SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Week-11 Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
We just got off our conference call with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Obviously you guys have the connection. Can you trace it back for us a little bit on how you first encountered Bill and going over to the Patriots facility?
“Just from visiting when I was an assistant at New Hampshire and that continued when I was an assistant at Oregon and then the head coach at Oregon. Just spent time there.”
What was the biggest takeaway you got from those visits?
“Just when you get a chance to watch arguably one of the best coaches in the history of the game coach on a daily basis, how organized he is, how is detailed he is, how in tune he is to putting his players in position to make plays and just really how gracious and nice he is. I don’t know if the media always sees that side of him, but extremely outgoing, smart, personable.”
You said when you got hired here that Bill was one of those that reached out to you after you left Philly. What did that mean to get that support from him at that point?
“I don’t know if it, it obviously means a lot. He’s a very good friend and I appreciate the support he’s given me in my career.”
When you visit a coach like that I think the tendency as a young coach like you were at the time, a younger coach, would be to just get information, get information, get information. But, is there also like you want to give something back as well and share information?
“Yeah, I mean, I think we talked football and shared. He always has questions when I see him and we visit and I talk to him at the Combine. We share ideas and things.”
He spoke in the past I think about he didn’t exchange details about play calls or anything like that. It was more philosophical discussion about football. Did you find that your philosophies were similar about the game and if they were what areas do they overlap?
“In a lot of situations. You’re always just trying to find an advantage because everything is so close. So, how can you maximize what you have for your players and how you can try to gain a yard here or a play here or an advantage in certain situations?”
Is it organizational to that degree? I mean, how you want to practice and that sort of thing?
“Yeah, I’ve observed how they practice and what they do. There’s a lot of drills that they do and how they do things. It’s one of the things, I spent two years when we were in Philly we would practice against them. So, we spent three days with them and a lot of things we do organizationally from a practice standpoint I got from coach.”
You guys went up to New England obviously last year and won. What can you take away from that game that might help your preparation for this week?
“Probably nothing. It’s two entirely different teams. I certainly don’t have the personnel that we had when we were at the other place. I mean, we watched the game and broke it down as part of our breakdowns and getting ready for them. But, their personnel has changed. There are guys that played against us in last year’s game that aren’t going to play against us in this year’s game. I think they are deploying their guys differently just because they have different personnel. I don’t think there’s a whole heck of a lot that you’re going to glean from last year’s game going to this year because there’s been so many games this year to look at in terms of how they’re using the players that they’re using now.”
Bill said one of the hallmarks of your offense is that it attacks every part of the field. How do you think you’ve done this year in that regard, with the deep stuff, every quadrant of the field?
“I think a lot of it depends, and it’s not over the course of a game, it’s over the course of the season of how people are going to defend you. If you look at last week during the course of the game, the Cardinals were really getting their free safety involved in the run game so we threw a post over the top of them. Sometimes if the free safety is not getting involved in the run game then you’re not going to be able to throw a post because he’s defending the post. If he’s defending the post then he’s not a factor in the run game. So, I think over the course of the season you’re able to get the ball in certain places down the field, but it depends on what each week that team is going to give you.”
Does WR Torrey Smith’s injury affect that post, that deep–?
“Well, I think [WR] Quinton Patton was the one that caught the post.”
How has Torrey looked?
“He did not practice yesterday. I think he’ll be limited today. So, we’ll see and we’ll observe him as we go along this week. So, I don’t know what his status will be for Sunday.”
Is their defense unique in the sense that they’re so adaptable, they seem to have different schemes and different game plans every week that they don’t necessarily have one really great calling card, they sort of adapt to all the things that opposing offenses do?
