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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan, DeMeco Ryans preview 49ers-Eagles NFC Championship Game matchup

Jan 26, 2023 at 4:15 PM

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans spoke with reporters before Thursday's practice. The team is preparing 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:

"[QB Jimmy] Garoppolo, won't practice. [RB] Christian McCaffrey won't practice, calf. [RB] Elijah [Mitchell] won't practice, groin. [T] Trent Williams will be full. [WR] Deebo [Samuel], limited, ankle. [DL] Charles [Omenihu], limited, oblique. [CB] Ambry [Thomas], limited, ankle."

Is this a team that you look at in the Eagles in terms of the way that they were built? You mentioned that you know Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni a little, but not that much. I don't know how close general manager John Lynch and Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman are, but I think you've got the same amount of draft picks that are on your team. You've both gone out and made key trades, are they built similar to you in terms of the things that you want to do?

"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it. I don't think we're really similar. I think we look at things a little bit different, but I'd like to say most teams build it that way in the league."

With Garoppolo, did he have a setback? Did the X-Ray reveal something where he's not going to be on the field this week?

"No. Yeah, it's just been an outside chance the whole time and that was still an outside chance."

Any concern now about McCaffrey and Mitchell not being able to practice today?

"Same concern as I had yesterday."

You're not the most kind of rah-rah kind of guy, but you have developed a culture here that's led to a lot of success. Aside from the talent that you guys have on the roster, kind of what else has been a key for that foundation of success here?

"Getting good players. I think holding everyone accountable. Just focusing on things as simple as putting people together that do as good as they can and know what they're talking about and always try to just do what's right. Not worry about outside perception, not try to worry about draft status, not try to worry about anything but just what makes sense from a football decision and I'm in as good of a building as I've ever been in that allows everyone to focus on that in all areas."

With the Omenihu decision, is that an organizational decision? Does ownership get involved?

"Yes. Everything starts with them on decisions like that."

Was that a difficult decision to arrive at?

"You can ask them that, but yeah, we have to talk about all that stuff hard."

I know you like to obviously look at the opposing defense and kind of figure out where the areas to attack them are, but is it more difficult with a team like the Eagles that have good players at every level of that defense? What's the challenge that you face and the coaching staff faces in putting together a gameplan to beat them?

"Anytime you play a team with good players in a good scheme, it is just sound defense and when you play sound defenses, there's not a lot of holes schematically. You try to put guys in position to beat their players and they got pretty good players too. And on top of it, when you have a real good pass rush with a good backend, with all seven of those guys, it just combines for making everything more difficult and that's usually what you see this time of year. I think that's exactly how our defense is. And they'll come after you, they'll do what's needed to keep you off, but anytime you have a team that doesn't have to do that, because they can cover with good players, have seven guys verse four guys, to keep people to help with protection, then you have seven guys verse three guys. All that stuff becomes a factor and allows teams to be sounder, which makes it a lot harder to get big explosives."

You say that you didn't really have time to ease Brock into anything just because of the nature of how he first came into the starting role. Now that you've worked with him for a while now, how would you assess his ability to handle the multitude of your offense and everything that you've been able to throw at him so far?

"He's been great. He just tries to soak it in throughout the week. It's always harder on Wednesdays when you get so much and you're not going to get it right then and he doesn't seem to over panic about it. He takes each rep, walk through, the meetings, every clip we show, you can just tell he is locked in and just building up information all the time and that's what you want players and coaches to do. It's never a final product on Wednesday, but you work your butt off throughout the week and usually by Saturday night it is pretty clear and that's what he has shown. He's been able to handle the pressure throughout the week because sometimes you want to go out there and look great for all your teammates, but you don't always know that on Wednesday and Thursday and you just keep reviewing the tape, keep going through the looks and you make sure you're there Saturday night so you can sleep comfortably and wake up extremely confident."

When you're watching film of the regular season, how many games do you typically go back and do you watch more games when you for a postseason opponent?

"I do the same every week. Just game orders when you go from play one to the last play, you probably pick like six or seven games, but then whatever they have on the year are into all of our cutups, so we watch everything at some time and how it's cut up, whether it's just formation or personnel wise and if we don't have many games, about halfway through the year we stop using the year before, so we try to get as much tape as we can."

