With LB Fred Warner, have you seen an appreciable second-year jump as far as his, I know he has the radio in his helmet, as far as his command of the defense?
“Yes, of course. Fred was pretty unusual as a rookie, too. He had pretty good command very fast right when he came in. I mean, the first day on the field, you could tell he was a smart guy who pays attention a lot and obviously works on it by himself when he’s away. He was really good at it last year and now it’s second nature for him. A lot of guys depend on him out there.”
With new additions on the defense, given the fact that he is the guy in charge of the communication, how much of an adjustment is it for him when he sees four, five key new guys around him?
“I mean, he’s speaking, so he’s running everything. So, it’s those guys getting used to him. I think the new guys, you have to ask the new guys that are here, but I think they’re pretty excited with what they’ve seen with Fred so far. He’s very confident when he makes the call, he’s very clear with how he says it and stuff, and he’s not at all scared to communicate. He’s not scared to be wrong. He’ll see what he thinks and he’ll rip it out there.”
I think the very first pass QB C.J. Beathard threw it looked like he intended it for the defense, what happened on that?
“From what I saw, I’ll tell you better when I watch the film, but when you lose your back in a blitz pickup, there’s always a guy hanging out there. So, you’ve got to get rid of it pretty quick and the spot C.J.’s looking at, the guy’s wide open because there should be a guy guarding the back in the flat and I think he let it out there and didn’t realize that the back didn’t get out. If the back doesn’t get out, there’s going to be a man sitting right there. He’s just in there waiting, so bad play by him.”
So, he threw it to a back that wasn’t there?
“No, I think he, you can’t see all 11 defenders on the field. You’ve got to understand and anticipate the coverages and it looked like a guy was going to be wide open, so you go to let it rip thinking a back’s out here, which would pull a curl-flat guy out of there, so you could hit the guy in the hole. You don’t have the time under a blitz to see a guy open and be like, ‘Wait a second, is that guy open? Oh no, I can’t throw it.’ So, he just let it rip and he’s got to learn from that. A guy was hanging there he didn’t see.”
QB Nick Mullens had a run of about 12 plays in a row. What did you see from him in that sequence?
“I believe that was the threes when we got the move the ball. I mean, he did a good job, but it was the whole group out there. It was nice, they kept moving the chains and when they did that, wanted to give him more reps and let him go on a longer drive. Especially, those guys play the majority of the game in this first preseason game. I wasn’t going to do it if they didn’t earn it, but they kept getting first downs, so we kept him out there and they got more reps because of it.”
How would you evaluate the ones versus the ones so far this summer?
“So far, I think the defense has definitely had the better side of that. I mean, they’ve been teeing off the front, and they’ve been much harder to block this year. I think they’ve been very tied together very well in the back end. Usually it starts out that way always until you get the pads on, sometimes that evens out. I think the O has had a couple days, but to answer your question, I’d give it to the D for sure.”
Kind of playing on that, a big focus for this camp has been creating turnovers. Two times, obviously the interception from C.J. and then a fumble and there was a third interception or second interception, third turnover. What do you think the defense has done to create those turnovers?
“They’re getting to the quarterback a lot faster. So, guys are having to make decisions quicker and that’s what you have to do as a quarterback. You have to, it’s real easy when you can sit there without a pass rush and think about it forever and throw it, wait until someone’s wide open and if they’re not wide open, not throw it. When guys are getting after you, you’ve got to make quick decisions and sometimes you don’t make as good of a decision and sometimes you don’t make as accurate of throws, and that’s how you get those over throws.”
When you’re getting that kind of pressure, as the offensive coordinator, do you change the play calls or did you just say, “We’re going to run in this camp?” and have to block them at some point?
“We’re trying to get better. And so, I mean, if you’re going against a defense that’s getting after you protection-wise, you’ve got to do a lot of things to change. But you’re not, at this time of the year, both sides, you’re not trying to win the day. There’s certain plays that you’re going out there that you’re going to run no matter what. You need to put a quarterback in the situation, you need to put a receiver, a fullback, whatever it is, there’s stuff you’re trying to practice at that you won’t do in the year. I mean, we might have a period where we know we’re going to throw it 15 plays in a row. I hope that I never do that versus anybody’s defense, let alone a good pass rush. That wouldn’t be very smart. It’s different, that’s why we don’t get too big into some stats, or who wins the day, because it kind of depends on the emphasis of what we’re putting the guys through.”
