This is the transcript of Greg Roman’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ p.r. department.
“Morning. Getting ready for a very good Seattle defense. I think these guys have gotten healthy the past couple weeks and are playing at a very impressive level. Very impressed at their Philly game and they certainly did a good job against us a couple weeks ago. I think we helped them out a little bit there, but can’t take away the production they put out there on the field. They’ve got a very cohesive unit here and it really starts across the board with this defense. If you look at their secondary, I think [CB Byron] Maxwell has really upped his game. [CB Richard] Sherman is doing what he does over there to our right. And then [S Kam] Chancellor and [S Earl] Thomas, very good football players. Very good football players. Linebackers [Bruce] Irvin, [Bobby] Wagner and [K.J.] Wright are doing a phenomenal job there as always, and their front, I think there was a lot of questions about their front this year. They lost [DE] Red [Bryant] and they lost 91 [DE Cassius Marsh]. Very good players. They got some guys in there doing a heck of a job. So, excited about the challenge and guys are working hard. Had a very productive morning today in meetings and looking forward to getting a bunch of work done today. Any questions?”
What do you have to build on for these final three games? What can you really sink your teeth into and what have you seen that gives you hope that you guys can start being more productive?
“Yeah, the last two games, the last game in particular, there were a lot of positive things that happened really at every position. There just weren’t enough of them and we know that. We can’t turn the ball over. We can’t have penalties, etcetera. These are things that I think we have a true grasp of. That really doesn’t fit what we’re trying to do. But, in and of the football itself, there were a lot of very positive things and there were some real improvement at certain positions throughout the game. I highlight our center Marcus Martin. Think he continues to improve every week. I thought our fullback Bruce Miller, who is getting to be a little bit of a gray beard in the sense that he’s got a lot of snaps and experience, played in a lot of big games. I thought he did some things better than he’s done up to this point. I thought there were some really good catches out there. There are a lot of positive things, but to your point, man, I’m excited. Last week didn’t go the way we certainly wanted it to, but last week, last month, last year, it’s in the past. We’re excited about this game and really focused more so on this week than, I know we’ve got three games in the regular season and anything can happen. You never know.”
You mentioned Marcus Martin. He went out of that game and he didn’t practice yesterday. Do you believe he will play?
“Hopeful, yeah. He’s very engaged in his preparation, as always, and we’ve just got to work with our medical staff on that and make the appropriate decision.”
G Joe Looney would be the guy if not?
“There’s a good chance of that. We’re working a couple guys at that spot.”
You also just mentioned Miller, who played in, I think, 16 percent of the offensive snaps. Why not have him more incorporated in the offense more than he has been some of these games?
“A lot of it comes down to not only the plan going in, but where you’re at in the game. We’ve been in some very limited possession games recently, where unfortunately we’ve been behind the 8-ball a little bit as the game goes on, so that’s going to limit Bruce Miller’s snaps. If you have a lead in the game, you’re probably going to have the fullback on the field, we will, late in the game pretty much every play. And when you’re in a two-score situation, then pretty much time becomes a factor and that eliminates his snaps. So, it’s which came first, the chicken or the egg.”
TE Vernon Davis said yesterday, ‘I’d like to be more of a playmaker, but that’s ultimately your call.’ Do you need to talk to him at all?
“Oh yeah. Vernon and I have a great relationship, starting from the day I walked in this building. We’ve had a very, very strong relationship. And sure we want him to get involved and there have been opportunities for that, but it’s just something we’ve got to work through. He’s done a tremendous job, though, of dealing with that fact, the certain circumstances and really, really applying himself. Like he’s blocked. He’s blocking right now as good as he’s ever done. What does that tell me about him as a professional? What does that tell me about him as a teammate? Man, it tells me everything I need to know because he’s had some really tough duty as far as blocking goes. Like there are some blocks that are easy, some blocks that we say, ‘You have the sombrero on this block.’ One guy usually has the toughest down and he has had a lot of those downs the past five, six games. And he’s blocked as good as he’s ever done. So, what does that tell you about Vernon Davis? It tells me everything I need to know.”
Are you talking about blocking defensive ends?
