Fisher: Niners’ formula is working

This is Jeff Fisher’s 16th season as a head coach in the NFL. During that time the former 49ers assistant has faced San Francisco just three times.


“As I told our team this morning, this is a team that we know nothing about,” Fisher said this morning a handful of Bay Area newspaper reporters during the weekly conference call with the opposing coach.


“It’s very important that we become familiar with them very quickly. It’s a discipline football team that plays hard, finishes game and forces mistakes. I’m really impressed the more and more I watch.”


Fisher said he is most impressed by the 49ers’ run defense, which ranks second in the NFL.


“To have played teams like Atlanta, St. Louis and Minnesota and be where they’re ranked against the run is very, very impressive,” Fisher said. “And that’s not a misleading statistic. They’re very sound and they play well.”


Other observations from Fisher about the 49ers as he tries to learn as much about the team this week:


–“They’ve done a good job of quietly surrounding the quarterback with good players. The offensive line finishes well, they’re well-coached, the tight end is playing out of his mind right now. It’s impressive to watch him not only as a receiver but also as a blocker. And the receivers are complementing him. They get open and they block. Gore’s touchdown run against the Colts wouldn’t have been possible if the receivers didn’t make contact with those two defensive backs. They understand the importance of everybody contributing.”


–Fisher was asked if he believes he’ll see more of quarterback Alex Smith running an offense with spread elements. His answer: “When you have a team built the way their offense is built, and the way their defense is playing, the formula is working. The run game, the play-action, stay out of third downs, make your plays on first and second downs with run and play-action. Keep drives alive get points, kick field goals – you have one of the better kickers in the league – play good defense and you win games.”


–On Alex Smith: “He’s got the arm strength to make all the throws. The thing that’s impressive is when he came in, he was accurate, he was poised, he used the snap count to draw them offsides at home. He was on time. He made plays. The offense was such that they gave them a chance.”


–Seldom-used 49ers receiver Brandon Jones played his first four years with the Titans, where caught 112 passes for 1,380 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had six rushing attempts and averaged 12.7 yards.


“He could (play) the slot and win the one-on-one outside,” Fisher said. “He has some skills and I imagine he still does as far as run after the catch. He was a reverse guy who could pick up a first down for us. And if we needed him to return he could field the ball and do those things. He just struggled off and on with an injury here and there, but he made a lot of big plays for us.”


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Fisher was a cornerback with the Bears, and part of the same 1981 draft class as Mike Singletary. Although, as Fisher points out, they were drafted on different days.


“Mike was all about business,” Fisher said. “I’ll never forget swinging by his room early in camp and every single formation and every motion, every variation was on cards taped to walls and his ceiling in training camp. That’s how important football was to him.


“I’ve crossed paths with Mike numerous times since I started coaching, and Mike was enjoying his life. He was enjoying Kim and the kids, and speaking and retirement. It didn’t surprise me when given the opportunity he took advantage of it in Baltimore. I can’t say enough from standpoint of how happy I am for him. I believe and the rest of the league can see how quickly he’s turned that team around.”


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Fisher was a defensive backs coach for the 49ers in 1992 and ’93.

“I’ll never forget one of first few days there, I was watching tape and watching the personnel and said to one of the assistants . . . just with defensive personnel we can win 10 or 11 games,” Fisher said. “The assistant said, ‘Don’t say that too loud. The expectation here is to win them all.'”


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That was the expectation for the Titans this season, too. But they opened the season with losses to the Steelers (13-10), Texans (34-31) and the Jets (24-17). Tennessee lost its first six games before breaking through with a victory over the Jaguars last week.


Running back Chris Johnson said this week he believes the Titans will run the table to finish with a 10-6 record and make the playoffs.


And we’ll be talking with Johnson soon . . . actually, quarterback Vince Young joined us on the conference call. I’ll have excerpts in a separate entry. 


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