San Francisco 49ers head coach addressed the media after Friday’s scrimmage to discuss what he say and how things went on both sides of the ball.
First of all, your impressions of the offense and especially TE Jordan Reed with how he did in a lot of team action for the first time?
“I thought kind of the same answer for both. I thought there was some good things, some bad things. He did as many reps as we’ve done today, so it was good to get a lot of it on film and it was good to get Jordan out there more than he has been out there. I thought it was probably his most reps, at least back-to-back reps. I thought he made some good plays, some of the obvious ones you guys saw and missed a couple also.”
What did you see from the first-team offense and how things functioned with QB Jimmy Garoppolo under center?
“I thought there were some good things, some bad things. There were six different situations we went through. It seemed like the first drive seemed the most fluid. We went down the easiest, I thought. Then all the other drives, there’s a little bit more inconsistency, but like everyone. We’re watching a bunch of different things out there, trying to do a bunch of defensive and offensive situations, a bunch of special teams situations mixed in. I’m excited to see the tape.”
In terms of the atmosphere, we could pretty much hear everything that was being said on the sideline. That might be the atmosphere for Week 1. Is that a concern that the other team, the other coaching staff might be able to hear what you’re telling your players?
“No, not too much of a concern. I mean, it’s far away. Probably more concerned about saying something, the wrong type of word, and it being on TV more than the coaches hearing us on the other side. It’s awkward to play football in a silent place. We don’t even do that at practice. We have music playing at practice, people going. So, to go in there, it was, I wanted to use the noise, but we don’t know exactly the rules on that yet. So, I didn’t want to experiment with that until we know. So, we experimented with a silent practice and that might be how the games are. We’ve got that experience down and it is what it is. I don’t think there’s a big advantage or disadvantage to it. Everyone’s in the same boat with that. It’s just guys getting used to it. Since even small in high school and you don’t have many people in the stands, there’s still noise. So, we’ll see how that goes.”
You seemed a little frustrated with the offense at certain times. Was there anything specific or was it just the energy or just the focus?
“You guys were probably just able to see me better, I guess. There’s really never a practice I’m not frustrated out there. It’s probably the same way I look in games most of the time, too. The way I focus is kind of get irritated at everything, but I’m mad when every play doesn’t work. Then when you’re also counting on the defense to do the same thing too, and the special teams, it usually doesn’t put me in that great of a situation. I’m upset one way or the other at everything. I think guys get used to that out there. I think people used to take it a little more, like what’s wrong with coach, but I think now they kind of know how I am. I wouldn’t look into it too much, but there were some good and some bad, and it’s probably all I can ask for.”
I know TE George Kittle left practice the other day because of hamstring tightness, but I’m wondering if he underwent more testing and if there was just a further update on his status?
“Yeah, he’s good with all the testing, so there’s nothing pulled or strained, just tightness. The way George moves and the way he goes, he only knows one way. So, when he’s tight, we’re going to protect him from himself and wait until he’s not tight.”
Did LB Mark Nzeocha have an issue? I didn’t see him out there. What did you see from CB Jason Verrett today? He closed out practice with some PDs.
“Yeah, no, Nzeocha didn’t have an issue, none that I heard of out there. We were just trying to rep guys, and so I’m not sure exactly how it played out for him, but I would be surprised if he wasn’t out there some. And then Jason, I saw he rotated out there with other guys, too. We were trying to balance out the reps with all those guys and he got some action there at the end with the ball coming to him and did a good job making both those plays.”
I know you obviously feel very good about your starters on the defensive line. What’s your timetable, I know you’d said in the past that you expected DL Ronald Blair III to be out there Week 1, or at least hopeful that he would be? Is he getting close to practice? And then today, two of the guys that really stood out, it appeared, were DL Kerry Hyder Jr. and DL Solomon Thomas. How do you feel about just that whole unit, especially the guys that can come in when those starters need a breather?
