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Niners Nation After Dark: A 49ers "Special" Teams Edition

NN After Dark 2
NN After Dark 2

Welcome back to Niners Nation After Dark, where the party doesn't stop until the 3am call to the Golden Nuggets. Tonight's edition of NN After Dark is a bit more newsy than previous versions. Earlier in the afternoon, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh made his offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators available to the media for some questions. We got a hold of the various transcripts and began posting them earlier in the afternoon. OC Greg Roman discussed his thoughts on QB Alex Smith and building an offense without having a quarterback in place. DC Vic Fangio discussed the differences between pro and college offenses and his thoughts on some of the 49ers talent already in place.

Special teams is often considered a bit more crazy given the big hits and big plays that can come via the return and coverage units. Special teams coaches are often a little bit nuttier than other coaches, which makes them intriguing personalities. Given the nature of NN After Dark, it seemed only fitting that we would save the transcript of special teams coordinator Brad Seely for the late night show.

Special teams had some ups and downs, but Andy Lee's punts and Ted Ginn Jr.'s punt returns were two of the more successful aspects of 2010. At the same time, Seely had a lot of success with the Cleveland Browns in 2010 as overall they were quite solid on special teams. It will be interesting to see what Seely can bring to the table as special teams coordinator. I mean can he improve the discipline and technique of his unit or will it really matter?

I'm also curious to see how a lockout affects special teams. I suppose it could affect both sides equally, but one has to wonder if we might see more big returns early in the season as teams shake off some rust. Just one more thing to keep an eye on if there is a lockout.

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Brad Seely
Press Conference - February 16, 2011
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

On what the first order of business has been:

"Probably just getting our offices organized. We're putting in a new video system, so we have a chance to hopefully improve the teaching aspect to the players and the film usage as we continue on when we get the players in here."

On what the new system is called:

"It's called XOS. It's a little more involved in the sense of what we can do with the video stuff. I really don't know it yet, we're just starting to put it to use now."

On his feeling about the talent on the roster:

"I think we're still in that evaluation process. I think there are a lot of good players on this team. That is one of the reasons I came here because I felt like they have a chance to make a jump in a hurry. That's what you're always looking for when you look at an NFL team. I'm excited to work with the guys we have and we'll just see how that goes."

On whether WR Ted Ginn will be a full time returner with the 49ers:

"I think he's a guy that we want to touch the football. So, if you get the chance to touch the football as a kick returner and punt returner, we want to give him those opportunities as well because he's a guy that can make big plays. Whether they come in the kicking game or they come on offense, it really doesn't matter to us. It's what's it going to do to help our football team win the game."

On how tough it is to work under the auspice there might not be a season this year:

"Well, that is difficult for everybody I think. Everybody is under the same rules. Whatever the rules are and whatever they turn out to be, everybody has to experience the same thing. When those rules are known to everybody, then we'll make our plans. Right now, all we're doing is trying to get our organizational stuff done so whenever the time comes that we can coach those guys and they are here, we can get started."

On his history with Jim Harbaugh:

"You know, I really don't have any. I met Jim really through his brother, [Ravens head coach] John, being a competitor against John over the years when he was a special teams coach in Philadelphia. So, I've got a lot of respect for John, his family and the coaching tree that he's come from. We really didn't have much history. I was fortunate enough that I got to meet him and we got along."

On whether it says something that the brother of a special teams coach went after you:

"Well, yes. Obviously, he thought it was important and obviously I think it's important. We're all happy that it's going to hopefully be a big factor in our success here."

On whether he's had a chance to speak with K Joe Nedney:

"Joe's been in the building, so I have seen him. His health is still one of those things that I don't know much about - you'll have to ask the trainer or ask coach Harbaugh what that injury situation is. I know he's rehabbing and trying to get back to playing status."

On his take on P Andy Lee:

"I've played against Andy and I think he's really good. I think he does a great job of kicking the ball. A lot of people don't realize that - you think when you punt in California, that it's a great weather situation. Well, that's not always true at Candlestick because that park has a lot of wind in it and it changes a lot. I think he's done an outstanding job here and I hope that continues."

On possibly having limited time to put together a team due to the labor situation:

"That will affect us and that will affect everybody. You're going to have make some decisions in a hurry, which unfortunately will hurt younger guys. Those younger guys, you won't get as much of an opportunity to watch them play if you don't have all the preseason games. Whatever the situation is, everyone is going to be in the same situation. But, the evaluation process will be shortened."

