clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Robert Saleh talks rookie DBs, Reuben Foster technique, Richard Sherman return

The 49ers defensive coordinator met with the media following Sunday’s padded practice. We’ve got a full transcript, and you can watch video here.

CB Richard Sherman was going every three plays today. Is that part of the progress, the game plan for him coming back from that injury?

“Yeah, get him back to speed. He missed all of OTAs and had been working with the trainers. Just trying to get his football legs back. He doesn’t have anything to prove. He just has to get back in shape and get his legs back.”

Where do you see him in this process? How close is he to the Richard Sherman that we know?

“He looks really good. Sherm will tell you. But his mindset, all of the things that make Sherman great are all there. It’s just a matter of him just getting his legs back underneath him and all that stuff. He’s doing a good job. He looks good.”

You’re one of the guys here that has had a long relationship with him. You’ve known him for a while. Is there anything you notice about him since he’s gotten back that maybe he’s grown in or changed since your time with him before?

“No. You know, Sherm’s always been a great leader. I think he gets misunderstood sometimes outside the building that he’s in, but he’s an unbelievable teammate. His heart’s always in the right spot. His teammates love him. That’s probably the most important thing, is that people who are close to him, people who know him, truly know him, love him. Obviously, he’s about four or five years removed now so he’s a grown man. He’s still the same to me.”

How do you think he’s been misunderstood?

“He’s so smart. He’s a vocal guy, he is. But it’s all well-thought. He’s incredibly smart. He’s got, he takes everything. He just doesn’t blurt. Everything is well thought out, so that’s what makes him a great leader. That’s why his teammates love him. There’s a lot of honesty to him, a lot of truth. That has not changed.”

For him and for the coaching staff is part of this training camp about figuring out his new reality? He’s 30. He’s coming off a significant injury. Do you have to figure out if he can still do the same things he’s done in the past or if he has to make minor tweaks here and there to compensate for those very natural issues that he’s going through?

“With the guys who are always approaching it, it doesn’t just apply to him. It applies to everybody. At this point in their career, they’re so far ahead of the game. That’s why we talk about our scheme all the time with, ‘How can you get a rookie who’s got young, fresh, fresh off his 4.3 40 at the combine, to play with all of that 4.3 rather than thinking so much?’ That’s why we love our scheme. It accelerates their learning curve so they can play as fast as their God-given abilities has given them. As they get older, usually the veterans are able to stick around because they’re smarter than the rookies. The other element to that is they just understand how to play football. They know the game. They know the game within the game, all the tricks of the trade. There’s so many things that a coach can’t teach you that you just learn as you roll. So, Sherm obviously has a plethora of knowledge and tricks to his trade. I played receiver against him as a little scout team guy and he did stuff to me I was like, I know I’m not an athlete or anything, just the little things he does like, ‘How the heck did he do that?’ They figure it out, man. As they get older, they understand the tricks and they figure it out and they prolong their career. That’s how they do it.”

With him on the field, that means you guys have got to find another way to get DB Jimmie Ward out there. Is putting him in on a dime package or maybe a blitzing guy from the slot a really good option for him?

“You know, Jimmie is versatile. He is a special athlete. He can do anything we want him to do. Is it an option? Sure, dime, all that different stuff. As we get closer to the season and all that stuff we’ll start addressing all of that. But right now, it’s to give him the best chance possible to go compete at that corner spot just like everybody else. Compete at nickel, compete at free safety, compete at getting on the football field and being one of our best 11.”

Will he take any reps at free safety in camp?

“As we get closer. I said it in OTAs and it hasn’t changed and it won’t change. Give him every single opportunity. He’s learning corner all over again. Give him every opportunity he can to be the best corner he can possibly be because we know what he can do as a free safety and we know what he can do as a nickel.”

It’s really early, obviously, but it seems the line has gotten a little bit more pressure on the quarterback the last couple of days with pads on. Can you talk about their progress?

“Today felt good. I’ve got to go watch the tape. We all do. But, they felt very fast today. You can always watch tape. Sacks are probably the most overrated stat to me. It’s about pressuring the quarterback and making him feel very uncomfortable and increasing our pressure rate. Usually, when you’re a team that’s got a high-pressure rate, you can feel that on tape. You just watch the tape and it just feels fast. Today on the practice field it felt very fast. So that part I’m encouraged about. Again, we’ve still got to go back and watch the tape, but it did feel a lot faster today.”

What have you seen out of DL Jeremiah Attaochu?

