San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Conference Call with Local Media
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Why has your pass defense been so successful this season?
"I think it starts with the pass rush. We've had a number of good guys here and added a number of difference makers this offseason I think Kris Kocurek (Defensive Line Coach) does an excellent job with the style in that we coach the d-line. I think our secondary has played together for a little bit going into our third year, what we've done schematically giving our guys playing time over the first two years here and they've all gotten better."
What does your running back rotation do to help you offensively?
"It gives us depth first of all because we went through four running backs last year and it's always tough in this league at this position. We have four good ones that have helped in a bunch of ways. They all haven't been up each week. We usually take three into a game. We've been able to take four at times. They all do a little bit different stuff, similar to how Sean's (Payton) used backs in the past and they give us options."
Coach Payton has told us about how he looks at different things pro and college for plays and concepts at times. Is there anything big picture or little picture that you have looked at studying the Saints offense?
"Always. I think all the coaches watch each other. Lots of coaches watch certain guys. I've always watched Sean, I think a lot of people do. They've done it at a high level for a long time. Whatever idea you can get and increase creativity...There's only so many ways you can move around five eligible (receivers) and you are always trying to watch things guys you respect to see if they have things they can fit into your offense."
You've coached and been around a lot of top shelf receivers, Andre Johnson, Julio Jones and now Emmanuel Sanders. In that vein, what makes Michael Thomas special and so hard to stop?
"You need to have different type of talent to get into the club of the people you are mentioning. Michael had that coming out. I know we were very high on him, the way he runs his routes, the way his lower half's built. He didn't have the fastest 40, but it's definitely fast enough to run by you, the hips. What really separates him to me from everybody else is his mindset. He has that special talent, but that physicality that he plays with, how angry he plays. He's one of my favorites to watch. I'm not looking forward to watching him on Sunday. He's one of the best and I think it starts with his mentality."
You haven't faced the Saints yet as a head coach, but what is different in their defense from when you last faced them in 2015-16 as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons? How have they improved?
"I think they've gotten healthier, they've added some more talent and the guys that they have added, they've gotten better. Dennis (Allen) has always done a great job wherever he's been, he's always been one of the toughest guys in the league to go against. When we faced them in Atlanta, (they were) a real tough team to go against, but I don't think they had the players that they do now. The players that were there then have gotten better. They have some young guys, they have a young defense, they're coaching up real well and anytime you have talent with a good coaching staff, it causes a lot of problems."
What stands out to you when you watch Cam Jordan?
"He's stood out to me for such a long time. He's been one of the more underrated players in this league. He's gotten some recognition in this league the last couple of years. His attitude that he plays with on the field…He's very strong, gets under people and control them. He plays like his hair's on fire. He's extremely strong and very aggressive. He never turns anything down and keeps coming every game, all year long."
We're at the final quarter of the season. Can you address how a team's standing can still go so much up or down in this quarter, especially when you're playing some of the teams you are that you are close to in those standings like what has happened and will happen this week?
"I tried to talk about that to my team earlier on in this year, but the more you win, the more people like to say isn't it easier or more relaxing now that you have a good record? It's totally opposite. The more you win in this league the harder it gets and the harder it gets in the playoffs. We went on that run in Atlanta my last year there and we had won the last seven games of the regular season and every game meant something. I don't think it was until the last game that season that we could take a breath. It's like that year in and year out in this league. It's not that unusual. You can never sit back and relax. As soon as you do, your season's over, so every single week from the first week to the 17th week you have to treat it like the playoffs and like a playoff game and when you do get to this and have the record us or the Saints do, nobody looks past you. Everybody's playing it like it's a playoff game."
You've played at multiple facilities before. What kind of challenge does the Mercedes-Benz Superdome provide as opposed some of the other stadiums through the league in terms of noise and crowd noise?
"New Orleans is right up there. When you have a fan base that is loud, usually the stadium that is a dome makes it a little louder. Of all the teams that do have a dome, I put New Orleans up there with the loudest ones. It's always tough when you go up there. You don't expect to hear the cadence at all. Expect those fans to be pumped up. It doesn't matter when you play them. It's always going to be a challenge and football I think is the biggest homefield advantage in all of sports, because when you can't hear the cadence and can't hear the snap count, that is a big issue."