Vic Fangio’s Thursday press conference transcript, courtesy of the 49ers.
From what you’ve seen, does RB Adrian Peterson look like a guy who is coming off an ACL injury?
“No, he really doesn’t. He still has his great speed, cutting ability and I’m sure that he’ll get better and better as he goes throughout the season. Week one to week two he was better. I’m sure he’ll be better week two to week three and it’ll just be a steady rise to where he gets that last little bit that he might be missing back. He had a lot more than anybody else to begin with so he still looks like the best back in the league. ”
With him back and some of their other pieces, how much can you take from that preseason game against them?
“Very little. We were just out there playing as they were. It was just simple football against each other just so we could evaluate players and I’m sure they were thinking the same thing, so very little.”
DT Justin Smith said yesterday that they do a lot of the same things that your offense does in terms of different looks, a lot of movement, a lot of personnel packages. Is it quite as much as the 49ers offense?
“They do do a lot. They do some unbalanced line which we do here also. They do some misdirection running plays, which we try and do also. They’ll run the boots. They mix it up pretty good.”
How closely are you monitoring other teams in the division at this point? It seems like everyone is off to a pretty good start, too.
“Not really. All the focus is on who ever we’re playing that week and this week being Minnesota. It’s too early to start looking at them.”
What are some things you’ve seen in QB Christian Ponder?
“First thing that jumps out is he’s a good athlete, he’s very fast. He’s got 40 speed in about the 4.6 range, which is extremely fast for a quarterback. He’s got a good arm. I think he’s got good command of their offense and what they’re trying to do. And he’s played well. He’s got a 111 quarterback rating after two games, which is very high. He hasn’t thrown an interception yet and he’s done some good things scrambling. He had a 20-some yard gain scrambling last week wiped out by a penalty. He’s a threat both running and throwing.”
The third outside linebacker, is he a guy that only gets on the field if there’s an emergency or do you try to work him into the game in your base defense a lot?
“That just depends on how the game’s going, how many plays we’re playing and how they’re coming. By in large with the guys we have right now he wouldn’t go in there much, but that could change as we move on. If we still had [LB] Parys Haralson he probably would have gotten some snaps in the first two games.”
Were you involved, was there a workout with Shawne Merriman?
“No, not that I’m aware of.”
With S Dashon Goldson’s range, the amount of ground he can cover, how much flexibility does that give you in your game planning, knowing Dashon can cover that much territory?
“That’s one of the big job requirements for a safety, to be able to cover, play the deep zones whether it be a half, a quarter or a third and have range coming out of those zones and he does a good job of that. He got us 6 or 7 interceptions last year, got us one the other night and he does a good job of filling on the run. He had a really good game tackling last week, which was well needed.”
When you’re in your nickel it almost seems like he was the third linebacker coming off in run support. Is that one of his big assignments when you’re in nickel that he’s got to come up field fast to play the run?
“Sometimes. It depends upon what call we are in and those ones where you saw him coming up pretty fast, that was his job to do and he did a very good job of it coming up there. He comes up there with the intent on making the tackle not hoping somebody else makes it. He did a really good job of that the other night. ”
Is that unique, that a guy that lines up 12 to 14 yards deep can make a stop, not for an eight yard gain, but for a one or two yard gain?
“He’s got a good feel back there for when to come up and to time it out and we try and help him with that as much as we can. But he does a good job of once he comes he gets committed to it, makes a good, quick decision and then when he gets there, he is able to make the tackle a good bit of the time.”
Is that one of the things that really pleased you coming out of the game was how well your nickel defense did against the run?
“It was. They handed it off I think 26 times. I think they got 80 yards or something like that, 3.2 per carry and one of those was the quarterback draw. Those guys really played the run well up front. Our four down lineman in nickel, our two inside backers and when we did involve a secondary guy, all seven of those guys did a good job playing the run.”
Do you expect a full day of work from NT Isaac Sopoaga on Sunday?
“He’ll definitely get more play than he’s been getting based upon the way Minnesota plays.”
Head coach Jim Harbaugh said that 50 yard screen to RB Joique Bell they had in the 4th quarter, I think he termed it our worst play since you guys have been here or most disappointing. Did you share his disappointment with that and if so, why was that so bad?
“It was just we had a chance there, it was 3rd and 17, a chance to basically end the game if we can hold them without a first down with 17 yards to go. They ran a screen against a play call that we should be good against a screen in and we just didn’t play it right. We over ran it and let it cut back against the grain there, it got into the secondary and the guy went for 50 yards. The point being there is that’s how quick things can happen if you just make one little mistake and in this case we had a couple guys make little mistakes and before you know it, it’s 50 yards later. And what you think is close to being over, now your lining up with your hands team out there for an onside kick.”
As a coach, everyone, obviously, is patting the defense on the back, with some justification. But you can point to those things, not that you want to, but obviously there’s always room for improvement?
“There’s always room for improvement. And particularly, one thing that play illustrates is when you make a little error, it can become a big play. And big plays are what takes down a defense faster than anything. We’ve got to be on point every play, not just when we’re in a tight game, tie score, one score behind, one score ahead. Whether we’re up 15 or three, we got to play them the same.”
I have a question about CB Tarell Brown and how he’s been playing and that big play, is that something that you would expect to get called?
“Not necessarily, you hope it gets called from a defensive perspective, but I’ve seen worse ones not get called over the years. I don’t worry about that.”
And just how has Tarell been playing?
“Been playing well. He’s done a good job the first two games. They threw a deep ball on him in the Detroit game that he was there with good coverage and like I tell the players, the corners have to answer the bell on the deep balls each and every game. They go for granted. Everybody thinks it’s just an incomplete pass, but that was a chance for a big play that they didn’t get and that corners job is to do that.”