“Well, I think their calling card is that their players are very versatile. So, you have players like [New England Patriots LB Rob] Ninkovich and [New England Patriots LB Dont’a] Hightower, [New England Patriots S Patrick] Chung that can play multiple positions and they can deploy them in different ways. Ninkovich can be a defensive end. Ninkovich can be an outside linebacker. Ninkovich can be an inside linebacker. They use Hightower in a similar fashion. [New England Patriots LB Shea] McLellin is a guy that you certainly know they have a role for in terms of how they’re using him and how they’re going to deploy him and he’s kind of a hybrid-type guy too. Chung can be a high safety. Chung can be down in the box. Chung can be their nickel. So, I think one of the hallmarks of what they do is the versatility and I think that’s what Bill really looks for in the people that he’s drafting or the people that he’s signing to play defense for him is that versatility allows them to be a multiple team.”
What does that do to you guys? They’re obviously very multiple on offense as well. Do you almost have to construct Plan A and Plan B-types of game plans just to be able to adjust to what they’re in?
“Yeah. It forces you to, just because this grouping’s on the field doesn’t mean that they’re going to be in this. On some teams, when this grouping of 11 guys is on the field, this is exactly what they play and you know exactly where they’re lined up, exactly where they are and then how do you execute and play against them? But, with what Bill does, you can see a four-down front, you can see a three-down front, you can see a two-down front with the same personnel on the field. So, you don’t have kind of a pre-snap idea based on the personnel in the game exactly how they’re going to come out. You’re going to have to see them line up and then you’ve got to see it play itself out. You’re actually going to have to make some post-snap reads in terms of some of the things you’re going to get from them.”
Is it difficult game planning, preparing with New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski’s status up in the air?
“No, because they have so many other weapons. You better be prepared for, it’s just not Gronk. [New England Patriots TE] Martellus Bennett is having an outstanding season. You’ve got [New England Patriots WR Danny] Amendola. You’ve got [New England Patriots WR Julian] Edelman. You’ve got a slew of running backs. You’ve got [New England Patriots RB] LeGarrette Blount, who they can pound you with. They’ve got the backs coming out of the backfield and then obviously, you’ve got one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. So, if they don’t have him, obviously that’s a blow to them but it’s not a death blow. I think they’ll still be very formidable on the offensive side.”
The 49ers are honoring former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo this Sunday. What stands out to you about his contributions to the game?
“The big thing with Mr. D is just I think not only the winning attitude that he brought here to San Francisco, but just how he did it. You listen to the former players that he touched is that everything he did, he did with class and that’s kind of what the hallmark of this organization is about. It’s about winning with class and he’s the guy that started that whole process here, brought the five Super Bowl titles and all the work that they’ve done but doing it in the right manner. So, that’s kind of the first thing I think of when I think of Mr. D. I think of class.”
Do you have any memorable interactions with him?
“I’ve had interactions with him. I wouldn’t say, off the top of my head, just a very good, classy individual.”
What have your impressions been of DL Glenn Dorsey? Obviously, he’s been in the league for a while but since you’ve gotten to know him.
“Yeah, I think Dors, we talked about it the other day, I think he’s kind of over his injury. He did an unbelievable job in rehabbing and coming back from what he’s done and I think in the last two weeks, you kind of see him solidify the inside, the interior of our defensive line in terms of being stout, especially in the run game. I think he’s done a really good job in that. I think he brings some energy. I think he brings some juice and then more importantly, I think he brings leadership to that. We’ve got a young group besides him and I think the younger players can really learn from him, not only how he battled through adversity because of the injuries, but his approach to how he comes here every day. The professionalism that he kind of carries himself on a daily basis, how he prepares for the game, how he approaches the game and then really, how he plays the game. So, it’s been a big plus for us to be able to get Dors back the last couple of weeks and we hope he continues that way.”
Do you think that leadership manifests in the huddle too on the field during games?
“Yeah, there’s not a lot of huddling on defense in the NFL anymore. So, there’s not a lot of ra-ra speeches. Everybody’s kind of either breaking the huddle very fast or it’s kind of a mixed bag of things. But, I think it’s during the week is where it really has to manifest itself and it does.”