49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman took some time today to chat with the media about Sunday's game with the Seahawks. We've got some ideas about what to expect from the 49ers offense, but with a truncated offseason there are still plenty of question marks as to what we'll see this Sunday and further into the season. As Coach Roman states after the jump, the offense will likely have less volume than we would have seen if there had been no lockout.
Now it will simply come down to the quality of the execution rather than the quantity of the plays. The team has a host of playmakers ready to make plays. The two biggest accepted question marks on this team are the offensive line and the quarterback. Whether you think the quarterback position is a question because of talent or because of the performance of the offensive line (or both), we'll start to get some concrete answers this Sunday.
Things have gotten heated in discussions about Alex Smith in part because of the lack of hard proof from the current offensive scheme and personnel. We know what players have done in the past, but starting this Sunday we can finally start to put to rest some of these debates. Some people will be proven wrong and some people will be proven right. It's as simple as that. Whether or not my personal beliefs of this team are proved or disproved, it will be nice to finally start to get some semblance of an answer on Sunday.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Press Conference - September 8, 2011
San Francisco 49ers
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How are you doing?
"I'm doing good. It's great to get into the game week. We are on to Seattle here, so we're starting to get into third down, some nickel stuff today. Yesterday was more base, and guys are working hard-working hard. Seattle is a really good team defense. Very well coached, good players. Just endless scheme. You can really chase your tail trying to figure them out and nail them down, so I think you've got to be careful there because they do a lot. It's amazing what they are able to get taught, and taught effectively. Really impressed with their players. They generate great pass rush with a four man rush, or through all of their various pressure schemes. They play man. They play zone. They blitz. They play coverage. They play every front known to man, so it's going to be quite a test for us this weekend. I'm looking forward to just getting back on the practice field today and continuing with our preparation."
Greg, nobody really knows what's going to be coming from this [49ers] offense, what do you think this offense is going to surprise people in the NFL?
"I don't think in the little bit over a month that we've been together that we've been able to get anything together-strap anything together that's really going to surprise anybody. We're just looking for execution, and the team that executes the best wins, so that's what we're aiming to do."
You guys have three wide receivers listed as starters, that doesn't even include [WR] Michael Crabtree, so how do you go about figuring out who gets the reps and what packages and everything to use these guys in?
"Well, I think it takes...because they are all practicing so well and dialed in, they all need to play because they are really good players and they deserve to play. So, it's just up to us throughout the week to kind of segment things for different guys, and make sure there are no tells there. But, they all have a very important role, really, as does anybody that dresses on game day."
Does that include Crabtree?
From what you saw from him yesterday, does he look like a guy who can help you on Sunday?
"That's the hope. That's the hope. He's a very gifted individual, so we hope he can be out there."
Was yesterday the first time you've really seen him on the practice field?
"Yes it is actually, it is. So I was anxious to see him out there, and it was great to see him out with his teammates practicing."
You've seen him on field obviously, what impression did you have when you first saw him yesterday running patterns and catching passes?
"I kind of went in with a clean slate. Obviously, you have background via the film, but impressions were very good. I don't think anybody can just walk in and be 100 percent, but he's done such a good job in meetings, and staying fully engaged in what we are doing that I thought he did a very nice job."
He does have a history of coming in cold and going 100 percent. Do you take that in account what happened in 2009, and what even happened last year?
"I really don't. The past is the past, and it's irrelevant. I worry about now, and really, the future."
Can you tell us a little bit about how you plan to use the running backs, how much is on [RB Frank] Gore, and how much, maybe, how you might use the other two guys?
"I think they will all play, but I can't be quite sure about that. Frank's obviously our captain, and I'm sure Frank will get a lot of reps out there, but we'll have to wait and see."
In terms of the carry over going from college to pros, rather than get into how much scheme you're adding, from the motivational standpoint, how much of the motivational work that you guys did in college can work here as well in the NFL?
"We really didn't do a whole lot of motivational work in college. We really didn't. It was just the natural byproduct of coaching. I really think it starts with [head coach] Jim [Harbaugh] and his endless passion of enthusiasm which has no bounds. It's just what we do. We're enthusiastic everyday, but there's no motivational tactics or tricks. It's just what we do and how we do it."
Can you explain how it will work on Sunday, as far as relaying the plays to QB Alex Smith?
"Last game Jim did, so we'll just have to wait and see what he decides on Sunday."
