about that at all?

"It's been there for a little bit and I think it'll be alright, but it concerned us enough to not let him go today."

Did Jimmy Garoppolo have an x-ray yesterday? You indicated Monday, you thought that was happening on Tuesday?

"Yes, and I don't expect to have him this week."

All of those people that you mentioned are key people, do you expect them to all be available for the game Sunday?

"Yeah, I expect them to, but there's no guarantees. Especially being the NFC Championship game, I think there's a better chance they'll be ready since there's nothing guaranteed after this, so hopefully. We'll keep our fingers crossed."

In terms of play calling and play design, how much is your method of teaching those things so that they're executed properly changed over the years or has it changed much?

"Yeah, it changes based off of how people play them, so you have to look at what the techniques are that week, how the d-line play, how linebackers play, coverages, how people are coached, how schemes change, so plays are just plays. It's how you tie them together, how you hide them, how you do things off of them and it's how you coach them."

Is there a lot of video in terms of we want it to look this way?

"You start on paper, so they know how it looks on paper, but then you have to show them video because there's guys in front of those routes that are drawn on paper, so you have to show versus all different types of looks and some guys learn better on paper, some do it visually off film and we always do both."

We see LB Fred Warner leading the team in huddles, out of huddles many times a day and I'm sure he does it other times. How comforting is it for you to know he's got some of that taken care of? I imagine most of that's energy and do you ever tell Fred, Hey, maybe can you say a little this at any time? Do you ever?

"Yeah, I do sometimes. I usually do at halftime when we're all doing a bunch of stuff, a bunch of adjustments, things like that. And I usually have Fred talk to the guys right before we go out, but Fred's always going to talk because he is a true leader. And Fred should be the guy who talks because of how he carries himself every day. Everyone knows how good of a player he is, but when it comes to what he does day in and day out since he's been here, his attention to detail at practice and meetings and in games, he's ahead of everybody and so he earns that by his play and by how he carries himself."

The stat about how a team has not won after playing you in the regular season seems to speak to your team's physicality. Are the Eagles a team that can, I don't know, stand toe-to-toe and match that physicality?

"Dallas did that last week. Teams come ready to play. I just feel like we seem to do it every single week, but this is the playoffs and it's very rare that you don't get a team that gives all they have at this time of year, so I feel we're used to doing that week in and week out, but this time of year that's what you expect from everyone."

You had a match up with Philadelphia Eagles LB Hassan Reddick early in his career when he was in Arizona, how has he changed as player? How has he improved?

"I think he's playing in a real good scheme for him. I think he gets a lot more opportunities. And I just think pass rushers, the more they play in this league and stay healthy and hang around, the better they get. It's hard to rush the quarterback in this league and he's gotten better each year and he's playing at the top of his game right now and he's always been a good player. We love him coming out of college, but you can tell he just gets better and better each year."

You said the other day that QB Brock Purdy got a taste of work in silent count in Seattle. How did he do in that scenario and how can you kind of simulate and help him with that this week?

"We'll do the same thing we did that week. That was huge just because that was our first game really all year that it was that important and Brock hadn't had experience with it and so it was great to have that, especially with us going to Philly. I remember I was talking about that that week that we needed that. We needed that rep in case we ended up in the NFC championship at Philly and we got that and very fortunate that we did. And I feel we're good to go. He knows what to expect, he knows how we do it and we'll give him reps at it all week, but he got it ready on just a Wednesday when he played Thursday, so I feel like won't be an issue this week."

Just crank up the music?

"Yeah, crank it up."

Has the playcalling gotten better with him since he's come in, is that more fluid since December?

"Yeah, I think he's been pretty fluid from the beginning, but I mean it gets easier and easier each week. There's lots of times that the headset will cut off and there's a number of times we don't have to use the timeout because he's got a lot of those plays memorized anyways. I think he gets better at anticipating the calls that I'm going to do, so once he starts to hear a formation, I always finish it, but he's already walking to the huddle, kind of finishing what I'm saying, so he was good from the beginning and he is only getting better at it."

You've talked about DL Arik Armstead a lot, but I'm curious what your impressions of him were as an offensive coordinator in the league before you got here and how your view of him changed while coaching him during your time here?

