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Vic Fangio press conference: DC discusses Bears, slot receivers, 49ers run defense

Vic Fangio press conference transcript for lead-up to Week 11 49ers vs. Bears.

David Banks

Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio
Press Conference - November 17, 2012
San Francisco 49ers
Listen to Audio I Media Center

Do they change much with QB Jason Campbell in instead of QB Jay Cutler?

"I don't think so. They're kind of similar quarterbacks, strong armed guys, athletic. He's been experienced. He's played in the league a long time as a starter, both in Washington and Oakland. So, I really don't think their offense will change that much."

Cutler obviously has the rapport with WR Brandon Marshall. Do you think that rapport will be there with a new quarterback in there?

"I do. He's their best receiver by far. He's caught 67 balls. And I'm sure he'll be looking for him."

Do they move him all over the field?

"They move around some, yes."

Including the slot?

"Occasionally, yes."

Your defense has struggled to cover quick, inside receivers. What do you attribute that to and has that had an effect on the overall performance?

"The guys you're alluding to, everybody has a little bit of a hard time of covering some of those guys. It's just a tough position, at times, for the nickel to cover or a corner if he's inside their on base. And you've got to get some good slot receivers and they've caught some balls on us. But, I don't see it as an epidemic by any means."

DT Justin Smith, I don't think he has a sack this year and he's going up against an old pal, G Chilo Rachal, this week. What have you seen on film with Chilo? And what kind of battle do you anticipate between the two of them?

"I'm sure it'll be a good battle. Chilo obviously knows Justin from practicing against him here for the few years that he was here. And I think the lack of sack totals really doesn't have the meaning that it may look like it has on the surface. He's been playing very well, giving us good pass rush. The sacks just haven't been coming. There's years when inside pass rushers just don't get a lot of sacks."

How much of, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride kind of alluded to this several weeks ago, but there was a play in the game, this last game, where Justin kind of hooked that guard and shoved him into the tackle and LB Aldon Smith came around and got the sack. How much of that is them working together on the fly? And how much of it is a plan that is put out on the practice field?

"I think it's something that just happens on occasion out there. There's a lot of hand fighting and guys get grabbed both ways. And there's nothing illegal about it or anything. It's just normal hand play."

You've been in the game for a long time. Obviously the Bears defense back in the Super Bowl era, the 46 was supposed to be this defense to end all defenses. How close to that level is this defense playing because these guys are playing pretty good as far as I could tell?

"Chicago's defense?"


"Well, they're playing extremely well. I haven't seen them play a lot this year on film. But, they obviously are playing extremely well. And the thing that jumps out at you is their takeaways. They're getting a large amount of takeaways and it's helping them win their games. And we've got to be able to try and match them in this game. But, hopefully our offense will do a good job protecting the ball because right now they're the best in the league at taking it away."

And last year was sort of, you guys were doing all the takeaways. How much is it a skill? How much is it just a set of circumstances that come together?

"Well, there's definitely a skill to it. You immediately think of their corner CB Charles Tillman who's probably the best at it and has been for the last few years. And there's definitely a skill involved in it. And there are circumstances involved in it, too. There's no denying that."

Maybe there was nowhere to go but down after last year. But, your run defense, while still good, hasn't been as the brick wall it was last year. What do you attribute that to? And is it a concern?

"Well, obviously it's always a concern if you're not playing something as well as you think you should. And obviously last week in the first two series we didn't do that at all. Give the Rams credit, they came out and blocked us and we didn't play to the level of intensity that was needed to be played in that game with the blocking they were giving us and the great running that the running back was doing."

Did you notice that level of intensity go up as the game went on?

"Yeah, we played much better against the run as the game went on."

How do you account for that? Sometimes the intensity hasn't been there at the beginning of games. Is there a way to push a button and get that going earlier?

"Well, I don't know that it was totally an egregious lack of intensity on our part as much as it was that they were much more ready than we were. And we just didn't play with the edge that you needed to play with to stop a good running game, which St. Louis has."

Getting back to the quick slot receivers, would you consider putting CB Perrish Cox in that roll to see how he can do?

"Well, he's the guy that plays behind [CB] Carlos Rogers for that role. And if something ever happened there, he would be the guy to go in. But, we haven't considered that, if you're alluding to replacing Carlos with him, no."

I often wonder over a season, when you see a team playing as well as the Bears defense is, how much do you say, I hate the word copycat but I can't think of a better one right now. How much do you see like some teams do something great week one through four and say you know what, let's go and incorporate a little more of that into what we are doing. Does that happen at all?

"Not to the degree I think you're alluding to. It's hard to change drastically what you do schematically mid-way through a season. They have a system there that they have in place. I think the lesson there to be learned for everybody is they've had that system in place since [Bears head coach] Lovie Smith's been there. I guess he's been there six or seven years now. So, if you have a consistent system in place, you consistently get the players that fit your system. And if you make a mistake or two in your player acquisitions, it doesn't hurt you quite as much because you've been drafting those kind of players and acquiring them over the years. A lot like the Pittsburgh Steelers. They'd been playing the same defense since [former Steelers head coach] Bill Cowher got there in 1992, I believe it was. And they're playing the same defense. And hopefully that's something that we'll get to here with the stability. And you're always looking for the same kind of guys."

Aside from the takeaways, what are some of the trademarks of Lovie Smith and Bears assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's defense?

"Well, they go all the way back to there on the staff of Tampa. And they played the Tampa two and the one-gap defense. And they play a lot of cover one, cover three also. And they try and keep it simple and get the good players that they get, that they have, playing fast."

Just with defending Jason Campbell, they do seem in a lot of ways to have similar skillsets. Obviously, Cutler's the starter so his skillset must be a little bit better. But, they do seem to do similar things. Is there anything drastic that you have to watch out for from him compared to the other guy?

"No, I do think they're very similar there. Big guys, strong arm, both mobile, both can run the boot game. Both are good scramblers, they can keep plays alive. They're a threat to run the ball when they pull it down. I do think they're very similar guys. And I think that's another good thing on their part that their backup quarterback, when this happens that they do have to put him in there, they don't have to go to a whole new offense per say."

Is it safe to say that Cutler will take a few more chances down the field, where Campbell might be a little bit more, I don't know if conservative is the word, but?

"Well, I don't know if that's true or not because number one, Campbell hadn't had a lot of snaps with this offense in the regular season. So, I don't know that we can forecast that. But, I'm sure Campbell has confidence. He's got a big arm and he'll try and stick it in there."

Do you look at Raiders games this week to scout out Campbell?

"No, we'll go back and watch the preseason games when he played a lot and, obviously, the half from Houston last week."

Is it fair to say that CB Tarell Brown will be on Brandon Marshall a fair amount, or would that just be dependent on where Marshall is?

"Yes. It will be dependent upon their formation."

Any surprise that DT Matthew Masifilo was claimed?

"Yes and no. Surprise from the standpoint that it happened so late in the week. So, he obviously can't probably go in there and suit up for them this week. I'd be surprised if he does that. So, the timing of it was a little surprising. But, Matt's a good football player. They obviously had some feelings about him. And they had an opening, needed a D-lineman and they went out there and got him."