Tuesdays appear to be Jimmy Raye day with the media going forward. Probably my favorite line was this:
The one thing that I have come to learn is the only thing that's consistent around here is change.
Indeed, in the NFL, change is really the only consistency. People are certainly concerned about the loss of Eric Heitmann, but given all the times it could have happened, this arguably one of the "best" times it could have happened. You never want to lose your best offensive lineman, but we know that he'll be back, and we know that until then, the team has a month of practice time and preseason games to get the new version of the offensive line on the same page.
I'm probably one of the more optimistic 49ers fans out there. Not in the sense of expecting Super Bowl victories immediately, but rather more in the day to day happenings of the team. Sure I'd like to see the team be 100% healthy and ready to go. However, I think this is something the team can overcome. There's a lot of football to be played, and until proven otherwise, I'd like to think David Baas could do the job at center.
Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye
Post-Practice - August 10, 2010
San Francisco 49ers
On whether it was a priority for you to get the rookies in and getting them acclimated:
"I don't know that priority is the correct term. I think when we felt that after the first 3 or 4 practices, that the familiarity was comfortable and it didn't disrupt all of the things that they are responsible for learning, that we could make a smooth transition and get them up to the pace of the first level. The time frame for that was basically judged by how they were doing in the learning part of it and having an opportunity to take a look at the way we ended the season last year with [G] David Baas and [T] Adam Snyder. And it just so happened that David got dinged, so Mike had been in there longer than Anthony. So, it's just a matter of getting Anthony more comfortable and making that transition so that unit can start to work together."
On the specific challenges of having to change centers:
"Huge. Fortunately for us, we had made a decision that we were going to try to work David into that position and he had been taking some snaps there. But the center is basically, in our system of football, is basically the backup quarterback. The things that he's responsible for from protection calls, to line calls, some of that you just can't teach in a shorter period of time. Eric was tremendously gifted that way in terms of the comfort level for the quarterback and making the calls, and the assessing the tops. There's just some of it that you can't get enough reps to get it all covered. We have confidence that David and [G/C] Tony Wragge, our veteran guys, will step up to it. You don't really think about losing the center. It's kind of a unique deal."
On whether Baas is the starting center:
"He's in competition. David is in competition with Tony Wragge and [C] Cody Wallace for the position, as well as being in competition for the left guard position. As we play games, and as we play these exhibition games and we give him more reps at center and more at guard, now it will be more at center because of the loss of Eric, it will be very competitive for him to be able to help us to start at center because he's a veteran player."
On whether the blow of losing their starting center is not as bad because it's still only the second week of training camp:
"Well, you don't have the game week pressure of preparing to play and you have the thought that you have some time, but you really don't. The fact that you are getting ready to go play a real game Sunday and you can get some practice time in is a help. The one thing that I have come to learn is the only thing that's consistent around here is change. We've learned to manage the changes that we've had. We can get ourselves acclimated to this change because it affects the quarterback, because that guy has his hand on the ball every play. The calls that he has to make and the line adjustments, and then also learn a new position and have a rookie on his left side and a rookie tackle is tough. So, we have some work to do."
On what the bigger issue is for Baas between making those calls or the mechanics and working with the QB:
"It's all inclusive because now things he didn't have to think about as a guard - he's responsible for four other guys in the run game, the front calls, in the protection calls, in the pass protection part of it, whereas before, he had a singleness of unity that he had to worry about in terms of the guard position. Now, all the things that are encompassed in the center position he has to now think about. They are not automatic for him. Eric has played the position for nine years and some of it just rolls off his back because he's done it so much. Now with David, it's a process. So, until he gets comfortable with that process, he can't play as fast as you would if he had the prior experience and that's what we are trying to catch up to at this point. At least to get ourselves to the position to where we have a unit of five that's working cohesively and hopefully the plays and the calls won't suffer from that."
On whether you can wait until the regular season to have the starting center named or if he wants that named by the preseason:
"Ideally, we'd like to come back from Indianapolis in the middle of next week and have some idea about where we are with that. I don't know that would be the case, but surely we can't go into the third or fourth week of exhibition and still have some uncertainty about it, particularly for the rest of the unit. And it wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have to infuse the two youngsters in there because they are struggling, as rookies will, with learning the calls and learning the fronts and now, all of the sudden, it's coming from a different source and it may not be correct or it has to be changed. So, all of that is a process."
