Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Do you know what roster move you’re going to make for LB Reuben Foster?
“Yeah, [OL Matt] Tobin. I don’t know if it’s officially been done, but I know it has to be by one. It should be any minute.”
So, with Reuben coming back into the fold, where is he at physically, mentally? Ready to go?
“He seems great mentally. I’ll find out physically. He’s been away two weeks, but I’m pretty optimistic he’s going to be all right physically. But, we’ll see it out on the field today.”
What have you guys missed from him on defense these last two games?
“Reuben’s one of our best players. I think he plays the position very well. Everyone knows how good of a tackler he is. But, he’s also good in coverage. Her can blitz the quarterback. He can do a lot of things. Just having his presence out there, just from a leadership standpoint, guys gravitate to him. We really enjoy having him around.”
Is this game important to have that versatility considering how many weapons the Chiefs have?
“Yeah, of course. The more good players we can have out there, the more it will help us. Reuben is a very good player, so I’m very excited to have him out there.”
You said the other day that you wanted to wait and see how everyone is physically before you figure out who your starters are. Is there a part of you, though, that is interested to see Reuben and LB Fred Warner together, just given what they bring to the table?
“Yeah, and also, I’d like to see [LB] Malcolm [Smith], too. We haven’t gotten to see that either. If I knew what way we were going to go this week, I wouldn’t tell you guys, but I do mean I don’t know yet. Rueben hasn’t been here in two weeks. Today is going to be Malcolm’s first day of full practice. So, we want to see how all of those guys do and it’ll be a tough decision at the end of the week, but a tough decision I’m going to be happy to have to make.”
Is the plan to play all three of them together at some point?
“We don’t have the plan yet. We’ve got to see how they are, how they play. The plan is to do whatever we think gives us the best chance to win. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a better guess at that decision these three days of practice.”
What is WR Marquise Goodwin’s status?
“He’s going to be limited today. Expecting him to go some. He’s still limited.”
Now that you’ve had time to evaluate a little bit the six sacks, is there a consistent theme? Was it coverage sacks? Was there something you saw consistently?
“No, it wasn’t consistent. I think it was a little bit of what I said a couple days ago I think. There’s times we didn’t get open fast enough and there were times where guys don’t get open fast enough you’d like the quarterback to throw it away, which I think could’ve happened on a couple of them. There were a couple that didn’t. He’s waiting on a guy and giving him a chance, which you should do, and someone got loose. There were a couple where guys got through there too quick. Then, there were some where we’ve got to give a him a better chance where guys get open with play calls. It was all three of those things combined.”
Right guard is kind of an anonymous position, and I feel like most 49ers fans don’t quite understand what OL Mike Person did on Sunday. Can you talk about how important is was and how impressed it was that he played in that game?
“Yeah, it was unbelievable what Mike Person did. He told us all week he was going to play and we didn’t take him that seriously because we didn’t think he should be able to. Then when he came out there on Friday and we worked him out, he surprised us because he showed that he had a possibility to make a game-time decision. Then, when we worked him out on game day, he looked good. You always worry with that. I’ve been through that before, guys can look good when we’re holding bags and stuff and we’re doing it on the O-Line coaches. They’re big, but they’re not D-Linemen. You don’t know how it’s going to go through the game, if it only lasts a quarter and stuff. I know he was battling through it. Not only did he make it through the whole game, but he played at a very high level, which was very impressive.”
If you didn’t have him, how much would that have limited your offense? Would you have been able to run right as effectively?
“You think about that stuff sometimes in the game. You don’t know how the fronts are going to be. When we run outside zone to the left, it ends up behind the center, which makes it on the right more than 50-percent of the time. You run tight zone to the right, it ends up to the left about 80-percent of the time. You don’t know how to do that stuff, so just as a coach you try to control it a little bit, but it’s guessing a lot so you end up going with the game plan and seeing how it works.”
A lot of people say this is a copycat league. Where does Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid rank in terms of what kind of figure is he in terms of how much his systems over the years have been replicated? How much has he influenced you and your offense?
