Kyle Shanahan Sets Focus on Matchup with Cardinals in Week 8

The 49ers head coach discussed the team’s game plan for the Arizona Cardinals and shared injury updates.

Do you have any updates on some of the injured guys like CB Richard Sherman?

“I forgot my paper, but the guys who aren’t practicing today are Sherm, [WR] Pierre [Garçon], [T Joe] Staley, [RB Matt] Breida and that’s it.”

Have you made a determination on how you will handle Breida this week?

“Yes. We’re going to look at him throughout the week. He’s looking a lot better these last two days than he did on Sunday. We’re definitely giving him today off. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. If he’s good, we’ll throw him in practice and evaluate him from there.”

I realize Pierre has been dealing with some stuff the past couple weeks, but he’s had a pretty quiet season. He’s up there in age. Some people will say is this the end of the road. What is your assessment of his season so far?

“For Pierre?”

Yes.

“Pierre is definitely someone who can help us. He has at times, and he got a lot more opportunities last year before he got hurt, also. I don’t think all of our guys have gotten a ton of opportunities this year. So, it’s been up and down with that. I was expecting him to come on pretty strong here in the recent weeks. But, he’s definitely been battling through some tough stuff here the last two weeks. That’s why he’s not in there today at practice. He’ll probably be doubtful for the game this week because of that.”

Is it more his shoulder or knee?

“Knee. Pierre is someone who can help us. But, in order for him to be at full strength, his knee needs to heal up. If hit does, he’ll have much better opportunities to help us.”

What more can you guys do in practice to work on ball security? We see you out there with the swim noodles hitting the quarterbacks in warmup drills. What other steps can you take?

“I think you’re taking every step possible in those type of areas. You could have every single person carry around a football or something like some movies and things like that. That’s about all that’s left. So, we’re trying to focus on executing, doing the little things better. Trying to not get into some second-and-long situations where you can avoid some tips and things like that where you become one dimensional. We have to protect the ball better with the fumbles. And it hasn’t been one particular guy. We’ve played with four backs this year and all four guys have fumbled. Our defense rips it out on our guys as hard as you can in practice to the point where they hurt our guys’ fingers. We feel that’s as good of training as you can get. Obviously, it hasn’t worked so far. We can’t run away from it. We keep talking about it, keep harping on it. We just go back to work and keep trying to get better.”

You said a few times, I think defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said it as well, that the playing time at defensive line is dependent on how these guys practice during the week.

“A lot of it, yeah.”

Is it frustrating to you that nobody has seized those opportunities yet? Is it sort of a week-to-week basis?

“Yes. You want a slam dunk. You want it to be so easy that, not just at D-Line, but every position, that one guy can do it all. Doesn’t matter the situation, doesn’t matter run-pass, down and distance, one guy can do it all and he can do it better than everyone. When you have that, that’s the guy who gets the most opportunities. We’ve had inconsistencies on who those guys are. I think [DL DeForest Buckner] Buck has definitely a far lead on that on being that guy, and the other guys have had moments. But, it’s a little here and a little there. We want them to be more consistent. You talk about roles on teams and you always tell players this, that role is up to them. You want a guy to take that role. If someone does, that’ll make things a lot easier for us.”

Was DL Solomon Thomas on the inside a little bit more in this game?

“Yes. Yeah, we gave him more opportunities on the inside.”

Do you guys still firmly believe that he is better there? That’s been the plan, right, to have him inside a little bit more as often as you can?

“Yes, definitely.”

How is DB Tarvarius Moore doing? Has there been any internal thought about trying him back at safety?

“I know that he has experience at safety. But, no he’s been doing a good job at corner for us. He’s gotten better each day since going back to when he got here. He’s been helping us out a lot on special teams. He’s been playing at a pretty high level there, just showing his toughness. You’re getting a guy who can hit, but also a guy who can run and has length. We like a lot how he’s coming along at corner. I think it’s a matter of time before he’ll be helping us at that position this year.”

Do you think maybe at some point in the second half of the season you’ll throw him in there to see what he has?

“He has a chance to. He’s earning that. It depends on how the other guys are doing and how he’s doing. But, he’s definitely taking steps towards that.”

You didn’t mention DB Jimmie Ward on the injured players.

“He’s not totally out of practice, but he’s limited. So, I think he’ll do individual and things like that.”

Will he do it at cornerback or safety?

“I’m not sure. I am actually, I’m not going to lie to you. But, I can’t tell you.”

And you’re fine going ahead with DB D.J. Reed Jr.?

“Same thing. He’s first man up at safety. He finished the game there and he’ll hop in there today.”

How close is WR Dante Pettis?

“He’s going to practice today. So, it excites us. He tried to go last week at this time, but it was just a walk through. You could tell through walk through, just watching him and talking to him that it was too soon. We gave him a whole another week. He feels good, he’s excited to go today. We just had a little walk through where there was no problem. I know he’s excited and I’m excited to get him back out there.”

What’s the timetable for S Marcell Harris reintegrating into everything?