I think every team member talks about the importance of turnovers that you guys are 15-0 when you either win or tie the turnover battle or 0-4 when you don't. How have you been able to be so consistent in that regard?

"I think we're a good team and turnovers is the number one thing that helps any team win, so I think when you're a good team and we've been that way. As good as we have been with getting turnovers and not turning it over, I think you should expect that."

With Brock have you ever in a game seen him frazzled about anything, anything you've ever needed to calm him down or is he as unflappable as he seems?

"He's a human, so if he misses something he's frustrated, but it's always temporary. I'd like to think we all are, we can all have quick reactions, but if that clock's ticking that reaction ends pretty fast, it's by the next play. Sometimes if it's the last play of a series it'll lasts a little bit longer, but by the time you go out there it's, I always feel the same guy."

Was there anything behind the scenes that he did that gave you maybe more confidence that all his practice success would translate to the game environment if he ever got a shot, which obviously proved out to be?

"You watch how people carry themselves, so you have guesses on how they're going be, but no, you never know until they get in those games."

There was a lot of hand-wringing about OL Aaron Banks before this season just because of his rookie year. What level of confidence did you have and where is he as far as has he surpassed expectations with how he's played? There were people like, well he's a second-round pick, so how come he is not starting, something must be wrong with the guy?

"No, we had [New York Jets OL] Laken Tomlinson in the last year of his contract, ended up getting I think like a $14 million deal from the Jets and we had a starting right guard in [OL] Daniel Brunskill who we played with three years in a row and we thought he was doing pretty good and we thought we'd give Banks a little bit more time. I think that goes back to the beginning I answered a question of it's really nice to be in a place that just worries about their best football decision and not, oh my god, they're going to think we had a bad draft pick because you're not playing him right away. Sometimes that ruins people. If someone would had got hurt we would've been pumped to play him right away. We had a thought we had a pretty good guard, but it's really hard to come in as a first-round pick, second-round pick and just beat out solid NFL players who've been doing it for a while. And if you don't have to do that and you have to watch some guys and not get thrown into the fire and struggle for a few games and not get your confidence killed, I think that can be a benefit to a lot of people, but not everyone has that luxury and I'm glad that we had the talent to do that and I'm very happy I'm in a building that allows us to think that way."

Was he a good draft pick now to you?

"I think he's doing a good job. You say over a course of a career, I'm not just week in and week out."

Did he ascend faster than you thought he would though just to assimilate to the NFL game?

"We thought he had the right mentality and we know we had the size. O-line is so different because you can look and have the ability, but o-line is about consistency and almost how many times you don't mess up. It's cool to have all the highlight tapes and you know if you have a couple bad looks that might be all over social media and that might be embarrassing for you, but bad looks are bad looks, it's about how you play over a course of 70 plays and you never really know that until a guy gets in there and sometimes they have to get their butts kicked before you even find out if they are a real player because you are going to get that in this league at every position, especially at O-line versus the D-lineman you go against and no one's going to notice you really until you get your butt kicked. And then it's how you respond and that's why we felt like we really believed in the person and believed in the talent, but just like I said about Brock, you have to put them out there and watch how they do and I think it was cool to watch him even in the preseason. He had a couple games where it wasn't great, but once Week One started I thought he was better and Week Two was better and I think it's improved that way throughout the whole year."

Recently on the radio, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr mentioned that you guys played some golf this summer and the other day before a game he said he has 49ers fever. I wonder about that golf session when you meet with another coach at a high level, do you guys talk about winning or different mentalities? Like what do you gain from a relationship with Steve as far as maybe professionally that you can apply to your football team?

"We weren't in the same foursome, so I didn't get that whole four hours, but we all hung out after for about an hour and a half and I think it's just fun to hang out with cool people who are in similar situations as you are. You just know the stakes that he goes through and some of the players and stuff that he deals with and all those types of things and so just to have those conversations are fun, but there was a group of 15 of us. Each drink we had the more we realized that we're going to get in trouble because our wives expected us back two hours ago, so I would love to have more opportunities like that."

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

How has Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts kind of evolved since you saw him Week Two of last year?

