49ers Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman Press Conference Transcript

49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh made his coordinators available to the media today and the 49ers have begun sending out transcripts from the press conferences. I thought I'd post each one separately since we're dealing with offense, defense, and special teams. This first one is courtesy of the 49ers new offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

Coach Roman didn't get into very many specifics in part because he, Coach Harbaugh, and the other offensive assistants are all working to develop the playbook. He indicated they were taking some things they did at Stanford, but it's all an adjustment along the way. The one concrete bit of information Roman did provide was in regards to the impact of the lockout on getting information to the players:

On what they can do to circumvent the potential of losing those offseason minicamps and workouts:
"Nothing really; I mean, we're not going to have any contact with the players in a football sense. That's my understanding of it at least right now and we really haven't up to this point; we're too busy dotting Is and crossing Ts. You don't want to give players information that's not fully concrete, so, you know, we'll just have to take that as it goes. But really, my understanding is we're not allowed to have any contact regarding football, so."

On whether they will give material to any players, or free agents such as QB Alex Smith, on March 3:
"I don't believe we're allowed to give them any football materials, so, I'm pretty sure that's the case."

On whether they could even give material to QB David Carr, who is still under contract for next season:
"That is my understanding, yeah."

I had thought he could get playbook materials to the players legally before the lockout and go from there, but that would not seem to be the case. The players can still work out and keep in shape, but they won't really be able to do much in terms of committing a playbook to memory over the next few months. There are workouts scheduled for mid-March, but those will be put off if a new deal isn't done.

This creates a great test of the new coaching staff right out of the gate. I'm glad Coach Roman is excited about the challenge, but that doesn't make it any easier for this developing coaching staff.

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - February 16, 2011
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

On what has been taking up his time since he has been hired by the 49ers:

"Well, I think number one is trying to build the foundation for our offense and our number one goal in laying a strong foundation is having some breadth to it so we can kind of adapt and move within that to the strengths of our players. I don't think we want to assume too much from a personnel standpoint, and so, we have a great staff. Great staff; love working with these guys, lot of interaction going on, a lot of throwing ideas and whatnot back and forth, a lot of scrimmaging as you would say, so, a really good group. And what we're doing right now is just laying that foundation for the offense and our goal's there again to be able to have a breadth to it so that we can adapt it within the system to whatever players we end up having on the team."

On what the strengths of the 49ers offense right now with the players who are on the team:

"Well, I think there's a lot of really good talent and I think there's a lot of good, young talent that should be, that we look very forward to getting our hands on when things get resolved or whatnot; and developing and applying. One of the things we'll look at is just guys' strengths and weaknesses and you really can't do that until you get to work with them, coach them, teach them, work with them, get their feedback, etcetera. But I think across the board there is a lot of young talent on this offense. I don't know if it's any one specific thing though."

On how much of the playbook they have down now:

"We have bits and pieces of just about every facet. To put a percentage on that, I don't know that I could; it will continue to grow. We were joking with [offensive assistant] Bobby Engram, who is our offensive quality control coach; we kind of threw this hook out into the water for him because he's got his hands full right now drawing all the plays and whatnot. We said, ‘Hey, you get these next three things done and you're almost done.' We wanted to see what he'd say and he smiled and said, ‘Yeah, the playbook's never really done.' You know, you try to create, build, adapt; take the next logical step as we go. So, I don't know that it'll ever be done."

On how he and head coach Jim Harbaugh divided duties while at Stanford and whether it remain that way now with the 49ers:

"Well, that's a great question. Jim's the head coach and however Jim sees things getting done I will work with that 100 percent, 100 miles-an-hour. To get into specifics on that, I think we work, we have a very good working relationship and I try to think along with him, think around him and bounce ideas off and think ahead and whatnot. I think that's one of my jobs but I'm here to serve Jim and serve the 49ers and serve the rest of the assistant coaches. So however that best unfolds, we're ready to go."

On whether they both will call plays:

"I think that's, yeah, I'd say that's pretty accurate."

On who will be up in the booth and who will be down on the field:

"I will be up."

On QB Alex Smith's chances of being back with the 49ers:

"I think Alex does a lot of things really well and I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know what's going to happen. But I think we all see that he's gotten very strong in certain areas. But we'll just have to wait and see how it plays out; pretty fluid situation." 

On whether he has talked with coach Harbaugh about his feelings on Alex Smith:

"Well we're in, we talk about every possibility, every player, where they fit, what they represent and Jim has a great sense of quarterbacks who can learn, having played the position. Yet he has a coach's perspective on the position as well. So, you know, not sure how it's going to all work out but a lot of good possibilities that could happen."

