The San Francisco 49ers had their assistant coaches available for a media session on Monday, and each one had a chance to discuss his position unit. We’ll look at some of the others, but I thought we’d start with outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver (video).
Tarver coaches a group that has as a few question to figure out over the final three preseason games. Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks were expected to be the starters, but Lynch must now serve a four-game suspension to start the season. Eli Harold is getting starting reps in his place, and Tank Carradine is converting to OLB from formerly playing on the defensive line. Oh, and Ronald Blair is a guy viewed with some flexibility who is moving all around. The vide cut off during a question about Jaquiski Tartt, but here’s what we got from the media session.
On Ahmad Brooks needing to be one of the guys to step up:
Yea, and as long as Ahmad’s doing his job one play at a time, he’s gonna be in great shape. That’s where his mindset is right now. Proud of him, that’s what he’s doing, so we want to keep him continuing on that path.
If Brooks is relishing the opportunity to be “the guy” while Lynch is out:
Well, I think what Ahmad has that he does really well is his feel for football. And the play where he got the quarterback [on Sunday] was a good example of that. it’s a feel. When he starts with speed and feels blockers, he’s really good at seeing and feeling, and of course, bursting from that blocker to the quarterback, which is how you get sacks anyway. It’s how fast you get from the blocker to the quarterback. And that’s what he did a great job of. He was at the top of the pocket, and felt the quarterback underneath him, and spun back around, and that’s what he’s really good at. So it’s not necessarily a matter of being “the man,” it’s a matter of every time you get a chance to line up and go, go as fast as you can so you can feel it, both in practice and on game day. When he stays in that mode, he’s really good
On if college MLB work helped with that:
I think he sees the game really well, and feels it really well, and when he first started on the ball, some of the initial contact things, and of course we worked together then, and are now, we had to figure out how to get his feel on that. Now he’s really good at that, too. But yea, I think his ability to play and see all positions has helped him see things quickly.
On why Aaron Lynch played late in the preseason opener:
Where we are at the outside linebacker position, and really with the whole defense is you’re going to see everybody roll in. We may start different guys, we want to see people compete against other teams’ starters. So this week was a little more of Eli and Tank early, and Aaron soon after that. But we’re trying to hit both play-time numbers and matchups. We just want to see them compete. Don’t worry about who you’re lined up against, do your best. So for all of them, it’s that. But, he is out for four games, so we gotta roll everybody and see who wins. See who’s gonna step up, who’s gonna set the hardest edges, who’s gonna get the quarterback, who’s gonna do their job within the scheme of the defense, who’s gonna chase the ball the best. You know, the things we want to be known for, chasing the ball.
On if Lynch is overweight and extra reps would get him conditioning:
Yea, conditioning is everyday, and he’s gotten better since he’s been back in camp. We just gotta keep him going on his progression, and he’s gotta stay on his progression. But it’s daily, it’ll be this week against Denver in practice, it’ll be all the way through. Some are game reps, but it’s a daily process of, let’s get him to his ideal weight by the time he’s able to play for us.
On if Eli Harold is frustrated by lack of production:
Does he get frustrated? Well, everybody wants to tackle the guy with the ball … Eli’s getting better and better. Eli did a great job yesterday, and if he continues on this, of finishing the down unblocked, what I mean by that is, wherever you are on the play, if it’s your job to set the edge or chase the ball, if you edge in and arm over and finish unblocked, he did a great job of that yesterday. His edges were really good. So sometimes, as an edge player, the game might just be a little bit away from you. That can be frustrating to any of them. Any of those great edge players for 20 plays, if it’s not really to you, that can be a little frustrating, so you just gotta keep going, keep finishing unblocked and winning. So he did a good job of that yesterday, and he’s right on process. He’s getting better as a pass rusher. He had some really nice pass rushes in the practice against the Texans. And in the game, it didn’t work out quite as much, and there wasn’t as much to his side, but he’s progressing the way we want him to.
On if Harold will be able to talk with Von Miller, other Broncos pass rushers in joint practice this week:
Sure, and one of the things with any young player is to reach out to the real professional players and ask them, what they key, what do you feel, how are you getting off on the snap really fast, how are you, whatever, why do you put your hand here, those kind of things. One of the things we’ve been fortunate enough is to have Andre Carter with us in camp, who I’ve had the honor to coach here, and at another place. He’s great and he was hand-picked for our youth at outside linebacker position for feel, the feel of hands, same things we were talking about with Ahmad, how to feel rushes, where to put your hands, when you feel this, do this. And he’s so good at it, so him and I talk about everything, and then build stuff for the guys so that we get better and better.
On how much he works with Ronald Blair if at all:
We like position flexibility with our players, and what I mean by position flexibility is the ability to play inside, outside, on the edges. Guys like Blair and Tank and all the guys hopefully can rush inside and outside for us, and set edges. So [Blair] spends most of his time with Coach Azz, but we do a lot of things together, the outside linebackers and the defensive line.
On how he is doing rushing the edges after playing mostly inside in college:
Well, he played everywhere in college, from head-up on the tackle to slightly outside the tackle, to off the edges to inside, so we liked his production and ability to play in all those positions, and you could see. You could see him just chase the ball. More than defining a position for him, it’s a production-based industry, so we’re just excited about what he can do.
On if Tartt will play much with the linebackers:
Well, it’s a little bit more position flexibility. There’ll be times we put players who can cover and blitz in positions to cover and blitz … if a guy can really cover near the box and rush near the box, then we’ll use him in some of those. [cut off at this point]