San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was on the Murph & Mac Show Tuesday morning, and had a chance to provide an update on NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith. You can read the full transcription down below, including some additional comments on Perrish Cox, Aaron Lynch, and getting ready for the St. Louis Rams.
Bowman is eligible to come off the PUP list as soon as after this weekend's game, but that will not be happening right away. Fangio said that Bowman is doing well in his rehab, but it is still a lengthy process, particularly given that he had the surgery in February. Fangio said Bowman would also need a couple weeks of practice to get his legs back under him.
Some people have asked whether this means he might be back after the bye week. Based on everything we've seen, and how the timeline looks, my guess is Bowman is back in game action Week 13 against Seattle, or Week 14 against Oakland. I suggest that because I don't think the 49ers bring him back Week 12 against Washington only to then have a short week before TNF against Seattle. I suppose he could come back in time for the Giants game Week 11, but I don't see it happening that quickly.
Aldon Smith is eligible to return for that Giants game. Coach Fangio said that Smith told him recently he is the most fit guy in the building. He is allowed to take part in team meetings and continue his conditioning work at the facility, so when Week 11 rolls around, he should be go to dive right back in. My guess is he is in more of a rotational role in Week 11, and then is back into his starting role by Week 12.
Congrats on a couple wins in a row. That makes everyone's food taste better, doesn't it?
Winning has cured more ills than penicillin.
And you guys in particular. After Arizona, you're 1-2. You guys come home and that Eagles game you pitch a shutout. And against the Chiefs, while giving up a little bit early, you guys clamp down late. So would you say the general status of your defense is improving or healthy? Or are you agitating for more?
Well, you're always looking for more. You're never perfect in this business, and you're always striving for it. But, we played well two weeks ago, and then this past game against the Chiefs, we started off struggling there. They got a touchdown on the first drive, and a field goal on the second drive. Then from that point on, other than the opening drive of the second half, we played pretty good. But it was a struggle. Those guys are really good on offense. They throw it quick. They have a smooth operation. And they've got multiple threats in the backfield and at the wide receiver position. They're a tough offense to deal with.
Can you tell us what it was like to defend Alex Smith? Here's a guy you know intimately, everyone's friend, a former 49er, and all of a sudden you've got to try and neutralize him.
Yea, he's a tough guy to defend. With Alex you know, he's an excellent scrambler, he's very fast. They have offense in their package there where he can be the running back, with the option. They had some called runs for him. I think he has shown in his last two years with us here, and since he's been there, why the 49ers drafted him No. 1 way back when, and why the Chiefs gave up two 2nd round picks for him, and signed him to a long term contract this offseason. He's a damn good quarterback.
Let's talk about this final series. It's been an exciting game, it's been a close game. He's got the ball in his hands, 22-17 49ers, 20 yard line, two minutes to go. He's got a lot of time. He's a pretty smart quarterback, so I'm wondering, in the booth, what you're thinking about. Because, all it took was two plays and you guys won the game. The first knockdown by Culliver, and then the interception by Cox. Can you take us through those two plays?
Yea, the situation was set for Alex to have a royal homecoming there, leading the team for a game-winning touchdown with a 2-minute drive. Like you said they had a lot of time and our guys stood up. We broke up the first pass there, Culliver did. And then we got the interception with the second one. There was nobody happier in that stadium than me at that time.
What did Perrish Cox do right on that play, besides catching the ball?
He was where he was supposed to be, and the ball was overthrown a little bit, and he caught it. Looks like an easy play, but a lot of guys wouldn't catch that ball, and he did, and we're forever thankful.
You've talked to us about him before, but it's time to revisit him. On a defense that has Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, and Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea, and when you get these guys back, Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman, I mean he's not a name anybody knows nationally. But you can talk to use about Perrish Cox and what he brings to your locker room, and your team, and your huddle.
Well, he's a guy like I've always said who is well-liked and well-respected by his teammates and coaches. He's finally gotten an opportunity here to play some, and he's taken advantage of it. And he's done extremely well. He was a guy that midway through training camp or a little after that, I went in and told Jim we gotta keep this guy, he's gotta be on our team. And lo and behold, Brock gets hurt 20 plays into the first game, and he's been out there every play since. And he's done well. And he's somewhat of a prophet, too. He told me before the game on the field, he was gonna get a pick and give me the ball. And he saved it for the right time.
Did you get the ball?
He said he's going to, we'll see
I mentioned Smith and Bowman. To get an update on these guys, while Aldon is suspended, what kind of workouts is he doing? How fit can he stay during this 9-week suspension?
Well, I asked him last week, how he's doing with his conditioning and fitness. He says, "I'm the most fit guy in this building", he told me. So, he seems to be doing well along those lines. And we're looking forward to his return down the line. And NaVorro's doing well in his rehab. He still has to be out two more games at least, and he'll be out several after that. But he's doing well. He's had no road blocks in his rehab. Everything's gone smooth, he's ahead of where he should be, and we're looking forward to his return at some point.
I would never ask you to be a doctor, or predict these kind of things, but big picture, should 49ers fans think that maybe NaVorro doesn't come back this year because it was such a serious injury? Or should 49ers fans think he will play?
I think at some point he'll eventually play, but at this point it's still later than sooner.
To think that he's around the corner is the wrong thought, right?
Correct. His procedure was done in February. It's not like he got hurt in the middle of the season last year. His rehab has gone great, but you still need enough time to rehab and recover. And he's going to need a couple weeks of practice, too, to get his legs under him and to feel comfortable playing on his leg.
On emergence of Aaron Lynch:
Well, he's done well. Like I said, he had a hamstring issue there late in the offseason, which dragged into training camp, so it slowed down his progress. He didn't get to play in preseason games until the second week. He's done well ever since that point. We're expecting him to keep improving. He does play good in the games, and the good thing is the game isn't too big for him. He doesn't go out there and get nervous, like you think some rookies would. He's a very young rookie, being only three years out of high school. He's done well with his opportunities, and we're hoping that he keeps improving and realizes his full potential.
On what Rams bring to the table, and Austin Davis:
Well, I can tell you, they played poorly in their first game. They only scored 6 points, and since then, Davis has come in and been the quarterback. And in their last three games, they've averaged 26 points a game, and well over 400 yards a game. So the guy has come in and performed extremely well. They lost a tight game to the Cowboys, they lost a tight game to the Eagles. They're a really good offense right now. They're moving the ball and scoring points. They had chances to win outside of their first game, their other two losses they easily could have won.