SANTA CLARA — Vic Fangio spoke in the 49ers’ media tent Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
How has CB Carlos Rogers seemed to you?
“He’s doing, what’s the word I’m looking for, he’s still hurt a little bit. But, he’s much better than he was last week. We’ll see if he can try and do something today.”
If he’s healthy, or if he’s able to play, would you just consider playing him only as the nickel back?
“Sure. Any possibility would be considered, yes.”
How do you feel about the way that CB Tarell Brown and CB Tramaine Brock played Sunday?
“They played well. Anytime you go up against that passing attack with that quarterback, under those conditions where the footing’s the way it was, which is really an offensive advantage, I thought they played extremely well.”
A veteran like Carlos, could he play for you Sunday without practicing this week?
One of the story lines coming out of the Carolina game the last time was that S Eric Reid had a concussion and was going to try and change his approach to how he tackles. What have you seen in that regard? And it seems like he has successfully done that a bit?
“Well, he has. He hasn’t had one since, I don’t think, right? And he just needs to learn who he’s tackling, the angles that are involved and the momentum that are involved and tackle accordingly.”
As far as who he’s tackling, is Panthers FB Mike Tolbert a guy that you take a lot of discretion?
“Yeah, this guy’s 250 pounds and on that particular play he was rolling downhill pretty good.”
He went through the whole season without having a single penalty.
Eric did, yeah. Does that surprise you that a rookie who plays that position would go without a penalty?
“It probably does, but not in his case. He’s a very smart guy, very mature. He’s emotionally stable. Very coachable and the game’s not too big for him.”
How much pressure’s on the secondary as a whole? We see how QB Colin Kaepernick seems to run more when the stakes are increased. Do you expect something like that from Panthers QB Cam Newton as well? And does a guy like Eric really have to be weary of knowing where Cam is at all times?
“Absolutely. I think when you have a quarterback of Cam Newton’s ability in this type of game, I think he’d be apt to run maybe a little bit more than he would normally. They may even call more of the quarterback runs for him, the quarterback powers and lead draws. We’re anticipating more of those from them. So, yeah I think Newton’s a playmaker and we’ve all got to be aware of him.”
How is that run game though with Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert? They’re pretty much 50/50 on the run pass. What unique challenges with the three of them with Newton being able to—?
“You mean 50/50 run and pass totally?”
“Yeah, you’ve got to remember when you look at those stats, those include two-minute drives, those include third down where pass goes up a lot. So, if you’re looking just at first and second down, they’re much more run than pass. And they’re very balanced in their running game. They’ve got a very intricate running game. Besides the gun read stuff that they do with Cam Newton, the quarterback lead draws and powers that they do with him, they’ve got a very well-coached offensive line. Their line works very well together. They’re a good football team and they’re very efficient on offense.”
How much has your pass rush sort of become more of a weapon in the last year or two as LB Aldon Smith has developed and also as LB Ahmad Brooks has become more productive in that phase of the game than he used to be?
“Well, our pass rush has been pretty consistent the three years we’ve been here. Obviously, the addition of Aldon that first year when we drafted him was a major addition to help that. Still have [DT] Justin [Smith] and [DT] Ray [McDonald] doing a good job and Ahmad’s progressed and become a better pass rusher here in the last year or so. So, we’ve always had a pretty good pass rush and we rely on it. We need to have those guys do a good job rushing.”
What has allowed Ahmad, what has he done to become a better pass rusher?
“Just worked at it and played more, and learned through experience. Learned through what works, what doesn’t work, what’s best for him, what’s not best for him. And just having more opportunities.”
You guys to 10 points in the game. Were you generally satisfied with that? Is it a different kind of challenge to go back and play a team like that when you’ve had success knowing they’re going to do more to try and change that versus let’s say you got blown out and you had to make changes anyway. I know you’re not going to get in your game plan, but can you talk about that challenge?
“Every game takes on a different personality. And that game took on a personality that it was going to be low scoring, and that’s the way it stayed throughout the game. This game could change. But, they’re still the same offense. We’re still the same defense. I don’t expect them to make wholesale changes. We won’t. Just because it was low scoring that game doesn’t mean it’ll be low scoring again.”
If Panthers WR Steve Smith can’t go though, won’t that change their offense in a way where they may not pass it as much?
“I don’t think so. They’ve got capable receivers. They played their last game and a half, or game and three quarters, without Steve Smith and you saw no noticeable difference in their offense. And they had to win both those games to win their division. So, I don’t think so.”
You mentioned Tolbert. What makes him so successful?
“Well, he’s big, number one, weighing close to 250, or whatever he weighs. Runs with a low center of gravity. Likes contact. And if he gets rolling downhill on you, he’s a tough guy to tackle, especially if he gets into your secondary.”
How much different, how similar is DeAngelo from RB Frank Gore?
No, from Gore, Frank.
From Frank Gore.
“He might have a little more speed than Frank does right now. But, he’s a damn good back, too. Checked his numbers and very good in the screen game, too. So, they’re both great backs.”
What did it say about CB Perrish Cox coming back early in the week, practicing and then playing all but one snap in the game. Did you expect that much from him?
“To play that much?”
Right, right away?
“Well, we expected him to play to the best of his ability, which he had. It wasn’t like we got him off the street a few days before the game started. But, he had spent a year and however many games it was here to training camp. So, he knew our system and it was an easy adjustment for him that way. But, he hadn’t played any significant playing time while he was with us and none while he was with Seattle. So, major kudos to him to go out and perform the way he did.”
Was that because CB Eric Wright had a hamstring injury, or was that strictly performance choosing Cox instead of Wright?
“Perrish had a better week of preparation.”
Regarding LB NaVorro Bowman, when you got here he had been backing up as a rookie. How much did you know about him, a third round pick? When you first got here, did you have a sense that there was something special there with him?
“No, because he really didn’t play much the year before, as you said. And all through that offseason, that was the lockout year, there was kind of an assumption that [former 49ers LB] Takeo Spikes was going to come back here. And NaVorro probably would have been in the same roll. In retrospect, it’s a good thing that Takeo didn’t come back here because he would have been beaten out by NaVorro.”
Where do you see Aldon right now? He had the time off. Is it almost like he’s midseason right now?
“It might for him physically. If you really analyze it, he had a six or seven-week off period there. So, he’s probably not as worn as some of the other guys. But, he’s playing good. And we’re thrilled to have him back. Thrilled to have him playing the way he is. His attitude is great. He played very well in that game against Green Bay and we need to have him play good this week also.”
If you’re making a case for NaVorro for Defensive Player of the Year over Panthers LB Luke Kuechly, just position wise being an inside linebacker versus a middle linebacker, what does NaVorro have to cover that maybe a middle linebacker in a 4-3 doesn’t?
“They basically play the same position even though one’s a 4-3 and ones a 3-4. And I really can’t comment on it too much because I haven’t seen Carolina play too much. But, I know Kuechly’s a great player. We had him highly rated here when he came out. But to be honest with you, I haven’t seen their defense play a lot.”
This is kind of a bigger picture question. A lot of Super Bowl losers don’t really make it back as far as you have, winning a playoff game the following year. Why do you think your unit has been able to do that sort of thing? Do you have any thoughts about that?
“Yeah, we’ve got good players. And I’d like to think they’re well coached, too.”
Speaking of that, have you had any contact? Your name’s been up a little bit as far as head coaching?
“I’ve had no contact.”
No contact with any team?