49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman chatted with the media before practice today, and there is no doubt he is excited about having a full offseason to work with the offense. The 49ers implemented their offense on the fly last season with training camp really providing the most significant opportunity for players and coaches to get to know each other. As Roman put it, "Hey, my name is such and such. All right, here’s what we’re doing."
The media pressed Roman on what some of the significant differences are in having this early OTA period:
"I’d go back to situational football, red zone, third down, the things that involve the most moving parts, the most timing on the passing game, all those type of things. Where last year we might have been a hair off, but now we’re having the chance to start over, and hopefully it shows on Sundays."
He also mentioned how this is a time for the quarterbacks to get to a spot in the passing game, and it is happening at a quantifiably higher percentage. There's the old saying that practice makes perfect, and arguably a more accurate one that says "practice makes permanent." This is a chance to make sure that permanent is a good kind of permanent.
Head after the jump to read over Greg Roman's comments to the media.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - June 12, 2012
San Francisco 49ers
How are you doing?
"Good. We've had a really productive offseason up to this point. Obviously have our mandatory mini-camp that we're knee deep in right now. It was great to be able during phase one of the new offseason under the CBA to really start back at square one and spend time with these guys, and be able to coach them from the ground up. Last year we pretty much jumped right in in August. Hey, my name is such and such. All right, here's what we're doing. But, it's been very productive. Just thrilled with the attendance, the attention to detail, and really the improvement we're seeing in a lot of different areas, and just the overall cohesion. But it's a credit to our players and the team to have this kind of attendance and kind of focus day in and day out. Any questions?"
After last year, a lot of people are wondering, is there really much of an impact that the offseason program can have. You guys just jumped into it and it didn't seem to adversely affect you guys. So, what do you get out of this offseason program?
"Well, I can assure you that it did put us under a tremendous amount of stress. And forced us to basically operate under the circumstances we were under, which is totally different than it is in a normal offseason. We are so much further ahead than we were. At this point last year we hadn't even seen a guy. So, yeah there's a tremendous amount of value in the offseason. And our players are taking full advantage of it. And I think it's really going to help us."
So what is the main thing that you can tangibly put a finger on?
"I'd go back to situational football, red zone, third down, the things that involve the most moving parts, the most timing on the passing game, all those type of things. Where last year we might have been a hair off, but now we're having the chance to start over, and hopefully it shows on Sundays."
You guys have thrown a lot of passes in the last couple months. Do you see that timing, that chemistry, you've got a bunch of new receivers, do you see that improving in May and June?
"I think so for sure. There's no question, every day it's getting better. And every day there's always going to be a play here and a play there where it's not what you want. But now it's another opportunity to coach off that and the players to learn from it. And what we're seeing is improvement everywhere. [QB] Alex [Smith], all the quarterbacks, just the cohesion. We always talk about getting to the spot in the passing game. And guys are getting to the spot at a much higher percentage. And it's tangible, it's quantifiable, it's real."
Last year when you couldn't work with these players, you kind of had your offense in mind and then had to see how they performed in it. Now that you've had a year with some of them and you've had this offseason, how much have you tweaked the offense knowing maybe what your players can do?
"I think we evolved a lot as the season went on. And going back and looking at some of those earlier games, it's hard to remember being in that position where it's all new for everybody the first time. So, that's what we're going through as coaches right now, our entire staff at every position. And it's an opportunity this time of year for all the position coaches to really, really spend a lot of time with our guys and mold them. So, we're going through that process. What is this player going to bring? How's that going to affect things in the big picture? So, that's a constant. That's going to be from now until the end of the season. And it's so exciting because you lay in bed at night have a hard time sleeping because you just keep thinking of all the different possibilities that could happen. Good question."
What more of a percentage can you install now that you couldn't do last year?
"Oh, a lot more. Now, we installed a lot last year because we didn't really know a whole lot about our guys. So, we had to kind of throw it all against the board and see what stuck. But a great percentage of that faded away quickly. So, I would say I can't put a percentage on it, but a lot more."
You talked a little bit about the situational football, the red zone situation and the third down. When you were hindered last year, was it a lack of execution? Or was there an extra layer of complexity that you'd like to bring to those plays?