“Yeah, and the angles you’ve got to block them at. A lot of times, he’s been left with the toughest angle. He’s got to make up ground based on alignment, if that makes any sense. He’s had some really, really tough angles and that’s important stuff. That’s really important stuff when you get down to it.”
You don’t sense more frustration with Vernon than anybody else with the way things have gone in recent weeks? Maybe it’s just?
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Vernon since the moment I met him. Just what a professional he’s grown into, and if anything, he’s really being a great leader with how he is handling positives and negatives that come along. So, like I said, he has spoken volumes to me with how he conducts himself.”
Without getting into the whole schemes of how you attack Richard Sherman, how do you, with what he’s done the last couple of meetings, how do you approach his side of the field and what’s made him who he is against you these last couple of meetings?
“Yeah, we’ve definitely helped out his stat sheet the past couple games, but he’s a very good corner. He’s one of the better corners you go against in the National Football League. I think they do a great job with how they use him and I think he does a great job doing his job. He’s physical. He’s long. He’s very smart. He understands what the offense is trying to get done. Week in, week out, he’s produced pretty darn well. So, I think you’ve got to be precise. You’ve got to be precise when you work anywhere against this Seattle defense. The scheme is very similar to what [former 49ers head coach] George [Seifert] used to run here with the Niners back in the day. George Seifert. They do a very nice job of taking their players and giving them a little freedom to do what they do well within that scheme. They might let one defensive lineman do this and somebody else comes in and plays the same position and he kind of does that and the DBs the same. So, it’s a pretty basic scheme, but it’s really played cohesively. And Rich on the right most of the time is a guy you’ve got to be extremely mindful of, but you’ve got to be mindful of the whole defense. They play that free safety, Thomas, a little bit [former NFL S] Ed Reed-ish in the sense that he’s got some freedom to watch the quarterback and straight-line it and come downhill on runs, etcetera. So, they do a very nice job to a man.”
When you say that Richard’s pretty smart and can sense out what the offense, do you have to just try to disguise things more than you usually would against any other corner?
“I just think it comes down to competing. You’re pretty much locked in to one or two coverages you’re going to get and you’ve got to be precise. Everybody involved has got to be precise.”
A couple of history questions here, did you ever have him as an offensive player?
“Yeah, a little bit. He played a little bit of offense. Yeah, he was a little bit of a two-way player there at Stanford.”
What kind of receiver was he?
“Pretty good. Pretty good. I remember one spring game he was on the other team and caught a big play against the team I was with. But, yeah he was good. He was a versatile guy.”
And then the other question is when you first got here was he flipping sides a little bit? I know the last couple years he’s only been on your right, his left. What makes him better fit on that side?
“You’d have to ask them.”
What do you think though? Why would a guy be a better fit on one side than the other?
“Well, when you get time invested on a side of the field, especially to the offensive right, you’d have to ask them specifically, but I know that some people will try to put the corner they feel best about to the offensive right and let him settle in there. But, he’ll matchup team to team. He’ll move around. He’ll go inside some. He’s done that against us in the past.”
And that’s because a right-handed quarterback is mostly looking to his right?
“Yeah, in a nutshell. But, I don’t know why they’re doing what they do. You’ll need to ask them.”
You said the word precise a couple of times. We saw Colin hit WR Anquan Boldin on that play against the Redskins. Just a really precise, perfect throw. But then against the Seahawks, he had the two picks. There seems to be some wavering in his precision. What’s behind that? Is it footwork? Is it him being rushed? What causes him to be really precise sometimes and not so other times?
“That’s a discussion really you could have about any player. In Colin’s case, I think he’s had a couple plays he’d like to have back. We all know that thankfully over the course of time, the majority of the time he’s playing at a really high level. If he has a couple plays or a couple at bats where he doesn’t get on base, you just got to get back, get back to fundamentals and precision. And it’s not just about the quarterback, guys. It’s about everybody on offense. It’s about everybody doing their job. It doesn’t work when people break down. And that goes for everybody.”
When you move indoors for practice, is there a to-do list? You probably can’t do everything that you would have done. What are sort of the priorities for you of what to get done?
