This is the transcript of Eric Mangini’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Good morning everybody. We are deep into Arizona, another challenging opponent coming up here, leading the league in scoring at this point and good group of skill players, good backs, good quarterback. The line has done a really nice job protecting the quarterback, so it’ll be a good challenge for us.”
When you look back at Sunday’s game, the six big plays in particular in the passing game, how much do you just chalk up to their guys were better than our guys or these mistakes were correctable and need to be corrected?
“You know, when we come in, and I’ve talked to the group, my approach after every game is really the same. It’s whether we win or whether we lose, it’s what can we fix? What can we take away from it? How can we grow? To me, that’s the most important thing in either wins or losses. My hat’s definitely off to them. I thought they made some really good plays. Those are two outstanding players and there’s obviously things we could have done better from a performance perspective and we could have done better from a coaching perspective. So, it’s collective when you have plays like that. It’s really a collective responsibility.”
You’re only two weeks into the season and you’ve got a lot of new pieces, a new defense. How much of it is just finding your footing as a defense? And, you’re still early in the process.
“Yeah, there really is a growth that goes into any defense, because I’m learning about the guys, the coaches are learning about the guys, they are learning about us. We’re figuring out as we go things we do really well, things we don’t do as well, and even from a game-planning perspective, from an installation perspective, from a practice perspective, each week it’s going to get better. It’s a group of guys that are, for the most part, new to each other. But, that being said, we’ve got to keep pushing that growth forward as quickly as we possibly can. But, there’s definitely going to be some of that with any situation like we have.”
I guess fans maybe said, some reporters would look at the game and sit there and say, “Well, CB Tramaine Brock is your most experienced, best cornerback, why not just have him follow Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown around?” Is it not that simple to do that or what was behind that?
“Well, it’s, some of that is a function of when you have a guy like that where do you want to put him and then where do you want to put the help? And, you try to balance those pieces off. So, if you want to press help in different directions, you may put him on a guy that’s different than Antonio or [Arizona Cardinals WR Larry] Fitzgerald or whoever the receiver is that week. And, you really with any team, especially with a quarterback like [Pittsburgh Steelers QB] Ben [Roethlisberger], experienced guys, you can’t just have one way. You’ve got to have different ways to try to mix it up and make sure it’s not just the same thing over and over again.”
How well has CB Kenneth Acker responded to what happened against Antonio Brown?
“Well, I think the group as a whole has responded really well. They came in, it was a sense of purpose to make sure we saw what the problems were, what we had to get fixed, where we could improve collectively and then where each guy could improve individually. And, I’ve really respected the way that they came back and approached it and then came out yesterday in practice and I expect another good practice here today. That’s really what you look for is OK, how are we going to respond now in light of this?”
Are you expecting Arizona to take the same tactic with an experienced quarterback, fast wide receivers, and try to do the same?
“You know, it’s such a copycat league. It’s like anything else, whenever you get hit on something, they’re going to try to hit you again and the next team will and the team after that will. And, you do the same thing defensively, if you see something that you think could be problematic you say, ‘OK, is it fixed?’ And, until you go out and show that it’s fixed, they’ll keep pressing. It happens to players individually as well. If you ever show a tendency that’s not as strong as you hoped it’d be, everybody gets it.”
Broad question, how do you get more pressure on the quarterback? Is it an execution thing or do you need to make adjustments as creating a game plan?
“Well, here’s the thing with a guy like Ben, I’ve played him a lot of times. There’s teams that pressure him with a lot of guys, there’s teams that have played three against him and both have merit. He’s a unique guy though, because when it doesn’t hit or it’s not sound he gets outside the pocket. Those plays become big plays as well. So, each quarterback is going to be a little bit different from that perspective, in terms of how much you’re going to pressure him. Some of the guys that are really mobile and scrambling threats, once they get out of the pocket it’s the run/pass option. But, when they run, I mean look at our quarterback, when he runs it’s not like you’re just giving up two or three-yards. You’re giving up a lot. So, each week that’ll change.”
You’ve also gone up against Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer quite a bit over the years. How has his game, how’s it different than the guy that you used to game plan for?
“I like Carson Palmer a lot. I’ve always liked Carson. He’s got a great, great arm. You watched in the early games, he’s coming off the injury, he’s got the brace, things like that. But, he moved around well in the pocket. There were several plays in that first drive in the first game where he moved away from pressure. He found [Arizona Cardinals TE Darren] Fells in the flat, went for 12 or 15 and then he moved away in the red zone and he found [Arizona Cardinals WR John] Brown for a touchdown. So some, I think the thought process that he’s a statue, that’s not the Carson I’ve experienced. And, his arm strength is impressive and he throws a really nice ball.”
How do you prepare for a running back that might bring some unknown like Cardinals RB David Johnson when you know, he’s only had seven touches, I think, on offense?
“Yeah, he had that one touch on special teams that was pretty impressive, went for 95. He’s got great speed and you look at that kickoff and it’s pretty easy to recognize how quickly he can get up field and then how quickly he can leave people behind. But, it’s, you go through and you look at times where he played in the preseason. You try to get as much tape as you can on him to see what his tendencies are. But, you know if he hits that hole it’s downhill quick.”
How would you describe Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians as a play caller?
“I think he’s a creative play caller. I think he does a really nice job of generating problems with coverages. And whether it’s formations, personnel groups, the mixture that he does, and it’s not just first and second down or third down. He can roll it at any point. He can change tempo. So you‘ve got, it’s sound concepts in the passing game, good concepts and then they are mixed with personnel groups and they’re mixed with formations. So, they are consistently forcing you to recognize who’s in, recognize where they are and then be able to play the routes in a way that’s consistent with defending them. So, I like his creativity. And then, there’s a willingness too to run the ball. They can get big and come right at you. So, it’s both of them. He does a good job.”
How much does Larry Fitzgerald still have left?
“He looks pretty good on tape. I’ll tell you, he’s strong. He is a, strong hands, strong route runner, really good sense of where the void is in the zones. Respect the way that he run blocks. I mean, he comes in there in those tight formations and blocks like a tight end. He’s got a willingness that you don’t see from a lot of receivers to get into the mix with the big boys and push. So, you know how tough he is.”
Your defense allowed three points and allowed 43 points. Do you have any sense at this point what kind of defense you have?
“Not really looking for those extremes. I’d much rather be close to the three points. Yeah, it’s, I think that as you look through it, there’s definitely things that are correctable. And, nobody is happy with the performance across the board and there’s a determination to make sure that it’s fixed.”
Is LB NaVorro Bowman going to practice today?
“Yeah, pretty sure.”
Just a day of rest for him on Wednesday?
“Yeah, Jim and him talk a lot about that and I know they work with the trainers. So, those guys work that out and then we work together with Jim and NaVorro as well to make sure that whatever plays that we need him to see or things that we need him to recognize he’s getting. He’s very active. Like yesterday, he was out there with us, had the script, going through each play, making the calls. He’s very proactive with that stuff.”