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Greg Roman talks running game, Colin Kaepernick and more

49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman met with the media on Thursday and discussed the 49ers running game, the development of Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers offensive line, and so much more. New to Niners Nation? Sign up here and join the discussion!

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Opening comments:

"Afternoon. Got a playoff team coming in here in the Colts, very well coached, very good defense. Day-to-day here in terms of getting ready for them. Thursday's more of a situational day for us, and that's what we've just been working on this morning. Any questions?"

How much of a priority is it to get the running game going this week? It seems like you've kind of steered away from it over the first two games for whatever reasons.

"Every game's different and it can change during the course of a game. We can go back over the past couple of years and see where the run was emphasized more one week and maybe we went into that game saying, ‘Hey, we're going to run it,' and then we change gears during the game. I think we have a good plan getting put together and coaches are working hard on it, players are working hard on it. We'll just see how it goes."

Is this one of those game where you're going to go into it, ‘Hey, we're going to run it'?

"I don't think we'll ever just say that, but our guys take a lot of pride in running the football and I think it's a part and parcel with what we do. There is a time though where, do you really want to bang your head against a brick wall, as they say, if they just have one or two more guys than you have etc? So, those are the decisions you have to make."

Do you see defenses playing you guys differently in the run game?

"I think so, I do. They can play whatever they want. I'd say we've seen a little of that and that's not really that new. But if they overplay it, I don't know that we're just going to bang our head into a brick wall all day. We want to give our players a chance to be successful."

Specifically the read option, do you see the adjustments that were made in the offseason with every defense kind of devoting a lot of attention to defending that aspect?

"I definitely think you're seeing some of that. We really haven't placed a big emphasis on the read option to this point in the season. But that could change."

How do you think your offensive line has blocked for the run this year so far?

"I think they've done a fine job. There's certainly plays that we'd like to have back. I'm sure they feel that way. But our big emphasis was from day one that we want to ascend this year. Starting with where we left training camp, we want to get better every week and I really believe our guys are in that mindset that we are going to get better every week. The production and execution thus far has not been where we want it to be, but it never is. We're just trying to improve each and every week and I think we're very fortunate to have the offensive line we have."

QB Colin Kaepernick mentioned on the first interception, the deflection in the end zone, and I don't want to ask you about scheme, that he was not expecting that corner to be there. I guess the play was going to be there and he never thought the corner was there. Was he told that that play was going to be wide open?

"I don't know if I'd get into specifics on that, but at the time the guy fell off and made a play and the ball ricocheted up. But I don't know if we specifically said that."

Did Colin make the right read on it?

"On that play?"


"A lot of different things could have happened on that play. That wasn't the primary read, but it unfolded the way it did and we move on."

RB Kendall Hunter only got one touch Sunday. Are you comfortable with where he is health-wise and is the plan to kind of gradually work him back into the system?

"Yeah, Kendall's getting better and better every week. Again, each game could unfold differently and this week we'll see what happens. But he's working hard, really like how he looks and I'm sure he'll have a great game this week."

He got very little playing time through three quarters. Why is that?

"It was just the way the game unfolded. Each week it's a little bit different. Kendall Hunter's definitely a guy we want involved in the game though."

When Colin scrambles, what are his instructions as far as protecting himself?

"There's a couple different things on how to approach a defender taking you head on, if you're on the sideline. So, it's really common sense-ish, but there are some parameters that we talk to him about and [head coach] Jim [Harbaugh] talks to him about. I think he's got pretty good instincts there."

You're happy with, so far I guess, what he's done on those scrambles as far as--?

"Protecting himself?"

Sliding or out of bounds?

"Yeah, there's a couple different ways he could do it, slide, he could go shoulder first. But he's got a real good sense on how to end the play, so to speak, and really trust those instincts."

Shoulder first? I'm assuming not throwing shoulder first?

"Yeah, I think there are a lot of examples. I shouldn't say shoulder first, I should say forward on your chest."

How have you seen him respond this week from the interceptions, his work ethic? How's he putting it past him and bouncing back?

"Same as he is every week. Colin's a guy that doesn't get on the emotional roller coaster. He doesn't take the sucker's bet. He understands the NFL season is one ripe with great highs and hopefully a few lows. But they're inevitable and it's how you work through them and when you do have great success, or just the opposite, it's all about pretty much remaining level-headed and the same. I think it comes natural to him to approach it that way. He doesn't panic."

I know you've got to go game-to-game with your season, but for so long it's been the way RB Frank Gore goes, the team goes. Maybe not too much recently, but it's been generally. In your mind, just generally in the season, are you thinking, we've got to get Frank going because that's kind of who we are?

"We definitely want to get Frank Gore going. Frank Gore's one of the best backs in the league and one of our leaders. In the first game of the season, I really don't think we were going to throw it a whole lot and we kind of felt like it would be better to - I'm sorry, we're weren't going to run it a whole lot - and we just felt like it would be a little more advantageous for us to throw it and that's how it unfolded. But, Frank Gore's going to be a big part of what we do this year. Frank churning out those yards for us is very important to our success."

Where is your communication at with the growth level of Colin, as far as when he's on the field during the game talking to you about what offensive calls he thinks may work better for the team? Maybe as opposed to just taking instruction from the coach.

"He's good. Good interaction and understands what he's seeing. He's a smart guy, very good competitor, wouldn't want anybody else at quarterback. I think those things evolve over time, but he's probably ahead of most guys at his stage. He does a very good job with it."

I think more than just reading defenses, more like reading the huddle, if there's frustration or things that even just the execution isn't there, ‘Hey, even though this should work it's not.' Do you see growth there? Is he pretty comfortable with it?

"Yeah, I don't think he gets flustered very much. Yeah, I think Colin handles himself really well."

Do you talk with him between every series?

"Just about, yeah, just about. And not every series, but we don't try to smother the quarterback during the game, none of us. But yeah, when something needs to be communicated we speak."

Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker was a huge part of the team's offense last year and year before, has that been kind of a difficult adjustment, a running game without him there?

"I think Delanie had a great career here. [TE] Vance [McDonald] and [TE] Garrett [Celek] have stepped into that role and are doing a very good job. Very pleased with where they're at and they've got to continue to improve."

Do you expect TE Vernon Davis to play on Sunday?

"I would certainly hope so. I don't know what kind of blood he has going through his body, but it heals really well. And I would certainly hope so."

We watch him stretching out here all the time, stretching on the sidelines, did it surprise you that he had a hamstring strain, given all the attention he gives to prevent that very injury?

"I don't know about being surprised, but never want to see one of our players get any kind of injury."

Did you, obviously defensive line coach Jim Tomsula worked with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky when he was here as a holdover, do you talk to him this week just to get a better sense of what the Colts like to do defensively?

"Well coach Manusky does a great job. And I think Jim Tomsula and I have spoken, really over the course of time, through the offseason and the summer to try to get some insight on what they do and I think they're doing a very good job."