[Listen] Coach Shanahan On Vikings: "They’re a very talented defense."

Audio: 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference – September 5, 2018

Are you guys looking like you will be at full strength or where do you think youll be for Sundays game?

Wont know until then. Were going to have a number of guys limited today, so I hope they make it. But, well see.

Have you decided who will start, RB Matt Breida or RB Alfred Morris? Does it really matter?

No, not really. Not to me. Well see how the week goes. This is Breidas first full week back from his injury, so weve got to see how healthy he is. It probably depends on a lot of personnel groupings, what plays we are running, things like that. So, probably wont have an idea on that until Saturday night.

Will OL Mike Person get the start at right guard?

I mean, hes leading it right now. But, those guys are competing. Like I said, I think last time I talked to you guys, [G] Josh [Garnett] is behind a little bit because he hasnt had the reps. But, that doesnt mean he cant pass him up this week. That doesnt mean he cant any week that they are going. Thatll be some tough competition, to me, all year.

Is LB Malcolm Smith still battling a hamstring? Is his availability kind of up in the air, too?

Yes, definitely. Yeah. Hell be limited today, so well see how that goes.

How far along were you in game planning for the Vikings before RB Jerick McKinnon got hurt? How much does that change things?

You dont get anything down on paper and give it to your team, but since the day we signed him weve been game planning for Minnesota. So, Im not going to lie, it changes things pretty drastically. When you go for, that was your first target in free agency, so once you do it, you have a plan on how to use him, especially going into Week 1. So, that definitely changes. We didnt have him before, so weve done a lot of different things without that. We were going to do some different things with him, which we have other guys on the roster who are capable of doing that stuff. But, its just how much you want to do it and things like that. That changes formations and everything. We definitely had to go back in and change some things, but definitely still excited about what weve got.

Alfred has not been known as a big-time pass-catcher throughout his career. Does it present more of a tell when Breida is in, Alfred is in?

I think it does if Breida never runs the ball and Alf never catches the ball, you know? But, well be balanced in both. Its not like that. Its very rare you can have a guy on your roster who cant catch at all or cant run at all. If you only are in on passes, they can call you a running back but youre a receiver. So, youve got to balance all of that out. We have the running backs who can do that. Guys do certain things better than others, but all three of the guys that will be up I feel confident that all three of them can definitely run and catch.

Where have you seen the biggest growth in Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins game from when you had him to where he is now?

Just reps. I only had Kirk for a couple games. I was with him two years, but didnt get to play in many games with him. Hes got to play a lot of football since then. So, the more football very good quarterbacks get to play, usually the better they get. Kirk went through his ups and downs in the beginning, but he was always talented and made of the right stuff. I think thats why he has become what he has today.

What type of talents does Minnesotas defense present to your offense in general and QB Jimmy Garoppolo specifically?

A lot. Theyre a very talented defense in terms of, I think if anyone said their best talent was their D-Line or their linebackers or their secondary, Id say whichever one you said is right. You could argue any of those three. Theyve got a lot of talent there with high draft picks, guys who have made second contracts. Its a very good scheme, too. With what [Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator] George [Edwards] and [Minnesota Vikings head coach] Mike [Zimmer] have done over the years, its extremely sound. Then, youve got 11 guys that have been playing together for about four years. I know they added [Minnesota Vikings DT] Sheldon [Richardson] as a three technique, but the last 10 guys have been there for a while and that continuity of good talent with a good scheme is why their numbers were as good as anyones last year in pretty much every category.

When you sat down with Jimmy to go over film on the Vikings, what was the first thing you told him to watch for?

I didnt tell him a first thing. Today, we put in all of the stuff that were trying to attack them at first and second down. So, you try to go through their looks and how they play their fronts and their coverages. Youve got to be ready for everything. They have their base defense, but whatever you get them with they have every adjustment possible to take that away. Weve got to go in with an open mind and see how they play us. Just be ready to execute.