On the assessment of Baas today:
"Well, from my vantage point standing on the field, I thought we'd made a step today. Once we got over the initial thought of Eric, that it was going to 4-6 weeks, because he is such a stable force in the offensive line and a lot of them, when you play next to a guy for as long as they have, there is a familiarity that you get with that and then all of a sudden that void comes. So not only was David down from the fact that Eric was hurt and going to be out for a while, he then had to transition to the center and do some things. I thought today, from the snaps that we had, from looking at him on the field, now we'll go back inside and detail the technique in that, but I thought today on the field, we made a little progress. Now, I say that not so much with David in mind but more in looking at the right tackle and the left guard."
On whether he has a number of snaps for him in Sunday's game:
"Not at this point. We expect all of them to be ready, competitive to go play. But, we'll have that meeting probably on the flight over on Saturday night and we will determine how much the veteran players will play in this first outing."
On whether QB Alex Smith is excused sometimes for his mistakes due to it only being practice:
"No, not someone who plays for me. We are trying to get them every time. Where we were, we were ranked in the league last year. That is what we do. We are as good as there is in the NFL in the red zone. We were fifth in the league in the red zone and very productive down there. He was playing with a group today, [TE] Vernon Davis didn't practice and [WR] Michael Crabtree didn't practice, but that may happen in a game. That doesn't give us an excuse to not be able to execute. Some people didn't run their patterns correctly or obviously they can't run it with the same speed as Vernon Davis, but we don't get the luxury of a hall pass one day and say, ‘Oh that's okay Alex, we'll get them when Vernon comes back.' That isn't happening. Not for me."
On the mentality that Alex Smith isn't a good quarterback in practice but is during the game:
"Well, the people that say that don't understand playing quarterback in the National Football League. That would be my first assessment. Alex Smith, at this point, it's his football team, his offense. He is as comfortable as I've seen him in the 370 some days that I've been here. I would assess where he is right now in training camp, his progress has been very good. Now that has to translate to games and like I told him upstairs the other day, the perception that people have of you, how you look, and how you play, and how you throw and all of that, really the only criteria that we are going to be judged by is does he win? How you look has no bearing on the outcome. If we win, he'll be the best looking guy we've ever seen, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to win."
On whether the tempo improved today from yesterday:
"It usually does. It was a wall. He is arm weary, probably, and I'm speaking in terms of the quarterback, because that's about the time that you go - we had him 94 throws in the morning, because we chart every throw that he makes. He's had 94 throws in the morning and somewhere in the 86-90 throws in the afternoon. That's a lot of balls in a consecutive period of time, so you are going to hit a wall, get a little arm-weary. But as a team, we had got to the point where our legs were weary. We were mentally tired and physically tired, but I thought that in the afternoon practice, they picked it up. The thing with a young football team, the biggest thing that they have to understand is that you have to splash the perfume on, you can't drink it, and we made the mistake of drinking it. Everybody was talking about ‘you're doing good, good practice,' and putting their arms around us and loving us and then all of a sudden, we start drinking it. You go through that process of maturation and maturity, and that was one of the days that was a hump day that you have to do. It happens."
On his reaction to the music at the start of the afternoon practice yesterday:
"I was the only guy that liked it. I guess I got dated in that deal. The morning I had a problem with that one, but the afternoon, I think that was more soothing and more conditioned to settling you to learning."
On whose idea was that to have the music:
"I think the captains. The captains choice with coach Singletary. I just heard it come on but that came out of the captains meeting."
On the progress that he has seen from WR Kyle Williams:
"He's had more snaps the last two days because of some nicks at his position and he made a couple plays. He made a couple plays today. It looks to me, from what I've seen of him, that he has very good short range quickness and ability to drop his weight and change direction. He's very quick in and out of things and you have to get around him pretty quick because he can run off in a hurry and create some space. We're pleased with what he's done. We'll see how it goes and how he plays over there Sunday in the snaps he gets in Indianapolis."