Ricky Jean-Francois: Chance to become an impact player?

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The 49ers just completed another set of OTAs, which meant another round of coach and coordinator transcripts. I wanted to focus in on defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's comments during the week on Ricky Jean-Francois. While most of the 49ers are in camp, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin remains away from camp, as he has yet to sign his franchise tender.

Since Franklin is sitting out until training camp, 2009 seventh round pick Ricky Jean-Francois has found himself getting virtually all the practice time at nose tackle during offseason training activities. RJF practiced primarily as a defensive end in 2009, but the team has moved him to nose tackle, likely in an effort to shore up the depth behind Franklin. With Franklin out, that means first and second team practice for Francois.

Coach Manusky had some comments on Francois in his media session.

On how DT Ricky Jean Francois is doing:

"Very well. I think across the board, understanding the game, it usually takes a couple years for those defensive linemen when they come in. I've always told you this in the past, a lot of technique. With [NT] Aubrayo [Franklin] not being here right now, he's benefiting from all of those reps Aubrayo would have had. Trust me, he's seen enough of them. He's really grown with the calls, grown with the technique and continuing to grow which is good."

On whether Jean Francois is big enough:

"I don't know his weight right now, but I think it's around 310-315. He's got big legs, a big body. He's doing very well right now."

All the young defensive lineman talk has centered on Kentwan Balmer, the former first round pick. The question now is whether RJF might be the defensive lineman that takes a step forward and becomes and impact player. On the one hand, Balmer would seem to have a better shot of supplanting Isaac Sopoaga than RJF would of supplanting Aubrayo Franklin. On the other hand, RJF is healthy and getting starter reps in practice, while Balmer is continuing to rehab his torn labrum.

Will we see RJF emerge anytime soon as an impact player?

Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky
Post-Practice - June 10, 2010
San Francisco 49ers

On how S Taylor Mays is coming along:

"Taylor is doing a pretty good job across the board. With all the rookies, I think it takes a little time for them to get their feet wet and he's starting to understand it. We are still installing a bit here and there. The offense is installing, so it's a process which every young buck is going to go through. We've seen progress, especially in individual drills. He's getting down low, he's breaking and we are starting to see some good signs of him doing what we want him to do."

On whether the safety position is going to be very competitive:

"Definitely, I think with the young guys that we have there right now, it's going to be a very competitive situation. They are all looking pretty good and it's hard to really judge total football without having pads on, but for the most part, everybody is looking pretty good."

On whether having Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson here had anything to do with the defensive backs stepping up their game:

"I think a little bit. When you get a Hall of Fame guy in here that played for the organization to come out and talk to the guys and say, ‘Hey, men, this is what I experienced over my pro career,' it's good to see it. So, it's real nice to have Rod out, talking to them and spending some time with them."

On whether he anticipates anybody pushing S Michael Lewis for playing time:

"I think competition is the best thing that brings the best out in all players and competition at any position is great. I think competition for Mike, being the starter that he is right now going into training camp, he knows there are people on his tail and I think he is going to pick up his game."

On whether safety is a harder position for rookies to pick up than other defensive positions:

"I think it's one of them. I think with the calls that they have and the adjustments that they have to make on the backend, they aren't just controlling themselves. They are controlling other individuals with the outside linebackers and the other corners and the other safeties. Communication is a vital part across the board and in football, but for them, in our defense, yes. It's critical."

On how the backups are doing without CB Nate Clements and CB Shawntae Spencer in attendance:

"Very good. I was talking to someone out in the field and I said, ‘When those guys aren't here, it helps the younger guys.' The reason why is because they get more reps, they get to see it more. Working with the first unit, they have a little bit of pride using and working with that unit. Across the board, they're doing a good job and they've got to continue to keep on growing and understanding the system, at least for [CB] Karl Paymah. [CB] Will James hasn't got in yet. For the most part, that's what they've got to do."

On how DT Ricky Jean Francois is doing:

"Very well. I think across the board, understanding the game, it usually takes a couple years for those defensive linemen when they come in. I've always told you this in the past, a lot of technique. With [NT] Aubrayo [Franklin] not being here right now, he's benefiting from all of those reps Aubrayo would have had. Trust me, he's seen enough of them. He's really grown with the calls, grown with the technique and continuing to grow which is good."

On whether Jean Francois is big enough:

"I don't know his weight right now, but I think it's around 310-315. He's got big legs, a big body. He's doing very well right now."

On whether he is satisfied with the defensive line:

"I think so. They had a pretty good year last year and we keep on building on it with the guys that we have. Across the board, technique wise, it's actually good. The coaches, when they get into those meetings with the younger players or the first year players or rookie players, what happens is they have to tone back and they have to make sure those younger players catch up. At least from the defensive line, you can move onward and upward and start looking at our opponents for next year. So, it's actually a plus for him, [defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula."

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