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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

What Kyle Shanahan said as 49ers begin playoff preparations

Jan 9, 2024 at 5:41 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters via a conference call on Tuesday, two days after the team's 21-20 Week 18 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Here is everything he had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Opening comments:

"Alright guys, injuries from the game. [DL] Clelin Ferrell with his knee. He's going to miss a few weeks. It's possible to get him back some time in the playoffs. [S] Tayler Hawkins with his wrist, he's going to have to get surgery. [TE] George Kittle, back spasms, doing much better. [LB Dre] Greenlaw, Achilles tendonitis. We'll be smart with him this week. The injury updates from before the game, [DL Arik] Armstead's looking good. We should get him back in practice this week. [RB Christian] McCaffrey, he's not going to practice this week with a calf, but we should get him back next week. [WR] Jauan Jennings is out of the protocol. [OL Jon] Feliciano with his back, is day-to-day. [S] Ji'Ayir [Brown] with his knee, hope to get him back in practice this week. Also, same with [S Tashuan Gipson Sr.] Gip with his quad strain. Hope to get him back in practice. [CB] Ambry [Thomas] will be back in practice with his hand. [S] George Odum with his bicep, his window will open up this week."

How does this look to you in terms of the amount of healthy players you're going to have going into the playoffs?

"I think it looks good. I think really our goal is to get out of that game healthy. We got some guys banged up. But I think Cle is the one that we're going to lose most likely for at least a game. But after that we didn't lose anyone else in the game. It looks like we're getting most of these guys back that missed that game."

Do you have the option of bringing DL Drake Jackson off IR? What's the situation there?

"I don't think he's healthy enough to come off yet. I don't think that's an option right now."

Do you approach practice this week just kind of similar to what it was last week as far as the emphasis on practicing like you're playing?

"Yes. No one's playing at all this week. We should get two really hard practices in. Last week, I thought we had one. But we'll get two hard ones in, probably put the pads on one of them. Tomorrow we'll have those guys come up and work out and probably go on the field a little bit, just throw the football around and stuff with some skill guys and just have guys do some individual stuff, but not truly a practice. So, we'll get two real days in, kind of a little bit of everything tomorrow from an exercise standpoint. Then we'll give them the weekend off."

You have so many of your former assistants in the playoffs from Miami Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel, Houston Texans Head Coach DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator Bobby Slowik, Green Bay Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur and Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay. Are you surprised by how well their teams are doing this year?

"Not really. I'm trying to think of all the people, but I feel like they all got real good quarterbacks. I think DeMeco and Bobby, I am trying to think of all those guys you just mentioned now. I know they overcame a lot of stuff, having the second pick in the Draft last year. So, it's been huge by them. But knowing those two coaches and then watching their quarterback, no, it doesn't surprise me at all."

Then having Matt and Sean potentially change your bracket, I think a lot of people looked at the bracket and said, they'll just play the Philly/Tampa winner. I'm assuming you don't just see it that way going in?

"No, I don't see it at all that way. Six and seven this year, has just as good of chance as one through five. So there's no difference to me in any of the seeds and the teams. I believe every one of them have a real good chance, especially the ones you mentioned."

With Armstead it sounds like very encouraging news with his foot and knee. Has it been plantar fasciitis?

"I just know it's his foot and his knee. I don't know how to pronounce that word you just said. He's doing better. He looked good today and that was the test and that's why we're going to get him into practice Thursday and hopefully it goes well and we'll get him in a little bit Friday."

Has there been some level of concern this could continue to linger into the playoffs?

"Oh yeah, always. That's why we've been trying to give him as much rest as possible. He would've gone last week if we needed that. That's why we were really pumped that we were able to get that, so he didn't have to go last week. So just giving him this extra week, he's better right now than he was a week ago at this time. So hopefully that extra week we'll give him enough to ease back into this and make him even better a week from now."

How much have you worked with or talked to Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks about just the timing of the interview with the Los Angeles Chargers and what your expectations for him during that time would be?

"I actually just got to talk to him a little bit ago about some things just because we had the day with the players and stuff. I didn't see him yesterday, so we just went through a couple things, but there's not that much to talk about. It just works out so well when you do have the Bye Week. So now it's a great week for him. I think it's the only week they're allowed to talk. I'm not exactly sure the rules anymore, but I think this is the only week they're allowed to talk. When it comes to the teams that have the Bye Week, that was the only time that I talked when I was on the Bye Week. So, it really works out and makes it easy for both situations."

How much are you going to be devising strategy and watching tape and then just letting sort of the veterans take care of motivating the team to get going?