What are your expectations for T Mike McGlinchey, just given the atmosphere, the guys he is going against and that its his first NFL game?

Its going to be a big challenge, but I have high expectations for McGlinchey. Thats why we took him. Thats why were putting him in there. Hes been great since the day hes come in. Whether its a rookie in his first game or whether its a 10-year vet, I mean, its going to be a challenge playing in that dome versus their personnel and the noise. I dont expect him just to sit and dominate. I dont expect anybody to. But, Id be surprised if he didnt play at a high level and I think hell give us a chance to win this game.

The expectations for this team are obviously different from where they were last year at this time. How about for you? Youve got 16 games under your belt now. How different is this than last year as you approach the opening game?

It is different. I know our team a lot better. I feel weve improved, too, so I feel more confident in that aspect going into the year. Im just excited. You get to sit around and think about it all year since the last game ended. Our players came in so excited the first day we saw them in the offseason. Preseason is a grind for everybody and were all glad to get through that. Now, were just pumped to play some football. Its going to be a long four days or whatever it is left. Its been a long couple of days, but we just cant wait to get this started and just get into the groove.

The Vikings signed TE Cole Hikutini to their practice squad. Does that concern you at all or had you not started to game plan for Minnesota?

No. I mean, its not like Cole knew our game plan or would have been able to memorize it. But, hopefully the stuff he tells them weve got double moves off all of that stuff. So, hopefully they listen to him.

Youve gone against a Zimmer defense in your last three stops as a coordinator. Have you gone back to those games to see what was effective against him?

You do to a degree. I dont want to get into it too much, but I know they do so we do, also. Theres only so many ways you can attack certain coverages. Hes been very similar for a long time, going back to playing him when he was in Cincinnati when I was in Houston or when I was in Washington the time he was in Dallas. Hes a real good coordinator. Does all the stuff like I said earlier. Its very sound. Theres just not that many secrets to it. Youve got to play very well versus these guys. Youve got to execute. I talked about their talent and their scheme. Any time you play against a group thats played together that long, 11 guys recognize plays very fast. They tee off on people very fast because 11 guys can think very similar. Thats, to me, the biggest challenge. Theres not going to be that much secrets in this game. Weve got to play well. Weve got to execute. Its going to be a hard battle.

What are kind of the basic tendencies of a Mike Zimmer defense? When you go against him, I think you have like two or three times in the past? What do you expect to see that carries over to this year?

Theyre very sound in the run game. They play their gaps well. They play more match coverages and stuff. Its a little similar to our defense in terms of their philosophy and stuff, but their coverages are a little bit different. They play a little bit more two-shell than our guys. Its not always an eight-man front. But, they have two very physical safeties that even when they are playing in a two-shell, those guys can show up very fast and it can very quickly become an eight-man front. It presents a lot of challenges.

I know you are busy game-planning obviously, but there was news with Colin Kaepernick getting an endorsement deal from Nike. Just curious if you have any reaction to that?

Not really. I dont have a reaction to probably anything thats happened on this planet in the last four days. I apologize for that. Thatll continue for about six more months. Sorry.

In the offseason, general manager John Lynch joked that you were in mourning once it became clear that you wouldnt be able to get Kirk Cousins. Did you ever tell him how funny you thought that was?

I told him how bad of a choice of words that was. But, no I understood what he was trying to say. I have a lot of respect for Kirk and I think hes in a very good situation and went to a very good place and Im very happy for him for that with what hes been through. Im extremely happy with who we have here and where were at and the decision that we made on who to go with before that.

When you guys were mapping out the future of the team and looking at your quarterback options in the 2017 offseason, did you guys go ahead and start talking about 2018 and the possibility that Kirk would be available?

Yeah, I mean we talked about every single possibility for quarterbacks the first day I got here, off the plane. We always knew that was a strong possibility because I didnt think they were going to franchise him three years in a row like no one else did and I thought wed have a very good chance. So, I think thats what we knew was a very strong possibility of happening and I think we fell into another alternative option that was pretty darn good.