"I remember going against the Niners defense the most in '16 when we were in Atlanta and their season was kind of over. And I didn't get to notice those guys much, Armstead and [Indianapolis Colts DL DeForest Buckner] Buck because the way they were playing the whole game they were in, they weren't penetrating, they were in frog stances and playing real sound run defense and we weren't really attacking him that way, so I remember not being sure on the overall of the defense playing against him with Atlanta. And then when I got it kind of hunker down and we looked into the job, being able to watch him, Buck, [DB] Jimmie Ward, just to see some of the pillars that they already had and we we're hoping that we could get something and help them."

When you guys beat them in Week Two last year, Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts looked a little bit raw still at that time. What have you seen about him that has improved and that team in general that's different from when you guys beat them in Week Two last year?

"He's just gotten more consistent. You can see in that game, the ability that he has and what he was close to doing a number of times. He made some big throws in that game and we contained him fairly well, but I think we're up 17-3, with five minutes to go and then he started getting going again and they brought it right into a one score game so you could see the ability that he had real early on and I know towards the end of that year he started getting on a roll and that's when why they ended up making the playoffs last year because of how good he got after that, but we could see signs of it in that game and now just watching him this year hearing about it, he is borderline NFL MVP and then turning the film on these last two days, he's just like how he was with potential and now he's doing it down in and down out.

Is there anything specific that Brock saw on Sunday from the Dallas Defense that can prep him for what he'll see on Sunday from the Eagles' defense?

"I think Dallas' defense was the first defense in a while for us that was really good in all their areas. Just at the D-line, in the middle with the linebacker and the secondary and the way they played. So that was a true playoff defense and then put a lot of pressure on our guys and I thought it was great test for him because I don't think he played much different than he had in all the other games. Stuff was tighter, things were harder, but he still protected the ball very well and made a few big plays in some key moments. That third-and-two slant to [WR Brandon] Aiyuk, the third-and-three to [RB] Christian [McCaffrey] in a tight area, the slant to [TE George] Kittle on a first down that was a big one. So, that was a game where every single play felt like it was the most important play in the game and it could go either way and he played like he always has."

Is it pretty remarkable to think back to training camp when he's only getting about five snaps in team drill or five passes in team drills? How did he maximize those opportunities to show you something?

"It is. I think he was pretty good in in those times. When you get a quarterback where we did and you already have two guys, in an ideal world you're hoping to keep that guy on the practice squad, but he was looking so good in his reps in practice that eventually we let him go in the game and then he looked that way in the game, so we thought it'd be way too much of a risk to lose him, so that's why we ended up having to make the decision we did. Which isn't always fun for overall roster, but I'm sure glad that we did it and he looked that way right away. And so he has a natural ability to play the position and that's why he's fun to coach because when he does make mistakes and do things, he can see it, he can know why, we can see it and we can all understand it, which gives him a chance to get better."

Armstead had a play where he had a shot at Dallas Cowboys QB Dak and he didn't really take it because he was afraid of taking a penalty and that's a sort of a dilemma you'll face a lot coming up on Sunday. How do you sort of navigate that with Jalen when he's running?

"We talk about that every week, week in and week out. That one was, I think it wasn't that he was just scared to get the penalty. It was that where he was, he thought he was going to throw it so he was getting ready to put his hands up to tip it and then all of a sudden, I think it shocked him that he didn't do it and then he was in an awkward position, so that's stuff that you talk about all the time. It's a huge challenge for these guys. We are expecting this quarterback to run it. We are expecting him to lower his shoulder, so we always have to come out and treat him like a running back until he gives himself up, which is sliding or being in that pocket and when he does, our guys are good enough athletes to have to deal with it."

Is he a good slider?

"Yeah, he's a good slider."

Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has obviously been heavily sought after, how would you describe his strengths as a coordinator?

"I think it starts as a man. He's the ideal leader with whatever he does, he was that way when he came in to Houston as a rookie linebacker. He took over that defense right away. You could tell who was in charge when he was a 21-year old. He came in here as a quality control and within like six months we moved him to linebacker coach and he's always been that guy and then just watching him over these two years what he took in his years learning to get there, how much better he runs the system and then he adjusts every week. He sees how to play an offense, he pays attention to offense and defense. I thought he was ready last year to be a head coach and I hope his wife doesn't get mad, but I hope he's not a head coach next year, but if he is, he more than deserves it."