"Probably a little bit of both. It all comes down to execution, and a lot of it's time on task. The more you do something the better you're going to get at it. And we've just got more time. So, I think we'll be more efficient and maybe be able to branch out a little bit more too."
QB Alex Smith worked in March with a throwing guru, I guess you could call him. Do you see differences in what he's doing now vs. last training camp?
"He couldn't practice the first week last training camp. So, when he got in he was coming in cold. So yes, definitely do. Alex is a true pro. He's physically in great shape right now and understands our system a little bit more. He just plays faster in it all the time."
As far as mechanics and things like that, are you noticing anything different this year?
"I think his mechanics have definitely improved. Yeah, they work hard on it every day. And no question, there's a real awareness and he's put a lot of study time into it too. We film every individual drill. So, he's up there. He'll watch the individual periods and really, really slow mo it. And he's got a good feel for it right now. So, yes."
Can you tell by improved performance on the field? Or does it take a while for that to stick?
"No, I think there are some things that his mechanics are better; therefore, he's going to perform better. It's just the two go hand in hand at every position."
What about arm strength? He's working on strengthening some of the smaller muscles in his shoulder. Do you see any boost in his arm?
"I do. I do. We don't have the gun out there timing it, but I do, yes."
Last year you mentioned that you'd get the popcorn out and sort of watch late into the night, the running game-the McKittrick running game and everything. Did you do any of that this year?
"Not yet. Not yet, but I will. The Bill Wash tapes."
"Yes. Oh yes. Yeah, we'll have a little session, some sessions this summer. Yeah, it's unbelievably good stuff, unbelievably. It's hard to put into words how good it was. So, I'd be talking out loud to myself just eating some popcorn, ‘This is great stuff. Oh, that's brilliant. Why couldn't I think of that?' So, yeah it's great stuff. This summer, yeah this summer for sure. Get the kids to bed. It'll be fun. It'll be fun."
The defensive players you have working on offense, what type of impression do you have of them so far?
"Well, very positive. Very positive. Specifically I could mention [DT] Demarcus Dobbs at tight end, very good. And [DT] Will [Tukuafu] at fullback. Again, just picking it up. Very athletic guys. Good football players that might be able to provide some depth and give us a little wrinkle here and there. They're doing a great job."
How are you and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio working that out?
"We just split it up basically by day, so they can focus on something for a day. Rather than bounce back and forth between periods. That can be a little bit too much. So, today for example Demarcus Dobbs is playing defense. Tomorrow he'll play offense and Will will play offense today and flip it tomorrow."
With the tight ends you have, the wide receivers, the running backs, how do you keep everybody happy? Do you expect to have some upset guys when it comes to ball distribution?
"I just think winning should make everybody happy. And that's what we're all so excited about is watching these guys out here at practice is trying to put the pieces together. And every week it might be a little different, whatever gives us the best chance to win that week. And everything will unfold through training camp, I really believe that."
Assuming that everything falls into place with some of the new additions, do you think it's safe to say you'll have more options as far as your game plans this year as opposed to last year?
"Time will tell. But we're really excited thus far about what we're seeing. And I think it'll add different dimensions to what we can do. I really believe that with some of these guys who happen to be really, really good guys too. Great guys to be around and all the new additions, and they're just really fitting in really well. So, it's going to be a couple extra pieces. It'll be interesting to see how it all fits together. But that's what we're brainstorming on every day right now. So, it's exciting."
How do you like to coach third down practice in mini-camp? Is there like a 15 minute third down section every day? Or do you get to it with everything else?
"Right now it's more interspersed. A lot of times we'll just practice first, second and third down in sequence to try to simulate the flow of a game. But once we get into training camp, there'll be more emphasis periods where you're doing basically all third down in a period. And then sprinkle it in practice. We mix it up pretty good. Keep guys from knowing what to expect a little bit, a little bit more reactive."
Do you have any immediate short-term goals for this week that you have?
"Well, one goal is that we don't jump offside's once. We just talked about that inside. And I think it's just everything. It's just the little things. We've been able to install most of our package twice now, and this will be the third time through. So, really more efficient in everything, guys knowing what to do and just really good tempo, and just being sharp all the way around. Just going out and playing and just having fun doing it."
