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Kyle Shanahan says 49ers “locked in and ready to get the bad taste out of our mouth”

Marc Adams
Oct 22, 2023 at 12:01 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers square off with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night and hope to bounce back from an upset loss to the Cleveland Browns one week ago. But they will be doing so without wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who will miss at least two games with a hairline fracture in his injured shoulder. Left tackle Trent Williams is listed as doubtful, while running back Christian McCaffrey and linebacker Dre Greenlaw are listed as questionable.

Greg Papa recently sat down with 49ers' head coach Kyle Shanahan to discuss the game with the Vikings. Shanahan talked about what it was like coming in to work following a loss and seems confident that his players are refocused.

"It's been good to deal with the guys and just see how different it is. When you do come off a loss, you're pissed off. It's what happens when you lose," Shanahan said. "But we haven't had that for a while, and last time we lost we got two months off, so we didn't see each other the whole next week. So it's been kind of neat to deal with them and to deal with the group and everyone's locked in and ready to get this bad taste out of our mouth and get back to another game."

Papa asked Shanahan about the identity of the Minnesota offense, especially now that QB Kirk Cousins is missing his top wide receiver, the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year, Justin Jefferson.

"Kind of the same as it's always been," said Shanahan. "He gets the ball to the open guys, and if people are open and the timing of the play, he's as consistent of anybody as there is. He's very good at the big play. He can throw it a lot farther than people anticipate, and very glad Justin's not out there because he's as good as it gets. And Kirk locks into him, and they make a lot of plays and some bad looks, but with him not out there, Kirk doesn't really throw into as many tough looks. He's going to the open guy.

He's just trying to pick defenses apart, and he's done a pretty good job of it in the passing game here over these six weeks or whatever it's been so far."

Defending the Vikings' offense should be easier without Jefferson on the field. But the 49ers will still have to contend with tight end T.J. Hockenson, and wide receiver K.J. Osborne. But perhaps the biggest threat in the Minnesota passing attack, without Jefferson, is rookie WR Jordan Addison, who has the type of speed defenses need to pay special attention to.

"You can see his speed on tape," Shanahan said. "You can see it just through our scouting coming out of college. But his speed is definitely different than others, so you got to be ready for that. And then the tight end, all those Iowa tight ends, it seems like they're all just one year after another getting pretty good. And he's been that way. We loved him coming out of college. He was great in Detroit. He's getting better even now, and he's a problem. So we got to make sure. We got our work cut out for us."

Papa talked about the change in defensive coordinator for Minnesota, and what they're doing now with Brian Flores. Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins is known to blitz a lot. Papa asked about the amount of blitzing Brock Purdy and the 49ers offense faced against the New York Giants, and if Shanahan has noticed any differences between New York's approach to blitzing versus Minnesota's approach.

Shanahan said there was indeed one difference. "Yes, they're doing it more, as much as anyone I've seen, and it was similar to that in Miami, but they're still staying with it in these games. So far it's been every game, and it seems to get more and more as it goes. So who knows what we'll get on Monday?

"We got to expect it because that's what they've done every week. They've done a hell of a job of it, too, because they're bringing, you know anytime someone all-out blitzes this much, it sounds pretty risky. But they're almost taking a bend, but don't break mentality behind it because they still have a soft secondary with six guys coming, and it really depends on how well they tackle. And they've done a great job of tackling. You got to get rid of the ball because there's too many people. You can't block them all, and they're getting guys down, and that's what I hope for our guys, we can get them the ball in space and make some plays out there."

Shanahan said the Vikings mix up their fronts a lot. Sometimes they have five defensive linemen up front, sometimes four, sometimes less. He mentioned that there are times that you watch the tape for a couple of days and it just looks like there are way too many guys to block out there. But he said that by day four or five, you start to get a good feel for things and can pass that on to your quarterback.

Asked if dealing with the blitz at home is different than dealing with it on the road, Shanahan replied, "Yeah, it is. I mean, just the silent count is an issue because you want to do dummy count and stuff like that, get them to show stuff. And when you can't communicate and you're having to tap people and stuff, it's hard to not get a delay of game. It's hard for the center not having his head between his legs looking back at a quarterback so he can't see all the people going around. So it's a huge difference.

"I mean, they talk about home-field advantage in sports and stuff, and I think it pertains to all other sports, I just don't understand how because the only thing I understand is cadence and get off when you can't hear. And that's always a challenge. We had that last week in Cleveland. We're going to get it again this week. And that's something that's very important.
You get battle-tested as that goes throughout the year because it is a big deal if you're not ready for it. And now we're going to have about 14 days in a row of working on it. So I feel we should be pretty clean."

Shanahan believes his team will bounce back. His 49ers will try to improve to 6-1 before going back home to face the Cincinnati Bengals.

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