Coaches speak; Seahawks Pete Carroll and 49ers Kyle Shanahan

The Seattle Seahawks (6-5) will take on the San Francisco 49ers Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink 1:25 p.m. (PT) and will look to continue their quest for a playoff berth. And of course, the Seahawks will be taking on a team with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. All pleasataries aside the  49ers (2-9)  will be looking to play rude guests and snap a two-game losing streak. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan

(On what he expected from Richard Sherman and what the 49ers have gotten from him)

“You know, I never knew Richard before he got here. I just had seen him on TV and I had seen him playing against him. I wasn’t a huge fan of playing against him and stuff, so I really wanted to get to know the guy. We met and went out to dinner the first night, had about a four-hour dinner and I really liked him. He’s very up-front, spoke the truth, said how he felt but I was impressed that he could carry conversations. You could have different opinions. He was very intelligent and could understand what I meant and what he meant. I always loved him as a player.

I knew the big question was going to be could he return and get healthy coming off of that big injury and he put a lot of time into working. He’s battled through it throughout this year. I think he’s had some games where he’s been more healthy than others, but he’s found a way to come out and have a real good year for us and help us a ton and I’ve loved how he’s handled himself here in our building.”

(On if he foresees a long-term future with Richard Sherman beyond this season)

“I mean, that’s what we brought him here for. We’re going to evaluate the rest of this year, but yeah we expect him to be here. He’s been playing well for us and we’ll see how this finishes out but that was the reason we brought him.”

(On Richard Sherman’s return to Seattle)

“I think just like all human beings, of course there’s got to be (some emotion), but I haven’t seen it personally. I saw him Monday here in the building, we gave him Tuesday off and then I’ve been here all day today with him on Wednesday and it’s been just like any other week for him but just like any player going to his former team and especially a guy of Richard’s caliber and how he played there and what he did while he was there in Seattle, I know it’s got to be a big deal to him and real important.”

(On Nick Mullens playing at CenturyLink Field)

“I think he’s going to handle it the same way he’s really handled every situation since he’s been here. I mean, Nick started out as just a practice squad guy or really, came here and didn’t get any reps when he first got here as the fourth quarterback in camp and he’d get about one rep a day but he was always working like he was the main guy in the building and always finding time to do it. When he did get his opportunity – last year, most of his reps were on scout team safety for us.

When he did get his opportunity this year because of an injury, he kept working the same way he had all the time and he went in there, acted the same. He’s always locked in. The guys respect him for that. He’s been that way for these three games. Nothing’s changed and it’ll be a huge challenge for him going to Seattle. It’s always tough to play on the road but if you haven’t been to Seattle, you don’t realize that that’s different than most places. It’s as loud as any stadium there is on the planet so it will be a challenge for him but just knowing Nick and how he’s been here the last two years, he’ll handle it the exact same way he does every other single day of his life.”

(On how he would assess the 49ers season)

“It’s definitely been disappointing. Anytime you have the record that we have, it’s a hand that we’ve been dealt and it’s been tough, of course, especially when you lose your starting quarterback so early in the year (and) you lose your starting running back before the year starts. We really haven’t had two games in a row with the same receivers in the same spots and we just haven’t had a ton of continuity this year, which has been a battle. It has been tough, but I try to be as positive as I can about it. I do think we’re going through this for a reason.

I do think it can make us better. A lot of guys have gotten to play a lot that normally wouldn’t be able to play and I hope that helps us find some things out about people this year and helps us build this team better next year and find out really what we’re missing and what we need to add and who are the people that we’re going to want to be around here to build this the right way.”

(On keeping Nick Mullens as the starting quarterback over C.J. Beathard)

Well, he got his opportunity when C.J. got hurt and he came in that first game and did very well. Statistically, he had one of the best first games in the history of the NFL just statistically, but he played well, executed the offense, the guys really rallied around him, he had a lot of command of the huddle. The next week, we played the Giants. We came up short and lost but he played very well again. Went on our bye week, came back and definitely didn’t play great last week, but our whole team didn’t so we couldn’t put that just on Nick by any means.

It started with me and it went to the entire offense and the whole team. I don’t think it’s totally fair to him that once he shows signs of his first struggles that you just go back. Nick’s earned the chance to play. He’s earned it through all three games, he’s earned it through the respect of his teammates and we’re going to give him more time.”

