Jim O’Neil on Arik Armstead’s shoulder: “We’re going to monitor (it) as the week goes on.”

SANTA CLARA  — This is the transcript of Jim O’Neil’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.


Opening comments:

“I’m excited about the regular season. I thought we had a good training camp. I thought we learned and grew a lot as a defense. I’m excited about the matchup this week against the Rams. They’ve got a very talented roster and I think their offensive coordinator [Los Angeles Rams assistant head coach/offense] Rob Boras is doing a good job schematically with those guys, so it’ll be a great challenge for our defense.”


Have you seen DL Glenn Dorsey, has he been practicing? What do you envision his role to be?

“It’s still probably a little too early in the week to tell, but he has been able to do a little bit more over the past couple of weeks. These next couple of days will be huge for him.”


Seven-on-seven stuff? Has he gotten into full practices to this point?

“Not in full team drills yet, no.”


And what about DL Arik Armstead, where is he going to be as to practice being handled?

“Again, it’s early in the week, so that’s something that we’re going to monitor as the week goes on. Again, he’s a guy that’s done a little bit more over the past couple of weeks, so hopefully 48 hours from now we’re feeling pretty good about it.”


With eight defensive linemen and five inside linebackers, it looks like you’ll have the possibility to rotate along that defensive front, figuring teams might want to run the ball and control the tempo. Is that sort of your thinking with the numbers at that position, those positions?

“That might be a great question for [general manager] Trent [Baalke]. I think the way they went about it is they were kind of locked into some numbers to get to the 46 and then I think they just kept the best players that they could from there. I think that was their philosophy. I think that’s a great philosophy, that way you don’t get so locked into numbers and you end up keeping a guy who might not be better than some of the other guys on your 53. If you’ve got eight guys, it’s going to be a tough decision for us each week who’s going to be up on game day and how we’re going to deploy those players.”


Would you expect game days to have a five-man rotation on that defensive line?

“The guys that are up for us are going to play. As far as how many guys are up, we haven’t discussed that yet as a coaching stuff. That’s something that we’ll discuss at the end of the week.”


You talked a lot about rotating guys through during the preseason. Do you feel comfortable that you have a good handle on where everybody’s best fit yet or is that going to just be ongoing all year?

“I think you’re constantly evaluating guys, but yeah I think we’ve got a pretty good picture right now as a defensive staff as far as what we have defensively and how guys fit into this scheme.”


What’s made LB Tank Carradine suited to that outside linebacker spot?

“Say that again.”


What’s made Tank suited to that move to that outside linebacker?

“For us, schematically, he’s a bigger body. He’s put a lot of work into learning the coverage stuff. Very physical on the edge, which will help us set edges in the run game and force the ball back inside. He’s worked real hard at learning the position and then he’s got position flexibility along the front for us in some of the passing situations. So, that’s what we look for when we go find guys in college football. We want those big, physical guys who are heavy handed, can set edges, and at the same time be able to do some drop stuff for us.”


49ers color analyst Tim Ryan spoke during one of the preseason games, he actually compared DL Ronald Blair to Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald. Do you see some similarities in their game and what are your expectations heading into his first season?

“I don’t like to compare players, but I know Aaron Donald’s a hell-of-a football player. That would be great if Ronald Blair could ever get to that level, but Ronnie is different than anything we have along the front. [Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro] Azz does a great job. You can’t coach Ronnie Blair the way you’re coaching [DT] Quinton Dial. They are different players, but Ronnie’s going to be a guy that’s going to make some splash plays for us in the run and pass game. He’s a guy we’re excited about.”


How happy were you to get LB Marcus Rush back on the practice squad and will he put pressure on the other pass rushers if they’re not performing?

“I was surprised that we got him back to be honest with you. When I found out that he was going to be on the practice squad, I was really excited about it because for the next four weeks we have three outside backers and he’s a guy that if we need to we could easily activate him and bring him aboard. He’s a heck-of-a football player. He’s done a hell-of-a job throughout the preseason and he’s a guy that I’ll be shocked if he’s on the practice squad all year.”


