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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan previews 49ers-Browns Week 6 matchup

Oct 11, 2023 at 4:50 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters before Wednesday's practice, as the team prepares for its Week 6 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Here is everything he had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Opening comments:

"Injuries for today: we've got [OL] Aaron Banks with a shoulder, he will be limited, [RB] Elijah Mitchell, knee, will not practice, and [T] Trent [Williams] and [TE] George [Kittle] have vet days. Go ahead."

When you check out the Cleveland Browns and the defense, obviously DE Myles Garrett stands out. You faced Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt and you faced Dallas Cowboys LB Micah Parsons, some of the best. What stands out about Myles Garrett's game?

"I mean, he is one of the most talented guys I think anyone's seen. And the style they play on defense is very similar to ours. They rush the passer every play and then react to everything else. Him combined with [Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim] Schwartz's scheme and the guys around him, it's a problem. It's obvious why they're a top defense right now."

Do you expect LB/DL Randy Gregory to play on Sunday?

"We'll see how he is today. Today will be the first day we see him on the field and we'll decide that over the next three practices."

Have you had a chance to talk to him?

"Not today."

You said on Friday that you spoke to some people who spoke very highly about him. Was Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn one of those guys? Did you talk to Dan after the game or before the game?

"No, it wasn't the right time to talk to him, but I'm sure I will later this week on it. But guys close to him and guys that I know vouch for him, so felt good."

How does Cleveland look on the backend with CB Denzel Ward and CB Greg Newsome II and some of the guys they have back there?

"Very good. When you have the D-Line they have, the downhill linebackers, you better have some good corners and they have very good ones. They play a lot of man-to-man coverage. They'll mix in some zone. But, when you play that much man-to-man and you're also the number one pass defense in the league, you've got to have some good corners."

What do you remember about your year there in Cleveland?

"I really liked living out there. There was some good people and it was cold. My car was always dirty because snow was on the ground a lot, never melted it seemed like. But I really enjoyed the stadium. I enjoyed the people. It was just one year though it wasn't very long."

Next Gen Stats had said QB Brock Purdy, his four touchdowns all coming outside the tackle box, first time that's happened in the Next Gen era, I think since 2016. Help me, what does that mean? What's to be made of that?

"I don't know. I didn't think of that in the game. They weren't all bootlegs and stuff like that. I guess, the tackle box one, I know the first one that George stepped up and moved a little to the right and hit him going there. But there's a lot of weird stats that I don't know about that people have these days, but when you're the first one to do it, it must be something pretty good."

If the four touchdown plays had happened just as they were drawn up, how many of those would've been outside the tackle box?

"I think all four of those, I'm trying to think. I've watched a lot of film since Sunday. So I'm trying to think what all four were. I mean the two to Kittle, one was a flea flicker that was just like it was, the other one it was. The goal line one to [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice was intended for him. It was just all out of pressure. So you've got to run outside of there. The flea flicker, you had to drift away from pressure. Kittle he had to buy time. Yeah, it was number one, all four of them."

You come back after every game and all of them are pretty convincing and pretty impressive and still had plenty of stuff that you got to work on, plenty of stuff get better. How about this game?

"This game to me is the biggest challenge we've had so far. I thought that was going to be Dallas too going into it. But then you look at this and you look at this, the defensive numbers just jump out. You don't see very much that they're not number one or two in everything. Red Zone's the only thing they're not, but that's the only because I think they've had eight plays there all year. Baltimore ran it in, so that didn't help their rankings there. But everything else is top notch. They're doing that too, offensively right now, so it should be a hell of a battle. When you look at a defense like that, a team who's committed to running the ball like they are, that's like the prime best way to get into the playoffs and that's why I expect this team to be there throughout this year."

In terms of Dallas, when you look back at that game, there are coaching points to be made because it seems so impressive from the outside and even afterwards you thought it was your best game of the season?

"It was. There's lots of coaching points. We gave the guys Monday off, so we started today with that. We gave the coaches an hour to go through that game and that's why we're an hour behind right now. But once we finished, I forgot about Dallas until I got in here. Our guys were ready for Cleveland."

With George, how long was he here before you realized you potentially had something pretty special at that position?

