Can you take us through your week? How do you structure your week? In the past here there’s always been practices on Friday, today being a normal Thursday. So, how do you go about the workload in which you put on the guys as the week progresses?
“We practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday with Wednesday and Thursday being our biggest days. Friday we back off a little bit and thenSaturday we practice a little bit faster.”
You practice faster on Saturday?
Why is that?
What does science say about that?
“That you should practice faster the day before the game.”
Some other coaches have taken that strategy. I know Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy at Green Bay has done it. More and more coaches around the league adhering to that practice schedule that you started a couple years ago--?
“Yeah, I don’t know why they’re doing it. Maybe that’s a question for those guys, but I know it worked for us in college and it worked for us in the league. That’s why we do it.”
Can you explain what the science is behind it?
“It’s too complicated and we’ve only got 10 minutes.”
What if that’s a special session that we’d all like to learn about?
“Not the time. Not during the season. Maybe in the offseason, we’ve got time to pontificate on the science aspects of it. But, we’re always trying to do what’s the best for us. We researched it when we were at Oregon and it worked for us. I know a lot of college teams have gone to it too.”
Speaking of colleges, you see colleges doing up-tempo now and a lot of NFL teams are up-tempo. Does that affect you guys that defenses that you faced in Philly had to become more and more adept at facing it just because they are immune to them?
“I think any time anybody sees anything more, then they are more familiar with it. That’s just the nature of the game. A lot of people run a double A-gap, linebackers up. It was new to the league a couple years ago. More teams are doing it. The more you see it, the more you understand it.”
What’s the countermove for you? How do you prepare?
“Well, I don’t think it means they are stopping it. It just means they understand it and how they do it. And again we don’t play fast all the time. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions out there. You’ve seen us play in the preseason. Did we play fast every play? I think people say up-tempo, if you’re not in a huddle they think you’re up-tempo. That doesn’t mean, you can snap the ball with four seconds to go on the clock or you could snap the ball with 34 seconds to go on the clock. So, I think that’s just a misconception.”
I have a zone read question.
What’s the pros and cons of maybe sticking QB Colin Kaepernick in for a package here or there? Does that disrupt the offensive flow too much or does it catch the defense off guard? Is that an option that you can--?
“Well, I think both of our quarterbacks have the same similar skills, so I think maybe if you had one quarterback that ran the 40 in 5.4 and then you have another quarterback that runs the 40 in 4.5, there’s a distinct difference between the two of them. But, one of the unique things about here is that both of our quarterbacks, and even all three of them because [QB] Christian [Ponder] can run, so all three of them have that aspect in them. All three of them have done it in the preseason. Christian pulled one in the Broncos game and scored a touchdown from 20-something out. So, I don’t think, I think sometimes teams do that when there’s a different between the athletic, or the run ability of one and two and three. So, that’s kind of where they get into some of the package aspects of things.”
Speaking of quarterbacks, how has Kaepernick’s protest affected you, the team and has it brought people together by chance?
“I think our team did a great job with it. And I’ve said this before, our squad leaders had a meeting way ago after it happened on Sunday. And then, we had a team meeting where Kap addressed the team and I think our players listened to Kap’s side of it and understand Kap’s side of it and see where he’s coming from. That’s really been the last that as a team that we talked about the situation. We recognize and respect Kap’s decision and his constitutional rights to do what he’s doing and it sounds like it’s been a positive change. There’s been a lot of positive things that have come out of it. So, we haven’t had any meetings since the one after our second preseason game.”
Surely 49ers CEO Jed York is putting some serious money into the game. Do you think that will help too?
“I think any time there’s conversation about injustice in this country, I think it’s a positive thing. And now, instead of just a conversation to take it a step further like both Colin has done and Jed has done, I think is a positive.”
Have you noticed Los Angeles Rams LB/S Mark Barron is one of those hybrid safety guys who moved into a linebacker spot? How does that affect your game planning, because you’ve got two teams in your division that do that? Of course Arizona Cardinals LB Deone Bucannon has done it as well.
