SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Week 16 Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
You said on the radio this morning you guys are probably going to have to bring people in because of injuries. Have you gotten updates on your injuries?
“No. Again, I’ll meet with [49ers vice president of football operations Jeff Ferguson] Ferg at 1:30. I know three guys that are out is; [WR] Quinton Patton, [LB Nick] Bellore, and [TE] Blake Bell. But, there’s a couple other guys we’re waiting to get answers on.”
Out for the season?
“Yes. But, there’s a couple other guys that went out in the game yesterday that we haven’t gotten answers on. They are actually at the doctors now. When we get that, we’ll pass that on.”
I think there were five announced and I think you said on the radio there were eight guys.
“I don’t know what was announced.”
Vice president of communications Bob Lange:
“We had [DB] Jimmie [Ward], Bellore, Bell, Patton, and [C] Marcus Martin.”
You can’t tell us who the other three guys were?
“No, I mean I don’t know if I was off. How many was that? Six?”
That was five.
“Five? So you’ve got those three. He just listed more than five. The three I already said that were out, then Marcus Martin, Jimmie, [DL Glenn] Dorsey.”
What’s Dorsey’s injury?
“I don’t know. I just know he didn’t finish the game.”
How difficult is that to be scrambling for bodies at this stage of the season?
“I think a lot of teams are doing that right now. I don’t know what the numbers are within the league, but it just seems that there’s a lot of that going on right now. It’s part of the nature when you only can dress 46 guys, have 53 on the roster and 46 guys that when you do sustain injuries you’re going to have to go try to get players either from your practice squad or other player’s practice squads to even out your roster. Part of being really good in this league is staying healthy and when you can stay healthy and you’re playing with your frontline guys then you’ve got a shot. If not, everybody, no matter where you are, I don’t think there’s a team in the league right now that says, ‘Hey we’re good. We haven’t sustained any injuries.’ Everybody’s sustained something to some extent. You just have to be able to deal with them. That’s just the nature of what we’re playing with.”
Do you expect LB Gerald Hodges, do you plan to play Hodges this week?
“We’ll see how the week goes. We’ll see how the week goes.”
ME: How do you determine when to stick with a personnel grouping on offense and use tempo and when to substitute players in?
“I don’t think we’ve used tempo in a while. I think most of the time we’re just trying to get a look at what the defense is in and then snap the ball accordingly or put ourselves in the right play. [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap has some checks he’s got to go back through when trying to make sure we’re in the right protection. So, I would say we’re not playing with tempo right now. We’re just kind of huddling on the ball. And our personnel, a lot of it’s dictated by what the defense gives you. Do you want to face, if you’re in bigger groupings are they going to be in bigger groupings and is that an advantage to you or disadvantage to you. If you’re in smaller groupings, they’re in smaller groupings, again is that an advantage or a disadvantage based upon the matchups that you’re going to face. That’s kind of how we determine what personnel is going to stay in the game at those points in time.”
ME: And since you’re not using tempo, why don’t you huddle? What is the advantage of not huddling?
“Because we get to see what the defense is going to be in. So, we’re just getting a look and we save our linemen seven yards from running back-and-forth from the huddle. They just huddle on the ball. A lot of teams are doing it. The Falcons did it to us a lot the other day. So, I think a lot more teams are just, you’re just trying to see what the look is. I think the only advantage is you don’t get to go back seven yards and hold hands together and say, ‘Ready, break,’ and then run back to the line of scrimmage.”
What are the advantages of running everything shotgun pistol as opposed to being under center?
“Is that your quarterback now can be a factor in the run game. He obviously can’t be a factor in the run game when he’s not in the, he can’t read anybody on the defensive side of the ball when you’re underneath the center. So, when you turn your back to the defense, if they have an extra defender in the box you can’t control that extra defender in the box. So, sometimes you control them by throwing the ball. You may have a built in hot where you can throw the ball to a receiver based upon what the defense is giving you or you can give a guy that’s a read to the quarterback and then sometimes the quarterback keeps the ball in the run game. It really basically gives you a better advantage from a numerical standpoint is that your quarterback now can become a factor. Underneath the center, he’s not a factor. So, if they have one more guy in there than you can block it’s really difficult to control him.”
Are there disadvantages in terms of what you can’t do by not being under center?
“No, I think when you’re in the pistol, sometimes when you’re offset people can say, ‘Hey, the balls going one way or going the other way.’ We’ve moved more to the back and the neutral spot behind the quarterback so they don’t know if the back is going to the right or to the left. All that stuff is done post-snap. I don’t see many, if you’re not good at handling the snap or your center is poor with that and you get erratic snaps then obviously that becomes an issue. Knock on wood we haven’t had an issue with that from a snap standpoint.”
Obviously, no coach plans to be 1-13 or expects to be 1-13. Watching this all unfold over the last few months, questions kind of, how did you think this was going to work? How did you think you were going to succeed? We can see what happened, but what was, how did you think it was going to work?
“I think everything is on a weekly basis because it’s what’s available to you on a weekly basis. You go into it, we were obviously depleted at inside linebacker when you lose [LB] Ray-Ray [Armstrong] and you lose [LB] NaVorro [Bowman] and then we’re down. Now you lose [LB] Nick Bellore. You start to chip away at some of the depth. That’s an interesting question as you say when you go into the season you thought maybe inside linebacker was going to be a strength for you and then obviously it’s been a little bit of a weakness just because of the injury factor that’s occurred there. There’s certain things. I don’t think you can look at it and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be this, this, and this.’ That’s why I really believe you have to look at it on a weekly basis because of the injury rate in this league. You don’t know if what you’re playing with this week is going to be available to you next week. So, you really just have to kind of deal with it that way. There’s not a real long-term, long-term look at it just because of that aspect right there.”
