Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio
Press Conference - January 8, 2013
San Francisco 49ers
Is this much of a different team than what you faced in Week 1?
"Not really. They've still got a great quarterback, a great group of receivers. They've got a lot of offense to defend. They vary their offense. They can have anywhere from one receiver out there to four. And they mix it up pretty good in what they're going to do. And they're a great challenge."
You were in dime for so much of that Week 1 game. Have they been doing less with four wide receivers and just running in recent weeks?
"They've mixed it in there. They probably played it the most against us in the first game. But, they still mix it in every now and then. But, they did play it more against us than they did the other games we studied."
Do you think they did that to keep one of your best players, LB Patrick Willis or LB NaVorro Bowman, off the field? Do you think they anticipated that?
"I don't know. I don't know."
Is DT Justin Smith closer to full strength and how's he looking out there?
"He's doing fine. I don't think we'll know for sure until Sunday comes."
But, what has he shown you in terms that you think he might be ready?
"Well, he's told me he's ready and he's ready to go. And that's enough for me."
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh was saying that just having him out there elevates the character of the defense, just his presence. How so?
"Well, he's a leader both by example and verbally, and more so by example. So, he plays with atenacity and an effort level that's second to none. And it's just contagious to everybody."
I'm sure he'll want to play. At what point do you look out and say he can't play? How do you stop a guy like that from playing if-?
"I'm not involved in that decision. That's between him and the medical people."
OK. But, if you're watching-you know we had a situation Sunday where there was a question if guy's hurt. His performance, was it hurting the team, helping the team? Will you be involved in that sort of thing?
"Well, from my point of view, if he's not playing up to his standard or close to it then we'll put the next guy in. Because it's always been my experience, somebody at 80 percent is not as good as the next guy at 100 percent."
Is there any way to gauge his percentage from what he's done in practices so far?
This Green Bay team is a lot different in terms of health than it was three or four weeks ago with that receiving corps. How do you game plan for that group?
"Well, it's tough. The good news and the bad news is the good news is there isn't one guy you've got to stop. And that's also the bad news. There isn't only one guy you've got to stop. He's very comfortable spreading this ball around. You've seen the stats, got a bunch of guys with 50, 60 catches, over 700 yards. So, he's going to throw it to the open guy. He doesn't have a favorite it seems to me, which like I said, is good and bad. It's not one guy. Hey, if we take out [WR] Jordy Nelson we've got a great chance. No. They've got three other really good receivers. And they've got their new toy with [WR Randall] Cobb who came out in our game. They're doing a lot of things with him. He's lining up as a back, as a receiver. And they're doing things with him that are a little unconventional. And they're utilizing him good."
In that first game, CB Perrish Cox played a lot on him. He hasn't played, I'm sure that's the most he played by far in the season. How have you seen him progress and learn the defense better through the entire course of the regular season?
"Well, he's done well. Obviously that game, just because of the matchups, he played more and he was prepared to play more, because we kind of had the feeling that the game could evolve that way. So, he had a lot of practice time. But, he's done well with limited practice time. Gets his handful of plays every play and he's ready to go."
From a coordinator's standpoint, is it a tough decision, a tough call, how to match them personnel wise when you have to make the call whether to sit Willis on the sideline or not?
"It is only from the aspect that you don't want to take out one of those inside linebackers if you don't have to. But, when it becomes a matchup that an inside backer maybe can't handle, or is at a deficit that somebody else can handle better, then you always do what's best for the team."
I want to ask you about Jim Harbaugh. We always describe him as being intense, as being maybe quirky sometimes. You know him very well. How would you describe Jim and his personality?
"I don't know. I'm not going to go there. You guys can have fun with that on your own."
In the first game, Bowman had a really big interception in the fourth quarter. Looking back on it, how big of a play was it in that game and kind of as the season's gone on?
"Well, it was a huge play in that game obviously. I believe that was their next series after they returned the punt for the touchdown, I believe. And they kind of had a lot of momentum at that time. And that play got us the ball in great field position. I believe we went in to score. So, it kind of snuffed out the momentum I think they had from the punt return for the touchdown. So, it was a huge play in that game."
One of their new running backs was selling cars in November. Does [RB DuJuan] Harris look like a legitimate running back to you?