On whether it is frustrating as a coordinator with potentially not knowing what will happen at the quarterback position in the near future:

"Well I mean, I wouldn't say frustration, no. I think there's a lot of exciting possibilities. As fluid as these situations are too, I will never get frustrated with them. We'll try to analyze it find the best possible solution. We're pretty excited about what might happen and that's the importance of building an offensive system that can fit a lot of different skill sets at that position; a guy that can run, or more of a pocket passer, a veteran, a young guy that you might have to narrow things down for. All those things go into it when you work out the system together and then get ready to kind of take off from there when you really get your hands on the players."

On why building the system is not as easy as simply taking what they implemented at Stanford and putting it in with the 49ers:

"Well, what we did at Stanford was a direct reflection of what our players told us they could and that's kind of how we go - put a big, broad system in and then start to see what your players tell you in practice, what they're good at. At then it starts to shift one way or another. To just say, ‘Here's the system, here's what we're doing,' we'll never do that. A great example of that was [former NFL head coach] Don Shula when he went to the Colts; they had a system and veteran players and he just, he didn't even change any of the terminology. He just adapted it and didn't do what he wanted to do really but waited until he went to the Dolphins and put his system in. But the best decision is, the players direct where the system goes."

On how they can direct the system when they don't know who their quarterback is going to be:

"We haven't even built it yet. When we know that, we got to build it for all those contingencies and then go from there. And you got be able to try all different aspect - all the over here, over there. You need to see how the players handle all those things and then start to narrow it down or else you put yourself in a box."

On whether he has gotten the videos of former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh installing the West Coast Offense:

"We are. I went to Home Depot last night and I got an axe and a pick and I'm ready to dig for them. But, no, yes; we are on the trail. We're going to probably get some pizzas one night as an offensive staff and just start rolling through them."

On whether they have those tapes physically:

"They are around; we don't have our hands on them yet though. We're in the process of getting them."

On whether formulating practice schedules and what will be practiced will be his or coach Harbaugh's responsibility:

"Jim does that but we all kind of work around and tweak things accordingly. Jim's always looking for feedback on things so he'll bounce ideas, bounce thoughts. So it's constantly moving and it's constantly adapting. So he's going to have that mainframe, the framework, and if we need to tweak things we'll discuss it and tweak."

On what kind of disadvantage the potentially NFL lockout would put the 49ers at, given that they can't give players material after March 3:

"We really haven't thought about that; we're preparing as if we are going to have an offseason. And if it doesn't we will adapt it, we will get excited about the challenge it presents and we'll go from there. Week to week during a season as you build a game plan, very often these game plans are so specific and presenting a lot of new things; it's a amazing how much you can get done in a short amount of time, I guess is what I'm saying. So we're really not even looking at that; if it happens it happens, it is what it is."

On what they can do to circumvent the potential of losing those offseason minicamps and workouts:

"Nothing really; I mean, we're not going to have any contact with the players in a football sense. That's my understanding of it at least right now and we really haven't up to this point; we're too busy dotting Is and crossing Ts. You don't want to give players information that's not fully concrete, so, you know, we'll just have to take that as it goes. But really, my understanding is we're not allowed to have any contact regarding football, so."

On whether they will give material to any players, or free agents such as QB Alex Smith, on March 3:

"I don't believe we're allowed to give them any football materials, so, I'm pretty sure that's the case."

On whether they could even give material to QB David Carr, who is still under contract for next season:

"That is my understanding, yeah."

On whether he sees any similarities between QBs Smith and Carr, given their careers have both seen flashing of abilities but also been hindered in difficult circumstances:

"Yeah, every career's different. David's got a lot of unique skills and so does Alex, but I think quarterbacks are very unique and I hate to take one and say that he's like another. They're all kind of like; I just look at them as individual. But to compare them, I don't think we would ever do that. I think they're all very unique though and David's a talented guy; we'll see how it all fits together."

On what he learned from former 49ers and Carolina Panther's head coach George Seifert during his time as an assistant coach with the Panthers:

"I learned a tremendous amount from coach Seifert. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for George as a coach and a person; very, very intelligent coach, very outside-the-box thinker, very hard worker. And I learned a lot. All the Bill Walsh installation tapes, I've seen them. I watched them back in the 90s several times and I have the old '94 playbook and the '93 playbook. A lot of history with that through George and I was very fortunate to have been exposed to that. But I have a great amount of admiration for George and what he was able to accomplish as a 49er."

