Fangio: “We’re going to need to play the run a whole lot better in this game than we did last game.”

SANTA CLARA — Vic Fangio was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Thursday afternoon. Here’s a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.

You talked after the game that you wanted to see more out of your pass rush. What’s been the message to your guys this week?

“Well, we need more pass rush. That’s been the main message. We just have to pass rush, both better as individuals, with our technique and our purpose, and then as a unit being better. We need a good, even rush. We need better rush individually and then rush good as a unit. You know, there’s not a lot whole to talk about there, just Dallas blocked us in the pass rush for the most part.”

Seems like the last few years, DT Justin Smith has done as much dirty work stuff rather than being the guy who makes the play. Do you ask more of him now to be the guy that steps up and gets to the quarterback and makes more plays?

“Not really. I think what you’re alluding to prior is a little overblown. He’s been a major component of our pass rush since we’ve been here, and, obviously, even before we were here. He needs to continue to be and he was the other night.”

Chemistry, obviously, is different with LB Aldon Smith. Is that part of it? Just building the chemistry with, whether it’s LB Dan Skuta or LB Corey Lemonier, that sort of thing?

“Yeah, that’s part of it, but not as big a part as I think you’re trying to say. You know, Aldon’s a very good player. That helps your chemistry.”

What’s the difference between CB Perrish Cox this year and Perrish Cox from last year, who got released and bounced around a couple teams?

“I don’t know that there’s a whole lot of difference other than, you know, I think when you do get bounced around a little bit and you finally get to a place where you want to be, and he does want to be here. He likes playing here. He likes being a part of this team. I think he’s just doing a little bit extra, not a lot. I don’t want to insinuate at all he lacked in effort in any way last year because he didn’t, but just a little bit extra to be ready to go at the multiple positions that we count on him for. I think he feels at home here. He’s well liked and respected by his teammates, his coaches, and we’re just glad to have him.”

Are the Bears unique in that they only used two personnel packages in Sunday’s game? Are they unique that way and do they pose a unique threat because they’re so versatile out of just two?

“Only two personnel packages?”

Yeah. That’s what some data says.

“Who said that?”

Pro Football Focus.

“Wow. Well first off, they didn’t have their fullback. He was inactive. So that eliminated that. There’s probably a good chance that he’ll be out this week so that expands their packages. One of the reasons they don’t maybe have as many packages as some other teams is because their back is a viable receiver out of the backfield. So like last week, you saw Dallas sometimes go to four wide receivers and one tight end. Well, if Chicago wants to do something along those lines, they just do it with 22 [Bears RB Matt Forte] in the game. His versatility allows them to do more out of one personnel group than maybe other teams and that makes it harder on defense.”

Their wide outs are banged up with WR Brandon Marshall, WR Alshon Jeffrey and WR Josh Morgan. Does that put more emphasis on watching out for RB Matt Forte or the tight ends to get involved in the receiving game?

“No, because you’ve got to watch out for Forte no matter who those receivers are. I think he’s been their leading receiver for several years in a row, now. [QB Jay] Cutler is very comfortable in throwing it to him. A lot of them are check downs, which turn into dangerous plays, you know, very plus-yardage plays for them. You got to be ready for Forte no matter who else is out there.”

As far as his makeup, did you think CB Dontae Johnson would be able to handle the situation he was kind of thrown into Sunday?

“I think he was going to be capable. I don’t know if it was going to be that Sunday, you know? I do think he’s capable emotionally and mentally to do it. Now, being asked to do it on opening day of his rookie year may have been a stretch, but he went in there and did very well. Obviously pleased with that and hopefully he grows with that and not rest on his success.”

Did that exceed your expectations?

“No, I think it matched the expectations. But sometimes your expectations don’t get matched, particularly early from a young guy.”

He was kind of matched up last week against Dallas WR Terrance Williams. How do you prepare him this week for who he may see because you’d expect Cutler to target a rookie DB?

“Yeah. Well, 17 [Jeffrey], you know, Jeffrey and Marshall, those are two really good receivers. Assuming they play, I think he’ll just throw it to what the coverage dictated. I don’t think he’ll aim at a guy, per say.”

So if CB Chris Culliver and CB Tramaine Brock don’t play, are the starters Cox and Dontae Johnson?

“Possibly. Cox could start and, you know, [CB Chris] Cook would enter into that mix, too.”

What have you seen from DT Ray McDonald with the situation hanging over his head in terms of his focus, his preparation?

“I think his focus and preparation has been good in light of everything that he’s been through here the last two weeks or whatever it’s been. He’s obviously had some things he’s had to deal with. He’s been late for a couple meetings because he’s had to deal with some things. You guys saw last week he was late for a practice or two because he had to talk to people. But I think he’s handled it extremely well in light of the firestorm that’s out there.”

