Kyle Shanahan: Beating Seattle ‘Means a Ton’ to Players, Fans and Organization

Coach Shanahan postgame press conference vs Seahawks

Shanahan assessed the play of the 49ers offense during the team’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15.

Opening comments:

“CB Akhello Witherspoon left with a knee sprain. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow. [DB Tarvarius] T Moore left, but he returned, ribs. That was it. Go ahead.”

The knee sprain suggests that it’s not an ACL or anything really serious. Is that true?

“I hope not. They haven’t ruled it out yet, so I’m not sure.”

Even though most of your team wasn’t around for this long losing streak to Seattle. What do you think it means to them just to snap that and to beat a division rival like that?

“It means a ton. Not all of us have been here since 2013, but a lot of us were here last year. We were all definitely here two weeks ago. It’s a division rival. We’re also very sick about the way we lost two weeks ago. I was really proud of the guys just not saying anything. I just knew it meant a lot to our guys. Especially after two weeks and to the fans and everything since 2013. I hated having to answer those questions all week. I definitely didn’t want to go a whole ‘nother year doing it. This was our last opportunity to end that and I’m glad we don’t have to hear that again.”

What does this say about your group that you guys can get blown out two weeks ago and bounce back and put together a game like this?

“That’s how the NFL is. I look at the blowout and I think it’s just the difference of a few plays before it gets out of hand. That’s how every week is and you can’t over react when things are like that. You have to play good football. We definitely played better today, but there were times when we weren’t perfect, whether it was one side of the ball that struggled at one time, the other one stepped it up. Especially special teams making that play with the kick return, especially the way they started the third quarter two weeks ago, so I know that felt good for [WR] Richie [James Jr.], especially having the fumbled punt at the end of the second quarter two weeks ago. A lot of guys stepped it up in all three phases and it was a great team win.”

How much confidence do you have in RB Jeff Wilson Jr. carrying the ball in that final drive considering his history of fumbling the last two games, also today in the first half?

“It was tough, especially how it’s gone since he’s been in and what happened today, but [RB Matt] Breida went out on that last drive, so you don’t have much of a choice with it and now that he went in and the way he finished running and the fact that he did hold on to the ball, it was great to him. When he started off that fumble early, then dropped a screen pass, we were going to keep Breida in as much as possible. Then Jeff went in at the end because Breida got hurt and it was awesome the way it ended because now that should give him some confidence and make him ready to get out next week.”

What was it for Breida? Ankle again?

“Yeah, I forgot to say that because it happened at the end and nobody mentioned it to me before I came in. I don’t think it was that big, but that’s why he wasn’t in those last two plays.”

How was QB Nick Mullens performance?

“Similar to the last few weeks. Very efficient, made the plays that were there. Made a few off-schedule plays too. Did a great job escaping the rush on a blitz one time when they brought more than we blocked. Was hoping we could make some of those plays at the end and not go to overtime. They got us on a few protection issues though. Nick ended up holding onto the ball. At least not turning it over. So I was happy with Nick. Gave us a chance to win. I was happy with all the guys.”

After losing the way you did a couple weeks ago, to see Seattle score first and then respond immediately with that touchdown from Richie. How important was that early in the game?

“Very important. It always is, we knew it was going to be a battle today regardless of how the score went. They are a good team and they were coming in playing hard like they always do. We knew we were going to be ready today also. We knew it was going to come down to the wire. Didn’t know it was going to be overtime. Was glad it was. I think it was our first overtime win and gives us a little experience with that too.”

What’d you think of DL DeForest Buckner today?

“From what I saw, I mean every time I watched out there it seemed like he was making plays. I definitely saw the sack he had. Looked like he played well in the run game. The way they run the ball, they don’t give you a ton of opportunity in the pass game and it looked like he definitely effected it so I was really happy with DeFo and we’ll see again when I watch the tape later tonight.”

How pleased were you with the defense overall considering the way they set the edge today? Got home on Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson a few times? Considering how they played two weeks ago, they gave up seven plays for 110-yards on the edge.

“Overall, I was very happy with the defense. By no means were they perfect. They got their edge on a couple. Got it on the third and one. Then they ran the ball well, but that’s what that team does. What I was excited about was our defense never let them break them down, even when they gave up some plays. I thought the goal line stand was very close. I know that guy made a helluva run to get in at the end, but our guys just battled. They didn’t worry about any bad play, just one play at a time. They did it all game. I was really disappointed when they had the stand at the end that the offense had a chance to go down and answer and finish and the offense didn’t. We ended up punting it back to them, going to overtime and then the defense did the same thing. They stopped them, gave the offense another chance and then the offense finished. The defense did a helluva job all day.”

The second half the last game, Mullens seemed to get it going a little bit. How much do you think, whether Xs and Os, or confidence-wise, do you think that helped him seeing them again today?

“The more guys play and the more success they have, the more confidence they get. He did a great job that second half throwing the ball two weeks ago. I thought we had a lot more success throwing the ball today. We struggled on third downs form what I remember today in the second half and we didn’t get to stay on the field as long and get those opportunities. I think Nick is getting better the more he plays.”

Can you assess the Tarvarius Moore performance filling in for Akhello?

“Didn’t want him to get his opportunity because of injury, but he’s been playing tough all year. It was good to just throw him out there and see how he did. I thought raised up to the challenge very well. He played aggressive in his man coverage. He’s not scared to tackle at all. Got beat a couple times, which corners do and he didn’t shy away. He’s not scared to be out there. He competes and I was happy with him out there.”

How big were DeForest Buckner’s sacks and on that second one are there many defensive tackles in the league who are chasing down Russell on the sideline?

“No, it’s tough and sacks are huge verse them. When you get a sack it’s very hard to recover from that on any type of drive for an offense and the way that they run the ball and how efficient they are in it, you’ve got to get some negative plays and you don’t get too many opportunities at it. So, when you can get to him and sack him, keep him from doing those off schedule plays, a lot of times it’s the difference between winning and losing with a quarterback like that.”

What’d you think of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s athleticism during the celebration of that sack?

“I missed it, but I’m sure it wasn’t very impressive.”

K Robbie Gould is going to be a free agent. I assume he’s a guy you’d like to have back?

“Yeah, definitely.”

He’s made 69, maybe I’m botching it, 69-72 field goals since he’s been here.

“Yeah, he should make them all, right? I’m just joking. That’s what I say to Robbie too. Of course we want Robbie back. He’s been great for two years. It’s nice for a coach, that when you get to the end of that, I’m not thinking about him missing it at all.”

What’d you think of LB Fred Warner’s penalty that was called on him, the roughing the passer, and then the very next series, Nick looked like he got hit a couple times late, didn’t get the benefit of that whistle. What were your thoughts on that series of events?

“I think they’re different categories of how they do it. I’m sure that they gave Fred the one for landing on him, which the rule is what it is, but I definitely don’t think it was anything malicious or anything that hurt Russell at all. I’m sure he was surprised and then the one that Nick had, I didn’t see it clean. I don’t think it was landing on him. I think there was a possible helmet to the chin. So, I think that’d be two different deals, but I’m not talking much about it.”

I assume CB Richard Sherman must be excited about this win. Have you had a chance to talk to him since the game ended?

“Yeah, I just saw him in the locker room. Anytime you get to play against your former team, especially a team that he had a career like he did for them, I know he was happy. Talked to him in there, just gave him a hug, didn’t say much, but it’s a big deal for guys and I was really happy for Sherman to get that.”

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