SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Eric Mangini’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Good morning, everybody. So, we are full go on the Giants. Similar pattern for us, working on third down, red zone here today. Another difficult quarterback, another difficult group of wide receivers, but working on it and excited to get going.”
There was a report that LB Ahmad Brooks won’t be available Sunday. Is that your understanding?
“It’s not something that’s definitive right now. So we’ll have to see how it goes at the end of the week.”
LB Aaron Lynch played pretty well against Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. What did you see in him and is he stepping his game up here?
“Aaron is a good player. I know we’ve talked about him before. He’s really talented, he’s smart, he’s tough, he’s got a high-motor. He is young though, so there’s a lot of things that he’s seeing for the first time. Some of that, especially out of base where he played more nickel last year, more sub last year. But, I’ve liked what Aaron did last year. I liked the way he’s been throughout the other part of, or through camp, through OTAs, the early part of the season. And, he and I have talked a lot about it. As he experiences things, as he understands how all the defenses work together, he’s got a great upside.”
Have you spoken to Ahmad in the past couple of days?
“I sent a note to him, but I have not spoken to him, no.”
Just defending New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. and how big of challenge that is for you guys. Does he fit in that kind of Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown and Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, big-play guy?
“Yeah, he’s tough. [New York Giants WR] Rueben Randle’s tough. [New York Giants QB] Eli [Manning] does a great job on the deep balls. Eli does a really nice job. You can see it with the mechanics, where he’s up at the line of scrimmage. Some of it’s tempo or it’s hurry up and that’s one way that he can gather information. Then you see him moving the pieces around, whether it’s the tight end, the back, the wide receivers, it’s another way that he gathers information. And, you’ve got two talented guys on the outside. Not that the rest of the group isn’t talented, but two guys that can make a lot of plays on the outside that changes some of the things that you have to do. Although you can’t, with Eli, you can’t do the same thing over and over again because he’s going to get his players, his group into the right spots.”
Just one more on Ahmad. Is he, obviously he’s 31 years old, he’s been doing this for a while. Is he a guy that could not practice and still play Sunday?
“With this situation we will really just have to see how it goes at the end of the week. Obviously, all of our thoughts and prayers are with Ahmad and we’ll see how it goes. Knowing Ahmad and the way that he’s worked, he’s someone I feel comfortable with being able to pick things up quickly and contribute. But, completely secondary right now.”
You’re a quarter of the way through. It seemed like Sunday the defensive scheme was a little bit different than what happened the previous two weeks in terms of blitzing and creating pressures and things like that. It seemed like you were more straight-up in terms of sending four after the quarterback. Are you still finding that maybe that’s more of what the identity of this defense needs to be?
“Well, what’s going to happen is every week it’s going to be different, because the West Coast offense is different than the offenses that we faced earlier. So, each offense has an approach. Each offense has certain things that are vulnerable, has certain things that you have to take away. So, I don’t think you’re going to say every single week it’s going to look exactly the same. If anything, you have to adjust to where are the threats on the inside or the outside? What’s the personality of the quarterback? Is it a guy that scrambles? Is it a zone-read type team? All those things that we face in the season change, so we have to be able to change with it and take shots where we can and take away the things that we have to take away based on what they’re bringing to the game.”
What was it about last game that prompted DB Jimmie Ward to get on the field more than he had in the previous three games?
“We have not, whether it’s any of the young players, they’ve all done some good things. You saw [CB] Keith Reaser played a little bit last week. We’ve got a lot of different guys that we want to play. We want to play in packages and some of the packages you’ll see [S] Jaquiski [Tartt] in more just because that’s what we’re getting offensively. Sometimes it will be Jimmie. Sometimes we’ll more [CB] Tramaine [Brock] back in there. Really happy with Jimmie. We’ve been happy with Jimmie since he’s been back and getting to know him. But, it’ll fluctuate too week-in and week-out.”
That’s a pretty tough assignment he had for most of that game.
“He had a really tough assignment. And like I said I’m getting to know more because he missed the time that he had, the early part. Really like his approach, his work ethic. Jimmie is a guy that we go through the game plan and I know on some of the road games, he’ll be up sitting with [secondary coach] Tim Lewis and want to go through everything again, even if he knows it because he wants to be right. He wants to make sure that he’s got every one of his assignments down. It’s a great quality, great quality that he has. Tough, tough, gives us some real pluses in the running game, being down there and that spot inside, that’s a hard spot. Because, there’s so much happening, you have run-pass reads, you have communication with the safeties, you’ve got communication with the linebackers and he’s handled all that stuff really well.”
Are you saying that on the flights to road games he’s up with Tim Lewis going over–?
“Yes, sometimes he’s up there or he’s in his office. He’s going to make sure he’s got it all down and you love that about him. And then, sometimes you know he’s got it all down, but it’s checking that list off a couple different times. Really, really great trait from a young player.”