What’s the scouting report on DT Taylor Hart, the guy you got from the Eagles?

“I think I figured out Azz’s recruiting philosophy when he went to Oregon. I think he found every D-Linemen that was 6-5 or taller and just recruited those guys and wacked everybody else. But, I’m still getting to know him. I have watched him on tape. He’s a guy that I evaluated when he was coming out of college. Big, physical, strong at the point of attack in the run game, very tough, which we’re always looking for tough guys. That’s how you win late in the season, with tough gritty guys. I’m excited about adding him to the group.”


Do you anticipate it being a pretty seamless transition for him, given his familiarity to Azz?

“I think it’ll be, I don’t think it’ll be seamless because he’s never played in this system. I think he’ll be familiar with Azz and some of the D-Line techniques we use, but schematically some of the terminology will be different for him. He’s got some catching up to do.”


What stands out to you about the Rams?

“I’ll start up front. They are very physical. They have their whole offensive line healthy. In my opinion, they have six really good players. They haven’t been able to play together this preseason, but they are starting to get healthy. The quarterback does a great job getting the ball out of his hands, puts them in a position to win football games. Obviously, [Los Angeles Rams RB] Todd Gurley at running back is a dynamic player. [Los Angeles Rams WR] Tavon Austin is a dynamic player as a receiver, running back, screen guy, down the field. They’ve got a big receiver in [Los Angeles Rams WR] Kenny Britt. They’ve got three tight ends that they roll that all do a good job. So, they are pretty good personnel-wise.”


What did you see from CB Will Redmond from the time you had him on the field and do you think there is a chance you could see him before the year’s over being that you can bring an IR guy back?

“Yeah, I think that’s the plan. Will’s a guy that we were very excited about when we drafted him. We’re still very excited about him. We’ll lean on Ferg and the athletic training staff as far as when he’s fully back and if it’s a situation down the line where we can activate him, I’m sure that that will be a conversation.”


What are those three inside linebackers next to LB NaVorro Bowman separate and how do you kind of plan to go forward with that?

“They’ll all play. We need them all to play. We need all three of them to win. We have a plan right now going into Week 1. I’ll let you guys figure out that plan on Monday night. I’m not going to sit here and tell it to you now. But, we need [LB] Mike Wilhoite, we need [LB] Ray-Ray Armstrong and we need [LB] Gerald Hodges to be a good defense.”


The depth chart yesterday had Armstrong and Hodges kind of “co” and then Wilhoite behind them–?

“I don’t buy into that. Those depth charts are written in sand. So, that’s one package, one personnel group. We could have eight different personnel groups up in any given game. So, I don’t get into that.”


What’s the emphasis for the defense in terms of stopping Gurley?

“Do your job. Takes all 11. You know, just execute.”


Do you have to prepare any differently for a unique skill player like Tavon Austin where they really try to get creative to get him the football, use him in different ways?

“Sure. You’ve got to do some stuff schematically to get guys around him because he is such a dynamic player in space, yeah.”


They use a lot of those kind of ghost sweeps with Tavon to play Tavon off of Gurley. What are some of the challenges trying to defend that?

“They just force you to communicate. You know, if you’re running any type of combo coverage stuff, if he’s running to the other side of the formation, you’ve got to change coverage or if your zone drops on one and now one could become two very quickly. So, it forces you to think a little bit quicker. It’s not the same thing, but it’s kind of similar to some of the up-tempo stuff. Just makes you think and react faster than probably what you want to as a defense.”


Do football coaches ever watch Hard Knocks, especially when you play the team going into Week 1?

“When I was with New York, we were on it. So, I watched it when we were on it. I did not watch Hard Knocks this past year just because I know that the head coach usually has final editing rights and you really don’t get a lot of football stuff out of it. So, some guys on staff have watched it and some of guys on the defensive side of the ball have made some comments about it, but me personally, no.”


Comments along the lines of what they’re doing or–?

“Yeah. Just some stuff that have come up, yeah.”


I know you’re just focused on Week 1, but I think your first six opponents were in the top-10 in rushing last year. Are you aware of the early season challenge there? Are you eager to see what your run defense looks like?

