This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Week 16 Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
How long has it taken you to get familiar with your new roster? You guys had a lot of new players coming through the door here in the last couple of days.
“Yeah we have. I mean, that’s just part of what you have to deal with at this point in time. We’ve had a lot of injuries and I don’t know the number of Injured Reserve. Is it 14 or 15 or 16? I don’t even know the number. 16 guys on IR. You’ve just got to deal with it. You’ve got to put a group together and get ready to go play.”
Why isn’t T Joe Staley on IR? Is there a hope?
“There’s a hope that Joe can continue to play this year.”
And WR Torrey Smith is still going through the protocol?
“He’s in the concussion protocol.”
What has WR DeAndre Smelter shown you on the practice squad? Is there a chance he could be up for the final two games?
“There is a chance. That’s one of the reasons, especially with [WR Quinton Patton] Q.P. being out with the broken foot. We know he’s done for the season. Smelt’s done a nice job since he came back. Obviously, he had the bad hamstring injury in preseason camp and really couldn’t show his true self. But, he’s done a nice job since he’s been back. He’s picked up what we’re doing. Gives you good size out there. He’s a bigger body and then can also contribute on special teams because he is a bigger body.”
Does Patton require surgery?
“Yeah, he already had it.”
What about DB Jimmie Ward?
“Jimmie broke a shoulder or scapula. A collarbone. One of those.”
Is that a surgery as well?
“Not that I know of.”
Are you guys expecting to face Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff and what have you seen from him just in his few games as opposed to maybe what you learned about him during the pre-draft process?
“Well, he’s in the concussion protocol so until he gets released, but you have to be prepared for both him and [Los Angeles Rams QB] Case [Keenum] and there’s rumors that [Los Angeles Rams QB Sean] Mannion may play. So, you’ve got to be ready for all of them. Their offense hasn’t changed drastically from Case to Jared. It’s still their offense. The back is the feature player for them. [Los Angeles Rams RB Todd] Gurley is as talented a guy as we’ll face. He’ll be the main stop. You’ve got to stop the run against these guys and then obviously Jared like any quarterback, and I’ve mentioned this before, the experience you get in game reps as a quarterback is totally different than practice reps because in practice you don’t get hit and in a game you do get hit. You’ve seen him get better as the more snaps he’s played. He throws a nice ball. It’s catchable. He’s very accurate when he has a chance to get his feet set. So, obviously we need to disrupt the timing of the routes and try to get some pressure on him. When you give him time to throw, he’s a very accurate thrower.”
We’ve talked about the struggles in the second half. Is this something that you concern yourself with from a standpoint of trying to figure out why this is happening or do you take a more just kind of micro view of it and just look at every individual play where things don’t–?
“We do. We look at both. When you’re analyzing what you’re doing and why it is. I go back to the, we talked about it the game before with the Jets, we opened up a drive with a drop. The second drive we have a drop. Then the next two drives we have penalties that set us back and then all of a sudden we’re playing in big down-and-distance situations that make it difficult for us to transition and keep ourselves on the field. Similar to the same thing. We started the second half off with a drop. I think it was on the first play of the second half as we’re moving. We’ve got a shot to kind of get going. And sometimes it’s not the same guy. So, it’s obviously, it’s spread across the board, but I think offensively one of the biggest things that has hurt us offensively is the drops.”
Obviously, QB Colin Kaepernick’s numbers are dramatically different first half to second. Do you analyze what you can do different in that 15 minute stretch at halftime?
“Yeah, we do and we go through the whole thing. But, the one thing you can’t control sometimes is there are guys open and Colin is putting the ball on them and now we’re not catching the football. We’ve got to probably do a better job of who we’re getting in those situations and getting open to get them the ball so that we can continue to stay on the field.”
He’s also missing passes too.
“Yeah, he has. But I mean, if you look in those two specific games we got a first down in the first game the first play of the second half against the Jets and it’s a drop. It’s right in the receiver’s hands. There were things like that. And we’re pretty, not black and white, like his hand touched it and it was way out here, that’s a drop. We’re talking some of those are just the ball’s right on, he’s done a good job of putting the ball right on people. I think some of that mounts. When you get a drop, sometimes as a quarterback now you lose a little confidence. Now I’m going to try to place the ball and now I’ve become a little bit more inaccurate because I’m trying to make sure that I don’t throw it. Some of it kind of compounds itself.”
