Greg Roman on Vance McDonald: “He was very instrumental in our rushing attack last year.”

SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman spoke to Bay Area reporters Tuesday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers.

Opening comments:

“Good afternoon. We’ve had a very productive spring. Guys are working hard. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’re very happy with the commitment, the effort the guys are putting in. It’s a three-day minicamp. This is the third time we’ve installed our offense. So, looking for some pretty sharp execution. Hope everybody’s doing good. How’s everybody doing?”

 

Can you tell us just how the tight end position is looking without TE Vernon Davis out there and what you’re seeing out of the guys that are here?

“I think [TE] Vance [McDonald] has had a very good spring. He’s made a lot of strides. [TE] Garrett Celek has as well. And [TE] Derek Carrier is a very interesting guy. He’s kind of a hybrid athletic tight end who has put on some weight, gotten bigger. He played against the Rams last year, held his own pretty good. So, he’s making progress.”

How is his blocking coming along? I know he hadn’t done a whole lot of that.

“Good. And without pads on it’s hard to really put a grade on it. But, the fundamentals, the technique, he’s made worlds of progress.”

How is his athleticism? He’s known as a leaper. How has that been affected by the additional weight that he’s gained?

“It really hasn’t affected him any. He’s more than a leaper. This isn’t broad jumping. There are a lot of things that go into that position. But, he has good range though.”

What does it force you to do when by all accounts the guys that you expect to eventually be here are not here? What kinds of adjustments do you have to make here and then moving forward?

“All it does is give us a great opportunity for other guys to get in and get work. And again, it’s an opportunity for them to develop and show us what they can do.”

When it comes to QB Colin Kaepernick and what he’s been working on this offseason, how much emphasis is on the classroom with him as well on film study? And what does he try to accomplish in there that we don’t get to see?

“Well, really starting with the beginning of the offseason. We as an offensive staff, after three years here, it was kind of a, it’s time to clean out the garage type of thing. Where we kind of went through everything we’ve done and really kind of stripped it back down to its most element basic parts and start over at square one. Because it just felt like it was the right thing for us to do. So, we’ve been spending a lot of time on some very basic elements of what we do. And I think it will reap the reward. So, the same thing with every position, every task that we assign them or ask them to do, is really starting over at square one. A completely new season.”

Will this be almost like a new offense, or just an altered offense?

“I don’t really want to answer that because then people might have a clue of what we’re doing.”

 

You can say the wrong thing.

“That’s what I normally do. But, I would say, I think it’s fair to make the statement that it’s a different offense, 2014. Because we’ve got some new guys in, [WR] Brandon Lloyd has been out there everyday. He’s done a great job of taking advantage of his opportunities. [WR] Stevie Johnson’s another guy. So, we’ll see how it all goes. But, whatever we’re doing, it’s pretty basic right now in what we’re doing.”

Biggest change even from what you brought in from Stanford?

“I think it’s definitely evolved from there and it’ll probably change a little bit this year.”

We’ve just seen a lot of work in the red zone, you may not want to get into detail like that. But, would you say a major emphasis has been on red zone and what you’re doing in there?

“Yeah, we’ve spent a lot of time there and will continue to do that. I don’t think there’s anything other to say except you get what you emphasize. So, I think we’re going to spend a little bit more time down there.”

What about three wide receivers? Has that been something that you’ve practiced more this spring than in previous months just given the better personnel you might have at that position?

“I think that’s going to unfold as it goes. And again, there’s 11 guys on offense, and three wides, two tights, a back. We’re flexible. We can mix it up however. And it’s all based off the personnel we have available. And our defense, they see a lot of three wides during the season, too. So, it’s good for us to get out there and compete with them and really work on some stuff we want to work on, while our defense can get practicing against stuff that they’re going to see during the year as well. So, it’s kind of win-win.”

How much of what adjustments you can do might be affected by maybe because Colin’s ready for more?

“That’s definitely a factor. It really is his second full year starting, third year, fourth year if you want to make the argument in the system. So, he’s seeing things now that he didn’t see before. He’s right on track.”

What do RB Carlos Hyde and RB Marcus Lattimore bring to your running backs crew that maybe you didn’t have last year?

“Well, I think both very accomplished runners with different styles. Carlos, since he got here from the draft, really impressed me as a guy that football just makes sense to him. If you could just tell him what to do, and you don’t have to tell him too much. And that’s a beautiful thing in a running back because they have a lot of adjustments to make and protection, etc. And Marcus is right on track. He brings a little bit more of a slashing style. So, very different styles but like what we see out of both of them. And just need to continue those guys on their tracks.”

Hyde ran out of the Pistol a lot at Ohio State. Is that something where obviously with Kap’s background in it, is that something you’re going to engrain more in these guys?

“I think Carlos can do pretty much everything that we do and I don’t think that had any impact on the evaluation or whatnot. But, it’s definitely a great frame of reference.”

You talk about Carlos picking up things that kind of sounds like it’s not, you don’t want to compare to RB Frank Gore, but it sounds like what you guys talk about when you talk about Gore?

“Yeah, I don’t want to compare those two or put that burden on his shoulders, but yeah Frank’s a guy that just makes sense like that, so I’ll let you do that.”

You talk about some of the opportunities that some of the players will have with others absent. What about the guys that are missing? What will they miss from these three days?

“They’re missing what they’re missing. We’re just, whoever’s here, we’ll go on full-steam ahead with them. I think the guys that are here are taking advantage of those opportunities.”

Can you tell right away, I know he hasn’t been on the field much, but can you tell if T Jonathan Martin has the ability to bump inside to guard?