Those guys weren’t hurt at the start or some of them weren’t and–?
“Well, we lost NaVorro early and we lost Ray-Ray early. So, at that position–.”
How about offensively?
“At that position, that was one of the situations where, just giving you an example of when you’re looking at where you are. So, that’s kind of how you look at it. At offense, it was the same thing. We tried to get some things going. We made a quarterback switch five games in. Again, you’re dealing with what you started the season with isn’t what you’re ending the season with or even six games into it, it isn’t what you had.”
ME: How do you assess the job that your staff has done considering what’s been available to you?
“We’ll sit down at the end of the season and go through everything at that point in time and take a look at all the film, everything we have available to us and go through the whole thing. But, I think again, we take a week-to-week approach. So, we’ve graded the Atlanta game. We’ve moved off the Atlanta game. We’ll make our corrections in meetings today and then as quick as we can today in the middle of our meeting we’ve got to flip it over and get ready for Los Angeles because it’s a short week. So, I don’t think it’s the time right now where we sit down and look at it and say, ‘Alright. Let’s evaluate from a 50,000 foot above, take a look at the entire season.’ We’ll have time to do that once the season’s ended. Right now, we’re just really on a week-to-week deal.”
You never think about it? Here’s what I mean; it seems to me human nature, there might be a moment in a week where you say, ‘Sure, I’m preparing for the next game, but there’s history here now,’ that it might cross your mind to think about it a little bit and have thoughts, concepts, regrets, joys. You don’t do any of that? You’re simply moving on?
“No. I don’t know the simply moving on part. I think we go through the previous game that we had and then we make the corrections of what we had, go through those things with our guys, find out who’s available for the following week, then institute a game plan and move on to our next opponent. So, I don’t say, I don’t think it’s just simply moving on. I think there’s a process that goes on for all coaches I think and we’re all pretty much driven the same way. Everybody’s kind of on the same type of schedule whether you’re in college or in the NFL. I think everybody’s kind of doing it the same way.”
I understand you’re in the middle of the grind. You never pause and think, ‘What the hell happened here?’ You never have that thought in your head?
“No, I don’t. I haven’t.”
ME: I understand you grade and assess your players from the most recent game. But, don’t you also assess your play-calling, your game plan, your adjustments?
“Yeah, we do that. We self-scout every week. What are we running with the back offset strong? What are we running with the back offset weak? What do we run with the back in the dot? What are we doing out of 10 personnel? What are we doing out of 11 personnel? What do we do out of 12 personnel? How does that affect the defense? That’s all part of game planning. So, if I didn’t mention that, that doesn’t mean that we don’t do that. So, I think we look at everything. We always self-scout ourselves in terms of where we were, what do they have for games and us? What have we done? How do we change this formation? If we run this play out of this formation, how do we change the formation up? How do we dress it up with motion? How do we dress it up with whether it’s tight end motion or receiver motion or a running back motion? How much empty do you run? Do you run a little bit more empty? We ran a little bit more empty this past Sunday than we have in the past, try to get some cleaner looks. So, that’s all part of it.”
ME: How do you assess your performance from this most recent game considering all the injuries and what was available to you?
“I consider it a loss. That’s how I look at it. We didn’t perform well enough and didn’t put our guys in good enough situations to win the football game.”
I know you’ve probably been asked this before. Beyond the X’s and O’s, how do you gauge if the guys are getting demoralized at all at this point and what can you do as a coach to–?
“Well, I think when you watch the effort that they play with and I think that’s the one thing they can control is their effort and their attitudes and I think this group, by in large, does that. Obviously, it can get difficult for them. They’re human. Everybody can kind of, when you start to look at it and say, ‘Hey, it’s not going the way we want to get it going.’ But, the one thing I don’t think they do, I don’t think they blame others. I think they take responsibility. Everybody does. We’re not looking to blame people. We’re looking to try and find solutions in terms of moving forward to rectify the situation. I think that’s what this group does. So, I don’t see, sometimes in those, when it’s happened before and you watch different organizations when that happens, there’s a lot of in-fighting going on, offense turning against the defense, defense turning against the offense, all that stuff. I don’t think that has happened on this football team. I think they’ve pretty much stuck together as a group and are working together as a group.”
Do you have any favorite LA Coliseum stories?
“Just the ones we won down there. We had a couple good days down there when I was at Oregon.”
Do you like the place?
“Yeah, I love it. I love all the historic stadiums that you get an opportunity to play in. And I think, whether it’s Lambeau Field in the NFL or you got a place like the Coliseum when there’s been so many games and there’s been such a history of unbelievable games played there, it’ll be nice to go back there to see it. I’ve always enjoyed playing there. I always thought it was a really good venue.”
ME: Is there anything unique about the setup of that stadium that you have to take into account when you game plan?
“In the stadium? No. I know the locker room’s small. But, meeting rooms and places like that, I think you have to make some adjustments from that standpoint. But, once you get out there, it’s a pretty wide open, vast area. So, there’s nothing that we’ve had to do in my past history from a standpoint and looking at different things. I don’t think weather’s going to be a big factor. I think every time we played there, it was a later afternoon, night game. So, I’ve never really been there for a 1:00 kick. So, you’ll always check where the sun is in the sky and if that’s going to affect you, then we make adjustments accordingly from that standpoint.”
What day of the week is your meeting with 49ers Chief Executive Officer Jed York?
“It’s usually the day after the game.”