Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio
Press Conference - December 27, 2012
San Francisco 49ers
So the obvious thing is looking at how the defense has played in six quarters without DT Justin Smith. How big is he to just the overall defense?
"Well, he's a great player, one of the best defensive players in the NFL. And anytime you lose one of those guys it does have an adverse effect on you. But, I don't think the problems we've had, in the last game in particular, were because of Justin not being there, OK. They just outplayed us, outcoached us in that game. And we weren't very good. We could have had five Justin Smiths maybe. That wasn't the issue in the last game."
What was the issue?
"We just didn't play good. We didn't coach good. And those guys just whipped us."
Is there a sense that when Justin Smith's in there they've got to put two guys on them. Is that overstating things?
They didn't play DT Ricky Jean Francois that much different than they would have Justin Smith?
"No. No, their run game is their run game. And they're going to block it the same all the time."
I saw Justin coming off the field from this morning's walk through. Do you see improvement in him? Or are you hopeful that he will be able to play again this season?
"He told me he's getting better each and every day. That's really all I know. He said it's getting better."
As a coordinator, do you have to kind of get it in your mind that he's not coming back and adjust if he does?
"Not really. It's like anything. You can lose anybody early in a game. You've just got to go. It's too far along here to change the system because of one guy being out. And we'll be fine."
If he does come back, will he be Justin Smith? Will he be able to be 100 percent even if he were to come back in these next couple of weeks?
"I don't know that. That's a better question for him and the medical staff. I just know he's getting better."
You had a nice haul yesterday as far as Pro Bowl guys. Just what are your thoughts on seeing those six guys go?
"I was happy for them, for all of them. Very well deserved in all of their parts. Just always happy for the other guy's success, and happy for these guys in particular. They're good players. They go about their business the right way. And they've been rewarded for it."
Any coincidence that all six of those guys they play sort of in tandem? The two inside linebackers, the two guys on the right side, the two guys on the backend?
"What do you mean two guys on the right side?"
Well, LB Aldon Smith and Justin Smith, lining up together?
"I think it's just more a coincidence than anything else. They're good players each in their own right. And playing next to those other guys just helps the situation."
S Donte Whitner made his first Pro Bowl though, it's his seventh season. How has he elevated his play this year maybe that you've seen?
"Well, he's just gotten better within our system. We signed him last year after camp had already started. He was on the fast track to learning what we're doing. Did a good job with it last year. And I think he just picked up where he left off last year and feels that much more comfortable with the system and what we're doing. And I'm happy for him. It's his first time making it, like you said in his seventh year. He didn't quite have the success in Buffalo that people thought he would have, but, he's been able to find a home here and excel here."
Going back to the Seattle game, did the defensive backs and the secondary look tired from having to face Patriots QB Tom Brady so much? And what kind of toll did that lingering effect have on their play do you think?
"I don't know. It's always hard to quantify something like that. I don't know the answer to that."
Did they look tired to you, though?
"I don't think so. We just didn't play good."
What kind of year is CB Carlos Rogers having?
"He's having a good year. He's played a lot for us. He's our nickel, which is a stressful position. And he's our left corner in our base package, which is a stressful position. And I think he's handled it well."
When you look at Arizona, there's still a lot at stake, the final game of the season. They've been in offensive flux. But, when you look at it what pops out to you? What are the biggest concerns you have facing them?
"Well, obviously [WR Larry] Fitzgerald is their biggest concern. Now they have [RB] Beanie Wells back. He's a good running back. They've got a good group of receivers. They have the ability to be an explosive attack with their receivers. They got a new quarterback that's going to start and did well last week when he came in late in the game. And probably will do a lot better this week because he'll get the bulk of the snaps in practice. So, he'll be more prepared and ready to roll. So, these types of games happen every year in the NFL. And we've got to go out and be ready to play it like it's the first game, not the 16th game."
Do you want to see your guys have a complete game defensively in terms of least points allowed, a lot of turnovers, just to get the momentum going into the playoffs here?
"Well, I would like that because that would just probably lead to a victory. And that's really all I want right now is a victory. But, we always want to play good. Every play you play, you want to play at your best. And we've just got to play good. Whenever we line up next week against somebody in a playoff game, we've just got to line up and play."
How important is momentum going into the playoffs? Or is it not?
"It can be. But, you've still got to go out and play. Look at Baltimore last week. They had no momentum. They had lost three in a row. Probably should have been four in a row. Down the fourth and 29 and they converted. Zero momentum and they blew out the Giants last week. And now they've got momentum. Momentum is great, but it's tenuous. You can get it back real fast and you can lose it real fast. So, you've just got to keep playing."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - December 27, 2012
San Francisco 49ers
"Good afternoon, we've got a tough opponent this week, Arizona. Their defense, we have a lot of respect for, we know pretty well. You saw what they did to Detroit a couple of weeks ago. They've got good players, some guys we really think are among the top in the league at their position. We're hard at work. It's pretty clear cut, we win the game, we win the division. That's always the number one goal we set out for. It's the quickest way to get in the playoffs, if you look at our team goals that's always going to be the first one. Any questions?"
After falling behind so big early, how much does that change the game plan and what you guys are trying to accomplish?
"It's always going to change it. We tried to stay into our base game plan there for a while. It's really game by game. The game plan changes throughout the game, no matter what happens. If you do fall behind by a large margin, at some point you've got to change what you're going to do."
Where is [RB] Frank Gore in running out of the Pistol? Is that something that he's sort of evolving to, adjusting to, figuring out the timing and the holes and things like that?
