San Francisco 49ers OC Greg Roman chatted with the media on Thursday. We've got a transcript below, as he discussed everything from Derek Carrier and Stevie Johnson, to the offensive line and the difficulty of facing Calais Campbell.
"Good afternoon. Getting ready to play a division opponent, Arizona Cardinals. Very good defense, I think we all knew that. We're used to playing them, obviously, twice a year. They've had some little personal situations this season, but nothing really appears different on film. As you watch the tape, very aggressive, physical defense led up front by [Arizona DT] Calais Campbell. They got a couple guys rolling through there that've done a very nice job. [Arizona LB Matt] Shaughnessy and possibly [Arizona DE John] Abraham on one edge, if not [Arizona LB Sam] Acho, and then [Arizona DT] Dan Williams, [Arizona DT] Ta'amu [Alameda], [Arizona DE Frostee] Rucker, [Arizona DE Tommy] Kelly, they got a nice rotation rolling through there. The guy that's really made the most impact for them is No. 50, [Arizona LB Larry] Foote. He has made a lot of impact plays, a lot of TFLs. He looks just like he did in Pittsburgh making plays. Very impressive. Backend led by their corners, [Arizona CB] Patrick Peterson, and they brought [Arizona CB Antonio] Cromartie in, so, they got a nice tandem back there. The safeties, [Arizona S Tony] Jefferson and [Arizona S Rashad] Johnson, and then [Arizona S Tyrann] Mathieu showed up for about five snaps in the last game. They're a very good defense, very good scheme, good players. We're excited for the challenge. Any questions?"
How big of a load is Campbell to block?
"He's one of the more underrated players in the league. We felt that way for a while. He tips a lot of balls. He's 6-foot-8. He plays the run very well. He pushes the pocket very well, as does their whole defense. Just a very good player and a lot of respect for him."
Is that's what's allowing Foote to play so well? He's got those guys in front of him and he's picking the right spots to hit?
"That's a good way to characterize it. I'd say, even looking back to last year, those three inside guys did such a good job at freeing up their two inside players. I don't think that's changed one bit. And then Foote's got an uncanny knack for hitting the right gap at the right time. I think we've both seen that over the years. Credit to them, their scheme, and got a lot of respect for them."
How would you assess how T Jonathan Martin's played through the first two games?
"Jonathan's played good. There's been some plays. There was one play in the last game where the communication wasn't clean, wasn't quite sure of the call. But beyond that, I think he's done a very solid job."
Was there ever any thought given to bumping G/T Alex Boone outside and having G Joe Looney and G Mike Iupati as the guards?
"Yeah, I mean, all those scenarios, [CSNBayArea.com writer] Matt [Maiocco], were discussed. We went with the scenario we did."
"Just felt it gave us the best chance to win."
How do you think Boone played in his first game?
"He did good, he did good. Got to work on the pad level, but he did good. It was good to have him back out there. He had some really good moments. First game back, really expect he to ascend the rest of the way."
You guys have had trouble scoring in the second half of these first two games. Do you go back and find a common thread as to why? Or do you find yourself second guessing play calls, trying to figure out what can change for this game?
"That's the bottom line. I don't think we've scored much in the second half. Like anything else, we go back and look at it very specifically, in-and-of itself. We just got to do a better job of finishing in the end zone, really. You can't turn the football over, because you have no chance of scoring when that happens."
On that last interception by QB Colin Kaepernick, was the mistake not throwing the ball sooner to TE Derek Carrier? Should he have gotten that ball sooner?
"You'd like to have thrown that, put it on him. Just is one of those things. I think the intent was proper. Just would've liked to put it on him."
What have you seen from Carrier since he's been here?
"Derek's done a nice job. He is definitely an ascending player. There's definitely things he needs to work on, but he's done a nice job. Has a good feel for the passing game, has really improved his blocking in this preseason. That was the number one thing that I've been most pleased with. Any time you're transitioning a pass-receiving type of player in college to a tight end is getting them fundamentally sound. He's done a really nice job this year up to this point."
When you say a good feel for the passing game, are you talking about finding soft spots?
"Yeah, using body position, feeling what's around him in zones, understanding man and zone, working the route versus man. Again, body position at the point of the catch, shielding the defender, just all those little things. Where to sit, how to setup a defender, that kind of stuff, he's pretty good at."
He doesn't have a lot of experience with Colin. Is that something that they're working on, something that's being stressed this week?
Yeah, Carrier and Colin.
"Every week. Every week they work together and get on the same page."
There are a few players that talked about needing to keep the foot on the gas, accelerator or to finish better. Do you think that's more of a strategy thing or an execution thing?
"It all comes down to execution when it's all said and done. It doesn't matter what play you run. If we don't execute it, it won't be successful. Striving for better execution at all times. That's timeless."
What have you seen from WR Stevie Johnson the last few weeks to earn that number three roll in the offense?
"I wouldn't call it a number three role. I think that's fluid. I think Stevie's done a good job. I think he brings a lot to the table from a skill-set standpoint. I think it will just continue to ascend as the year goes on as we work more together. He's done a nice job so far. Just got to keep the arrow up."
When you said fluid, you mean he hasn't won it? It could be a number of different guys?
"Yeah, we don't really put numbers on them. I know everybody else likes too, but we really don't. But he's definitely one of our top receivers."
WR Bruce Ellington's in that mix, too. Do you want to get the ball in his hands more or is it just right now you just want to ease him into the NFL?
"Well, I think definitely getting him some touches is a good thing. We'll just see how it goes. Getting the ball in his hands is a good thing."
What's your stance on language fouls, language penalties?
"Whatever the rules are, just follow the rules. It's good to understand the rules and then follow the rules."
Do you think that that's something that's hard to do on an NFL field?
"It's an adjustment, probably, but you've got to adjust. That's my stance. Whatever the rules are, you try to follow the rules."
Do you think there are times when Colin looks to WR Michael Crabtree too much on some of those high-profile plays late in games? Does he lock onto him too much and not give, maybe spread it to TE Vernon Davis or WR Anquan Boldin as much as he should?
"No, I don't think so. I think he needs to throw the ball to the appropriate place. And if it's single coverage across the board, you want to find your best matchup. The different routes people run might have different leverage. For example, if it's man coverage and everybody has outside technique, you're probably going to try to work to the route that's breaking in. If they have inside technique, you probably want to work to the route that's breaking out. So, it's not only ‘who', but it's ‘what'."
You guys had some penalty issues last year around this time early in the season. It's not just the offense. You guys kind of got over that over time and limited the penalties. Does that sort of give you confidence that that can happen again this year?
"The thing that gives me confidence is the guys we have in the offensive room and really on the team. These guys are standup guys. They want to win. Do all the things that it takes to win. Willing to put the time in to make the commitment. That's the number one thing you've got to have. You've got to have guys that are committed to doing those things, all the little things. If you have guys that aren't then that's a real, real problem, and will continue to be. That's what gives me confidence is just the men we have."