The 49ers and Panthers released their practice participation reports for Thursday and Nate Clements once again did not participate in practice. According to MM, Will James would get the starting nod if Clements is unable to play on Sunday. I assume we'll see Shawntae Spencer covering Steve Smith, which should make for an intriguing matchup. Smith sat out the Panthers week 5 game and the team had a bye last week.
After the jump I've posted the transcript for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's post-practice media session. He spent some time discussing the 49ers struggles with athletic running backs, how the 49ers will cover the two Panthers running backs and deal with a relatively new QB (since he didn't play for a couple weeks), and the always pertinent issue of Patrick Willis decreased tackles this year.
Out (Definitely Will Not Play)
C Eric Heitmann (neck)
Did Not Participate In Practice
CB Nate Clements (ankle)
Limited Participation In Practice
TE Delanie Walker (ankle)
Full Participation In Practice
WR Steve Smith (ankle)
Coach Manusky's transcript after the jump...
Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky
Press Conference - October 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers
On whether LB Takeo Spikes showed last week that he can still perform at a high level:
"Oh yeah, a veteran guy goes out there and performs at a high fashion. That's who he is. He's been in the league a long time and went out there and performed pretty well last week, along with a lot of other guys. It was good to see him out there doing the things he normally does. He made a big play at the end of the game."
On how much Spikes relies on his veteran savvy because he may not have the same speed:
"If you talk to him I think he says he has the same speed. I don't know, I guess you'll have to talk to him about that. For the most part he's doing his job. The more and more you play in the league, the years that you have, most of the time you kind of know what routes the tight end's doing if you're playing man-to-man. You've got a good feel for it. That's what he does, he has a great feel for it."
On how much he interacts with offensive coordinator Mike Johnson:
"It was the same thing as before, like it's always been. We have contact in regards to practice and what's going on. In regards to what their defense is and what their offense is in relation to what we've got to do to win the game. So, it's the same way it's been."
On whether the approach changes when he finds out what the offensive game plan is:
"Maybe a little bit. During the game it changes, so you're never going to have a clean, crisp thing if we're up 14 or we're down 14, then things change. For the most part, we have a plan going into it and we roll with that plan until it does change."
On how an offensive game plan influences how he calls a game defensively:
"I don't think it will influence it. I think what happens is during the course of the game, if they're up 14, 21, 17 points, it's going to change their philosophy because they want to run the ball because they want to eat up time. I think that's the only way it's going to do that."
On Carolina's two RBs and how much of a challenge that is to be aware of who's in the backfield:
"I think both are very good backs. I think over the course of the year they're very productive in what they do. Knowing which guy's in the game, we still play the same sort of game plan going into the game. But I think you've got to know as a player what type of person's in the backfield and who's back there because one is more of a physical, downhill player and the other one's more of an outside player. So, it's a point and we've been talking about all week, so we'll see how it goes."
On whether it's similar to what the Chiefs have:
"Yeah, somewhat. I think they're two good backs, they run the ball hard, and we've got to get around them."
On how difficult it is to prepare for Panthers QB Matt Moore since he hasn't played the last few weeks:
"You look at the previous games and look at what he did there and try to take as many notes. With the players and stuff, it's a little harder, but from a coaching staff, you just look at what he's done in the past."
On the Panthers offensive struggles:
"I don't know what problems they have. I don't know. You've got to ask them. From our standpoint, they've got a good running back, they've got a good line, they've got some talented wide receivers, so we have to make sure we stop all of those guys. Each and every week it's who you play."
On what he's seen of the Panthers on film:
"I think the turnovers have hurt them in the past across the board, just like us. That's the biggest thing in this league is turnovers. You're not supposed to have them and if you get more it's better for you."
On the defense having a harder time with faster RBs:
"Well, in regards to Kansas City, I think that's what you're more talking about because we did alright against [Saints RB] Reggie [Bush] I think. Monday Night game, and I'm not putting it on anything, but we were tired as a ball club and we didn't have our legs underneath us. I look at it in one situation as a learning experience for the coaches and the players. We've got to have our legs on Sunday and I don't think we had our legs to track down those backs because they were very talented. Me as a former player I'd rather go against a slower, plugger, downhill guy, that's just me. Those quick guys, I didn't have the athletic ability. I used to like when it would rain and that would bring them down to my speed."
On whether LB Patrick Willis needs to have the TED LB mentality:
"I don't think so. We covered him up last week. Sometimes the runs, across the board, as an offensive coordinator I think you want to put a hat on number 52 across the board. I mean, you've got to be aware of where he's at. It's not like you're going to say, ‘Okay, we're going to run these plays and just run our stuff.' I think you've got to be aware of where that guy is. Over the last couple of years he's been successful. I think he's having a fine year right now. I think he's just got to keep on improving. I think every year he's a learning experience for him and he's doing quite well."
On whether an offense schemes to get a gut on Willis:
"Sure. I mean with the last couple of schemes that we've seen in regards to getting people up on him, they're going to. You've just got to eyeball it and get a hat on him. That's what we've got to face and try not to stay and do all those things."
"When I had Shawne he was a great player. It's four years ago, I don't know what happened since then. I know as a former coach of his, his attitude, his intensity, his desire as a football player was outstanding when I had him. I loved everything about the kid. I think he was a true football player and a lucky football player half the time. I wish him the best. Haven't spoken to him since I left actually."
On whether he could envision coaching Merriman again:
"I don't know. We'll see what happens. I don't know what's going on. I don't know what the scenario is down there in San Diego. He was a fine player when I had him and he's been banged up a little bit, I know that. That's all I do know."
On the play of the outside LBs:
"I think we're filtering guys in and out, from Ahmad [Brooks] to Travis [LaBoy] to Parys [Haralson] to Manny [Lawson], and it's good that they're getting some good pressures on the quarterback at times. I wish we would have got the guy last week a couple of times. We had him in our grasp, but he kind of escaped. But for the most part, the guys are rolling. The guys up front with Justin [Smith] and Aubrayo [Franklin] and Isaac [Sopoaga], they're playing well. We want them to do that again this week against a good offensive football team."
On Willis being frustrated with his play this season:
"I just tell him to play the game. I think that's the most important thing. Don't get caught up. I think a lot of guys when they press things like that, it kind of builds up as anxiety. Well, if Isaac makes a play, if Aubrayo makes a play and TK [Takeo Spikes] makes a play, just because Pat didn't make the play it's bad? So, it is a team game and if our other teammates are making plays, that's great. If it means Pat's not getting them, I don't know what to say about that. Is it frustrating? I guess, but just play the game. It's a football game. Go to the ball."