“Alright, before we talk about the Packer game, I’ve got to send a shoutout to the San Jose flag football team, the Bengals. My son is on there. They’ve got a championship game today. It’s a big day in the O’Neil household. Hopefully they can bring home a victory. Good luck to coach Oliver Kenyon as he gets after it with those guys. As far as the Packers game, it’s a lot for us to learn from, a lot to build on. I really like how hard our guys are playing. We talk about being a relentless group and I really think that we’re starting to trend in that direction. I thought we were stout in the run game. We did a very good job up front and that’s a team that can run the football. Our DBs continue to do a good job keeping the ball in front of them and not allowing balls to be thrown over their head. We tackled well and I thought we did some good things on third down. As far as things we need to improve, coach talked about being more consistent and for us as a defense that’s more just being more consistent as a group. We can’t have all 11 guys executing their jobs for four plays and then on the fifth play, somebody plays with bad eyes or somebody plays with the wrong leverage or somebody jumps out of a gap or loses an edge. So, we need to do a better job as a defense being consistent as a group and then we just need to make more impact plays. Last week we had four turnovers. The week before we didn’t have any. We went back to not having any and we need some guys to step up and make some plays on fourth down.”
The third game is typically a time when teams in the past may have played their guys, but you guys rested LB Ahmad Brooks, S Antoine Bethea, LB NaVorro Bowman. What was your thinking behind that? Why did you have those guys in street clothes?
“We really had seven preseason games this offseason because if you count the practice against the Texans and then the two practices against the Broncos. To me, those practices were more valuable than the preseason games. And like coach said, we wanted to put some of the guys who were in backup roles that we saw having a big role for us this year and see how they would respond going with the ones and see what they could do. That’s all it was.”
In that same grain, we saw DT Tank Carradine’s snap count increase. What have you seen out of him and what progress has he made?
“He’s progressing in the outside backer room. He can set the edge. He’s heavy handed. I would not want to block him if I was a tight end. He continues to show up as far as pass rush and he’s gotten better every rep that he’s gotten as far as pass coverage. So, he’s done a nice job progressing at the position.”
How is he at setting the edge against the run and is that probably an area that you think, you mentioned it earlier, consistency, is that something you’re focusing on with him?
“Yeah, when he’s on his line and he takes a good aim and point, that tight end usually ends up three or four yards deep into the backfield. And at times it’s been the same with offensive tackles. So, he’s a guy that can cave in an edge for us, which really helps us in the run game.”
This is a two-part question. My first question to you is CB Will Redmond, he saw his first action, he’s a guy that kind of stood out to me from the slot cornerback position in terms of run support. So, my question to you is what are your thoughts on his first game getting NFL experience and the second part of that question is, is he too far behind in the learning curve to overtake CB Chris Davis who has been playing extremely well up to this point?
“It was good to have Will out there and he definitely did some good things in the run game. He was able to make some plays on some of our nickel pressures. I’m not sure if he’s all the way there yet, as far as back, but mentally he’s done a great job. He’s gotten a lot of reps out here on the practice field and he asks great questions in the meeting room. He’s a really smart football player. I was encouraged with what I saw from Will.”
How do you evaluate Chris Davis’ game? Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb is obviously a tough guy to cover. What was the overall assessment of him against the Packers?
“I thought he had some good plays against Cobb. Part of the reason that [Green Bay Packers QB] Aaron Rodgers was holding the ball some was he was waiting for Cobb to come open and Chris was in pretty good coverage against him, and then he gave up a couple plays. We didn’t do much game planning, so we didn’t do much to kind of take away Green Bay’s favorite weapon. But, I think Cobb got him on a couple plays and Chris got him on a couple plays. I thought it was a good matchup.”
At what point do you start talking about the Rams, their personnel and just kind of get in that look ahead mode?
“We did a lot of work on them before we broke for the break and it’s your first opponent. So, each preseason game that comes in, you find time to watch it. I’m sure after the Chargers game, we will spend a lot of time on them, finalize our game plan and transition probably this upcoming Friday.”
DB Jimmie Ward has said he wants to play both outside and in the slot. How much is he a part of the equation when you try to evaluate who is going to play the slot given that he hasn’t received a ton of reps there in the preseason?
“Jimmie’s gotten a lot of reps in practice playing slot corner. For us, those will be decisions based off of game plan. What will be best for us matchup-wise and we will try to put our guys in the best spot possible for them to make plays and for us to be effective.”
In what ways do you get more out of practicing against a team than you do playing a preseason game against them?
“It’s a much more controlled environment and there’s a lot more plays. Situational football. You kind of determine what you’re going to play. To me, those practices were more, we got more out of them as a group than the games.”
Can you talk about DL Ronald Blair? You guys used him in a lot of variety, different ways?
“Yeah, we talked about it last week. Every rep he gets, he seems to get better and he’s that kind of player. He’s going to wear a lot of hats for us. He continues to do a good job. He was around the quarterback a lot. He did some good things in the run game. He’s a guy we’re excited about. He’s a guy we’re going to use along the front. He’s going to play a lot of different positions for us. And like I said before, offenses are going to have to find him.”
Why didn’t CB Kenneth Acker, why didn’t he stick around? Why was he expendable after starting 13 games last year?
“For us, it’s a deep group. It’s a very competitive group and obviously, he was a guy that the Chiefs had interest in and they were able to get a draft pick for him. So, it was a plus on both ends. He’s going to go somewhere where he has a chance to play a lot and we were able to get a draft pick.”
Was it a scheme-fit thing?
“They were a lot different schematically last year than we are here this year.”
How much farther along is Tank Carradine as an outside backer since the beginning of the offseason program and now?
“I would say he’s probably made his biggest jump in pass coverage. That’s where he needed to learn the most. What’s a curl-flat drop? What’s quarter-flat drop? What’s a seam-flat drop? That’s where he’s probably made the biggest jump. As far as the run game, we just kind of moved him out two yards. He’s always been physical as far as the run game and then with the pass rush stuff, learning to rush from the edge instead of being an interior rusher. But, probably the biggest jump has been the coverage.”
When a story like what’s happening with QB Colin Kaepernick, as a defensive coordinator do you take any responsibility to talk to the guys about avoiding distractions and compartmentalizing that type of stuff?
“We’re focused on football.”