Andrew Hirsh: Now that everyone is back in action, what do you think you gained the most from the bye week?
Kyle Shanahan: I think what we gained from the most is rest. We tried to get away for a while. When you go this long as coaches...you don't get that much sleep. It's seven days in a row for however many months it is. So it's a grind, and it wears on you. We always look at our stuff. I take it home with me when we get some days off. But the thing that helps you the most as a coach is to get away from it, relax. You come back a lot more clear. When you're more rested, your mind's clearer, you can communicate better. It makes you a better person, a better coach.
AH: When you took some of your work home during the week off, what did you focus on? Anything in particular stand out in the first half of the season?
KS: Yeah, there's a ton of stuff. But the main thing, especially if you look at our three losses, the things that are most glaring are the turnovers and penalties.
AH: Julio said that, every Wednesday, players are given a chance to offer thoughts and feedback during offensive meetings. How important for them to be able to voice their opinions?
KS: It's great. You always want to hear people's perspectives—especially players. They have a perspective from their own little niche (and know) what they do, what's important to them. Sometimes it's different in the whole big picture, but you have to take it all in. It's your job to listen to people and piece it all together. Sometimes you can hear too much and it can make it a mess, so there's a fine line between all that. But any time a player, especially a respected player like the guys you mentioned—I'm always ready to listen.
AH: I was looking at some film and numbers at a few different sites, and every resource says Chris Chester has been a huge part of the run game. Currently just one team is gaining more yards per carry when rushing behind the right guard.
KS: There's got to be a certain type of skill set that you need on some of the runs we're doing, and Chris has that. He's had it for a long time. He's a very athletic guy who can run. While he's undersized on some stuff, he's got the ability to recover. Chris did a great job for us in Washington and has continued here.
AH: Shifting to the pass game, Matt Ryan said on the radio a few days ago that his biggest focus right now is improving his accuracy. As a coach, how do you work with a quarterback as experienced as him to make his throws more precise?
KS: I try to get him the opportunity to get more practice at it. I try to get him more reps with the receivers. It really helped having a bye week because the receivers got a little bit more healthy so we could get a lot of full-speed reps with the guys. When you want to improve accuracy, it's not like you're going to go change how a guy's throwing or anything. You need more reps of it. And the more you do things, the better you get. I don't think (Ryan's) always been able to have as many reps as possible with guys being in and out with injuries, but these last 10 days I think has really helped.
AH: Julio said Ryan completed about 17 of 18 throws at Wednesday's practice. Do you feel like that was a good day for him and the offense?
KS: Yeah, I think yesterday, from a throwing and catching standpoint, I thought it was our best one of the year. That was real encouraging for us, because against the Niners, it was our worst throwing and catching day of the year. So to come back in the first practice after the bye week and have the exact opposite effect is definitely a step in the right direction. It gives you a chance to be better in those areas we're talking about. We have to keep doing it, and hopefully it carries over to Sunday.
AH: He hasn't received much attention, but it seems like Jake Matthews has come a long way this season after battling a foot injury last year. How has he been able to progress the way he has and become such a stable presence at left guard?
KS: I think Jake's doing a great job. I think he's getting better each week. He was a little banged up in camp so he got a little bit of a late stuff like a lot of our guys, but I loved Jake coming out of college. I know he didn't get to stay healthy through all of last year, but he's been a lot of help for us. He's helped us in the run game and pass game. I've been real happy with how Jake's played. Like all of us, he's either going to get better or worse, and it's important for him to get better as we continue.
AH: Another guy who doesn't get a whole lot of attention is Patrick DiMarco. Although he was in a tough positional battle during training camp, he's done a great job and is now getting Pro Bowl consideration. What's he done to develop so much this year?
KS: Pat's been great. I knew he was a good player to start, but he's surprised me each week. He's got the ability to do it, but what makes him different is who he is as a man. He is extremely detailed on what he does; he's a pro in everything he does. He gets better with every rep he gets. He truly understand the offense, what we're doing. He's not just a guy who sees it on paper and thinks, "I've got to do that." He understands the big picture and it allows us to adjust to a lot of different looks.
AH: It looks like you're going against a QB (Matt Hasselbeck) this week who's about five years older than you. Is it a little weird to be a coach who's so much younger than a guy on the field, or is it something you're used to at this point?
KS: I'm very used to it. I was a position coach at 26; I was a coordinator at 28. Now is really the first time I'm starting to feel older than most people. I spent most of my career being younger than the guys, so it feels weird to be older, to tell you the truth. It felt a little more normal when I was younger.
AH: How so?
KS: You're coming from the same atmosphere as those guys are. You know what they do—you know how they dress, the music they listen to. You're more of the same age. Now I'm starting to realize with most of these younger guys coming in, I hear the music they listen to, how they dress, and I'm like, "Wow, I've gotten old in the last few years." It's funny just to feel that. You realize it's a different generation now.