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Greg Roman talks Michael Crabtree, offensive balance, preparing for Seahawks defensive front

San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman met with the media on Thursday, and had a chance to discuss the return of wide receivers, the Seahawks defensive front and creating offensive balance. Check out the transcript below.


Opening comments:

"Afternoon. Big division game this week. Very good defense we're about to face starting with their D-line. They've got a lot of depth on their D-line. They roll them through, keep them fresh. Do a nice job starting with [Seahawks DT Brandon] Mebane in the middle. Not a guy you hear a lot about, but very productive at the nose guard position. Obviously everybody knows about [Seahawks DE] Red Bryant and [Seahawks DE] Chris Clemons and they've got [Seahawks DT Clinton] McDonald playing at a high level there as well. Linebacking corps, very fast. Very fast linebackers. Do a nice job setting the edge. [Seahawks LB Bruce] Irvin, [Seahawks LB K.J.] Wright and then [Seahawks LB] Wagner in the middle, and then very productive secondary as well. So a tough opponent, division opponent. Looking forward to the game, but right now going through our preparation. Players are doing a very good job and today's more of a situational day. So any questions?"

Going back and seeing how WR Michael Crabtree performed on his way back, did you think he was all the way back even before you saw that 60-yard catch?

"I thought Mike had a really good game and I thought he got better as the game went on. It's kind of how we thought it would go. He was very confident going into the game and seeing him out here in practice, it kind of played out like we thought it would. But, did a really good job and I think he's just going to keep getting better from there."

He didn't have any adverse reaction to playing that many snaps and then playing alright in practice?

"Absolutely not, no. And nice hat by the way."

I know every game is, the saying before every team is another opponent. But knowing how important Seattle has been for you guys in the division and how good they are, during the offseason did you find yourself drawing up some things just because of Seattle or think of a different personnel lineup because of Seattle does? Any extra?

"Well, I think you definitely spend time on all your division opponents in the offseason. Looking back to last year, we spent a lot of time on the Rams in the offseason. I think there's always time invested in division opponents. Arizona was a little bit less. We'll see what they're going to do with the new coach in there. And with Seattle, the beauty of what they do is it's pretty simple and it's pretty consistent. So, as far as drawing up new plays, maybe a few. Maybe a few."

They've had a couple that's been tight at halftime a couple times and they've extended it big time in the second half. Was that adjustments they were making? Was that schematic in any way?

"Well, I think looking at both sides of the ball, I just think they're just playing at a high level. They're doing a nice job and they really don't change a whole lot on defense, which is probably pretty smart on their part. But no, I wouldn't say there's a lot of adjustments. They're pretty much a play-it kind of defense and they do a really good job of doing what they do."

Do you like the emotions your wideouts are showing out there, especially WR Anquan Boldin, who was pretty hyped up last Sunday throwing his arms up?

"Oh yeah, Anquan's a warrior in every sense. He epitomizes a football player. We all love it when they get juiced up and usually it follows a great play they made and we love that too. And he's made plenty of them. But yeah, playing with passion. I really think these guys are starting to develop some chemistry being able to work together, talk through things as we go. It's something that you see developing as well as what's on the field. But guys that love playing football, I think it all starts there. Just a love of the game."

Does some of that chemistry come from having that group all healthy again?

"Oh yeah. Oh without question. It's hard to have chemistry when you're not working together."

Has G Joe Looney been working as a right guard this week with pads?

"Joe's been spotting it. He's been playing some."

Who else has been rotated in?

"Every week we rotate guys through, [G/C] Daniel [Kilgore] and Joe. So, you're never quite sure how that's going to play out and guys have to be able to play multiple positions. Usually you dress seven linemen going into the game and those two extra linemen have to be multi-taskers. They have to be able to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time. So, they've got to get reps during the week, which they are getting."

Do you get him on the left side too, though?


Do you get him on the left side too?

"Every week they get reps. Really, the inside three will have to kind of move around a little bit."

If neither T Joe Staley or G Mike Iupati can go, who do you bump up to the active 46?

"I haven't made that decision yet, Matt. But we've got somebody in mind and just haven't really finalized it yet."

I have a question about QB Colin Kaepernick. Whether it's through play calling or what you instruct him during the week, do you guys limit how many times he runs with the football in regular season games?

"No comment. No, I really don't think so. I think we don't want him carrying the ball every play if that makes any sense. I definitely think there's a certain number in our minds that would take place, but absolutely not. Once we get to the game, man, it's time to go."

Do you keep track of a number? It seems like you track a hit chart, how many times a guy gets hit? Do you guys do that?

"No, I think you just have a feel for that, how the game's playing. And then, if he's getting hit, why's he getting hit? How do you prevent that from happening? It's not something you chart really, but you find why the problem occurred and then take measures to fix the problem."

