Greg Roman talks Washington defense, converting turnovers into points, offensive struggles

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman met with the media Friday, and had a chance to discuss the 49ers ability to convert turnovers into points, and what the Washington defense brings to the table.

Opening Comments:

"Good afternoon. Getting ready to play a very good Washington Redskins defense. I'd say there are things that jump out at you on screen, start with their edge guys, [LB Brian] Orakpo and [LB Ryan] Kerrigan, any 3-4 defense really starts with those two outside backers and they've got two really good ones. Kerrigan's a really physical guy and the other guy that jumps off the screen is their nose guard [Barry] Cofield. Probably one of the best nose guards we'll play all year. Captained in the middle by [LB] London Fletcher. I think this is his 16th year and it's pretty remarkable to be playing at such a high level. Their run defense was on display against [Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean] McCoy from Philly and [Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian] Peterson from Minnesota the past couple weeks. They're a very disciplined and well-coached defense. They've got a very veteran secondary and our guys are deep in the throws of preparation for this game. Very good focus and we know how important this game is for us and we're preparing with that in mind. Any questions?"

Given your background, do you have, I guess, a close relationship or a relationship with London Fletcher?

"Yes, actually I can remember coaching with the Carolina Panthers in 1995 I believe it was. We had a bye week and I went and watched them play and I said, ‘Wow, who's that guy?' He was all over the place making tackles, and he's had a remarkable career. I'd say he's just a model and a leader and a really good guy."

Have you kept in touch since?

"When we run into each other. We keep busy schedules, but when we run into each other."

Do you feel like he was a better defender than you were at John Carroll?

"It's close. It's close. I'll give him the edge though."

You've talked in the past about how you've seen some bizarre things from defenses trying to stop your run. Where does what the Saints did last week, where does that rank as far as a team over-extending itself, or extending itself beyond the normal realm to stop RB Frank Gore and the running game?

"Yeah, they definitely made a heavy investment and we pretty much, we forecasted that. It was definitely an extreme investment on their part. We felt that they would do that and they mixed it up though throughout the game. It wasn't like an every play thing, but it was basically a nine-man front quite a bit. But, it wasn't every play."

Why haven't you been able to exploit on the other end with the passing game when teams do that to you in the running game?

"Well, I think it's a function really of making a few more plays, really. You look at that game, we make one or two more plays, we win the game. The week before, we make one or two more plays, we win the game. We're always striving for improvement and we're certainly not a finished product. So, I think those opportunities are out there and the roof's going to blow off. It's going to pop. It's coming. We keep working like we're working and it will come."

One of the strengths of the offense has been able to convert turnovers into points. I was wondering if there is any tangible factors when you face a defense. Is the defense maybe a step slow because maybe they're not expecting to be on the field at that point or are you more aggressive after turnovers in the opponents territory?

"I think some of it has to do with field position, where you're at and how you can sequence things with where you're at on the field. I think it starts with field position. I also think innately when the defense turns the ball over, man, everybody is ultra-hungry to reward them for that. I don't know that you can quantify that or if that's tangible. That's just a feel thing, but our guys have been outstanding at doing that this year and it's great team football."

Are you surprised, I guess, you've had less than 200 yards of offense in two straight weeks? In some level, are you're surprised by how things have gone?

"I'd say the past few weeks have not been up to our standard or the standard of production that we expect or work for. It's simply a function of getting back to work, identifying problems, fixing those problems and reemphasizing the positive things. You can go back and look at the New Orleans game last week and I'd say there were some incredibly positive things. Great throws, great catches, great plays made. Even more so than some games we've won. Overall though, the past couple weeks, they've been grinders and we've got to make a few more plays. That's what we're working to do."

Obviously, as the quarterback, criticism is levied at QB Colin Kaepernick. How much of that is fair?

"I don't pay attention. I don't think anybody really pays attention to what's being said or perceived or where people are placing blame, etc. We look at it as an offense, each individual player and we understand it takes 11 guys to make it work. So, whatever's being said outside really doesn't factor in. I'd say he did a lot of really good things in that game. There's a couple plays I'm sure he'd like to have back, there always is. But it's something that's just going to keep on improving as we keep on working. Love his attitude. Love his interaction with his teammates. Like I said, it's going to keep improving and it's going to pop here soon."