 

I don’t know how much you keep tabs on the practice squad guys at this point but DL Lawrence Okoye is moving over and doing a little scout team stuff on the other side. You had mention that his size makes it tough to keep that leverage, stay low. Is he better suited to be an offensive lineman in the National Football League?

“Well, we’re trying to find that out. By no means have we given up on him as a defensive lineman. It’s just that, you know, when you try and line up in practice, and I don’t know how many offensive linemen we have on the squad counting practice squad, but I don’t think we have 10. You don’t want to wear your starters out. So, like you see on a lot of positions, like [LB] Chase Thomas is playing tight end on the scout team, you know, Lawrence has got to be able play some O-line has a member of the practice squad. Felt that since we’re going to ask him to do that to give him a little training, too, you know, see where it leads.”

 

But you’re not possessive of him and want to keep him as a defensive lineman?

“No, I am. I still think his best future is with the D-line.”

How do you feel about the run defense and how they fared after the first game?

“It wasn’t good last week. We did not have a good game up front versus the run and rushing the passer for the most part. It’s like I told you after the game, particularly in the first half, more so than the second half. The second half, I actually thought we played halfway decent, but you get a third-and-21 illegal contact, a third-and-seven holding and a third-and-18 bomb. Other than that, we played much better in the second half. We’re going to need to play the run a whole lot better in this game than we did last game.”

 

What went into the decision to keep DT Quinton Dial and DT Tank Carradine out? Was it more of what you talked about with Carradine in the past as far as assignments and stuff or was it more with special teams with DT/TE Demarcus Dobbs and DT Tony Jerod-Eddie?

“Well, special teams does play a role in there. Dobbs is a contributor on the special teams. When you only dress five D-lineman, those guys have to have some versatility. You know, Dobbs can play in the base and in the sub. He plays in special teams, so, he adds a little bit more there when you’re only dressing five. If you’re ever able to dress six, which would be unusual but possible, you know, then those other guys may be able to factor into it.”

I ask this because, obviously that second drive, LB Ahmad Brooks had three penalties in pretty quick succession. Was he ready to play? I mean, was there an issue with his readiness?

“I think he was ready to play. He just had three plays there in the short time span that weren’t very good and that we got to get corrected. You know, gave him a break after that and he played better in the second half. It’s unusual to have three penalties in such a short span, but he did.”

  1. For anyone questioning why Carradine and Dial didn’t suit up, Fangio has answered your question. Versatility to play on STs.

    Basically, barring injury, if Carradine and Dial want to start suiting up regularly, they had better be prepared to work their way into the STs units.

    1. I hope this is not a sign of lack of work ethic or confidence in their abilities. We need for most of these draft picks to pan out.

      1. Based on what Fangio said, it doesn’t sound like that is the issue. Simply that Dobbs and TJE play on STs, and they don’t need more than 5 DL suited up on game day. Ability to play on STs is essential for backups.

      2. @Chicago,

        I don’t think it’s lack of work ethic for these guys, and I certainly don’t think the 49ers coaches see it that way either.

        My question is why haven’t the coaches gotten them involved in ST’s so they ARE indispensable & be part of the 46 on Sundays?

    2. Everyone is right. Its both D-line value and ST value.

      For example: If Aldon Smith was available, would he be off the game day roster because he doesn’t play ST? Does Justin or RayMac play ST?

      Equal (or even slightly better) D-line play is not enough to get Tank/Dial suited up. For either one to play, they have to be significantly better then Dobbs/TJE at their respective positions. Apparently they are just not there (yet).

      Its the net value that determines who plays. I’m still hoping to see Tank Sunday in obvious passing downs. Pass rush is too vital a skill not to use.

        1. Gotta cover those ST needs, no question. But I think the angst over Q and Tank is overdone anyway. Look at the WRs; their depth will be used differently in different games due to available match-up advantages. I think Vic has that same luxury with the DL. Tank and Borland are still refining their responsibilities; Tank vs Run and Borland vs Pass. The’ll grow in practice this season and win more game reps. Q doesn’t yet have the ST value that Dobbs does.

        2. Aldon Smith was (technically) a backup in 2011. If the pass rush is anemic for a 2nd week, Fangio might need to activate Tank as a rush specialist vs AZ… ST or not.

          1. Smith was a starter in the nickel (technically), but you are right, if the pass rush continues to struggle they may well decide having a backup DL that can rush the passer is more valuable than a backup DL that can also play STs.

    3. Carradine is not playing partly because he’s not ready yet. Fangio has clearly stated in the past about Carradine’s lack of experience/understanding of the D. When asked directly about it, he just avoided the topic. Specials play may also be contributing, but Carradine needs to get his act together and learn the D if he wants to sniff the field.

