The San Francisco 49ers are finished prepping for their upcoming Week 4 opponent in the New York Jets. At this point, it's just about going out an executing the game plan they've set for themselves. On Thursday, the Niners coordinators had a chance to speak with the media on their next challenge.
49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman gave an interesting presser, as the Niners offense has been the center of media attraction. There are about a dozen headline-worthy stories generated on that side of the football by weekly.
Roman was coy about the 49ers game plan, and said a lot of the right things about this team, but one thing the Niners OC mentioned that threw me for a loop was when he talked about the Jets run defense. He put them up on quite a pedestal, which is peculiar since they are near the bottom of the league in that category.
No question and I think they do. A lot of those runs were corralled pretty good and the back just made something happen. Some of those on paper you'd say wow that should never happen, really. The New York Jets play run defense, if you go back, as good as anybody. If they want to load up on the run, they're going to get bodies down there. They're going to play the 46. I think Rex and the Jets in general, the players, they've got a great run defense.
Through the duration of the conference, Roman made the Jets defense out to be some impenetrable unit.
This was funny, considering Roman mentioned playing cards early in the presser -- because all I could muster after this quote was calling B.S. I think the Jets had a good run defense, when Bart Scott and David Harris were firing on all cylinders and Kris Jenkins was the centerpiece of that defensive line. But this is just not the same team anymore.
The fact is, the Jets are as good against the run as the 49ers are at hitting the deep ball.
When Roman said, "Wow, that should never happen..." -- well, that's because the Jets run D is that bad and they did let it happen. And it's likely to happen again in Week 4 against the best run team they've faced so far this season.
In 2012, the Jets have allowed an average of 4.6 yards per carry, against the Bills, Steelers and Dolphins. The Bills got steamrolled in Week 1, so that game barely counted for anything. But against the Steelers and Dolphins, the Jets struggled mightily. And one could easily argue that the 49ers have a much better ground game than all three of those teams.
San Francisco currently has a top-10 rushing attack, spearheaded by Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. In this decade, the Niners have had one of the premier running games and they've only gotten more creative in the past couple seasons.
Roman talking up the Jets run defense didn't seem genuine. It seemed like pouring admiration for the sake of pouring admiration. At the beginning of his presser, Roman acknowledged having worked with some of the current Jets staff when he was in Baltimore. Rex Ryan also had nothing but good things to say about the 49ers this week.
Regardless, I didn't see the point to blow smoke up anyone's behind, when the Jets are clearly deficient against the run this year. We'll know how truthful Roman was being when he exposes this New York run defense on Sunday.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - September 27, 2012
San Francisco 49ers
"Is it afternoon yet? Yes it is, good afternoon. If I appear unshaven I apologize, but this Jets defense forces our whole staff to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. We know [Head Coach] Rex Ryan, I worked with Rex, [Defensive Coordinator] Mike Pettine and [Defensive Backs Coach] Dennis Thruman. Some really good coaches, great innovators, really changed defense in the NFL, forced offense to adjust. It's been happening for the past probably six or seven years. It's really given our offensive coaching staff a chance to bond early into the wee hours because one thing I can guarantee about the Jets defense is there's going to be 11 guys on the field. You never know where they're going to line up, but there's going to be 11 of them. So, our plan is to go there, lineup and play football however they lineup. We know how talented they are and I'll say this, our coaching staff, our assistant coaches, have done just a tremendous job. These guys are all-stars. [Running Backs Coach] Tom Rathman, [Offensive Line Coach] Mike Solari, [Offensive Line Coach] Tim Drevno, [Tight Ends Coach] Reggis Davis, [Wide Receivers Coach] John Morton, [Quarterbacks Coach] Geep Chryst, saw them all pretty unshaven about three in the morning this morning wearing white t-shirts, finishing up preparations for today. So, really proud of that group of guys and how hard they're working. Really proud of our players and the kind of focus they have and it's been a really good chance for us to spend some time bonding. Looking forward to the challenge and we're just midway through the preparations. So, any questions?"
Could they be even more unpredictable because they have to compensate for losing one of the great cornerbacks in the game?
"Yeah, that's just a tragedy. Such a great player was befallen by injury and I'm sure they are going to adjust somehow. There's a lot of different ways they can do it and we might see all of them. I'm sure they will. A player of that magnitude allows you to do different things, isolate him. It's obvious on film, it's no secret that they would just lock him up on a guy and adjust elsewhere. Rob Peter to pay Paul, as they say. We just be ready for anything. Rex and Mike and that coaching staff are an outside the box type of staff, so we got to be ready for anything, no matter who's on the field."
Coach, you said you guys have been up to the wee hours and all of that. How does being in an atmosphere like this, in a hotel, on the road impact that kind of game planning for you?
"I think it's really been positive because there are no distractions, and it just gives you the chance to hold up in a hotel room. Rather than play cards we're studying film. It gives you a chance to be real isolated and really put our collective minds together to come up with the best plan. I think it's been great."
But now you're saying you're seeing the guys unshaven and all that like it's a little bit different atmosphere. How different is that compared to if you were back in Santa Clara?