“I feel good about that unit. We’ve got some depth at it and our starters are very good, just like you guys saw last year. We’ve got some depth after that. I love Ronald Blair. Expect to have him back definitely this year and that hasn’t changed. I’m hoping for Week 1. We’ll probably get some more clarity in that, probably over next week because we want to make sure to give him a practice before he would come out there, but we’re getting close to being able to make a decision on that. Yeah, the whole group’s done well. The people you mentioned have been good throughout camp, not just today. It gives Ronnie, it allows us to be somewhat patient with him until he’s fully healed, though.”
It looked like LB Fred Warner got a light practice. Are you wanting to see how younger guys do with the radio receiver? Was that what was behind Fred’s day today?
“Yeah, both. Fred’s as consistent of a player as we’ve had. He only goes one speed. Similar to Kittle, he didn’t have the tightness that Kittle had, but we’re trying to protect Fred from himself. We think Fred’s ready to play. We still want to keep him going and keep him ready to play, so we’re not putting him on ice until Week 1, but I think it helped other guys get more reps today than it would have helped Fred being out there.”
It looked like Solomon Thomas had at least one or two would-be sacks. Are you noticing a difference in him in just how free he’s able to play given that there’s a focus on playing him inside instead of moving him around?
“Yeah, definitely. Solly, he got more reps inside last year. He’s getting all reps inside this year, except when we have emergencies and you’ve just got to fill in to help guys get through practice. He had a heck of an offseason, putting on some weight. Put on some real good weight and it showed in the run and pass game throughout this whole camp. What people have been saying about him is true and I’m real happy for him because he’s earning it and deserves it.”
One of the things that T Trent William said coming back is that it wasn’t about knocking the rust off, but it was more about just kind of getting his nerves under control. What have you seen from him in the last couple of practices? It seems like he’s doing just fine.
“Yeah, definitely. I think Trent’s good to go. Anybody who misses a year of football, there are a lot of nerves that go with it. We dealt with that with Trent for awhile. Getting back into it, I would think he’s past it now. It definitely looks like it. Same thing with Jordan Reed. Stuff we went through with Jimmy last year. Missing a year of football and they come back, there’s lots of stuff on their mind and everything. You’ve got to just go through the stuff. You think your body feels right, but you aren’t truly not thinking about it until you can go through all these situations physically. I think Trent’s there. Definitely looks like it with my own eyes and hopefully he is.”
RB JaMycal Hasty, a running back like that, he’s almost bound to look pretty impressive sometimes in these practices. Obviously, you can’t see how he breaks tackles or anything. Is that, maybe just a player like that, is he hard to evaluate just because there’s no preseason games?
“Yeah, I think that’s the hardest, one of the hardest things. Backs, you don’t really know until you see them getting tackled. You can make guys miss and stuff and make it an arm tackle, but you don’t really know if you broke that tackle until those guys are allowed to tackle you down. So, that’s something we’ve got to think about and evaluate and weigh against everything else in the decisions we make, but that’s been one of the harder adjustments this year of not having preseason games. That’s why I entertained the idea of tackling before camp started, but kind of adjusted that plan, just watching our guys deal with injury so far.”
How is FB Josh Hokit doing, just absorbing the sheer amount of information that a rookie fullback has coming his way?
“He’s done a good job. When you come in, we put a lot on the fullback and we move him around and do a bunch of stuff. Usually, we have two of them in camp to get us through camp and with [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice pulling his hamstring a couple of days ago or last week, it’s put a lot more pressure on him and he’s got to hang and he’s got to last out there. He’s been able to do it. So, we’ve been impressed with his toughness and just his perseverance. It’s tough to do 21 personnel when you only have one fullback and when he’s doing it over and over again, it’s been cool for him not to pull out and be able to, even when he’s exhausted, to keep going and allowing us to get those reps for the rest of the team.”
