First question, anything going on with DB Jimmie Ward? Do you expect him back when you guys return to practice?
“Yeah, we’re going to put him through again, we put him through a hard workout last week, tomorrow we’re going to have our DB coach [defensive backs coach] Jeff Hafley go out there and really take him through a hard workout that’s more pertained to exactly football. So, we’re going to see how he responds to that on Monday and Tuesday and hopefully we’ll get him ready to go by Wednesday.”
So the rest of the team is off from work, Monday?
“Yes, this is a true normal week for us, in terms of this is really our only trial run before the season. So, we’re doing everything the exact same way this week as we will Week 1 versus Carolina. So, Monday will be our day after the game. I had to give the players today off, because during training camp, they have to have one every seven days. So tomorrow will be the true day after the game, then Tuesday will be the true players’ day off, then we’ll have practice Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, travel on Saturday.”
You mentioned yesterday that TE Vance McDonald left the game. How did he turn out and were there any other injuries that you’ve learned about since last night?
“Yeah, Vance is alright. I think he’s a little sore today. He did come back in during the game. He left for a little bit and came back in, so he could have played, we would have kept him in if we had plans on keeping him in throughout the game. He came in today sore, but he should be alright this week. And then no other new guys showed up. I think everything I hit you guys with the other night.”
How many tight ends do you think you’re probably going to stick on the roster?
“I’m not sure. I’ve done two before, I’ve done three, and I’ve done four. And it’s not just up to that room, you know. Obviously you need however many NFL players you like on your roster, you need that amount. But then it depends on how the other positions shape up. I feel like we’ve got some solid players there. Most teams keep about three tight ends. If you ever do want to keep four then that’s alright, but another position’s going to hurt because of it. So, we’ll have to see how the final 53 turns out.”
We’ve seen QB Brian Hoyer throw a lot of deep passes in training camp. Why haven’t we seen him throw one in either preseason game? Don’t you want to develop a relationship between the quarterback and a wide receiver for the deep ball at game speed before the regular season starts?
“Yeah, practice speed is, I mean our guys, they run full speed every time they run a route. So, whether they do that in a game or on air or in practice, they’re always running as fast as they can unless it’s walk-through. So, I don’t really look at it that way. You have certain ways to attack coverages. We had a number of deep balls called yesterday, it just depends what coverages they’re playing. When we had a couple deep balls called to attack versus quarters, they played single safety, that’s why [WR] Louis Murphy had a big explosive underneath it, but I also, y we’re not trying to show everything possible either in a preseason game.”
You mentioned going through a regular week this week. Are you at the point now with camp over that you’ll transition into maybe doing some game planning for Carolina? I know you’ve gone through the offense installs a few times now. Just where are you in that process at this point?
“Yeah, I never get too far away from that. That’s something I always try to look at sporadically throughout training camp, and I usually sprinkle it in a little over the summer too when I’m just needing to get a little away time from the family. But, everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season. So, it’s always real tough to carry a preseason game unless you’re taking an idea of what you’re going to do Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3. So, that’s something we never get too far away from, from coaches.”
Most of us who were there for the week of practices with the Broncos saw you guys doing pretty well against them on Wednesday, not so well first string-wise in the game. Is it a matter of just because the offense is so vanilla in the game that the defense, the defensive line, can be much more aggressive with those outside zone runs?
“No, I think it depends how each play turns out. And I think one of our things is I thought things seemed real good in practice our first day versus them, then I go in to watch the film, and it was good, but not quite as good as it felt out there. I felt last night during the game, I mean nothing feels much worse than that when you have all those turnovers, those penalties, and you’re behind and didn’t score that much. But, when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt. And when you go and look at each situation, especially you talked about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play and if you just have one guy off just a little bit, it breaks down. And when you look at the opportunities the starters had, it really was one guy here and there, and it really led, I’m just looking at it here, let me see this, out of our four possessions, we punted on the first series after a drop on 2nd and 13, and then after that we didn’t punt again with the group, which normally you would think that’s a good thing unless you’re turning it over every time, and that’s what we did. So, when you end up turning it over three times in a row when you come out there, it does make it a little bit hard to evaluate the guys. They don’t get to stay out there long enough, they don’t get into any rhythm and that’s no one’s fault but our own. We’ve got to hold onto the ball, and when you have three fumbles, and we had that interception that was not caught clean and it was basically stripped away from the guy. It doesn’t really give your guys a chance to get out there and get evaluated.”
Is there a preface that you acquired after your years of coaching to diminish the amount of penalties and turnovers? Is there anything that you actually do that’s personal to your coaching style?
“No, you just stress and you talk about it every second. You point it out. It’s kind of my style with everything. I try not to make things up. You try to look at it exactly what happened and why it happened. If there’s an answer to why it happened that you guys can avoid, then you put them in that position the next day as a coach. You show them on film, you teach them on the board, you go walk through it and then you have them go through it full speed to make it just more muscle memory. That’s really our philosophy on everything. You try to figure out why, then you try to see if you can come up with the best answer and then you teach. There’s lots of ways to teach. It starts in the film room and you’ve got to carry it over to the practice field. But, that really doesn’t change with me with anything. The turnovers are the most disappointing part to me. We can’t harp on protecting the ball any more. I thought we’d done a decent job of that. Thought we did a good job through the week in practice. I thought we did a good job protecting the ball versus Kansas City. Obviously, we did the exact opposite of that last night. When you have five turnovers, I’m hoping when you have five, or four and you have the one on special teams, you’re hoping that the defense gets a couple back for you to give you a chance. But, when you turn the ball over that much and you don’t get any back, I’d be surprised if any team in the history of the NFL has won in that situation.”