(On Malcolm Smith)

“Malcolm, we brought Malcolm here and I’ve always been a huge fan of Malcolm, just playing against him in Seattle (and) playing against him in Oakland. When we got here, knowing what we wanted to do with the scheme, he was one of the hardest guys for me personally to go against as an offensive coach just playing in this scheme. That was important to get a guy in here like Malcolm and when he got here, he started out great but he tore his (pectoral), missed the whole first year and then he came back to this season where he was going to come in and help us out big time but ended up hurting his Achilles before the year and kind of has battled throughout that.

I think he did it about a week before training camp started and it’s kind of set him back throughout the year. It’s why he wasn’t ready at the beginning of the year and we ended up starting Fred Warner, who’s a rookie we took. Fred’s just kind of taken hold of the defense and we’ve kept him in there. Malcolm was able to help us out by playing on the ball, playing SAM linebacker. I believe that’s where he started out in Seattle. It wasn’t his ideal spot but we wanted to get our best eleven (players) on the field and now that we – especially losing Reuben (Foster), now we’ve had to use him back inside. That’s a spot that he’s used to but the hard thing for Malcolm – he’s been battling through an injury all year and there’s lots of times where I haven’t been sure if he was going to be able to play but I’ve been so proud of Malcolm in that no matter what, if he can go on Sunday he’s found a way to get out there for us. By no means has he been a 100% all year but it’s very important for us just to get him out there and help us out.”

Coach  Pete Carroll

(Opening Statement)

“Okay, it’s Wednesday, so we’re battling to get ready. We’ve got a good matchup coming home. This is kind of a segment of the schedule that would be something that we need to really cash in on – playing at home. It seems like it’s been rare for us this year. It’s our first time coming back, it’s a big deal we get started on the right foot and do a good job. We’re worried always about a Kyle Shanahan team. He’s a fantastic coach and does a great job with his offense.

We’ve watched him for years and years and gone against him for years in different places and always have had great respect. They can run it, they’ve got a really good scheme to get the quarterback out of the pocket. They do all kinds of really good things and it’s going to be a big challenge for us there. It’s always important for us to run it and hopefully we can do a good job. If you look at their (49ers) stats, you’ll see they’re giving up a hundred yards a game rushing which is really good and really solid. Robert Saleh (49ers defensive coordinator) is doing a good job with those guys on defense. We have a big matchup. We have to take this opportunity really serious and do a good job with the week.”

(On Nick Mullens)

“He’s been efficient. He gets the ball out. They move him a lot in the play action game. If you look at it, it’s been hard to get to him. He’s only been sacked four times in about 100 throws – he’s done a real nice job there. He makes quick decisions, that’s why he’s getting rid of the football well. They’ve mixed him in to matchup with the running game quite well.”

(On what he thinks Richard Sherman’s legacy is in Seattle)

“It’s consistent with playing great football. He did it over a long period of time. Hit the scene with kind of a big splash early on and it was probably through year two when he kind of showed up and everybody knew he was out there. He just kept doing it year after year after year.”

(On if Richard Sherman was a guy he thought he would coach forever)

“I do think that about these guys. I don’t think about get him for a time and then they’re going to go somewhere else. I don’t think that, I’m all in. When it changes, it’s a transition when they go. Like I said, I think that about all our guys.”

(On what he thinks the Seahawks fans reception of Richard Sherman will be like at Century Link Field)

“They’ll be great. I mean, I think he’s loved around here for all the great stuff that he did. I don’t know that it’s going to be noticeable what the reception is like. If it’s noticeable then it’s pretty significant. He did a lot of great stuff here. I don’t think our fans think any differently than I do about that.”

(On if he has any regret on how things ended with Richard Sherman)

“We had tremendous conversations about all the way through the stages of what happened at the end. Sherm and I were sitting in my office eye-to-eye talking through everything. It was really straightforward, clear. He was handling his own business so he had to really be on top of it, which he was, and he did a fantastic job for himself too.