“Yeah, we’ve put him there a little bit and that’s something that we’re just going to spend more time on. But, that’s definitely something that I think is possible and he does have that flexibility in him. But, it’s just going to take some time on task.”

What have you seen from the competition at right guard with Alex Boone out and then also at center with G/C Daniel Kilgore and C Marcus Martin?

“Yeah, I think Marcus has done a really good job coming in as a rookie. The center position, guys and gals, there’s so much that a center has to do in this league week-to-week. There’s just so many different adjustments and whatnot. He’s done a really good job so far against our defense, not only physically, but mentally as well. I think there’ll be a lot of competition this camp at a lot of different positions. It’s going to be really exciting and these next three days are really a jumping off point to training camp. So, excited about the efficiency we can operate with.”

In a lot of ways, do you use these three days to kind of set the tentative depth chart heading in to training camp?

“I think that you could say that. I think it’s kind of a final exam for the spring, so to speak. It gives you an idea. But, it’s day-to-day and we’re just focused on having a great day today.”

Is this the most competition you’ve seen since you’ve been here going into training camp?

“Yeah, on paper, for sure. I don’t think there’s any question about that. That’s really going to be exciting. It’s a good problem to have.”

Do you have a favorite former 49ers head coach George Seifert story?

“Just seeing that coach Seifert is getting inducted into the Niners Hall of Fame, all I can say is that’s no surprise. I had the great privilege of working for him. He was a tremendous mentor for me and many others and has had great success throughout his career. So, just thrilled for him and the organization because he’s the epitome of class and success.”

There’s a lot of research out there about going for it more on fourth down, particularly when you’re on the opponents side of the field. Are you persuaded at all by that?

“Yeah, we have these discussions quite a bit and we’ve gone through all the research a couple different times. It really comes down to who you’re playing, what’s the situation and how good do you feel about what you’re doing relative to what they’re doing. Do you love your chance for success? And where you’re at in the game. There’s just a lot of different factors, but I definitely think there’s some credence to making that right risk-reward decision.”

On the Alex Boone situation, do you have to make contingency plans if indeed he’s away for an extended period of time? Do you feel like there’s some decent fallback options?

“Well, to kind of dovetail on what [CSN Reporter] Matt [Maiocco] asked, Joe Looney’s done a great job. He’s really shown himself well. I’m excited about what he’s been able to do with the opportunities. So, it’s next man up. That’s just how it goes.”

Did you have a sense that Looney might be OK given he had a little bit of action last year? Did he impress you then and has he built on that?

“Yeah, he played in the Rams game and he graded out extremely high against a really good defensive front. So, he just needs to keep stacking great days on one another, keep getting better.”

Your defense is probably going to be without LB NaVorro Bowman to start the season. LB Aldon Smith may or may not be there to start the season. Does that affect what you guys do on offense at all? How you approach the start of the season as far as maybe taking more chances, having to score more because the defense may not be at its strength at that point?

“Every game that kind of scenario, those kind of considerations are taken into account and I’ve got all the faith in the world in our defense that they’re going play and continue to play at an extremely high level. But, every game, we try to work very well with the defense and special teams.”

With a year under his belt, obviously he’s a different guy, but what specifically can, when looking at Vance, what specifically about him is different at this point this year as opposed to when he was a rookie at this point last year?

“Vance McDonald?”

Yeah.

“He’s got a lot of experience under his belt. He was very instrumental in our rushing attack last year. Didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the passing game. That’ll probably pick up more. But, he wore a lot of different hats last year. He was a little bit of a Swiss Army Knife last year. So, he’s got a lot of experience to draw on. You could just tell the first day that he walked in this spring that it was an experienced guy coming in now.”

Is that a tough adjustment for him coming in, he was mostly the primary target in the passing game, was being that Swiss Army Knife a tough adjustment for him last year?

“It is was it is. It was his responsibilities and he handled them pretty darn well. And overall, he played pretty darn well last year when you factor in everything beyond just the stat sheet.”

What have your impressions been of QB Kory Faulkner? Is he a guy with some NFL potential?

“Yeah, Kory’s diligent as heck. He is a lot of fun to work with. He’s one of those guys that presses upon me that he’s going, he’s the kind of guy that at some point in his career you can probably turn the keys over to him. And that’s a long ways off, but he definitely does some things that we like. Now, he had no offensive line in college, no offense to those players, but he can throw under duress let me tell you that. The first play here, I think we had really good protection and we said to him, ‘What’d you think of that? That was pretty neat, wasn’t it? You haven’t had that in a while.’ But, he had a big smile on his face. But, yeah he had to operate under duress. His first read in college was avoid the free rusher and then go from there. But, we really like Kory.”

You mentioned his diligence. All these guys work hard and everything. How is that shown itself to you as far as being fairly impressed?

“Well, diligence and being on a detail of things in this league, that’s the winning edge. If you don’t, you’re not going to be successful. At some point, the wheels are going to fall off the car as a player, as a team, as a unit. Our guys, knowing exactly what to do and how to do it is what wins in this league. And guys with supreme talent and can do that, they’re the great ones. We’ve got a lot of competition going this spring and summer, so stay tuned. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

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    1. Same here. I think the running game may have its best year since the Harbaugh era. I think the biggest question mark for me is Lattimore. I was excited for him before the start of mini-camp but I’m losing hope that he’ll ever be close to what he once was.

      The passing game should improve tremendously. I just continue to think about last year and the lack of targets he had, even with Crabs return, he never seemed 100%. Even if Kap doesn’t improve very much (though I believe he will) he’s bound to do a lot better with so much talent around him.

      1. I look for Mr. Hyde to be ridden early sparing Frank the mileage. I can’t wait to see him used in the pistol. It’s going to be epic…..

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