Thursday was the first time both the 49ers coordinators spoke to the media. DeMeco Ryans played in the NFL five seasons ago and is now a defensive coordinator for a potential playoff team. That’s kind of crazy to hand the keys over to someone like that, but it gives you an idea of how highly the team thinks of him.
Here is the transcript from Ryans's initial media availability of the season, where he discussed Dre Kirkpatrick, Nick Bosa, Jason Verrett, and how he wants his defense to play.
Two training camp practices in. What kind of feel do you get for your defensive unit?
“I think our guys are really first day, they did a really good job going out today. I thought the energy and the tempo of practice, just the guys flying around, having fun. I thought that was much better today. You can just, you can see it, see the difference on the field. So I just love the way our guys play. I want him to play fast. I want them to play fun, play for each other, and I felt that enthusiasm on the field today. So excited to check out the film and see how it looked.”
How big is it for a guy like Jason Verrett to, you know, last season kind of put all the past behind him and now just kind of work on, you know, perfecting his craft?
“That’s where you want to be. You don’t want to be, you don’t want to be in a position where you’re worried about things that’s happened in the past, whether it’s nagging injuries or things that have, you know, held you back. All you want to do is focus on today and the present and what do you, what can you do today to get better than you were yesterday? And I think J.V. is in a really good place and I love the way he’s working. I love his mentality, and I really love the way that he’s working with our younger guys and helping them out.”
You haven’t gotten him in team reps yet, but what have your impressions of DL Nick Bosa been and how eager are you to see how we responds to that situation?
“Yeah, it was great to have Nick back. We’re all excited to see Nick and see him progress from his injuries. It’s good to have him out there. I’m excited of course, to work with Nick and see what he can do. We know he’s a great player when he’s out there, he’s a game changer. So from my point of view, you love to have as many of those guys out there as possible. Nick has done a great job with our medical staff, working with them on the side and his protocol and his, you know, ease back into play. It’ll be up to those guys and whenever he’s ready, we’ll be happy to have him out there.”
There was a report that CB Dre Kirkpatrick was going to work out tomorrow here. Is it important to have maybe another corner who’s done it in the League? I’m sure there are plenty of guys you’re excited about, but there’s a lot of guys who just haven’t done it.
“Yeah. With the workout, I mean, we’re just doing our due diligence. As camp goes, you see with guys are out here and there things come up. So we’re doing our due diligence, making sure, you know, we’re covering all bases when it comes to working out guys and making sure we’re always looking to improve our team at every position. So that’s what that’s about.”
What’s your impression of the depth at defensive tackle? It seems like it might be one of your deepest positions.
“Yeah. Our D-Line, you know, in general, all across the board, we have a lot of depth there, a lot of competition. We have veteran guys, young guys, all competing, working together. So it’s really nice to have the depth that we have. With so many guys, you know, dealing with injuries and things of that nature, it’s great to have the depth and it’s great to have guys who’ve played in the league and who’ve done it at a high level in there. So, I’m happy about the depth for our defensive tackles and defensive ends.”
After he signed his new deal the other day, LB Fred Warner was talking about saying that there’s maybe ways he can elevate his game, other things that he can do that he maybe hasn’t done yet. Do you see that? What are some ways you think he could, where could he go next in terms of his development?
“Fred’s just, he gets better every year and Fred just has to be Fred. He doesn’t have to put any pressure on himself to do anything different. Fred just has to be Fred. And with that, Fred will continue to improve his game. He’s always eager, hungry for knowledge, hungry to get better just with his mentality and his attitude, all of our guys having that attitude and that rubbing off on guys, that’s what I want. I want guys who are always looking, how can I get better? And Fred, if he continues to be himself he’ll do great things this year.”
He mentioned pass rush as maybe an area that he thinks he could do some more things. Is there an ability there that maybe is untapped?
“Yeah, he definitely has the ability. I think in ‘19 you saw we rushed him a lot and he was very productive in ‘19 as a pass rusher. So, he has the ability. Fred, you can call him the new age linebacker. He does it all. Whether it’s pass-rushing, stopping the run, stopping the pass, Fred, he can do it all. And I’m just happy to see him be rewarded for the work that he’s put in, just a great guy, great man off the field and to see the work that he does off the field is just all around awesome guy and I love working with him.”
Last year you guys blitzed I think 13, 14% more than you did in 2019. Kind of as a product of losing guys like Bosa. Do you think that you, or do you anticipate that you will go back sort of to that lower blitz percentage that you guys had in 2019?
“For me, blitzes, whatever the game calls for, that’s what we’ll do. So whatever we have to do to be successful that particular week, whether it’s more blitzes, whether it’s less blitzes, whatever we need to do to win the game, that’s what we’ll.”
How has DL Samson Ebukam’s transition into your system gone?
“I think it was really important having Samson in for the OTAs and him just getting used to our style and how we play on the defensive line. So that was very helpful for him. Now coming into camp, you know, he’s already a step ahead and he’s doing a really good job so far in the first two days. So I’m excited to see where he’ll continue to grow and progress and get better, but happy with where Samson is.”
What role do you see him playing?
