SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim O’Neil’s Week-14 press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Good morning. I wanted to start off by just sending out our condolences to [head coach] Chip [Kelly] and his family. I know he’s going through a tough time right now. We’ll be excited as a football team when he gets back to lead us into this next week. Questions?”
What did you see when you looked at the film of the Bears game? What were the issues?
“I thought as a defense we did some good things. We gave some things up. It was a sloppy game, obviously, at times. But, run game-wise, I thought up front our guys did a pretty good job reestablishing the line of scrimmage. There were two runs that got out on us that I thought we had a chance to make a play and then you’re probably feeling really good about the game from a run standpoint. Pass game-wise, the way that game went, we left the corners on islands a little bit and we did not do a great job rushing the quarterback. Some of it was max protection. Some of it was the weather. It’s hard to get great rush with guys being able to change direction in small spaces. So, some good, some things we need to improve on.”
When you do leave the cornerbacks on islands like that, is that done with the expectation that the pass rush will get to the quarterback by the time that that could be exploited?
“I thought we mixed it pretty good throughout the course of the game. There were times where we pressured and like I said we didn’t get home and then as the play extends the guys in coverage get more susceptible to balls across the field.”
What’s been the biggest help for you in being up in the booth, being able to have that angle instead of being down on the sideline?
“Seeing stuff throughout the series instead of waiting, really, until after the series. You’ve got a better angle, being able to see all 22, so you can make in-series adjustments instead of waiting until the end of the series.”
How about the communication with players? What’s the adjustment been like with that?
“For me, it was nice when I was on the sideline because I could go to the different position groups and talk to them, ‘Hey, how are you guys? What are you seeing? What do you guys like?’ With us having all of our position coaches down there, now I just handle it through them and if I need something specific, we can always throw the headset on a player or get them on the phones.”
Obviously it’s not just one side of the ball, but through the first eight weeks you guys were the least penalized team in the league. Over the last four weeks, the most penalized team in the league. Is there anything you can put your finger on why that’s flipped so dramatically?
“Defensively, just this past week, [DL] Glenn Dorsey jumped offsides on an early down play. He’s been real aggressive and he’s done a great job on the snap count, getting off pretty much before the O-Line and the D-Line. They got him on one. So, I’m not too worried about that because it didn’t happen on third down. [CB Tramaine] Brock had the one holding penalty downfield where it was kind of a mosh pit. [S] Antoine Bethea was backing up. The wide receiver and Brock all ran into each other and into ‘Toine and then he ended up getting called with a holding penalty. And then down on the goal line before the half, they called Brock on a penalty and I thought he did an unbelievable job on that play. He did everything he was coached. So, in a game like that, you don’t want to have penalties because every yard’s so critical, but that’s the way it went.”
The lack of pass rush has been kind of an ongoing theme this season. Obviously, LB Aaron Lynch hasn’t played a ton, but do you have the personnel to have a steady pass rush or is that something that maybe needs to be upgraded?
“The sack production isn’t what we want it to be. I think our guys have been close. I think our guys have gotten better as the year has gone on. But, I think we want to be better at everything right now.”
Is it troubling that this team might need to draft another front seven player to kind of solidify things, a third straight in the first round or do you think that’s a normal way to build a football team?
“I’m not even thinking that way right now. Draft, this is what we’ve got right now. I’m trying to win a game….
You’re a great football mind, and I’m just thinking…
I know. I’m worried about the New York Jets and trying to get a win this week. So, that’s so far from my mind right now. Sorry. Not going to go there.”
Alright, let’s talk about the Jets then. What do you think about New York Jets QB Bryce Petty?
“We went into yesterday thinking we would get [New York Jets QB Ryan] Fitzpatrick and then as we’re game planning and scripting, doing some stuff last night, Bryce Petty ends up getting the job and then [New York Jets head coach] Todd Bowles comes on and says that they were going to go with him the last four weeks. So, it doesn’t change a lot. It changes some things. But, real strong arm. Obviously, he’s a young quarterback. He does have weapons around him. [WR] Brandon Marshall. They’ve got a very good backfield in [New York Jets RB] Bilal Powell, [New York Jets RB] C.J. Spiller, [New York Jets RB Matt] Forte. So, I don’t think with [New York Jets offensive coordinator] Chan Gailey, their offense will change much. He’s going to run his system. It’s been a proven system in this league. He’s had a lot of success. But, he does have a big arm. He can make all the throws. So, we’ll be prepared for him.”