It seems like RB Carlos Hyde has been on a roll these last few games. Is that a result of the offensive line blocking better or is it partly because teams are taking away Kaepernick’s outside runs and there’s more room in the middle?
“I think it’s a combination of both. I think one of the things when you have a running quarterback is you create an extra gap for the defense. So, not everybody can gang up on the running back. So, if you do gang up on the running back, the quarterback can make you pay although I think people did that all along because [QB] Blaine [Gabbert] did the same thing. I know the last game Blaine played he had 10 carries for 70 yards against Arizona. So, it’s part of the byproduct of having two guys that can move is that you can’t devote everybody to the running back and that’s part of being in the pistol or being in the shotgun is that now the quarterback is a viable run threat. When he’s underneath the center, he’s not a viable run threat. So, it’s a combination of that. You get to create an extra gap when your quarterback can be a runner. So, you can’t have everybody on the defense constricting on one guy.”
Does that get better during the year as the quarterback and the running back work together and that cohesion gets a little bit sharper?
“Yeah. I don’t think we had bad cohesion before. So, I wouldn’t say that’s the product. I also think Carlos is a lot healthier now since he’s recovered from the injury in the Buffalo game.”
Is he in general running more decisively, Carlos?
“Sure. I guess so. I mean, I don’t think he was running indecisively. So, I don’t–.”
To my expert eye, it seemed some games earlier in the season he wouldn’t hit the hole as hard as he’s hitting it recently.
“I just think that’s a byproduct of experience. It doesn’t matter who you are. The longer he gets to play and more comfortable, more reps he gets doing the same thing, you could be a golfer, the more you’re out on the practice range and you’re swinging, you groove your swing. So, I just think he’s gotten better over time. A very talented player. The more reps he gets at it, the more he sees it, the more comfortable he feels with it.”
The more decisive he gets.
“Sure, as I said to start the conversation.”
With DB Jimmie Ward going out, will CB Rashard Robinson be starting now at corner?
“It depends on the package that’s in at the time. So, we’ve got to be able to mix and match. You’ve got to make sure you know where [Los Angeles Rams WR] Tavon [Austin] is. Is he in the slot? How are we going to match up with that? So, there’ll be a lot of different, between [CB Tramaine] Brock, [CB Keith] Reaser and Rashard in terms of who’s playing outside.”
Your record is what it is, but it seems like in the locker room guys are still pretty jovial. They’re still in good moods. Is that something that you think is a good thing at this point with what the record is or would you like to see guys, I don’t know that maybe being angry is a better way to handle it, but are you good with where the team’s at from that standpoint?
“Well, I think they control their effort and their attitudes. Those are things you can control and they worry about the things that they can control and they don’t dwell on the negative. But, I don’t take jovial as that they don’t take it very seriously in terms of what they’re doing. I think they’re very serious in their preparation and how they do it. So, it’s just they don’t have to dwell on the negative part of it. They deal on how do we become part of the solution and how do we fix this thing.”
ME: You mentioned you look at the second half offensive from a macro and a micro perspective. Did I understand correctly you said that the overall theme of the macro perspective is drops–?
“No, I just said that was one aspect of it.”
ME: So, you haven’t found an overall theme from the macro perspective, that it’s more than one thing or–?
It’s a young roster. Do you see guys as the season has gone along that have stepped into more leadership roles and sort of controlled the psyche of the team?
“I see a lot of guys try to contribute to that aspect. Obviously, we’ve lost a few. When you lose [LB NaVorro Bowman] Bo and [LB] Ray-Ray [Armstrong], those are two real integral guys on defense. You throw [S] Eric [Reid] in that mix. You still have the stalwarts like [DL Glenn] Dorsey and [S Antoine] Bethea, but you saw Jimmie Ward starting to emerge as one of those guys that kind of the guys on the defensive side rallied around. [DL] DeForest Buckner’s another guy that some of the guys on the defensive side can kind of rally around when they speak just because of how hard they play and what they do on a daily basis. They get an opportunity to when they say something, people are going to listen to them because of the performance that they put out on the field.”
Is the message to the team this week ‘Let’s go get ‘em?’
“No. We didn’t use that term. No. Am I missing something there?”
A radio interview you did included that phrase this week.
“Yeah. I don’t really think about the radio interview right after the phone’s hung up.”