But has he done anything these past couple weeks in terms of extra time studying film, extra time talking with you or head coach Jim Harbaugh, extra time on the field with whatever receivers are there?

"Yeah, that's a great question. Yes. The answer is vehemently yes. Colin works extremely hard. He's an early riser. Spends a lot of time studying film. We have iPads now, so he's always on his iPad studying film. Interacting with us. He's got an A-plus work ethic and the communication flow is very good."

This was the second straight week where pass protection has been somewhat below standards. Do you feel like the Panthers might have made a blueprint potentially? Did they pull any stunts that the Saints tried to pull?

"It's a copycat league and if something gives you a problem, it's probably going to get repeated. But, I would say no. Those are two incredibly different defenses. So, it wasn't really a schematic thing. We're always striving for great pass protection and I think our offensive line has done a very good job this year. The past couple weeks, the pass protection has been very good in general. There's a couple things we've got to clean up and get fixed and we will."

What have you seen out of WR Michael Crabtree out on the practice field?

"It's great to see Michael back out there again practicing. It's day-to-day with him, but it's great having Michael back out there, that's for sure. It's just day-to-day. We'll see how he does today. Had a nice day yesterday and we'll see where it goes from there."

Is he making cuts like he normally would or is it right now just still getting the legs back under him?

"He's practicing. I think that's in the eye of the beholder and can be interpreted or spun a lot of different ways. But he's out there practicing, trying to make progress and working day-to-day."

How does it change things for the line schematically with G Mike Iupati down?

"Pardon?"

How does it change things for the line schematically with Iupati down?

"Well, [G Adam] Snyder's jumping in at left guard. Adam's a guy that started for us two years ago and a guy we have complete and utter faith in. So, that's really about it. Plug him right in and go. Don't even blink. He's a very versatile guy. He can play center, guard, tackle. Seen him line up at tight end sometimes."

Is he your first guy off the bench regardless of position?

"That's something we talk about, but this week he will be."

Kaepernick's stats are down pretty much across the board from last season, as I'm sure you're aware, completion percentage, passer rating, touchdown percentage. Can you put your finger on why?

"I don't think, looking at the stats, we're not chasing stats. But in general it's never just one thing, good or bad. And Colin's doing a lot of really good things well. Those things aren't necessarily reflected in the stats, especially the past couple of weeks. But he's definitely a player that's ascending and we are very excited about to have as our quarterback."

Both Jim and Frank mentioned the last two opponents have put together nice defensive schemes, would you agree, in that they were very, kind of, very different defensive schemes? Obviously, what the opponent does has something to do with what happens on the field. Have they been unique in the way they attacked you the last two weeks?

"I would say last week, yeah, the week before, no. Yeah, last week, sprinkled throughout the game, they had some different stuff that they did, but it's something that we kind of thought they might do."

Carolina would be a little more?

"Carolina's a little bit more of a line up and play defense. A we do what we do kind of defense and that's pretty much what they did."

How specifically is Kaepernick ascending because it seems like he's in a slump?

"Really understanding the game, understanding of his job. Again, these things aren't reflected this week or certainly as we stand here right now this week. But as far as his development as a quarterback, this is incredibly valuable for him to go through these types of situations, battle his way out and learn from them because to play quarterback in this league it is a tall task. Over time there are so many different things you'll encounter, so many different players you'll play with, all those different things that contribute to your growth as a quarterback. Your recognition skills, understanding where the weaknesses in defenses are, how guys matchup, protection schemes, run schemes, all the different things on his plate and that's just part of a quarterback's development. So, this is a very opportunistic time for him to learn and get better from it."

You mentioned the term about Carolina, the line up and do what they do defense. From an offensive standpoint, how much of a line up and do what we do offense are you guys and how much do you tweak what you do based on the team you're facing or the case of Colin getting multiple plays in the huddle changing at the line of scrimmage. What do you strive for?

"We just strive for production and winning. And we'll do whatever we think's best, puts us in the best situation to win and sometimes it's line up and do what you do, sometimes it's up-tempo, sometimes it's we need to make sure that we've got this covered. You want to run the ball into a safety blitz, if there's a bad play we might need to get out of it, that type of thing. But all those things are different week-to-week and our guys do a great job of simulating them and understanding what we're trying to get done and working on them, working together and executing them."

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