The 49ers and Redskins released their injury reports today and there were no significant changes from yesterday. The big news remains that Ray McDonald is sidelined with a hamstring injury and is looking less and less likely to play this Sunday. Ricky Jean Francois would get the start if McDonald had to sit on Sunday. Demarcus Dobbs would become the primary backup defensive lineman and there is a decent chance Ian Williams would also be active.
Rather than focus on the same ol' injury information, I've posted Greg Roman's transcript from his normal Thursday press conference after the jump. Yesterday, Jim Harbaugh made it a point of emphasis to describe the offense as a Greg Roman offense. In reality, this is just a continuation of the mix of chefs from the Stanford offense.
While at Stanford, it was always hard to pin down who was responsible for what. Coach Harbaugh, Greg Roman and David Shaw basically intermingled in the offense. Shaw and Roman each had specific responsibilities, but it was a complete team effort in building that offense.
The same holds true in San Francisco. Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh seem like the primary people involved, but it goes beyond that. I don't know all the details, but all indications point to wide receiver coach John Morton as being involved in red zone play-calling. Following his touchdown grab in last week's game, Michael Crabtree gave some measure of credit to Morton for making the good play call.
The 49ers coaching staff has a great mix of college and NFL talent that has created a more friendly "Team of Rivals." You've got guys like Vic Fangio and Tom Rathman offering great NFL experience. Then you've got coaches like Jim Leavitt and Tim Drevno with more extensive college experience. It is a great mix that has helped breed success for the 49ers.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - November 3, 2011
San Francisco 49ers
"We've got a tough opponent on the road. Every game is tough, every opponent is tough. These guys are really well coached. Play a 3-4 scheme, very aggressive, very physical. They had Dallas down late, haven't won a game in a few weeks but they're a very good team. The team defense really starts in the 3-4 with the outside guys. They've got a great pass rusher to our left and they've got a very physical presence to our right. The inside three players are stout, two-gappers. The linebackers, [LB London] Fletcher has been playing forever at a high level, sideline to sideline, as is 52. Secondary is extremely active, you never know what you're going to get from them. Very multiple defense, but we're in the depths of preparation and I'll throw it out to you."
Given your college connection, do you have a relationship with London Fletcher?
"London? London was after my time, but I was well aware of him. He's a super guy. I was able to, on a bye week one year, when he was playing back in the mid-90s, I went back to one of their practices and I saw him running around and he's an amazing athlete. I think he's 5'9' or so and he's really had an incredible career."
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh called this a ‘Greg Roman Offense' like it was at Stanford. What are the hallmarks of a Greg Roman Offense?
"That's not true in the sense of it's our offense, it's a 49ers offense. Taking a coaching staff and working together with [Offensive Line Coach] Mike Solari, [Offensive Line Coach] Tim Drevno with the line, [Wide Receivers Coach] John Morton, [Quarterbacks Coach] Geep Chryst, [Running Backs Coach] Tom Rathman, [Tight Ends Coach] Reggie Davis. Our goal is to take all these guys who are great coaches and some of our parts just to add up to something the best we can possibly be. The hallmarks of our offense is teamwork. That's what it is, it's teamwork. It's taking all the different facets of what we have as a staff and the players and trying to create the greatest production. We, as a staff, try to set a great example with our teamwork. As far as our offense, we have a great staff. It all comes down to the players. We have players that want to win, that winning is the most important thing to them, and they're very talented and totally dialed in. So, not going to talk about scheme, we're not going to talk about any of that stuff but that's what we're about: teamwork. It's a player-coach teamwork, it's coaches, us working together to create the best offense we possibly can."
Have you, I know you don't want to make it about you, I understand, but have you had more influence as the years have gone by with Harbaugh within this or has it always basically about the same? Just with you and his ideas.
"It's been pretty similar from day one with Jim. Jim has a very vast experience of football. He's done it a lot of different ways. He played for Bo [Schembechler], he played for Mike Ditka, he played for Lindy Infante, he grew up with his father. He's been around, he's seen a lot. He was with the Raiders system. He understands that the prime directive is to be successful and that's what we're trying to do. We are constantly interacting. He's a great resource for me and the rest of the staff to bounce things off of. We just kind of shake things as they go. Very open, any idea could be developed, you know what I mean? It's always been that way."
It's similar, it's working similarly, to the way it was at Stanford?
"From day one, yeah, very similar."
You talk about it being teamwork, but were you flattered at all as the head coach said that?
"No. It's all about this game, it's all about us working together to come up with the best game plan for this game. Perception is not important to me. The reality of what goes on day to day is extremely important."
One of the things that Harbaugh credited you with was the throw to DT Isaac Sopoaga. Do you remember when you said to yourself ‘Huh, this guy can probably catch a pass if we threw it to him'; do you remember kind of watching practices and seeing his skills?
