The San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers released their practice participation reports for Thursday and Kellen Winslow was back on the practice field. Looks like he'll be taking most Wednesdays off this season. I'm guessing we'll see Manny Lawson covering Winslow, which should make for a fun matchup. One of the best defensive matchups this season saw Lawson provide a brilliant effort against Zach Miller of the Raiders including an impressive diving interception of Jason Campbell.
The 49ers offensive and defensive coordinators also spoke with the press today. I'm a bit disappointed with the questions for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. There was some discussion about the upcoming matchup but there did not appear to be any discussion of the 49ers continuing two minute defensive struggles. It really would be nice to get some kind of comment on this issue because it's cost the 49ers two wins and almost a third one.
Out (Definitely Will Not Play)
OT Joe Staley (fibula)
Did Not Participate In Practice
K Joe Nedney (right knee)
Limited Participation In Practice
CB William James (concussion)
Did Not Participate In Practice
LB Quincy Black (ankle)
DE Kyle Moore (shoulder)
Limited Participation In Practice
DT Ryan Sims (knee)
Full Participation In Practice
RB Earnest Graham (hamstring)
T Jeremy Trueblood (knee)
TE Kellen Winslow (knee)
WR Sammie Stroughter (foot)
Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky
November 18, 2010
San Francisco 49ers
On S Reggie Smith's and S Taylor Mays' coverage skills:
"I think the longer you play in the National Football League a little bit more, you know what the offense is doing. You're a little bit more comfortable in the scheme. What happens is, depending upon your ability, you know how to play certain players and sometimes you get away with stuff or you feel things. A lot of guys, I wasn't the most gifted, but at least if you know where the ball's going, you have a better chance."
On DT Justin Smith's consecutive starts streak:
"I tell you, you have to take care. He's an older guy. In practice, doesn't get a lot of reps, he gets as many as he can. We've got to take care of him. Older guys like that, you've got to make sure during the week that they do their job in the training room getting iced up and doing all of that stuff, but also out here on the field, he doesn't need to see 1,000 reps of a tackle coming off on him. As long as he gets the mental reps and prepares just like he always does, he'll be good."
On Smith's high motor and making big plays:
"We spelled him a couple of times with [DT] Demetric Evans inside. We try to give him some snaps off, but he's a football player and he's been that way since he's gotten here. He's had some pretty good games this year and throughout the past and we're expecting a lot of things from him this week as well."
On Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman and the challenges he presents:
"He keeps his eyes up the field, he feels the pressure and he moves real well in the pocket. I think he's got some talented, young receivers that have some ability and they make yards after the catch, so we've got to limit that. He's got two good running backs behind him so that helps him out as well."
On RB LeGarrette Blount:
"A bigger guy that gets positive yards, that's the type of player he is. He has good vision, he can see the cut and he makes some good cuts in the hole and gets vertical very sudden. We've got to make sure that we stop him from doing that."
On Blount and how Tampa Bay's offense has changed with him playing:
"I don't think that much. I think some of it has based on who's in there running the ball. But both backs are talented, they get positive yards and they've got a good quarterback."
On whether there are any similarities between Freeman and QB Troy Smith:
"Seriously, I don't watch the game so I don't know. I don't even know what he does on Sunday to tell you the truth. All I do is when I hear the crowd scream, I'm like alright we scored us a touchdown or something good. I don't really watch Troy, so I can't even tell you. I'm more focused on what they're doing. He's a good, talented quarterback, young. He feels pressure in the pocket and he gets rid of the ball quick. All of those are great attributes. He has a good touch to him too, as well."
On getting the Rams and QB Sam Bradford in third-and-long:
"I think you're calls are limited when you get third-and-two, third-and three, based upon what the offense is going to do. We always talk to the guys in the room in regards to getting them in third-and-long situations, it makes their job easier and it makes my job easier. So, first and second down are very important because it puts you in that third down situation. Last week with Bradford, I don't know where he was rated, but I think he was real high on third downs and we did a pretty good job across the board with the DBs and the defensive line getting pressure on him. We've got to continue with that. A couple of times he slipped out of it, but for the most part I was pleased with our third downs last week."
On the confidence of the defensive unit:
"I think across the board coming out of the preseason we were feeling good. We had four wins and then we hit some bad luck and didn't perform where we wanted, the team from that perspective. I think the last couple of weeks going to London and coming back here and doing those things, a lot of adversity doing all of that traveling and doing all of that and still coming through with two wins was great. The more you win, the better off you're going to feel."
