SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Week-11 Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
What is the scouting report on New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount? You know him as well as anybody but the team. What’s he good at?
“I think first and foremost in coaching him, he has great vision for a big back. Sometimes I think you see a back and your preconceived notion is he’s just a ram it up in there and kind of push the pile guy, but the one thing we knew right when we first got him was what great vision he has and then what great athleticism he has. He’s got some highlight reel-type runs both in college and in the NFL of hurdling people. Something you don’t see when you see a guy who’s that big, a 240-pound back that has that agility and that athleticism. But, I think the biggest quality that makes him such a great running back is just great vision in terms of patience and understanding where the hole is. He’s got an ability to change gears and accelerate once he sees the hole and kind of get through it. He can make guys miss, but he’s also physical and can push the pile. He’s definitely one of the bigger backs we’ll face this year and he’s certainly a guy that we’re going to have to gang tackle. It’s going to be very difficult for one guy to get him down.”
He leads the league in touchdowns, rushing touchdowns. Is that, obviously he’s got the ability, but is that also because they can just as easily throw when they are close to the goal line that defenses have to–?
“I mean, obviously they’re not a one-dimensional team where you can kind of gang up on the run game. You’ve got one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game pulling the trigger. Their multiplicity and the ability to throw at the tight ends that they can deploy, the receivers that they can deploy and the running back that they can deploy make them very, very difficult to defend, especially in the red zone.”
Are you preparing for New England Patriots RB Dion Lewis to play this week and does that make you go back and have to watch tape of last year?
“Yeah, our defensive staff has looked at that. He’s similar to [New England Patriots RB James] White. They’ve got a little bit different skill set, but similar to how they use White. So, we have to be prepared for that if he’s up and active on game day.”
ME: Last season former 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini used S Jaquiski Tartt as a dime backer in the sub-packages, asked him to cover tight ends and running backs in man-to-man. Have you considered using Tartt in that way?
“Yeah, we have Tartt down in a lot of our packages, down near the line of scrimmage. So, we’ve already done that this year and we’ve also used [S] Eric Reid in that manner too.”
Because of the incident, that punch Blount threw, at the time his career at Oregon was up in the air. You obviously kept him. Did you develop any sort of more special connection with him just dealing with that whole controversy?
“I developed a great amount of respect for him in terms of what he went through and how he handled himself in a really bad situation that he knows he put himself in. But, the way he was willing to stick with it. It could have been easy for him to say, ‘Alright, I’m going to quit and go get ready for the NFL.’ But, he stuck it through, practiced with us not knowing if he was ever even going to play in a game. I think there was a lot of things that he had to do to get himself back in position to play and he did that. So, I think it tells you a little bit about LG in terms of his perseverance and his attitude and understood, was very remorseful for what he did, understood that he made a mistake, but stayed around to help correct that mistake in terms of what we asked him to do as a student and as a member of our team to give himself an opportunity to play again.”
Do you get a sense from just talking to some of your defensive players they came away from that Arizona game a lot more confident in their ability now that they were able to shut Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson down and how that can carry over into this game?
“Well, that’s what you hope. You hope as you go you continue to improve and you continue to grow and you continue to build upon the experiences that you have during the season. So, you hope that you’re trending in the right direction from that standpoint and that’s the biggest thing they have to understand is that I thought defensively we had a really good week of practice last week. So, that didn’t surprise and go, ‘Oh god. We played really well.’ I think they prepared well too and I think there’s a correlation between your preparation and your play. So, hopefully we’ll continue to do that this week. We did have a good Tuesday, we did have a good Wednesday and we’ll see how that impacts us today on Thursday.”
What is WR Torrey Smith’s status with his shoulder? How did that come about?
“I think on that pass where he was crossing the middle in the fourth quarter. Kind of hit his hands and then fell and went to the ground. So, it occurred on that play it looked like because it looked like he was a little bit lame after that one. We put him in motion and then kind of took him out the next play. And we’ll see. He’s still day-to-day right now and we’ll get a sense, a feel for him on Saturday after the whole week of training is over.”
How much is LB Aaron Lynch participating in team drills?
“He’s in and out right now. It’s more individual drills. I couldn’t tell you the exact amount of reps he’s had in team drills. But, he’s been limited so far. He’s been a limited participant in practice.”
We’ve seen him warm up and he doesn’t look particularly comfortable on the ankle. Is it his decision to test this out this week or–?
“No, it’s him and the doctors going through and knowing where he is and how long the injury was, what the MRI said. There’s a plan going through with that. I think sometimes with those injuries it takes a little while to get warmed up and get going.”
A couple of guys, DL Chris Jones, WR Chris Harper, who spent some time with the Patriots. When you have that dynamic, is that valuable at all? Can you glean anything from them that you’re not getting from watching film and things like that?
“I think sometimes, and then other times it can be confusing because they only see it through their microcosm of what is taught in their individual positions. So, they may not have enough information where they can give us, ‘Hey, what are you guys trying to do here? I don’t know. I’m playing three-technique. I’m trying to hold the B-gap.’ But, we’re trying to figure out how they’re defending some type of motion where that maybe wasn’t explained to a defensive tackle. So, sometimes you can gather some information, but I don’t think you’re going to get any, it’s not like they give you a detailed game plan on exactly how things are done.”
What kind of instruction do you give your guys for a rainy game in terms of the ball being slicker, maybe more turnovers, equalizer, that kind of stuff?
“We talk about it and we discuss it. Obviously, we don’t have a ton of opportunities just because of where we live. But, we’ve done some work with it. We’ve done some wet ball drills. We’ve done them during the preseason and we’ve done them in weeks where we thought we were going to play in some rain situations. So, we’ll continue to work on that.”
I don’t imagine this will be a major storyline, but just curious, you were a Patriots fan growing up. Is that right?
Former NFL QB Jim Plunkett, Former New England Patriots QB Steve Grogan, who were some of your main guys?
“Steve Grogan, [former NFL WR] Randy Vataha, [former NFL DB] Tim Fox.”
It’s obviously not the first time you’ve played the Patriots, but does it mean anything, like, ‘Hey, that used to be my team’ when you coach against them?
See, I told you it wasn’t going to be a major storyline.
“Then you can write it. I moved away a long time ago. So, it’s a different team. I’m a big fan of [New England Patriots head coach] Bill [Belichick], but I don’t hope he wins on Sunday.”
Have you talked to him about beating him last year?
“No. It didn’t really come up in any of our conversations.”
You didn’t bring it up?
Not on Facebook chat or anything?
“No. Snap face, we were on together. That’s what coach calls it.”