"I think Frank understands the running game without a whole lot of words, no matter what we do. Anytime Frank's shoulders get downhill, we think he's the best in the business. I don't think that's any secret. I don't think our opponents fail to recognize that. So, running out of the Pistol at times, allows you to get those kind of runs where the back can approach the line of scrimmage with his shoulders square to the line. Frank's got a great feel for the running game."
In the Pistol, he's seven yards back, is that right?
"We vary it, a lot of times he'll be anywhere between six and six and a half. It'll be varied though."
Where is he on a play where the quarterback lines up under center?
"Really anywhere, six, six and a half, seven, sometimes seven and half. We generally don't go any deeper than that. Every once in a while you'll see a back line up at eight, but that's more preference."
All five of your offensive linemen got Pro Bowl recognition either as starters or alternates. What is that like for you as a coordinator to see all of that?
"It's a credit to the players, it's a credit to the position coaches, [offensive line] coach [Mike] Solari and [offensive line] coach [Tim] Drevno. But, ultimately it's a credit to the players. You always want to see your players succeed and it's great that they're being recognized. Those guys work hard, we put a lot on them and they come in every day with a great attitude. I think offensive line play starts with that. You've got to have the mindset to be a great offensive lineman. It has to happen every day, it can't be a sometime thing."
How helpful is it that they've started every single game together?
"Very helpful. Anytime you can get continuity at that position, there's so many moving parts, communication, recognition. And when I say communication, it's verbal, it's also visual. There's a lot of unsaid things that just have to be understood between them to operate at a high level. Anytime you can have continuity, that's going to help."
I think [G/T] Alex Boone has been flagged maybe twice this year, two or three times. Is that surprising you or pleasantly so, that a guy who's never played that position, first time, has gone through the season with very few mistakes?
"Yeah, we definitely want to minimize and really eliminate all penalties. Anytime we can get a young guy in there, especially inside and minimize the negative production, that's big. It's a credit to him. We'll always tell him two is two too many, but at the same time in the big picture it's a pretty darn good job by Alex."
If [TE] Vernon [Davis] is not available for Sunday, will [TE] Garrett Celek just step in his position? Or do [TE] Delanie [Walker] and Garrett split?
"I think they'll probably split different things. Delanie is such a valuable asset as what we call the ‘Y' tight end and also as the second tight end, the ‘F'. He can do both and does do both at times. It will definitely be a mix and match."
He played some wide receiver as well last week, Delanie. The three receiver set?
"He was a tight end split out, however you want to define that."
When you go to three receiver sets, is that something where he would be in that place or is that [WR] A.J. Jenkins or is that still scheme stuff?
"Anytime Delanie is on the field, we're not in three receivers. It's two tight ends and we just happened to create the picture of three wide receivers. But when you have a tight end like that, you can do all that, you put him in the backfield, put him at the line, split him out. You can build a lot of different formations with him and do a lot of things."
How have you seen Garrett's receiving skills grow over the season? Because he himself admittedly said that wasn't one of his strengths.
"Yeah, he didn't get a lot of action at Michigan State catching balls, I believe he caught 12 or so. The ones he did catch you could see some natural catching ability. And I'll be honest with you, the first week he was here, he wasn't catching that well. But he just got better and better and better and better incrementally. He's got a good feel for it. He comes from good stock, his brother is a pretty good pass receving tight end on another team. But he just continues to get better at everything, that's a credit to him."
Does it make a difference when you see a guy is struggling but you know his brother is pretty good, does it sort of give you - there's something there, it will get better?
"No, I wish I could say that. But you could see flashes of it, the consistency wasn't there. It is nice to know though that's one of his brother's greatest strengths and he just never worked on it in college, really. So, he's a bit of a blank slate."
When you look at the film from Seattle, so many things went wrong for many different reasons, but what was the main thing you'd like to see this offense do well against Arizona? Just strictly 49ers, what's the one thing you'd really like to see to close out the regular season doing?
"Everything really. I mean, we've just go to execute at a higher level and finish drives better. But really, it's just pure execution, really at every position. There's a lot of positives in that game on an individual basis, play-to-play, but just not enough to get done what we wanted to get done. But, we just have to operate a high level and put drives together, finish drives, and do a great job protecting the football."
How early in the week do you decide if you're going to take a shot the first play of the game?
"Sometimes toward the middle or end of the week. It's different all the time."
And when you saw that play developing, were you liking?
"There's an opportunity. We felt like there was an opportunity from watching film and it was developing as we kind of foresaw. But it wasn't the intended result, so you move on."
What do you need to see out of [QB] Colin [Kaepernick] this week to get him charged up for the playoffs?
"He just needs to do his job, every single play, at a high level, just like every other player. It's that simple."
What have you seen from the practice squad receivers? What do you like about them? They seem very different, different skill sets from those two guys. "They're definitely different from a physical standpoint, but they're both, WR Chad [Hall] has great quickness, really good understanding of the game. He competes extremely well. I'd say his greatest asset is quickness. The big man [WR Ricardo Lockette], he can run, catch, just does a great job of pushing it vertical on deep routes, post routes, in routes, big body, really good catch radius, great attitude. So, they're both doing a really good job though, really good job and improving every day."
Up to this point, how much have they belonged to you and how much have they belonged to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio?
"Well they're offensive players, so they're offensive players."
So, you do, they're in tune with the game plan and the offense?
"Oh yeah, without question. They're in tune with the game plan as well as certain similar defense, which is a very important part of what we do, very important."