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49ers vs. Bengals: Are Vernon Davis & Delanie Walker Ready To Tag-Team The Bengals Defense?

Tre's Note: When I saw the words "Tag-Team" I just HAD to post the video at the bottom of the post.

The 49ers announced their latest injury report and nothing changed from yesterday. Alex Smith got through another practice as a full participant, Michael Crabtree was a limited participant in practice and Braylon Edwards and Moran Norris remain out for the game.

49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman spoke earlier today and addressed the question of Braylon Edwards being absent and what that could mean for the rest of the receivers and tight ends. Michael Crabtree has been limited in practice this week, but it sounds like he'll more than likely be active for Sunday.

Even if Crabtree is active, it remains to be seen how much the team will involve him versus the rest of the receiving corps. More importantly, the 49ers have their athletic tight ends available for use against a Bengals defense that could counter them with the likes of former 49ers OLB Manny Lawson. Although Lawson may not have developed into the pass rusher some hoped for, he showed great some impressive skills in covering tight ends. I'd prefer the 49ers tight ends blow him out of the water, I am still looking forward to the matchup given some of Lawson's success in the past.

While Lawson is likely to draw Vernon Davis or Delanie Walker on a given play, I'm curious to see how the Bengals cover the tight ends when they're split out wide. The 49ers will likely have their normal compliment of four active wide receivers, but they still have the opportunity to mix it up with their tight ends. Both have been fairly quiet this season, so maybe it's time for either or both to break out on Sunday. I think that's a reasonable request.

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - September 22, 2011
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

[Opening Statement]

"We're getting ready to play a Bengal team that had a very similar situation to us: had a big division win to start the season and lost in a dog fight last week, came up a little short. Really well-coached defense, [Bengals Defensive Coordinator] Mike Zimmer has been doing this for awhile and they're not afraid to pull the trigger on blitzes. We're excited about getting on the road here, come tomorrow. Got a big practice today, emphasizing more third downs and situational stuff. Questions?"

Can I ask you about a particular play? The first play of the second quarter, QB Alex Smith gets sacked. It seems like you guys are wanting to run a screen on that play and TE Vernon Davis is blocking LB Anthony Spencer and he releases him and Spencer gets the sack. What went wrong on that play?

"Well, the play you're asking about that's about the worst thing that could possibly happen on that play. There's an answer for it, there's a solution for it but obviously we didn't get that executed. Kind of a timing thing, really." 

Is that indicative of what you've gone through this offseason with not having a lot of time to practice, plays that require a lot of timing and precision like that?

"The more work you get on something, the better you're going to be. There's no excuse to not execute so we're not going to use that as an excuse." 

Should he have held that block longer than he had?


That wasn't his fault?

"It was just the overall execution of the play, but no." 

That play seemed to be the one that shook up Alex. Were you aware at the time that Alex had suffered a concussion?

"I don't know if that specifically was the play where he was concussed, but I was amazed that he held onto the football. I thought he did a great job under duress last week of securing the football. A few times from my vantage point during the game I thought the ball was out, but he somehow pulled a Houdini act and kept it. He did a phenomenal job of securing the ball under duress last week. Made some big plays, big throws throwing right into the teeth of pressure." 

You obviously didn't notice any signs during the game that he may have had a concussion?

"No, none. Not until the next morning and I said ‘somebody told me that you had a concussion' and he says ‘yeah, but no big deal, I'm fine'. Tough guy, tough guy." 

Just the number of hits that he took, did that change the way you called the game in the second half?

"I think any time something like that happens it gets factored in. Protection is an issue; you've obviously got to take measures into account for it. The way that game went, I'm sure it did." 

How much is it a factor when you're going up against guys like Cincinnati LB Manny Lawson and Cincinnati CB Nate Clements that are really familiar with the personnel... just to take into account in the game plan and being aware of what they're doing and what they might know about what you're going to do with certain players?

"I think in the corners case, probably has some relevance because he's covered the receivers, he knows their tendencies, etcetera. The specific tendencies are out the window based on our system relative to what they've done in the past. I think they've got good insight on our personnel, there's no question. We've got a few insights on theirs so it kind of works both ways." 

Is there an advantage one way or the other when you know the defensive players in a new system as opposed to the defensive players knowing the offensive players in a new system?

"I don't know, I don't know that answer. We'll see on Sunday." 

Is it too early to tell how good a Manny Lawson is as a coverage linebacker? Have you seen any indications?

"He's doing a really good job for them. They play him on the line, they play him off the line. Here he was primarily and on-the-line scrimmage player but he's doing a really good job." 

Could you talk about the wide receiver core, how you're going to go about without WR Braylon Edwards this week and what you're expecting out of WR Michael Crabtree?

"Hopefully Michael is ready to go. He's getting better and better. Losing Braylon was obviously a big hit early in the game last week, but the other guys did a great job of stepping up. Obviously the big touchdown catch [WR Kyle] Williams had was a great representation of the next man up. Somebody goes down, the next guy comes in and he has to be ready. And he was ready. Did a great job for us. I think you look at our guys and I think they'll all have a role on Sunday, all those guys will. Hopefully Michael is a big part of that." 