“There’s definitely, it’s a little bit of a situational day for us, Thursday is. So, there are definitely some situations that we need to get covered and we’d probably just do it at a different tempo. There’ll be a lot of mental involved, there’ll be a lot of mental, a lot of communication. And when you play on the road there’s a lot of nonverbal or visual communication that needs to take place. So, there’ll be great opportunity there to practice those things.”
With the sound, with the noise there, are there ever any problems just you and head coach Jim Harbaugh communicating from booth to sideline?
“Not really. Every once in a while, but not really, no. I think we’ve played up there enough our guys are getting a little bit more adjusted every time we play.”
You said it’s about not just the quarterback. Your offensive line, I think in 2012 for example, the offensive line missed less than 100 snaps. You had pretty good continuity last year. Obviously that’s not the case this year. Guys have combined to miss 1,200 snaps. How big a deal is that and just fit in a different guy here and maybe a different guy there each week?
“Firstly, I did not say that. I said it takes all 11 guys. I did not specifically say the offensive line. But, to try to answer that question, how important is it? It’s pretty important. Those guys, cohesiveness on the offensive line is very important. And that’s something we’ve had to work through all season. That comes with the territory. It’s just something that the question was asked earlier as far as what are you looking forward to these last three games? Well, that’s one of those things that I’m looking forward to is seeing that cohesive play. We’ve definitely had that at times, but anytime you’re missing guys, a bunch of guys missed training camp and you’re trying to get them back into the flow and then they’re in and out, in and out, it gets a little disjointed. But, it’s definitely not ideal.”
It sounds like you could have your third different center there. When Marcus Martin came in, was he doing the same things as C Daniel Kilgore?
“Yes. Yeah, I think Marcus, gosh I don’t want to make this statement and I don’t want to jinx him either, not that I’m superstitious or anything, but I don’t know if he’s had a mental error.”
He’s making the same calls?
“Oh yeah, sure. He’s playing the center position just like everybody else, yeah.”
Colin yesterday said that he’s been thinking about how he deals with every part of his job including after frustrating moments and how he expresses himself. Do you notice him making those adjustments week to week? Even something like how he responds publicly when scrutinized?
“Yes I do. And I definitely think he’s trying to get better and be the best he can be really as a player, as a teammate, dealing with the media, understanding what you guys have to do. There are some common threads that define the quarterback position in this league. There’s a lot of responsibility on that player. And Colin, he’s outdueled a lot of great quarterbacks, right? Do I need to list it? Do I need to make that list? He’s had a great career in his short span that he has been a starter. And I think when you look at some weeks we’ve had this year and whatnot, it’s great opportunity for him to take another step forward professionally and just grow even more as a quarterback and as a leader. I think he’s definitely in tune to that. And it’s a very important part of playing that position. I think there is some real common threads that bind some of the elite quarterbacks in this league. I think he works very hard every day. I’m really proud of how he is working through it.”
A few of the guys have said it this week that when they look back at the NFC title game last year, they view it as one of the best games they’ve been a part of, including head coach Jim Harbaugh. When you look back at that game, do you think that and what stands out to you about it?
“Yeah, I mean it was a great football game if you were a fan. There were some things in that game that linger with me. But, it was definitely a knockdown, drag-out, all the chips on the table, everybody letting it rip, everybody letting it fly. I was really proud of how our guys, we put a very specific game plan together for that game, came up with some stuff really never seen before. Thought it would work and they made it work. It was one heck-of-a football game on both team’s parts. Very cleanly played for the most part. Just a credit to the two teams involved.”
What lingers with you?
“I really don’t want to get into that.”
Colin says that he throws that same pass again. In that situation today or yesterday, he would same call same play, if it were a little further you guys are going to the Super Bowl. Do you feel the same way?
“You could look at a bunch of plays from that game. The things that linger for me really happened earlier in the game quite frank. Opportunities lost, missed, etcetera. But, that’s a tough competitive game and it’s going to come down to a couple of plays and it’s not necessarily just the last play. It’s what happened in the first quarter, you know, it’s a lot of different plays you could go back and find. Alright, thanks have a great day.”