San Francisco 49ers head coach spoke about how Deebo Samuel looked in practice this past week, if Nick Mullens is making any strides, what makes Ross Dwelley a great football player, and much more.
“Injuries for this week, [DL] Dee Ford, out. [QB] Jimmy’s [Garoppolo], out. [LB Dre] Greenlaw, out. [CB Emmanuel] Moseley’s out. [RB Raheem] Mostert is out. [TE] Jordan Reed is out. [CB] K’Waun Williams, questionable and [CB Ahkello] Witherspoon’s out. Go ahead.”
How did WR Deebo Samuel make it through the week and have you made a decision on whether he’ll be available on Sunday?
“Yes, Deebo will play. He had a real good week of practice and I’m planning to get him in there and I’m excited to see him out there.”
What did you see from QB Nick Mullens this week? Is he able to progress or make noticeable strides on the practice field, just given that it’s his second week in a row?
“Yes, but every week’s kind of a new week also. You get a game plan on Wednesday that kind of overwhelm him a little bit on Wednesday, and that’s why we take a little bit longer to get out to the practice field, but it’s really kind of how you go Wednesday through Friday. He’s ready to go. He was real crisp all week and you just detail up a few things today, but each week’s kind of a different deal with the game plan and quarterbacks work through that throughout their three days.”
I had a question about TE Ross Dwelley. Last year, I know you’d mentioned, I’m going to quote here. You said after one game, ‘He is as good of a football player as we’ve got going right now.’ And then LB Fred Warner said this week, ‘He’s become one of the best football players on our team.’ I don’t think most people would associate Ross Dwelley as being that guy. I do think I know kind of what you all are getting at when you say that. Could you just kind of explain his value and why he’s held in such high esteem?
“I think when people say someone’s a great football player, they mean that nothing’s too big for him. Whatever you ask him to do, he can handle that assignment. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fourth down with no time on the clock, if it’s the first play of the game, the guy just, he’s not going to flinch. He’s going to play football every down like it’s the last down and the game’s not too big for him. So, I think that’s definitely what I mean and I’m pretty sure Fred means that the same way.”
You said that Jordan Reed and Dee Ford are out for this game. Will they be going on IR tomorrow? And if so, Deebo would take one of those spots, right? Would LB Joe Walker take the other spot?
“I do think they are going to go on it by tomorrow. I know Deebo is doing the one. I’m not exactly sure what we’re doing with the other yet. There’s a few fluid things right now, but I think we have until 1:00 tomorrow to decide.”
In regards to Dee Ford, the way this has trended over the last few weeks, I’ve got to ask, is this a season ending or career threatening injury? Is retirement even being discussed?
“It’s not being discussed, and I don’t want to say anything strong that people blow up, but it’s similar to what I said a couple of weeks ago. When you’re dealing with the back and things like that, everything’s a concern. Also, that stuff does loosen up just randomly, too. That’s why we’re playing it slow. I just saw him here a little bit in the hallway on my way here. I think he’s doing better than he was a couple of weeks ago, that’s for sure. But, it’s something we’ve just got to be smart with and you can’t risk things when you’re dealing with that part of the body. So, I wouldn’t get to saying all that stuff, but that’s why we’re being cautious with it.”
Is Deebo going to be on a pitch count and how does that work for the rest of the receivers, just as far as being phased out of the offense with Deebo being active?
“I don’t think they get phased out the offense, but we definitely have to be smart with him. I wouldn’t say that there’s a pitch count, but Deebo was our starting receiver last year. He earned that early in the year and we kept it that way most of the year, definitely to finish. I don’t expect him to be like that on Sunday. It is his first time back. We’ve got to be smart with that. You see a lot of these injuries around the league and stuff, and that’s kind of what happens when you don’t go to the totally normal process of an offseason that we did. When you have a guy who’s missed a ton with his injury, that makes it even stronger. So, we’ve got to be smart with him. I know he’ll be out there, but it won’t be as his normal, that’s for sure.”
With CB Jason Verrett, what is it about him that has allowed you guys to have so much faith, just given all the injury issues that he’s gone through?
