Jim Tomsula: “I think we all think Johnny Manziel is a good football player.”


This is the transcript of Jim Tomsula’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.


Opening comments:

“[LB NaVorro] Bowman, usual day. [LB Michael] Wilhoite will be out today. [T Joe] Staley will start off real limited. We’re going to see how he feels, but if there’s anything there we’re just going to let him rest. Feel good about where he’s at and all that.”


What’s his condition?

“It’s that same knee that he’s been on every week. And then, [LB Aaron] Lynch and [TE Vance] McDonald will be on the protocol for the concussions. [RB Carlos] Hyde, still rehabbing. I don’t have any updates there. We’ve got a handful of guys you’re going to see out there. They’ll be going in practice, but we’ll limit, just normal stuff for this time of the year.”


Are you guys weighing how to fill TE Garrett Celek’s? I know you brought somebody up, but is two tight ends enough?

“Again, we’re day-to-day. We’re continually looking at it. With where McDonald is right now, we’re going to see where that is before we do anything. We’re monitoring that.”


Were you happy with the way G/C Daniel Kilgore and FB Bruce Miller came in and played some of those roles?

“Yeah, well obviously we’re all familiar with Bruce and Bruce can do all those things and does do all those things and can step up. I think that goes a little bit more into what you were asking. And then with Daniel, we had actually gone into the game planning on getting Daniel more reps at center. We were going to work him through at center. But, then when we had Vance go down we just wanted to make sure that Daniel, it was his first game back, I said just leave him over there and we’ll go. So, that’s the way that went. But yes, we were happy with the way the guys stepped up. Two guys that we know.”


How do you think LB Gerald Hodges played Sunday?

“Good. He played well. Gerald got in there, and again, we’ve got to keep cleaning up. Not just Gerald, but all of us there and stay on the same page, playing that box tight. But, good.”


Is his skillset, from my standpoint, it seems like his skillset is different than Wilhoite’s. Is that accurate?

“Yeah, that I would say is an accurate statement. Again, I don’t like to compare guys, but yeah they are different players.”


Does it change that particular role in the defense because they have different skillsets?

“No. I don’t think they are that different. We’re not putting in a square peg in a round hole. No, we aren’t doing that.”


How do you want your defense to approach facing Browns QB Johnny Manziel?

“Well, Johnny Manziel is a playmaker. Obviously, he can use his feet. He can make it backyard ball. So, we’ve got to be real smart in how we approach that from the pocket to the backend.”


He doesn’t have a lot of experience and you mentioned he’s a bit unconventional. How do you prepare for a guy like that and who plays him in–?

“It can give you some fits. You don’t want to chase ghosts. You want to be prepared, so then you end up in, I think we all feel better when we have concrete facts on this is who this is and this is what they do and this is how we prepare. So, you get into here, you’re kind of spot-checking tape and where he was playing and what was going on there and then where’s the offense the last week? That’s part of this week.”


His last game that he started seemed to be the best game that he’s played. What did he do well in that game that kind of made you guys sit up and take notice?

“Well, he played the position well. He played the position well and then added his creativity. That’s what he did. I think we all think Johnny Manziel is a good football player.”


Do you revert to Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson-like instructions and game plans, that this is a guy that can extend a play?

“I don’t necessarily say that. All mobile quarterbacks you have, extra mobile quarterbacks, most of the ones we see can move. But, all those guys, it starts upfront in the defensive line room and rush lanes and those kinds of things, but continues through the defense because when it starts getting, you guys are all out there, you hear us yelling plaster and all those things with our receivers when they’re flying around. Their receivers do a good job of when it does get to that, coming back to the ball, finding the space. That’s a whole other element. You’ve got the pattern that starts off and the concept and the passing game that they’re going to have and then about three seconds later that’s out the window and we’ve got, so that’s what makes it for any of those guys that you face.”


You mentioned Wilhoite was going to have an MRI, what was the result of that and is that a more serious ankle injury?

“Yeah, he’s got an ankle, what was that? It was an ankle, was it a high ankle? I’m not sure. He’s got an ankle, they are looking at it. We’re going to look at it again today and we’re going to see exactly where he’s at. He’s got an ankle.”


What is your take on the current state of the NFC and the fact that even teams with eight losses, so many in the entire conference, is still in the playoff hunt?

“Yeah, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. There’s a lot of good football getting played and it shows that, again, people use that word parody, but you see any given Sunday. That’s the way it is.”


Do you believe that success can translate from the end of one year into the next year? If a team plays well in December, that it has any effect on the next season? Or is so different that–?

“No, I absolutely do. I don’t think it’s like it used to be where you’re the same team, pretty much everybody, but maybe you lose one guy and the same team’s coming through the door the next year. That’s just not the realities we live in. But, I do think there’s merit to that, yes sir.”


Was LB Ahmad Brooks benched at some point after the second quarter or third quarter before Lynch got hurt? I saw him throw his helmet on the sideline and he didn’t get back in the game until Lynch left.

“No, he was going to go back in the game. He was going back in the game. We didn’t bench him there. We don’t want you throwing your helmet, that’s for sure.”


Is that what it was?

“I expressed to Ahmad I don’t want you throwing your helmet. He took his helmet and he went to the side and [senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach] Jason [Tarver] and he coached up and Ahmad was back in the game.”


Was the reason he wasn’t on the field because he threw his helmet or what happened before?

“No. No controversy here. We’re rolling. We’re rolling guys.”

Is NT Ian Williams playing at a Pro Bowl level?

