SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Curtis Modkins’ Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Obviously that was a good win for us. I think our guys did a lot of good things, but as usual, you’ve always got some things you can improve on and we definitely have that. In general, I think in this league, there’s a lot of improvement that happens between game one and two and we look forward to kind of preparing to make that come true for us. And, we’re going to need to for this challenge we have ahead. So, I’ll throw it up to you guys for questions.”
In the red zone you guys obviously went four-for-four and got four touchdowns. How according to the script did all four of those touchdowns go?
“I think all four of them we kind of got what we expected and I think our players executed what we practiced more importantly. That was big being four-for-four and we’ll take that every time. But, I think our guys did a good job of executing down there in the red zone.”
How much did you guys devote to the red zone package in camp?
“We spent a lot of time situationally, and red zone is one of those that’s very important. So, [head] coach [Chip] Kelly, we spent a ton of time in the red zone. It was great to see that pay off of us Monday night.”
I think including the preseason, I don’t think the first team line has allowed a sack yet. How much of that is, yeah knock on wood. How much of that is the quarterback and just his ability to read a play and get rid of the ball if need be?
“I think a lot of it. I think it’s a function of everybody though. I think our O-Line, obviously to come out of a game with that many throwing attempts and zero sacks, the O-Line has played an integral part of it. I think they play a big part of it. I think [QB] Blaine [Gabbert] understands where his issues are protection-wise and getting the ball out and receivers running the right routes so he can get the ball to them. It all plays a part in it. Backs protecting, [RB] Shaun [Draughn] had a really good pickup on a key third down reception, the one where we threw to [WR Quinton] Patton. So, it all works together and they did a good job. We’ll need that to continue.”
How do you think the offensive line played as a whole, particularly having to make a last-minute change at right guard?
“I think the offensive line played well. We rushed the ball for 150 yards. We had no sacks. We were four-for-four in the red zone. Any time you can have those kind of stats, your offensive line had to play pretty good. I think those guys played pretty good. We’ve mixed and matched all camp with personnel, this guy playing this position. So, that wasn’t a huge issue for us. So, we’re fine.”
On RB Carlos Hyde’s touchdown, obviously that was a timing play where you have guys getting out and pulling. How much of that, the execution of that play is due to the chemistry that the line was able to develop?
“I think a lot of it. Any time you have a successful play, it takes that group, a group of 11 men working to make that play successful. And on that particular play it was textbook. Everybody did their job. Everybody did their job. It’s a play we run. Everybody did their job and it worked. So, hopefully that continues and it will.”
Following up on that, Carlos was talking about just the patience required to run in this offense. How have you seen him develop that and how can you maybe teach that for guys who haven’t had to do that?
“I think one, Carlos has a really, a football I.Q. and I think he’s in tune to what we’re doing offensively and what we’re asking him to do. And, there are some runs, that was one of them, that requires you to be patient and let the play develop. He did that. That’s something we’ve talked to him about. That’s something [running backs] coach [Tom] Rathman talks to all of them about and he did a really good job of that. But, timing is the deal with running backs and he has a really good feel for it. Whether it’s that play or any of our zone plays, any of that stuff, Carlos really has an understanding of patience and timing.”
There was a pretty wide discrepancy between your rushing yards in the first half and the second half. What was the reason for that?
“Well, it’s an NFL game and it’s hard to run the football regardless. And, there are going to be ebbs and flows in games. A time or two, those guys are good players over there and that’s a really good defense we faced. But, we do have to become more consistent and we’re working on that. The bottom line is, I think our guys rushed the ball well. We rushed for 150 yards. Could we have probably had more? Probably, but they did a good job. Our guys responded and I thought we did a good job. It happens. There’s ebbs and flows in games.”
Was WR Jeremy Kerley at all, I mean obviously he played a lot and played well, but was he at all limited as far as, ‘Hey, you don’t know some of this stuff,’ or was he full-go as far as knowing all the plays and raring to go?
