It's been a long day, so as we wait for kickoff of Thursday Night Football in an hour, I thought I'd just drop in the transcripts fo Vic Fangio and Greg Roman's press conferences. The coordinators keep things close to the vest, but they do occasionally drop a gem here or there. Head after the jump to check them out.
Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio
Press Conference - September 20, 2012
San Francisco 49ers
From what you've seen, does RB Adrian Peterson look like a guy who is coming off an ACL injury?
"No, he really doesn't. He still has his great speed, cutting ability and I'm sure that he'll get better and better as he goes throughout the season. Week one to week two he was better. I'm sure he'll be better week two to week three and it'll just be a steady rise to where he gets that last little bit that he might be missing back. He had a lot more than anybody else to begin with so he still looks like the best back in the league. "
With him back and some of their other pieces, how much can you take from that preseason game against them?
"Very little. We were just out there playing as they were. It was just simple football against each other just so we could evaluate players and I'm sure they were thinking the same thing, so very little."
DT Justin Smith said yesterday that they do a lot of the same things that your offense does in terms of different looks, a lot of movement, a lot of personnel packages. Is it quite as much as the 49ers offense?
"They do do a lot. They do some unbalanced line which we do here also. They do some misdirection running plays, which we try and do also. They'll run the boots. They mix it up pretty good."
How closely are you monitoring other teams in the division at this point? It seems like everyone is off to a pretty good start, too.
"Not really. All the focus is on who ever we're playing that week and this week being Minnesota. It's too early to start looking at them."
What are some things you've seen in QB Christian Ponder?
"First thing that jumps out is he's a good athlete, he's very fast. He's got 40 speed in about the 4.6 range, which is extremely fast for a quarterback. He's got a good arm. I think he's got good command of their offense and what they're trying to do. And he's played well. He's got a 111 quarterback rating after two games, which is very high. He hasn't thrown an interception yet and he's done some good things scrambling. He had a 20-some yard gain scrambling last week wiped out by a penalty. He's a threat both running and throwing."
The third outside linebacker, is he a guy that only gets on the field if there's an emergency or do you try to work him into the game in your base defense a lot?
"That just depends on how the game's going, how many plays we're playing and how they're coming. By in large with the guys we have right now he wouldn't go in there much, but that could change as we move on. If we still had [LB] Parys Haralson he probably would have gotten some snaps in the first two games."
Were you involved, was there a workout with Shawne Merriman?
"No, not that I'm aware of."
With S Dashon Goldson's range, the amount of ground he can cover, how much flexibility does that give you in your game planning, knowing Dashon can cover that much territory?
"That's one of the big job requirements for a safety, to be able to cover, play the deep zones whether it be a half, a quarter or a third and have range coming out of those zones and he does a good job of that. He got us 6 or 7 interceptions last year, got us one the other night and he does a good job of filling on the run. He had a really good game tackling last week, which was well needed."
When you're in your nickel it almost seems like he was the third linebacker coming off in run support. Is that one of his big assignments when you're in nickel that he's got to come up field fast to play the run?
"Sometimes. It depends upon what call we are in and those ones where you saw him coming up pretty fast, that was his job to do and he did a very good job of it coming up there. He comes up there with the intent on making the tackle not hoping somebody else makes it. He did a really good job of that the other night. "
Is that unique, that a guy that lines up 12 to 14 yards deep can make a stop, not for an eight yard gain, but for a one or two yard gain?
"He's got a good feel back there for when to come up and to time it out and we try and help him with that as much as we can. But he does a good job of once he comes he gets committed to it, makes a good, quick decision and then when he gets there, he is able to make the tackle a good bit of the time."
Is that one of the things that really pleased you coming out of the game was how well your nickel defense did against the run?
"It was. They handed it off I think 26 times. I think they got 80 yards or something like that, 3.2 per carry and one of those was the quarterback draw. Those guys really played the run well up front. Our four down lineman in nickel, our two inside backers and when we did involve a secondary guy, all seven of those guys did a good job playing the run."
Do you expect a full day of work from NT Isaac Sopoaga on Sunday?
"He'll definitely get more play than he's been getting based upon the way Minnesota plays."
Head coach Jim Harbaugh said that 50 yard screen to RB Joique Bell they had in the 4th quarter, I think he termed it our worst play since you guys have been here or most disappointing. Did you share his disappointment with that and if so, why was that so bad?
"It was just we had a chance there, it was 3rd and 17, a chance to basically end the game if we can hold them without a first down with 17 yards to go. They ran a screen against a play call that we should be good against a screen in and we just didn't play it right. We over ran it and let it cut back against the grain there, it got into the secondary and the guy went for 50 yards. The point being there is that's how quick things can happen if you just make one little mistake and in this case we had a couple guys make little mistakes and before you know it, it's 50 yards later. And what you think is close to being over, now your lining up with your hands team out there for an onside kick."
