49ers Training Camp: A look at the offensive line coaching staff

As we briefly discussed yesterday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen was in Santa Clara to provide a report on the 49ers at this early stage of camp. The on-air portion was fairly useless, but his written report for ESPN.com provides a bit more insight. I noticed one particularly interesting comment:

Two of the more unsung offseason additions are offensive line coach Mike Solari and his assistant, Ray Brown, an ex-49er. Their job is to improve the line play, which includes preparing Iupati and Davis. Said Smith, the veteran defensive lineman: "I know the rookies' heads are spinning, but one of the biggest differences I see in our team is the depth and talent of our offensive line."

Justin Smith spoke of the new depth and talent along the line. However, I am curious if people think the additions of Mike Solari and former 49ers lineman Ray Brown as OL coach and assistant OL coach will make much of a difference. The talent has been added, but the question now is how much help will quality coaching then provide?

In his post-practice media session yesterday, Coach Singletary had the following to say about Ray Brown:

"I think he's a fantastic coach. Number one, he and (Offensive Line Coach) Mike Solari really complement each other very well. Mike has been coaching a long time and coached here with (Bobb) McKittrick and really learned some things there about the offensive line, and McKittrick was a tremendous offensive line coach. So when you look at Mike Solari, with a wealth of knowledge, he has a tremendous demand for excellence. So you get a guy like Ray Brown who has a tremendous history of playing in the game for about 20 years. So you get a guy with those kind of credentials that's been there, and started as a guy that didn't play very much all the way to a guy that's gone to the Pro Bowl, so he can take a guy and talk about every step of the way. When you weren't playing; when you weren't dressing; when you went All-Pro; what it took to get there. So if you have that guy, it's sort of like having your own dictionary as to how to get there. Whether you're a free agent, whether you're a first round draft choice, you can talk from A to Z and when you have that kind of information and you're willing to share it, it makes a tremendous difference."

Will this be a key to improving the offensive line performance in 2010? The influx of young talent helps, but the addition of Solari and Brown certainly could go a long way for the team. Thoughts?

I've posted Mike Singletary's media session transcript after the jump. Also, I've begun creating a page to track the various coach, player, and front office personnel media session transcripts. If you have any suggestions on it, please let me know (comments here or email me). For now I'm just posting this year's transcripts. I'm sure I'm missing some, so if you know of any in particular that I'm missing, feel free to email me.

Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Practice - August 4, 2010
San Francisco 49ers

Opening Statement:

"Good practice today. The word I used after practice was competition. We competed offensively, defensively and on special teams. I think that we're getting the pace that we need in order to build on. I like our offense right now. I really like that as I look at our offense, I'm seeing continuity. I'm seeing strings of plays being put together. I'm seeing the ball being spread around, I'm seeing the offensive line do a better job of knowing their assignments and being able to execute those assignments. Even the side of the ball on the back end, the communication is good, and that's something that we really have to continue to do well, but overall I think good things are happening and we just have to continue to build on them each and every day."

On C Eric Heitmann:

"Eric got a stinger early on, so we just - he could have practiced, but we just wanted to take him out and let somebody else work in the center position."

On T/G Adam Snyder's versatility: 

"Not only does it help Snyder, it helps us. The fact is that he is a guy that can play up and down the offensive line, including at center. It gives us a lot of flexibility to be able to do some things that we'd like to be able to do. He helps himself and he also helps us. He does a good job, he's got a good mind and he's also able to jump into tackle and do a good job and communicate as a tackle. He's able to play guard and do the same thing there. That's extremely valuable when you have that."

On how unusual it is to have a guy that can do both (tackle or guard):

"It's a great point, because Adam (Snyder) is - he is an unusual guy. He's a very cerebral type guy, but at the same time he can get physical and he's a good athlete. You don't find that too often in one guy, so I'm thankful that we have him. It's a good situation to have." 

On G Mike Iupati and his progress in camp:

"He's a guy that came to OTA's, mini-camp and now training camp with the same mentality; he's hungry. He wants to play, he wants to take advantage of every opportunity that he gets. He's not complaining about anything, he's not making any excuses about anything. That's just a good thing to see. I think he's very mature, so that's - I'm liking what I'm seeing there."

On what Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky and Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye were frustrated about in practice:

"Well it's basically the younger guys. Greg, Jimmy, they are going to have their frustrations when you have the younger guys in there and everybody knows it's the same thing. You have a young group in there and they think they really know what they need to do, until things start moving around. If your offense comes out and they line up, all the young guys immediately think they know what that is. Once a guy goes in motion, it changes the whole call and it changes the whole nature of the defense. They have to be able to make those calls like that. What happens is that they aren't able to transfer that knowledge that fast, and of course, most coaches are not very patient, particularly our two guys and particularly Greg."

On CB Phillip Adams' potential:

"He's another guy that is really hungry and focused. He asks a lot of the right questions, spends a lot of time watching film and spends time with our coaches. He just continues to work at it. He knows what it's all about and he's another one of those mature kids that understands his situation and knows that when you're a seventh round pick, you really have to work your tail off. It's not like a first, second or third round pick. It's a bit different. He understands that and he's working his tail off making an impression."

