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Curtis Modkins on execution issues, Torrey Smith, slot receiver plans

The San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator spoke to the media on Tuesday. He discussed the failures on Sunday, and preparation for Thursday. We’ve got a full transcript, courtesy of 49ers PR. You can view video here.

Opening comments:

“Good morning. It’s really good, coach mentioned that after the game, it’s really good that this is a short week so that we get to go back and get started here. Guys are working hard and they are preparing well these last couple of days. Obviously we’ve got something we’ve got to correct to move forward and we get a chance to do that pretty soon in a couple of days here.”

So, what’s at the top of the list of things that need to be corrected?

“It’s just overall execution. When you lose, you can point to a lot of different areas, so just overall execution. Although, we thought that the guys did a lot of stuff well. The way we start the game, if we can just put it all together and start, middle and finish, we feel like we’re on the right track. So, we’ve just got to improve in a lot of areas, including myself.”

What’s your assessment of the running game? The numbers are pretty solid through four games, but it never felt like the running game has taken control in a game. Is there a missing element? What do you need to do better there?

“Offensive football in general, one breakdown here or there can be the difference in a two-yard gain and a 40-yard game or a big pass or incomplete. We’ve just got to put it all together. We had some opportunities on Sunday for some big gains in the run game and a missed block here or a wrong read there, that messes it up. So, we’ve just got to overall with everything we do, run game, pass game, we’ve just kind of got to clean everything up and detail it and get it fixed.”

Is that part of guys still kind of getting used new blocking scheme, a new offense, is there a learning curve that’s still going on with the offense?

“I would hope that we are all learning continuously. That’s just part of the nature of what we do. I’m hoping that I’m still learning when I’m 20 more years into this. So, I don’t think that’s an issue. It’s just, if you take an angle that’s a little bit more inside than it needs to be then you get beat over the top or if you read this wrong. So, there are a lot of different factors to be honest with you.”

They really went heavy, eight and nine guys in the box last week against the Rams. Are you expecting to see that much traffic inside up front?

“It’s possible. If they do, we’ve got capabilities on offense to take advantage of that. We’ll see. Teams will play us a little bit differently. We’ll see when we play them how they react to it, but we’re prepared for whatever they do.”

How do you get WR Torrey Smith more involved?

“We’ve just got to keep working. Torrey is working his tail off. [QB] Blaine [Gabbert] is working his tail off to get him the ball. Things happen. Who gets the ball depends on what we see, the coverage. We’re not trying to force anybody the ball. Torrey is going to get his looks. That’s going to happen. We’re confident in that. Torrey is confident in that. What the defense tells us is kind of where the ball goes and he’s going to get his fair share as the season goes on. I’m confident in that.”

The long pass to Torrey Smith that was intercepted, is that a play that you run with the players in practice during the week and is it a play that you saved specifically for the fourth quarter?

“No. We don’t save plays. We try to call all of them. We hope every one of them that we call works. We’re not in the saving business. If we can hit that in the first quarter, we will. That’s a base play for us and we missed it.”

Why has WR Jeremy Kerley, what’s enabled him to have the kind of success he’s had through four games?

“Well, one, he’s an intelligent young man who’s worked his tail off to learn what we do. There’s some things defensively that we’ve seen in the last few weeks that allowed him to make some plays for us. Now, the next game it might be different. It might be somebody else. But, the way they were playing us on Sunday, it allowed him to make some plays for us and he did.”

How’s WR Quinton Patton played through four games?

“Good. Quinton has done a good job. I love the way he is in meetings. I like the way he practices and he’s done a good job on Sundays and we look for that to continue.”

You mentioned last week or the week before, WR Rod Streater is still adapting to the playbook. How is his progression coming?

“I think it’s good. I think every day he’s here he’s getting more and more comfortable with what we’re doing.”

Can you expand on Quinton Patton? He hasn’t caught many passes. He had the bobble that was an interception. What have you seen that leads you to believe that he’s played well?

“Well, the way he prepares and the way he practices. And it’s not all, I know you guys look at a receiver and think all he does is catch passes. But, there are a lot of other things that receivers do that help you win. Blocking, are they in the right spots, the route that they’re running which affects another route, is he doing it at the proper depth? There’s a lot of other things that goes into whether you’re doing a good job than what you do on Sunday’s as far as catching the football.”

Why don’t you game plan one or two plays for the second half? Can you explain why you don’t do that?

“Excuse me?”

Why don’t you save or game plan one or two plays specifically for the second half?

“The play that you may be referring to, if they are going to work in the second half we hope that they will work in the first half too.”

Some of the teams kind of played you guys differently. When you look at teams preparing for you guys differently, how does that affect the way that you plan in games when you see in film that they play certain teams one way but they play you differently than maybe all of the other teams on their schedule?

“You have to be fluid and you have to be versatile. I think our offense allows us to do that. You can prepare for something, but when you get to game day if a team has a different wrinkle or two for you, it’s our job to adjust. And I think, to be honest with you, I think [head coach] coach [Chip] Kelly does a wonderful job of that. He’s able to talk about things and we’re able to adjust. Our offense is fluid enough that we’re able to adjust what we feel like based on what we’re seeing on that particular day.”

Chip was saying yesterday that he and some of the coaches had slept here on Monday night or on Sunday night and possibly last night. What is it like trying to prepare on a short week? What have the last 48 hours been like for you?

“This is what we do. There’s not a lot of sleep that goes on period at this time of the year. Maybe on a Sunday-Thursdayturnaround, maybe there’s less. But, that’s what we do and I’m fine with it. So, not much, but hey it’s part of the deal right?”

How much work did you do on Arizona before this game?

“A little, not much. A little bit. We got ahead a little bit, but mostly our focus was on the Cowboys. Maybe a little bit on game day. Just watching them and getting a little bit of a head start. Our Arizona started after the game.”

When you look at the defensive front for Arizona in the last two games, they’ve struggled against the run, but what do they still do well with Arizona Cardinals DT Calais Campbell and that defensive front?

“I know the numbers say they’ve struggled, but they’re a very talented group. Not only upfront, but I think on every level of their defense they are talented. I was at Arizona before, so I know what Calais is capable of and I know who he is and I know the way he plays. So, it will be a challenge. We’ll have to take advantage of some, when we have some opportunities gap-wise and scheme-wise, we’ll have to take advantage of those. But, it will be a challenge. They are a very good run defense. The numbers may not show it, but you can’t measure the numbers just through four games. This NFL season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and at the end of it I guarantee you these guys are going to be good at stopping the run on defense.”

Regarding Torrey, there were two times during the game that he was obviously frustrated. And I realize he’s competitive, but when you have a guy like that who is visibly upset during the game, do you talk to him, do you have to make sure he gets stuff off his chest or is he in a good spot?

“Torrey Smith is the one human being on this earth that you don’t have to counsel about doing the right thing. So, I don’t know what you’re referring to, but that would be the least of my concerns with Torrey Smith.”

Where is WR Keshawn Martin being worked in on the offense?

“He’s learning. He’s learning what we do. He’s working and figuring out and working at our outside receiver position. So, we’ll see where it goes from there, but he’s getting what we need to do. He’s getting it done. It’s just going to take time.”

Who works out of the slot if Kerley couldn’t practice today for example?

“We can move guys around. QP can go in the slot. We’ve got tight ends that can play in the slot. We’re versatile enough offensively that we can formate it to get different people where we need to get them.”