SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim Tomsula’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Good morning. The injury report here, [WR] Quinton Patton is going through the concussion protocol. Really good news yesterday. He looked great yesterday and everybody felt good in the training room. [LB NaVorro] Bowman will get theWednesday off today. [TE] Vernon [Davis] will be out there and going through that extended stretch that we do and try to get him into the team, get him warmed up and lathered up and try to get him into the periods. [G/T Alex] Boone and [T Joe] Staley, we’re going to give both those guys, we’re going to shut them down today so that we can have them back tomorrow for the padded practice. Both them, they are fine. We just need to make sure, Boone got that ankle rolled up and Joe got rolled up on the leg. So, just going to give it that extra day here today. They’re going to do all the walk-thrus and everything and then they’ll be out there tomorrow. And [LB] Ahmad Brooks will not be here today for family reasons and we’ll keep him in our prayers, his family. So, that’s where we’re at in the injury report. Questions?”
You said Boone was ankle? He’d been listed as shoulder.
“Yeah, the shoulder is, he got a little roll on the ankle, there’s no swelling or anything to it. I just want to make sure we’re good there.”
Staley is also an ankle or leg?
“It was his leg. Neither one of those do we have any, we could have had them out there in a limited way today and taken care of them, but I wanted to make sure we were ready to go with the shoulder pads tomorrow.”
Do you anticipate Ahmad being back this week? Do you know his status?
“Yeah, I’m not going to, he needs to attend with his family right now. I’m not even, I’ll be honest, I’m not asking questions at this point.”
Do you know with Staley and Boone getting the day off, do you know who stands to benefit in terms of first team reps?
“Yeah, well we’ll work all those guys. We will, we’re going to work our guys there. Obviously, [OL] Trenton [Brown] will get some work at the tackle and the guys will go in. [OL Ian] Silberman will get some of it. All of our guys will get to work in there.”
You talked about going through the evaluation process on Monday. Are there any changes that we can expect to see with that starting unit on the offensive line for Sunday’s game?
“No, and I wouldn’t address that now anyway to be quite honest with you.”
But, you said no?
“Today, no. I mean, obviously, Boone and Staley are down, so there’ll be a lot of guys getting a lot of work today.”
You made a trade yesterday to acquire LB Gerald Hodges. What does he bring to the table for you guys?
“Well, Gerald is a guy, obviously, we knew about him coming out of college and thought a lot of him from a personnel stand point. And then, obviously prepared for them the first game and saw him again and that became available in a trade and went in that direction. Happy to have him. I mean, he’s a big, physical linebacker.”
Can you say that the Minnesota Vikings reach out to the 49ers or vice versa?
“I won’t get into all that and I don’t know particularly who calls who first or anything like that. No, ma’am.”
Is he somebody competing to start right away? Where do you see him in that?
“Again, I haven’t met him yet. He’s still going through the processing. They’ve got to get the physical, they have to do all that kind of stuff, so he’s doing all that. I’m hoping to get with him at lunch and we will see.”
Do you see that as a need though at that position?
“No, I mean, a need for depth, yeah. He’s a good football player.”
How difficult is the transition for him coming from a 4-3 to learning your guys’ 3-4?
“I mean, there’s a transition in anything in the way people are running, the way they are playing what they are playing. Whether it’s their zones or where their vision is and those kind of things. So, there’s always a transition, 4-3, 3-4, I mean they play an under-defense, we play an under-defense. Personally, I’ve never thought those are, the odd look is a different look, yes. But, we just have to see how that, some guys are real fast at it and other guys aren’t. So, we feel like, I don’t think it’s enormous.”
Did you talk to NaVorro before making the deal to get his impressions?
“No, we knew. No, we didn’t.”
Do you see him more in NaVorro’s position or in LB Michael Wilhoite’s position? Either the Mike or the Will?
“Right now he’s just a linebacker. I mean, again, we would like to get, we will get looking at him and get him in practice and moving around here a little bit and see.”
The T.V. cameras on Sunday caught you laying into Wilhoite pretty good on the sideline, does that–?
“That’s nothing, no. Laying into him or were we talking pretty intensely?”
It looked like you were doing most of the talking.
“OK, was it a fit off the, I know there were a couple times there that we were working through some fits on where the tackles played and where the linebackers were playing off and I got involved in a couple of those conversations there in those runs.”
“No, absolutely not.”
After the game, explaining some of his errant passes, QB Colin Kaepernick talked about them being protective passes, I believe, meaning that he was making sure to avoid interception, I assume. Was that a coaching theme? As far as you know, was that something emphasized to him after the Arizona game?
“No. We emphasized ball security to our offense as we do. But, no, that wasn’t something. I don’t believe you can play to the way you’re saying. Throw the ball. Again, just as we’re going through it this week, that’s what we’re attacking head on. Obviously, there’s no secrets to where the problems are. In our passing game, the timing of our passing game and where we’re going. So, that is the issue that has been the predominant issue that we’ve been talking through and sitting down. I said this the other day, there was extra time spent this week than you would normally do. Going back through that and just taking a look at the timing aspects of it and where we’re at. How we’re aligning, splits, spacing, all those kinds of things to get things corrected that way.”
When you hear your quarterback say that, do you worry that he’s second guessing every throw?
“Well, I directly, that was something we hit head on. Look, if you are, are you? No, if you are, stop. Can’t have it. Can’t play that way. And to me, again, it goes to the weight of the world on your shoulders. That happened a couple of times on those fits on defense. Somebody trying to go do something a little different. I got you, you want to make a play. And I got you that you want to do good. Do well in the way and don’t play not to make a mistake. Just play. Play to make the play. So, making sure that’s something that we’ve hit, again, head on to make sure that we don’t have anybody on this team in that situation.”