Our communications were great. We really haven’t communicated since then – I don’t know, there may be a couple of messages here and there back and forth. I’ve watched carefully to see how he’s doing. Like I said earlier today, I was really concerned about his rehab and his coming back. He did a marvelous job of getting back just like you knew he would, but he still had to do it. It was a great accomplishment to get that done.”

(On how he felt about Richard Sherman’s comments as he left)

“Sherm had to do what he had to do. He had to change allegiance and get tuned into his new team. Whatever took place was okay. I didn’t care, I know who Sherm is. I know him way differently than you guys probably think I do. I think the world of him.

There was times along the time he was here when he said things that I might not have agreed with and had to work through and all that. He’s his own man and he was a stud of a guy when he was here. Whatever came out in the transition, I don’t care. I could care less about that.”

(On if it was difficult to manage his relationship with Richard Sherman)

“He was a challenge, yeah. He was a challenge like many of our guys. It was a challenge in being willing to really work with somebody and see the beautiful aspects of this individual. He was an amazing person and I had great respect for him. I was challenged because he’s brilliant and he had a lot of thoughts. This tremendous competitiveness about him that took him places that some other athletes don’t get to. Every bit of it was worth it.”

(On what he’s learned about how much slack to give ‘superstars’)

“I don’t know if you can talk generically about superstars. Everybody deserves everything I got throughout the process when they’re here. I give them everything I got to help them, to see them, to understand them, to learn them, to love them up and to kick them in the ass.

Whatever it takes to help them be the best that they can be. I don’t know any other way to do it. When a guy has that much to offer, the exchanges and the interchange and the time you think about dealing with guys is rich. It was rich with creativity and being strong and true and all that. You mentioned giving guys slack, I don’t see it like that at all. You give a guy space to be who he is and if you do that, you’ve got a chance to find their greatness. If you don’t, you cut them short. I would like to think it doesn’t matter who the guy is. Some guys call for more attention than others and he (Richard Sherman) was well worth it.”

(On how the Seahawks have found such recent success in recent years against the 49ers)

“I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe because I was born in San Francisco (laughs). I don’t know, I have no idea. It’s just every week is a new week when we play them. The games before don’t have anything to do with what’s going on now.”

(On if he still feels the rivalry with the 49ers like when Jim Harbaugh was the head coach) “You said there was – you’ve never, ever heard me say that.”

(On if there was a rivalry in years past with the 49ers)

“Not any different than anybody else. Every team we play is the toughest team and the most important team. I’ve told you that for years, I ain’t changing because that’s the way I have to think to help us focus the way we need to focus. I understand that because we’ve played against each other (Jim Harbaugh at Stanford) in college and all that kind of stuff, you see all that. If you give me chance, I thought Jim (Harbaugh) was a great coach and he is. He’s a great coach.

That just brought out the best in us to try to matchup with whatever he can put out there. We had some great battles over the years and all that if that’s what you guys want to call a rivalry. I’m not trying to minimize that part, it’s just that isn’t the way I talk and act and think about it. The better the other team is, the more it brings out the best you have and I love that. That’s why I like playing against guys like Sherm (Richard Sherman) and guys that we’ve had in the past that were great players – it just makes us have to find our best and that’s a really cool thing.”

(On his favorite memory about Richard Sherman while he was in Seattle)

“Probably the ball he tipped in the end zone in the (NFC) championship game. I think that moment was the best on the field moment. Other than that, we had so many times when we were sharing things and getting through stuff and understanding what was the next step. Listening to him kind of plan out and plot out how he was going to deal with what’s going on in the world and all that. Those are great times, so I don’t know if there’s any one of those. I think that moment when he tipped the ball was about as special as it gets.”

(On the biggest challenge of managing Richard Sherman)

“I don’t know. I didn’t find it to be a challenge, that’s just what I do. I’m just dealing with the – understanding him probably was always the challenge. Understanding is really the essence of who somebody is so that that you can communicate most effectively. I don’t think it’s any more of a challenge than the other guys. Although, he was pretty darn special and pretty unique.”

(On if Richard Sherman’s perspectives challenged his authority)

“He’s going to push the limits now, yeah. He pushes the boundaries because he sees beyond what a lot of people see. He goes beyond what other people might be limited by. I think that’s an extraordinary characteristic of a person. That’s part of what it was that I loved about it so much. He made you think and made you work and made you understand and made me come to understand.