You had mentioned about bringing in some of the veteran wide receivers, that this year you have that option to place six veteran guys on the practice squad. S Johnathan Cyprien the other day said that that’s something that he would not be interested in doing. At what point do you have a conversation with those guys and does that kind of impact the decisions that will be made when it comes time for the 53-man is to figure out who’s willing to do it and who’s not willing to do it?
“Yeah, as soon as we knew that would be the case for sure, I talked to him about it right away. Everything’s so up in the air with the injuries and stuff, and who’s going to be available for Week 1. You really don’t get a clear idea about that until a couple of days before the 53, which I believe is next week, this day. So, I understand that some players won’t want to do that, but we’ll do our best to tell them why we think it’s a good opportunity for them.
I think one of the hard things with practice squad is the stigma of what those words are, practice squad. Practice squad to me is that sometimes it’s one injury away from playing. You have some guys on our team that don’t really have a backup at their position, or it might seem like you have a group of five people, but your guy on practice squad, there might be one of your five guys, whether it’s a DB, whether it’s a corner, whether it’s a tight end, whether it’s an O-Lineman, whoever it is that one of those guys gets hurt and your guy on practice squad does exactly what they do. So, it’s not like they’re your sixth option.
They’re your second option, depending on if this one guy gets hurt. So, that’s just one of the hard things with the NFL that people look at practice squad as just a developmental thing where you’re just putting on scout team jerseys and it’s like, I guess walk-ons in college, but it couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Sometimes you do have guys that are a project and they aren’t ready to play and you need to develop them and give them a redshirt year, but I very rarely have those guys on practice squad because when you have all developmental guys on practice squad, you get a guy hurt in the season, you’ve got to go sign random guys off the street who have no idea what they’re doing. It’s not fair to them or possible to learn in three days of practice. You can’t do that because you don’t have a true NFL player on practice squad. I love the fact that they’ll let us have vets on it.
I hope guys can understand that stigma of whatever that is isn’t the case. There are some things with the money and the pensions that they’re going to allow with it, but I strongly believe it’s a great opportunity for people to be on our roster, if it’s not Week 1. If you’re a vet on it, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to be starting and playing for our team.”
I’ve got kind of two here. Can you just rate how your backup quarterbacks have looked? And then, the other thing is just about knee braces, where none of those guys on the offense seem to be wearing them like RB Jerick McKinnon, Garoppolo, plus the Linemen. Is that something that might change once you guys are obviously in live bullets in Week 1?
“First answer, my rankings of our quarterbacks for you are they’re both tied at two. What was that? Braces?”
Well, first of all, not necessarily rankings. How have they performed all camp and then the other thing was about the knee braces, whether that’s something that they’re just waiting to put on for Week 1 when there’s live bullets, rather than right now?
“Okay. No, both of those guys have done good. We feel very fortunate with both of our quarterbacks behind Jimmy, [QB] Nick [Mullens] and [QB] C.J. [Beathard]. Just the amount of the live bullets that they’ve been under, they’ve been thrown in as two of tough situations that I’ve really had for any quarterback that I’ve ever coached, some of the situations we put them in our first two years. They went in there and they did some good things and they did some bad things. That’s so valuable for quarterbacks to get that and for some of the stuff they went through, for them not to fold and still to come back and they get better each day in training camps where they get the most reps. So, I’ve been very impressed with them, both of them, in these practices. I think both of them are further along than they were last year.
Anytime it comes to knee braces, I don’t even notice that stuff because that’s something, if they should have it on, a doctor’s going to make them put it on. We’re going to tell them that they can’t go out there and if they need a knee brace to actually go out there, we’re probably not going to allow them to go out there. Once you get to that point, that’s up to a player’s preference. If a guy’s not going to wear it at all in practice and wear it on Sunday in the game, then I would have a problem with that. That doesn’t make much sense to me. So, usually they practice the way they play. Those guys get comfortable with it because of the time they put in in rehab and the years of doing it to where, when they come back, they feel good. Some guys, they come back and they want that support. To me, it’s all about the individual.”