“We didn’t know Jason. It starts with this talent and what you see on tape. That’s why he was a first-round pick and that’s why when he was healthy with the Chargers, he was a pro bowler and of the better corners in the league. Then we had an opportunity to get him here and then when you get to meet a guy, we brought him in on a free agent visit. You believe in the person and you see how hard he works, how hard he was grinding to get back, how he did look healthy. Then got re-injured and stuff. That adversity that he goes through, but then he comes back and responds. So, we took a shot on it last year. It didn’t go great, but we actually got to know the guy and we were really hoping that he’d give us another shot again. So, there’s no risk now with us when you’ve got a guy at his ability, a guy who works hard, kind of chalk it up to the rest is up to God. He puts in all the work he can and it’s either meant to be or not. He’s a hell of a player, so I’m glad it’s working out for him right now.”
I think CB Jamar Taylor played, if it wasn’t exclusively, it was mostly nickel snaps for you in the summer. If he got called up, would he be able to do both? I mean, is he well versed enough in this defense to play on the outside if need be?
“He is. Jamar’s a smart player and he’s done that. In Seattle, he played both spots and we brought him here to get reps at all the stuff, but missing K’Waun through most of camp, Jamar had to really helped us out with the nickel spot. So, he knows that the best. That’s what he’s ready to do right away. With K’Waun being limited in everything, or being questionable. But no, regardless of injuries, you only get so many guys up, so they’ve got to be willing to put, they’ve got to have the ability to play both. I know Jamar does.”
Former San Francisco 49ers QB Steve Young’s famous sideline rant against the Eagles, when they were playing the Eagles, was 26 years ago today. I know you were a ball boy on that team. So, you might’ve been on the sideline. I’m wondering if you remember anything from that?
“I definitely remember it. I always used to sit with my mom and she allowed me to invite two friends to the game. So, she let us sit by ourselves, which was a huge deal for me as a freshman in high school. Then I got to the game and she put me in the nosebleeds. So, it wasn’t very good seat, but me and my two buddies sat up there and just heard Niners fans rip how bad the offensive coordinator was for that game who happened to be my dad. So, I had a very sensitive game, but they were probably pretty right that game. It was a tough one for everybody, but it was pretty cool. I still remember how fired up Steve was and I think it was because they took him out late in the game. I think that was why. Then I think they went on to win like 14 in a row after that. So, sometimes people can say bad things happen, but it depends how you react to them. It ends up being a positive, it’s never a bad thing. I think that was a crucial game in the greatness that they had that year.”
With two games under his belt, what are you hoping to see from WR Brandon Aiyuk this week in terms of production and just in growth in the next coming weeks?
“I never think about it in production. You really never know that until how the game plays out, but I expect them to get better. He still has a long way to go. Got in there Week 2, improved in Week 3. I expect him to improve in Week 4. Have a lot of guys on our team who I think have a high ceiling that they haven’t reached yet that can get better throughout the game. Brandon is definitely one of those guys and he had a good week of practice and I hope it leads to better results Sunday or improving results.”
Obviously, you’ll still be without some key guys, but just getting guys like TE George Kittle and Deebo back, finally starting to get some good news on the injury front. What can that do for your team? What have you seen it do, maybe even just this week in terms of energy and things like that?
“I mean, it’s great getting Kittle back. We were close last week and then you don’t. And I think that was what was tough a little bit about the Jordan Reed loss, because of how well he was playing and everything when we lost him during the game. But, being able to pull that off and still win and then get Kittle back this week, I think it excites guys a lot. Having Deebo back out there too. Just not having him throughout training camp and stuff, you could feel it on Wednesday. Deebo’s got a personality that everyone gravitates to. He works hard too, but he’s a funny guy that guys like to hang around and it was cool to have him out there this week. You could definitely feel a different vibe.”
How close was Jimmy to practicing this week? Just given that it’s early in the season, are you more prone to maybe being conservative with guys just knowing there’s a long road ahead?
“Yeah. I think you should be, but you don’t think of it in terms of it’s a long season. There’s 13 more games to go. The NFL, we started 8-0 or whatever it was, and I think only lost three games and winning your division still comes down to the last play of the game, I mean last play of the year. So, I’ve been in this too long to take any game for granted. It’s not like you ever think in terms of— guys will talk that way and stuff, but anyone who’s been in this league, you remind them that this game is just as important as Week 16. So, it has more to do with can they protect themselves? Are they risking a long-term injury doing it? If they are, definitely not. When it is the last game of the year, it’s a little bit different, but there’s a lot of games. But, it’s too competitive to look that way. So, we’ve got to be smart with the guys and if Jimmy could have played this week, he’d be out there.”