With New York Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo there, do they have a lot of the same offensive principles as Green Bay?
“There is some carryover. There’s always going to be significant carryover when a guy comes from a certain system. Some things that they do a little bit differently. There’s more movement by the parts. Whether it be the tight ends, the backs, the wide receivers. A little bit more of that. And some of that goes back to type of quarterback and the feedback that the quarterback gives the coordinator. There’s a lot of carryover. You can’t just put it in a box, but it’s definitely from that family tree.”
Any first impressions of your new linebacker LB Gerald Hodges?
“Yeah, spent a little bit of time with him. He just wants to get up to speed as quickly as he can. And he’s sitting there, he’s standing next to [linebackers coach] Clancy [Pendergast] every single play, ‘OK, what’s this? What’s this? What’s this?’ And, that’s a positive. We’re excited to have him, adds good depth and we’ll see how he develops and how quickly he picks up the system.”
Is there a potential he could pick things up quick enough to be active and available to you on Sunday?
“We’ll have to see. Really, after you go through the physical yesterday and all the stuff he had to take care of in the morning. We’ll see how he does each one of these days. Part of that is how does he fit into special teams? That’s a big component of it as well.”
You’ve been an offensive assistant that brings a defensive perspective for this team in the past. Do you, have they sought your advice about maybe how the Giants will approach you and to get out of their offensive funk that they’re in right now?
“You know, there’s so many things that we are taking care of on our side. I think that everybody is working to fix the different things that have come up and [offensive coordinator] Geep [Chryst] and I talk all the time anyways. But, it hasn’t been along those lines, no.”
When head coach Jim Tomsula was hired, he remarked how he has a lot of experience on his staff, guys that have been head coaches or coordinators. Now that there’s a three game losing streak, do you help counsel him at all through this or has he come to you yet seeking advice?
“I’m here to help in whatever way and you’ve got [tight ends coach] Tony [Sparano]. You’ve got a lot of different guys with different experiences, over 20 years, 15 years. The one thing I can say about being a new head coach and a head coach is everyday it’s something a little bit different and you’re navigating through it and I think Jimmy’s done a great job. It’s not an easy job by any stretch and there’s no, you don’t get a manual. ‘Here’s your head coaching manual and here’s what works best.’ You go through and you do it the way you believe it should be done and Jimmy has conviction. He has strength of character and he’s got passion and he’s going to get things right. He’s going to make sure that there’s a process in place, a plan in place to improve each day. Going through that, I respect how he’s handled himself from the day he got the job and every day since.”
We see on Sunday’s a lot of bad body language from players. They are frustrated obviously. You’ve been with a lot of successful teams, other teams haven’t been successful. Do you have a sense of this locker room? Is it cohesive and if so how do you maintain that?
“Well, my greatest sense is in my room with my guys. Now, I know all those offensive guys as well. As a group of people that, whenever you go through adversity it is frustrating. It’s frustrating for all of us and if people weren’t frustrated, then that would be a bigger problem because that means they wouldn’t care what the outcome is. I’m a firm believer, and my experience whether it’s winning or losing is what do you do with it? What do you do with the frustration and where do you take that? You always need to start with yourself. How can I be better? And, you’re going to hear, it’ll be whether it’s the coaching or the feedback or whatever it is, what can I do to help improve the things that I’m contributing to this group. And then as a group, what can we do collectively to help contribute to the team? Anything else is counterproductive. Anything else is, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t add value. If anything it makes things worse. So, whether it’s been [former NFL head coach Bill] Parcells, or [New England Patriots head coach Bill] Belichick or [former NFL head coach Ted] Marchibroda or my personal experiences, there’s truth in sports and great players and great athletes, they take that frustration and they channel it into self-improvement. And it’s any sport, doesn’t matter, take your pick. Great ones always do that and sometimes it’s a learned skill.”
Beckham is so good in the air. Do you see Manning being aggressive with throws to him with the confidence that if I put it up there either my guy is going to come down with it or nobody will? Do you see that in the way he throws the ball to him?
“Eli places the ball really well regardless of who he’s throwing it to. I think there’s always, whenever you have a receiver that can go up and win those jump balls, there’s always a confidence that if it’s not placed exactly right it could be caught. Worst case scenario it’s going to get knocked down and then you may take a few more chances that way. And, he is great at going up and snatching it.”
Did you have to talk about the DBs to control their emotions in case Odell gets in a shot or two like he did against the Bills?
“We talk about controlling our emotions. Whether it’s Odell or an offensive lineman or an official or any aspect of life you control your emotions. It’s one of those things where it makes you feel good for five seconds and then you have a 15-yard penalty, it’s silly. At the end of the day, everybody has pads on. You hit somebody in the helmet, you’re going to break your, what value does it have? It’s just silly.”