Greg Roman talks Bernard Pollard, offensive line play, 49ers wide receivers and more

USA TODAY Sports

49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman met with the media on Thursday to discuss the upcoming matchup with the Titans. We have a transcript for your viewing pleasure. New to Niners Nation? Sign up here and join the discussion!

Opening comments:

"As you're going through the season and you're getting ready for upcoming opponents, one of the interesting things as a coach is you're studying the opponents defense and as you're doing that, you're watching others team's offense. I remember last year, seemed like we saw everyone of New England's game. So, you get a great feel for that offense. And we've seen quite a few of Tennessee's offensive games this year and last year. So, at the beginning of the week, we could probably tell you more about their offense than their defense. So, we've had a real sprint to get caught up with their personnel. And some of these guys I remember from the Pac-10 when I was at Stanford and we were at Stanford heirs and [Titans CB Alterraun] Verner and [Titans DT Jurrell] Casey, but we as a staff and as an offense are really focusing in on their personnel. Getting to know them for the first time, very unlike a division opponent like we just came off. So, think they've got a very good defense. [Titans S Michael] Griffin and [Titans S Bernard] Pollard, very talented safeties. Pollard's been doing it for a long time and looks like he's brought a lot of attitude to that defense. Verner and [Titans CB Jason] McCourty doing a great job at corner and Casey is one of the better defensive tackles we'll play against all year. And then [Titans LB Zach] Brown, one of the fastest linebackers we'll play against and [Titans LB Akeem] Ayers as well. So, very talented defense. They've held people to minimal scoring and we're very impressed, and think our guys have a healthy respect for what they're watching. So any questions?"

What do they do with Pollard? Do they use him in a different way than the Ravens did a year ago?

"No, pretty similar, pretty similar. But he's all over the place. They'll have him covering the tight ends at times. They'll have him down in the box quite a bit. They'll also ask him to play half the field. But he's a really heady player. He's always in the right spot. Always."

Where do things stand with TE Vance McDonald's progression in his learning of the game and the blocking specifically?

"Well, we've asked a lot of him the past couple weeks, really the past three weeks. And couldn't be more pleased with how he's done. And really expect him to take those kinds of steps moving forward. The one thing you notice about players is everybody's going to make mistakes as a rookie. That's a fact. And do you repeat those mistakes? Thus far, he's done a great job of learning from the good, the bad and the ugly and moving on a better football player. So, he's done a really nice job and it needs to continue."

You guys got a lot of production from the tight ends at Stanford. Does he remind you of anybody you coached then?

"No, we don't like comparing people. Right?"

Right. I made the cardinal sin.

"No, he's a unique guy and I think he'll become more inundated into our passing game as we go. But, he's performed a critical role for us here in these last three victories."

You see some of these teams like New England basically going with two tight ends as their passing offense last year, obviously more than this year. Do you think that eventually you guys would be capable of doing that with TE Vernon Davis and McDonald as your two?

"I definitely think so and I think we do at times. As we move forward with rookie players, you always find it, we feel good about the players at all our positions. And you really at times want to bring them along as opposed to just throw them in the pool in the deep end. And I think Vance is a great example of that."

Can you go back to Sunday's game and evaluate how well the offensive line blocked. Seemed like they were all playing hurt but played through it, especially at the end?

"That's a great point. The guys had some nicks and bruises and whatnot and ultimately they just took over the game. That's a real credit to them against a fine, fine defensive front who always gives us their best shot. We knew it going in. They were doing some things towards the end of the game that could only be called extreme in terms of trying to stop the run and still it didn't matter. You don't see that a whole lot in this league because all 22 guys on the field are pretty darn good. But their physicality, you could highlight our right tackle Anthony Davis. He had the best game he's had since I've been here in all phases. Really, really good game. Really across the board, I thought those guys took it to a new level and everybody was just feeding off it. So, it led to a win and that's the most important thing."

In the 18-play drive when you dialed up that one play like five or six times, how fun was that just to keep repeating that play until they stopped you?

"It reminded me of, [head coach] Jim [Harbaugh] and I were saying it reminded us a little bit of when we played USC back in whatever year it was, where just we were rolling the same play over and over and over again. And the guys were just getting better at it every time. So, it's a credit to the players on the field. When they're doing that, calling the play is pretty easy."

RB LaMichael James was inactive on Sunday. Is there a reason why you choose inactive players?

"Every week, there's a real, real, on our team, there's a lot of different variables that go into it and a lot of different scenarios that could happen. That just happened to be where we were at as a team. LaMichael's a very important part of our offense and will continue to be so."

WR Kyle Williams and WR Jon Baldwin are different kinds of wide receivers. You guys are still kind of looking for that second wide receiver really to step up. Can you talk about how they've looked in practice as you look to establish that number two wide receiver?

"Yeah, they're doing a really good job. I think Kyle had a huge play on the 3rd and 7 I believe, 3rd and 8 at the end of the game and really good timing, big play for him. Wouldn't have been an 18-play drive if he hadn't have made that play. And, Jon continues to do a good job and he gets better every week. Week-to-week their roles will change, but they're both doing a really good job and I have complete and utter faith in them."

How's WR Mario Manningham been?

"Good."

Is he anywhere near football shape?

"He's getting there. It's a process and anything beyond that is irrelevant, because, yesterday was his first day back out there and Jim talked to him about a certain way of getting back into it. And I thought Mario did a very good job with it and he'll just continue to progress, but it's day-to-day. You love to see him back out there. Anytime you go through a season with a guy, you develop a trust and a relationship and just a feeling of togetherness. It's almost like when you see a guy like that come back from an injury, all of us are just thrilled. And he's just going to work his way back."

How would you assess where QB Colin Kaepernick is right now as a red zone quarterback?

"I think Colin's doing a very good job in the red zone. It's hard to just say, ‘Well, this guy let's look at him in this area, and this area.' I think you got to look at the, expand your lens a little bit and look at the big picture. But, I think Colin's doing a good job down there."

It might be a silly question, but do you have any doubts that Mario won't be able to play this year? Go on the 53?

"He had an injury, he's rehabbed it very hard, and he's starting the process. Beyond that is pure speculation. So, I wish I could give you a better answer, really. But, he's working hard and making progress."

Can we get your thoughts on Dr. Dan Garza and his passing?

"I was deeply shocked and saddened by it. I think everybody was. It was addressed and I think we all mourn and pray for him. But, I think that really sums it up."

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