San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio met with the media on Thursday. One reporter (not sure who, but not a regular) asked him multiple questions about Ray McDonald. He provided the stock answers, and a couple no comments, but it was clear this was not a regular visitor to the 49ers. Here is the transcript.
When you evaluated it, how did DB Jimmie Ward play in this last game against the Bears?
"He played OK. Obviously, he had some tough plays there where the ball was thrown his way. Playing DB, unlike playing some other positions or playing baseball, if you have a couple bad at bats, like in baseball, or a couple plays up front, it's not quite as noticeable as it is at the DB position when they're throwing the ball your way and a couple of them end up in some touchdown passes. So, yeah, he had some plays that he'd like to play better, but overall he played OK."
Obviously Bears WR Brandon Marshall is a very large receiver, more known for his size. Was that a bit of a mismatch or was that more of Jimmie's inexperience and he'll learn how to deal with that a little better?
"Well, he'll learn how to deal with it better, obviously. But, a guy that size, he's got a size advantage over all the DBs in the league for the most part, not just Jimmie Ward. And you know, when they're playing physical and allowed to push off the way they push off it makes it even tougher."
Yesterday the Cardinals deactivated RB Jonathan Dwyer. What is the position of the 49ers with DT Ray McDonald this weekend?
"I think our organization has been pretty clear and consistent with our stance there."
Though there's an example of another team within the league chosen to take a harder line with one of their players?
"Again, I think our organization has been clear, consistent and concise with our stance on that and I'm not in a position to comment any further."
With Ward, I know that the Cardinals put WR Larry Fitzgerald in the slot a lot. What does he have to do in that matchup better than what he did against Brandon Marshall?
"Play a little firmer. Know that the body that he's going against is bigger than his and get him some help. He's just got to play a little better. He was trying to do things right the other night, but just weren't good enough. It's not a major overhaul or panic button, he's just got to be a little bit better."
Have you talked to him personally to relay that to him or do you leave that up to maybe the other guys and the defensive backs?
He didn't seem too discouraged after the game. Obviously he understood he could've had a better game. Is that the kind of mentality you like to see in a kid?
"He's a confident competitor, but yet accountable. He knows if a play isn't good enough, he knows that. He doesn't start to look for excuses or point the finger. He just looks at himself. But, yeah, he's a confident guy."
You've seen DT Justin Smith for two games now. Does he look like Justin Smith from 2012, recovered from his shoulder injury?
"He does. I don't see any change in him. He's healthy right now. He's playing good. He's not slowed down at all."
Can I ask you about 49ers broadcaster Ted Robinson? Why did the team decide to have him not do play-by-play for two games, but not take a similar move with McDonald?
"I don't know. I'm not involved in those decisions. I'm the defensive coordinator, not the owner, not the general manager."
With even with congresswoman Nancy Pelosi making a comment that the team should--?
"I've got no comment on that, obviously."
Where is LB Corey Lemonier in his development right now?
"He's developing. He's a guy that got to play three or four hundred plays last year. Has played a fair amount of plays so far in these first two games. We'd like to see him rush the passer a little bit better than he has in these first two games. But, he's the developing and he's still a good young player that we like for the long haul."
When you say rush the passer a little bit better, have you talked to him about doing different things? He seems to take the same path each time to the quarterback. Changing it up, adding new moves to his arsenal?
"Obviously, everybody's got to have a couple pitches. It's like in baseball; you just can't be a fastball pitcher. You've got to have some off-speed pitches there. We run games with him. He was involved in games. Those are part of being different pitches. But, you can't do it every play. So, he's just got to rush a little bit better on an individual basis and then we've got to rush better as a unit, also."
What kind of a running back is Cardinals RB Andre Ellington?
"Very good. Quick. Explosive. Fast. Good vision. He's an elusive guy. He's hard to tackle. He's a good player."
Have you seen enough from LB Aaron Lynch to maybe consider giving him more snaps?
"He's played a fair amount in these first two games, upwards of maybe 40 snaps or so in the first two games. We'll keep rolling him in there."
Can he rush from the right side if need be?
"He can. He's mainly played on the left since we've gotten him, but he's capable of going over there."
Is conditioning still an issue for LB Ahmad Brooks?
"It's improved from where it was. It's improved."
How do you think he's played through these first two games?
"He's played OK. I've seen him play better. He's capable of better, but it's not a huge drop-off."
Now that you've seen the film from Sunday's game, what was your assessment on the disconnect with the defense in the second half?
"Of the disconnect?"
Yeah, because obviously they did so well in the first half and then the second half?
"We had some critical penalties in that opening drive that hurt us and kept their drive going. We had a third-and-nine, a third-and-seven where we were off the field and had penalties. You play a team that last year was the second-highest scoring offense in the league, Chicago was, and you give them extra opportunities, it's like giving a team extra outs in baseball. You're in trouble a little bit with a quarterback like [Bears QB Jay] Cutler and the receivers they have."
The way DT Quinton Dial hit Cutler, to use a baseball analogy, it seemed like it was in the strike zone.
"It was, but I guess because it was with the crown of his helmet is what they called."
What's your favorite baseball team?
"Phillies. I'm embarrassed to say."
A question about LB Dan Skuta. Assuming you agree that he's kind of an old-school player, are there any other throwback-types he reminds you of? Maybe a better question is why is he kind of an old-school player?
"He plays hard and tough and he plays very smart. So, those are good combinations. He's on his job. He knows his job. He knows other people's jobs. He's just very smart and tough. Could probably compare him to [former LB Bill] Romanowski from years past without all the fluff around it."
So I'm clear, McDonald is definitely playing this Sunday?
"To my knowledge he is."