How do you think practice went yesterday? What did you like out there?
“I thought it was good. I thought we battled both sides of the ball. I didn’t think either side really did better than the other. I thought we started off good with the offense. I think defense came back real strong in the red zone and I thought the offense just edged it out and moved the ball, period. A lot of things we got better at and a lot of things we’ve still got to clean up.”
Your dad’s been here the couple times we’ve seen. Obviously, he’s an observer. Is he, do you guys talk in shop much afterwards?
“No, we just talk about movies.”
Is that right?
“No, I’m just joking. I’m not sure we talk about much other than football, because we enjoy it a lot. He loves football and he likes to be in a place where he can watch everything. He’ll have an office attached to my office, so he just posts up in there and watches a lot of tape and comes out with ideas a lot and saying stuff. It’s good to have as many eyes as possible looking at stuff. Especially on people that you think are talented at what they do and people you trust their opinions. I use any advice I can get from anyone.”
Do you consider him part of your staff?
“No. It’s, I think, he’s enjoying life right now. He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver and where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”
What areas, just a few months into this job, have you leaned on him so far and try to see, have there been any situations where you go to him for counsel?
“No. You know, it’s been going so fast you don’t have that much time always for phone conversations. It’s real nice when as a first time head coach, trying to do the whole offensive thing and do all the head coach stuff too, you’re going 1,000 miles an hour. Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach. It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed. The more people you have who know what you’re trying to do, watch stuff, there’s always something to find. That’s why all of us kind of go crazy with never feeling like we’re done. There’s something else to look at. The more you can get people in that situation, it’s only a benefit.”
Talk about going 1,000 miles an hour, you’ve basically been doing that since training camp with the Falcons last July. So, what do you do these next few weeks?
“I try to check out, personally. It’s been a while. Usually I get a couple weeks after the season. It was different this year for obvious reasons. It, I feel like I’ve recovered. I’m good now, but it will be nice to get away for an extended period of time. Usually I go to Mexico for a few weeks with my family and don’t wear a watch around, don’t look at anything, just wake up when I wake up, go to sleep whenever I’m tired and just to hang out with the kids and try to be pretty anxiety free because I know it’s the calm before the storm usually.”
You had a couple big plays yesterday offensively using play-action. How important is that overall to your offensive philosophy?
“I think it’s very important. It’s just, you want to put defenses in a bind and you want to make them start, stop certain things. If you want to run the ball, you want to make them stop the run game and schematically how are they going to stop that. There’s certain ways you put teams in a bind and you make them stop the run and then you know you have the play-action or you have a bootleg or something like that. There’s just ways to take pressure off the O-Line, pressure off the quarterbacks. It helps you get some easier explosive plays, not just dropping back all the time and needing your quarterback to just be unbelievable and the protection and everything. I think it allows you to get a lot of explosive plays without pressure on people and keeps the defense honest, which is the most important thing.”
S Eric Reid said the toughest thing about going against your offense was being able to discern a running play versus play-action. Is that the most important thing for you when you’re coaching that up?
“I mean, I think it is if you’re not just dialing up plays. You want to know why they’re stopping something and if they do, schematically there’s some hole that they’re leaving. If that’s the case, you know what you’re going to get if you make it look the exact same and if it looks the exact same and that guy does what he does to make a zero-yard run, but he also has to get under a 15-yard route, that puts that guy in a bind. If he’s stopping the run, it’s going to help out the receiver and the quarterback. If he’s not stopping the run because he’s so worried about the receiver and quarterback, now you’re getting four yards before that guy shows up. It makes people hesitate. If you let a defense tee off in this league, I don’t care who it is or who you are on offense, they’re usually going to get after you once you become one dimensional.”
I think one of the explosive plays was WR Marquise Goodwin sprinting down the right side. He came in notoriously fast. How fast has he looked to you and how’s he coming along?
“He’s coming along well. He’s been fun to work with. I’ve watched Marquise since he was at Texas. He’s a guy I was really interested in coming out of college and just watching him at Buffalo the past last few years. I mean, everyone knows how fast he can run. When you can run that fast it’s scary for defenses, they have to back up. What makes Marquise unique is he can break down also. So, when you can run real fast and scare everyone, but you can also break down, it helps you get open because guys are scared of the touchdown. And once they start squatting on you, you have a chance to run by them and get an explosive. You do that once every few weeks and you’re probably not going to get it again, but it’s going to be a lot easier to move the chains because everyone is so scared of what he could do. That’s what speed does. You’ve got to work at it to get those deep ones, whether they work or they don’t, just the fact that you’re willing to do it usually puts pressure on a defense, makes them defend the whole field.”
You’ve had him now, it seemed like he was kind of limited in what they asked him to do with Buffalo. Are you trying to figure out exactly how you can use him, what variation of routes he can run?
