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Vic Fangio talks OLB rotation, injuries, Jim Leavitt, Quinton Dial and more

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio met with the media on Thursday. He had a chance to talk about the team's OLB rotation, Quinton Dial's recent performances, and more. We have a transcript.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

So now that you have the three outside linebackers, LB Aldon Smith, LB Aaron Lynch, and LB Ahmad Brooks, how do you figure on using those guys? Do you plan on them rotating or some sort of form like that?

"Yes. We'll play all three of them. When [LB] Dan Skuta's healthy enough, he can figure in to there, too."

Is Dan Skuta healthy enough this week?

"He practiced better yesterday than I thought he would, so, I would say it's 50-50 with a little nudge on the positive side."

With as much as Aaron has played, do you now consider him an every-down player?

"He's capable of being an every-down player, yes. Will he be an every-down player if we've got all three or four of them healthy? He won't play every down, but I think that's kind of a grey term there."

I guess what I'm getting at is that you wouldn't consider, OK, this guy would only be somebody we'd put in nickel situations, this guy would only be somebody we put in base situations?

"No, I don't think it has to be along those tight of lines."

Obviously, the situation with Ahmad got a lot of attention. Do you have to deal with that I guess from an ego-massaging-human standpoint as well as trying to figure out how to divvy up those snaps?

"Well, that's a pretty vague question there."

Well, obviously, he's unhappy.

"Well, he was, yes."

Do you have to try to guard against a situation like that happening in the future or --?

"Well, I don't think it will happen in the future. Ahmad's disappointed in the way he reacted. He knew going into the game what was going to happen. He had a bad reaction there at the end of the first half in that game. It carried over into halftime. We came back out after halftime, didn't think he was in the right frame of mind so I told the coaches don't put him in, and that was that. Ever since then, Ahmad's owned up to his mistake and to me it's a dead issue."

How do you think Aldon played given that he wasn't expecting so many snaps?

"I thought he played fine. The good part about it is his conditioning looked good because he did play probably more than I had envisioned. And he got play better as the game went on. That was good also. So, hopefully, he'll be able to continue to get better and better and hopefully get back to where he was in training camp."

What led to the decision to move CB Dontae Johnson inside?

"Just thought that it was the best way for us to play with the guys that we had left available. We were down to four corners, with [CB] Leon [McFadden] being the fourth one. We just thought that gave us the best chance and the best combination of guys, even though [CB Perrish] Cox could've went inside and Dontae could've gone outside. Just felt that that was the best combination."

Was it because of the matchup or just because --?

"Matchups and just kind of overall. Not one thing, but just feel we were better that way."

Do you now consider Dontae, with the current group of healthy corners, that Dontae is your nickel back?

"We'll analyze that every week and feel like where's the best place for him to play, factoring in where's the best place for Cox to play, too. It's interchangeable."

How much credit can you give to linebackers coach Jim Levitt the way he works with these guys each day and a lot of mixing and matching this year with some young players and also how he handles the veterans?

"Well, I think anytime these guys have stepped up and played good, first and foremost, the credit goes to the players. But Jim's done a good job of working these guys along through this process. You got a rookie who has stepped in and started these last three-and-a-half or four-and-a-half games, whatever it is. [LB Michael] Wilhoite got a couple games of play in last year and then started full time this year. So, yeah, Jim's done a great job in getting those guys ready."

If anybody goes out there who might be having a bad day, you see coach Levitt and you're probably going to snap out of it, right? I've never seen this guy -- ?

"Yeah, he's got a little cheerleader in him. He's got some pompoms hanging in his locker for a spare time. That's just who he is. He's a bubbly guy."

How has DL Glenn Dorsey looked in practice this week?

"About the same. I think Glenn's at a point where he's kind of stuck. I don't think he's taken any steps backwards and nothing negative has happened. Just hadn't taken that next step yet to where he feels he can go out there and cut it loose yet."

Does that imply he's not going to play in this upcoming game?

"I think it's kind of where it was last week at this time. Medically, he's healthy enough to play. He doesn't have that little extra oomph, that final oomph that you need to go out there and play, he doesn't feel. Until he gets that, we won't play him."

Are you still optimistic of seeing LB NaVorro Bowman maybe back practicing next week?

"I know he has an appointment with the doctor this Friday and he'll get more feedback. He's certainly working his butt off to try and get back. It'll take a couple weeks of practice before we would throw him out there in a game. He's in a totally different situation than Aldon was. He's coming back from inactivity and an injury. That will be play it by ear as we go."

To your knowledge, is he feeling some soreness in that knee?