On the penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits and whether the players are asking questions on what to do in certain situations to avoid penalties:
"As a former player, I understood that when they first kind of put the rule in with hitting the quarterback and doing those things. There was a little bit of an uproar from the defensive side, but that's the position that's vital in any offense or any team. For that individual to get banged up or hurt, the chances of that team to go somewhere in the playoffs and do anything is real bad for that team. So, I understand that they've got to protect them. I really don't want to go down this avenue, but it is what it is. You've got to tell the players, ‘Hey man, you've just got to make sure you don't hit him in the head. Try to keep your face up and do the best you can.' That's basically what I tell them."
On whether LB Takeo Spikes is more motivated to win because he has never made the playoffs in his career:
"I think any guy that gets later down in his career, especially with TK not being in any playoff games, of course, he wants it. He's spent a lot of time doing it. He's an excellent football player and he deserves it, a lot of guys do. There are a lot of guys that have been in the National Football League that are in the Pro Hall of Fame but haven't got a Super Bowl ring. A lot of those guys want it too. You've just got to work for it and hopefully everybody has the same attitude and you go out there and perform on Sunday in a winning fashion."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Johnson
November 18, 2010
San Francisco 49ers
On having five different players with 60 yards or more against St. Louis and whether that is the ultimate goal in a game plan:
"You like to have diversity like that. We have a lot of playmakers, and you want guys to be able to touch the ball in a number of different ways. That way it doesn't allow the defense to take one or two guys out of it and then your offense faults you. So yes, it is a plan to kind of keep that going."
On being able to get RB Frank Gore 22 carries along with the multiple players with more than 60 yards and whether that is a perfect balance of what the game plan should be:
"Yeah, it was a good scenario. Frank was kind of big for us down the stretch. It started out early where they came into a game and they were designed to take him out of it and it opened up some other things for us. Then at the end of the game, he made plays for us to help us win that game."
On how much of the successful game plan was having a quarterback that could spread the ball:
"Well, there's no doubt about it. [QB] Troy Smith played well last week, but it's all a part of kind of what we had done in the past and putting all the pieces together and just evolving and putting all the complements to the core running game that we have. Then last week, they came in with a defensive package designed to not let Frank Gore beat them. And it opened up a lot of other big play opportunities for us and we were able to cash in on them."
On how much Smith's ability to connect on the deep ball opens up the offense:
"Yeah, he did a good job. Some of the things were designed to let him buy a couple extra seconds to see things down the field to hit those balls, but at the end of the day you still have to throw and catch and make those plays. So you can draw them on the board all you want and they'll look good, but if you don't execute the plays and the receivers and tight ends don't run their routes correctly and beat their defenders, and then the quarterback doesn't give them an opportunity to make those plays, then it doesn't work. So it all kind of clicked down the field for us the other day and that was a good game for us."
On what Smith needs to correct moving forward:
"Well the one thing I want to do is encourage daring. I want to encourage the stuff that he has inside and allow that to come out without stifling that, so that's the first thing. But the one thing that Coach Singletary was talking about, there was one ball I think in the fourth quarter that he was getting tackled and he threw it up down the middle of the field and the safety dropped the ball. That's what I think Coach Singletary was referring to, making sure that when you are pushing the envelope so to speak, and you are being aggressive, that you don't take away from the big focus, and that's to make sure we take care of the ball."
On how he goes about balancing Smith's daring versus ball security:
"The way you coach it. You coach the fundamentals and the core philosophy during practice and you make sure you cover those details, and then there are certain things that we do from a decision making standpoint when he's out of the pocket and we make sure that we coach those decisions that he's allowed to make. That's a drill that we call Ken Cote and he has a three-part decision making process that he makes when he's outside of the pocket and it teaches ball security. Then when he's playing, he has the ball in his hand, he has the freedom of choice to make those decisions and you just keep coaching those things. But then at the same time, you put him in a position to kind of push the envelope, so to speak."
On whether it is too much of a simplification to say that it's OK to throw the ball when the guy is hanging on you when it's one defender back there and not OK when there's three defenders:
"But there are certain balls down the field when a defender's hanging on you and he has his back turned, and then there are certain times when he's back there in the zone coverage where he's also single covered and the guy's looking right at the quarterback. Those are two different balls to me and everyone plays that a little bit differently, but you coach the good ones and you kind of discourage the bad ones and you show them on tape, and then you give him that opportunity to make that decision when it shows up in the game."
On the three-part decision making and what that entails:
"I don't want to go into that because it's something that we coach and it's a detailed process and I don't want to put that out in the street, but at the same time, it's all decision making to teach ball security. So it's something that I don't think we've had a sack on a naked bootleg or a keep, and that's all part of that process. And at the end of the day, when we run those plays, the worst thing we want to have happen is 2nd-and-10. And you know, it all goes into the process in which we teach."