“Absolutely. I’m excited about it.”

This article has 81 Comments

  1. Was hoping to hear “yes, Arik ID good to go Monday.” I hope he’s just playing it close to the vest. I was looking forward to something other than Dial, Purcell, TJE to start the season (not that I dislike those guys. I’m a big Dial fan).

    1. Just heard an in-house interview with Arik just uploaded to the 49ers website. It’s sounding like he’s ready to go Monday night.

    1. I think the (seemingly) lack of clarity about Arik’s game readiness is the most notable and unexpected part of the presser. Was hoping for something better than “monitoring.”

      The in-house interview with Arik recently uploaded to the 49ers website makes me think he will be ready after all.

      1. Also far less inflammatory than “In my opinion, they have six really good players” when taken out of context. Which is what Grant had initially as the headline.

  2. Biggest challenge for this young defense is the run. Especially if Big A isn’t ready and if Dorsey isn’t either.

    I think it will be fine against the pass but right now huge question marks at ILB and the nose tackle position.

        1. I was listening to some commentators saying Fisher has no idea how to use Austin effectively. So glad we didn’t was a pick on Goff.

          1. He’s their only other threat? He returns kicks, runs the ball, runs all WR routes and is fast as snaut. I’d say Fisher is playing him down. They just signed him to a huge extension, they will use him a lot this year!

            1. I think the guys I was listening to were talking about how he could be used more effectively in the pass game. They were talking down the Rams pass game since Gurley’s going to run it so much and saying it wastes Austin’s talent. I think it was here in Denver because the Bronco’s played them the last preseason game.

              At some level it’s true. He’s a dangerous dude limited by scheme and QB play.

              1. If the Rams had a big bodied TE and WR opposite him, they could be a dangerous team.

                I took him in my fantasy but of course, not playing him Monday!

  3. I like the fact that Marcus Rush cleared waivers..
    and is on the PS …
    He just might .. develop into
    something special …

    u-hhh .. but then …

    I thought the same thing about the UDFA …Lenny Jones
    and .. where is he now ?

  4. Let’s get this started… Monday night, 9ers 26 Rams 23. 9ers get a defensive TD and a key turnover late. Rams have a strong push with under a minute but fall short.

    1. How Gurley goes will determine the outcome. If SFs LBs are bouncing off him it won’t be close. If SF can hold him under 140yds they have a chance. Donald will eat Beasley alive (as he does to many).
      Gabbert will…….(idk)

        1. Yeah, of course. But Beasley was one good blocking FB!
          I get the Heebie-Jeebies just thinking about trying to block Donald. I think Games 1-4 are extended preseason anyway, but it may be interesting to see how Kelly’s 2-on-1 blocking schemes work against the Rams.
          If Gabbert isn’t throwing well, Kelly may go 2TE and slug it out. Can’t do that if they fall behind though.

  5. Coach speak to obfuscate and babble. Sure learned a little, er, I mean a lot.

    Glad he is excited, but wonder if he is prepared.

    1. Lambs 23 – Niners 9 ..

      Blaine-Train stinks up the joint ..
      gets Boo’d .. (a lot) …

      Kap starts Week #2 .. and …
      Lloyd Lindsey Young predicts ..
      “A storm’s a-brewin’ “

      1. Already made my prediction but I will repeat it here.
        Rams 24
        49ers 17
        Gurley runs for 190
        MWNiner I bet 9er fans will cheer for a crappy Blaine before they will call for Kaep.

        1. “….MWNiner I bet 9er fans will cheer for a crappy Blaine before they will call for Kaep….”

          Well ..Coach .. I know it’s been quite
          a few years since I’ve lived in the Bay Area .. but..
          surely the “fan-temperament” hasn’t changed that
          much … has it ?

          I mean .. I remember seeing acts like Sha Na Na
          and Ozzie Osborne getting boo’d off the stage
          (both at Winterland) ..so… are you sayin’ ..
          the Bay Area fans have actually mellowed out ..
          since then ?

