49ers Training Camp: A defensive overview from DC Greg Manusky

Greg Manusky had his first sit-down with the 49ers beat writers and discussed everything from Ricky Jean Francois to Scott McKillop's injury to the development of rookie LB Navorro Bowman. The most insightful answer had nothing to do with his players. The NFL had some of their refs in Santa Clara discussing rule changes and it sounds like Coach Manusky is not pleased with some of the changes as it affects his defense:

You could bitch and complain all you want, but it's not going to change anything. So, we just have to adjust to it and be happy. What they're doing, there's a reason for it, and we'll just go with what they've got.

The rule changes were discussed earlier this offseason, but I'll have to go back and check those out.

As far as the McKillop injury, obviously Bowman and Matt Wilhelm are the ones who primarily benefit. Some bubble players looking at special teams practice time also benefit, but in terms of general playing benefit, Bowman and Wilhelm get it. Manusky spoke primarily about Bowman, but also discussed Wilhelm a bit. About Bowman he said:

He's doing well. Across the board, I think everybody is doing well. He's picking up the calls, he understands it. He knows his role right now is to pick up those calls and get it done. From a physical standpoint, he's been pretty physical upfront. He can strike, he can bend, and he's got good movement skills inside. So, I'm excited about the young gentleman.

The rest of the transcript is after the jump. As always, feel free to check our new 49ers coach, player, front office transcript page.

Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky
Post Practice - August 6, 2010
San Francisco 49ers

On how LB Scott McKillop's injury affects the guys playing behind him:

"Well, I think it's good for them. Things happen in this league that you have to adjust to, and that's what we have to do as a coaching staff and I think it gives those opportunities for those younger players, a great opportunity. But, they have to compete and they have to keep doing what they're doing out there every day."

On LB NaVorro Bowman adjusting to the physicality of his position:

"He's doing well. Across the board, I think everybody is doing well. He's picking up the calls, he understands it. He knows his role right now is to pick up those calls and get it done. From a physical standpoint, he's been pretty physical upfront. He can strike, he can bend, and he's got good movement skills inside. So, I'm excited about the young gentleman."

On McKillop's development before his injury:

"It's not always nice to have a player be lost, but he was making strides. I think as a second year linebacker, it kind of felt like he was going into his third year. I always say those third years are usually when guys get it and he was almost at that point where he got it. He's going to be back though, when he gets his opportunity. He'll be back pretty soon hopefully."

On whether Bowman is playing both MIKE and TED linebacker:

"Mostly TED linebacker inside. For young guys like that, you want them to just learn one position, and then after he's been in the league for a little bit, he can learn both."

On whether the learning curve is steeper now for Bowman:

"I wouldn't say so. You'd like him to learn as much as he can in the short amount of time that he has. For the most part, I wouldn't say all our defense is in, but a majority of it is in that he's had in OTAs and in mini-camp, and then back into the training camps. So, he's heard it three different times and he understands it."

On CB Nate Clements:

"He's playing very good. I think from a DB standpoint, it takes a couple of days to get your feet back into order because of the double days and things of that nature. Then all the sudden, you start feeling a little bit better and moving a little bit better. I think they have to get through the soreness, just like the wide receivers, and then once they come back, they start coming to their old form again and that's what he's doing."   

On whether he sees a difference in Clements' running form:

"Well, like I said, it usually takes a week for the DBs and wide receivers to try to get out of that phase as long as I've been around. We'll be seeing from next week probably, we'll want to see how his footwork is. I think you give him a little bit of time to get everything, to get the calls, and then working his fundamentals and footwork and then all of the sudden, it usually starts to pick up in the second week."

On DT Ricky Jean Francois:

"He's doing a good job. Ricky, across the board, playing nose, is doing the right things. He's still got a lot to learn, but we're happy with his progress that he's making."

On the rule changes in the NFL:

"You could bitch and complain all you want, but it's not going to change anything. So, we just have to adjust to it and be happy. What they're doing, there's a reason for it, and we'll just go with what they've got."

On what he saw in Bowman pre-draft:

"Movement skills. I think the hardest position to scout is inside linebacker nowadays. With the calls just going so much veer stuff and option stuff off the edge, and guys pulling and doing different things, it's hard to see a guy come downhill and strike somebody. You can watch a lot of film on individuals and not see that from inside linebackers, even outside linebackers. So, it's a hard process, but as long as you can see that explosion and the movement skills that a guy has, and that's what he's got, which we're excited about."

On LB Matt Wilhelm:

"He's a veteran player that's been around a little bit, understands the system. It's similar to what San Diego was, so he understands it. He may be an asset being a guy that's a little bit lighter on his feet that has little bit more coverage skills than all the other guys that we have."

On whether the starters have been already determined:

"I think everybody is up for a starting job, even [LB] Patrick [Willis]. I always tell him all the time, he's always, ‘Am I doing good?' I said, ‘Yeah Pat, you're doing well.'  It's too early in camp right now, and we're going through with it. We're still grading them every day. Coach Sing wants us to grade them and we grade them every day and see their potential, what they have each and every day."

On whether there is concern with the number of injuries so far:

"No, you're going to have some bumps and bruises across the board. That's the National Football League. You try to protect yourself as much as you can, coach the guys that are out there. Marty Schottenheimer used to tell me that all the time, coach the guys you got, and that's what we got. So, if they're out there, they're going to perform and hopefully perform at a high level."

On getting reps for all the safeties:

"I think - and it's very important, because I always tell the young guys, ‘Hey guys, trust me, you might not get all the reps you want to get, but you have to be studying it from the sideline.' If you're a free agent guy, yes, there is a pecking order in the National Football League. Is the first-rounder going to get more reps? Of course, because that's why he went where he went. So, from a free agent standpoint, or a seventh round draft choice, there is a pecking order in the National Football League, and that means you're going to be on the sideline watching it, and you have to do it. And when you get in the games you have to perform at a high level. That's what you have to do."

On S Reggie Smith:

"He's doing a good job right now. I think that he's matured into the role. And usually, for safeties, sometimes it's their second year, and this year, it's his - I think for him it's going on his third year. So he's matured a lot. He understands what the calls in, he's been in the system for two years, and he should. And he's starting to make plays, doing his job."

On if confidence was an issue for Reggie Smith:

"Well, originally when he came out he was a corner, and moving him to safety - he played a little bit of safety in college, just a little bit. When he came here, we put him at corner, to see if he could play corner, and then we moved him to safety his second year. So, it's actually his second year, but in a player there's no more messing around. I think the first year when you're in the NFL, you're just glad to be there and maybe that was his point, I don't know. But for him, I just see a maturity factor. He's taken his business, he knows his calls, he's making the calls, and he feels comfortable in his calls."

On if he has spoken to McKillop since his injury:

"I spoke to him right after the injury occurred, have not since. Hopefully everything will be alright with him. I know there are some concerns, I don't know how long he's going to be out, but I think it's always sad to have somebody like that - it feels like, it was a big downer on yesterday's practice, but that's the NFL."

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