SANTA CLARA — Here’s a transcript of Jim Tomsula’s Saturday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“First of all, good morning. I apologize for being late. We did, just off the bat here, [LB] Shawn Lemon did work out and we are going to sign him.”
“He’s an outside. CFL guy. He was in the Arena League here for a few years, what was it? Three or–?”
49ers Vice President of Communications Bob Lange: “2012.”
With the San Jose SaberCats?
“Yes, and [Pittsburgh] Steelers this offseason. So anyway, that’s my reason for being late. I apologize. The other thing is, just the other thing you brought up with [LB Steve] Beauharnais yesterday, he did a nice job as far as his day in there yesterday. Just so you know, I mean, jumping in learning some stuff and being able to get out of a huddle, it was neat for the guy. That’s there. Injury report, [DT Tank] Carradine’s, we got an illness on Tank, so he’ll be out. [WR Bruce] Ellington’s still out. [LB Philip] Wheeler, we put him in there yesterday to see how he’s moving around and he’s not moving around great so more rest on him. Guys that we’re monitoring reps, [DT Kaleb] Ramsey, again, nothing big, you know, a little bit of banging and I mean, you’re going to see him through the practice, just so you know that there could be some limitations. [CB Leon] McFadden, you’ve seen him at times gimp a little bit with the foot, he’s got that foot strain on the back of his foot. I mean, it’s on the heel, it’s more like a bruise. Anyway, give him, he’s monitored a little bit there. [WR Issac] Blakeney is back in so he’ll be on the field today with pads on. He’s coming along great, but still be limited there. And [TE Busta] Anderson, Rory’ll be out there. He’s just sore. He’s a rookie, he’s being asked to do some things that maybe he’s not done before and he’s sore. So, just keep an eye on him. And then from there, again, the guys that we’re still, we stay on, it’s, we’re still with [LB Aaron] Lynch, we’re [DT Darnell] Dockett, we’re [DB Jimmie] Ward, we’re [RB Reggie] Bush. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, moving around really good yesterday, so that’s going good. [RB Kendall] Hunter, really great. You see with Reggie, putting in some of the special teams reps, you see him out there with that and you see Reggie with some of the 11-personnel stuff, getting some reps on those things. So, that’s where we are there with that. And then, I’d like to just start with offering, obviously, our heartfelt congratulations to [2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee] Charles Haley today. It’s obviously an enormous day in his life and talk about a guy that’s battled, a guy that’s overcome and a guy that’s pushed through. At this time, it’s, there’s something, something hits you. Really, really excited for him. I’m excited for people to see him and see that and understand what that says and who he is. So, really proud of him and I know organizationally, everybody is really proud of him in a lot of ways.”
Do you draw an analogy to LB Aldon Smith? Is that where you’re going?
“Yeah, I mean just, Charles is in a great place. It’s a story that’s not done yet, but it’s getting really close to some happy endings.”
I know you can’t control the outside static and gossip that goes on out there, but can you tell, there are stories out here that your quarterback and Aldon got into some sort of altercation?
“Yeah. They were laughing about that yesterday.”
Can you confirm that?
“Never. I’ve got guys here every day. Nothing even close. I don’t know where that could even come from. No.”
No tension whatsoever between those two?
“Nothing. I’ve had a couple skirmishes in there, I’m out there guys, you see me, I’m playing traffic cop. I’ve lived in those trenches. I’m the traffic cop in there. I start hearing the heat and I’m going in with the water hose. I’m redirecting conversations to stop a guy from punching a guy that’s got a helmet on. That’s what I’m doing in there. I got a big bucket of water. I want the heat high, but right before it’s going to be ba-boom and about this time, people are getting a little bit tired of seeing each other. It’s just natural, it’s nature, it’s football. So, I’m just trying to make sure that we keep, I’ve got a bucket of water over there and I throw it on there when we need it.”
There were fights today, apparently, in Washington or in Richmond, where the Washington–?
“Yeah, they were going with, Houston?”
Yeah, against Houston. Have you talk to the guys about training camp fights and have you kind of issued a directive to not fight or what’s your stance on that?
“I’m more of a middle ground guy, if I’ve got to put it in a category. Do I realize that there is the potential for something like that in a physical sport when you’re hitting the same guys over and over and over for two weeks straight? Yeah. Does that mean he’s a terrible guy? No. I’ve been associated with teams where we fought every single day in training camp, and we have a hard time winning games. I’ve been with teams where we didn’t have any fights in training camp, and we didn’t win any games. I’ve been with teams where the opposites happened, no fights, and we’re either in a championship game in Europe or here. So, I don’t know that that has any bearing. It all depends on who’s on your team. What are those characteristics, but I don’t think that has a bearing on winning or losing and I know that not being able to control your brain and your actions at a critical moment when your emotions are high can cost you a game. That’s what I do know and that’s what I talk about.”