On how much he has either re-written the playbook or how much the plays have been executed better:
"Well, there's definitely different wrinkles than the way we were designed early and the way I was taught to coach. You take a player and you kind of fit what you do around that player's strengths, and you don't make the player fit into the offense. So that's what we've kind of done with Troy. It's different than what we've done with [QB] Alex [Smith], and you take the core philosophies, the core plays, and then you add a couple wrinkles here and there and throw them a little bit differently. So each week we're trying to add a little bit to his play and give him a couple different things that kind of add to the offense as we know it as a group, and then allow him to go in there and have enough and the team enough to execute and make plays."
On how much he leans on the offensive position coaches to formulate his game plan:
"We all work together, and yes, I do lean on those guys a lot. We have different areas that we have strengths in and I utilize those guys in the areas where they're strong and allow them to bring things to the table that help our offense. You look at [offensive line coach] Mike Solari, he's great with run game protections. You ask [running backs coach] Tom Rathman, Tom Rathman is a blitz guru. He's a guy that is going to know every blitz that the opposing team is going to do that week. And you have [tight ends coach] Pete Hoener, whose a short-yardage goal line guru. So then you use [wide receivers/special assistant coach] Jerry Sullivan in coverages and different things in the secondary, and then we use [quarterbacks coach] Jason Michael in the red zone. So we have all areas that we work in individually and then when we come together on those certain days, we put the entire thing together and then I make the final decision as to how we want to implement it."
On whether having multiple inputs is why the game plan looks more diverse than before:
"I don't know that, but I know how I want to do it, and I'm not going to sit here and say how we did it before or say that was wrong. But I always knew if I ever became a coordinator that I wanted to have input from everybody because a lot of times when you do it that way you get some things that you haven't thought about. And you don't always have to agree with everything that is brought up, but you definitely want to encourage the staff to bring those things to the table because every week there's four or five things that the other coaches bring that we add to the game plan that makes a lot of sense."
On whether they have decided who the left tackle will be for Sunday against Tampa Bay:
"Yeah, we have not finalized that yet. We're still trying to work through that and see which is the best way to go versus the team we're playing this week. So we're still kind of looking at the right end on defense that goes against our tackle and see how we match up against that, and then probably make a decision on that later in the week."
On whether the decision at left tackle will be a week-to-week change based on the opponent:
"We're going to look at it and I'm going to lean on Mike Solari to add a lot of input in that decision, and talk with Coach Singletary and then come up with a conclusion. But we're going to definitely do what is best for the team."
On Frank Gore's consistency and reliability even with the changes in coordinator and quarterback:
"Yeah, well there's a lot of transition, but at the end of the day he's still running a lot of the same plays. Different coaches, different things, some of the base runs that we have in the offense are runs that he ran with all the other different coordinators. And he's a smart football player, so he's going to make the adjustment, and at the end of the day, you put the ball in his hand, he's going to make plays. And so we feel good about having Frank Gore on our side. It's definitely a plus."
On how nice it is to not worry about that position since Gore is dependable and consistent:
"Yeah, it's nice to have, but like you said, we also have to make sure that we don't over-use him. And that's what we're trying to do is make sure that we get other people involved into the game plan so that we can not rely on him so much. We want to have a more diversified offense and put the ball in other people's hands and let them make plays also."
On as a former quarterbacks coach, assessing Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman and why he has had success with Tampa:
"When you watched him on tape when he came out of college at Kansas State, he was a very good player. He made all the plays that you want to see a young quarterback make in college. And when we studied him, we like him, and we knew that he was going to be a good quarterback down the road, and he's doing a good job for Tampa."
On whether teams focus on stopping Gore allowed them to hit the deep ball and whether in general that has been most team's game plans:
"Well, you're right, they have tried to stop Frank, but like I said before, you can't do everything you want to do in one given week. I think we have something like maybe 40 reps of practice and you can't put in 25 new plays every week. So it's a process, and I think some of the things that we did last week were a part of that process. It was a part of the process for that week it was time to make that change and make the necessary adjustments to counter some of the things that other teams had been doing against us, and it just happened to go well for us that day."
On whether 40 reps of practice means that they only practice 40 plays:
"And that's a number - I'm not saying that. There's maybe more than that, but this is what our normal day looks like (holding up list), and when you talk about going on first, second down, when you have a certain number of runs you put in a week, and then you have a certain number of play-action passes, run-action passes, bootlegs, keeps, screens, things like that, then on the next day you have a third-down list you have to do the same way, and then a red zone list the same day. You have an offense that you have and you're basically set with that, and then you add a couple wrinkles each week and then as you go, you build on that. And that's what we're doing. We're kind of building on some of the things that I want to do and we want to do as a staff after I'd taken over. Each week there's a different wrinkle and different thing that we're putting in."