With all the motion that you do, kind of forcing defenses to react to what you guys are doing, how much does that prevent the defense then from giving a disguise coverage and having a rookie quarterback, how much does that benefit him if that's all the case there?

"That's up to them. Sometimes you can keep your disguises and sometimes it makes it more challenging, so that's just what other people decide to do. If they want to decide to do that and maybe that can make it harder for them or harder for us, but maybe it can make them late to some things we want to hit pretty quick, so there's give and take to everything and that's why you try to see everything as not a problem as someone's causing a problem on something, it usually opens up a good thing in another area and you have to balance how you gameplan so you can do that."

FB Kyle Juszczyk said that you have a sort of a different development pattern for rookies, to make sure they get a lot of reps, make sure they get a lot of attention as opposed to where he started his career. Is that an intentional thing on your part that you came up with? And the second question is, this is your third time in the last four years at this level. Obviously, you were in the Super Bowl with Atlanta, there's some frustrations obviously from those previous ones. How do you not let those frustrations get to you at a moment like this?

"I don't read all your articles. I just treat it as a football game and when you lose big games, those are hard, real hard however they happen and you have to deal with that forever, but I feel like that's what kind of hardens you to it and makes you get back to the reality of what it really is. It's the reality of it is it's a really good football game that I loved watching growing up. It was probably my favorite thing to do in the world and I feel very blessed that I get to be somewhat a part of it. And you prepare so hard during the week, you don't think about that other stuff. The players are playing the game, we're coaching the game and you go off exactly what you think based off your preparation and what you've worked at to try to learn and you don't ever look back. The only time that I ever have regrets in games is when I feel I've made decisions that I didn't want to make or you don't feel like that was the right decision, you went for another reason. It's been a long time since I've done something like that and when you do that, you're excited for these moments, win or lose. A lot of people don't like the pressure of it, players, people in general because you put yourself out there and it's really tough if you don't come up victorious, but like I've always said and heard growing up, there's only one team that's happy at the end of the year and the other 31 teams aren't and you always keep going and try to be that team and you do that until you're done playing or until you're done coaching."

And the rookie development?

"Rookie development is more just player development. This isn't college, you don't just get redshirt years and guys who think they do get that are usually out of the league in two-to-three years, so it's more that I don't necessarily think it's just rookies, I guess our whole building does that, but I put pressure on a lot of people because the guys that think they have time, just the more experience you have, you realize they don't have time. It might be the next play, which everyone says, but I think if Brock Purdy would've thought he had this whole year, it would've ruined our whole team's season. I try to tell that to running backs all the time, to wide receivers. We've played with like four-to-five backs, I think six years in a row, so the practice squad guys are pretty important too. The guys who think they're just doing practice squad and you have a couple injuries and the only way you can get to the playoffs or go to the playoff games is if you have good guys on practice squad or good rookies ready to step up, so there's not just guys usually sitting out of out there waiting to know your scheme and replace people."

QB Brock Purdy


Do you think that the Cowboys were the best defense that you've faced to date, and if so, how do you think that's kind of prepared you for your opponent on Sunday?

"Yeah. I do, I think they had a great front. I thought their secondary was really talented and skilled, so all around, I think their scheme was really good too. I do think it was one of the best defenses that I've seen, that our team has seen this year. And obviously, this week's going to be a great challenge with the front that Philadelphia has, so I thought it was a good game to have and to work through and learn from for this week's matchup."
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said that back before the Seattle game you worked silent count that week and he even then was thinking like, this could be good because we may play Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game. Did he mention to that to you at the time and what is the key to being good at working silent?

"Yeah. When we played Seattle that week and everything, he did say it was good preparation for what we might have to play in, in terms of the playoffs, going on the road for road games and obviously for Philadelphia. Everything in these kinds of games is all about communication. How can you operate smoothly, get in and out of the huddle, get the play off in the right way, make sure everyone's on the same page, so that's definitely a big emphasis this week just at practice with the little things, the details of communicating and being on point. And that starts with the cadence, so it's going to be huge for us."
Along those lines, the headset went out for one play on Sunday on a third down or something like that?