If it wouldn't be him (Jim Harbaugh), who would it be?
"On the sideline? Probably Geep Chryst, our quarterbacks coach. He's defiantly the most qualified if it wasn't Jim. He really does a great job of it. I think when you have a staff, you'd like to say that anybody on the staff could do any job. I really feel that way about our offensive staff. I think we've got guys with a lot of experience in a lot of different areas. We're all very fortunate that our staff is what it is. Really, anybody could do that job."
Can you clarify the status of WR Michael Crabtree? Are you planning this week to make it a game time decision or are you planning this week that you will be able to use him in some capacity?
"You know, we hope so. He's had one day of practice so we'll see. As the week goes on, just evaluate it every day. I don't think anybody is going to make a decision that needs to be made, before it needs to be made. We'll just evaluate it through the week and see where we are at and do what's best for the team as always."
Are you in the situation that WR Kyle Williams has to be up for the game just for insurance in case Crabtree has a sudden injury?
"That's a possibility. That could happen, yes. It's very possible."
Statistics indicate that QB Alex Smith was a pretty good quarterback in the last five or six games of last year. I assume you've seen film on him from last year? How did you make your evaluation him?
"I've actually seen really just about every snap of film on him that he's played in the NFL. I think he's done a lot of really good things. I'd say towards the end of the year, everyone around him was doing their job better and therefore he was able to perform at a higher level relative to earlier in the year. I think there's...you know in a football play it takes 11 guys to make it work. And if one guy's not doing his job, the play breaks down. The quarterback is a very important cog. He's the lighting rod. But, everything else around him has to function. That's what we're striving for, trying to get that cohesion on offense and execution, consistent execution at every position and the guys are really doing a good job of working at it."
When did you start really start looking at Seattle? With the lockout you guys had a lot of opportunity to start going over opponents a lot earlier than you normally might have.
"I think the first thing we had to do was really take a hard look at ourselves once we got here. Later in the spring we were able to look at our division opponents and once the schedule came out, the rest of the schedule. The first order of business was definitely seeing what our roster entailed. I think every team in the league probably really studied their division opponents."
Does that give you guys a bit of an advantage because there's more to study and carry over from Seattle last year than maybe you guys who are a new staff?
"It's not what we know as coaches, it's what the players know and execute. Within the timeframe we've been together, it's more about execution and what the players can do and what they can execute. It's really not so much scheme, as it is just guys being dialed in, and having enough reps on certain things to feel good about taking it out and letting it roll on Sunday. The scheme is probably overrated."
Are there any particular players on Seattle's defense that stood out to you when you looked at film?
"No question. I think their safeties are very active, fast players. They have big corners. Defensive pass rushers [DE Chris] Clemons, [DE Raheem] Brock. They've got a mountain of a man, [DE] Red Bryant, plays defensive end. They've moved him around some. He'll play over the tight end sometimes. He weighs around 330 and looks every bit of it. A big strong guy. The inside guys are extremely well-coached, [DT Brandon] Mebane. Those guys are really well coached. The linebackers are extremely active and disciplined. They run really well, always rally to the ball. We better be on it because they're going to rally to the ball and get hats to the ball. They're a fast defense with some unique size outside with their new corner and [CB Marcus] Trufant's a very good player. They're good and well-coached, too. Fundamentally, very well coached."
You indicated that there aren't going to be too many bells and whistles on offense. Do you still feel like you're limited to what you can do offensively?
"You are what you are. We're going to do everything we can to win the game. As it related to the time frame we've had to work, it's just different. It's shorter and therefore probably not going to have the volume that we would normally have with a new group. I met most of these guys a month ago, so it's a little different time frame."
Do you have a script going into each game?
"Yeah, we have a script but it's a nice framework to work from. I wouldn't say that we adhere to it all the time. There's times when we mix up that script, there are times that we get off the script and there are times that we stay on the script. There is a script but every game is different. We have to be able to adjust and adapt a little bit."
For a guy like [QB Colin] Kaepernick, who's your backup, does he submit a list to you as far as plays out of the game plan that he's particularly familiar with or comfortable with?
"Yes, I would say each guy has different skill sets. You try to measure that against what the defense is doing and decide what's best. It's probably a little bit different flavor there than what you would do."
Are they going to have the wristbands throughout the season?
"I think so. It helps with the time factor."