As a coach, everyone, obviously, is patting the defense on the back, with some justification. But you can point to those things, not that you want to, but obviously there's always room for improvement?
"There's always room for improvement. And particularly, one thing that play illustrates is when you make a little error, it can become a big play. And big plays are what takes down a defense faster than anything. We've got to be on point every play, not just when we're in a tight game, tie score, one score behind, one score ahead. Whether we're up 15 or three, we got to play them the same."
I have a question about CB Tarell Brown and how he's been playing and that big play, is that something that you would expect to get called?
"Not necessarily, you hope it gets called from a defensive perspective, but I've seen worse ones not get called over the years. I don't worry about that."
And just how has Tarell been playing?
"Been playing well. He's done a good job the first two games. They threw a deep ball on him in the Detroit game that he was there with good coverage and like I tell the players, the corners have to answer the bell on the deep balls each and every game. They go for granted. Everybody thinks it's just an incomplete pass, but that was a chance for a big play that they didn't get and that corners job is to do that."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - September 20, 2012
San Francisco 49ers
"Good afternoon. Didn't take our players long watching the film of cleaning up the Detroit game, moving on to Minnesota and seeing that these guys are a very, very good defense. They're well coached. They've got a diverse scheme. They've got [Vikings DE] Jared Allen, who some regard as the best pass rusher in the National Football League and if you look at the film and the stats, I think they make a pretty good case. Multi-time defensive tackle in the Pro Bowl, [Vikings DT] Kevin Williams. Secondary is led by one of the toughest corners in the National Football League, [Vikings CB] Antoine Winfield. And [Vikings LB Chad] Greenway and the linebacking crew are extremely good blitzers and sideline to sideline, hitting the gaps. So, we've got our hands full getting ready for them. Any questions?"
You mentioned Jared Allen. What kind of game did T Joe Staley have going from Week 1 to Week 2?
"Joe played a really good game, really good game. We just look forward to that kind of improvement, really from all of our players as the season goes on. I think Joe experienced that last year throughout the season, just got better as it went. We certainly expect that out of all our players."
That was obviously an emotional game, especially it seems for your offensive line. Is that a worry for you, coming off a game like that when you're facing another talented team like the Vikings?
"What do you mean?"
There was a lot of emotion in that Lions game, especially from your offensive linemen. Do you worry about a drop-off in emotion, in energy after a game like that?
"I see. I think we're always trying to keep our edge and I think if you let it slip for a second, then you need to get a grip. I think our guys, having watched the film of this team we're about to play, understand immediately that it's going to take their best effort. That's week-in and week-out. These guys, especially when they're in that dome, it definitely plays to their strengths. We're having a good week of practice and I think our players are dialed in."
Yesterday QB Alex Smith talked about how taking a sack isn't always the end of the world. How do you -what's the line you draw for a quarterback to just get rid of the ball and avoid the sack or stay on your feet and try to make something happen?
"That's a good question and I think a lot of people probably have different opinions on it. I think one thing you've got to consider is, what's your ultimate goal? If your ultimate goal is too keep your stats low, in sacks, then he needs to get rid of the ball. Our ultimate goal is to win games and you don't lose games getting sacks. You're generally going to have a hard time, statistics show and just real life experience show, of ending that drive in points. But you don't lose games because you get sacked, generally. You lose games by turning the ball over and not scoring enough points. I think each play is a lifetime unto itself and I think you've got to evaluate each play within the context of that play. There's sometimes where you quantify a sack as a smart sack for a quarterback, at least I would, we would. And sometimes he needs to get rid of the ball. It's case-by-case, point-by-point."
And that's part of the quarterback decision making process on every snap?
"I think as it's happening, yes. No question. There's times when a quarterback might hold the ball too long, simply just doesn't read the play correctly and he holds the ball and the protection was pretty darn good and we get a sack. That's not what we're looking for. But if somebody's loose in protection, it really wasn't that clean of a read, well, I can't get the ball out because I have somebody here. He might knock it if I raise the ball to get rid of it, the ball might get knocked out of my hand and might become a potential fumble. Which would you rather have? It's case-by-case."
At this point in the year, how closely are you monitoring the teams in your division and how aware are you of them?
"From our perspective, we're really not monitoring them at all. It's Week 3 of the season. I think everybody, all of us coaches at least, we're all fans of the game too. We're going to follow how other teams are doing, but certainly not going to emotionally invest in it at all. We've got our hands full taking care of our own jobs."
This might be a silly question but I'll try it. Do you guys teach your quarterbacks how to take a sack? When they know it's coming, no matter blind side shot.
