This is the transcript of Greg Roman’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Afternoon. Getting ready to play a very good New York Giants team. We’ve got a lot of respect for the Giants. Their defense, they had aMonday Night game, travel all the way across the country and back. So, I’m sure that’s not the easiest thing to do in the world. As we look at them at their body of work, very well coached, very good players, four first-round picks up front. [Giants DE Jason] Pierre-Paul, you look at [Giants DT Johnathan] Hankins and [Giants DT Cullen] Jenkins, two guys nobody really pays attention to. These guys are really good football players. [Giants DE Mathias] Kiwanuka obviously and [Giants DE Robert] Ayers [Jr.] doing a great job. [Giants LB Jacquian] Williams, [Giants LB Jameel] McClain and [Giants LB Devon] Kennard, man the linebacking corps and they are at the top of the league in interceptions. Play a very opportunistic style. They can just sit back, they can blitz you. But, [Giants CB Dominique] Rodgers-Cromartie, [Giants S Quintin] Demps, [Giants S Antrel] Rolle, [Giants CB Zack] Bowman, [Giants CB Jaryon] Hosley coming in lead the league in interceptions. So, a lot of their success has come from turning the ball over. But, had a really good day yesterday, great focus today and looking for another great day. Your time.”
You guys didn’t have any pre-snap penalties in New Orleans, a loud place. Can you just talk about the line play and then C Marcus Martin seemed to have a really nice game as well?
“Yeah, I thought the guys did a great job coming together, playing as one on the road which is hard to do in the NFL especially against a very good New Orleans team especially at their place. I thought our offensive line did a very good job in many different facets of the game. We got back here, we evaluated it and look to improve as we move forward.”
Is there any pattern to the Giants turnovers and how they’re getting the ball?
“I don’t know if I want to tell you about that. But, let me just say this, they do a really good job of evaluating the play as it’s happening. They’ve reaped the rewards of that. But, anytime somebody’s number one in the league at something you better look at it hard because at this point in the season it’s not a fluke.”
What can you gauge from how Seattle was able to run the ball effectively, get a good ground game going?
“They did a very good job. Things worked out there and it was a good day rushing the football for them. Tip of the cap. Very nicely done. I’m sure the New York Football Giants are going to be back there and evaluating what they did and how they did it and do what every team does, try to get it the way they want it.”
WR Anquan Boldin was saying after practice yesterday that getting back to more of a little bit balanced, everything feeds off your running game. Do you feel like you guys made some progress there?
“I thought we ran the ball pretty well. But, I think we definitely felt like we could have done some things a little bit better.”
Can you assess G Mike Iupati and G/T Alex Boone and their contributions and what they mean to the offense’s overall success?
“Mike and Alex, specifically this last game, I thought did a phenomenal job. I thought Mike, there were some examples that the hair stood up on the back of my neck watching the tape just at the intensity and the grind he was putting on people. And same thing with Alex. Fundamentally I thought he did a phenomenal job. I think a lot of offensive line play starts with just that blue-collar down in the trenches kind of attitude. I thought we certainly saw that last Sunday. But, it’s a great thing to have in your line.”
What did you see from your view on the fourth-and-10 bomb to WR Michael Crabtree?
“That was a great play by [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap in a gotta have it situation. That’s when you know you have a winner when a guy that makes a play like that in that situation. And, credit to Crab, credit to everybody. Credit to Alex Boone for his hustle on that play. For just hustling and being the personal protector for Kap there. That was a hair on the back of the neck standing up moment. They were in a two-deep defense. The rush lanes got distorted. He got flushed to his right. From upstairs I thought the ball was going to [WR] Brandon Lloyd up the rail initially. It’s easy to see when you’re sitting upstairs. But, I’m glad it didn’t. I’m glad it went to Crabtree because he was just wide open. And it’s tough on a defense, a situation like that. It’s tough when things get distorted in zone coverage. Great play by our guys and obviously a huge play in the game.”
What do you mean by distorted?
“When a quarterback flushes and he’s looking over here and the zone defense moves with the offense, Crab ends up on the backside all alone basically. And, that happens a lot. I think it was [TE] Vernon [Davis] was coming across and drew the safety down. It happens, especially in that coverage at times, it just does. When you can extend the play that long, it’s hard to defend with two-deep coverage when you get three to four guys vertical. Seen it before. Just glad the play extended that long. Kap had the arm-strength to get it there.”