“Yeah, always. You try put guys, you try to give guys the best chance to be successful and then it’s up to them once you put them in that situation. And so, you want to find guy’s skillsets, what they do the best. He obviously runs real fast, so you want to move him deep, but guys who run real fast, if they only go deep, they’re very easy to cover, people who just run deep. If you threaten them with deep stuff, you can put him on a lot of other routes that also get him open. That’s what’s been fun with Marquise, because you haven’t seen a lot of it on tape. He’s been pretty much outside the numbers his whole career, even in college. Now to move him all over, it’s new for him, its trial and error, but what I like about Marquise is he’s not embarrassed if he’s not used to something. He goes out there, puts it all out there. He’s not scared to fail. He tries his hardest, and routes that he wasn’t very good at on OTA one he’s much different now. You just want to keep putting him in those situations, challenge him and by the time you get to the season, you’ve kind of got an idea of what he does real good, what he doesn’t and you mash it up with the rest of your group.”
Another one of the big plays yesterday was to TE George Kittle. Is he showing you what you hoped to see so far?
“Yeah, I think George is, like everyone, but George is coming, really battling. He’s competed in the run and the pass game. George is a guy you can tell he is going for it, because the way he competes on the field, which you guys have seen at the times you’ve been out there. Mainly, what he does off the field too. He’s really trying to learn it and that’s given him a chance to show up a little bit.”
For training camp, do you want it more physical or do you want the guys to not get hurt? Do you want them to go, not through the motions, you have some competitions going on, but you’ve been part of different styles, your take on training camp?
“I want it to be physical. It’s just a standard, how you practice. I don’t plan on us tackling very much, but you’ve got to thud up. You’ve got to hit people. You’ve got to square people up. People don’t ever need to take people to the ground, in my opinion. They can show us that on game day. If you don’t know how to take someone to the ground in the NFL, it’s going to be tough to just learn that in practice also. You’re at the NFL, you better know how to tackle or you’re not going to be there long. But, we want to be physical. We want to go fast. When we get these shoulder pads on, it’s more the run game, the protections, everything is physical as can be without taking your feet off the ground, and going after guys and taking people to the ground tackling. You’ve got to do it then, because you don’t have that option throughout the season. So, you can’t do it in OTAs, if you skip it in training camp, you’re only allowed a certain amount of padded practices and your guys are sore anyways, so I don’t want to do more than what’s allowed.”
So, if guys get nicked up will you change the tone of it or you’re just trying to get guys in shape?
“Guys better come to camp in shape. It’s not like it used to be. It’s not like there’s five and half weeks and you take the first two weeks just to break them down and get them into football shape. After two weeks, camp’s almost over. You’re getting into that third preseason game, which is like a game and then the fourth game is like three days later. And, a lot of those guys aren’t even on the team after that fourth game. Camp goes fast and the days of coming to camp and easing yourself into shape, usually that person pulls a hamstring, misses two weeks, tries to come back at the end of camp and is playing catchup the rest of the year and everyone wants to know why he had a bad year. So, if you don’t come to camp ready to go, you’re going to get worse not better.”
As far as your dad, do you anticipate him also being here around training camp and the regular season here and there?
“No, I wouldn’t think the regular season. I would anticipate he’ll come for camp, just because he enjoys it. I’m sure he’ll come down for practice a week or so, whatever it is.”
Did you give him an iPad to look at everything?
“He has his own iPad. It’s huge, he lives on it. He’s always watching it, so he’s been good.”
You’ve got three straight road games and the last two are, what is it, Indy and Washington? Have you determined, are you just going to come home after the Indy game or do you know?
“I think we’re coming right home after the Indy game. Do we know? We’ve talked about this. I kind of focus on what’s important now. It’s a little bit, it’ll work out, but I don’t want to be on the road too long personally. It’s our first year together. I think being gone too long, we’re up here a lot. Not just coaches, but players also. Anytime you’re on the road real long, sometimes you go 14 days without seeing your family. I think that can wear on everyone. So, I try to avoid that as much as possible.”
Have you guys taken LB Reuben Foster in for any updates, MRIs, or anything?
“No, there haven’t been any updates. It’s been the status quo. He’s been doing great with his rehab. I really have no concerns. I think he’ll be more than ready to go by training camp. That’s my feeling. I can’t promise that, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.”
You expect him to be first day pads, go on, and he would be ready?
“Yes, I do. Yes.”
TE Garrett Celek had a nice reception yesterday between two defenders. Can you talk about him?
“Yeah, we have some good competition there. We have six guys who I believe are all NFL players. Very rarely just six guys on our roster, if ever. So, we’ve got some good competition there. It’s going to be tough for the coaches, but it’s definitely a good problem to have. Speaking of Celek, he’s done a great job. I’ve been a fan of him throughout his career. I remember studying him a couple years ago when I thought he was going to be a free agent. I think it was last year, but they ended up signing him before he went to the market. He’s learning new stuff just like everyone else is, but that whole group in general is doing a real good job.”
You were a big fan of WR Trent Taylor. How has he come along? Has he been everything you had hoped so far?
“Yeah, Trent is a competitive guy. He gets after it. He's very good at separating. Like all of the rookies right now, everything has been thrown at him. He's had some really good days and he’s had some days where he's been off. I'm really excited about Trent. I'm excited for him to soak all of this in, get away for a little bit and I think he'll come back to training camp and get some good competition out there.”
Last training camp one from me, would you ever consider moving it somewhere away from the facility? Have you been a part of that?
