Greg Roman met with the media and we got a few interesting comments from the 49ers offensive coordinator. His most interesting might have been in discussing the Seahawks use of man and zone coverage. He mentioned if a team plays a mix of man and zone, receivers have to go into the game assuming man coverage all the time, and then react to any zone coverage once they see it. As Roman put it, if you think zone and have to react to man, you're already behind the curve.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - September 12, 2013
San Francisco 49ers
"Good afternoon. I hope everybody's doing well. Had a good practice yesterday, looking forward to another great one today. We had some great meetings this morning and we got a big game, division opponent, a team we've played four times. So, we know a little bit about them, they know a little bit about us. They're a very good team. Their defense is statistically, the past two years, has been as good as any. Pretty much the personnel; front end, middle and back end are among the best in the league. I really feel like their secondary, a unique secondary as far as their size and range. So, they're a good team, a good team. Knee deep into preparations. Any questions?"
When you've got a secondary that is that size, is it good to have a physical receiver like WR Anquan Boldin matched up against them? What's the best way to attack size from an offensive standpoint?
"There's a couple different ways to do it really. You can attack size with size and say our size is better than your size, and that's one way to do it. You can attack it with quickness and say you can't catch me mentality. You can attack it with misdirection, that type of thing to try to create a pause in their getup. But, they're very good players and the reality is however we attack it we just got to execute."
Would you expect to see a lot more man than you saw last week?
"They'll play man, they'll play zone. They're going to do what they do and they'll definitely play some man and you always have to expect man really. If a team plays man you got to go into the game expecting man all the time."
Why is it an easier adjustment going from thinking man and then going to zone from an offensive standpoint?
"That sounds pretty familiar, you think man, react to zone [CSN Bay Area reporter] Matt [Maiocco]. Very good, very good. Yeah, you always want to run a route thinking man because it's going to be physical. You're going to have to be physical in your route and you can't just run the lines on the paper versus man, you got to get open. If it's a zone now I react to zone, but if you're thinking it's zone and then bam it's man, then it's too late, so yeah."
Boldin and QB Colin Kaepernick said they've been on a nice rhythm, were you surprised at how well that went in Week 1? Maybe not surprised, but how efficient has that passing game been for you guys and also with TE Vernon Davis in the mix?
"I'm not surprised at all, but the thing that just jumps out at you is he made every play, he made every play. I think that's something that Anquan's really been doing his whole career. I don't know that we could sit here and say that we created that phenomenon. But, the reality is it takes more than one guy to have a successful play, so the pass protection was outstanding and the throws were outstanding. So, that's a credit to everybody. Those days, every week's not like that, but that was just one of those special days where his number kept getting called and he kept answering the bell, and just a great job by those two guys and the pass protection."
How about the blocking, you know RB Frank Gore and FB Bruce Miller had some good blocks. How would you evaluate the blocking that you got?
"In pass protection?"
I was just thinking in general.
"Yeah there was a lot of really good blocking. That was a tough team we played and they won a couple of them, but I thought Frank had an incredible day blocking. Bruce had some great blocks in pass protection and in the run game. It was a really physical game played by two very good teams. But, no it was good. And we saw opportunities where we can improve in a lot of little different ways. So, it serves us well from that angle as well."
With so much of the focus on read option leading up to Week 1, did you know kind of early on that you would not have a huge package of read option plays in the season opener?
"You know, the first game's always kind of wait and see and you try to prepare for everything, have contingencies available and that was definitely one of the themes going into the week was if they try to take away this we're going to do that. And that's how it unfolded. If something different happened then we would have done something different. It's just, every week's different, every game's different. Bottom line is you try to win the game, do whatever you can."
I understand you script the first few series, after those first few series how do you choose which play to call? Is it by feel or do you rescript between series?
"It's a little bit of both. We're having constant conversations, and I'll say, ‘Hey what do you think of this, do you guys like it, or no because of this and yes because of that.' So, our staff, I think we have a good communication flow and at times, man, it's easy, anybody can do it. You know what I am saying, it's pretty easy? And then there's times when you got to get a little creative with it. But it's a little bit of both, really. Every game's a little bit different in that regard too, on how it unfolds. ‘Hey they're playing what they played or they've done something completely different.' Therefore we'll probably do something different. But we have really good communication flow as a staff and we'll continue to get better."
That communication, is that mostly between series or could it be --?
"It's at all times, really. Yeah, it's at all times. Now, it's not a board meeting, but I think we're getting to the point now where we can kind of communicate a lot more efficiently than we did once we started."
And how has senior offensive consultant Eric Mangini been involved in that process in the days leading up to a game and then even during the game?
"He's been great. Very, very thorough work put in, really on us and the opponent. And he contributed to the game plan last week, as he will every week. And during the game, he's in the booth with us, helping us upstairs, helping communicate what's going on and what just happened or what not between series. So, he's doing a great job."
Is he another set of eyes for you to really diagnose exactly what the defense is doing?
"Oh yeah, he's part of our staff. And he's up there, eyes on the defense, and between series we'll get together and talk."
How will you adjust to how loud the stadium is? Will you be using more hand signals?
"That stadium, it's a loud stadium and we just got to be very efficient with our communication. It's just something that we need to practice, which we have been, and continue to improve that. Because when it's loud, obviously verbal communication really becomes strained. You can't let that strain of verbal communication affect your mental or physical play. So, it's just something that we've got to continue to work at."
There's been a lot of talk about timeouts and using them at different times. Do you think that among football observers that's a little bit overblown, the idea that you really want to save all of your timeouts until the very end of the game?
"Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Certainly you'd love to have all your timeouts and never have to use one of them. It's something that you can always look back on after the fact and say, ‘Gosh, I wish we would have had a timeout here or there.' You're always trying to save your timeouts, but the bottom line is there's time when you need to use them to perpetuate a drive in the fashion that you wish. But needless wasting of timeouts is inefficient and it's not something we want to do. Now, is it overblown? I'm sure it is."
Earlier you talked about the secondary of the Seahawks, what have you seen from a more up-and-coming player, LB Bobby Wagner?
"Very impressive player. Started as a rookie last year. Made some really, really eye-catching plays last year. I think two just popped into my head right now where you say, ‘Wow, that guy's a rookie.' Good player, really stepped in there as a rookie and played at a high level and just looks like he's continuing that trend."
Them having some question marks injury wise defensively, how much does that complicate your week of preparation as far as not necessarily knowing who's going to play?
"There's some what if's and that's just part of the game. And that's the way that it goes and you do with it and you adjust accordingly. They've got some guys that they're trying to get back and if they get back, they get back and if they don't, they don't. The game shall go on. I think you want to study those guys. We've got some past history with two in particular, three in particular. But it's really about us."
Was there one play that Kaepernick did on Sunday that really stood out to you how well he executed it? Whether it was a run on a play or an improvise?
"A couple of them jumped into my head, but a lot of them really. He's really coming into his own as a leader, a quarterback and a player. We weren't operating on all cylinders, as an offense last week, but to be able to have the kind of day he had, to lead us to a victory at the end speaks volumes, 400-plus yards passing, no picks, three touchdowns, pretty good start for the season. And it's just something that we got to continue to improve on and he's the kind of guy that's going to do that every day."
What were you thinking when you saw Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews tackle him out of bounds?
"I said, ‘That's 15 for us. Let's go, first down 49ers.'"
You weren't worried about whether he got hurt or anything out of bounds?
"He's a big, strong, strapping, young man."