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Transcript: Bill Belichick Press Conference 10/21

BB: Well, obviously, this is a quality football team, quality organization. I think that Coach [Kyle] Shanahan has done a great job here, with the help of John Lynch, but done a great job since he took over in 2017 and built a solid team from top to bottom – offensively, defensively, in the kicking game. They have a good mix of talent and players. They're very well-coached. They do a great job of just keeping pressure on the opponents in a variety of ways with the scheme and with what they do, and with utilizing their personnel very, very effectively. Always had a ton of respect for Kyle, but I'd say offensively, he does as good a job as anybody that we've faced through the years game planning, creating problems and conflicts with the defense. He does a great job of that. They've got good players at every position – good quarterback, good backs, good offensive line, good tackles, obviously a great tight end, good receivers, explosive play makers. Defensively, this is a very disruptive team. They are a penetrating defense that causes negative plays. They've dealt with some things in the secondary, but this is a team that can turn the ball over, they have good vision, good awareness, they do a good job of recognizing offensive routes and concepts and anticipating those. They react quickly to the ball, play with good leverage and tackling and pursuit. They're a very fundamentally sound team that can rush, that can cause negative plays in the running game and do a good job of taking advantage really of offensive mistakes. Solid special teams unit – again, well-coached, fundamentally sound. Robbie's [Gould] had a tremendous career and continues to excel. Mitch has got a big leg. James McKinnon, good job in the return game. So, this is a solid group. Pretty solid group there, as well.

Q: How similar is Kyle Shanahan's offense to what you faced in the Super Bowl a few years ago? What are the challenges to defending that scheme?

BB: Yeah, well, first of all, they have good players, but Kyle does a good job of attacking defenses, attacking the weaknesses. What they do from week-to-week depends on what the defense does and how they feel like they can create positive and advantageous matchups. What they did against us four years ago or what they did against somebody else last week is not all that relevant. It really depends on how he looks at you and what he feels like he can take advantage of. I'm sure we'll see things that we've been hurt with during the course of the year, and he'll try to match up favorably where he can to gain advantages in the running game and in the passing game. He's very well-balanced, so there aren't many tendencies that he creates. You have to pretty much respect everything because they've done everything in virtually all situations and formations and things like that. So, there's nothing that really stands out of when they line up a certain way or it's a certain down and distance or things like that, that they're predictable. They do as good a job as anybody of being 50-50 to 60-40. That's a big tendency for them is 60-40, so you really don't have much to work with. I'd say Kyle does a great job in all those areas.

Q: Are you hoping to have a normal day of practice or are you in the intensive protocols still?

BB: Yeah, I don't know what the classifications are and all that. We'll practice this afternoon.

Q: It looks like the 49ers are good at creating opportunities for players to run after the catch and create yards that way. Is that just Shanahan trying to take advantage of the players that he has on the roster, or is there something about the scheme that allows for that? What makes that difficult for defenses?

BB: Yeah, all the guys that they give the ball to are pretty hard to tackle. I think they led the league last year in broken tackles and were pretty high up there in yards after catch or yards after contact. Some of those stats are a little misleading, but I would say with the 49ers, whoever has the ball is hard to tackle, starting with [George] Kittle. But, all the running backs, the receivers, they do a good job with the ball in their hands and they get yardage on their own. Look, every offensive coordinator wants to try to get the ball for big plays in space, and there's nothing unusual about that, but I'd say these guys just do a lot with it and there's a lot of them on the field at the same time. It's not like you're just talking about trying to stop one guy. I mean, they've got usually five of them out there, so that's a problem.

Q: N'Keal Harry has played quite a bit through the first five games, more than he did all of his rookie year. What have you seen from him in the way he's taken advantage of the expanded opportunity that he's had this year?

BB: Yeah, well, as a team, we need more time on the practice field than we've had recently, so hopefully we'll start getting that this week and that will be good for all of us. I think we all need to work on fundamentals and awareness and anticipation and things like that. That's true of every position, but obviously in the passing game – quarterbacks, receivers, backs, tight ends – there's a lot of that, and we need it on defense as well and defensive recognition. So, that's something that we're, I would say, all maybe not starting all over, but we need a lot of work on that. So, I think we've made some gains, but we need to do more on the field and hopefully we'll be able to do that this week. So, that's N'Keal and that's everybody. He's way ahead of where he was last year because he's been on the field and he's been practicing. There was a point in time where we strung together a lot of quality reps, but we need to do that again.

Q: Damiere Byrd leads your receivers in snaps so far this season. What do you like about his complete game?

BB: Yeah, Damiere's a smart kid that has good route-running ability and has done a good job picking up our offense. He's been productive. So, all those things.

Q: It seems there's been several instances where Byrd has been open but hasn't necessarily gotten the football. Do you feel like his stats don't fully back up how much he has been able to produce for you guys so far?

BB: Yeah, I mean, I don't know. It is what it is. I mean, I'm not going to try to create something that's not there. So, whatever it is, it is.

Q: What have you seen from Fred Warner on tape? He seems like a guy who has adjusted to the NFL relatively quickly coming out of college and has made an impact for the 49ers.

BB: Yeah, I mean, Warner's a quality football player, a smart, instinctive player, does a good job of recognizing and getting to the ball quickly. He's a good tackler, has got good range – all their linebackers do. It's a fast, athletic group. But, yeah, he's right there in the middle. He's playing behind a good defensive line that creates some disruption and distorts the way the offense is trying to run their plays. Warner's quick, fast, athletic and instinctive and a good tackler to find those opportunities and take advantage of the space that's created and get through and make negative plays. So, he's got good awareness and is a good football player.

Q: How important is play action to what Shanahan does offensively when you look at his overall scheme?

BB: Yeah, it factors into it a lot. They do a good job of complementing their runs and play action passes that they kind of look the same and come out of the same formations, that kind of thing. If he can get the coverage players to take a couple of false steps, then he's got good concepts, good patterns that hit those soft spots, and they've done a good job of executing them. Yeah, it's definitely a big part of their early-down offense. Again, they're pretty well-balanced, so it's basically those are the two plays you see. You see runs and you see play-action passes. There's a smattering of dropbacks in there and some other plays, but for the most part, you see a heavy dose of those two things, so they complement each other well.

Q: Obviously, Kyle has been influenced by his dad. But from your perspective, how has he maybe evolved that scheme that Mike Shanahan had?

BB: Yeah, they've evolved quite a bit. I mean, Mike had not only a balanced scheme, but one that had pretty good breadth to it and variety to it. Kyle's does too, it's just a little bit different. So, there's certainly similarities, but again, the main feature of any offense is the players, and Kyle's done a great job of taking the skills of his players and maximizing them and utilizing them in ways where they're effective. So, that's different than the players that Mike had at Denver, obviously. So, Mike did a good job of that and Kyle was there with him. You play to the strengths of your team and your players. Sometimes they're similar because you're running a similar offense, but sometimes they're different and you try to do things to take advantage of those. I would just say in general, defenses have changed quite a bit in the last 20, call it 25 years, so there's elements there of just attacking defenses is a little bit different now than it was at a different point in time. I'm not saying it's good or bad, it's just different. Kyle's certainly adapted to those changes and we can see from the production that he consistently puts up that he does a great job of not only designing plays and attacking defenses, but also the play calling. He's very good at that in terms of keeping the defense off-balance and kind of knowing when's the right time to run certain plays. That's important, too, and again that's a real strength of Kyle's.

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