"Jalen is looking a lot more comfortable within the offense, and scheme wise, it seems like they've put in more concepts that he's more comfortable with and he has a really great command of the offense. He's decisive with where he's going with the ball and they surround him with a lot of playmakers, adding [Philadelphia Eagles WR] A.J. Brown. Has a lot of playmakers around him, [Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVonta] Smith, Brown, the backs, tight ends, they have a really good core of guys, he distributes the ball really well. And those guys are really good after they catch the ball of making a guy miss and creating space and getting more yards after the catch, so they've done a really good job of just tailoring the offense around Jalen and that's what makes him look more comfortable."

Someone like him who can make plays with his legs, but also likes to throw shots, shot plays. How do you kind of strike that balance of let's make sure he doesn't eat us with his legs, but also isn't going over the top when he gets out?

"I think there has to be a good balance with the shot plays and the running. When you're responsible for those shot plays, mainly our corners and safeties on the outside. We know the challenge that we have this week when guys have to go up and be able to make a play. They get opportunities when the ball is up, it's an opportunity for us to go up and make the play. That's how I view it and when it comes to him scrambling around, that's all 11. It starts with our D-line being where they're supposed to be and guys who are responsible to go get the quarterback. We just have to do our job. No, we can't make a bigger deal out of it than it is. Everybody has to do their job, be where they're supposed to be, and we play defense with all 11 as a group swarming. That's what's going to help us, defend the quarterback running."

With their offensive line are they capable of kind of meeting your defensive line's force and violence?

"Their offensive line is the strength of that team. You have two veteran guys there in [Philadelphia Eagles C Jason] Kelce and [Philadelphia Eagles T] Lane [Johnson] who've been together for a while and they anchor that line. They've done a really good job, very physical group, big offensive line, physical offensive line who tries to get after it and they're a really good team, but also our guys are good too, so it's going to be a physical matchup. We know we'll get their best, they're going to get our best as well."

How has your defensive line been since they got that sting in their rush lanes since that Raiders game?

"They've done a good job. The Raiders game was not good and we allowed the quarterback to get out way too much, but the guys have done a really good job over the past couple weeks of being on it, and we'll have to have that same focus, that same relentless mindset to be where we're supposed to be as we're rushing the quarterback and have an awareness that Jalen could get out and he may get out, but nobody's going to panic if he does get out one time. We know this guy's going to make plays. There's a reason why he's up for the NFL MVP. He's a really good player, he's going to make some plays."

You were affiliated early with Philadelphia Eagles DL Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham in their careers, what did you see from them back then? And did you see this for them, this kind of success they've had?

"Yeah, Fletcher and Brandon have always been playmakers. They've always played on the other side of the line of scrimmage. I know Fletcher, when he first came in as a rookie, you saw it right away. The talent that he had, the strength that he had. He separated himself, so he's been a playmaker for over 10 years in the league and he's been consistent throughout his career. And then Brandon Graham on the edge, they probably tried to get rid of him a few times, but he still finds a way to stick on there and still is able to get after the quarterback, so it's impressive to see what BG has done for his entire career there in Philly. A guy who's been very disruptive and Fletcher and BG, they don't change. They're still getting after it, getting after the quarterback, making plays, so it's going to be a tough challenge for our offense."

What kind of unique challenges does A.J. Brown present?

"Yeah, A.J., the first thing is his size and strength. That's the one thing that separates him from a lot of receivers, but not only that, when he catches the ball he turns it to a different gear. His run after catch, it's been pretty dynamic to watch this year, so that's where he separates, he's big where he can go down the field and make plays on the deep balls, but also he's just catching the five-yard routes and turning it up field and turning that into an explosive, that's where he's been really good this year."

Do you feel like there was extra juice yesterday or does it feel like business as usual?

"It's business as usual, man. That's what I love about our guys. Every time we go out to practice, the way our guys work each and every day, it is consistent and that's what it takes. Not making it bigger than what it is. We understand the stakes, understand where we are, we're thankful to be playing at this time, but we also understand that we have to go out and execute and play really good football on Sunday. We have to be the best team within that three and a half hours."

You show a lot of emotion on the field and your players seem to respond. Why do you feel it's so important to show that and do you think they respond more to you because you are so emotionally involved from what we see on TV?