“Watching Andy for a long time, he always has some neat, cool things. I don’t know where they come from. He’s in there looking up a lot of stuff because they do some unusual things. Sometimes I’m predicting it came from a high school team, maybe a college team. They know how to spread the field. They know how to run all those jet sweeps and do all the RPOs, all those things like that. They have the basic stuff they’ve been doing for a long time, which is their normal drop-back game and stuff. Over these last four years or so, they’ve really added an element of the misdirection and stuff. It’s been an issue, not just because of the plays, but the people with the plays. They have the speed at every angle to run those things and really put defenses in a bind because if you hesitate with a 4.3 receiver, and they have three of them, that is a huge issue. If you just play all the 4.3 receivers all day, they’ve got a pretty good back and a pretty good tight end who can get after you, also.”
With Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, you guys met with him before the draft. How difficult is it to evaluate somebody coming from that offense? How surprised or not surprised are you to see him be so successful early with Andy?
“It is tough to evaluate. You can evaluate talent and he has a ton of that. You can evaluate the person, who we loved. Handled himself great. Seems very intelligent. Seems like a very good kid. Everyone can see his arm strength. Everyone can see the ability. But, it’s tough because in a lot of those systems, not just there, you don’t get to see everyone really play the position just going through progressions and everything like that, staying in the pocket all the time. Now, we’ve got two games of him and he’s played unbelievable. He’s made some real big plays. With the talent that he has, with the talent that he has around him, with the system that he has, it doesn’t surprise me.”
We talked to Andy earlier today and he was talking about the value for Pat sitting last year and watching Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith. As a guy that’s been around a long time, just in a general sense, do you think it’s more valuable? Does it depend on that particular quarterback and how much he takes in?
“I think both. I think it’s dependent on, every situation is different. Sometimes it’s about the person and what their personality is. Sometimes, it’s about the team. Some guys need to get in there and play whether they succeed or they don’t succeed. They learn from every situation. Some guys need some early success to give them the confidence to lead them to continue to get better. So, I think you’ve always got to look into the person and think what’s best for them. But, you’ve also got to look at the type of team you have, what your other choice is at quarterback and how good people are around him to where if you do put a guy in, what are his chances of succeeding?”
RB Matt Breida is the leading rusher in the NFL right now. Does that make you re-think his role at all? If he became more of a featured back, is he durable enough to be that kind of guy all season?
“Yeah, I believe he is. But, we’re two games into this. I hope that continues. That’d be great. But, our whole thing with those guys is they both are two different types of runners. I think that’s what they pair well together. They both have two different styles and they’re both two guys that we believe who run the ball well. Breida was great two days ago in terms of we gave him a couple good lanes and he didn’t just take that, he made it into a touchdown, and that really helped us in that game big time. But, it’s going to be up to whoever is going into that game as the lead back. It’s going to depend a lot on the first play of the game. It’ll depend on how series are going, what fronts they’re playing. But, we’ve got two guys we believe in and like I said a few days ago, I know there will come a time we’re going to need a third guy, also.”
Is there anything you can draw from from Week 1 where you go into Arrowhead, whether it’s silent counts? I imagine the script has to be a little bit similar in terms of how you go about it.
“Yeah. You’ve got to definitely take into account the noise. I haven’t been in Arrowhead for a non-preseason game in a long time. I grew up going to a lot of games there. I always used to think that it was the loudest place in the league. I know Seattle with their acoustics can get pretty loud and stuff, but just for the older stadiums and everything that was always the loudest one to me growing up from the outside. When those fans are going, which I know they will be with the team that they have, it’s as tough of a place to play as any place.”
Back to linebackers, with Warner, the playing time, the responsibility he took on with Reuben out, how much does that accelerate his growth do you think? How does that set him up now if he ends up playing alongside Reuben a little bit maybe?
“It’s good. He’s got two games under his belt. That was the position he was going to play regardless because we planned on putting Reuben at the other. But, for him to get out there and do that for two games, so if he’s paired out there with Reuben, it’s nice that it’s not his first game. It’ll be Reuben’s first one back, if that’s the way we decide to go. I know Reuben will be amped up and ready to go. Hopefully the guy next to him will be a little calmer.”