“Yeah, I've done it both ways. I think there are pluses and minuses to both. I definitely would consider it. Sometimes it's a pain, but sometimes it's nice to get away. I think it kind of makes your group tighter and makes it a little bit less distractions. One thing that is tough about always staying in the same spot is when camp breaks after a few weeks, or whatever it is, it breaks and everyone gets excited, but then you're back in the exact same spot the next morning at the exact same time. You start to realize there is no camp. We just are here. That makes the whole season a little longer. Sometimes it's nice to go away and when it breaks you drive back home. It breaks up the monotony of it and you kind of get a different feel. I like both things. You always get stressed with how are we going to travel everything? Are we going to be used to the situation? There are pluses and minuses for both.”
Speaking of breaking up the monotony, is that why those joint practices, or one of the reasons the joint practices are so important?
“Yeah. I'm extremely excited about that. I think, for two reasons. One, is that it breaks up the monotony and, two, it allows to go against different looks. We have a scheme that plays a lot of cover-three. Personally, you get bored going against it every single play. That doesn't mean you just want the defense to start making stuff up to help you on offense. One way that you can do that is practicing against other people. You see a few days of different coverages, different fronts, which will help prepare you for the season. I think that's almost more important than a preseason game.”
With all of the rotating you're doing along the offensive line, is it difficult to project those guys given that there aren't pads and you're sort of limited with what you can do physically?
“To a degree. Definitely in protection. I think protection is one of the toughest things. It's very tough to block defensive linemen in general. It's very tough to block them without pads on and stuff, that makes them a lot more slippery. And the run game, it's give and take. It depends on what type of fronts they're playing and what type of techniques. One good thing about that outside-zone is you're not pulling guards and stuff very much so there's very rarely this [pounding fists together] and it's usually on somewhat of an angle, which I feel like we can get away practicing a little more runs than most people do. It's not just with the O-Line, it's with everyone. That's why you never try to get too into anything in OTAs. You'll find out when the pads come on with everyone.”
Have you seen this team get tighter over the last couple of months?
“Yeah, I have. I have been really impressed with our guys. That's something that was really important to me when I got here. I thought it would take a long time. I think I was kind of saying it yesterday, but I really like the environment here with the players. They seem like a close group. The guys hang out here a lot with each other. I hear them talking about stuff on the weekends together. From what I’ve seen without being here last year and stuff, but I feel we have gotten closer each day since the offseason started.”
Last week, at the State of the Franchise stuff LB NaVorro Bowman let it be known that T Joe Staley won an award for the offseason conditioning, training or whatever it was. Can you specify what that was and whether any other awards have been given out for offseason?
“I honestly don't even know about the award. I'm sure [strength & conditioning coach] Ray [Wright] gave him something silly to make fun of him in the training room and embarrass him. That's what I'm guessing, but Joe is everything that I think you guys know he is. Joe is here every day, goes as hard as he can physically and mentally, and he has been really fun to work with.”
You’re still relatively early into being a head coach, but in the first couple of months, are there things that have become easier or more comfortable or surprises?
“I think there are many parts about it that are easier and there are a lot of parts that are tougher. You definitely can get watered down with more responsibilities if you don't select people to help you in certain areas. If you're not organized with your time, the day can get away from you very quickly. That’s happened to me a lot at the beginning where I came in and I’m expecting to start tape at seven in the morning and it's five o'clockin the afternoon and I haven't turned on the tape yet and then I'm stressing and I'm like, 'What just happened?' Stuff just keeps coming, but I have gotten more used to that. The easier things are that you don't have to worry about as much as you do as a position coach or a coordinator. There are a lot of things that are out of your control when you're those and you can't really solve as many problems. You’ve just got to kind of internalize it and deal with it. It's nice being in the situation of a head coach and being able to work with [general manager] John Lynch and [CEO] Jed [York] and stuff and know whenever there is a problem that you don't have sit there and just internalize it. You can go solve problems and work on things to make things better and decide what's not that big of a problem. I think that stuff makes just coming to work easier and more fun.”
With CB Rashard Robinson and LB Ahmad Brooks missing practice, you have praised them recently for what they've been able to do within the defense. Is giving them time off sort of, I don't want to say a reward or you're comfortable with where they are at, but is it kind of telling that these guys have played well and we just want to make sure they're healthy going into camp and this extended off period?
“I think it's more about trust. With Ahmad and Rashard, we're not just giving them off because we're throwing them a bone. We're giving them off because they're tight. They're not hurt really bad, but stuff is bothering them. It's the last week before we take a month off. When someone is like that and they've been working every day and doing everything you ask and you don't ever see them being lazy, you trust their intentions are to be out there. When people tell you that they're hurting, you want to listen to that. You don't want someone to tell you that and say, 'Just fight through it,' and then one of them pull a hamstring. Then they spend their next month rehabbing their hamstring and then they come to training camp and they're out of shape. Then they really hurt their hamstring again and it's a chain reaction, which is why they end up having a bad year. Those guys have done everything I’ve asked. They've been here 100-percent. They worked hard in phase two, they worked hard in OTAs and they both have gotten nicked up. We don't want to risk injuring them.”