San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman met with the media on Thursday. He went into some interesting topics, and while he did not divulge a whole lot, he made some interesting points. The most interesting discussion was probably when he briefly went into how much game scripting happens each game. He actually acknowledged the Rams use of extra men in the box as they loaded up against the run. He also went into some discussion of Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd's route running. Here's the full transcript.
"Afternoon. Getting ready to play a really good football team, a team that we have a lot of respect for. Looking at their defense, it really starts on both edges with [Broncos LB] Von Miller and [Broncos DE] DeMarcus Ware, do a very good job there, run and pass. [Broncos DT Sylvester] Williams, [Broncos NT Terrance] Knighton and [Broncos DE Derek] Wolfe inside really do a good job. Knighton is about as big and strong a nose guard as you'll find and Wolfe's a very active guy. [Broncos LB Brandon] Marshall and [Broncos LB Nate] Irving at the inside-backer position. And then when you're looking at their secondary with [Broncos CB Chris] Harris [Jr.] and [Broncos CB Aqib] Talib, and then [Broncos S] T.J. Ward and [Broncos S Rahim] Moore at safety, they've got a very good defense. They're very well coached and looking forward to the opportunity. Had a great day yesterday and looking to have one today. Any questions?"
It looked during the Rams game like TE Vernon Davis wasn't quite 100 percent yet. How does he look this week versus last week?
"I think he looks really good this week."
He's more closer to his old self?
"Yeah. I would say so."
The last two weeks T Joe Staley's had two pretty tough assignments. How has he lived up to those?
"Done really well. Pitched a shutout last week against a very, very good player. But, Joe's very consistent."
Where is T Anthony Davis as far as his return?
"Well, still day-to-day. Really nothing to report."
What do you think's helped you improve on third down this year, being in the top-five?
"I think it starts with the players and really the execution. I think [QB] Colin [Kaepernick] has taken another year, another step forward and we've got some guys out there that are really getting open, making plays. Our protection was not where we wanted it there here and there. I think it would even be better. I think it's getting there. But, third and six-plus in the NFL is as much about protection as anything nowadays. Really, all those factors, all those factors. When you look, the ball's getting spread around pretty evenly there and you try to create that conflict for the defense, you know? They can't just double these two guys and feel good about it. It's a great thing."
Are pass-defenses opening up a little bit more for you guys because of the threat that Colin has to run?
"It depends. Yes and no. Yes and no."
When you're calling a designed run play for him, there are so many different scenarios what he will do and take off with it. Are you just kind of as curious as anybody to see what's going to unfold there?
"On a design run play?"
Yeah. Or you know what's supposed to happen. OK so an improvised play?
"An improvisation play? Those are great, love those. Yeah, I mean, designed run play is just like any run play. And then there's times and certain players have had that characteristic throughout the years where you call a pass play and everybody gets covered, it's man-coverage or whatnot and the quarterback just takes off. I remember when I was in Carolina, [former 49ers QB] Steve Young used to frustrate the heck out of us at times."
I know that you're the one that put together the film of WR Brandon Lloyd outside the numbers. But, were even you surprised that he was able to pull away from Rams CB Janoris Jenkins on the sideline on Monday?
"I was not surprised. I was very happy though that he did. It was a great play by him, great route. It was a double-move and it's something we thought about calling earlier and it's kind of sitting there and you're wanting to call it and we called it. All double-moves aren't the same. I thought it was a really, really good route by him. Great throw, great protection and that was a big tipping point in that game."
He was the primary receiver on that play?
"I think so. I think so based on what we knew going into the game."
Were you following him on high at that point and were you anticipating that throw?
"A little bit, just based on the coverage that they were playing in that situation. And, you just hope the corner bites."
I was going to ask you, it seemed like given the situation, less than 30 seconds before half, the cornerback shouldn't bite. Did you see something on film that suggested that was a possibility?
"I have no comment on that, but you're right."
How about WR Michael Crabtree's touchdown? What did he do well on that route to get open? It looked like he had a couple moves up at the top.