“He has another week before we decide on that. He got his first week of practice last week. There was only one full-speed practice, which I know he was the most frustrated guy with that because he’s been eager to get out there and go. But, we had to go slower last week. So, he should get three full days in this week with three full practices and give us a better assessment of where he is.”

The type of player that he is, known as a big hitter, is he especially a guy that needs that full-speed practice?

“Yes. When you’re coming off an Achilles and things like that and you haven’t run very much, you’ve got to be moving full speed to test it in some football moves. Just reacting there, not in a controlled area. So, he should get that in practice whether it’s with the defense or on the card team. We’ll get a lot of tape this week on him.”

The wide receivers in general, just statistically seems like production has not been there. All of them, for the most part, the top four of them, have had varying degrees of injuries throughout the year. How do you look at that? Do you see potential there and are you hoping they can finally get healthy collectively in the second half to see what you have?

“Yeah, I see a lot of potential. I think all of our guys are NFL players and can all be used differently. But, when I say NFL players, I mean they’re guys who I think are capable of playing on any team. I don’t know how high the ceiling is and where they can go. That’s up to them and it’s up to us helping them. I think it has been tough because I feel like we’ve had a little bit of a different lineup every single game. We haven’t had much consistency with who’s out there. We’ve had to mix and match a number of guys at different positions. We’re also doing that to some younger guys which isn’t totally fair to them. I’m asking them to do a little bit more than they’re ready for. We went through that last year, too. There were some up and downs with it. We stuck with it and I thought our guys got a lot better through the year for that and finished pretty strong. I’d like to be in a different situation this year, but it is very similar to what we went through. Our guys have been up and down. Our guys have been battling injuries. I know Pierre is starting to take a step back with his injuries. We’ll see how that goes this week, but I’m excited to get Dante back out there. Hopefully he has a healthy week of practice and we can ease him and get him going throughout the rest of the year. It was good to get [WR Marquise Goodwin] Quise back and then the other guys. It was good to get [WR] Trent [Taylor] back last week. I know he missed the Green Bay game. But, all of those guys are battling a little bit of stuff and the healthier they get, the more we can keep the same three guys out there a little bit more consistently, I think the better we’ll all get.”

How much work has Ward gotten at safety this year before this week?

“None.”

All at corner?

“Yeah.”

Obviously, the turnovers have been an issue and a focus. On the defensive side, has consistency in staying in their assignments been also a focus?

“Yes, definitely. It is every week. I think we take a step forward in that every week, but we also have got to make some plays too. I think they go hand in hand together. If you don’t get any turnovers or anything like that, then you’ve got to play very perfect defense. That’s tough to do over 70 plays or whatever it is. So, we challenge the guys on that every week. I think the guys are communicating much better. I think we’re getting more consistent with who’s out there. But also, we don’t have to make it so hard on ourselves too. It’s a lot easier if we can make some plays and get some tips and things like that and get our hands on the ball.”

Do you think Jimmie is somebody who could readjust back to a position like that after just a week of practice and what are some of the benchmarks during the week that you look for in a situation like that?

“Just how comfortable they are there. There’s not a lot that goes in, I’m not trying to make it easy, but it’s more of a feel back in the middle of the field. We don’t run a ton of coverages, especially for the middle-third safety. So, it’s about where your eyes are, tracking, running, making sure you’re healthy enough to do it. And also, that you’re comfortable back there. A lot of guys who go from corner to safety, they’ve got to get adjusted to the hitting part because it’s just a little bit different, the physicality of it and stuff. That’s not an issue for Jimmie at all. He has no problem with that type of stuff. So, it’s just giving him a few reps back at the middle of the field and something that he is used to. He got a number of it last year. We’d love to have a few weeks to do it if we did that, but you don’t get off weeks.”

Is there any concern with LB Reuben Foster still missing a lot more tackles than he did last year?

“Yes, I think Reuben is still trying to get back to where he finished last year. He’s not there yet. I think he’s had times where he shows it, but his consistency needs to improve and he knows that, I know that. He did miss his second offseason for things that we all know about, which is on Reuben. Then when he got here, knowing he was going to be suspended those first two games, he didn’t get as many reps there towards the end and things like that. I think there is a little bit of rust to him, not that that’s an excuse. That’s what he needs to do to find a way to get that rust off. We haven’t yet, but I expect him to as this year goes.”

Throughout his career, he’s had some degree of shoulder issues, the stingers the last two or three games he’s had to leave. Is that a concern long-term? Is that something he might have to deal with throughout his career?

“You’d have to ask doctors more about that. I get concerned any time something keeps happening. So yes, I obviously do get concerned. But, from what I’m told, you don’t have to worry about that long-term. He does have to keep himself in some less vulnerable positions which could help. He has had some things that have scared him in these games. But, he’s come back and they’ve checked out alright to where there’s no issue and he’s been able to go by Wednesday’s practice. So, it’s stuff we’ll continue to monitor. We’ve had a few close scares with him, but nothing like he had before he got here.”

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