On specifically how that affects special teams:

"I think it will be the same with offense, defense and special teams. I think it will be the same for everybody because what you're trying to find out is what kind of football player you have, what kind of person he is every day, is he the same player, is he the same person every day - you're not going to have as many days."

On whether having an 18-game regular season and only two preseason games takes away from evaluating young players:

"I think it does because you don't get to see them in pads as much. I'm sure there will still be the OTA's, the non-contact camps we have where you get a chance to evaluate players, but to see them in pads is really, ‘Is this guy an NFL player or not an NFL player?'

On his thoughts on the NFL eliminating the three-man wedge in 2010:

"I think everyone adjusted obviously. I don't know this statistically, but as a coach watching the games, I didn't see quite as many guys having those horrific collisions that come with those three and four man wedges. So, I think it was probably a good thing for the safety of our players for that rule to change."

On whether he prefers there be fewer new rules with a potential shortened season:

"Well, there is some truth to that and players adjusting to whatever the new rules are. But again, whatever the rules are, everybody has to play under them. Whatever the length of time that we have to prepare for those new rules, will be the same. So, it's all the same. We may feel rushed or we may feel hurried, but that's just the way it is."

On his thoughts that Joe Nedney is the team's kicker moving forward:

"I think every football player that comes into a training camp has to prove something. I don't care who you are. Every year is a new year. Last year was last year, next year will be next year. But right now, all we can do is evaluate the players that are on our roster and see how they perform."

On whether he would consider having two kickers, with one being a kickoff specialist:

"I've never done that and have never been on a team that did that, but I'm not adverse to it if it makes our team better. To me, the whole idea is whatever we've got to do to make our football team the best we can make it, we'll do. If that's the case, we'll do it. If it isn't, we won't. You always have to weigh is it worth having another kicker or another special teams player at the game - what's the value to both of those players."

On whether there is an ideal number of core special teams players on the 53-man roster:

"That's a good question. I think there is always three or four guys on the backend of your roster that really their profession is to cover kicks and block for kicks. You like to have those guys be as high as quality as you can have. I've always been fortunate to have some of those guys on the backend of a roster because the kicking game is one-fifth of the football game. It's not really one-third, but one-fifth of the game and more yardage is involved there than in any other aspect. We want to have good football players in that regard too. So, some of those guys, that will be there main job."

On whether it would be helpful on special teams to have rosters expanded with a potential 18-game schedule:

"Well again, whatever the rules are, the rules are. If I have more players, the guys we're playing against will have more players. So, it'll still come down to the quality of those players."

On whether he'll have personnel power in picking his special teams players:

"No, I don't think that's what it comes down to. I really think at the end, we're going to do hopefully what's the best thing for the San Francisco 49ers to be competitive and win games. Now, if that's to have a better offensive player or a better defensive player, and that guy can help us win the game, then I'm all for it. But now, if it's between a guy that plays offense and defense and doesn't contribute in the kicking game versus one that does, then I'll jump on the table for that guy."

On whether there were any 49ers players that stood out on film from last year on special teams:

"Well, I'm still in that evaluation process. I'm watching film now again. This is probably my third or fourth time through. What I don't ever want to do is make snap any snap judgments - this guy is really good or this guy is really not very good - because there is a lot involved besides just watching the film. Is the guy a good player every day? Is he a good person every day? Does he come to work every day willing to work? Is he a guy that the other guys want to have on their team? So, there are a lot of factors besides running down there and tackling somebody on one play. We're still in that evaluation process and it will sort itself out. Hopefully, we don't have too long to evaluate and we actually get our hands on these guys."

On whether he sees competition between WR Kyle Williams and WR Ted Ginn at the kick returner position:

"That's a good question, too. My philosophy is we want to have competition at all spots. We want to have a good punt returner. We want to have a back up punt returner. We want to have guys who are competing and put the best player out there. I think it's a great situation for us because we got two guys who have really good qualities to be the punt returner."

On what additional duties he has as assistant head coach:

"That's another good question. I don't think that's all been decided yet. You probably will have to ask coach Harbaugh what he expects from me out of that title because it changes with every team I've been on. I've had that title before. A lot of times I think what I am is a liaison for the other coaches. We have 15 to 20 assistant coaches. Instead of everybody running in there to coach Harbaugh when they have a problem or concern, maybe they can come to me and I can express that to him. That's kind of what I see that job as."

On whether that was what he did with the Browns in that role:

"It was. I did that there in the sense that I was kind of a liaison for the other coaches. Maybe sometimes because I had been in the League for a long time, they might bounce a question off me about a practice or a practice schedule. Something like that."