"It was a great route. It was a great route, really sudden. Really took it to the post and then back to the corner and then really stuck it hard and really, really got that corner spun around. But, it was textbook really. It was a great route. Cover-zero. We talked about that last week, those guys loading up to stop the run."
Do you put together a script of how many plays to start the game like former NFL head coach Bill Walsh did back in the day?
"Yeah, definitely there's a script. But, there's times when we get different responses from the defense. Say we're playing the Broncos and they play five different teams and we're looking at that film. First we've got to gauge how important, how relevant each film is, what can you take from that film. If they're playing the Patriots for example, maybe a little bit different style of offense so they're going to defend them differently. Maybe that film is not quite as relevant as another team might be. So, we tend to get some different responses from teams than we've seen previously on film at times. So, you've got to be ready to just bounce around a little bit."
So you don't have a, it's based on you have the preparation, the sheet in front of you of what you would call all things being equal, but then make adjustments early on?
"Oh yeah. Very early at times and at times no adjustments. At times, you're straight through. When you make adjustments, you've got to communicate it amongst the coaches to the players so everybody's on the same page. It's not just like, ‘Hey, we're making adjustments, bam.' There's some things you can do with that, with things that you do that are so well known to you and your players, but if you have to really flip the script, really like to preview that with the players before you spring it on them."
And you have a set number of plays that you script?
"Yeah, there's a good number. A good number."
Is it the same number every week?
And then do you script again at halftime?
"There's a loose script, yeah, but each week it's a little bit different because some game you go into and you say, ‘Well, they've shown this on tape, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did this.' So, you kind of have that contingency plan going, but you don't want to muddy your players' minds with that type of stuff."
For instance, if you went into that Rams game and thought, ‘We're going to run the ball, we're going to run the ball,' and then you see nine in the box early on--?
"Did you see that too?" [Laughter]
Does it make you go, ‘OK, I guess we're not going to run the ball.'?
"I don't know. I don't know how to answer that without divulging strategic tendencies. You've just got to go in and do the best you can, put the players in the best position and respond. When you're getting extreme type of things from teams, you try to respond accordingly. But, there's times where you just want to keep setting the hook too, keep setting the bait."
It seems like Von Miller is an elite talent in the sense that he's one of the league's best pass rushers and he's very good against the run too. When you watch the tape, what stands out to you about Von Miller?
"High motor, number one. Athletic as all get out, really great change of direction. Got a great spin move inside. Can run the rim on the hoop really well. Dip, get low and run and trim the fat, as they say, on the edge. So, he's a really good player against the run and pass."
It seems TE Vance McDonald is still kind of finding his way. Is that accurate or how would assess his progress here in his second year?
"He's doing a good job. He had a play the other night he'd like to take back, but he had a lot of good ones too. Good player and the play the other night, just good play to learn from."
What happened on that one play when he and Vernon collided? Was there, at some point does someone have to flash up the yield sign and--?
"Yeah, it was two guys trying really hard to help the team win and just got in each other's way. Easily correctable."
You've got a quarterback who's good at escaping the pass rush and he's got a really strong arm. That's usually been a formula for a lot of deep, downfield passes. You see Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger doing that all the time. That 80-yarder was the longest of his career. You just haven't seen a lot of that from Kaepernick. Is that a matter of personnel? He just hasn't had the guys to go downfield for him? Why hasn't that been a bigger part of his routine?
"He's won a lot of football games, so that's what we gauge the quarterback on. We really want to attack the defense short, intermediate and deep. So, I think that's something to be excited about moving forward."
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was saying he'd known Broncos QB Peyton Manning since forever and early on it was obvious because everyone knows how much he loves football, what a junkie he is. When you met with him in 2012, did that come across just in talking with him?
"Oh yeah, without question. Sorry to cut you off there. But, I see where you're going and yeah, he's great to talk football with. I think his body of work speaks for itself. I don't know if I have the verbose to do it justice."