SANTA CLARA — Vic Fangio spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
Do you sense any, I don’t know if let down is the right word, but is it tough for these guys to get back to work after a big win against Seattle?
“No. I don’t think so. Like I told you last week, the last four games have equal importance because of the situation we were in. This game, for us and all intents and purposes, is just as important as last week’s was. With the division title realistically not in the picture, all these games weigh the same.”
You’ve had a few weeks now to look at CB Eric Wright in a game situation. What stands out about him? What makes him different from some of the other guys that you’ve coached?
“I don’t know that there’s a whole lot different. He has been getting better and better, which is what you would expect that would naturally come with more practice time and more playing time. It’s good to see him come back from a slight injury there and finish the game, and come up with the game-preserving interception at the end. But, I do think he’s been improving. And we have high hopes for him for the rest of the season and in the future.”
He does seem to get his hands on a lot of balls, whether it’s batted-down passes, or that pick. Is that something that stands out? We don’t get to watch practices, but does he get his hands on a lot of passes in practice, too?
“I wouldn’t say a lot right now. But, he’s been playing better. And I think the way you’ve seen him play in the games has been reflective of the way he’s practicing. And we have to split his practice time, too because he’s our backup nickel. So, he’s got more on his plate than just corner.”
How difficult will it be for CB Tarell Brown when he’s ready to go to get back in there with CB Tramaine Brock and Wright, you know, the way they’re playing?
“Well, when Tarell’s healthy enough to play, we’ll play him some. And how that will shape itself out will be determined based upon his health. We’re starting to get into the time where he’s had three or four weeks now of inactivity, conditioning starts to be affected. So, he may not play all the plays. So, maybe similar to what we did with [LB] Aldon [Smith] and work him back and build him back up.”
How is Aldon doing?
Do you sense him rounding into regular season shape finally and is ready to go?
“Yes. Yeah, he played very well against Washington. He played very well last week, and expect him to play really well down the stretch here.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dumped their quarterback in the middle of the season and then switched to QB Mike Glennon. What is, I guess, the difference that Glennon has made since taking over at QB?
“Well, he’s done a good job running their offense. They run an offense that’s pretty similar to the New York Giants, with their offensive coordinator coming from there. And he’s gotten better and better every week. They’re getting sacked less here lately, cutting down on the interceptions. Seems to me he’s got good command of their offense and he’s got very good arm talent, throws the ball extremely well, short, intermediate and deep. He’s got deceiving pocket presence, too. He can move around in the pocket. I wouldn’t say he’s the [Seahawks QB] Russell Wilson-type scrambler or anything, but he has good pocket feel.”
Is LB NaVorro Bowman playing the best football of his career?
“He might be. But, he’s played really well in the three years we’ve been here. He should be playing better now. He’s still in the prime of his career, still in the state of his career where he should be improving and playing better. And I think he is.”
Right now, we’re in December, a lot of guys playing a little banged up. How much have you cut down on the physical aspect of practice to keep these guys fresh?
“Well we have. We’ve cut practice back a little bit. We do every year at this point in time. Don’t really cut back on the structure of practice, but maybe a period that had 16 plays will go down to 12. We’ve just sawed off a little bit of the timespan on the practice field and in the meeting rooms. And you can’t put the pads on very often anymore with the new rules, we don’t have them in pads very often.”
Is WR Vincent Jackson, is he the big-play guy? If you can kind of limit the chunk plays that he gets, is that kind of the goal of going into this game?
“Well, that’s one of the goals. But, [WR Tiquan] Underwood, too, has made some big plays for these guys. He got a 85-yard TD here recently. Their tight end has been playing extremely well. He’s kind of a really good receiving-type tight end. He’s really developed for them. They know him. They had him at Rutgers. And he’s been impressive as a tight end. So, they’ve got more than Jackson. But, obviously Jackson is their guy. He’s had 67 catches and over 1,000 yards and made some big plays for them.”
I was talking to some of your defensive linemen about their offseason conditioning program, which I guess DT Justin Smith is the ringleader. Do you, I don’t know if you occasionally during the offseason peek your head in and see what they’re doing, but if you do, is it unique from your experience in the NFL how they get after it in the offseason?
“It is to a certain degree, but when you have a leader like Justin, those guys just follow along. And if they don’t, they’re going to get chastised and [DT] Ray [McDonald] is the next leader and he’s right there with Justin and he’s a workout warrior, too. So, I think that’s a big thing that played a big part in [DL] Glenn Dorsey coming along and having his best year. He threw himself right in there with those guys from day one, almost the day after he signed and was here all offseason. And it’s paying dividends for him now. Same thing with [DT Tony] Jerod-Eddie. He threw himself right in there and he’s developed from an undrafted free agent who was on the bubble of making the team, or not making the team this year, and now he’s developed into a solid back-up for us.”
Do you have a sense that Justin and Ray have more trust in those guys this year?
“That’s probably the case. But, that may factor into it a little bit.”
You coached Dolphins S Michael Thomas for the last four years, disappointed to see him move on?
“I am. I think Mike was really making strides here. We talked about getting him up on the active roster here for about the last month or so. Never panned out. So, he got a great opportunity to go down there and finish the season with Miami. He’ll get an accredited pension here off of that, which doesn’t mean much to anybody right now. But, in the future he’ll be glad he did that. I hope nothing but the best for Mike and like to see him succeed.”
It didn’t work out just because of injuries at other positions meant that you had to make other roster moves?
“Yeah, injuries at other positions, numbers at the DB positions, we talked about it but just couldn’t seem to get it done.”
If he did come up to a 53-man roster and played in the future, what position is his most natural spot do you think?
“Well, he was our jack of all trades. He was a safety in our base package. He could play nickel in our sub package. And, in a pinch in an adverse situation, he could go out and play some corner. That’s not what he’s built to do, but he could go out there. And it’s important anytime you’re dressing only eight DBs that somebody has to have some versatility. There has to be a safety that can come up and play a nickel position, or there has to be a corner that can go back and play safety. So, Mike has really good versatility.”
Is S C.J. Spillman kind of doing that now, coming in on dime?
“C.J.’s been coming in on our package where we do play six DBs. It’s not a total dime package. But, yes, he is doing some of that and you saw him in the game the other day for a couple plays.”
Is C.J. Buccaneers S Dashon Goldson this week in practice?
“I don’t know. I haven’t noticed where they have him lined up on the scout team.”