It seems with your passing game there are very few plays where Kaepernick gets the ball out quickly either designed or hot. Is that what you’re talking about with the timing? And why not use more hot to get the ball out against blitzes?
“Yeah, there’s some hot. There is. I’m not going to get into the schematic of things, but there’s, from schematic standpoint to players standpoint to all of those things, that’s what we’re attacking to fix.”
Back to the trade, it invites speculation. It seems like Hodges could really compete for a starting spot, obviously, LB Michael Wilhoite’s starting spot.
“No. Obviously is a terrible word to use right there. There is absolutely, I have zero, this became available and we picked up a guy that we think’s a good football player. That is nuts and bolts exactly what that is. The other comment that I was referring to there, just to clear the air here, that was normal game day for me. I think you’ve seen me coaching enough. We were, maybe I looked intense, I don’t know, but we were talking about getting that where we need it to be. Where the front was, I know I had some intense conversations with the front too in terms of how you play that block and then where that linebacker has to be. Those are conversations that happened. That was that. And that was getting through there, playing the way we played that, and everybody knows how we played that, but the way we played that and making sure that we had people in areas on the field against that guy. So, that was schematic. Now, that was one thing. The deal with Hodges is a completely different set. That has nothing, I see where that’s going. There’s nothing there. It’s a good football player that we were put in a position that we could bring on to the team.”
I was leading to, I guess the question is, how in your assessment has Wilhoite played this season?
“Michael’s done fine. I mean, we’re 1-3. I have a hard time standing here and telling you anybody has played great or coached great or anything. 1-3 is 1-3. We have to, the guy right here has got to do a better job. He’s got to stay on top of it, got to stay the course. We’ve got to keep attacking it, walking into rooms, being honest within the rooms. And the person speaking needs to be honest and the person receiving needs to be honest and everybody needs to be honest. We need to look at it and we need to have a man’s conversation and we all need to collectively get better.”
Regarding, not to major on this, I want to be accurate. It seemed like you and Wilhoite had that conversation after Wilhoite and DT Tank Carradine were late coming off the field and you had to call timeout because the Packers–?
“Oh, OK. No, no, no. OK, see, how you’re clarifying. I did get hot right there. [Green Bay Packers QB] Aaron Rodgers was looking at us and I don’t know if you’ve all watched him, but you all know what he does. He watches the sidelines and if they’re in their no-huddle deal, he watches the sidelines to see if somebody’s subbing. And boom, you know, the old [Denver Broncos QB] Peyton Manning. Peyton used to do it forever. He goes up and he gets you for the penalty. At that time right there, the guy was looking at us. I was down the sideline and I saw him looking at us and I saw that happen and I went flying to, “No, no, no, no, no.” OK, and then we had to call timeout. We we’re getting ready to get nailed. So, yeah, I had a discussion there. We can’t do that. That was definitely a discussion there. Tank and me and coaches and everybody.”
Going back to Colin, you mentioned how much you appreciate how hard he works and he’s said the best thing for him to do is to come back in and work. Have you had a conversation with him where maybe he might need to take just a day off, just a mental health day, something to clear his head, get away from all that work and maybe help him relax a little bit?
“We’ve had a lot of conversations, I won’t go into them, obviously, I’m not going to do any of that in the media. But, I’m a firm believer that the sword’s always sharp on both sides. That would mean your biggest strength can sometimes hurt you. So, we’ve talked about that. Not that that is the problem. But, just looking at everything. And not just with him. With everybody going through it. And we all know this. You get into these things here, alright, we’ve got three games here we haven’t won. Now, where does that, these are the times you’ve got to keep things on air. You’ve got to look at, you’ve got to think your way through. That’s why I just keep trying to stress that. We have to think our way through these things. Let’s not be emotional and feel better for 20 minutes. Let’s think our way through these things. So, that is the approach that I am taking and that is the approach that I am pushing through the team.”
You’ve been very clear that you’re in charge of the team on the field and you make the decisions. And I don’t want to get into the theoretical with the quarterback, but is this your decision whether or not to keep Colin as the starting quarterback?
You would not have to clear that with general manager Trent Baalke?
“I will not. I do not have to clear that with anyone. It is 100-percent my decision.”
Why not say there is a competition? Why not say, everybody, this position, there’s a competition for it?
“Because I think that starts a whole lot of things that I just don’t believe. I think that runs wild. There’s not a competition. Guys are playing. When guys are playing, again [San Jose Mercury News columnist] Tim [Kawakami], I understand that position’s different. It’s the most important position in all of sports. I got it. But, also with me and the philosophy of coaching, when guys come in, when I send guys on the field at other positions that I’ve coached, as a starter you have to go in, you go in and you play. Now, other positions sub through more than that position, but I want a confident man, just full bore ahead at that position. I believe it’s critical. And I believe in the quarterback. I believe in him. I believe in Colin Kaepernick.”
Is his confident, obviously, it looks pretty well shaken these last couple of weeks. What do you do as a coach to try to–?
“Well, I don’t see it shooken. He and I and the coaches and players, we’re not seeing that.”
In light of what happened in Monday night’s game between the Lions and the Seahawks, do you think coaches should be allowed to challenge any play, that there should be no such thing as an unchallengeable play in the NFL?
“I haven’t had enough time to digest that. Obviously, I’m aware of it. Obviously, that came up in the clips I need to see every week and I saw it. But, I don’t, I’m not going to make a comment on that because I haven’t thought that through.”