The San Francisco 49ers had their coordinator media availability on Thursday, and Vic Fangio provided us with one particularly essential piece of information! When asked what his favorite restaurant was in New Orleans he said it was Impastato's, which apparently is actually in Metairie, northwest of New Orleans. He even used the word goombah in describing the owner. I'm going to have to check it out next time I'm in town.
Other than that, he had plenty to talk about with regard to potentially replacing Patrick Willis and Dan Skuta. Chris Borland and Aaron Lynch would get the starts in their respective spots. In discussing Borland, he had a chance to discuss Jimmy Graham, who will be all over the place on Sunday. Graham is likely to spend a good mix of time on and off the line, so we could see several players covering him. Given that he is one of the biggest tight ends in the NFL, it is going to be a tough one for the 49ers defense.
You think LB Patrick Willis can play Sunday?
"It's questionable. As the week rolls on, if he doesn't start practicing at some point then it starts moving to doubtful."
Is he just taking a different tact this week or did he suffer a setback last week?
"I don't think he suffered a setback. It just hadn't gotten much better."
He went through limited practice last week, at least that's what it said on the report. What does that mean?
"Limited could mean you take half the reps, 25 percent of the reps, go through individually only. There's a wide range there."
What did it mean last week for Willis?
Obviously, LB Chris Borland raked up a lot of tackles on Sunday. How did he grade out as far as you're concerned?
"He played good in the game. Obviously, like all of us, had a couple of plays he'd like to do over. Overall, he played a good football game."
Did he get better as the game went on? Seemed like a lot of his tackles were coming in the second half.
"Possibly. I think the biggest thing you're looking for there, which happened, is he got better from his first start to his second start, which can happen particularly if you're a smart guy and a prideful guy, which he is. He's going to continue to improve the more he plays."
How is he progressing as far as balancing his responsibilities and his instincts?
"He's getting better there. He's getting better there."
Patrick lined up a lot against Saints TE Jimmy Graham in past meetings. Is that something Chris would have to do or is that going to fall more on safety help? How do you defend this guy?
"He's hard. Do you have any ideas? It'll be a mix of guys depending upon the coverage we're in, depending upon where he lines up. Could be a corner type, could be a safety type, could be a linebacker type, so, it will be a mix."
Is Borland's size as opposed to Graham's size, is that something that's kind of overrated or is there a lot to that?
"No. The guy is whatever he is - 6'5"? And Chris is whatever he is. I don't even know. What is Chris?"
"5'11. And all of our defensive backs are in that same range. He's going to have that height advantage almost over everybody that will line up on him, just like he does each and every week in the NFL for the most part. It's a tough matchup and makes it tougher that he's a part of a very balanced offense so it's hard to give special attention to one guy all the time. We just have to go out and play."
S Eric Reid said that Borland leads the team in practice interceptions? Have those come against tight end routes or have you seen him cover tight ends in practice?
"I don't know. Can't give you an exact what they've come across. They've come against scout team quarterbacks, too."
Is DL Glenn Dorsey getting closer to making his debut?
Could it come Sunday?
"It could. I'm not sure, though. To me, that's truly 50-50 right now."
Is that why Seahawks defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs was released just because there was a lot of guys on the defensive line and you would have to create room somewhere for Dorsey.
"Yeah, part of the reason."
For an outside linebacker like LB Aaron Lynch, how much do his responsibilities increase in base as opposed to nickel?
"Well, they increase a lot because in nickel he doesn't drop very much unless we have some zone pressures on where he has to drop. And in base, he can be dropped in lot. So, changes a lot."
Has that been a point of emphasis for him this week with LB Dan Skuta injured?
"Well, it's been a point of emphasis for him every week. He gets a lot of base reps in practice even when he's only playing the nickel, so, obviously, he's getting more this week with Dan not practicing yet. He went in there in the game the other day and got a couple in the base and did fine."
When LB Aldon Smith comes back, do you have to figure out how to still get Lynch on the field and could he cut into LB Ahmad Brooks' playing time?
"Well, that would be handled at that point. As long as Aaron keeps playing the way he's playing right now as far as in the nickel stuff, he'll be in there."
What has Saints RB Mark Ingram done to increase his production this year?
"Well, they're a very balanced offense. They do a great job of running and throwing. They run the ball a lot more than people realize. They're seventh in the league in rushing yards and second in yards per carry. And they're doing a good job blocking and he's doing a good job of running. And because of the mix of their offense, run and pass, it's hard to lean one way heavier and they've been doing a good job taking advantage of that. They've run the ball extremely well no matter who the back has been."
Another question about the future, but when Willis comes back do you have to consider trying to keep Borland on the field as well?
"If Willis and [LB NaVorro] Bowman are both back?"
No. I guess what I'm talking about is when Willis comes back and Bowman is not back yet, do you have to make a decision between Borland and LB Michael Wilhoite or is that Wilhoite's spot?
"We'll make that decision at that time. I haven't really thought about that yet."
What about CB Tramaine Brock? How is he and has he suffered a setback with his toe?
"No, I don't think he really suffered a setback. As you know, he played in the Denver game and would've preferred playing him part time that game, but then because of the situation had to play him full time. He looked like a guy that was rusty. A guy that hadn't played in a long time and didn't play as well as he's capable of playing. Had a little minor setback last week but just wasn't ready and gave it one more week. And hopefully this week, we'll get him in there in the mix and not have to play full time."
You've spent a lot of time, obviously, back in the day in New Orleans. You've been back there quite a few times since then. Any memories you have there or any special feelings when you go back there?
"Well, it's the place I spent the most time in the NFL and it was my first job in the NFL. My son was born there. Yeah, it is. Outside of my hometown, it's the place I've lived the longest in my life. Feel like I know the place. Feel a little bit at home when I go there and recognize everything. And I like the city. New Orleans is a good place."
What's your favorite restaurant?
"Impastato's. I highly recommend it. It's in Metairie, though."
Close to your hotel?
Will you be there Friday night?
"I don't know about Friday night but I sent the doctors there last year and they're still thanking me to this day. I would highly recommend going there."
"It's in Metairie, right near the Lakeside Mall. Right as if you're going over the causeway. It's hard to find because it's back on a side street. But there's an old-time goomba there. He's about 75 and he's still working it hard."
"That's it. Joe Impastato."
See you there.