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.”