San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had his weekly press conference Friday afternoon. Fangio primarily spoke about the 49ers secondary and the Rams wide receiver, but he provided some interesting details about Jimmie Ward and Perrish Cox, as well as Rams QB Austin Davis and WR Brian Quick. Here's the transcript.
What have you seen from Rams QB Austin Davis?
"I see a guy that's playing very well. Since he's come into the starting lineup, these guys have averaged 26 points a game and well over 400 yards a game. He's thrown the ball extremely well with accuracy. He's got a high quarterback rating that shows that. Throws the deep ball well. These guys like to throw it deep. So, we're going to have to be good on the deep balls during the game. And he's done a nice job moving this offense."
Did you know anything about him before this week?
"I did not personally."
So, what's it like when you go from zero to 60 on a guy not knowing anything about him and trying to learn as much as you can in a short amount of time?
"Well, fortunately, he's played the last three games for them. And he came in the first game, too, at some point. So, really we've got as much tape on him as we would have if the other guy had still been the quarterback. So, it's really not a whole lot different than any other week."
Is that an advantage for a quarterback? It seems like in the league whenever there's a new quarterback, he's has immediate success and then the rest of the league eventually catches up with him?
"Sometimes. They never caught up with [Patriots QB] Tom Brady."
Have you seen Davis struggle against the blitz?
"Not particularly, no. No more no less than other quarterbacks."
You guys have the best road record since you guys arrived in 2011. What do you think is the biggest reason for that success?
"We have good players."
When you say that, is it quality players, or players who aren't put off by all the distractions on the road? Veteran players? What is the key aspect of that?
"Well, that's part of being defined as a good player. You're probably not a good player if you're put off by distractions, if you get flustered when you go on the road. That's all part of being a good player."
Have you seen the Rams WR Brian Quick making strides this season? And if so, what are they?
"Well, he's a size receiver, number one. He's got 4.5 speed. And to me, he's just playing with a lot more confidence and knowledge of the game. Just playing with more confidence, more aggressiveness. Going to get the ball, feeling comfortable knowing the routes he's running, being in the same system now since he's been there. I see a damn good receiver. The whole receiving corps is very impressive and a versatile group. They've got two really fast guys in [Rams WR Chris] Givens and [Rams WR Tavon] Austin. And then you've got Quick and [Rams WR Kenny] Britt, who are size guys. They've got good receiving tight ends. It's a good receiving group."
Speaking to some of your defensive players, they say what they see on film isn't always what they get. How much of the Rams, or how different are the Rams than others that you've faced, that they'll throw more new things out that you haven't seen?
"Well, there'll be new things every week from everybody. Some people, it becomes more dramatic than others. The Rams have the mentality, they want to run the ball. They have good running backs that they're running with. They've got a good line. They've got good running schemes. And they're committed to the run. So, we've got to be ready both from a technique and physical standpoint and a mindset standpoint to go play their run game."
Some quarterbacks can be flash in the pan types. When you look at Davis, does he have certain qualities and traits where you say, OK, that's an NFL starter material?
"I do. Like I said, he throws the deep ball very well. Throws the intermediate stuff very well. And to me, he's got good command of his emotions and the offense. The game doesn't seem too big for him, for a guy that's never played until three weeks ago. He's come in and done a really nice job. And to me, that's indicative of a guy that the game's not too big for him. It's also indicative of a guy who's preparing all along like he knew he was one play away from playing. And he was ready for them."
You talk about you're going to have to defend the deep ball. How well have you done that through five games so far?
"We've done pretty good with it. I know we gave up one against Dallas. I'm trying to think when else we've given some up. But, overall it's been pretty good."
And is that just more on the cornerback staying with their guy? Or are you getting the safety help your need for those?
"Both. We've tried giving safety to help as much as we can. But, we can't do it every play. And so it's both."
CB Chris Culliver, he gave up a lot against the Cardinals deep ball down the left sideline I believe it was.
Is he getting better at that as far as turning, knowing when to turn and locate the ball?
"He is. That play in particular, we didn't have good pass rush on that play and he was in position, but just didn't make the play. And late in the down, he's got to find a way to make that. And that was a big play in that game."
CB Perrish Cox sort of ascendance this year. How much of that do you think that has to do with him playing on the outside as opposed to the slot where he was mostly for you guys for a couple seasons?
"It's part of it. He was a really good corner in college and was drafted in the second round, I believe, by Denver as a corner/nickelback. And he's got good instincts as a corner. This is his first opportunity, at least with us, to have extended action as a corner. You know, he's played well as a corner for us in the preseason games the previous two seasons. But, then as the season came on, he never got much of a chance out there. We had other players. So, he's gotten his opportunity and he's taken full advantage of it."
And how about CB Jimmie Ward? How do you see his progression as a slot cornerback?
"Good. Now, he's getting better and better every week. Like I said, he's diligent. He's a hard worker. He's prideful. He's competitive. And with those qualities, he's going to get better and better every week. Does that mean he's not ever going to get beat? No. Does that mean he's going to have a game where he gives up some throws? No. But, he learns and he improves."
You mentioned he's prideful. Obviously there was much attention made when he gave up the three touchdowns to Bears WR Brandon Marshall. Did he, did you see that pride and kind of determination after that game? Did you talk to him?
"Yeah, like I said, he's an accountable guy. So, it was never well, it was tough, it was this or that. He took ownership of those plays. They were tough plays. He's not the first guy that's given up a play to that guy in particular, especially in that part of the field. And he learned from it and moved on."
Or do you see all those, watching those three plays, it looked like two of them were just outstanding plays that probably nobody could have defended. And one he kind of got out of position. How would you break those down?
"Well, the one in particular there was offensive pass interference but if they allow a guy that size to push off like they did, then it becomes even extremely more tough. I don't remember the other one."
Was that the one-handed catch?
"Yes. And no, when the ball was just on the 3-yard line and you're playing run and pass and you've got a lean-headed guy on the run, he got beat."
How has he done in the run aspect of his job?
"Good. He's a good tackler. Very willing tackler. He's aggressive. Likes to tackle. And don't know that he has been tested a whole lot in that area. But, he's done well."
Is that something that a safety playing nickel is probably going to do better than a cornerback playing nickel?
"You would think so. You would think so. But, you've got to like to tackle and want to tackle. And he does."
Is it a source of pride that it seems like, especially in these last three years, guys that you've brought in from outside the organization, or guys that you've drafted in the defensive backfield have stepped in and played pretty well?
"Well, I think that's the case in all positions. You always like to take pride in developing players. That's our number one job as a coach. And the best way to improve your team is to improve the players you have before you start thinking about bringing others in. And we try extremely hard. Our position coaches do a great job of that. And we've been lucky to have some players that did not experience success other places and have come here and done well. I'm sure you can find a case or two where guys who haven't done well here have gone places and done well. So, it kind of works both ways but we seem to be ahead on that ledger."