When you saw LB Aldon Smith get back on the practice field, did it look like the same guy that you saw five, six weeks ago?
"Not quite. He was a little rusty, obviously, from the six-week layoff. But, I expect him to get it back very quickly. He's not like a guy coming off of an injury that he's got to overcome. He's just got to overcome inactivity. But, six weeks is a fairly long time, but I don't think not that long to where he can't get back into the swing of things pretty quickly."
Can he play on certain downs on Sunday, you think? Are you comfortable with him playing Sunday?
Are you comfortable with him playing Sunday?
Was he out there at practice this morning?
Will he play Sunday?
"I'm sure he'll play some. You know, we're monitoring the situation. If nothing happens between now and then, I'm anticipating that. But, nothing's been etched in stone yet."
Why wouldn't he play just every snap?
"You know, after a six-week layoff, he may not be ready conditioning-wise. Every game takes on its own personality. How many plays you're playing. How many plays you're playing in a row. How many plays you're playing in different packages. So, it'll be a fluid situation."
You guys have such a healthy roster with guys that have been brought up to the 53-man. Is it going to be tough to figure out who is inactive for this game that's coming up?
"I don't think so."
What about DT Tank Carradine, for example, will you try to get him into the game at some point?
"He's progressing and getting better. He's still fighting through his injury and fighting through learning the system and playing the way we want to play. So, he's making good progress. When he'll play, if he'll play this week, we haven't decided yet."
Have you decided on CB Eric Wright on whether he might play?
"No, not yet."
How has CB Carlos Rogers been playing this season?
"He's been doing fine. Carlos has played well. And, like I said before, we're lucky to have him and we're glad we have him."
Are quarterbacks targeting him less?
"I don't know that I would necessarily say that. We end up playing a lot of nickel, so he's inside. So, you're not seeing him as a quote unquote corner, where you don't see the targets as much, they're not as visibly obvious. You know what I'm saying?"
When you said earlier about you have to see what happens the rest of the week as far as Aldon goes, what are you referring to there?
"Just see how he progresses, see how he feels today. Because, yesterday he put through a good effort, got the pass-rush in the drills, went through a full practice. He's obviously not getting all of the snaps because you've got to get everybody ready. But, let's see how he feels today and how he looks out there today. But, I don't anticipate any problems."
What did you see in DL Glenn Dorsey during his time in Kansas City that made you know he would be a good nose tackle in this system?
"Well, I didn't see a whole lot because, to be honest with you, I didn't do much of the work on him. Our guys, [49ers general manager] Trent [Baalke] and [49ers defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula, had a good feel for him when he was coming out of college. They didn't know exactly why he hadn't succeeded in Kansas City. They saw it as an opportunity to get a guy that they thought was a better player than he had so far in his career and we wanted to sign him and see what we could do with him."
What have your impressions been?
"He's playing very well for us. Since [NT] Ian [Williams] went down, which was very early in game two, he's played basically all of our nose snaps, for the most part, other than the game he had to come out on. And, he's done a nice job for us. We haven't missed a beat in there at all."
He said that that position more plays to his strengths. What do you see his strengths being at that position?
"Well, I mean, a traditional nose guard. He's a thick guy. A strong guy. He can eat up blocks. It's hard to get him knocked back. I think he's more comfortable playing that style than say any other style."
Can you talk about S Eric Reid's development over the first half of the season and what it's meant for your defense for him to step in and do well at that spot?
"He's played extremely for us and it's meant a lot. Obviously, we lost a very good player when [S] Dashon [Goldson] left via free agency and was a big hole we had to fill. He's done a good job of filling that hole, playing well, and he's getting better each and every week. And, I think the guy's played well for us and he has a bright future and still has a lot of room to grow. But, like Carlos, we're very glad to have him."
Is Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton more similar to QB Colin Kaepernick or are there vast differences? When you go practice can you kind of see the similarities?
"There are some similarities in the fact that both are good runners. Obviously, both are big quarterbacks. Both run kind of similar offenses. They run some of the same plays that we run in the gun-read type stuff. They'll run him more, a little bit more on quarterback called runs than we do with Colin where he's actually like a tailback out of the gun. They both have strong arms. Both are good passers. Both are allusive. So, there are some similarities."
Does his ball come out quite as quick?
"His ball comes out. And, there's no issues with his release or arm strength."
If you could speak to the, as the team that's constituted as a whole, but just when you look at the Panthers and just on offense, do you see similarities to the 49ers offense?
"In some ways. They play different personnel groups than we do. They'll play three-wide receivers a whole lot more than we will on the early downs. So, in that way they're much different. But, some of the running game's got some similarities to it and they're committed to the running game. They're very balanced. If you add up their stats on them, they've thrown the ball and run it the same exact amount of times this year. And, when you think about it, that includes two-minute drives, that includes third downs, which is heavy pass. So, they've got a commitment to the run just like we do."
Do you guys do any ones versus ones stuff this week?
Do you guys break that, break up your work week into that at all during the season?
"Ones versus ones? No."
How does the game plan change, or does it, when you have a quarterback that is good at so much escapability and free lancing, able to make plays outside of the pocket when the play breaks down?
"Like always, when you play these types of quarterbacks, they're tough because you have to defend the play they're running and then you have to all of a sudden defend the second play because he's scrambling and buying time and creating. So, it puts a lot of stress on the defense, particularly in the pass-rush and then it puts it on the coverage because there's that time clock in a lot of people's heads and this guy still has the ball and he's moving around, much like Colin does and [Seattle Seahawks QB Russell] Wilson does that it makes it tough."
How do they use Carolina Panthers WR Ted Ginn Jr.?
"Ted's had a nice season for them. He's their, he's probably had more receiving yards than any of their receivers. He plays in all of their three-wide receiver sets and shows up here and there in the two-wide receiver sets. He's done a good job for them. He's, as we all know, he's extremely fast, but, he's caught the ball well. He's caught the ball inside the numbers, outside the numbers. He's made some big plays for those guys."
Is Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith at this point in his career, do you still have to worry about him getting deep? Is he more of a possession guy?
"He's still the same guy he always was, in my opinion. They just have a better unit around him. You know, they've got [Carolina Panthers WR Brandon] LaFell to throw to, Teddy Ginn, their tight end is the second leading receiver on the team. They have a more balance offense now maybe when they did four or five years ago that you're alluding to. But, to me he's still the same guy. He's an explosive threat and a really good runner after the catch."
They were 1-3 and Cam Newton struggled in a loss and the stretch they have been on has tracked with some much improved play by him. Can you talk about what he's doing better? Is he just sort of growing up and making better decisions?
"I think all quarterbacks at this, what is this his third year, they just go through a natural improvement. But, I think with any quarterback and with any team, they're team has played extremely well. They have an excellent defense. It's kind of like with [former 49ers and current Kansas City Chiefs QB] Alex Smith. He was beaten by everybody until we got here and then all of a sudden the whole team's better, the defense is better, the team around him's better and wins a lot games. He goes to Kansas City, he's got a really good defense with him, he's got a good team around him and he's still winning games. So, a lot of that depends upon your whole team."