"Yes. Yeah."
Does that happen a lot? How do you handle it? What do you do in that situation?

"It was really just a personnel issue that we had. We we're trying to get the right amount of guys on the field and obviously the play clock was going down and so it just became one of those things where we got the play in a little late and we just ran what I heard, but it wasn't the exact right play. In the moment, that's just on us players I feel like, to be prepared and know what coach is trying to call. I put that more on myself than anything, but I think other than that, Kyle does a great job of getting the play in and everything operating pretty smoothly."
Was that the first time that's ever happened or–?

"There was a couple other times early in the year, but we got the play off in the right way. That was the first time we didn't get to play in, and then we ran the wrong play, so it happens, it's part of the game, but we want to do our best to eliminate those kind of things from happening."
Does head coach Kyle Shanahan ever call a play and you say to yourself, I don't like it, and then you call your own play?

"No, whatever he calls I have full faith and trust and I run it."
Can go back to training camp and I remember you didn't get many opportunities, obviously, probably about 10% of the team snaps, so how did you deal with that? Was it frustrating and just how did you try to maximize the opportunities?

"Yeah, at the time, obviously, [QB] Trey [Lance] and [Detroit Lions QB] Nate [Sudfeld] were taking the majority of the reps, and so I got a couple plays at the end of each period, but for me it was how can I do the reps that I have to the best of my ability, to do everything, the little things, right. I didn't make it more than what it was. I just kept it simple, went through my reads and showed them that I can take care of the simple plays that they give me throughout practice, but I definitely wanted to have the opportunity that I had to show them that I can play, so that was just about build building trust back then."
What do you remember from the college game against Oklahoma when you and Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts went up against each other, do any memories that stand out from that game?

"Yeah it was a game, obviously there was a lot of points scored, it was almost like you had to score every single time you had the ball. Different situation and scenario than what we're about to go through on Sunday, but it was a fun college game. It was a great experience to go against Jalen and they had a great team, and he was making plays and I feel like we had to do the same to keep up and stay alive in that game as well, but this is a different situation, different scenario going into Sunday."
You were sacked a couple times early, threw a bunch after that, never was sacked again. Was that just a matter of you realizing you might have to get the ball out sooner? Was there an adjustment in the play calling and how would you account for that?

"Yeah, I would say it was a mix of both things. I think it was a reality for myself in terms of knowing like, I can't hold onto the ball all day. I have to be in rhythm. I have to be in time within the play that's called and help my offensive line out by giving them confidence, by getting the ball out, allowing them to get settled in the game early. And then also, Kyle called some plays after that set up the pass game later so that the offensive line could get settled, that I could get settled and then once we got into a rhythm, things were better in the second half."

The Oklahoma game, the two-point conversion, that was a very tight window. Did you for a moment think that was a completion and you guys had won the game? And then also that was not the first time you experienced a road atmosphere like that, but it was a night game in Norman, OK, with 80,000 people, does that collective experience kind of maybe make what you're about to face Sunday a little less overwhelming?

"Yeah, to answer the first part, yeah, I thought it was a completion. Obviously, it sucked not getting the completion and the game being over, but yeah, that was that. In terms of the environment and everything, yeah, those kinds of games definitely helped, I feel like with just a lot being on the line, in the moment, focusing on what's in front of you, focusing on the defense rather than getting caught up in the crowd. I played in a couple of those games in college and I think that was just a great experience for me to go back to and remember how I felt, what was going through my mind, how did it affect my decisions. I definitely feel like I've grown from it and that I went through something like that."
You seem to be really comfortable going left, now with more games under your belt, is that something you want to change? Would you like to go more, right? What are you seeing from yourself on those situations?

"Yeah. Honestly, I hope I don't have to scramble, so that's not something that I have in my mind, but it is part of the game. I just feel like how the pocket is collapsed, that's just an area I feel like I've gone to, but it's not something that I'm like, man, I have to stop going left, or I need to go more right. It's just part of the game. It's a natural feel I feel like in the moment, so it's not something that I'm practicing or anything like that."



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