"I'm emotionally involved because I'm excited when these guys make plays. I know the work that they put in. I know how much effort, how much time, how much sacrifice these players put in. And when we go out there on Sunday, the whole world gets to see that. I've been seeing it all week and I'm just excited for everyone else to see who our guys are. And I'm excited to see guys make plays. Football is meant to be fun. That's what football is about, so you have to have fun playing football and that's what our guys do. You see them flying around, they have fun, they have fun playing with each other. That's what football is always meant to be. It's always meant to be played in a fun manner and we're going to have fun playing football on Sunday."

Brandon Graham was telling reporters in Philly yesterday that when he played with you that you would be calling out basically what the offense was going do before they did it and he could sort of tell that you had that aptitude. Were you thinking of being a coach then? And what was your time in Philly like to you?

"That's how I've always been. I've kind of studied the game. I've always tried to pick up on offensive tendencies and for me, it's always about helping the guys around me. I felt like always, if I can help the guys next to me just play a little quicker or know their assignment, then if they're at their best and I'm playing at my best, then collectively, we can go and win games, so that's what that was always about. Calling out plays, whatever tips I had or indicators, making sure not only that I just held them all to myself, but I shared them with the guys around me, because this is a team sport and we win together, so that's what BG is speaking of there, And my time in Philly, it was great. Really good team, great guys, great teammates there in Philly. It was a great time there. Made the playoffs one year there in Philly under [former NFL head coach] Chip Kelly, was under two great head coaches, Chip Kelly, [Kansas City Chiefs head coach] Andy Reid, guys I learned a lot from, so a really good time there in Philly."

Do you give any pointers on what the environment's going to be like or do you think last week's Week Two is enough for to give them a taste of what it's going be like there?

"Yeah, the environment, it'll be hostile. It'll be loud as it should be. NFC Championship Game, we're in their stadium, we're on their turf, we understand it's going to be hostile, but we also have to understand you block out all of those distractions and you just go and play the best football you can play for three and a half hours."

What comes to mind when you hear DB Deommodore Lenoir, what jumps out to you about him?

"Growth. That's one thing that D-Mo has done throughout this entire year. He's shown growth and that's what being a professional is all about. It's where you start out as a rookie. It doesn't matter how you continue to push yourself each and every day to be better. And that's what D-Mo has done. He's gotten better, he's gained more confidence. And you see it for the past two games. He's went out and made two big plays that have helped us to win playoff games and move on, so it's just the growth and it's the mindset to get better. That's where D-Mo has allowed himself to really help our team."

Defensive backs can get down in the dumps if a big play is made against them. How is he in that regard about being resilient and not getting too far down?

"Playing the corner position is one of the toughest positions because the spotlight is always on you. You're always highlighted as that one-on-one matchup, so the first thing for a corner is you have to have a swagger, you have to have a self-confidence about you because you're going to get beat at some point, but it's not about going in the tank. How are you going to respond to the next play? They make plays, other guys get paid. You go against some of the best athletes in the world playing receiver in the NFL, so they're going to make some plays, but how many plays can you make? How resilient can you be? You have to have that next play mentality when you're playing corner. And you have to be unshakable when you are at that position because if you are shaken by one play, it's going to lead to more negative plays, so you have to be able to move on from one bad play and continue to play and things are going to shake out for you."

A.J. Brown doesn't seem like he's completely healthy. A lot of guys are like that this time of year, I think he was dealing with the hamstring when he played y'all in December last year, he obviously doesn't need tons of separation to do things. What are your memories of what he did in that game?

"From last year playing against A.J. I remember him just making some very physical plays, contested catches and that's where you have to be physical with him. Again, he's a big body receiver who can go up and make tough catches, so you have to challenge him at every point. You have to stay sticky, you have to challenge him. That's how you make plays against him."

Out of 19 games, I think you had a turnover or takeaway in 16 of them. A lot of teams that have as many takeaways get like an avalanche, have five, six and then go games without them. How are you able to be so consistent? What's the key to that?

"The consistency for us in takeaways, it's who we are every, every day, every week, we always talk about the ball. And the ball is everything and if you take the ball away, you're going to win games. And that's the most important factor on Sunday. It doesn't matter if we can take the ball away, if we can create more turnovers than the Eagles, we'll win this game and that's what it'll always be about. It won't change. And the history of ball, it's been proven. You take the ball, you win the game, so that's our mindset each and every week. That's our key to victory. That's our goal every week. How many times can we take the ball and can we score with it or can we put our offense in a favorable position to score?"


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