Going back to yesterday, why were you up here alone? Why wasn’t general manager Trent Baalke part of the announcement to reveal the team’s decision on Aldon Smith?
“Well, I wanted to be alone, first of all.”
Why is that?
“Because I’m better that way (doing a press conference by himself). I’m just more comfortable, to be honest with you. And in terms of anything else, that’s my job. It’s not anybody else’s job. That’s my job.”
To clarify, you mean you’re better when you’re alone, it’s not–?
“It’s been well documented. I’m not real good on these podiums looking down at people and talking at them. Ok, you know what I mean? That’s just not me.”
You’re not better than–?
“I’m not good with a predetermined speech and you know, that’s just not me.”
To clarify, you don’t think you’re better than somebody else at doing this?
“No, no, no, no, no.”
You like doing it by yourself.
“Completely talking about Jimbo.”
You like doing it by yourself.
Do you like what you’ve seen from CB Shareece Wright and CB Tramaine Brock so far? It seems like they are doing a good job at limiting big plays and coming up with a couple takeaways each.
“Yes I have, but I’m also exciting about the other guys in that room. That’s a, there’s some talented guys there, you know? And you’re seeing different things flash daily. It’s started to, flashes, little beeps on the radar are starting to become, instead of ‘beep … beep,’ it’s ‘beep-beep-beep-beep-beep.’ We’re looking for that. We want it close together.”
How is LB Eli Harold beeping?
“Eli Harold, he came in beeping. Again, rookie going through it, we’ve all seen it, the ups and downs. He hasn’t had the downs, but we are still early on in this thing. But, Eli is doing a really good job. He’s an energetic guy. I think everybody sees what we saw in him and why we drafted him. And, he’s a wonderful human being and one really athletic, competitive individual.”
A bit more of the spotlight will focus on him with Aldon Smith out. It seems like he has the potential to assume a larger role. Do you feel like he’s a guy that is ready for that as far as a little more expectation and pressure?
“Yeah, I think he is. But, that whole room is under the same definition that you just gave. [LB] Aaron Lynch, [LB] Corey Lemonier, [LB] Ahmad [Brooks], everybody is. So, that’s where that is. I think we have a room that’s built for that, so that’s good.”
WR Torrey Smith was really good about talking about how we all have problems and we all probably need more help than we are asking for. How do you erase the stigma from, especially big, tough NFL guys, for asking for help when they might need it?
“Quite honestly, sometimes I beg. You hit the nail on the head. I mean, you’re 310 pounds, you look like you were made out of stone and you’re in a sport where you just keep pushing through. You don’t slow down. You don’t look back. You take things and move them to the side. You keep going and it’s this mindset and it’s a mental toughness. To me, it’s not that. It’s the point of when you ask for help it’s not weakness. That’s the way I try to address that. It’s not a weakness. To me it’s the perspective on how we look at it. It’s actually smart.”
Outside this building there’s a little concern about the offensive line. Can you talk about what progress you’ve seen so far?
“Well, I mean after yesterday and that was my fault with [OL] Ian Silberman. I put Ian in there and I wanted to see, Ian’s going to be a heck-of-a player inside. He’s a young guy and he’s going to be a heck-of-player. He’s a guard. He’s never snapped before, doing a great job in individual periods, doing a great job in controlled things. I wanted him in a scrimmage-type situation. I mean, obviously we’re not tackling to the ground, but I wanted him in there having to hit the checks, a nose guard switching sides on him. So, now his snap hand has got to come up. And, you know, what you would expect. We had some problems with some snaps yesterday and seven of the nine problems, the nose guard was on his snap hand. That’s the difference. That’s the difference between playing guard and center, so we’ve got to work that. I still believe that he’s going to have it. He will have it. He can do it, but we have to get on tape. And, then I wanted to leave him out there to see if he can fix it under stress. Where’s he at? So, we walked out of practice yesterday understanding exactly where he’s at and how we need to move forward with him. But, he’ll get there. In terms of the offensive line, big comments yesterday that from me, in the staff room, was watching [T Joe] Staley and [G/T Alex] Boone there together and watching the spacing, watching the hips down. That’s coming along really nice. [G/T Erik] Pears, I’m a big Pears guy. He’s one of those tough-nut Colorado dudes that climbed out of some, either got off a horse or climbed out of a mine. That’s just what he is. Doesn’t say anything, got his wife and four kids and that’s about it. He’s got that and football. So, he’s my type of guy. And, I think he’s moving better. And again, he’s played a lot of tackle. So, the challenge there was going to be playing the guard, getting that set up for him. But, he’s moving better than I’ve seen him move and he’s strong. And, I think our offseason program here and the way he dedicated himself to it will show up on the field, or is showing up on the field.”