"Yeah, he must not have liked selling cars because he's running hard. He doesn't want to go back there. And he's running like a man who likes the current job he has and he wants to keep it. He's running very good for them. They've stumbled on to a good running back and they're running the ball better now than they had been earlier."
In your experience in the playoffs, is it harder to face a team that's coming in with, for a lack of a better word, just momentum. The Super Bowl winner Giants, they were on the road Wildcard. The Packers, they won on the road Wildcard. Now kind of a similar situation. Is that when you had the bye week to meet that intensity right up front?
"Every week's a new entity. You're talking about Green Bay having momentum. Last week, I'm sure when they were talking about the Green Bay/Minnesota game, they were saying how they've lost their momentum because they had lost in Week 17. Momentum's very fleeting in this business. It lasts for six days, or like we spoke about earlier, they had momentum after that big punt return. We get a big interception and now we have momentum. It comes and goes very fast."
"Well, physical play of all 11 guys out there is integral, not just those two guys. We've got to do a great job of tackling in this game. These guys kept throwing a lot of short passes that they like to get their receivers to catch and run with and break some tackles. If we don't have a good game of tackling, we probably won't have a good game defensively."
How good is Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on the secondary plays when the play breaks down? And how do you look at that chunk?
"Yeah, he's awful tough to defend. After watching him a lot in the offseason once we knew that was our first game and now going back to that, he reminds me of [former Miami Dolphins QB] Dan Marino in the pocket with his quick, accurate release. And he reminds me of [former 49ers QB] Steve Young out of the pocket. And that's a hell of a tough combination to defend. And we've got to do a good job in our rush lanes of not letting him get out too much. We've got to do a good job of plastering in coverage that if he does run around we don't lose our guys. And try to limit the big plays that he can make on the move. I don't have a great answer for you. We've just got to try and not let it happen."
Jim Harbaugh the other day said that LB Aldon Smith was one of the guys that really can benefit from the rest from the bye week. What have you seen from him as the season came to a close? Was he starting to get fatigued do you think out there?
"I really don't think so. No more than anybody else has. He played very well in the New England game. He didn't have any sacks, but he had a lot of great pressures in that game. He had a chance for some plays in the Seattle game that he usually makes and didn't make. And he played fine in the last game. But, I'm sure he's tired, or was tired just like everybody else was after 16 games and playing as much as he did. But, he'll be fine now. He's only 22 or 23 years old. He's ready to go."
Why would you not take a chance to describe Jim?
"Because we don't have enough time. I think Jim, I'll give you one sentence. And I think it's a good statement. He's very serious about his job and his profession, but he doesn't take himself seriously."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - January 8, 2013
San Francisco 49ers
"Good afternoon, really proud of our players for winning the NFC West again. As we head on into the postseason, here we are staring at the Green Bay Packers in the face again, just like we were out of training camp. It's a great challenge, one we're looking forward to. When you look at their defense, they are very much improved statistically from last season. I believe they are 11th in points allowed in the National Football League, fifth in sacks given up. They've got a lot of good players, they're very well coached, they play a tough style of defense. Looking forward to having a great practice today. If practice is anything like our meetings today, we're going to have a great practice."
Why do you think they are improved?
"They've changed a little bit schematically. But, they're just playing good defense, sound defense, good team defense, not allowing the big plays that showed up last year. From us, from our perspective as we watch them on film, they're a good defense. How they got to that point doesn't interest us. We're more concerned about [Packers LB Clay Matthews] 52, and [Packers DT B.J. Raji] 90 and their secondary with [Packers DB Charles] Woodson. So, that's where our focus lies."
What do you like about what you're players were doing in meetings?
"It's just very much in tune. A lot of energy, great questions, just vibrant. Just great attitude, great energy."
How did Woodson look last week?
Did he look like the Woodson of old?
"He did. Woodson's a great athlete and a great football player. Everybody has seen that over the years. He was right back at it, riding the bike again last week. He looked good."
How are they different?
"Woodson's just a difference maker. They can do a lot of things with him in the secondary and also around the front. He's a very good blitzer. He got a sack on us last time we played him, on us. Very good blitzer. He's a very good run defender, and he's a very good pass defender, very physical in coverage and has created a lot of turnovers in his career. So, Charles Woodson's a difference maker."