“Yeah, and two really good ones at it. I think it’s another thing in the league, you’re talking about trends that are going on in the league, I think that there are a lot of teams that are going to that hybrid linebacker position just to match up with people that are trying to spread you out. Sometimes the traditional two inside linebackers that both weight 240 and are tough, hardnosed, run-stop guys, but then when you spread them out you can create some mismatch problems. That’s the chess game that goes on within the game. But obviously, they don’t have to get to a dime package. They can leave Mark and [Los Angeles Rams LB Alec] Ogletree on the field because you have two really, really athletic linebackers out there. So, it’s difficult just because you don’t win some of those matchups that you think you could have won if it was just two traditional linebackers on the field, so you’ve just got to be aware of that when you go to play teams like Los Angeles and Arizona.”
With CB Chris Davis not practicing and CB Keith Reaser not practicing yesterday, what are you options as far as that nickel position?
“There’s a lot of different options. Could be a safety. We’ve got a group of safeties on our team. [DB] Jimmie [Ward] can go inside. [CB] Rashard [Robinson] could play a little bit more, but we’ve still got a couple more days of training so I wouldn’t rule any of those guys out.”
One of the advantages of the up-tempo offense is being able to dictate defensive substitutions at times. How much of an advantage is that for you guys when you guys can come in and do what you guys want to do without realizing defensive substitutions haven’t come in so you have a better personnel groupings and matchup problems?
“Yeah. Again, it goes to the matchup thing. Again, when you’re playing the Ram’s, there’s not a lot of advantage you gain because of Mark’s versatility at linebacker. So, you can say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have this on the field,’ and then what people try to do is if there’s a distinct change from base to nickel, well, you try to keep one on the field and not allow them to substitute. That’s one of the advantages, I think, of when you can play fast. But, one of the ways teams are matching it is by having more athleticism and then even though you change personnel, they don’t have to change personnel because they can flourish against both. So, it really is, I think the advantages and disadvantages occur on a game-to-game basis, there’s not just a blanket, this gives us this or this. It just depends on really who you’re playing.”
How much more fluid does LB NaVorro Bowman look going into this season than last year? Can you tell on film?
“You know, I really can’t tell. I think that’s a good question for NaVorro. He says he feels 100-percent, but he said he felt 100-percent at the end of last year too. So, that’s more for him. If a slowed down NaVorro Bowman leads the NFL in tackles, then if there’s any way you guys think he’s a little bit faster, then I think that’s a positive.”
There’s been criticism of your offense and some have said it didn’t evolve during your time with the Eagles over those three seasons. Do you agree with that and how do you spend time--?
“I don’t really care what people say or blog about. I mean that’s, we don’t sit in our meeting room and say, ‘Hey, somebody blogged about this. Let’s talk about this.’ So, we’re just trying to get first downs and score points against whoever we’re playing that week. So, we’re not governed by what someone wrote or said. I never really think about it that way.”
Do you go into each offseason looking at how you can change your offense and--?
“We go into every offseason trying to improve in every aspect that we do. Whether it’s player acquisition, player development, teaching in the classroom, strength and conditioning. I think in everything, you’ve never arrived at this game and you’re always striving to get better in every aspect of what you’re do. So, to think that we haven’t changed or won’t change just because of whatever, I don’t get that.”
You’ve mentioned Ogletree a couple times, a guy making that transition to the middle where he’s got to make all the calls and things like that. What are the challenges of a guy having to do that?
