Jim Tomsula: “I want to be able to not be a meddler, but be an enabler.”

SANTA CLARA — Here’s a transcript of Jim Tomsula’s Tuesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.

Opening comments:

“Good morning. First of all with the injury report, [DT Kaleb] Ramsey, he’s got a little muscle strain, we’re going to have him rest today. [WR Bruce] Ellington, the same. [LB Philip] Wheeler, the same. [WR] Dres Anderson has got some soreness, so we’re going to give him a little blow. [WR] Torrey Smith we are giving a veteran day, that’s been on the deal. [WR] Chuck Jacobs, again, he’s a little sore so he’s going to, we are going to rest him. The monitored reps, we don’t need to go through that every day, it doesn’t change, same guys. Any questions?”


I was just thinking, on that injury note, you have a lot of cornerbacks that you are looking at this camp and they’ve all been pretty much out there I think every single practice, right? I know I’m killing it.

“Why are you doing this me?”


Can you just describe what that competition is like and how good it is to see those guys on the field every day?

“Yeah, I mean, and again, I don’t think I’m telling you anything new, you’re seeing it, they are competing. It’s a hard working group, it’s a talented group. I mean, they’re young, but it’s hard working and it’s talented. And, they are really receptive to the coaches and I mean, [secondary coach] Tim Lewis back there, if you haven’t stood to watch, I mean, one thing I enjoy doing from my perspective is going around and watching the individual drills and the group drills and listen to these guys coach and teach. But, if you’re interested in watching those corners just go over that way and just listen to that. It’s a really fun and enlightening period.”


Are you looking to see a couple of those guys really take their game up to another level in these exhibitions?

“Well, that’s everybody. We, to me that’s what you use the exhibitions for and see who takes it to that next level and see, that starts sorting things out. So, we are waiting for those things to, for those opportunities before we start getting into any. We had a big discussion, we don’t have depth charts, but you have to put something out onto a piece of paper for this preseason games and that brought up a conversation the other day, or yesterday. So, we will shift that around and those depth charts in no way, I should say now, mean anything in terms of something being solid and staying. You will see those be manipulated throughout the course of the preseason.”

What about reps? Have you thought about reps for the first game?



Well, usually, the first team offense, for example, gets a quick hook in the opening game. Given the fact that they are learning a new offense, will you leave QB Colin Kaepernick in a little longer, perhaps?

“Yeah, I mean, all those conversations in the first game start with a quarter. That’s nothing new, that’s nothing earth shattering. That’s where it starts. So, we have talked about that, but we’re also going to see where this week of practice goes to determine if that’s a little more or a little less.”


LB NaVorro Bowman though, he will play some on Saturday?

“Yeah, right now, yes. I always, [Associated Press reporter] Janie [McCauley], I want to reserve the right if he’s a little sore. But, as of today, yes.”


How special will that be? I know that there are steps along the way, but that’s his first action.

“I think in terms of Bo, I mean, getting out on the field in the spring and then the first padded practice. There’s all kinds of special things going on, but we are kind of taking the approach of Bo is back. We are just moving forward.”


How will this year, QB Blaine Gabbert just gave us some insight that offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, this year, is taking more input from quarterbacks as far as game plans and what they are seeing on the field, see things through their eyes. So, during this preseason, obviously there are things a team needs to work on, but how is that going to develop in developing a game plan that kind of will of work through this season too? Is there any changes this preseason that you will be working on?

“I mean, when you’re talking in those, when we’re talking about that dynamic, again, I don’t think it’s anything new. Quarterbacks are always heavily involved in any team I’ve ever been around, in the game plan, particularly the pass game. But, when you talk about the run game, talking about the looks and what looks you like and where you’re throwing and what you feel comfortable throwing and how it looked and felt to you in practice. So, I don’t know that all that’s new in terms of an idea, but there will be, there will always be some input through the quarterback position into the game planning on a daily basis, weekly basis. This is where we’re at. This is where we’re heading. How do you feel there, how do you feel there? And if somebody doesn’t, just has a problem with something, then we don’t need to start trying to put a round peg in a square hole. But again, a lot of those conversations you get into, now you explain why you’re doing it. And then, everybody is more comfortable just getting the whys. So, our coaching staff will put the game plan together, but will obviously just be asking for the input and constant talk on how you feel about things and where you are with different things so that we can get the whys in there too. There’s a lot, I’m not saying us, but I mean, there’s a lot of quarterbacks and if you play quarterback you like to throw. I mean, that’s natural. So, the run game, but we’re incorporating that because in this play action pass off the run game and there’s a way things, it’s just everybody being on the same page.’


What’s your input going to be on the defensive and offensive game plans?

“Well, everything will go across my desk. So, I think there’s a big difference between being an enabler and a meddler. I want to be able to not be a meddler, but be an enabler, but also have my understanding on where we’re going from a whole team perspective.”


Will K Phil Dawson and P Bradley Pinion both take some kickoffs given those situations?