“Yeah, I don’t think, I was so proud of him. This guy came in and did a tremendous job of learning our system in a short period of time. Our coaches, [wide receivers] coach [Bob] Bicknell spent a lot of time with him and he did a lot of work getting himself prepared to play. It’s the first game. We didn’t throw all of it at any of them, so he did a good job of handling what we threw at him.”
WR Torrey Smith was saying that because you had new guys, particularly at wide receiver, you really couldn’t do a whole lot in the passing game. He was saying that’s great for this group. How much were you able to put in because of the limited nature of some of your receivers?
“We had some new receivers, but I wouldn’t say it affected us. We had a game plan that we felt would help us win and we felt was conducive to wining and that’s what we went with. It worked out. Whether some weeks it’s more, some weeks it’s less, it’s all week-to-week. But, I think those new guys did a great job of coming in and learning what we asked them to do and that will vary from week-to-week.”
When it comes to the Panthers, they obviously have two really good inside linebackers. But, what else on their defense jumps out? And, Carolina Panthers DE Kony Ealy is a guy who had a big Super Bowl and had a decent game that first week against the Broncos. What do you see about that guy?
“Well, those two guys everybody knows and for good reason. They are outstanding. They are outstanding, they are probably the two best in the league as a tandem, but they are good everywhere. [Carolina Panthers DT Kawann] Short, the three-technique, is one heck-of-a player. The shade, [Carolina Panthers DT] Star [Lotulelei] is a heck-of-a player, Kony. They are disciplined. They run to the ball. They are fast. They have a really good scheme. Those guys are well coached. So, they are a tremendous defense. Those two linebackers only enhance it, but they are good overall everywhere in my opinion.”
Where did you watch the Super Bowl?
What kind of thoughts do you remember from watching that as an offensive coach watching the defense?
“From what I remember, I thought the defense really did a good job and gave them a chance to win the game. I thought maybe Denver made a couple plays. When you’re not in the Super Bowl, you just kind of eat chips and whatever happens, happens. So, I don’t really, I don’t know. I know I was full. That’s about it.”
Is there something Blaine and Torrey can do in practice to get more on the same page or get in a rhythm, or you guys game plan specific things for Torrey to get him going, just to help the passing game?
“No, I wouldn’t say they’re not in rhythm and they’re not on the same page. I think they are. When we call plays and where the defense, what they play dictates where the ball goes, we’re not forcing the ball to anybody. Torrey Smith has done an excellent job and Torrey will have, he will have plenty of opportunities to make catches in this offense.”
What was your evaluation of the way Blaine played and are you a little bit worried if he’s going to run the ball nine times does he need to protect his body a little bit?
“Yeah we’ve talked. Blaine knows that we’d like him to get down. We’d like him, if he can, score. If can’t, get a first down and if not, slide. So, he knows what he needs to do. Am I worried about it? No, because he’s smart. He’ll get that done. I think Blaine did a good job. He was good. He got the ball where it needed to be. We didn’t have any turnovers. He understood the protection. He got us in the right plays. Blaine did a good job and all of us, including me, we’ve got to get better and we can be more consistent and we’ll work on that and it started yesterday.”
Have you guys had discussions about the clock management in the second half? Just, you guys had the big lead and then it seemed a little jerky with that. Will you guys address that moving forward?
“I think Chip does a great job with clock management. We talked about it and I didn’t see an issue with it and we’re fine with that.”
I assume you’re optimistic about Kerley, but did he surprise you with just what he did?
“No. I was excited when I saw that we picked Kerley up. So, I don’t think he surprised me at all. I’ve known him for a while. I actually coached him in the Senior Bowl when he came out. He caught the winning touchdown for us. I don’t know what team I was coaching, the North or the South, but he caught the winning touchdown for us. So, I’m very familiar with him and look forward to seeing him grow in this offense.”
Are you surprised he was available?
“I don’t really, I don’t know. I don’t really get into that. I just try to coach who comes out the door.”