          I dunno, Coach …

          I’m thinkin’ we might see some more banners
          flyin’ over the stadium.. should the Blaine-Train
          over-stay his welcome !

  6. Grant,

    How do you feel now, about your “It’s tragic” comment, in regards to what CK did to his career with his stance on the NA?

    It doesn’t quite seem that tragic. He, in particular, seems quite sanguine about the whole thing.

    Also, it seems his teammates, many in the media and a good portion of the public support, or, at least, understand, his actions.

      1. Even journalists need to go a couple of days without being insulted. Don’t know about you BroT but I find it interesting what guys will say on a blog compared with what they would say to your face.

  7. A bit concerned about the DL and their run D… Apparently, Armstead needs eventual surgery to fix his shoulder; Dorsey is probably out a few games and Buckner is going to get a great test come Monday night. Dial is already nicked and Purcell is nothing special. TJE is not even worth mentioning and while Blair is a good shooter, the big test will come when teams run right at him.

    If the D can’t limit Gurley on Monday, we could easily start the season 0-5…. Here’s hoping the DL rises to the challenge.

    1. ‘The big test will come when teams run at him.’
      Since he’s a situational pass rush specialist, that might be infrequent. With his quickness once his recognition evolves he should be effective against screens and draws too.

      1. His playing time depends on several factors…. A big one is how much the D ends up on the field. I doubt the team can afford to use him solely as a “situational pass rush specialist.” But yes, I agree his quickness will help chasing down runs and screens laterally and from behind.

    1. Pokes brought Dak along with a good plan. They protected him with their play calls. He made a bunch of easy read shot plays outside the pocket. Teams will scheme to contain him and test him from the pocket; in that way like Kap. But in preseason there were some tantalizing hints of some of the things R.Wilson brings to the field. Also, the Pokes’ ground game will gash folks, distracting them from young Dak.
      Then the Pokes’ D will give up 7 points, again and again.

      1. Dak has a great team around him which is the key. Best Oline in the league, excellent receivers, dominant running game. All he has to do is play within the system and not turn the ball over and he’ll be successful. He won’t have to face a lot of the things that trip up young QB’s like constant pressure, and not having anywhere obvious to go with the ball. There is a reason he looked so good in the preseason.

      1. See? Don’t give him the gold. Act like his posts are invisible. You can make mine disappear that way too.
        Not that your wrong, but that’s a different point.

    1. No no the niners should throw the ball to their rb’s, te’s, and wr’s. They should run plays for positive yards, and not go backwards. They should not commit turnovers and should force the Rams to turn the ball over. And they should score more than the Rams… If the coaches listen to me they will win :/

  8. SF vs LA, Mon. 7:00pm PDT
    What’s the market share for a game that runs from 10pm-1am in the eastern time zone? A couple of teams with little national appeal, and no playoff relevance. What Einstein came up with this Monday night thrilla?
    Even in Hawaii, at 4pm peeps leaving work headed out surfing then going to the fish market or having a green bottle on da beach.
    I think maybe Kronke bought that exposure with bribes to league guys and networks to fete his team’s excellent LA debut.
    What??? Everybody else can have their conspiracy theory….not me?

    1. I like it Brotha !..

      it’s as good as Brady’s ..

      “… I don’t know how that NFL decal got
      scratched off of my helmet … I never pay attention
      to those things.. ! ..”

      plausible …no ?

  9. Ok sports fans quick poll!

    Who will be the most productive offensive player for the niners?
    A. Hyde
    B. McDonald
    C. Gabbert
    D. Smith
    E. Someone else

    1. Hmmm. Well I think the Rams deserve to be tested deep, but I’m not sure we’ve got the bullet launchers to do it. T.Smith could make a play.
      Thinking I know Gabbert (dubious!), McDonald seems like he’ll get his opportunities. If they hit a couple to him up the middle, it may open up a draw. Even if Hyde can’t get much going running, I think he may have some chances with screens against this aggressive Rams front.
      They’ll need some plays outside the pocket in the game plan in case Donald is too disruptive inside.
      So, Hyde & McDonald.