On his expectations of RB Anthony Dixon:

"I think across the board, when you look at a guy like Anthony Dixon or any of these young guys, it's important to me that they are not only good football players, but that they continue to mature as a football player. When you're a young guy and you come out of college, you come in on a little bit of a sorry note with the DUI that he had, and so when he came in, it's just important that we grab those guys aside and we tell them, ‘look, we want you to compete; we want you to be the best that you can be. Help yourself by doing some of the right things off the field so that we can continue to grow. And if we can focus less on what's happening outside of the football field, then we can help you be better as a football player.' Anthony, I think, has a lot of ability. So he's just going to have to continue to work at it and he knows that I'm challenging him to really compete with (RB) Glen Coffee, and every opportunity that he gets, you've got to compete to be that number two guy."

On how RB Anthony Dixon and RB Glen Coffee are different in terms of their ability:  

"Well first of all, the noticeable difference is in their size. Coffee is more of a 210, 215. Dixon is more of a 240 guy. Speed is about the same. In terms of toughness, they are both tough guys. So it's just a matter of them really learning. When they look at our offense - Jimmy Raye has done a great job of really looking at our personnel and trying to make sure that he designed certain plays for those guys. With Glen, Glen is a tough guy and you like to be able to run him in between the tackles, but you have to watch that sometimes because he's not as big a guy. Glen just has to work at continuing to raise his head up so that he can see and make cuts. On the other hand, Dixon is a bigger guy that sometimes runs like a smaller back. He's got really good feet and he's got good vision. So it's just a matter of when we take a step back and Jimmy Raye looks at them, it's adding that next piece to the offense and what packages do we want to run and which packages do they fit in."

On if he was satisfied with their short-yardage situation last season:

"No, no."

On if Dixon is a potential solution to the short yardage situation from last season:

"To me, those situations last year, the running back did not dictate that, our offensive line did. We were not good enough up front and it's as simple as that."

On if there is room in the scheme for all three running backs to have a role on game day:

"I think there's room for three guys. I think Jimmy (Raye) will be creative enough to do those things, but that third guy is going to play more special teams; he's going to be more of a special teams-focused guy. And with the second guy, it will be a little different. Of course, Frank, it depends on how we're able to talk him out of not wanting to carry the ball every down and that will be hard to do."

On the decision on the number two running back and if they want a change of pace guy or someone like Frank Gore:

"I think it's good to have a change of pace guy. That's the thing that creates different things for defenses. You want on the offensive side to have flexibility and at the same time if you have a running back that can do one thing really well, you bring in the next guy and he does the same thing, then the defense doesn't really have to think any differently. It's just kind of like having one quarterback that can really throw the ball deep and you want to put your deep guys in there. Your best cover guy. You've got a quarterback that maybe can't throw as well, you're going to load the box. It creates that kind of difference."

On QB David Carr and what his role will be as a potential mentor to QB Alex Smith:

"I think the biggest thing is just the similarities in them both being the first pick, both having a tough time really getting their career started. From that standpoint I think there is a lot of common issues that they can talk about. In terms of the other, I just think that David Carr is a quiet, confident guy that's continuing to grow in our system, and I'm sure that Alex can talk to him about some of the bumps along the way that are still in front of him. I think it's good that they have each other and they just continue to work together. I think they have a good relationship."

On assessing the last few days of training camp:

"I would say that we have had some practices that we can build on. Really to me, that is the most important thing, if each time we come out here we can get just get a little bit better, and not have the highs and lows - come out and be great one day and the energy is great and then the next day we're flat and then the next day- I don't want us to do that and our team doesn't want to do that either. I think if we can continue to just get better, each day, from the very first day until the 30th day, then we're going to be pretty good."

On Assistant Offensive Line Coach Ray Brown:

"I think he's a fantastic coach. Number one, he and (Offensive Line Coach) Mike Solari really complement each other very well. Mike has been coaching a long time and coached here with (Bobb) McKittrick and really learned some things there about the offensive line, and McKittrick was a tremendous offensive line coach. So when you look at Mike Solari, with a wealth of knowledge, he has a tremendous demand for excellence. So you get a guy like Ray Brown who has a tremendous history of playing in the game for about 20 years. So you get a guy with those kind of credentials that's been there, and started as a guy that didn't play very much all the way to a guy that's gone to the Pro Bowl, so he can take a guy and talk about every step of the way. When you weren't playing; when you weren't dressing; when you went All-Pro; what it took to get there. So if you have that guy, it's sort of like having your own dictionary as to how to get there. Whether you're a free agent, whether you're a first round draft choice, you can talk from A to Z and when you have that kind of information and you're willing to share it, it makes a tremendous difference."

On updates on T/G Chilo Rachal and G David Baas:

"David Baas is just going to continue to be a day-to-day thing. We are not going to rush it. Chilo, same thing, day-to-day. We just have to continue to talk to our players about hydrating. So, that's really what that's all about."

On what it was like to play against Hall of Famer Jerry Rice:

"What was it like to play against Jerry? It was a headache. I would think that's the best way to try to describe it. He was just the guy that you knew what you were going to get. He was consistent from the start of his career until the very end; a perfectionist. You knew that if he was going to run a route, he wasn't a blazer, but extremely consistent and extremely detailed in his routes. When you find a guy that's as dedicated as he was, and that's just really tough to handle."

On if he ever got a hit on Rice:

"Very rarely."

On if CB Nate Clements will be the starting corner:

"Nate, our corners - I don't even want to talk about him losing it. They are there, they have the experience, and they just have to continue to get better.  Anybody that's starting, it's their job to lose."

On why Barry Sims did not practice:

"Sims is a veteran courtesy" (given the day off to rest)."

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