“Loaded question. You know what I feel about Ian Williams. I think Ian Williams is playing really good football. If I’m the guy picking the Pro Bowl, yeah, I think that of Ian Williams. I think Ian is really playing well and I think he’s playing really hard and I really respect what he’s doing.”


What about P Bradley Pinion? It seems like his last few games have been among his best.

“Yes, sir.”


What changed with him? Did something–?

“Well, no. He just keeps working, keeps going. Again, you’re around Bradley. He’s doing a good job. He’s taking the coaching and he’s making the improvements that he’s being asked to make and he’s staying on it. We’ve got to continue on that road. But, I liken a punter coming in, he came in and started. You get into quarterbacks that come in, walk off the street, walk out of college, walk into the NFL, they’re starting, here we go. That ball’s in your hands. Anything you’re doing when that ball’s in your hands in magnified.”


How difficult of a decision was that to a) draft him, but also then to make the inevitable parting of ways with Cleveland Browns P Andy Lee after all he’s done and as good as he’s been?

“Obviously, those are hard. There’s a whole human aspect there that’s gut-wrenching. As much as you love Andy Lee and he’s a good player, really good player. But again, we’re in a business of football and we got a young guy that becomes available there that we think is really going to be a good, really good punter, a really good football player. So, those are the decisions you make. But, they’re absolutely, especially when you’re with these guys that long. You get to know them and they’re good dudes and they’re good people. Yeah it is, but that’s where we are.”


Is DB Jimmie Ward improving? What do you think of him?

“Yes, very much so. But Jimmie, again, you’ve watched Jimmie too, Jimmie keeps improving. Jimmie was playing last year and what the heck, you’ve got a young guy and this and that and the leg and the foot and Jimmie’s fought through that. Jimmie’s a guy, he is in [secondary] coach [Tim] Lewis’ office constantly. Constantly, OK. He’s in in the morning, he’s in at night. He wants to know this, he wants to know that. He’s texting. He’s just constant. That’s what’s exciting when you see Jimmie with the way he’s preparing and the way he’s working his techniques and his eyes are getting better. Those guys as a whole, playing together. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, I keep talking about that. Everybody wants to say Tartt’s our blitzer. Well, yeah, he can blitz, but he can also cover. He can play the safety position. And he’s getting better. And [CB Kenneth] Acker’s getting better. And you see [CB Tramaine Brock] T-Brock there and [CB] Dontae Johnson. We’ve got some guys that are younger guys that are getting better. So, we are excited about that. But again, saying that, we still have a long way to go and we have to continue to get better.”


This week, based on just your press conferences, it seems like you’re really energized and maybe a little bit more than some previous weeks. What did Sunday’s win do for you and how is this week different?

“I don’t know that I’m, in terms of how I feel, more energized. I think I’ve been energized. But, the biggest thing for me, last week was last week. It’s over. We’re on the next week. I do enjoy seeing the guys with the fruits of their labor and the way they work and the way they’ve, we told you from the beginning we’ve got some stuff we’ve got to go through. We’re not going to go around. We’ve going to go through it and we’ll be better for it. But, we’ve got a game in Cleveland that we need to prepare today to get going. That’s where all the focus is and that’s where we are. I believe that’s the way I am every week. I would hope I am.”


NaVorro Bowman was mic’d up last week and you saw on the pick-six, he was calling out screen pass before it happened and then Ward read it and made the pick and scored the touchdown. How many guys have you been around in your career that have that kind of ability to understand what’s happened at the line of scrimmage and make that call with confidence?

“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been around some pretty good players that know their stuff. That right there, and again, it was documented, it was on the mic right? But, that to me is when we talk about winning on Tuesday, that’s what we’re talking about. We have to win Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then go win on Sunday. But, those things are happening and Jimmie’s looking at the look. You’ve got guys playing together. But, to me, that’s the work that you do during the week and obviously it shows up there with NaVorro and him calling that out and Jimmie seeing it and Jimmie making the play and the guys working together. Those are the things that we’re talking about, with the coaches and the players working together and preparing for the game on Sunday. Preparing to win a game.”


On the broadcast, they mentioned that the linebackers and the defensive backs are watching film together at times. And the play that was just mentioned, is that an outgrowth of that do you think?

“Yeah, I think it is. I think it’s the whole way it’s set up. Obviously, we’d like to think that here as the Niners, that we’re getting better because of those things. But, it’s players in meeting together. They meet with a coordinator and they get things and then they break off in their individual and then they’re, whole-part-whole. Whole-part-whole learning and the guys being together and communicating.”


Why don’t you guys have key words or code words where instead of just yelling out screen and tipping off the offense to what you guys think is coming? Why isn’t there more deception with that ?

“Well, one day I’ll let you look at the vocabulary in a playbook. We’ll talk screen. We have signs and things for screens, but let’s just call it what it is and just play it. We’re going to call that a whatever, then I’ve got to remember what that was, the ball’s getting snapped. So, screen, draw. They’re going to run. Pass. We’re worried about us.”

  1. What is your take on the current state of the NFC and the fact that even teams with eight losses, so many in the entire conference, is still in the playoff hunt?

    “Yeah, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. There’s a lot of good football getting played and it shows that, again, people use that word parody, but you see any given Sunday. That’s the way it is.”

    Uuuuuhhmmm… Where do I start?

    1. How about this one;
      ‘ All mobile quarterbacks you have, extra mobile quarterbacks, most of the ones we see can move. “

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