SANTA CLARA – This afternoon offensive coordinator Greg Roman spoke for the first time this offseason. He explained how the offense is working on red zone and third down situations, and he said the main goal for the team is to not jump offside at all this minicamp. Below is everything Roman said.
ROMAN: Obviously we’re knee-deep in minicamp right now. It was neat during Phase 1, with our first offseason under the new CBA, to spend some time with these guys and be able to coach them from the ground up. Last year, you know, we pretty much jumped in. It’s a credit to our team and to our players to have this kind of attendance and this kind of focus day in and day out.
Q: What is the value in offseason workouts?
ROMAN: I can assure you that it did put us under a tremendous amount of stress and forced us to basically operate under the circumstances we were under, which was totally different than it is in a normal offseason. We are so much further ahead. At this point last year, we hadn’t even seen a guy. There’s a tremendous amount of value in the offseason and our players are taking full advantage of that. I think it’s going to really help us.
Q: What can you put a finger on?
ROMAN: I go back to situational football – red-zone, third down. The things that involve the most moving parts, the most timing in the passing game. Last year we might have been a hair off. Now, we’re having a chance to start over and hopefully it shows on Sundays.
Q: How’s the chemistry coming along with WRs? Good?
ROMAN: I think so for sure. No question. Every day it’s getting better. There’s always going to be a play here, a play there, where it’s not what you want. But there’s another opportunity to coach off that and for the players to learn off that. What we’re seeing is improvement everywhere – Alex, all the quarterbacks. There’s just a cohesion. We always talk about getting to the spot. And guys are getting to the spot at a much higher percentage. It’s tangible. It’s quantifiable. It’s real.
Q: Does a year with these players give you a chance to tweak the offense?
ROMAN: We evolved a lot as the season went on. Going back and looking at some of those early games, it’s hard to remember being in that position where it’s all new for everybody for the first time. So that’s what we’re going through as coaches right now, the entire staff, at every position. It’s an opportunity at this time of year for all of the position coaches to really, really spend a lot of time with their guys and mould them.
So we’re going through that process. What’s this player going to bring? How’s that going to affect things in the big picture? That’s a constant. That’s going to be from now to the end of the season. It’s so exciting because you lie in bed and night and have trouble thinking because you just keep thinking about the possibilities that could happen.
Q: What more of percentage can you install now that you couldn’t install last year?
ROMAN: A lot more. Now, we installed a lot more last year. We really didn’t know a whole lot about our guys. So we kind of had to throw it all against the board and see what stuck. But a great percentage of that faded away quickly. I can’t put a percentage on it, but a lot more.
Q: Were the red-zone and third-down issues related to execution or did you need another layer of complexity?
ROMAN: It’s probably a little bit of both. I mean, it all comes down to execution and a lot of it is time on task. The more you do something, the more you’re going to get out of it. We’ve got more time so I think we’ll be more efficient and maybe be able to branch out a little more, too.
Q: Alex worked with throwing Guru Tom House. Does he look any different?
ROMAN: You know, he couldn’t practice for the first week of training camp last year. So when he got in, he was coming in cold. So, yeah, I definitely do see a difference. Alex is a true pro. He’s physically in great shape right now. He understands our system a little bit more. He just plays faster all the time.
Q: How are his mechanics?
ROMAN: I think his mechanics have definitely improved. He works hard on them every day and there’s no question. There’s a real awareness. We tape the individual drills and he’ll watch those in really, really slow mo. He’s got a good feel for it right now.
Q: Is it showing on the field yet or does it take a while?
ROMAN: No, I think there are some things. His mechanics are better, therefore he’s going to perform better. Those two go hand in hand.
Q: What about arm strength?
ROMAN: We don’t have the gun out there trying to (get a reading) but I do see a difference, yes.
Q: Have you pulled the popcorn out for the West Coast offense videos?
ROMAN: Not yet. Not yet, but I will. The Bill Walsh tapes. We’ll have some sessions this summer. It’s unbelievably good stuff. It’s hard to put into words how good it is. I’d be talking out loud to myself. ‘This is great stuff! It’s brilliant! Why couldn’t I think of that!” Yeah, this summer, for sure.
Q: How are the defensive players who are playing some offense doing?
ROMAN: Very positive. Very positive. Specifically, I’d mention DeMarcus Dobbs at tight end, very good. And Will (Tukuafu) at fullback. Again, just picking it up. Very athletic guy. A good football player who might be able to provide some depth and give us a little wrinkle here or there. He’s done a great job.
Q: How do you divvy up their time?
ROMAN: We split it up by day so that they can focus on something by day rather than bounce back and forth between periods. That can be a little bit too much. So today, for example, DeMarcus Dobbs is playing defense and tomorrow he’ll play offense. Will will play offense today and flip it tomorrow.
Q: With the TEs, WR, RBs, how do you keep everybody happy?