"Without question, you watch him throw the ball around in pregame. Credit on that play goes to the players and certainly not me. It's all about the players executing the scheme. Isaac's a phenomenal athlete. He made it look easy didn't he? [QB] Alex [Smith] did a great job putting the ball in the right spot and a successful play and that's what we're out for."
Seems like he could throw it 65 yards or so. Are there any plays where he throws a fullback option or anything like that?
"There might be."
What did you see in T Joe Staley to put his play in the script for the opening script?
"Every day, Joe,great athlete. Again, great job by the players on the field on Sunday. Every play, guys, you can see, you teach it and then you work through it. It's never perfect the first time but at some point it will be ready to go. It's something we work on and the players made it work."
How did you react when he got the first down, were you able to see it? Did you signal it?
"Absolutely not. I was already working on the next one."
Some teams wouldn't go into those kinds of plays. I don't want to downgrade the playbook. Cleveland at home, you had the lead both times, right? You don't want to do that, maybe you save it for a time you're on the road in a tough game, you save it for a playoff game. What's your view of trick plays like that? Do you want to get it on tape so other teams have to look at it to and be prepared for it? What's your general view of putting that kind of stuff out there?
"It's a never ending room of mirrors. If you put it out there, they know you might do it but then you might do something exactly opposite. Then, they have to decide ‘Are they going to do this or are they going to try to trick us the next time to make us think they're doing this. We know that you know that I know.' So, we're just moving on, trying to win the next game. I think you want to run successful plays and then you want to build off that. A lot of different people that are trying to defend stuff like that will interpret that differently."
Last week you talked about the evolution of the West Coast Offense and how Mike Holmgren factored into it. Does Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan also factor in to that evolution?
"Without question. He's had successful offenses everywhere he's been. He's always done a great job of utilizing the players on his roster that work into their strengths and I think he's a great play caller, as well."
Was there a main twist, you said that Holmgren went to the I-formation, was there a twist that Shanahan sort of created for the West Coast Offense?
"I think Shanahan, in Denver primarily, he and Alex Gibbs really changed and adapted their running game to the wide-zone running game that's very prevalent in this league right now. They're very heavily responsible for kind of shifting the NFL running game with their success with Terrell Davis and really any back that they put in there. Then, building their offense and their play action off that to compliment it. So, he has a very innovative history."
Do you run much zone blocking?
"We do some."
What's your, on the play clock, when you do have to have the play to Jim?
"It varies. You want to get it to him as quickly as possible."
You don't have a, you want to get it by the 30 second...
"No, quickly as possible."
Washington is the fifth straight opponent you've played where their pass defense is considerably better than their run defense. Is that something that kind of plays into your wheelhouse and consider it the strengths of your team?
"When you really look at them, their run defense is very strong at times. It all depends how they want to play the game. If they want to load the box, the run defense is pretty good. If they don't, it's not as good. It's just like most teams. It's a cat and mouse game there. I don't believe that you can look at it specifically in those terms."
From the time you first got your hands on T Anthony Davis in late July until now, what have you seen from him?
"Improvement. He's coming along nicely, really excited about his progress. That's our goal everyday to get better; really that's the ultimate goal. We've got [TE] Vernon Davis for example. There are times when three guys are covering him in Detroit. There's times on the touchdown play to [TE] Delanie [Walker] at the end, he's triple covered essentially. They're making smart decisions with the ball. Guys like Vernon Davis that are attracting so much attention opens things up for other guys. That's the kind of attitude that these players have brought to the table day-in and day-out, so it's a blast to work with. It really is."
Just one other, are any other guys on defense kind of getting friendly with you to try and hit you up for an audition?
"Very good question. Perhaps."
Just getting back to the Harbaugh saying it's a Greg Roman offense, he never said that at Stanford, he didn't say this earlier when you were introduced here. Is there something to this that he's recognizing and acknowledging what your impact is on this team?
"I don't know, but that stuff is so irrelevant to us on a day-to-day basis. Everybody used to say at Stanford ‘who's in charge' and we used to say ‘this is pretty good, they don't know where it's coming from so this even adds to it.' People not knowing how you think or where it's coming from doesn't hurt us."
He blew that, though.
"No, it truly is a team effort. We have a great offensive staff that we all lean heavily on each other. Between Mike Solari, Tim Drevno, John Morton, Geep Chryst, Tom Rathman, Reggie Davis, [Offensive Assistant] Bobby Engram. Our goal, it's exactly like the offense in the huddle, we have to perform at a high level together. We all have to know what the other guy is thinking and we all have to make it as great as we can. If you have that much talent on a staff, then it's fun because you can get some vibrant ideas and start developing different things and I think we're getting better as we go. We got a lot of improvement to make, though."
He wanted to put the offense on you after that reverse call and say it's your offense, it's your deal.
"It was a poor choice on my part and my credo is always this: if the play works it was a good call, if it doesn't it was a bad call. That was a bad one."
Has Jim Harbaugh vetoed a call of yours during a game this season ever?
"He certainly has."
Do you remember the last time?