Vic Fangio press conference transcript: October 26, 2012

Hannah Foslien

We break down Vic Fangio's comments to the media before Monday's 49ers-Cardinals Monday Night Football matchup.

49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio chatted with the media earlier today. He was sporting an autographed baseball cap Willie Mays gave him, from when the Giants legend visited the 49ers facility a few weeks back. The 49ers have embraced the Giants cause and this included getting a visit from one of the greatest players ever. Fangio is a Phillies fan, but he was willing to let the Giants be a number two team in light of his treatment by Mays.

Coach Fangio was asked about the big plays Arizona had in last year's game. The team has done a fairly solid job preventing too many big plays this season. When asked about it, Coach Fangio said:

"Nothing tangible that I can tell you. We're playing a lot of the same stuff that we played last year. I think it's just a product of our guys being more comfortable in the system this year. Playing that little bit better that I told you they would play just by being in the system. But, we're not doing anything drastically different than we have in the past."

He acknowledged better tackling and overall awareness were also keys. One reporter asked specifically about Dashon Goldson in his second year in Fangio's defense and if that was part of it:

"That's part of it. He's just one of all the guys out there that have improved that much. But, when you get a bunch of guys improving a little bit, it adds up to big results. And I'd say the same thing for [S Donte] Whitner, [CB Tarell] Brown, [CB Carlos] Rogers, [CB Chris] Culliver, all those guys back there. As always when you're talking pass defense, you're talking about the linebackers, too, and their role in it and in the pass rush."

Of course, I suppose now we'll see some big plays this Monday!

The Cardinals have not taken a lot of big shots this season, in part because the offensive line hasn't been able to give the quarterbacks time to go through their progressions. The 49ers can win this game in a general sense, but they have an opportunity to take firm control of this game if they can bring the heat against the sieve that has been the Cardinals offensive line.

Fangio made a good point about how a defense has to "earn" the right to rush the passer by performing well on rushing downs. The Cardinals OL struggles make it tempting to bring extra heat, but the Vikings had great success without using any extra pass rushers. If the 49ers can just maintain their discipline, they can put themselves in position to find great success.

Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio
Press Conference - October 26, 2012
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Is that Willie Mays' hat?

"That's Willie Mays' hat."

Is it really?

"That's Willie Mays' hat. Signed by him."

Aren't you supposed to be wearing a Babe Ruth hat?

"Why's that? I'm a Phillies fan at heart."

Coach Harbaugh said that in your discussions with him over who the best baseball player is, he's the one that takes Mays.

"I do too right now."

What do you see in the Cardinals and what are the biggest challenges for you guys going into this game?

"Well, number one, when you think of the Cardinals you're going to think of [WR] Larry Fitzgerald, obviously. And he's one of the top receivers in our league, if not the best receiver in the league. Future Hall of Famer and justifiably so, and he's a tough guy to handle. He's big. He's fast. He's strong. He's tough to tackle after he catches it. So, him in and of himself is a tough chore."

You always talked about Fitzgerald being a good receiver. But, guys under the radar like WR Early Doucet and WR Andre Roberts, what have you seen of those two receivers?

"Their whole receiving corps is a good group. They've really done a good job putting together a good receiving corps. They've got good tight ends, also. [TE Rob] Housler was a real threat in the passing game. And 36, [RB LaRod Stephens-] Howling's coming out of the backfield is a good threat in the passing game. They've got a lot of threats in the passing game. And [QB John] Skelton's a big strong-armed guy that can make all the throws. So, they're real challenging to play against in the passing game."

You talked about Fitzgerald. How big a part, percentage-wise, or however you want to quantify it, is he of that offense. What you try to focus in on as a defensive coordinator?

"Well, he's one of those guys that's a big part of that offense even when the ball's not being thrown to him because the defense is always aware of where he's going to be. He draws a lot of attention from everybody they play. So, even when other guys are catching the ball, he has an indirect effect on that. So, he's the huge part of their offense, even if it's not getting thrown to him."

Last year's game in Arizona was marked by a lot of big plays that they had in the passing game. You guys seemed to eliminate a big portion of those this year. What are you doing this year that wasn't happening last year?

"Nothing tangible that I can tell you. We're playing a lot of the same stuff that we played last year. I think it's just a product of our guys being more comfortable in the system this year. Playing that little bit better that I told you they would play just by being in the system. But, we're not doing anything drastically different than we have in the past."

Is it better tackling?

"That's part of it, better tackling. But, I think it's just better overall awareness of what we're doing."

With how big the difference, the two quarterbacks, one from the other, do they do the same kinds of things?

"Yeah, they run the same offense with [QB Kevin] Kolb as they would with Skelton. The difference is Kolb's more of a scrambler, a runner. But, they both are strong-armed guys. And when they've had to go in between both guys due to injuries, their offense really hadn't changed a whole lot."

How much of the better overall awareness is due to S Dashon Goldson being second year in playing? He seems like he's at the top of his game right now.

"That's part of it. He's just one of all the guys out there that have improved that much. But, when you get a bunch of guys improving a little bit, it adds up to big results. And I'd say the same thing for [S Donte] Whitner, [CB Tarell] Brown, [CB Carlos] Rogers, [CB Chris] Culliver, all those guys back there. As always when you're talking pass defense, you're talking about the linebackers, too, and their role in it and in the pass rush."

How long did it take to get LB Clark Haggans up to speed in the scheme?

"Not long because his background in the NFL was Pittsburgh and Arizona. And the structure of those systems are similar to ours, the structure. Now we play significantly different in some ways. But, the structure is very similar, which made it easy for him to come in. And with limited reps and then not being here for three weeks, we have full confidence in him to go in there and execute. And we give these guys a test every week and he does a great job. He pays great attention to his profession. He's like a rookie here, as far as the pride that he takes in his job and being ready. And he got in the game last week against Seattle for a couple of plays right in the heat of the battle, and did very well in those couple plays."

Is there any danger facing a team that's given up a lot of sacks? The guys who you count on to pressure the quarterback get so focused on that part of it that they let other areas slip during the course of a game?

"No, we try hard to tell our guys you can't get a sack on a running play. So, we're not just going to be flying out of the shoots assuming every play is a pass. We've got to earn the right to rush the passer. And you earn the right to pass the passer by stopping the run and getting them into obvious passing situations."

Has your hat changed your allegiance?

"No. I will always be a die-hard Philadelphia Phillies fan. But, the Giants have moved into my second place team."

Has it swayed you as far as the best player of all time?

"Well, that's got to be [former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman] Mike Schmidt anyway, right? But, since I got Willie Mays' hat, so graciously he gave it to me, he is the best player of all time."

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