"I don't think so. And again, he hadn't told me that. I haven't specifically asked him that. But he is only 10 months, I believe, or less than that, exactly from the date of the operation."

It seemed like DT Quinton Dial did better against the Giants than he did against the Saints. Were you pleased with what you saw from him that game?

"Yeah, he did well in there. It turned out to be a game where we didn't play a whole lot of base, so he didn't get the number of snaps that normally a nose tackle would get. But he did a nice job when he was in there. And he played OK against the Saints, too. You guys saw those runs that gained some yards on us against the Saints up the middle. That was more inside linebacker issues than Quinton's issues."

Do you notice all the rookies feeding off each other in a sense that maybe LB Chris Borland saw Aaron start to play well and then maybe Dontae started to see Chris play well and then they realized they can be valuable contributors to this defense?

"Maybe. I think any time a guy sees a guy that he can relate to go in and have success, why not me? Maybe, but who knows."

Do you expect Redskins T Trent Williams to play this week?

"I don't know."

How much time do you spend on the rookie who could step in there?

"Well, it's hard to, we've got to defend their offense. And they, like all of us when we have injuries, we put the next guy in. We haven't really changed our defense. I'm sure when they look at our game from last year at our defense and compare it to what they've seen from us this year, they're going to see a lot of different players, but they're seeing the same basic scheme and likewise us with them. We've just got to play."

What are you seeing out of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III?

"I see a very talented passer. A guy that's completing at a high-percentage rate. A guy that's very athletic, can run the gun-read stuff. So, he presents you a lot of problems with what he can do and what they have available to him in their offense."

I know you guys played them last year, but they came calling for you and offensive coordinator Greg Roman as possible coaching candidates. Did you do more homework on the franchise just to get an idea of where they were at?




As far as Redskins WR DeSean Jackson, is he one of the more, I guess, kind of premier deep threats in the league?

"He is. Washington leads the NFL in passes over 40 yards and he's one of the main reasons for that, him and [Redskins WR Pierre] Garcon. He's fast. He's one guy that you look up his speed and it says, I think it says 4.37 on our information, and usually those things can be embellished at times. I think that's wrong on the downside. He looks faster than that on tape. This guy's fast."    

With your nickel back, are you asking them to do maybe a little bit more than you have in the past because you don't have the proven cover inside linebackers like you had with Bowman and LB Patrick Willis?

"Not really. If you were to count it up, maybe there's a coverage or two that we're playing a little bit more than maybe we have in the past because of our inside linebacker situation, but not a lot."

When you prepare for this offense, do you look at last year's game or you, because of the turnover in the coaching staff, do you focus on this year or do you also maybe go back and watch some Cincinnati tape from last year?

"No, mainly, we watched our game against them last year. They did have the coaching change, but they didn't change too much of their offense. Most of their offensive staff stayed intact and they're doing a lot of the similar things they've done, they were doing last year. Not totally, obviously, when you get a new head coach who's got an offensive background, he's throwing his flavor in there, too. But he went in there and liked what they were doing offensively, kept a good bit of the offensive coaches and they've stayed in that direction with him contributing some stuff."

Did Aldon surprise you with how much he was able to play? Did you go in thinking, I think it was 57 to 70 snaps?

"I went in thinking he wouldn't play as many as he did, but he played that many for two reasons. One, because of what happened with Ahmad there, and two, because he was doing fine. Wasn't getting too winded. Was getting a little better as the game wore on. We went with it. He's a young, good athlete. And to his credit, he had said all along he was staying in great shape and it was obvious that he did."

Obviously, as you just said, he played that much, but he didn't play at all in the first quarter. Why was that?

"Well, two reasons. One, we only had two series in the first quarter and I think they were two relatively short series, one short to the good and one short to the bad. So, that was kind of the plan. If we had had three series in the first quarter, he probably would have played in the first quarter."

Clarifying on Dorsey, is it a matter of him regaining strength in his arm after a long period of inactivity in that arm?

"I think it's a little bit of everything. I don't think he's lacking much strength, but anytime you have a severe injury in one area there, the areas around it are affected, too, and I don't think he feels close to being 100 percent to use it the way you need to be able to use it down there in the trenches."

I have a question about DT Ray McDonald. Just looked like he had his best game. What do you see from him and do you just get the sense that maybe he could play a little more carefree with stuff off the field being behind him?

"Well, I thought he was playing fine when all that stuff was going on. I'm sure it had an effect on him. He's human like the rest of us. He did play very good last week. I didn't see a great tick up, but he did play better and I'm sure he's feeling the pressure of what's going on relieved once he was declared innocent."