    1. Good point about potentially having 6 DL suited up this week now that James isn’t on the roster. Though Osgood would seem the logical replacement on the 46. If they do go with 6, which one out of Tank and Dial do you think they make active?

      Also, if Osgood is active, do you think McCray will suit up? You’d assume Osgood would take his role as gunner.

      1. I would rather have Carradine because I think he’s a better pass rusher than Dial.

        It would make sense for Osgood to replace McCray, but with their limited depth in the secondary I don’t know if they need 6 active receivers.

        1. If Culliver is fit to play, they should still have 4 CBs and 4 safeties (Ward incl. as a safety) suited up if McCray is inactive. I don’t believe McCray saw any snaps on D last week despite the injuries.

        2. Anyone else view McCray’s Catabwa tape. I’m sure part of it is the low level of competition, but he looks like a man among boys. He tackles with a thud.

          He also returned punts and kicks. We’ve all heard of “power running backs.” McCray’s something like a “power kick returner.” Not much finesse. One cut, then “bam” right through arm tackles.

          1. Yeah, to be honest I thought McCray would get a look in as a return man when they signed him. He’s got the look of a STs demon, and potentially a legit DB.

  2. Grant, this is a bit off topic, but I think worth consideration.

    My hypothesis is as follows; Gore is already the #2 RB.

    Yes, he is #1 on the depth chart out of (well deserved) respect.

    However, the organization already realizes who is more valuable 1 week in. Why else would you run Gore at the end of the game, up 11, in garbage time? You are more willing to risk a Gore injury than a Hyde injury. I guess the counter argument would be, why didn’t they run LMJ. But, I’m just not sure he was in the appropriate packages to grind time.

    Thoughts?

  3. Thought had entered my mind that Okoye was better suited on the offensive line but I just chocked it up to mental illness. Well you never know do you.

    1. Don’t give up on that thought. Fangio says he thinks his future is better on the dline, but I wonder about that. On d, he’s looking at two positions with Tank and Dial way ahead of him. On o, he’s looking at four. (I’m ruling out center.) Iupati and probably Boone are going. Staley is aging. Davis doesn’t impress me. Leaves Looney, JMart, and Thomas.

      1. George,

        I think Anthony Davis is the best player on the OL, and he is paid as such. Staley has been the man for the longest time, but Davis is the one with the brightest future.

        1. E, when they drafted Davis, someone — it was Baalke or Singletary — talked about him having quick feet for a man his size. I don’t see that, do you? Wish I subscribed to PFF to give you a grade on his pass protection. If anyone here has it, would you kindly provide?

    2. I think this has more to do with teaching someone the game.

      A lot more is required mentally from offensive linemen, while its easier to get by with athleticism on the D line. So in terms of coaching someone with no instincts the game, its much easier to put them on the Dline and let thier athleticism take over.

        1. I remember that was part of the conversation when Okoye first signed on. Playing the defensive line was much simpler than the offense. They thought that it would be the easiest position for him to learn. The thing is that Okoye is a really smart guy so the mental aspect might not be as difficult for him as for some other players. He probably is better suited physically to play the offensive line. Just think if they got him to the point were he was good enough to back up both the offensive and defensive lines. He would be a very valuable player.

        2. The oline has to make multiple reads. Thier blocking assignments change depending on defensive formations, where blitzes are comming from, stunts, etc. Then there is the technique aspect, understanding angles in the pro’s is huge, there are few Larry Allens who can just move people… these players have to create space for the running backs by manipulating defenders into positions, creating a crease.
          So while their is the booksmart aspect, there is also a lot of technique, and instinctual understanding of what the defenders are trying to do.This is needed so that they can still operatate in a phone booth and react properly in the milliseconds that they need to.

  4. Jack

    Q looked dominating in preseason and Tank flashed as well. Is not playing them really a good idea? Are they simply being groomed for next year when JS94 is gone? If Q is half the player Red Bryant was for those several years, he should NOT be riding pine.

    1. Dial and Carradine are definitely being groomed. That being said, the only reason they are playing is space on the 46. They’ll likely get some action at some point this year. Maybe even this week.

  5. Took some time to study the stat sheet of the Bears’ last game. Their run defense does not look good – they gave up 193 rushing yards to the Bills. Lance Briggs is not the dominant LB he used to be back when he played with Urlacher the first time Kaep faced them. He is slow and has trouble getting to the edge. Last Sunday he even gave up a 35 yarder to some scrub named Anthony Dixon….

          1. Woa, the pass grade is way better than I thought it would be. I guess the penalty grade lessens it a bit (false starts?). Thanks, Jack.