It looked like today was the heaviest workload that you guys have given DL Nick Bosa. What were your impressions and how eager were you to see how he comes out of a day like today?
“I thought he did well. I think we’ve upped it, I want to say I think he was supposed to have about 16 today, so we’ll see if we’re on on that. I think he’s had 12 the last couple of days, but he’s been very effective in the reps he’s gotten. He seems to me like he’s out there a lot, because I really don’t, I’m always looking down the field, so I don’t notice those guys so they flash, so I felt like he was out there every play yesterday. Then I got in and he was only out there 12 plays. So, regardless of what he’s doing, you want to make the best of it, and today we upped it and he still showed up a lot, which means he’s getting in some good football shape and getting healthy.”
Did he force that fumble?
Did you see what happened?
“That was the one I felt the offense had finally worn the defense down and the offense was starting to get some momentum. I think we ran it about five plays in a row and you could see the defense was tired and it was the first time in practice the momentum changed. That’s what was really cool to see that you can tell when the momentum changes and you’ve got them, you knew they knew it, but someone’s got to step up and make a play. He came from the backside and it looked, obviously [RB] Tevin [Coleman] didn’t see him and didn’t protect the ball well, he poked it out and I think it was [CB Emmanuel] Mosely who got a scoop and score. It was a hell of a play at a very important time.”
With DL Dee Ford, does he just require rest with the knee tendinitis and did he have an MRI that revealed anything further?
“I believe he got his PRP, believe he got his PRP already, so I think that’ll be some time. I know we’re looking at it day to day, but that usually takes at least a week. But, it’s something that I think will end up helping him. He could’ve toughed it out and stuff and gone through it like a lot of guys try to do, because guys are trying to make the team and they’re trying to get better, but we feel good about where Dee Ford’s at, and we wanted to make sure we took care of that so he could be fresh going into the year.”
Did that catch you off guard? Did you know about that going into the whole vetting process of him?
“I mean, you hear about wear and tear on guys. I mean, you get every medical report that they’ve ever had from their trainers and stuff and that’s been on lists and everything, so you hear about all of that. But, we have a number of guys with stuff like that. I mean, [T Joe] Staley’s gone through stuff like that and usually you’ve got to do something like what we did once in the year and we thought it would be better to do it sooner than later.”
You’ve been rotating a lot at receiver with all the different groups. Is the picture starting to get clear for you in terms of how you see guys fitting in and what the roster crunch could look like?
“I’ve got a good idea of the guys that we have and how they’re wired ability-wise. No, the picture isn’t getting clear, because I think we’ve got a bunch of guys who can compete and I don’t see any guys that are just for sure starters or for sure backups. I think there’s some real competition there.”
I only caught bits and pieces of the NFL Network interview yesterday, but did CEO Jed York have some critique of you and your play calling and your new wide receiver you showed a few days ago?
“Yeah, he said he really liked the play call that I had that [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] caught and made a cut right back into the defense. I speak sarcasm well, so I knew what he was saying. We’re not going to run that play again. He didn’t tell me we can’t run the play again, but I saw it in his eyes and he was right.”
Why was that play installed that day?
“Because that’s a play that everyone does for two-point conversion versus man coverage and it should be wide open uncovered and [DB] Tarvarius Moore made a good play and sometimes you’ve got to tell them that’s a part of football. I’m not God, hopefully Jimmy’s healthy. And I made sure it was to the right side. He cut on his right leg, so it was very thought out by me.”
Are you being sarcastic?
“Kind of. You can decide. I’ll also say that I didn’t script that one. I call the plays, but [run game coordinator Mike] McDaniel and [passing game coordinator Mike] LaFleur script them.”
What does S Marcell Harris have to show you these coming months to earn a starting job?
“That he’s better than [S Jaquiski] Tartt. That he’s the best strong safety on our team. That’s the same answer for every single person that’ll be on our 53. I think he’s taken a step forward. It’s been nice for him to get out there early unlike last year coming back from that injury. He got some playing time last year, which was good for him, but he’s healthier this year and that’s going to give him a chance to push Tartt and to push the other guys in the group.”
He’s obviously pretty physical. Do you need to see just how he is in coverage more?