ROMAN: I just think that winning should make everybody happy. That’s why we’re all so excited in watching these guys practice as we put the pieces together. Every week, it might be a little different. Whatever gives us the best chance that week. Everything will unfold through training camp. I really believe that.
Q: Are there more options as far as your game plan?
ROMAN: Time will tell, but we’re really excited thus far about what we’re seeing. And I think it will add different dimensions to what we can do. I really believe that. These guys happen to be really, really great guys, too. And all the new additions are really fitting in well. It’s going to be a couple of extra pieces. It’ll be interesting to see how it all fits together. But that’s what we’re brainstorming on every day right now.
Q: How to you practice third-downs at mini-camp? Do you have a 15-minute all-third-down portion?
ROMAN: Right now, it’s more interspersed. A lot of times, we just practice first, second and third downs in sequence to try to simulate the flow of the game. But once we get into training camp there will be more emphasis periods where you’re basically doing all third downs in a period, and then sprinkle it throughout practice. We mix it up pretty good from knowing what to expect a little bit. It’s a little bit more reactive.
Q: Do you have any short-term goals for this week?
ROMAN: Well, one goal is not to jump offside once. We just talked about that inside. I think it’s just everything – the little things. We’ve been installing most of our packages twice now and this will be the third time throw. So, really more efficient in everything – guys knowing what to do. Really good tempo. Just being sharp all the way around. Just going out and playing and having fun doing it.
Q: Is there a penalty for jumping offside?
ROMAN: Not as of yet. There may be, though.
Q: Are you talking about situation packages that you’ve installed twice?
ROMAN: Just really everything. First, second, third downs. Short yardage. Goal line. Red zone. All that stuff we’re going through again. Now guys will start picking up little snippets here and there, things that they might not have noticed the first two times. And they’re doing great job. You can’t say enough about our players, their approach to things, their focus and their quest for as much knowledge about what we’re doing as possible. It’s a great group to work with, coming to work with this group every day, couldn’t have a better job in the world.
Q: By the end of training camp, how many times will you have gone through it?
ROMAN: Four. That’s the goal. Three times now. Again in training camp and you’re through it four times then you start to really dial in on gameplan-specific stuff, which may include new things. But there’s a core that’s your foundation. It’s the hull of your ship. There’s a tree and then you’ve got branches. It’s a good way to do it.
Q: How is Alex Boone doing at right guard?
ROMAN: He’s doing good. He’s doing a great job. I love Alex’s enthusiasm, energy, his size. Gosh, he’s a fun guy to be around, just a throwback O-lineman. Just loves football, loves getting dirty in the trenches. Man, he’s about what you look at when you look at a prototype offensive lineman. I call him a throwback. He’s doing a great job.
Q: There were reports that you were in the mix for the job at Arkansas. How far did that get?
ROMAN: Never heard a thing about it. Never had any interest in it. That’s all news to me. I’ve got one job I want and that’s this one … That’s all news to me. Don’t believe what you read.
Q: You have pretty much the entire coaching staff back. How big a deal is that?
ROMAN: That’s a really great question. I can name them all – Mike Solari, Tim Drevno, Reggie Davis, Tom Rathman, Johnny Morton, Geep Chryst, all the guys at all the positions. They’re a really good staff and last year we were piecing it together. It’s just like anything else, the more you do it, the more efficient you can get, the more you can understand where somebody is coming from. There wasn’t a whole lot of time last year once the season started to explain why sometimes. We just had trust. This year, I think we’re a lot further ahead and these guys do a phenomenal job day in and day out. Really, really spending a lot of time with their individual position groups and that’s the foundation of everything is those individual positions, each guy getting better at what he does and then brining it all together. It’s a great staff and I’m blessed to be able to work with them. I lean on them a lot. It’s very positive being able to all come back together again.
Q: How much more comfortable did you get with play calling as the season went on?
ROMAN: It depends what game (you’re asking about). We think it out well ahead of time. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a chess match and we really enjoy it. I’d say you definitely get more comfortable the more you know your players because it’s about the players. You try to put them in the best position you possibly can as much as you can. The more you get to know them, and interact and understand you how it matches up against an opponent, the better you do. It’s all about those guys going out and getting it done. The more we can put them in the right position, the better off we’ll be. So it’s as good as it gets.
Q: What have been your impressions of Randy Moss?
ROMAN: Just how committed and down-to-earth of a football player he is. He has really been as good as you could possibly ask for in terms of being totally engrossed in football. He is a throwback. He is a throwback football player – just like I was talking about Boone being a throwback lineman. He’s got his family and football and his faith. That’s what he’s all about. He’s about football. He knows the game. It’s been great watching the players interact – the quarterbacks interact, the receivers interact with him. We’ll all be better because of it. I’m truly impressed with everything Randy Moss represents.