You mentioned after the game that you thought that Brian was pretty much spot on with his reads, on his 11 passes. Did that stand up after the film review and then how did QB C.J. Beathard do with his reads?
“Yeah I thought Brian did a good job. There’s one, I think the first attempt to Vance over the middle, the first one he might have been a hair late on where he could have just checked it down and got a little bit more yards. He came back the next time, I want to say a couple plays later, learned from it, got to him on time, then we just didn’t make the play. Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads, went to the right spot. Had that unfortunate spot with the ball slipping out of his hand, which got that first fumble. Then C.J. came in and did the same thing well too. I didn’t think he missed any bad ones. We just had a tough time getting those guys in a rhythm, staying on the field very long. Couldn’t get the run game going. We did get it going a little bit more with the first group, we ended up having a turnover that caused that to derail.”
I know you didn’t coach him, but WR Anquan Boldin announced his retirement a little bit ago. What impressions do you have of him maybe from afar or even when your paths have crossed over the years?
“Yeah, I’ve never personally met Anquan or ever talked to him before, but he’s been one of my favorites of all time. I love Anquan. I don’t know him at all, but I feel like I do just because I’ve always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came in at Florida State as a quarterback, and what everyone thought, and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year. I remember him coming into the league, people thinking he wouldn’t be as great because he didn’t have a fast 40 time. Watching him play over the years, that’s to me the definition of a football player. He’s as violent of a receiver as there is and I’ve always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I always feel linemen have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs if you’re not tough you’re not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are kind of the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. When you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls.”
You touched on the competition between LB Ahmad Brooks and LB Eli Harold for that starting SAM linebacker spot. When you look at their salaries they’re so different and where Ahmad is in his career, how much is that impacting that decision?
“For me personally not at all. I don’t even know what their salaries are. I try not to even look at that because I don’t want, I want to make the right decision. I don’t like anything to skew me on that type of stuff. So, I try to go off what I see at practice. You want to know who’s got the most upside and things like that. Who’s going to be better throughout the year if given the opportunity. But, you also want to know who when it’s all said and done who’s going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things that I look at personally. You don’t always want to think who’s the best guy for Week 1. Who’s the best guy for the 2017 49ers. I try to simplify my thoughts in that way. That’s why I really don’t find out about salaries until I’ve already made a decision.”
What have you seen from Eli Harold in particular?
“It took Eli a little bit to get going. He was hurt in OTAs, he got off to a good start in training camp but quickly got a concussion. Took him a while when he was in the protocol. And he’s been back here for, I want to say a little bit over a week now. Eli plays physical. He sets the edge really well for us as a SAM linebacker. You know, there’s not just competition going on at SAM linebacker, it’s also as a rush nickel player. We’re trying to figure out who can be our best SAM linebacker in base personnel and then which one of these guys is the best at putting his hand in the dirt and rushing the quarterback when we get to third down. Eli does both of them. Ahmad does both of them. Guys like [LB] Dekoda [Watson] can do it to. We’ve got some guys there that, you know, we’ve had two game in we’ve seen a lot. We’ve seen a lot at practice and I’m glad we’ve got two more games to evaluate it.”
Last night Hoyer said the game presented the first bit of adversity for this team and he was interested to see how they would respond. Would you all come together or grow apart. Maybe that’s a bit much on August 20th, but do you understand what he was getting at and are you eager to see the response from your team?
“I can understand a little bit. Guys have a lot of pride, guys work hard and it means a lot to people. So, I can understand why Brian says that. But, I can also understand what you mean by what date you just said it is. I’m not trying to go through adversity. We’ve got to go through a lot of stuff together first. I’m not going to sit there and act like everything is falling apart because you turned the ball over that many times. I just tried to stress to the guys, ‘Hey guys if you want a chance to win a game, we’ve got to come out and protect the football. If you protect the football, you don’t have those penalties, then we can start talking about how to win a game.’ If you turn the ball over like that, there’s not much else to talk about.”
S Lorenzo Jerome has gotten a lot of time with the ones. What have you seen from him and his progress in just these two games?
“Lorenzo’s done a good job. I thought a couple of times he’s ran around, he’s been a ball-hawk for us, he’s come up and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he’s been so aggressive and he’s going to have to learn from those because he got out of position a couple of times but they never made him pay for it going outside. So, I’ve been pleased with Lorenzo. He moves around fast, he’s really eager, the game’s not too big for him, he’s made plays wherever he’s been and he’s continued to do that for us and I hope he continues to get better.”
Yesterday, looking at the film, was that the most impressive that you’ve seen S Eric Reid so far since his position switch?
“Yeah, and it’s the most opportunities he’s gotten too. He was out there a little bit longer. We were playing obviously an eight-man front. A lot of the plays got turned to him and he’s got to make the play. He did a good job making it, not giving up any more yards after contact. I thought he had a couple good plays in the pass game, especially on a keeper they had, coming back and stopping a tight end on the slide-route. But, Eric did a solid job. That’s what we expect him to do and I was real pleased with how he played.”
You said it’s not like the world is falling apart last night, but you certainly didn’t seem amused. Just the fact that you were able to look at the film, you said it wasn’t as bad as you thought it might be. Was there a sense of relief when you discovered that?
“It’s not really relief. It’s kind of my life story. We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys after practice, but I’m pretty pissed after practice too when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect and that’s why most of the time I’m not that happy. Whenever you go out to a game like that that you want to win, you want to play well and you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. I they’re not then that’s when I would be worried. When you are that mad, you always go in and watch the tape and very rarely in my career is it ever as bad or as good as you thought the night before. But, that’s also why I’m excited to get in here. I wish the players were in here today. I’m going to have to wait one more day. But, I’m pumped to get them in here and to get better from that game.”