If Michael doesn't go and your flexibility with your tight ends, can they play more in the slot, can they do more receiver type of stuff?

"Yeah, sure. They can definitely split out and we do that already so that's nothing new. We've got two very good weapons in Vernon Davis and [TE] Delanie Walker and we just signed [TE] Justin Peelle, so those guys offer us a matchup advantage at time in the passing game." 

With FB Moran Norris being out, might FB Bruce Miller get a little bit of action?

"I think Bruce is going to see some action this week. We're excited to see, he's having a great week of practice. He's getting better all the time, Bruce. He's one of those guys, he doesn't make the same mistake twice and he's on top of the details of things. Really excited to get Bruce out there. Moran is what we call a ‘war daddy'. He was out there playing injured, finished the game and we're going to miss Moran for sure but Bruce has got to step up now." 

He only played four snaps in the second half, is that something that happened in the first half with him?

"Yeah, it happened early in the game." 

Vernon Davis was saying to us that he had a conversation with Jim Harbaugh and that Harbaugh said ‘he said when we get double teamed, what should we do?' and Harbaugh said ‘well, we'll get back to you on that'. Shouldn't he already know that, at least conceptually? When he's double teamed, what he should do?

"Who should do?" 


"Vernon should know what he's doing when he's double teamed? Is that what you're saying?" 

Yeah, or the offense should be able to adjust when he's getting double teamed.

"I wasn't there for that conversation so the he said, she said this and that. When a team doubles a certain player, the person that's in single coverage needs to win. There are definitely methods to free people up from double coverage. I'm not going to get into an X's and O's diatribe here but I think everybody involved is pretty on top of how to do that. In case there was a misunderstanding there, I think everybody involved is well aware that if two guys are covering one, the guy that's got one guy to cover comes to the receiver that should get the ball. [inaudible] Two guys are covering him, take that matchup. That's why everybody's got to be on point and everybody's involved in this passing system. That's really one of the things Bill Walsh brought into this league was distribution of the football relative to how the defense distributes it and I think it's one of the tenants of this pass offense, which we will continue to develop over time." 

How ready is QB Colin Kaepernick if called upon?

"I think Colin is ready to go. He is on top of his assignments and just like any rookie quarterback, there's going to be a curve there. It's just a fact. He's getting tons of work in practice and really improving all the time. Very much on top of the game plan." 

When you say getting tons of work in practice, isn't he getting most of the work doing the other teams plays?

"He's doing both, yes." 

What about QB Scott Tolzien? Has he done anything as far as the 49ers offense goes?

"Not really to this point. In individual drills and group drills, yes, plenty. But in team drills, not so much." 

You have a history with the Bengals, going back a ways with your family. Just touch on Paul Brown. He's a very big influence to a lot of guys but what was his influence on you?

"Well, we're going to play in Paul Brown Stadium. Paul Brown is one of the icons of the NFL. He really brought football into the modern era. I could go into a long diatribe as well about that, about the facemasks, the playbooks, meetings, west coast offense. Bill Walsh was his Offensive Coordinator for, I believe, seven years. He had a profound influence on me as a young person. Very fortunate to be have been able to be around him. I've got a lot of respect for him, his family, and his legacy."

[inaudible] What were your emotions then?

"I was actually helping the Bengals at that point in time, what was it 1989, January of? I was most upset, as you can imagine, because I was on their side for Mr. Brown because I really in many ways thought that would be his last chance at another championship so that was a tough one." 

The decision he made to not hire Bill Walsh as a coach, did you know Bill back in those days?

"I did not personally, no, but I heard many explanations, and etcetera. Fate has its way of working itself out and things worked out for both." 

When you were with Carolina, did you watch some of the Bill Walsh tapes?

"Oh yeah, I sure did. I watched them all this summer, every one of them this summer, over June and July. The guy was a brilliant guy. He was great at getting his point across. Those were a true pleasure to watch, even though I think it annoyed my wife a little bit." 

Homework for you?

"Yes, I watched them at home." 

Do those stand the test of time?

"There's no question. I think his ability to teach and get points across, stands the test of time. Really, the plays and all of that doesn't matter, they don't matter. Plays are plays; everybody runs plays, but his ability to formulate a plan and to get that plan across over the course of time to people was something special. When I watched him in 1984, getting ready to play the Bears, then they played the Giants in 80...88, you can see the evolution and take it all the way through and you can just see how he kind of evolved as well with his communication style. It was very different than it was earlier in the 80's. We watched it all the way through and it was very interesting, very interesting." 

What would be your guesstimate as far as how many hours of tapes you watched of that Bill Walsh?

"About 60 DVDs." 

How Many?



"Yes, six-zero." 

How many hours?

"A lot of late nights. I would get to bed at 3:00 in the morning quite a bit. I would watch from my room. Everybody went to bet. Until like 3:00 in the morning. A little popcorn, it was good, great stuff." 

Have you called offensive plays the first two games?

"I do that and I think the way we work together is, I'll definitely ask for opinions on plays at times."