"We were pretty excited in training camp. I still remember our opener versus Carolina, I think our first play we threw him for a lookie for like 30 yards or 20 yards and we were real excited about him at camp. We thought he had a chance to be a real good tight end and battled some injuries but fought through it all and we didn't know how special he'd be. But we knew we got a steal right away. Then I think his second year is when he broke all those records. But it's funny, you go back and watch his film from the first year and he had no ponytails, socks were pulled up perfect, no wristbands. Now you watch him now and he is WWE rockstar. So it's been fun to be with him this whole time."

What did you think of his undershirt?

"Not much. Just Kittle, WWE stuff, entertainment. Not really much, just smiled at it."

You had a play in this first half where it looked like you guys did something that the Dolphins do where you kind of had that sprint motion right before the snap and then Purdy threw a slant to WR Brandon Aiyuk and there was no defender within like five yards of him. Is that something that little wrinkle creates the space and is that something that you introduced to Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel or McDaniel showed it and you're copying it?

"No, the first time we saw the quick cheat motion was Miami Week 1. But that's what everyone motions for. Whether it's a quick one, whether it's one across, everyone's been playing coverages for a long time. When you move people a lot of ways you still play the same coverages, but sometimes it's eye candy and you've just got to make the people think, adjust a hair. Sometimes they adjust too much and you can create a little bit of space, but that's one of the main reasons you do motions. But sometimes it can put people in the wrong spot and mess a play up too. So there's a very fine line with it."

All over the offseason, I think it was at the former 49ers WR Dwight Clark event, you spoke about RB Christian McCaffrey how he is like a gravitational force for defenses, almost like a Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry over time. Has he created more room? Has the impact on opposing defenses changed as he's become more involved with your offense here over the past year?

"I think it's about the same. I mean, he started doing it last year and he's done the same this year. I feel like he was similar when he was at Carolina. Whenever you have a back who's a threat in the past game like he is and a tight end, those guys are guarded by linebackers and safeties. It's tough to put a safety on both of them, so you usually get linebackers and stuff. When you have guys who are built to stop the run but have to stop a running back who's like a receiver, they usually need help. And so, when they're in position to get beat, they get help and that still doesn't always work but it definitely gives all the other guys no help, which helps the other four eligibles."

LB Fred Warner has had a lot of responsibility pretty early on when he got here. How have you seen him evolve over the years?

"Fred's been unbelievable. He came in and got a lot on this plate his rookie year. He has been the quarterback of our building really since halfway through his rookie year and his second year he owned it. I think his second year was the year we became a real dominant defense, went to the Super Bowl that year. Each year, I think we rewarded him after that year. But each year he has only gotten better. He doesn't change. He's out here every day throughout the year and very thankful to have Fred."

You guys have been remarkably injury-free. I assume good fortune, but have you guys done anything to maintain that?

"I mean, we can meet for like three days and go over what we've done throughout seven years because we're always working on that stuff. Any injury that happens, we look into it and always balance reps out and stuff. But, not much has changed over the last four years. I mean, subtle things, but not really."

Cleveland Browns DT Maurice Hurst had pretty bad luck here with injuries for a short period of time. He's in the rotation now at Cleveland. Did you formulate any opinions of him as a person and a player when he was here?

"Yeah, we loved Mo. We thought he was a really good player, just had some bad luck the two years in a row with us. Had some bad luck in in Oakland I think he was when he was there. But yeah, he was great. We loved Mo and wish it could've worked out for him here, but I'm very happy for him right now."

Is Brock's elbow still in any way an issue? Is there anything that you're doing?

"It looks good to me. Yeah, there's no issues. That was the neat thing about that injury, there's lots of questions until he started throwing, which was three or four months. But all the information on that injury is once he passed that area, as long as you brought him back at the right speed, most quarterbacks once it heals, it heals."

With the uncertainty surrounding Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson's health and whether or not he's playing on Sunday, do you have to have two game plans? Obviously they're a much different team if he is able to play as opposed to not.

"No, we've got to be ready for all of them. We know they like to run the ball. We know their quarterbacks can make plays. No, we'll be ready for all three though."

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