I didn’t find it as a challenge, I thought it was a blessing that we got to work at stuff like that. That’s what makes coaching special and makes it fun and makes dealing with people fun. It’s a pretty good lovefest for Sherm.”

(On when the management of a personality like Richard Sherman’s

becomes too much for the consequences of the team) “With an individual player when it’s no longer about the team. When the team is no longer of the essence then it’s time to move on. That’s where the limitations come in. If somebody can’t be all about the cause and the brotherhood and all of that, then there’s a time when you’ve got to move on. I’m not saying that’s what happened with Sherm at all, that’s just when I draw the line. As long as we’re all in this together, we’re good.”

(If it’s possible Doug Baldwin won’t be 100 percent healthy by the end of the season)

“I told him today that I’m not going to say this is the best he’s felt because I said that last week and something happened with his groin. He feels really good. That was amazing what he did last week. For the groin strain that he had, to play in a game like that and play at high level, there ain’t many people can do stuff like that. Anybody that understands, that injury, in particular as a sprinter kind of athlete. I don’t know how he did it. Doctors don’t know how he did it either, he just did it.

In a sense, I don’t want to make anything out of this more than it should be, but it was a heroic effort by him just to want to play and then to prove it that he could on gameday and then to go out and play liked crazy – he played a beautiful game. He had five catches or something. I think he’s doing great. Unfortunately missed him by an inch for the touchdown – would’ve been a big play for us in the game. Other than that, he played a beautiful game. That wasn’t him, Russ (Wilson) missed the throw.”

(On the tight end play of the 49ers)

“George Kittle is really good. He was a really good prospect coming out. He’s a really talented player. He’s a good blocker as well. I think you go to the coaching, recognize that and put him in the positions too, so it’s all of that. He’s a really good player.”

(On how the 49ers have had to change their offense due to injuries)

“They are a run first team. Kyle’s (Shanahan) always been that way, so  that’s not that much different. It’s really, the subtleties are – there’s some but not worth mentioning. It’s pretty much their offense. The style looks the same.”

(On the differences and similarities between Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay)

“One thing, they both kind of grew up under the Mike Shanahan kind of thing – you know, Kyle was in the house. They kind of grew up together. The systems, there is a lot of carry over there. There foundations of the running game is the same and so there is a lot of commonalities throughout. It’s really fascinating to see Kyle go this way and Sean go this way with their stuff because the offense doesn’t look the same now, but when you know them as well as we do, you can see all the commonality that’s there that’s part of the foundation of what they are doing.

They’re just different. They’re both exceptional – they’re savant, young guys. They’re just way out there with what they do and how they challenge you. It’s really for a ball coach, it’s really exciting to see how different they’ve become when they started kind of in a similar place. It’s just a tribute to the uniqueness of the two individuals.”

(On if the Seahawks contacted the NFL about the Christian McCaffrey touchdown pass in Week 12)

“Yeah. As a matter of fact, I mentioned that. We did talk about that at length and we submitted it again just to see what would happen. They just didn’t see it the way we see it. The interpretation was that there wasn’t any act that singled it out. So many guys hit at the same time, it kind of wrecked our chances of getting the pick call because we ran into ourselves as well as they ran into us.

If it happens again, they are going to call it the same way according to the league. We have to avoid that happening by avoiding the collision. There was some design to the play that allowed it to potentially be a penalty play, but it didn’t come out that way.”

(On comparing Tre Flowers to Richard Sherman at this point in their careers)

“Let me wait until the end on that one and I’ll get you some real good evaluations. He’s doing a really nice job. What Tre has done kind of independently from when you look at Sherm and you look at Shaq (Shaquill Griffin) last year in his first year. He has been more effective attacking the football. He’s been really good at getting the ball out from guys and he’s got a chance to be really unique that way if it keeps happening – the focus is there.

It’s kind of his toughness about being a safety and being a hitter and all that coming up that he’s carried it over to the physical side of the game and he’s been very disruptive at the football. It’s a special part. There’s some similarities in their games. I’m going to wait to – I did a big, deep study last year on Shaq and Sherm in his first year just to see what happens. I’ll do that again. I’ll let you know later.”


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