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Eric Mangini talks 49ers defense, what he's learned

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The San Francisco 49ers had their assistant coaches available to the media Thursday afternoon. Defensive coordinator Eric Mangini had a chance to discuss the 49ers defense, and what he's learned, both in his previous failures, and working with tight ends. Give it a watch HERE.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

On helping Tomsula:

"I try to make life as easy as possible for him so that things that were challenges to me as a head coach, I want to make sure I'm not presenting those challenges to him. My main focus is to be a resource, so if he needs anything or has a question, I'm happy to. But it's also important for Jim to do things his way. That's a lesson I learned. That's a big part of it.

On what he learned from Belichick on struggling in first head coach jobs:

Maybe the best example I can say is, as you're dealing with the kids, did you ever say things your parents said to you, to them? I think it's kind of the same thing when you're coaching the team. I know with my kids, I'll say stuff my dad said to me, and as a kid I probably didn't love that my dad said it to me, but I'm saying the same thing. And it's a little bit like that with any experience where you hear that voice and you know how well that system works, but it's also you gotta now put in the way you see it, with your perspective. So probably, too rigid with certain things. Definitely too rigid. I was too rigid with things.

Examples of rigidity:

Probably dealing with the media, a little rigid there. I don't know if you heard that (making a joke). That was an eye-opener there. So in New England, I think I'd done one press conference, because the coordinators didn't have to talk at that point. So, I did one press conference during training camp, and there's about three people there. They must have all gone out for lunch when I showed up. And then my next press conference was in the auditorium in front of the New York Media. There's like 50 cameras, so I probably could have been better prepared for that. That's a totally different experience.

On if he took media tips from Belichick:

Bill and Bill (Parcels), those are the two guys that I worked for. I think the lessons were good, and the thought process was sound. But you can just handle things better. Two years at ESPN didn't hurt, either.

On how working at ESPN gave him good perspective:

Yea, you get a lot of insight, hear the conversations, sit in the room watching games at ESPN with everybody who covers the games. It's interesting to hear their perspectives. And I thought that mine, one of the things I wanted to do while I was there is not tell anybody what to think. Just say, this is what happened, and you can either agree with it or disagree with it, but this was the thought process behind it, as opposed to necessarily, direct it one way or the other.

On the retirements and what defense will look like:

Every offseason that I've been a part of, there's huge changes. Sometimes it's free agency, sometimes its retirement, sometimes it's things you never anticipate, never can plan for. But there has been really good depth built up here. There's been guys with a lot of play time due to injuries. And we've got guys that were injured last season that are coming back, that weren't even a part of the defense last season, and really good players, quality players. And that's been exciting. Getting out here and working with the guys, spending time with the guys, learning about the guys, has been really, really good. And I know all of them from having been here for two years. But it's different. You don't interact with them the same way as you do now.

On players discussing more pressure, different looks:

One of the things that I believe in defensively is that you have your core things that you do really well. But then you have to be in a position, build in some flexibility as well. And I've called games where we've blitzed 30 times, and I've called games where we've blitzed three times.

Always been a big believer, and raised defensively to be game-plan specific. And I know that term gets thrown out there a lot. But it's identifying, ok, what can we attack, it's identifying what we have to stop. And then having enough flexibility within the system to get those things done. Because Week 1 is going to be dramatically different than Week 2, and right on down the line. To say that we're going to be percentage-wise one way or the other, I couldn't tell you. It will kind of evolve as the opponents evolve.

On changing philosophy to fit with this personnel, knowing they were added to fit a certain scheme:

Vic's a 34 base, I'm a 34 base. Similar...if anything, the look and feel of the players is very consistent with what I've had. Remember, Trent and I were together in New York a long time ago with the Jets. We share philosophically a lot of the same views, what a defensive lineman looks like, what an inside linebacker looks like, what a secondary. And the second thing is, whatever players we have, we're not going to be dogmatic in scheme where, "we have to play this, we have to play this." It's, we have to play what fits them, and what they do well.

On emphasizing pre-snap stuff in OTAs since it's harder:

I just always believe in that. The ability to disguise coverages because good quarterbacks know what you're in, there's always something in a pattern that can beat that coverage. If you've got a seven-man box, there ability to check to the run, eight man box, ability to check to the pass. I've always been big believer in making offenses make post-snap decisions, so that they have to react, and try to take back some of the initiative that they have.

On how he views things after working on offense:

It's been great, great. To sit in offensive meetings, hear what the problems are. You realize what creates a ton of discussion, what's going to create a bunch of adjustments, what's going to give them headaches when they're getting ready to gameplan. And then making sure we have the ability to get to those things.

On being in film room watching other defenses:

Each week, looking at what they're doing, taking notes of things that I like, things that I didn't like. Styles, philosophies, situational packages. So from that perspective, it was a couple years of being able to build some thoughts on what's happening, what's trending. You get a good look at what's trending in the league.

On being up in booth or on sideline:

I don't know. I haven't decided. I might, preseason, call a couple down and a couple up and see what works better.

On what he's done in the past:

Usually it's on the sideline. Because you can, there's adjustments to be made, substitutions, or someone gets dinged. Any of those types of decisions, you like to be able to get to them quickly, but there is value in being in the box, just because it's a much more controlled environment.

On having NaVorro Bowman back this year:

He's been great. He's so much fun to watch when he plays, and getting to know him. Watching his leadership, his intensity in practice. Seeing him in the classroom, seeing the way he works with the information. Really respect him, not that I didn't respect him before, but seeing it and experiencing it, and getting to know him as a guy. I just went to his first charity event the other night. Some of the things he's trying to get done in the community, really happy for him.