How do you balance when you’re working with QB Jimmy Garoppolo, a guy who has only had nine starts, working through some stuff with also being a guy who was able to do what he was able to do at the end of last year and got the big contract and the balance between those two things? How do you deal with that?
“I just try to not to overreact to anything. It’s a limited sample size. We know how good Jimmy can play. We have seen how good he can play. I think everyone can see, and we do know how talented he is. But, that’s why I don’t jump to any conclusions after a game or anything. Each week is going to be a different story. If I answer everything pretty directly on what happened in one game, that might not be the case the next game. Every week is a different week. Jimmy has the ability to do everything and to be very good, and he has shown that. But, hasn’t played a lot of football. It’s going to be a long year. We’re two games into this. Some games are going to be really good, some aren’t and some are going to be right in the middle. When you do have the success that Jimmy had last year, when you do get that big contract off of limited sample size, when he does really good I think people are going to make a little bit too big a deal of it and I think when he doesn’t do really good, I think we’re all going to make a little bit too big a deal off of it, also. I try to stay just even-keeled with it, balanced and try to continue to coach him.”
In Week 1, obviously WR Kendrick Bourne runs the wrong route and it’s a pick-six. On Sunday, WR Dante Pettis runs the wrong route and it could have been even more disastrous. As a coach, these are two young guys. Do you say, ‘We’ve really got to make sure we know what we’re doing?’ Do you simplify things? How do you respond to that?
“Yeah. You’ve got to make sure people know what they’re doing, and you hope they learn that just simple mistakes can cost you a game. A number of things cost us that Minnesota game, so never put it just on one play. If we would’ve lost that game versus Detroit, it would’ve been a number of things. But, both of those would have been a huge factor. That’s for guys to learn. Obviously, if that happens too much then they can’t be out there. But, they are guys we believe in. They’re guys that we think can help us win. I know Bourne did that for us and came a long way at the end of last year. I know Pettis has made some real good plays for us in these last two games. Neither of them have been perfect, just like the rest of our team and coaches. We’ve just got to make sure that we do better and not let that happen again.”
Person’s played for six teams, he played for you twice. What has drawn you to him and how has bouncing around the league helped him grow?
“I had him in Atlanta for a year, I think like four games or something. We brought him there to work as a center for us and the center that we had, we ended up letting go with some injury stuff and we went with Person. He did a real good job for us at center all year. I think he played in 15 games for us and I felt like he was good enough for us to win with at center. Then we ended up getting [Atlanta Falcons C] Alex Max so we moved on from that. I just know Person is a guy who has the talent to do what we want, to reach people and run with people in our run game. He’s got the talent and the toughness and the mental toughness over a full game to pass block very well. He’s been around a lot. He’s a survivor. He finds a way to play. We didn’t bring him in here thinking he was going to be our starting right guard. We came in here knowing we had a very good player who could help out at a lot of positions, similar to how [OL] Zane [Beadles] did for us last year. And, he came here and he’s a better player now than he was a few years ago. He earned it and played that way all training camp and then had a very unfortunate injury. So, I wasn’t expecting him to look that great on Sunday, but like I said earlier, he did a very good job.”
A bunch of kickers missed key kicks over the weekend. Meanwhile, your kicker set a franchise record for consecutive field goals. What kind of peace of mind does a guy like K Robbie Gould give you?
“Oh, it’s been great. You get scarred over the years and stuff. I used to want to go for it every single time because it’s whatever your experiences are. I’ve had some bad years experiences. It was pretty good in Atlanta, [Atlanta Falcons K] Matt Bryant did a real good job. But, earlier on in my career, I just wanted to go for it because I was afraid we weren’t going to make that field goal unless we were inside the 20. Now with Robbie, it’s for good reasons he’s made me very confident. He makes it the majority of the time. However many in a row that is, it’s a record so that’s pretty dang good. It’s nice that I don’t have to sit there and watch it all of the time wondering. Half the time I miss it because I’m assuming it’s good and I’m starting to study the pictures and talk to players about the series that just happened and why we didn’t move the chains on third down the play before.”
Who’s your least favorite kicker?