On how much West Offense was in the Stanford system in 2010:

"A lot. Our whole system is basically in the nomenclature of the West Coast, so the language is the West Coast language. Is it tweaked here and there? Yes it is, and when you look at all the different branches that have branched out over the years, they're tweaked everywhere and they take on a different form that fits their players. Like when [former 49ers offensive coordinator and NFL head coach, current president of the Cleveland Browns] Mike Holmgren went to Green Bay, they became more of an I-formation team then a split-back team that they were here with the 49ers. That was just how they were built from a personnel standpoint and it evolved from there. So, the nomenclature, the language and all that is straight from the West Coast Offense."

On whether he sees TE Vernon Davis as a player he can do a lot with, given the success the Stanford tight ends had:

"Oh we love tight ends that do a lot of things and Vernon has shown he's got a lot of very, multidimensional. So, really looking forward to talking football with Vernon and looking forward to being able to coach him at some point."

On whether it will be a run-first West Coast Offense with the 49ers:

"Honest to God, our offense will be whatever gives us the best chance to win, relative to our personnel and the opponent's scheme and their personnel and all those matchups. So, I don't think you, you know, it's way too early to pigeonhole and say that. You know, we're going to do what gives us the best chance to win."

On which defensive position poses the biggest challenge when formulating those schemes in the NFL:

"You know what, it's week to week. I mean, I think you look at a defensive scheme and evaluate A the scheme, B the personnel within the scheme and then you start matching things in your head as far as how your team matches up to theirs and, you know, it's every position really. I don't think there's just one. It could be a great cover-corner, it could be a great pass rusher, it could be a great blitzing team, it could be a great coverage team. It's all those things. It's the beauty of what we do. I love it and it's a never-ending chess match."

On whether they have evaluated the veteran free agents around the league for the quarterback position:

"I think, yeah, the free agent market has been, you know, that's an on-going evaluation and, as well as, the first thing we needed to do was get together as an offensive staff to start working on building that foundation for the offense. But the free agent evaluation is definitely a part of what we've been doing, yes."

On how well he got to know coach Harbaugh in 2001 with the Carolina Panthers when he was an assistant coach and Harbaugh was in his final year playing as an NFL quarterback:

"You know what, Jim doesn't remember this but one day at practice Jim was warming up and he said, ‘You know what, when I'm a head coach someday I'm going to hire you.' And I said, ‘What?' And then I started thinking about it and thinking about his father and Jim was a gym rat; that was the first thing when I first met him. He was always around the facility, always he'd been sitting in the special team's coach's office floor as the special teams coach broke down opponent film. I mean, he was a football guy all the way. You don't see guys doing that. That was, I've never seen that before or since, so. But yes, he was all football; he was a football guy, he loved the game."

On whether Harbaugh was open then about wanting to coach:

"Yes, yes, very much so."

On whether it has been decided who will call plays:

"You know what, that's up to Jim and Jim's the head coach and I'm sure I'll have my role in it and Jim will always have the ability to, what's it called, have the last word on a play call or whatnot. But we spend a lot of time during the week talking things out ahead of time and trying to sequence things. So, it's very important that our offensive staff has got a lot of really good coaches at every position. I love this group, working with them so far and everyone will have a strong impact on what we do."

On whether they are a script-based staff:

"We do script but we can get off the script if need be. We can change the order of the script. We'll definitely have some priorities laid out and contingency plans available."

On whether the structure at Stanford meant that different people were in charge of play calls for each different down or situation, and whether that happened organically or was it planned out:

"That was somewhat the framework at Stanford but it's all planned, everything's planned out. I think part of having a staff is maximizing the abilities of the staff. We don't want to cut ourselves short and however that comes together and shows and avails itself, that's kind of, we push to maximize everybody's ability. But that's something you work through; you don't just say, ‘This is how you do it.' You work together to find what's best for the team, for the 49ers."

On how many people had input at Stanford:

"The entire staff had input but, because I think we had a very talented staff there and they all had input."

On how tough it is to work under the uncertainty of the potential NFL lockout:

"You know what? To be a part of this 49ers organization and what it has meant to the NFL over the years is a dream of mine. When I first started out in coaching, I would lay in bed at night thinking, ‘How are we going to beat the 49ers?' Because they were up here and there was a huge standard and mystique, but it all came down to a standard that was set and where 49er football was up here. I'm very, very, very, very excited about being a part of 49er football; it's a professional dream come true."

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