On the play Crabtree broke for the long play, did you put that in especially for him coming back? Was that installed last week just for that?

"A little bit. We felt really good about him doing it for sure and really saw something that alluded to that being a good play. And really it was really good by Colin and Crab kind of having the Jedi thing going on that play. That was something they talked about in the meeting. We talked about it, they got a feel for it, and it happened on the field. So, that was really good to see. Really good football."

Going back to Kaepernick, how do you feel about how he's done, how he's managed getting the yards when he can and then getting down and avoiding the hits?

"Outstanding. I thought he's done an outstanding job. I thought last week's game against the Rams was one of the best games, if not the best, he's played big-picture wise. Everything from soup to nuts, A to Z, I thought it was a magnificent performance on a lot of levels. So, that was great to see."

How much would you say the improvement recently in passing has to do with the health of the receivers versus it seems like defenses are trying to stop the run?

"It's a little bit of both. I think anytime you can bring some of your best players back on the field, it's going to have a huge impact on things. I think earlier in the season, we didn't have that kind of chemistry, but I think we see it starting to develop now. And the fact that some teams make the decision that we're going to do everything and anything to stop the run game, it just opens up even more avenues. So, it's a little bit of both. Ultimately though, it comes down to the players execution on the field and that's what's very exciting to see."

How do you think that these young offensive linemen, or maybe the more inexperienced offensive linemen, would be equipped to handle a game like this? DE Michael Bennett of the Seahawks said he wants to come down here and bloody your guys' noses and things like that. In a game with the physical magnitude that this will have, how do you think they're equipped to deal with that?

"I think they're fully equipped to deal with those threatening quotes or threatening words. I was really very proud of how [G] Joe Looney played this past week. It was really the first live game action and he was in there, he was going after people, was technically pretty sound. Always some things to clean up, but didn't skip a beat."

You guys have faced DE Cliff Avril a couple years in a row. Does Seattle use him any differently and I know he's always lined up on that left side across from T Anthony Davis, and what do you think about that matchup, Avril on passing downs against Anthony?

"Well, Avril in Detroit was an every down player and you knew where he was going to be. They'll move him around a little bit and he's done a nice job rushing the passer. He's very talented and I think Anthony will be up to the task."

Does any NFC team come to mind that [inaudible] the way they can rotate those defensive linemen, that has that kind of defensive line depth? Real quality guys coming off the bench.

"Yeah, they've got starters coming off the bench and it's pretty unique. And nobody even strikes me off the top of my head. I think it's pretty unique."

Why has Seattle been a tough matchup for Colin in his two starts? Is there anything they're particularly good at?

"Well, I think they're good, number one. I think he's started against them twice up at their place and they've played very well. I think they were great. Both games were really good learning experiences for him, as well as everybody. But it's another regular season game and we're getting prepared for it and looking forward to it."

We've asked the players, asked defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, he said Seattle's just another game, but how important is it, do you think to the coaching staff, to not be swept by Seattle, show that you can beat Seattle this weekend?

"We don't want to get swept by anybody. We don't want to get beat by anybody. We want to win every game and it's that simple from our standpoint. To make it any more complex or complicated than that, is just a waste of time. We want to win every game and it's that simple. That's where it starts, always have and always will."

Is that something that this offense has won in different ways, and if you take Houston out of the equation, has had a difficult time with really good defenses, like top ranked defenses, is that something that this offense needs to put together a good game. Obviously, against Seattle, like you said, execute just for the benefit when you close out the season going into the postseason?

"Well, we need to play good against anybody. Can't play down to anybody's level, and certainly rise to the occasion anytime you're playing a top-flight defense such as Seattle. It's really just another game against a good defense. And we need to play, make improvements, and play well and score more points than they score. Again, it's a division opponent, it's a big game, we all got that, but it comes down to playing well. What we do, it's not about them, it's about us and what we do and I think we're on track to do that."

When you've beaten the Seahawks, generally what have you done well offensively?

"We've played them five times, and I think in all those games, in all those games that we've won, and really when you see anybody that beats Seattle, I think one of the common threads is they're going to make some chunk plays against them. And whether it be in the run game or the pass game that's a common thread of teams that have beaten Seattle."

What's been there for WR Quinton Patton now that he looks healthy?

"Pardon me?"

Quinton Patton, now that he looks healthy, do you guys have a plan for him?

"Yeah, he's moving around really well. And anytime a guy's coming off an injury you can have a plan, but you also have to have a plan B and see how he goes day-to-day. And right now he's doing a nice job. It's good to have [WR Mario] Manningham, who's looking better every day, out there. And those guys are moving around good. That's a group of guys I'll go to battle with any day."