There’s no thought whatsoever of moving him to guard? He’s right tackle?
“Well, right now today, no. Football is ever revolving, but no I like where he’s at right there. I like what he’s doing.”
C Marcus Martin said he hasn’t played right guard since high school. Can you just address what that transition is like for him and maybe the footwork is different or how you see it?
“The footwork’s a touch different. But, playing the guard there, in terms of the techniques and things, you don’t have to snap the ball. So, a lot of ways your world just got easier. I don’t have to snap the ball with [NT] Ian Williams running down my face or [DL] Glenn Dorsey. But, now you’re also in a situation where you’ve got a little bit more space where the contact’s happening. And to me that’s not really huge technique things. It’s more timing and feel and playing it. So, that’s what I’m looking at and I think he’s doing a really good job. Marcus Martin is a really good center and Marcus Martin is becoming a really good guard. And that’s why I’m not, just to spell it out for you, I’m not telling you who’s playing where. We’ve got to get the best five. That’s the unique thing with O-Linemen. It’s the sum of the parts. It’s not one guy. They’ve got to be together. Those guys are connected and it’s kind of cool because they’re all starting to move like a big thing of cows.”
Did you have this planned out before the start of training camp how you wanted to work that through with trying these guys?
“Oh, yes sir. We were doing some of it in the spring. Not just me, that’s the offensive coaches.”
Have you made any changes to that plan at all so far based on what you’ve seen?
“No. I pushed Silberman in there a little bit yesterday. That wasn’t on the script. I got excited about what I saw beforehand and I want to know right where he’s at and look at the timeline on what we’re doing there.”
G Brandon Thomas seems to be getting some reps with the first team. How’s he doing?
“Good. Good. And again, Brandon, the thought on that was, we put on pads what three days ago? That was the first time since Clemson. So, we’re trying to keep that. We’ve all been talking about him, we’ve had him here, but we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that he’s a rookie for all intents and purposes and doing well. He’s definitely in the mix, absolutely. When you saw him playing guard, you saw who at center. So, yeah there’s no secret there to what we’re doing, don’t have a secret to it at all, but that’s, you’re exactly on it man that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Has he made tremendous strides from where he was, movement-wise?
“Movement-wise, yes. The other thing too is he played a lot of left in the spring and towards the end of spring we put him to the right. And where he’s going there with the right guard position is good. It’s really good.”
Were you a big, you’ve said a couple of times you were a big Pears guy before he came here. Did you know much about him and had you been a big Pears guy?
“Yeah. Pears was in Europe. We were actually in Europe at the same time. So, Pears is, I did work on him back then. A journeyman guy. I mean that as a compliment. Some people I understand say that and it’s not a compliment. That’s a dude that grinds. That’s a guy, this means something to him. He was in Europe, playing there, and it means something to him. It is real important to that guy. The makeup and all of that stuff and the way he plays on game day is, he’ll strike you.”
Did you kind of push to sign him?
“Yeah. I wanted [49ers offensive line coach] Chris [Foerster] first to look at him and then obviously Trent and those guys know everybody. All that kind of stuff all goes in the same bucket when we make that decision.”
I just want to get a defensive line question in real fast. Over the years here you’ve mentored a lot of young guys, unheralded guys along the line, undrafted guys like Ian, DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, low-round guys, final-day drafted guys like DT Quinton Dial and former 49ers and current Washington Redskins DT Ricky Jean-Francois. What’s been the common thread between those guys? What did you see in those guys that you knew that you could mold them into something, when they came in here as long shots, as maybe rough, raw prospects?
“I could take an hour answering that question. Number one, it’s not just me. It is the personnel department. It’s always been together there. Tony Jerod-Eddie was absolutely the personnel department bringing that tape in to me to look at. But, it’s not separating the person from the player to me. It’s the one thing that they all have together is they’re very likeminded in that sense. The person and the player match up and it’s in a good place. Because, when you come in under those circumstances, I don’t need anybody that blinks. I need somebody that’s going to trust you. If you’re belligerent, it’s not going to happen. So, it’s all in how you’re receiving it too. And now I’ve got to go harder on you. I’m going to be more demanding on you. I’m going to have meetings at 11-o’clock at night. I’m going to take you all the way to curfew with meetings because I’m trying to get you to a place to survive, to make it. So, that’ what all those guys have in common and then the traits. So, that’s where that is.”