SANTA CLARA –
I just participated in a group interview of Ricky Jean-Francois.
He explained to us that he’s been playing all three positions on the defensive line, but mostly right end behind the starter Justin Smith. This seems to suggest Jean-Francois will be the first defensive lineman off the bench.
It also suggests undrafted rookie Ian Williams has a good chance to make the team as a backup nose tackle.
Towards the end of the interview Jean-Francois described Fangio’s new aggressive 49er defensive scheme – how his defense is not exactly a traditional 3-4.
Here’s the transcript.
Q: How are you picking up the play book?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Good. Last year I just was at one position so it was a little bit easier, but now I have a bigger role so I have to learn the end and the nose position.
Q: Is it tough to learn two positions?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: I just take it all in at one at time. First I learned the nose and then I learned everything that’s going on around it.
Q: Do the two positions have distinctly different responsibilities?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Basically just contain. The ends have a big responsibility to contain but the nose just tries to get pressure in the middle to try and free up Pat (Willis) and NaVorro (Bowman).
Q: Are you playing both sides? The right and the left end?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Yeah, I’m playing both sides. But the one thing I’m trying to do is I’m trying to stay on the right side a lot, because a lot of people like playing the left side, So I’m going to stick to the right side of right now.
Q: Does playing all three positions make you more valuable in the rotation?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Yeah, that’s one of the biggest things. I said if I want to be valuable to my defense I’ve got to be valuable in all respects – from our nickel defense, our sub defense, or learning how to play any position. I just want to be more valuable, I want to have a bigger role, and I don’t want to be set at just the nose. You can put me anywhere and the coaches will be comfortable.
Q: When you were just a nose, how much were you and Patrick talking about what he’s looking for and how you can help each other?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: That was one of the biggest things. Once Aubrayo left I wanted him to start getting comfortable with me, so I had to learn a lot of things. Basically we had to sit down and come to a relationship with each other – learn when to fall back, when to take the guy, when to do certain things, so getting in touch with the inside backer is my biggest thing.
Q: How does this defense compare to your previous one?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: Last year we were a traditional 3-4, but this year it’s a multiple look (3-4). We’re going to have some times where we look like a true one, but most of the other times we’re going to have multiple looks – shades, three ends, we’re going to have more looks than just one.
Q: Would you say this defense is more aggressive than the one you played in previously?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: I might, yes, I might say yes. Vic (Fangio) likes sending more blitzes from different places. We send them from everywhere – we might bring a corner, we might bring a safety, we might drop the nose and bring an end. We just give them more options than just one.
Q: How does that affect you?
JEAN-FRANCOIS: It helps me. It frees me up. If the offense doesn’t know where the blitz is coming from, they’re going to have a harder time figuring out who they have to pick up.
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