“Attaochu is relentless. He’s very, very business-like. He’s a lot more nimble, if that’s the word, than I thought he’d be. He’s very athletic. Very, very athletic. He is very determined, so we’re excited to have him. He comes with the right mindset so having him here and adding him to the group has been cool.”

Can you tell us a little bit about what you guys are trying to do with LB Reuben Foster technique-wise? Why is it important for him? How is he picking it up?

“With Reuben, it’s no different than what we teach with players on every level. D-Line, linebacker, nickel, it doesn’t matter. We play with our hands. Keep people off you, keep the extension, create space so you can get on and off blocks. So, with Reuben, it’s just trying to teach him how to create extension and space so guys just can’t latch on to him. Utilizing his hands, getting his shoulders and his upper body out of there, that’s just base fundamental teaching for all our guys. He’s really, really working hard to make sure that he masters that so he can not only become even more effective as a run defender and a blitzer and even in coverage, for that matter. It’ll save his shoulders, it’ll save his upper body. With the way he played a year ago, sometimes he would get into a position where it would be awkward to go make a tackle. By him being able to create separation and get off blocks properly and clear traffic, he’ll be able to put himself in a better football position to go maker a nice, clean tackle like a linebacker usually does. Just piecing that together for him, that’s a work in progress and he’s working hard at it.”

You mentioned that the defensive line was flying around out there today. It looked like the secondary was pretty much doing the same. They had a couple dropped picks, though. What’s your message to them when they do get in the right spots like that but don’t necessarily come up with that type of turnover?

“We talked about it yesterday. One of our three principles of our style of play is attacking the ball. There’s a difference between being a good and great defense. Good defenses play pass breakup and tackle football. Other defenses get the ball and score. When you do get those opportunities, you’ve got to come down with it. They’re getting it, they understand it, they’re not dropping them on purpose. But, there’s a mindfulness and a relentlessness to take the ball. When the opportunity actually gives it to you, you’ve got to come down with it. That message hasn’t changed. We actually talked about it yesterday. It happened a couple times yesterday.”

It seemed like they were pretty upset with themselves, too.

“Oh, yeah. They should be. They should be. In our room, they’re not PBUs, they’re missed opportunities. So, you don’t get the little points for our gold digger award.”

How has DB D.J. Reed Jr. done in his conversion to free safety?

“He’s another guy. He’s relentless. I alluded to it last week that we’ve got a bunch of guys who just love ball and want to be here and want to work, and he is one of them. He’s doing very well as a free safety. Again, I’m not going to crown him. None of us will. He’s learning every single day he learns something new. He plays extremely hard. It’s the same message we give our guys every single day that if they adhere to our style of ball, which is attack the ball, extreme violence and all gas, no brake, you can hide a lot of your mistakes. He exemplifies all of it. As he learns and he grows, those are the things that he can take with him and he’ll just get better and better. But, D.J. is doing a good job. Very pleased with him at this point at free safety. Now, just continue to grow. He’s got a long way.”

Same thing with DB Tarvarius Moore, going from safety to corner?

“Same thing. He’s got the skill set. He’s got ridiculous top-end speed and as soon as he understands that he’s a lot faster than everybody else on the football field, and he starts to trust it and gain a little bit more patience as a corner, like we preach, he’ll continue to grow. It’s a learning curve for him. He’s got a chance and he’s got the right mindset, too, so he’s got to continue to work on his technique, effort and scheme. He’ll come along.”

Can you talk a little bit about how LB Fred Warner is coming along in camp? He had one interception in one-on-ones today and had another pass breakup in some other drills. How do you think he’s coming along so far?

“He’s doing very well. Doesn’t change from a few days ago. He’s extremely smart. He’s got full command of the huddle. He makes his mistakes here and there. It was great to see him get pads on. Shows great physicality, so that’s very exciting. It’s the same thing. The next step for him is to show the consistency that we’re looking for with regards to scheme and recognizing things before they happen. He’s progressing very well. We’re excited where Fred is, but just like these kids, young men I should say, they’ve got a long way to go.”

LB Korey Toomer got some first-team reps there at the end. Is that part of the plan, to sort of work a lot of these guys in with the first team?

“For sure. It is. We’ve got to get a look. You’re going to see it on the D-Line. You’ll see it along the secondary. We always talk about the best 11 will play, but the reality is 16 players play on game day. You’ve got people just coming in and out of the game in different personnel groups, different D-Line packages. Yeah, giving those guys a chance to get in there and work together so they get comfortable communicating with each other. That’ll happen on all three levels.”