Here is the transcript of Greg Roman’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ p.r. department.
“Good afternoon. A San Diego Chargers defense, I think one of the first things that jumps out at you is how much energy they play with. They play with a lot of energy. They move around quite a bit. It’s a movement scheme, 3-4 defense. [Chargers OLB] Jarret Johnson is somebody, a veteran guy that can play at the outside linebacker position, a very physical guy. [Chargers OLB Melvin] Ingram at the other side, like any 3-4 defense it all starts with the outside backers and they’ve got a good, physical presence at both outside spots. [Chargers DT Corey] Liuget inside, I’m sure a lot of people are voting for the Pro Bowl this week because he has created a lot of problems for a lot of people. And their secondary led back there by [S Eric] Weddle, he’s the orchestra director, the conductor, the quarterback of the defense in the secondary. He’s a pretty unique guy. So, we’re excited about the challenge and looking to get a win. Any questions?”
How is your running back corps looking right now?
“It’s looking pretty good. We’ve had some guys go down there, but we’re optimistic.”
So, RB Frank Gore’s going through the protocol right now?
“Still going through the protocol. That’s all I can add.”
And then, behind him would be who, RB Alfonso Smith?
“Alfonso, yeah. Alfonso I feel great about.”
Why do you feel great about him?
“I felt great about him in the preseason. Really liked how he did in the preseason games. I thought he did some really good things last week and he’s on top of everything from a preparation standpoint.”
You mentioned the Pro Bowl. Who on your offensive roster would you say merits Pro Bowl consideration?
“Who has made the Pro Bowl up until this point? I think they all are eligible for the Pro Bowl.”
Among your players, who would you?
“I’d vote every one of them, but I’m biased.”
G Mike Iupati has made it in the past. I know he struggled in that exhibition game a long, long time ago. It was pretty glaring though. How have you seen him develop if he has, I know he’s coming off that injury from the NFC Championship Game, is he getting healthier and stronger? Is he playing good football?
“You know [CSNBayArea.com reporter] Matthew [Maiocco], he is somebody that has played at an incredibly high level for us going back several years. And, I think he’s just battled through a lot of bumps and bruises this year and he’ll never let you know that it affects him. But, to me, when a player battles through when they’re not 100-percent that tells me a lot. Because the easiest thing for him to do would be what, ‘Hey I can’t play this week I’m afraid of what I might put out there’ or something along those lines, right? So, he’s scored a lot of points with me in those regards. And there’s definitely some plays he could do better on.”
Would you put T Joe Staley in that category as well?
“There’s no doubt. There’s no doubt. Not to cut you off, but I think he’s played more snaps than anybody on offense this year. Again, that’s dependable and he’s playing at a very high level.”
Is he fighting through things that maybe we don’t know about now that will come out?
“Yeah. He’s exhibited that kind of toughness all year long.”
Frank may or may not be back here after this season. What can you say about what he’s shown you through his career here and also this year when there was a lot of skepticism on he’s 31 now, 10th year in the league, will he still be able to bring it every day?
“That’s an easy one. That’s not even a pitch. You put that on a tee because I can knock that out of the park. That’s good because a question like that is really rhetorical. I mean, Frank Gore, since the day I got here, has been the heart and soul really. This year when the going gets tough, things aren’t going the way you like, we’re not producing to the level we expect or are used to or want to or working for. Who’s blinking? Who’s going to change? Not Frank Gore. To wrap it up in a nice tidy box, he is a great leader and somebody that, man he’s fun to coach, fun to coach.”
Have you seen any diminishment in him? You got here in 2011. Does he look like an older back? Does he look different than he looked four year ago?
“Not really. Not noticeably, no. He’s got a slightly lesser workload this year. But, no he looks the same, same guy, same Frank.”
There’s obviously a lot of talk that’s really started to pick up steam about head coach Jim Harbaugh, where he’s going to be next year, reports about Michigan. Having been connected with him from Stanford to here, is that something that the coaching staff talks about? Has it been any kind of distraction to you guys this week?
“We don’t talk about that stuff at all. I mean, we’re focused on the Chargers. All that water cooler talk is just that. That’s the answer really. I was trying to make it interesting, the answer, instead of saying just no.”
How’d you think G Joe Looney played in Seattle?
“He had a tough game. There were some things there that fundamentally he could have done better. You know, first start as a center, in that environment, against that crew which is pretty good, that’s tough duty. But, I think he could have played better.”
Where’s he at right now as far as C Marcus Martin and what you hope to see from him?
“We’re still hoping to get Marcus back for this game. He’s done some things in practice pretty well. And, I think Marcus’ performance, he has earned the right to be the starter there.”
You guys have two tight ends, just two tight ends on the 53-man right now. Will you bring the practice squad guy up for the game?
“Those are discussions that are ongoing. We’ll see. It’s possible.”
Being at the end of the year and you guys being eliminated, is this an opportunity for guys like WR Quinton Patton and WR Bruce Ellington to get more snaps and more targets possibly in this game?
“You know, we’re not going into it with that mentality. However, I think those guys are doing a great job in practice. Bruce coming off his situation was a guy we didn’t want to overload with his special teams duties. But, I feel like he settled nicely back into that. We’re not really going into it with that mindset. This is new territory for us and it’s exciting in a way.”
With Quinton being inactive for most of the year, is it important for him to end the season on a good note to springboard him going into next season?
“Every player. Every player. In my opinion, games like these are looked at with even more scrutiny than when you’re riding the wave of success going into the playoffs. If I’m a player, your film is going to be looked at with a fine-toothed comb by every team including the 49ers.”
Can you give us some insight into how you guys have tried to coach-up QB Colin Kaepernick this year? He’s obviously had a different year than last year. So, I’m wondering if that means that you guys have had to coach him more and spend more time with him to try and get him out of that?
“Not really. We haven’t had to coach him differently. But, there’s been some ups and downs and whatnot and I think it’s important for him to finish strong as well.”
You mentioned Frank’s workload. Obviously with a running back how a game plays out if you’re winning, losing, all that goes into it.
But, is this about what you anticipated as far as after 14 games what his carries are?
“A little light. A little light. A little light. But, there are several games where you would like to be handing it off at the end of the game with numbing repetition. He’s really good in those situations. We really haven’t had them lately. But a little light in that regard, opportunities just not there. Limited possession games, etcetera. A lot of things go into that.”