Here is a transcript of head coach Jim Tomsula’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“[S Craig] Dahl, [LB Philip] Wheeler and [TE Vance] McDonald didn’t practice. You knew that. [LB Nick] Moody got a little tweak on the knee. I just talked to him, seems like that’s fine. Haven’t gotten to the trainer yet. And [CB Tramaine Brock] T-Brock pulled a muscle, I just asked him too. He said he’s good. Just felt a little pinch is what he said. So, we’re in great shape with that. We were trying to make sure we stay hydrated up here with the air and the heat. So, that’s where that is. I know you’ve all been briefed by the general manager and I’m sure you’ve got all that information. Any questions?”
Along those lines, what do you guys do now at that position while LB Ahmad Brooks is not here?
“Well, we’ve got [LB] Aaron [Lynch] back in working, obviously, so that’s great. And I like the group with [LB] Corey [Lemonier] and [LB] Eli [Harold] and then [DL Marcus] Rush has been coming on. So, we really feel like it’s a talented group.”
With everything that’s happened in the offseason, retirements and injuries and everything, does it kind of wear on the team with another incident like this?
“Well, no, I don’t think so. I mean, obviously, you don’t want anything. But, when you get into the retirements and getting into all that stuff, again, for us in San Francisco, we knew a lot of that stuff. We weren’t surprised by a lot of things. This particular thing has been, we’ve all known about this, the potential of things so this is nothing new to us.”
As far as your outside linebackers, are they being asked to do more coverage this year than the previous defense?
“Well, it depends on what day you watch us practice. That’s part of it too. Again, you’ve been to all the practices back home and you see what we’re doing. We’re seeing where we’re at with things, with the combinations. So, we’re trying to make sure that we’ve got a ying to the yang, and then defining what those are. I think we’re getting, we’re narrowing that down. Felt real good the last week or so on those things there.”
How’s Eli at that specific aspect?
“You know what? I’m really excited about what he’s doing out there. Obviously, he didn’t do it in college. Assignment-wise, he’s been really doing well. Cleaning up the technique. He’s got the physical tools to do it, but cleaning up the technique and the vision. Really, Eli Harold has been an absolute pleasure since the day he’s walked in the door in all aspects. So, we’re really happy with him.”
Does practicing out here two days change how you would approach the third preseason game? Do you not play the veterans more or as much as you would knowing that they got all these reps here?
“No. I wouldn’t say that. We’ve been going on, we took the preseason as a whole, like we talked about. Our guys will play a little more this week than they have in the last couple of games. But, no, this, the biggest thing that, obviously it’s well stated, practicing against this team is really good. It’s a talented team. They’re very talented. So, and then the way the guys on both teams have gone about their business, to me has been, you couldn’t ask for anything better. So all those are good. And then the last thing and something that I think is real important, is being up here in the altitude and the heat and blowing out the lungs and guys could tell a significant difference from yesterday to today with the lungs, but still gets on you. So, then getting to tomorrow, it’s all good.”
Will RB Reggie Bush and RB Kendall Hunter make their exhibition debuts and how do you see the running back rotation?
“I’m expecting that. But, like we say, I’m going to reserve the right. Kendall out there the last two days has been really nice. And Reggie, obviously I’ve got Reggie on a different deal. So, but yes, we’re expecting that today. But, I do want to reserve the right to be able to change my mind on that and if I do, I’ll let you know right away.”
Reggie was returning some punts this week that we saw. Is that, will you do that in a game or is that still going to be RB Jarryd Hayne and WR DeAndrew White?
“He may. He may.”
What stood out to you about the way LB NaVorro Bowman handled all of last year and then now that he’s been able to be back? Especially now that he’s the one really experienced guy left in your defensive huddle.
“Well, I’ll tell you, NaVorro in terms of what he’s, the way he’s worked and the way he’s approached everything, there is a difference in him. Just in the way he carries himself. And it’s really cool. He spent a lot of time studying. Spent a lot of time in that aspects of it. But, what we’re seeing on the field, he’s back to NaVorro. His conversations are a little different, because almost sometimes it’s a back and forth, you know what I mean? So, that part of it’s great. But, the experience wise, I mean, when you look at a [S Antoine] Bethea and you look at the defensive line, we’ve got some experienced guys around him, you know, to help him. But, he’s doing really well.”
Has there been a moment where you saw in a practice that you said, “OK, that’s the NaVorro that I remember?” Like a play that he’s made or–?
“Yeah, well, in the spring. Movement-wise, you know what I mean? We obviously, even with pads on, we’re not banging, we’re not going full-go. So, but the movement, I remember that, probably about the third day out there. He hit a sudden burst and I said, ‘Ah, OK.’ And I saw him smiling. He knew he did it so that was nice.”
With Ahmad’s situation, you guys said that you’ve known for some time, obviously you have. Was there a constant dialog between you and the front office about plans or how things might go if something goes down or in terms of personnel or how things would work out?
“Yeah, well, I mean, there’s a plan in place. We’ve got our systems through player engagement. We’ve got those things that we’re obviously not going to talk publicly about. But, I feel great about the organization and the processes that I’ve been sitting in from where it is and the way we’re approaching it as an organization. So, everybody’s on the same page. Everybody’s moving along. So, I feel real good about that.”
Trent did talk a little bit about the player engagement about how it’s been beefed up and whatnot. What kind of role, if any, did you have in that?
“Well, in that area, it’s organizational. So, we’re all in it. We’re all part of that. You know what I mean? It’s obviously something that’s very important in my mind. I know it’s very important in Trent’s mind and obviously in the ownership’s. I mean so, it is an organizational thing and I am, what was the word, it’s very comforting to see what we’re pushing, resources and manpower, into that area. I hope we don’t have to test it much, but I like we’re it’s going.”
Here in Denver, we love to overanalyze how Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning looks. In two days of practicing with him, any impressions of him?
“That’s Peyton Manning. I mean, that’s all you’ve got to say. He’s Payton Manning, man. Just the way he walks around the field, I mean, you obviously can’t say enough about that. But, Peyton’s a great quarterback.”
Sorry to ask you a question about Jarryd Hayne again. You’ve been asked a lot about how he’s going at the moment. I wanted to ask you to reflect honestly about how, what your assessment of him was the first days you saw him to where he’s at now?
“Well, yeah, I mean, he’s a guy that didn’t play football. And again, when you see the space play, and you saw that right away, he’s done that all his life. So, those things were there. We knew they were there. We watched film of him playing rugby so you know those things are there. But then, just the, where the game changes, in terms of the plays, in terms of the huddle and getting a new play and changing, you know, flipping from one thing to the next, pass protections. So, you’ve got a lot more of assignment-orientated things. And then, starting to see him as we got into team periods in camp, to see him working in those tight spaces. And he’s improving daily, he is. ”
Do you want him to square up a little bit more when he hits the line of scrimmage? He seems to be kind of lowering one shoulder and kind of going sideways.
“Well, if you watch the way he’s, you can talk to your counterpart right next to you, that’s what you do in Rugby. You dip the shoulder and you roll through.”
Can that work though?
“At times, yes. There are plays where we need to put the foot in the ground and get vertical. And he’s getting that. You see it. But, that’s, he hasn’t done that all his life. So, it’s a work in progress. But, I don’t want to understate the fact that he’s doing a really nice job.”