    1. The 49ers will go deep early and often to Torrey and Patton to get a big lead and limit Gurleys carries. 49ers 31 Rams 17.

  10. How can the Niners beat the Rams? The Rams D front is their strength. Do not run into the teeth of the defense. Run around them, not through them. Employ sweeps and put a man in motion to run reverses, then run a fake reverse.

    Use deception. Gabbert should work on his pump fakes. They should pass when they expect the run, and run when they expect the pass.

    Rams will blitz, so invite the blitz and target the area the blitzer left. Roll out away from the blitz. Perfect the screen pass.

    On defense, stopping Gurley will be the hardest task. Put 8 in the box and dare them to pass. Defense must play with discipline. They should first play the run, rush 4, and expect 4 to get to the QB. You know, play Niner defense. The DC should dial up a few safety blitzes on obvious passing downs.

      1. When I said that Kaep should face one way while looking in another direction, he failed to see 3 open receivers that could have propelled them back to the Super Bowl.

        Last season, they did not only ignore my advice, they did the exact opposite of what I was saying.

        I will continue to make suggestions. If they ignore what I say, no skin off my nose. The will just keep losing.

        Last game, they put a man in motion, and scored a TD. Where did you hear that before?

        1. Had they listened to you the result would have been the same or worse. Like we’ve discussed before the things you are proposing are pretty fundamental football. Some of what you propose is playground fantasy. Its always fun to hear what you think will fix the 49ers offense and how oblivious you are to the skill level of the coaches at this level.

          1. Wilson, maybe you want to defend last year’s Niner coaches, but I will unequivocally say that my assessment of Devey was spot on, and theirs were tragically inept.

            I said that they should not force Kaep to be only a pocket passer. They thought they were right, and it resulted in Kaep having to receive 3 surgeries to repair the damage. Go ahead and defend their skill and acumen. I will just have to disagree.

            1. Yes anyone who watched football last year thought Devey was trash save for Oregon on this forum. As was reported by JT and TB, Baalke had control over some of the 46 each week and kept Devey on the field, not the coaches. What you fail to realize is that even those lousy coaches last year whom you supported initially as better than JH predicting a 10-6 record know way more about football than you ever will. Your strategies wouldn’t have helped that lot. I never supported that group ever. I called a 4-6 win season with them.

          2. Yes, what have advocated is pretty fundamental, and I do not claim to have invented those strategies. However, the Niner offense was last in the league, so anything that might help them should not be derided as unnecessary.

            In fact, a lot of what I propose I know will be implemented, because the up tempo offense is one of Chip’s strategies.

            1. Seb I pretty safe in saying listening to you would not have resulted in them going to the SB.

              “When I said that Kaep should face one way while looking in another direction, he failed to see 3 open receivers that could have propelled them back to the Super Bowl”

              You do realize Safeties and DB’s are trained to look at hips and eyes right? Looking one way and facing another doesn’t really throw them off. The good QB’s keep their feet, hips and eyes moving till they throw. Plus how in the world is he supposed to have good mechanics if he’s looking one way facing a completely different direction. Sounds like a recipe for a Pick 6 to me.

  11. Finally, after much speculation and anticipation a new season is upon us! Who isn’t excited and a bit apprehensive?

    Will the OL be everything we wish them to be? Will Gabbert improve or will he regress? Will Kap play the hero or will he become a has been? Will we have to Ponder all these questions or wait another season for an answer? Will the WRs be productive or a liability? Will the TEs be a source of strength in the attack? Will Hyde and company help propel the offense?

    Will the DL be a source of strength or will they be the walking dead? Are the ILBs that bad? Will the DBs be any good? How will STs shake up? Stay tuned?

  12. This is the most winnable game the Niners have in the first half of the season. If they lose this one, it’s likely going to be awhile before they get a win.

    1. True Rocket, I think there’s a chance for the 9ers to win when one of these good teams looks past the 49ers to their next competitive game. Happens every year when a good team loses to an unexpected opponent. Wins could be sparse with this schedule. Kinda sad since we’re a better roster than last year.

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