We don't get to watch WR A.J. Jenkins in practice but can you describe how he's done this year and I guess the progress he's made through the course of the season?
"Yeah, A.J. is making really good strides, week-to-week. He hasn't had a lot of opportunity to play. But, he's doing a very good job day in and day out of coming to work, getting the gameplan, digesting it. And hasn't had a lot of opportunities on gameday at this point, but we have great confidence in that when he gets those opportunities he'll make the most of them."
Is that a concern that at a point in the season where you need him to deliver, he hasn't had any regular season experience really?
"I think those are things that you have to weigh week-to-week. Every week you have to look at what you have and what gives you the best chance to win, but at the same time with an eye to the future. But, we have every confidence that A.J. will perform very well when he gets that opportunity."
Head coach Jim Harbaugh called QB Colin Kaepernick's preparation this week savant-like. How would you describe his work for this game?
"Very good and very in tune with it. Again like I said, there's a great focus and a great energy for the task at hand with the entire group, including Colin. He's demonstrated that. He came in on Sunday and started getting the game plan, going through it, talking through it. Savant-like, that's pretty good."
Has QB Alex Smith been sharing with Colin some of the tips that he saw against Green Bay in the opener? And how has Alex been mentoring him through this preparation?
"I think Alex has been mentoring through the whole season, week-to-week, day-to-day really. He's always going to give him feedback in the meetings. I think they have a great line of communication, a great respect there. He's been great, really before the Chicago game all the way up. Alex is as professional as you can get and Alex himself is getting ready for this game. So, they are lock-step in their preparation."
When Colin starts to see the game plan, does he nix stuff? Does he make suggestions or does that happen on the practice field? How does that flow during the course of the week?
"Most of that stuff happens indoors. We're going to talk through it. I think there are some things that as a coach you say, hey, you feel good about this but there's thing here, all right let's talk through this. Be comfortable with it. Does it make sense to you? Can you see what we're trying to achieve here? Just Communicating."
Do you think through the course of seven regular season starts, have you seen good honest communication?
"There's no question, yeah. All business, very good."
TE Vernon Davis yesterday called it a stressful season for him. He still wants to do more. How is he sort of handling all of that and maybe not being targeted as much, but finding other ways to help this team?
"Vernon is on the field as much, other than the offensive lineman and quarterbacks, as much or more than every other player. So, he's got something to do every play. He's done a good job with that. Day-to-day his attitude has been great and he's a mentally strong guy that doesn't whither. Not getting a lot of balls, but stays focused. It's coming, at some point. He's done a great job. He's a great professional and he's a great team guy. But, from a playtime standpoint, Vernon's on the field an awful lot. And while many people point to one statistic, well how many catches does this guy have? The reality of it is, every play, he is critical to the success of the 49ers. Whether it's pass protection, run locking, adjustments, running a route, getting open, making a play. From our standpoint, he's had a really good year."
Vernon has said that you've thanked him after games, is that a regular thing that you do with all of your offensive guys?
"Oh yeah, anytime we win I thank everybody, because the winning is the ultimate goal."
Are there any special concerns for young quarterback who's starting in his first playoff game? Any special coaching you have to do about that?
"I don't think so. I think one of the things you always want to ask somebody is, hey, this is what you want, right? You want to be on these stages, you want all those cameras, right? You want everybody watching, right? And the answer is obviously, heck yeah. So, we're glad to be here again. For Colin, it's another game and I think the way he handles it day-to-day has been very mature. I don't think we're going to see any big eyes. He's very businesslike day-to-day. Not concerned."
How do you combat the tempo of the offense, is it concerning to you? as the finish is one of the slower offenses in the league, getting to line of scrimmage, getting the play called. Has that been addressed? Does that concern you at all?
"It all depends. The play clock, we always want to be working for us not against us. There are times this year where it's not been good enough. But most of the time it's been pretty darn good and that's the trend we want to continue. We're not interested in getting to the line and snapping it as quickly as possible, unless that's part of the plan. Whether we snap it with one second, or 15 seconds, or 20, it really doesn't matter unless there's a specific goal in mind. We need to be efficient and continue to work on that. But, that's an area that we need to improve on and the past couple of weeks of practices have been great. Looking forward to another great one today."