“I’ll say someday.”
Speaking broadly, your corners are more known for their length and physicality and things like that. What’s the key when you go up against an offense that has so much speed like Kansas City’s?
“They have speed and they’re very good and the whole thing is being sound and not giving them freebies. When you mess up something and they’ve got a big arm quarterback and they’ve got speed all over and they’ve got good players there, they’ll score fast. You get a guy out of position it’s not usually an explosive, it’s a touchdown. If they get a bunch of easy touchdowns and stuff like I think they have a little bit, the score is going to be what you guys have seen. You’ve got to make those guys earn it. You’ve got to make them work. You can’t give them freebies and that’s the key when you have explosive, talented players.”
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
How do you balance the fact that you’re a quarterback who’s only started nine games and is still figuring stuff out in the NFL with what you were able to do at the end of last year and the contract that you were able to sign? It seems like they’re kind of dichotomous.
“I really don’t think about it too much, honestly. We have a lot of things going on in here, a lot of good things, the game plan is going in and so we’ve got enough going on in our heads that If we start worrying about those outside things we’ll be in trouble.”
Do you feel any additional pressure though, knowing now that you’re the guy? Last year you had to still at certain points prove it, even though they made a trade for you.
“I think it’s good to have a mindset of you hold yourself to a high standard. So, when you do that, you want to perform at your best. You try to not make any mistakes and do the best you can for the team.”
Speaking of pressure, do you feel less now that Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has replaced you as the greatest quarterback ever?
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about him, yeah. He’s been playing great the first two weeks. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. So, it’ll be a battle this Sunday.”
When you look at the six sacks, is there anything consistent there that you kind of have to learn from? Was it coverage? Do you have to get rid of the ball a little sooner? What did you see there?
“Well, I think they’re all a little different. Each one is kind of its own scenario. During the game, whatever coverage it was, they were all different, so it’s a lot of little things. I think we’re working as a group offensively to sure those things up and I’ve got to help the O-Line out and get rid of the ball.”
This morning, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was talking to us about the value of Patrick sitting a year. Obviously, you did something similar for even longer. What was the value in that for you, looking back now and getting that opportunity to kind of wait?
“I think it’s tremendous for a quarterback to sit his first year. You get to sit there and see a guy, if you’re lucky, like I got to watch [New England Patriots QB] Tom [Brady], Patrick got to watch [Washington Redskins QB] Alex [Smith], two successful quarterbacks and how they do it. You kind of try to put yourself in that situation, how to learn from it, what you would do if you were in the spot they were in. There’s a ton of things that you could benefit from and I think if you use it properly, it’s good for you.”
People kind of seem to think it’s an osmosis thing, you happen to be around the guy or that he’s got to hold your hand. How early do you realize, ‘Hey, I’ve got to really invest myself in this to maximize that too,’ and how did you go about it?
“I think every guy, it’s kind of a feel thing. It kind of hits you at one point or another throughout your rookie year. It’s a really good learning experience. Some guys it hits early, some guys it might not hit until your second or third year. When you realize you have to be a pro and hold yourself accountable more than having a coach do it for you. I think once you get to that point, it gives you a chance to be successful.”
Was there a moment that it hit you?
“Yeah, my rookie year, definitely. It was a very eye-opening moment. It’s just something that it’s good that it happened.”
Can you tell us what it is?
“I can’t tell you the whole story, man. Come on.”
As much as the veteran quarterback may help you, they don’t exactly want you taking the job either do they? There’s that competitive thing going on.
“Yeah, of course, especially when there’s only one of you out there. It’s not like it’s a receiver where there’s two, three, four of you out there at a time. But, that’s the nature of the NFL. You have to be competitive, you have to want to compete on a daily basis. I think that’s what makes you great.”
The interception against Minnesota and then the one that was called back against Detroit, they’ve both been chalked up to miscommunications. With going to Kansas City and that atmosphere and the state of this offense, how do you work through those miscommunications so stuff like that doesn’t happen again?