"I think that gets covered, in terms of how to handle the ball and how to protect yourself as best you can. Now a lot of that is in the heat of the battle, guys are going to react naturally. Sometimes things are happening so fast, you can't. I've been around people that have tried to do that. We really emphasize ball security at every position, and that includes the quarterback."
There was the play in that Packers game where a blitz was coming off the open side. How did Alex hold on to that ball?
"I can tell you from my vantage point as that play was happening, about two seconds before contact was made I said this is a sack-fumble. He just did a great job of getting two hands on the ball as I remember. We were pretty fortunate there. It was a great job by Alex, again, just being very strong with the ball in the pocket."
It just seems like Alex Smith is more crisp and efficient this year. Does it look the same way to you too just up in the box?
"Yeah, there's no question. We fully expect him to be, and always have, just to continue his progress of running our offense. He's just gotten better incrementally in everything we ask him to do. That's what we expect from all our players, is just constant improvement. The more you do something, the better you should get at it. That's not how it always plays out. And that's what makes special players special is that they're continuing to get better as they go."
How unique is QB Colin Kaepernick's running ability? We obviously saw that play against Green Bay, but you look around the league at quarterbacks. How different is he?
"I think it's pretty unique because, I know you guys see it too, when he runs he's covering some ground now. I mean, he's not taking little typewriter steps. He is covering some ground, those stride lengths. When he builds that speed up, he gets rolling. I'd say it's unique. Can you remember another quarterback that had the running style he had? I can't off the top of my head. He can build up some pretty good speed and you saw it in the preseason game against the Vikes, where he outran the DB for the touchdown. Colin's a unique athlete, got a lot of positives."
What about former QB Randall Cunningham? Similar to him?
"I'm trying to picture Randall running. Randall might have been a little smoother, no offense Kap, but he might have been a little smoother running. He didn't cover the ground that Kap did. But maybe a little bit more fluid."
That might be a decent comparison just in height, size.
You guys are increasingly recognized for all your personnel packages that you tried out there. Was there a time in your career or some sort of influence you had when you realized how do different personnel packages to keep the defense off balance?
"I think we really started that at Stanford, where it really got multiple. When you're coaching in college, you have more players at your disposal on game day. So, if guys earn the right to play and have a role during the game, you can get them out there. It definitely creates a lot more for the defense to prepare for, not only in what you might do out of that personnel group, but the individual skill set of each guy. We really took that to probably a new level there. But I'd say it comes from [head coach] Jim's [Harbaugh] idea or just his mindset that if a guy can do something really well and he works hard at it day-in and day-out, he's going to get an opportunity to do it on game day. It's a self-perpetuating philosophy."
What makes WR Kyle Williams a good fit for you guys in the slot?
"Kyle's a really shifty receiver, has got great quickness, change of direction, really good short area player, has got good hands. I think Kyle continues to improve as a route runner. He's got the quickness you look for inside. He can get separation from a defender in tight quarters. I'd say that pretty much sums it up. A lot of times in the slot you're going to end up running routes on a defender and it's either the first read or you've got to get open in a short area. He excels in that area."
Is that the role you envision him maintaining throughout?
"Yeah, I think as he continues to improve. There's a lot of competition at the receiver position. The receivers, I think, are playing pretty darn well and we look forward to diversify what we're doing with them and expand on everybody's role, practice as well."
Going back to Stanford, what were your initial impressions of Vikings RB Toby Gerhart and what have you seen from an evolution in terms of his game?
"Toby was a very unique back. I thought he had really good patience and vision and then he could convert it to power pretty quickly. I thought he had a good understanding of the game and played that way with his decision making. Always happy to see somebody you coach go on to the NFL and do well. It's obvious that that's what's happened with him. I certainly wish him all the best."
As far as the multiple packages, is that harder to do in an opposing stadium, just in terms of noise and getting everybody knowing which play you called and in and out of the game, is that more difficult?
"I'd say, not necessarily but everything becomes more -the environment stresses everything. So, you've got to really prepare for that in practice. So, it's not specifically your personnel packages. [running backs coach] Tom Rathman handles our sideline substitutions for the most part and does an extremely good job, so we're very fortunate there. I think it stresses all communication, what personnel is in, what play you're calling, what's the snap count. It requires a higher level of focus."
Did you have someone at Stanford similar to TE Delanie Walker in terms of versatility?
"Not off the top of my head, no. Delanie's a really good player, had a great game the other night for the most part. Did a great job handling multiple roles and I was really proud of how he played. When [TE] Vernon [Davis] had to step out of the game, he just stepped into the Y tight end position, did a very good job. Delanie is a guy we count on."