Vic Fangio talks secondary, playing time and linebackers

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio met with the media on Tuesday, and had a chance to discuss a variety of topics as the team gets ready for their preseason opener against the Denver Broncos. Here is his transcript.

49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio met with the media on Tuesday, and discussed many of the young players we'll see a lot of in Thursday's preseason opener. You can check out the transcript below for the full details.

The 49ers practice did not start until 5:00 p.m. PT. Given that I am now in Washington, DC, that means a late finish for practices like this. I can't tell you how excited I am for the preseason Week 4 10:00 p.m. ET start of 49ers-Chargers!

I'll try and get a practice report up tonight, but if not, I've embedded the 49ers media Twitter list. The beat writers will be tweeting their observations, and later they will tweet out links to their practice reports. Enjoy!


What have you seen from CB Tramaine Brock here since he's taken over that number thee job?

"He's been doing OK. He's had some plays that he's missed on his assignments and exact pickups, but, he's been improving on that as we go through this whole entire week. Obviously, he'll get a lot of play on Thursday night and he'll get his test in. We like to tell the players, we compare them in meetings. We compare them in walk-thrus. We compare them in individual drills. When they're out there on the field in practice, that's their quiz, if you relate it to taking a course in school. Game day is their test. So, he's been doing OK in the quizzes. We're going to see how he does on his test."

You've got three young cornerbacks, a seventh rounder and two undrafted guys. Which of those guys, if anyone, has caught your eyes so far?

"[CB Marcus Cooper] Coop, the seventh round pick, he's been doing fine, and lately here, he's been picking it up and you can tell that he feels a little more comfortable in his assignments and his techniques. We'll look to, hopefully, see how he does Thursday night. He'll get enough snaps on Thursday so we can exactly see where he's at. The other two guys are fighting through. Their learning as undrafted rookies. They'll get their shot on Thursday night, hopefully, too. It won't be as many snaps as Coop's is. They're still a work in progress.

You said Cooper is a big guy. Does he play like a big player?

"He wasn't in the beginning. He has been a little bit more lately. Again, with these guys, you see a little bit more and more of their abilities as they become more and more comfortable."

One of the topics this camp has been the inside linebackers and the depth there. I know that you don't want to get anyone hurt but with LB Patrick Willis being down, does that enable you to see some guys that you might not see as much of in camp and see who stacks up there inside?

"Absolutely, anytime somebody goes down that gets a good deal of work, that gives other people more work. [LB Nick] Moody and [LB Michael] Wilhoite and [LB Nate] Stupar and [LB Travis] Johnson that's come in, they're getting a lot more reps. They're splitting Patrick's reps. That's to the benefit of them and, maybe in the long-run provided that Patrick's injury doesn't have any lingering effects, will help us better, too, and help us make better decisions as to who to keep."

Has anybody distinguished themselves yet that you want to point out at this point?

"No, I think it's still pretty open right there right now."

Could you possibly move LB Dan Skuta back inside?

"Not yet."

He's started there.

"The possibility is there. But, we want to give him all of this offseason and these first few weeks at outside backer and let him play out there, let him really know the position, then make the decision maybe for game two or game three maybe slide him in there. But, I think the worst thing you can do is have a guy going back and forth back and forth and then they won't master anything. That's what we've decided to do with him."

Are you comfortable putting DL Lawrence Okoye in a game? It would be the first time he's ever played in a game. Can he function out there right now?

"I don't know. We'll see. You make a great point. The guy has never played football in his life. And he has been making strides out there. He's gotten better from day one to whatever day this is 10 or 11. He's gotten better, but, it's all relative. We're going to try to get him in the gamethis Thursday. How much? I don't know yet. The one thing you're at the mercy of in these preseason games, like last year it happened, I can remember one of them we only had 52 plays on defense. You can end up with 80 plays on defense and that effects how much everybody plays."

Obviously a guy, if he showed up after four years of college like he is right now, would you have a completely different opinion of him?

"Yes."

So do you give him more, do you cut him more slack because you see the physical tools?

"Yes."

Will DT Demarcus Dobbs start for DT Justin Smith?

"Probably, yes. That's what we're planning on right now."

Who will start at safety with S Donte Whitner?

"We'll have a rotation there. We'll go back to the way we started camp. Basically, I think we've had 11 or 12 practices and it's been split kind of equal between four guys. [S Craig] Dahl had the first few days. He'll still get the first few plays in the game on Thursday."

Back to Okoye, with him being so raw, is it just a matter techniques or do you have to go over schemes and that kind of stuff and everything?

"All of the above."

Is one harder than the other for him?

"I think actually they interplay with each other. The more he's thinking effects his technique and how intense he can play, how confident he is. And, things can change. Sometimes motion changes his responsibility, sometimes it doesn't. His process isn't as fast as somebody else that's got experience."

I thought I saw Okoye doing some standup rushing yesterday?

"That was for the service team. He was running cards for our offense."

The last time you talked, you seemed a little lukewarm on CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Has anything changed in the last few days?

"I've never been lukewarm on him. He's done fine. I just said from day one, from the day we signed him until now, that he's got to earn his right to make the team."

How's he looked the last few days?

"He's looked good."

Do you have a preferred side that you want to work Nnamdi on?

"Right now, I think he's played most of his career on the right side. That's where we've focused him. As we get down the road and we see the way the secondary is filtering out, he may have to go play some on the left."

Are you comfortable with him on the left?

"I'm comfortable. It's whether a question if he is. We might have to get him some practices over on the left and see how it works out for him."

Is that a requirement of all non-starting corners that they have to have that flexibility?

"I won't say an etched in stone requirement, but it's good. Some guys play better on one side versus the other. Some guys play either side equally. It's better if they can play either side equally. Some guys can't. I know [CB] Carlos [Rogers], if needed be, can play either side equally. I think [CB] Tarell Brown could. He's been groomed pretty hard for two years now on the right side. Hadn't played left since, so I don't know if that still holds true, but I think if we gave him enough work he would. [CB] Chris Culliver really liked the left side when he was playing. He was uncomfortable on the right side. Everybody's a little different and sometimes, if you don't have the choice, you just got to go and do it and you got to work your way through it."

Who do you have working behind Carlos as the nickel back?

"We got [CB] Perrish Cox and [S] Michael Thomas right now. Probably starting next week, we'll get Tarell Brown in there also and start working that position."

Why do you want to do that?

"Well you never know how, we'll keep nine or 10 DBs and you never know who those guys are. And if Perrish or Michael don't make the team, then we got to have a backup nickel from somebody and that would be Tarell Brown. Tarell Brown would have been an emergency backup nickel last year."

How has LB Parys Haralson's camp been going with everything he went through last year to get healthy?

"He's doing fine. He's, to me, right back to where he was before he injured his arm. And I see no lingering effects to his injury and he's back to where he was last year at this time."

What does that mean? I know that guys like his commitment and his energy. What does that mean to have him back?

"I think it's good. He's a great teammate, as we all know. Coaches like him. There isn't anybody in the building that doesn't like him because that's just who he is as a person. And, it's good to have a guy like that back."

Have you considered playing him base-snaps like you did in 2011 to keep LB Aldon Smith fresh for pass-rushing situations?

"We haven't gotten to that point yet. You play your good players as much as you can."

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