"A little different. The Jets force you to prepare because of the multiplicity of what they present. The last thing you want to do is be unsure as a player on the field. So, it just requires reassessing what you're doing, how you're doing it and possibly making the appropriate adjustments."
Greg, RB Frank Gore ran effectively, but you didn't run a whole lot. Part of that obviously you guys were down at halftime, but why didn't he get a few more touches?
"You know we are always going to do what we think is best to win the game and every game's going to play out differently. In that particular game he got the amount of touches he got and this game could be completely different or not, we'll have to wait and see. It's game-by-game. I think we moved the ball pretty darn well. It was a limited possession game. We knew that, we talked about it at halftime and we just got to finish drives better. I'd say we moved the ball pretty well. We had a 13-play drive we had, a 12-play drive. I think we had 3 series in the first half and we just didn't finish good enough. But I have ultimate faith in our players. We looked at, we got some things corrected and moving forward we can take that and turn it into a positive."
Would you expect to have RB Brandon Jacobs on Sunday?
"He's definitely practicing right now and we'll have to wait and see."
With his style do you have to include specific plays in your game plan that maybe other guys don't run?
"Well, I'd say if you look at Brandon's career, which we have, he's run everything. He ran a lot of, last year in New York for example, he ran a tremendous amount of scheme. So, Brandon can do, it's proven, he can do anything and it's just up to us to decide what we feel he's best at doing and then go with that. That's generally our philosophy."
We talked to Rex Ryan yesterday and he had a lot of praise for a lot of different guys. One guy that he praised that doesn't get a lot of national attention was T Anthony Davis. He says he's one of the best right tackles in the game. What have you seen the first three games from your RT?
"I think Anthony, and we've seen this all throughout this offseason, Anthony didn't have an offseason last year. A new system was dumped on him so he started to immerse himself in it, played the season and now we had an offseason. Really from March on we've seen nothing but improvement, fundamentally, mentally, recognition wise and Anthony's playing at a high level. Are there things that he needs to improvement on? Yes, but everybody does. He's playing at a high level. Anthony's the kind of guy I want to go into a conflict with because he's going to fight. Win, lose or draw he's going to compete and really proud of the way he has matured as a professional. He's got a really great team mindset. He loves his team. It's not just about him, it's about the team. And for those guys on the offensive line they're starting to build something. Anthony, he's going to be a great one."
It used to be that the left tackle would replace the oppositions best pass rusher. In recent years has it become, if you're playing left or right, you're still going to face someone who's pretty...
"It's week-to-week. Some teams flip their best guy, depending on the quarterback's tendencies. It's week-to-week. It really is. The left tackle though, probably higher percentage overall. But you can't just isolate that as the only player that has a hard job. They all have a hard job."
You were obviously on the staff with Rex Ryan in Baltimore with the Ravens. Did that give you any insider, at least to jump start in dealing with their defense?
"You practice against it every day. But the thing about Rex, Rex is always evolving. Those guys are always changing. I remember one of his favorite quotes was, ‘We'll run all our new stuff early so that our old stuff will seem new.' So, you've got to be ready for anything. You can't get caught up in this, they're showing you this, because a lot of it's a setup."
They're usually so good against the run, in two of their three games this year I think it's been allowed 180 yards or something like that. I don't know if you're going to say why that is, do you view that as an aberration. Do they have the personnel to have a good run defense?
"No question and I think they do. A lot of those runs were corralled pretty good and the back just made something happen. Some of those on paper you'd say wow that should never happen, really. The New York Jets play run defense, if you go back, as good as anybody. If they want to load up on the run, they're going to get bodies down there. They're going to play the 46. I think Rex and the Jets in general, the players, they've got a great run defense."
What about Jets CB Kyle Wilson? What have you seen from him? Have you seen enough to be able to figure out what he's good at, what he's not good at, that sort of thing?
"I think there's enough film out there that you can really get a feel for him. He's a really good player, very competitive player, plays the game hard, competes. Just a good player. Probably be a starter on most teams and he is now, probably."
What are the chances that maybe we see QB Alex Smith do something that people maybe will be waiting for him to do since he has the new weapons on offense, that's air it out and throw it down the field? And given that they have some uncertainty at the CB position, or they at least have changes, what are the chances that you try to take advantage of that?
"You know, I can't put a percentage on the chances, but if we get favorable looks, we would look forward to it, those opportunities. It all depends on the kind of look you get. Week-to-week, it's different. If a team's going to blitz the heck out of you, then you're probably going to take some shots and kind of get in and out of what you're doing. If they're going to play way off, then it's probably not in your best interest to just throw a punt to them. It's week-to-week, down-to-down, and it's something we spend a lot of time working on. We've got a lot of confidence in our receivers. I think they've been doing a really good job as a unit and we'll continue to improve. So, not going to put a percentage of that though."
Any possible lineup alterations since last week going into this week for whatever reason, injuries or whatever?
"Well, we'll have to wait and see what the status of a couple guys on game day, and then we've got plan A and then there's a couple other plans as well. It's going to be kind of a game day decision."