Is there a penalty for jumping offside?
"Not as of yet. There may be though."
To be clear, when you say what package, the situational package, is that what you're talking about? You installed it twice through, you're going through it a third time.
"Yeah, just really everything, first, second, third down, short yardage, goal line, red zone. All that stuff we're going through again. And really, now guys will start picking up just little snippets here and there, things that they might not have noticed the first two times. And they're doing a great job. Can't say enough about our players, their approach to things, their focus, and just their quest for as much knowledge about what we're doing as possible. It's a great group to work with. Coming to work with this group every day, couldn't have a better job in the world."
By the end of training camp, how many times will you have gone through it?
"Four. Four, that's the goal. Three times now, again in training camp, and then you're through it four times. And then you start to really dial in on game plan specific stuff, which may include new things. But there's a core that's really your foundation. It's the hull of your ship. And then there's-or a tree, it's a tree. And then you've got branches that branch off from week to week. So, it's a good way to do it."
How's [T] Alex Boone handling right guard?
"He's doing good. He's doing a great job. Love Alex's enthusiasm, energy, his size. Gosh, he's a fun guy to be around, just a throwback O-lineman. Loves football, loves getting dirty in the trenches. Man, about what you look like when you look at a prototype offensive lineman. I call him a throwback, I'd call him a throwback. He's doing a great job."
Will you have [G] Joe Looney in at any point during this mini-camp?
"It's day-to-day. I'm not sure at this point, but he's working hard."
Back in, I don't know what month it was, but there were some reports out of Arkansas that on the day that things happened that you were right there in the mix. How far did that get?
"Never heard a thing about it. Never had any interest in it, and that's all news to me. I've got one job I want and that's this one."
You never even interviewed for it?
"No. It's all news to me. Don't believe what you read. Did I just say that?"
You pretty much have all the coaches back this year.
"Yeah, it's great."
How big a deal is that? It's a pretty well-regarded coaching staff?
"That's a great question and I can name them all. [Offensive line coach] Mike Solari, [offensive line coach] Tim Drevno, [tight ends coach] Reggie Davis, [running backs coach] Tom Rathman, [wide receivers coach] Johnnie Morton, [quarterbacks coach] Geep Chryst, all the guys at all the positions. They're a really good staff, and last year we were piecing it together. But it's just like anything else, the more you do it the more efficient you can get, the more you can understand where somebody is coming from. And there wasn't a whole lot of time last year once the season started to explain why sometimes. We just had to go on trust and this year I think we're a lot further ahead. And these guys do a phenomenal job day in and day out. Really, really spending a lot of quality time with their individual position groups, and that's the foundation of everything. Is those individual positions, each guy getting better at what he does and then we bring it all together. So, great staff and blessed to be able to work with them and lean on them a lot. So, it's very positive being able to all come back together again."
As far as you mentioned you kind of learning on the fly last year, but just as it pertains to play calling, how much more comfortable did you get just doing that as the season went on?
"Yeah, it'd depend on what game you ask. But yeah, we think it out well ahead of time and it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun and man, it's a chess match and we really enjoy it. I'd say you definitely get more comfortable the more you know your players because it's all about the players. And you try to put them in the best position you possibly can as much as you can. And the more you get to know them and interact and understand how it all matches up against the opponent, the better you do. But it's all about those guys going out and getting it done. And the more we can help put them in the right positions the better off we'll be. So, it's as good as it gets."
A lot of the players have talked about [WR] Randy Moss defensively and offensively how he's helped them and taught them as well. What is something that you've learned from Randy Moss that maybe surprised you that you didn't expect him to bring to this team?
"Well, just how committed and down to earth of a football player he is. He has really been as good as you can possibly ask for in terms of being totally engrossed in football. He's a throwback. He is a throwback player, just like I was talking about Boone being a throwback player. He's got his family and football and his faith, and that's what he's all about. And he's about football and he knows the game. And it's been great watching the players interact, the quarterbacks interact, the receivers interact with him. And we'll all be better because of it. And just truly impressed with everything Randy Moss represents."