  6. Just rewatched the game on NFL rewind. Iupati, oh boy. Don’t know if the problem is in his head. Is he overweight? He looks as lost as a rookie and he’s gonna get Kaep hurt. Bad first step on his footwork. Out of position lots of times. Anyone else rewatch the game? Am I being too harsh?

    1. Bay, you touched on something that really concerns me. With Kaep using the pocket more and staying longer to wait for plays to develop, he’s going to be hit more. The Colin who has avoided injuries through his mobility, may not be so fortunate going forward. Our new passing attack has its downside, unless his linemen protect him. They drafted Iupati as a road grader because the offense required it at the time. All we had then was Gore an a less than stellar QB. But now, with a balanced attack, they need guys who can pass protect as well as open holes. Our oline has to get better in that way, and right now the weakest link is Iupati.

      1. If you look at the line grades give from pro football outsiders, I believe the 49ers did not have a single offensive lineman grade out positively (source article on espn). This is kind of scary considering the cowboys defense is supposed to be one of the all time worst defenses in football history.
        I hate seeing Kap run for his life against a defense that doesnt have many players that could even make the roster of an NFC West team.

        1. I mentioned it before that I felt that the quick hitters and roll outs last season were to keep Kaep out of the pocket and protect him from injury. It was to hid the weak pass protection of the offensive line. Put together weak pass protection and receivers who can not get separation and you will have a QB who will target certain receivers and throw on the first read. There were indirect statements made in that respect last season.

    2. Bay,

      I rewatched it and my concern isn’t with Iupati’s health or fitness; he looks to be moving fine. My concern is that he is looking confused and missing his blocking assignment at times. He missed two blocks on pulls to the left that were obvious and caused the play to be stopped in the backfield. He is at times double teaming and leaving a LB with a clear path to make a play. I read yesterday that he did that on the play where Gore was angry, and sure enough when I went back and looked at it, Iupati went right by the ILB he should have blocked to follow the OLB who was completely out of the play which forced Miller to take the man Iupati should have, leaving nobody to block the defender standing in the hole.

      He wasn’t too bad in pass protection but overall his game has severely regressed the past year and a half and I’m not sure why because he looks to be moving fine. Staley also struggled at times in the first half. I think the lack of playing time in preseason might have something to do with it and these guys are still playing themselves into game shape.

      1. ” He is at times double teaming and leaving a LB with a clear path to make a play. I read yesterday that he did that on the play where Gore was angry, and sure enough when I went back and looked at it, Iupati went right by the ILB he should have blocked to follow the OLB who was completely out of the play which forced Miller to take the man Iupati should have, leaving nobody to block the defender standing in the hole.”

        Rocket.

        I noticed that too. Iupati was on the right side and decided to help (I think) Hyde (who didnt need it) block one guy leaving the LB a wide open path to CK, sacking him. Not sure why he did that or even why he was on the right side to begin with.

  7. How do we improve our run defense? I just dont think Ian Williams is healthy or on the same level as dorsey. Has anyone heard if Dial is going to be active for the game and replace LMJ spot? I think he can at the minimum clog up the middle and free up the lb’s

    1. Someone’s pointed out that the run d is likely to be better if only because the Bears’ oline isn’t as good as Dallas’. And remember that last year, before his injury, they deemed Williams ahead of Dorsey.

  8. Here are some more PFF grades for some more players:
    RMac -0.1, J Smith +5.0, Ian W -0.8, Brooks -5.5, P Willy +0.8, Wilhoite -3.6, Skuta +0.7, TJE -0.2, Dobbs -0.6, Lynch +0.8, Lemonier -2.9. Article says Brooks, Wilhoite and Lemonier were the leaky seals. Best defensive performances according to PFF: Justin Smith 1st, Dontae Johnson 2nd, Bethea 3rd, Reid 4th.

    Biggest disappointments for me are Lemonier and Wilhoite. I really expected much better from both. I hope to see more Lynch, and possibly Borland if he can play the run better.

    I’m also thinking what Willis said about not playing together much holds a lot of water. And I’m hoping for a lot of improvement as the season goes on. At least our secondary is off to a good start.

      1. Hi Rocket,

        No, Wilhoite is playing Jack again, he played Jack last year too. Willis was playing Jack last year and is now Playing Mike while Bowman is out.

      1. I think mainly the reports of how Lemonier was looking from a physical perspective, and Wilhoite’s performances last year, and just an overall hope.

        Don’t crush my hope Grant.

        1. Sometimes a player will put together a streak of good games that he will never duplicate again. Just remember Rodgers. Not saying the same holds true for Wilhoite but it’s possible. Lemonier has not shown anything as of yet and fans hope for him is just that hope.

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