What strides did you see from Martin from his first game to his next, especially in a hostile environment?
“That’s a great question, because that dome is a tough place to play. Anybody that’s been in the National Football League in the last six, seven years, really ten years understands how hard, shoot you can go back to the [former NFL head coach] Jim Mora era, to understand how tough it is to play there. Marcus comes in everyday with the same attitude to improve. I think he’s got a good group around him to help mentor him and he’s done a very nice job. You really wouldn’t notice anything different from week to week with him. That was a really good job and he understands that every week, every day is an opportunity to get better as we go through this part of the season. I thought he handled things very well during the week in his preparation which allowed him to trust his preparation in the game. I thought it afforded him very well.”
What’s his personality like? He doesn’t seem ever overwhelmed by, what, he’s 20 years old, it doesn’t seem like this is too big for him at all. Just kind of sloughs it off as something he has to do.
“Well, we do not age discriminate. If you can play, you can play for us. His personality is excited, excited about the opportunity, energy, awareness, big eyes, a sponge trying to get as much information as possible, but he’s handling it thus far with a level of maturity that you want out of a center.”
When you say you’ve noticed certain things with the way he prepared, could you give any specifics, like something you saw in a meeting or on the field or both?
“Well, I think when you have a player that’s starting for the first time and when you’re presenting something to them, you definitely want to focus on what his responsibility is. And I think when you’re installing a play, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do on this play. OK, now if they do this, we’re doing that. Now Marcus, remember if we get that look, we’ve got to be able to do this.’ And he’s, ‘On it, coach. On it.’ You know what I mean? It’s not, ‘Hey, say that again,’ which is fine too. But, on it, sharp, alert, a sense of urgency in his preparation, a sense of responsibility to get it right for his teammates.”
A lot of fans will say with the drops that maybe Colin Kaepernick throws the ball too hard. What’s your response to something like that?
“Balderdash. Every throw is different. Every throw is different and I think you’ve got to evaluate each one as it is. I thought he threw some, as you say, dimes. He really made some incredible throws in that game. Really, really good throws. Colin comes in every day and just looks to improve. He’s done an amazing job thus far in his career to lead us to as many wins as he has. The exciting thing about it is right now all that success and all those victories really you wouldn’t even tell that that happened. He’s focused on the now, this week and the New York Giants.”
Why are Vernon’s numbers down?
“I thought Vernon did a phenomenal job. He really did a lot of dirty work this past week. Part of it I would say was earlier he had some nicks. I think we discussed that a couple weeks ago. And part of it is some of the things we’re seeing, the defensive responses to what we’re getting. But, don’t fall asleep on him.”
Do you think, as far as his health, he’s back to a good level?
“I do, yes.”
Is there a lot of maintenance, I mean I see him walking around with a portable STIM machine on his foot regularly? Is that just part of the maintenance to get through?
“I don’t know how you’re privy to that information, but we’ll make sure that never happens again, won’t we? He’s fine, just maintenance. That was a joke. [laughter] All those types of maintenance things, I think, prehab as you will. Staying on top of things I think. Our training staff, [49ers director of elite performance] Fergus Connolly, our strength staff, and that’s the way really sports is going these years. There’s so many more adaptations and technology that you can use to recover. You’ll see guys, I’m not at liberty to talk about some of the modalities, if that’s the pronunciation, that’s pretty neat, really exciting moving into the future.”
Is TE Vance McDonald really coming into his own particularly as a run blocker?
“He did a great job in the past game. Yeah, I think he’s really just taking strides, making strides. I thought in his rookie year, if you go back and watch the tape, he did for the most part, a very underrated, unheralded job of affecting the results in our running game. I don’t pay attention to what’s said, thought in the outside world. I know what I know and I know that last year he had a tremendous, positive impact on that facet of our game and this year it’s getting even better. So, very excited about that. At the end of the year, he graded out incredibly high in some of those playoff games. So, it’s no surprise really.”
Obviously, he was largely a wide receiver in college. Everyone was talking about his pass-catching ability. Is he a run-blocking tight end?
“Well, what he is is a tight end and he is a team guy and he’s going to do what we ask him to do. He hasn’t gotten probably the level of opportunities to show his prowess catching the football or impact the game that way and that’s on me. Selfishly for big-picture purposes, I’ve really tried to focus on him as a guy that can aid us in the core of the offense and can probably do a much better job of utilizing those other skills. So, that one’s on me for sure.”