“Well, I don’t know exactly how [Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator] Gregg’s [Williams] system works. So, I don’t know if he has to make every call or how that’s distributed. So, I can’t speak to that. That’s probably a better question for them. I just think when you turn the tape on, he shows up a lot. He always seems to be around the ball. I think that’s one of the reasons maybe they wanted to get him in the middle so that he can now cover sideline to sideline as opposed to just putting him on one side of the defense. But, I think they made the maneuver just because I think they wanted to get more athletic and they obviously have when you put him and then you put the WILL linebacker in Barron. You put the two of those guys together, you have two really, really athletic linebackers that can present a lot of problems for you. So, I look at it as a positive. But, in terms of making the calls or the adjustments, every defense that you face is somewhat different. So, I don’t know exactly the pressures or how the communication system works for the Rams. So, I can’t speak to that part of it.”
From what you do know, looking at Ogletree and Barron, does that maybe say let’s try to go more power type stuff at them because you’ve got a chase linebacker at the MIKE and you’ve got a smaller guy at the WILL?
“Not particularly. You know, I think sometimes, again, it happens. Everybody writes, well the guy can run, that means he can’t be a power guy. That doesn’t mean anything. I mean, you watch guys like Mark Barron, he’s a tough, hardnosed, physical football player and I don’t think you’re giving him credit for what he is. But, everybody wants to say, ‘Well, you have a converted safety at linebacker. So, then we’re going to run the ball right at him.’ Well, turn the tape on. He’s a tough, hardnosed, physical player. Deone Bucannon in Arizona is the same exact way. Those coaches are really, really good football coaches. They wouldn’t put a guy in those situations if they didn’t think that they could be a linebacker. You know, and I think if you look at it, Mark Barron was a very highly coveted player in this offseason and there’s a reason for that. When you turn the tape on, you know, I don’t look at it and say, ‘Mark Barron can’t do this.’ I think everybody thought he could be a really good linebacker in this league and that’s why he was so highly coveted and I think you’re shortchanging him to say that he’s just a run around, sideline to sideline guy. I think he’s a real powerful football player.”
Who’s your swing tackle?
“Who’s our what.”
Your backup, your swing tackle?
“We would probably move [OL] Anthony [Davis] out.”
Has he been getting reps at all at left tackle?
“At left tackle? I’ll check, I don’t know exactly the distribution. But, that would be our maneuver today.”
QB Blaine Gabbert said that he’s been operating as if he was going to be the starting quarterback and part of that has been trying to build relationships and taking on more of a leadership role in the locker room. Have you seen that and how important is it for a quarterback in a competition to do those things?
“I think it’s important for a quarterback to do it whether he’s in a competition or not in a competition. So, you know, Blaine’s that type of guy. That’s kind of in Blaine’s DNA in terms of how he operates. So, I don’t think he’s doing things that are outside of, ‘Hey, now I’m in a quarterback competition so I have to do this.’ I think that’s just kind of the way Blaine is and I think it’s evidence of the players here too.”
Given what Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley was coming off of in college, I don’t imagine you studied all his tape last year--?
“We did, in the draft.”
OK. Were you surprised by how effective he was as a rookie?
“No. I mean, we thought he was the top running back coming out in the draft. It didn’t surprise us that he got picked. We thought he would be a top-15 pick. I think we were in the 20’s. So, we didn’t even think he would get to us and he didn’t get to us. So, I don’t think what he did really surprises people that studied what he did at Georgia. He had an outstanding career at Georgia and the fact that he continued that with the Rams wasn’t a surprise. I think he was the highest running back. Not a lot of running backs have been picked in the top 15 in recent years and there was a reason for it. I think because of his ability and his size, his speed. You know, he’s a unique combination. Sometimes you get a smaller, powerful guy and then other times you get a taller, longer guy. I think he’s got a great combination of not only is he powerful, but he’s also extremely fast. So, he can kind of hit homeruns from wherever he is on the field.”
Does he bring any backs in the past to mind?
“I’m not a comparison guy. So, I don’t--.”
I’m not either.
“OK, then why did you ask the question? You know what [former President of the United States] Teddy Roosevelt said, right? Comparison is the thief of joy. So, if you want to be unhappy, just talk about comparisons.”