“I think it starts with the week of practice, honestly. We want to go out there and be perfect on every play call, how we hear it, how we communicate with one another in between series, all that stuff. It’s just a lot of little things coming together. We know it’s going to be loud. That place, I played there my rookie year and it was rocking. So, we know what we’re in for.”
Is there an extra emphasis on that this week? It’s obviously always an emphasis, but knowing what the results have been.
“I think every week we put a lot emphasis on it. We want to be perfect and that’s what we’re training to do. You’re never going to be perfect, but that’s what you have to have the mindset of.”
Do you view it as a week by week thing, going back a little bit to the fact that you don’t have a ton of experience, the receivers are young where you’re going to have to build up to it a little bit more?
“Definitely. That’s the NFL season. It’s a week by week thing. Every team throughout the entire season, one week they’re up, one week they’re down type of thing. You want to stay as even keeled as you can. I think we have a good locker room for that. Guys have the right mindset. Coaches come out and work every day. It’s a good group.”
When you have someone as unique as WR Marquise Goodwin in terms of his ability to stretch the field, how difficult of an adjustment can it be without him?
“I think we handled it well. Different guys last week stepping up in different roles than they were used to. Some of the younger guys handling a little more information and things like that. I think we did it well and it will be nice to get him back when we can.”
What’s your read on the opportunities that the Chiefs defense presents?
“They’re a good defense. They have a good scheme that ties together well, things that play off of one another. Some talented guys up front who get after the quarterback and some talented guys in the backend too. So, it’ll be our job to go out there and execute. I think the communication is a big part, getting that started. We’ll go from there.”
Going back to Goodwin, how much does that limit what you guys feel like you can call on a play-by-play basis? Do you see head coach Kyle Shanahan adjusting in real time to not having that guy who can take the safety with him every time he runs up the field?
“Yeah, well we have other guys who can take the top off of a defense. Marquise is a unique speed, but we have some fast guys too. So, yeah I think just mixing and matching, putting guys in the right spots and giving them a chance to be successful. Kyle does a great job of that.”
The connection between you and WR Trent Taylor hasn’t been nearly as productive as it was last season. Are defenses focusing on him more with Goodwin out?
“Not really. I think at certain times maybe, but other times it’s just execution. Coach is putting us in a position to be successful and we have to go out and execute it.”
What stood out to you about RB Matt Breida’s maturation from when you came here last year to now?
“His knowledge. He’s a very smart running back. He knows what he’s looking for in each run, what the read is. If there’s a cutback opportunity pre-snap, he knows it. It’s tying all of that stuff together and I think he’s done a great job of it along with those guys up front giving him room to run.”
What was your view of that 66-yard touchdown run?
“It happened fast. I carried out my fake and everting and I saw him cutting all the way back and I started to run and felt very slow when those guys started to pull away from me. [WR] Pierre [Garçon] was still blocking. So, it was probably the longest run I’ve ever seen on the field.”
Obviously, you want to finish every drive with a touchdown, but what kind of peace of mind does it give you to have a guy like K Robbie Gould, especially you look around the league and guys are missing kicks and he does what he does?
“All three of those guys, [LS] Kyle [Nelson], [P] Bradley [Pinion], Robbie, they’re very consistent with what they do day-in and day-out. They’re good guys to be around, good locker room guys. It makes for a fun time.”
You were in Chicago when Robbie was kicking. You were a Bears fan growing up, right? So you’ve known Robbie Gould, in theory, for a long time.
“I’ve known the name, yeah.”
What’s he like as a teammate and is that kind of weird at all to you that he’s still around?
“I wouldn’t say it’s weird. It’s different, for sure. But, my friends, when they get around, they get a kick out of it. Some of them are still Bears fans.”
Bears fans are still upset, they’re still angry that they let him go.
“Yeah, we’ve got a good one there. But yeah, he’s an awesome guy. Tight-knight guy, keeps guys interacting with one another and it’s good to have that.”
On that touchdown to TE Garrett Celek, it looked like certainly the Lions thought it was going to be a pitch to RB Alfred Morris. Is that the first time you guys have called that play? Is that something you put in in the offseason?
“No, they ran it last year. I don’t know if I threw one last year, but it’s a nice little complement that we had. Celek finished it off.”