San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
I'm sure you've been asked this a million times over the season, with just the lead up to the season being completely different and then now, the injuries that have plagued you everywhere, have you ever had anything like this ever happen to a team that you have coached? And how do you keep your guys motivated through all of that hardship and adversity?
"Yeah, I mean, we were all dealing with the pandemic so that's new for everybody, and we've gone through a number of years with a lot of injuries, but no, this is definitely unprecedented with injuries. I mean, there's not much to say about it. You've got to deal with it. I mean, the games go on, and you've got to go out there and perform. I think we've got a group that are made of the right stuff. I mean, no matter who's came up, the next guy comes in and plays to the same standard, goes hard and competed. I know these last two games, which happened in five day timeframe, were real tough on our team, just with the number of guys we had down on stuff and not getting a ton back this week, but we're close to our bye week. And we're still in this. So we're playing a real good team this week, we've got to put together three real good days of practice, it was nice to get a long weekend after a Thursday night game, and we've got to come down to New Orleans and give it everything we got to try to get a win. Then we're going to get a week off and we're going to come back and get six more games in the season where we still will have a chance to get in that tournament. So just preaching with the guys that I understand where we're at, understand they're tired a little bit. But we've got to muster out one more game, and then we're going to get a well needed rest. And then hopefully, we come back here for the final six and are able to make a run at this."
How would you assess Nick (Mullens') play coming in there and having some playing time here the past couple weeks?
"I thought Nick's done a good job. I thought he came into the Seattle game and did an unbelievable job. We were struggling in every aspect and he came in and led us back to within nine points, or almost a second of what looked like a one score game, because we got a two-point conversion and (it) got overturned. So I thought he did a hell of a job there giving us a chance. And last week, I know we didn't do well as a team, but we were a little outmatched there. But I thought Nick played well under the circumstances. And it was a tough game to throw him into and I thought he held his own."
You mentioned some of the guys that have had to step up due to the injuries, what's been key to getting them so ready to play so quickly, despite not having the traditional offseason?
"You just try to hold everyone accountable for everything they do. So everyone understands whether they are a practice squad guy or a starter like, why does the coach keep talking to me like I'm playing Sunday, I'm only on practice squad, and you quickly learn that we try to teach everyone, hey, you do not know, he might end up being up. You might find out Saturday night you're playing. So you cannot ever think that there is a redshirt year or anything. So you preach that stuff from the beginning. And we have had a lot of examples of it from our first three years here together, which you teach guys about through training camp, and I think guys very quickly saw so we didn't have to go far into the year. But by halftime of our second game versus the Jets, I think everyone who didn't know by then realized, man, he is telling the truth, you've got to be ready to play at all times. And I think that's what our guys have done. And it also helps when you have guys made of the right stuff."
The Saints themselves didn't necessarily expect the result last week over the Bucs, What stands out to you when you're watching tape from that one?
"I mean, I just think no one really ever expects something like that in the NFL, because teams are so competitive. And especially if you're a really good team like Tampa Bay. When you have the talent that New Orleans does on both sides of the ball, when you have the coaches that they do and the schemes on both sides of the ball, when you have the quarterback that they do, when you're on and you play close to the best of your abilities and the other teams off and you have all that stuff that I just mentioned. That's going to happen to whoever they play. So when they're on you better make sure you're on because they've got it going in every aspect."
What specifically have you seen from that New Orleans defense that presents some challenges?
"I mean, they've got it at all three levels. I think everything on most teams starts with the D line. They're deep, and they're all playing to a certain standard. You know how good Cameron (Jordan's) been over the years for such a long time. And they've had solid guys around him for a long time. But Cameron is who he always is, a great player and the guys around him are getting there, too. They're all men. They play very physical. They rotate them well, and they go hard. And when you have some of the talent that they have in the secondary behind them, with some good linebackers and with a scheme that is as good of a scheme as there is, it is no surprise that defense is doing so well."
There are a couple players on the same team that you're very familiar with Emmanuel Sanders and Kwon Alexander. So obviously, Kwon hasn't had a chance to play here yet, but what have you seen from Emmanuel in the past season and a half? And then how do you think Kwon fits into this Saints scheme?
"You guys got two studs. Emmanuel and Kwon are two of my favorite people I have been around just as the type of guys they are and the type of football players they are. We would not have got to where we did last year without Emmanuel. You guys should feel very fortunate for getting him down there. The way he plays and just the way he approaches every single day, and you're going to get that same stuff in Kwon. He was one of the most liked guys in our building. He loves football. Both of them can't live without it. (They are) Guys you guys should be really happy to have."
What have you seen from Alvin Kamara on film? It seems like he's just been able to produce no matter who's around him or the situation. What's been kind of key to that in what you've seen on film?
"Number one, he's that good. He has the size, the quickness, the natural vision to just be a good running back and how good his hands are, and quickness in his route running and the natural feel he has in his routes make him, give him the capability to be one of the best in the league. But then when you pair up all the talent around him with that quarterback and with the scheme, then there's not much stopping them. I mean, if you commit everyone to stop him then it just makes it so easy for everybody else. So you have got to pick your poison. They've got a good situation with their players and they're doing a great job schematically with them."