T Joe Staley said that in week one he had technique issues against Matthews. Is that what you saw?
"No question. It was so simple it just jumped off the screen. As a coach I wish I could have helped him with it during the game."
He was coming off a Pro Bowl season, and he said he just wasn't ready technique-wise. So people would say, you're a Pro Bowl left tackle, what happened? Why wasn't he ready in that game?
"Again, it was a technique issue. Whatever people say - people asked me last year before the season, hey with the lockout are you going to be able to win four games? And this year they said, statistics say that you're probably going to be 7-9 this year. So what people say, not really concerned. However, technique, this is a game of technique and fundamentals. And when you're playing a guy like Clay Matthews, you've got to be on it. You have to technically be at the top of your game. And Matthews is a great example of a guy, as a pass rusher that does a great job of identifying weaknesses while he's rushing a tackle. I think Joe played another Pro Bowl season and that was a great learning experience going into this game for him."
You've worked for a lot of different coaches in the NFL. How is Jim different from those?
"I don't like comparing people because somebody ultimately gets diminished. But Jim is ultra-competitive, very much a thinker. He's got a great mind, and he's ultra competitive, very fair, always looking to do what's fair and right. What else could you ask for?"
For those of us on the outside, we tend to describe very simply as intense, he's quirky. He seems to have these players' back, maybe at the risk of making people on the outside mad. Are all those things fair? Would you debate any of those things?
"Define ‘quirky' for me, I don't know. No comment. But, he's very intense, very concerned about his players. That's his ultimate concern, is the player's welfare and the team's welfare. So, I think that's pretty self-explanatory. I think the number one job of a coach is to have the interest of his players' best interest in mind. I think he's a shining example of that."
Has he been as rah-rah this year as what we perceived him as a year ago?
"I don't know what your perceptions of him were, but Jim is always going to be enthusiasm. He brings enthusiasm unknown to mankind to work every day. That can manifest itself differently. Not just vocally, but it can be how intensely he's thinking about solving a problem or fixing something, or making something better. Enthusiasm is not always just boisterous, boisterous outward. Help me out here. But sometimes that enthusiasm can manifest itself into just very laser-beam focus on solving a problem and getting something fixed. So, I think all those things encompass Jim."
With the kicking situation unresolved, do you obviously need to see any changes for you offensively, decisions that you make?
"We always talk before every game. It's a great question. We talk before every game. Again, it's not just the offense, the defense, special teams. It's the team. And some people may not look at it that way. That's fine, but it's a big picture and special teams and defense, offense all work together and we're definitely going to play off each other and feed off each other and consider all those things going into a game."
Did a team reach out to you last week to interview you for a head coach opening?
"I'm not going to talk about any of that stuff. I'm focused on the Packers coming in."
Can you, let me ask you this, how well do you know [Atlanta Falcons director of player personnel] David Caldwell and [Indianapolis Colts director of player personnel] Tom Telesco from your playing days?
"They're two colleagues that I know and Dave's in Atlanta so we might end up playing them, so not really talking to Dave right now."
[RB] Frank Gore, has this extra week been that much more helpful for him and where's he at versus where he was at last year?
"Frank, if you go back and look at Frank's production during the playoffs last year, I thought he ran extremely well last year during the playoffs. I think this week, the bye week that the team earned was very much needed for a great benefit for us at this point for guys like Frank to get an extra week of getting is body ready for the playoffs. So, Frank's moving around really well and look forward to a great playoff game from him this week."
It's easy for us to look at a game, especially the [NFC] Championship game and say, ‘Oh, Frank should have this many carries or this many touches.' When you go into a game plan, do you have, in your mind, at the end of the day, we want to have gotten him the ball this many times?
"I think yes to a certain extent. But, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Ultimately I want him to have 40 carries because that means we probably won by a huge margin and then we can just keep handing it off to him at the end of the game. So, the ultimate goal is to win and however we do that, we have a plan going in and then you've got to be ready to adjust. But, Frank's one of the best running backs in the National Football League and we're lucky to have him and we need him at his best for this game, for sure."