“Right now, he’ll be an open side end and he’ll be in there rotating with all our guys. You know, that’s the one thing we talked about the depth of our defensive line earlier, we have a lot of guys there that can move around and play multiple positions. Samson is a guy who can, he can rush the passer, he’s stout for the run game so he can do both. So I’m just excited to see him roll in with those guys and kind of get in where he fits in.”
Is there an older defensive coach, either retired or in the League that you can call whenever if you have a question about anything?
“I have coaches that I’ve worked with in the past, you know, but as far as calling guys right now, no.”
With Nick, I would assume he’s not going to get a whole lot of reps in training camp, in the preseason, but when it comes to determining how ready he is, what’s that process like? Is it talking to him? Is it something specifically you can see during the few reps that he gets on film? Like, how do you know, like, okay, he’s going to be ready?
“It was a combination of Nick and again, with our medical staff. I think when Nick’s ready, he’ll be ready to go and we’ll be happy to have him when he’s out there.”
I think at this time last year, CB Jason Verrett was saying that his press coverage was sort of the last thing he was working on to get back to his previous form. And he seems to be doing a lot of that in this camp. Where is that aspect of his game in your estimation?
“I think it was one of the things that Verrett does really well. It’s play up on the line of scrimmage, press technique, playing man coverage. He does it, probably one of the best in the league at doing it. So he’s, again, one thing I love about all of our guys is just that eagerness to get better. And that’s one thing with Jason is him every day, focusing on the little things and trying to improve on those little things, whether it’s press technique or off technique, him just being a true pro and improving every day. That’s why you’re excited, well, I’m excited to work with a guy like Jason.”
In the NFC West we have been seeing bigger cornerbacks, in Seattle, for example, play that press technique. What’s the challenge for a smaller guy like Verrett, like some of the other guys on the team, when it comes to getting your hands on?
“I think with those guys, it’s just a matter of mixing up what you do. It’s just a matter of not having just a true go-to move all the time. It’s just mixing them up, mixing it up, keeping the opposing team on their heels so they don’t know exactly what you’re doing all the time.”
When was the last time you spoke to New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and what advice has he given you as you’ve stepped into his job?
“Yeah. I spoke with Saleh probably a couple of weeks ago before we started camp. So I spoke with him and Saleh’s always been just a great friend first and foremost. And his advice is just, you know, make it mine and just have fun with it. It’s one thing Saleh is he’s a great mentor. I learned a lot, a lot of football under Saleh, so definitely always indebted to him and grateful for the time he spent with me working with me and all the things that I was able to learn under him. So he’s been a great mentor and just a great friend as well.”
DT Javon Kinlaw seemed to improve down the stretch last season and look more comfortable. What do you think is the next step for him in his progression?
“Kinlaw, it’s just owning the techniques. And I know last year it was tough for Kinlaw where he kind of came into camp, didn’t have an offseason, so it was tough. And you saw that progression go through the season. Now for him to have OTA and come into training camp, I think that’s the one guy I’m the most excited about seeing a really huge jump from year one to year two.”
How big of a deal is it for you or the challenge of just learning coverages, learning what your guys can do, what they’re comfortable doing, the positions you can put them in, playing left side, right side or boundary, or field like, tell me about that process of how you kind of figure out what you want to do coverage-wise?
“I think that process goes, that’s why we have training camp, to kind of figure out what can our guys do? So you see a lot of different guys in different positions, like you said, different sides of the field left, right, a lot of different groups mixed in. You want to see how well guys work together? What can guys do? What’s the best for them? Because for me, it’s not always about like, what do I want to do? It’s about what can the guys do? What can they go out and perform at a very high level? And so, training camp is that time to go through a lot of different coverages, different techniques, to see where our guys are and see what they do best. And then that’s what we will roll with during the season.”
How do you feel about your cornerback depth?
“The cornerback depth, like I said, our depth, and you’ve got J.V. there, of course, [CB Emmanuel Moseley] E-Man, you’ve got a lot of young guys and veteran guys in there mixed in. So a lot of competition there at our cornerback. So we have some depth there, but again, we’re always looking to, like I say, improve at each position.”
How have some of your young defensive backs done in CB Ambry Thomas and S Talanoa Hufanga, how are those guys doing?
“Our young guys are doing well, Ambry [DB Deommodore Lenoir] D-Mo, Hufanga, all the guys are coming in. You know, it’s hard for a young guy. Their hands are kind of swimming. A lot is thrown at them early. So they have a lot to manage mentally and physically out on the field. But as they continue to go throughout camp, and that’s what camp is about those guys getting in there, understanding it. And once things start to slow down for them, you’ll see them continue to get better and better.”
What’s your style of teaching as a coach? Do you yell? Are you positive? Are you, how do you, what’s your style?
“Yeah, my style is you’ve gotta be first and foremost is positive energy. Always, always positive energy. Always upbeat. There is, in coaching it’s just teaching. It’s a matter of, you know, you have to be able to teach all the people in the room and everybody learns different. So for me, it’s just finding a way to reach each guy in the room and you have to try different techniques, but it’s for me first things first, I’m going to be positive, upbeat, high energy, just making sure our guys are into it and having fun.”