"The same as always it is and that's not all of us. We earn this time to sit and rest a little bit and try to get ourselves in the best position for next week, but resting doesn't always help you. You got to be ready. The way you get ready is you don't just sit around and wait for the moment. You got to work for that moment. So there's a very fine line in all that. We're trying to balance it out as a team from my standpoint. Just guys who can get healthy trying to help them do that. I think we started that last week. Guys who can just get better, get smarter in certain areas, like if we can find any of those spots, that's what we're trying to really focus on. Everybody just as an individual has to make sure they kind of sharpen their sword and keep trying to get it to the best spot for really almost two weeks from now. That's something that yeah, I'll do it here and there, but there's no magical speech that just truly motivates people. It's trying to make sense that people understand what they need to do to perform. Sometimes when I don't reach guys in ways like that, hopefully there's a guy who works next to them who knows them in a different way, who can reach them that way. That's why we have lots of people in this building who are leaders and really try to help each other because it never can come from one person. If it comes from one person, you're in trouble."

University of Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh just won a National Championship and used to coach the 49ers. Do you know him? What's your impression of him? What do you admire about him as a head coach?

"I've gotten to know [Baltimore Ravens Head Coach] John [Harbaugh] a little bit better than Jim just because I've gotten an interview with John a couple times and seen him at the Owner's meetings and got to have a pretty good relationship with him. That's been great. Jim I've talked on the phone a couple times. He hired a few people that worked for me earlier in my career, so I got to connect with him in that way. We've talked a few times here over the years just with college stuff and us scouting guys that crossed paths. I've always had a huge amount of respect for all the Harbaughs, the way they carry themselves, the way they are as football coaches. I loved Jim when he was a player. It was so cool to watch him with the Colts. That was like the time I really remember him with the Colts, especially that Hail Mary to beat Pittsburgh. It was caught, but it landed on the one-yard line. So, I've always been a huge fan. That was real cool to watch last night."

You had a lot of your backups in the game for an extended period of time. How much confidence did he give you in the depth of where your defense is at?

"I think that all always helps to get guys that time, but I was also just so pumped to get guys that time and still to get them out healthy because there's not a lot of positions that we don't rotate at. We rotate really almost all our positions except for O-Line, quarterback, linebackers, safety and corner. I guess that is still a good amount. But we play a lot of D-Linemen. We always are substituting in our nickel or base personnel. We've had a number of safeties going down throughout the year. It's great to play some guys on offense, especially the wide outs and stuff. And we sub our backs in a lot. But it's great to get [QB] Sam [Darnold] some playing time because you never know what's going to happen. But the way we practice, the way we kind of do everything, we're always preparing our guys for that. We got a good group of backups because they put a lot of pressure on themselves and really treat every week like they are one play away from starting. That's what we expect from them because if they're not ready in that way and you do get that op and you're not ready you really don't get it again."

How well has S Logan Ryan played for you in the last couple of games? If Ji'Ayir is ready to go, does he go back into the starting lineup?

"Yeah, Logan's been great. That's kind of what we hoped for you. We knew how he was when he was playing and you never know when you're getting a guy in the middle of the year. But we thought because of how thin we were getting that safety, that we needed a guy with experience. He's come in and filled his role great as a backup. Great on special teams. Just how he carries himself in the building. Then when Ji'Ayir did get hurt and he went in, he's played like a starting caliber safety, which he's done his whole career at a high level. Not just safety, but nickel and corner. But for him to come here and do this with a little amount of time, I can't say enough good things about him. We'll see how Ji'Ayir is when he comes back because Ji'Ayir was playing at a real high level too before he got hurt. I'm real happy with Logan. Logan's really helped us out in some tough situations."

Where are you roster wise at nickel cornerback after CB Jason Verrett's injury? I saw that you worked out CB Casey Hayward today.

"Well, we're allowed six veterans on practice squad, and we like those veterans to be guys who can help us in a pinch. So, losing JV was tough. So we wanted to make sure we at least got to get another corner in. We want to take a look at some vets since that spot opened up."

What's the process in a week like this of evaluating your potential opponents? Do you have like one coach assigned to each potential opponent?

"Every coach has their kind of area of expertise they're responsible for. Starting with preparing their positions that they coach, but each guy has a little different area that they do, whether it's Red Zone, short yardage, goal-line, backed up, second and long, third down. Then on defense you got the same thing. They break it into categories. So guys get a head start in their areas on that. Usually coordinators look at teams as a whole, but we'll all be dabbling in that for this whole week. We'll be dealing with our players when they're here in the mornings and helping them just get ready, as good as we can, preparing them for our two practices. Then all the other time we'll just be us studying ourselves and us studying the four possible people we can play"

Are the Chargers the only team that that called to request an interview with Wilks?

"Officially, yes."

Have there been unofficial requests?

"I get a lot of phone calls, so I know there's a lot more people interested, but you got to go through the process of formally requesting an interview. I've only got that from the Chargers so far."

Will he have a virtual interview with them this week?

"I didn't even ask, but I assume so. I assume that's how, but I'm not sure yet."

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