“Just everything, just more consistent. You always want the most physical guys out there possible, but I’m always going to take tackling over a guy who can just hit. You’ve got to get guys down, you’ve got to be consistent in tackling, not just a hitter. You’ve also got to be good in coverage and you also can’t make mistakes. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on out there and that goes for all of them. It’s not just one thing with Marcell and I wouldn’t say it’s just one thing with any of that group.”
Coming into camp, there was a lot of talk about the offseason message being it’s time to win now. With all the additions that you’ve made and having some of the guys in year three in the system, are you happy after a week plus of camp and is it meeting your expectations in terms of the win now focus?
“Yeah, I think you always want to think to win now. I want to be careful with those words and stuff, but I think we think that because we feel a lot more confident going into this year. Not just because it’s year three and that’s what we’re supposed to say because of the people. Our players can tell when they’re in line and they’re looking at the guys in front of them and behind them. There’s a lot more competition, there’s much harder decisions and it, to me, definitely for myself, for any of the coaches here, for the coaches who have visited just to check out things from this year compared to last year, we’re better, we’ve got better people out there and the guys that we have around are better. We’ve got to keep them healthy. It still doesn’t mean anything that we’re better. I mean, we’re going to be in close games this year. We’ve been in very close games the last two years, also. That’s not going to change just because we’ve gotten better. We’re going to be in close games, but we’ve got to find out how to win those games and not just be in them.”
I know it’s still relatively early, but how do you see the battle between C.J. and Nick kind of shaking out right now?
“It’s still too early. I’ve got a lot of confidence in both of those guys. I feel I would be confident for either one of those guys to go in. I think it’s a little bit tough because of the reps and some of the situations we’re doing. I don’t even know, we rotate it I think every day, so I don’t even know which one’s in with the twos and threes and the two O-Line and then three O-Line and the two O-Line, three O-Line receivers and stuff. It’s all interchangeable. They’re both good players. It’s been pretty close, at least statically and from a talent standpoint. It’ll be fun to have some games with those two also. I know they’re tight, they’re good friends, they both respect each other, but it’s a very fun battle to watch.”
Did you say how long Dee Ford might be out after the PRP?
“I said I think it will be at least a week.”
Was WR Marquise Goodwin okay at the end of today’s practice?
“Yeah, I saw him on the ground. No one told me anything was wrong. I think there was just an unfortunate accident of friendly fire. I think he collided with someone. Two guys running, not looking at each other and I think that’s what happened, because I saw him on the ground. I think it was Emmanuel apologizing to him, but he got up, hopefully he’s alright.”
Will you do a live tackling period at any point during training camp?
“No, absolutely not.”
“Because I’ve learned the hard way watching people do that. Lose way too many people in the teams I’ve been on doing that. It’s been about 10 years since I’ve been on a team that does that and I don’t think that’s the way to get your team better at tackling. I think that’s a way to just CYA and say we did it. I’ve been on a lot of teams that are good at tackling and we didn’t do it that year. I know we struggled at tackling last year coming out, but for me just to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to run tackling drills and stuff and do all that,’ I might CYA for myself to say, ‘See guys, I put you through it.’ But, I think players look at you like you’re pretty phony.”
What are your impressions of the linebacker group in general so far?
“They’ve been great. I mean, we’ve got a lot more depth than we had last year. I think we’ve gotten better, too. Just the guys who have come back, I think [LB] Malcolm [Smith] getting healthier this year has pushed these guys a lot. He battled that from training camp on last year and he looks good right now, which adds a lot more competition. Adding in the draft pick with [LB Dre] Greenlaw, we’ve gotten some free agents, too, last year, some undrafted guys. There’s some stiff competition. I see that, and the free agents we brought in, I see that just as stiff as the receiver position, or just as tight.”
Speaking of the receiver position, has anyone separated themselves from that group?
“No, not to me. There’s days, there’s days that you can see one guy, but to separate yourself, you’ve got to do it day in and day out and I’m still waiting for that.”
Is there a chance you would take seven wide receivers?
“There’s always a chance. I mean, I feel pretty good that we’ll see what the injuries are and stuff all across the board, but there’s going to people this year that you don’t want to get rid of that you’ll have to. Whether it’s that position, linebackers, quarterbacks, running backs, really across the board. We haven’t been in that situation the last two years, and even though it’s very tough, I’m very happy to be in that situation this year.”