SANTA CLARA — Vic Fangio spoke in the media tent Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the 49ers.
Can you give us an update on where things stand with S Eric Reid and how he’s been looking in this last week?
“He’s been doing well. I thought he played pretty decent in the game last Thursday. And then, he basically didn’t practice on Saturday and Sunday, had a little physical issue, and then practiced more yesterday. So, I thought he played well in the game, showed progress, showed promise and then he kind of had a slow week here with a little injury.”
He had a couple of big hits in that game. Where do you stand on that type of play? Does he have to worry about being too aggressive sometimes in going for that big hit too often?
“Well, we love the big hit and coach it, and try and get it at any time we can get it. He’s just got to be smarter there. He’s got to know not to hit after the whistle. He’s got to know not to hit a guy in the head, a receiver, defenseless receiver. He didn’t really have any of those plays the other day. So, we’re going to be as aggressive as we can and as physical as we can within the rules.”
Do you expect him to play with the first unit on Friday?
“I haven’t decided that yet.”
S Donte Whitner talked a lot about communication with the other safety, how has he been progressing in that regard?
“He’s been doing well in that regard. Yesterday he had a couple mental errors in that regard, which were a surprise. He hadn’t been doing that, which is good to see from our standpoint as you start feeling comfortable and you think he has it and understands it. He didn’t yesterday in practice. So, we got to get a bunch of that stuff rectified.”
Was that stuff that he should have known, or stuff that he had made mistakes on before?
“Stuff he should’ve known. We hadn’t repped it as much lately. So, as always with younger guys, you can’t assume they have it if you haven’t repped it every day.”
How does he respond whenever he makes a mistake?
“Good. He’s very critical, self-critical of himself. He takes coaching. I think all the intangibles with him from an intelligence, work ethic, coachability, will be good for him. He’s going to be fine in those areas.”
I think Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has said he expects his starters to play a little bit more in this second game than they did in the first. Will that be the same with you guys as well?
“We haven’t decided. If it is, it won’t be much more.”
Have you ever known a player to experience a sophomore slump and if so, what contributes to that?
“Sophomore slump. I can’t recall anybody right now that I directly was involved with. It happens occasionally because guys had a good first season and they think the game is easy. They don’t work as hard in the offseason. Think they got it made. In this game you’ll get humbled very quickly both as a player and a coach. It’s just complacency setting in.”
Something that I’ve heard regarding especially quarterbacks and skill position players is, once defensive coaches have a whole offseason to study them and look at tape that maybe they can throw some sort of a changeup at them or something to throw them off. Is that a real thing that goes on?
“Well, obviously anytime an offense is having success with a certain scheme or a particular player and you know you have to play them in the coming season, you’re going to study it and try and figure out a way to somehow neutralize it within your own scheme. So, yes that does go on.”
Do you know anything about DT Tank Carradine yet?
Have you thought ahead to how he might fit in, what you need to see from him when he gets on the field?
“No. Basically, somebody asked me the other day if I was disappointed in the way it’s going with Tank and [DT] Quinton [Dial]. I said no, the only time you get disappointed is when you’re expecting something to happen or you’re hoping something happens. When we drafted those two guys, this was the picture that was painted. So, we’re not surprised that they haven’t hit the field yet. It doesn’t look like they’ll hit it real soon either. That was what was expected when we drafted them, much like [RB Marcus] Lattimore, the running back. Not to his extent, but, that was the picture that was painted.”
Would you expect both those guys to start the season on that list?
“That’s a real possibility. But, I don’t think that’s been decided yet.”
What do you think about DL Lawrence Okoye’s performance in his preseason game?
“He did OK. We got him six snaps in there, and he did OK. For a guy that’s never played football in his life, he did OK. He’s growing inch by inch in his development. He’s nowhere near where he should be. Nowhere near where he hopes to be. Will he ever get there? Only time will tell. But, he is making slight improvements. And, in his case, slight is big.”
You talked a lot about interchangeability with your safeties. When Reid gets reps next to S C.J. Spillman, is that a big drastic difference for him as opposed to his responsibilities at free safety?
“No. He’s still playing free safety. He’s the one guy in this camp that has only played free safety. So, it shouldn’t matter who he’s with.”
What have you seen from LB Corey Lemonier in the short time you’ve worked with him?
“He’s done well. Corey is making the hard transition that a lot of guys from college have to do. He was a defensive end in college trying to transition to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4, much like [LB] Aldon [Smith] had to when he was a rookie. And, he’s progressed well. The difference between him and Aldon, at the same time, Aldon was in the lockout year and he didn’t have all the spring work that Corey’s gotten. So, from a know how and technique standpoint as an outside backer, he might be a little bit ahead of Aldon at the same stage. But, that’s because he had all the spring work and Aldon didn’t.”
CB Darryl Morris, cornerback, is undrafted. But, does he have any chance to stick around here in some capacity?
“He certainly does, and he’s picked it up this week in practice. He’s done a good job of covering. You may have seen the couple plays he’s made going against our offense on some deep balls. That’s always encouraging to see. The guy can really run. He’s fast, really fast. If you watch him this past game, and I’m sure if he’s on the kickoff team, he’s probably the first guy down. That’s because he’s really fast. He’s got something to work with and he’s progressing, getting better.”
I assume his size is one reason he wasn’t drafted?
“I would assume that. We didn’t do any work on him as far as from the coaching staff. The scouts did all the work on him and thought he would be a good undrafted free agent to get into camp, and they were right. He’s competing to make the team in some capacity.”
Let me ask you about another young cornerback, CB Marcus Cooper. How’s he looked?
“He’s doing fine. He’s learning the game better. Learning our system better, which is allowing him to make more plays. He’s got good size for a corner. Early in camp he wasn’t playing like a good-size corner because he was doing a lot of thinking. He’s still in that stage, but he’s doing less thinking. So, we’re pleased with his development so far.”
Are those two guys on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as cornerbacks, one’s big, one’s small, fast that sort of thing?
“Corners come in all sizes and shapes. It’s just whether they can cover. Some guys cover with speed and quickness, some guys cover with length, hopefully they have enough speed. [CB] Nnamdi’s [Asomugha] game is length and speed. Some guys are quick and fast, like [former Washington Redskins CB] Darrell Green in the past. They come in all sizes and shapes.”
You had a quick and fast guy in the slot a lot yesterday, CB Tarell Brown. How did he do in his first?
“He did fine. I think I told you last week we were going to play him there this week in camp, but he didn’t practice Saturday and Sunday and maybe even Monday. So, yesterday was his first day out there and we worked him in there. I thought he did well for his first day back, first day back coming off of an injury and his first day in at a new position. Some guys would have been a little leery of trying that, just wanting to get their feet underneath them from an injury. But, he went in there and I thought he did good and I think he can play in there if needed.”