“Haven’t even talked about that yet. Phil’s our kicker and Pinion’s our punter. But, haven’t talked about that. Obviously, you’ve seen Bradley kicking and he can do that, but Phil’s our kicker.”


You’re going to have four new starters along the offensive line it looks like. And a lot of those guys are going to be playing different positions than they did last year. I know G/T Erik Pears has played right tackle before, but those interior guys are switching. When you’re looking at that position, what went into the decision to say, ‘We’re comfortable with these guys switching spots,’ playing different roles than what they’re used to?

“You mean like [G/T Alex] Boone going to left guard?”


Well, we talked about Boone, but center and right guard?

“Center and right guard, we’re still, I mean, we’re in, we’re sorting that out as we go. So, you’re seeing the combinations. You’re seeing, I mean obviously you’re seeing the rook [OL Ian Silberman] in there. It was duly noted, a rough day a couple of days ago, but then we came back. We’re going to still put him in the fire and he handled that well. So, we’re just, there’s an evaluation going on there. You’ve got [G] Brandon [Thomas] playing the right guard and doing some things there. So, again, we can’t forget the fact that he’s a rookie. He’s going through those things.And in a lot of ways, I mean, he’s a rookie that sat out a year. A true rookie would have had shoulder pads on before, you know, in that time that Brandon didn’t. So, we’re just making sure that we’re staying on top of that and calling when you got to go. And you see [C] Marcus [Martin] playing some guard and Marcus can play center. He’s played center, we know where he’s at at center, he’s still getting center, but we’re working some guard too. And again, that doesn’t do anything, in my opinion, there’s only seven or eight of those guys up on game day, so you’ve to be able to do both. So, what’s the best combination if in fact something does happen? How do we get our best combination on the field? So, we’re kind of getting all that sorted out at the same time.”


Will Brandon Thomas and Ian Silberman get to work with the first team line in the game on Saturday? Will they get work in with the number ones?

“Yeah. They’ll be a, I don’t have that down on paper yet, but yes, as we’re talking, you’re going to see combinations right there.”


Regarding defensive assistant Aubrayo Franklin, how is he as a coach and when you had him as a player, did you see qualities in him that, you said, I don’t know if you’re thinking in those terms, but you know, you thought he could be a coach down the road?

“Yeah. I always did think that. And I mean, I think everybody knows how I feel about Aubrayo Franklin and one of the things, and he’s doing very well, but I think the other side of that is him being teamed up with [defensive line coach] Scott Brown. Scott Brown is a veteran defensive line coach. He’s a, the type of person he is and how good he is at coaching, I think our defensive line has gotten better with his addition and he does some things that I didn’t do that I believe will make us better and I’m really excited about that. And then Aubrayo being able to be in a situation to learn some of those things and obviously, he knows the leverages and the square stance and the way we play, things like that. But, what coach Brown brings there and just the idea of, there’s all these things. The personnel side of things, then you get into the game planning, you get into all the work that you’re doing after a player goes home. So, I really like where we are right there with Aubrayo, that being his first time coaching, he’s sitting there with a man who’s done it his whole life at a very high level and he’s a good man. So, I think that combination is really good.”


Former 49ers T Anthony Davis was a player that was here and retired and he made the comment yesterday and today that he’s planning on coming back next year or at some point. What do you think of when you hear that? Just of him as a player and someone that was here once.

“Well, first of all, I’m not even thinking about the playing side with Anthony. It’s well documented, we’ve talked about it, and he’s taking care of Anthony and I’m really excited about that. I’m excited about hearing that he would like to come back with football. I think that speaks volumes of where he’s at and how he’s feeling. But, I like to just stay, that’s a different time and a different place, but it does make you feel good. Obviously, things are going in the right direction for him.”

    1. I’m surprised Marcus Martin is getting manhandled. His naps vs Louis Nix in college shows strength and power.

      MM dedicated himself to dropping lbs this offseason, noting Tomsula said he wanted to be the only fat guy in the room, as well as the faster paced offense. I wonder if that affected his leverage.

      If MM is stinking at RG the 49ers might return him to Center… and hope Thomas can play RG.

      I’ll take Tomsula’s word that they are tinkering with the O-line to find the best configuration.

      1. Yea, I don’t understand it either. I expected him to seize the Center job and never relinquish it. I still don’t think they sign Mathis. Silberman is quite familiar with ZBS….

        1. I was surprised that Thomas didn’t show ell early, but glad to hear he’s coming on strong.
          MM is big enough and should be strong enough. Is he getting manhandled because of pad level? Lower body strength? Technique?

          1. When talking one on one battles, the first name out of his mouth when asked who’s impressed thus far, Armstead, followed by Dockett and then Bowman….

      2. Since Tomsula seems set on Boone at LG, and Looney doing poorly, I will speculate that the lineup will be-Staley, Boone, Martin, Thomas, Brown.

        1. If Brown was dominating against the second team D I’d be on board with the idea he could beat out Pears, but from everything I’ve read he’s had his own struggles in camp. At least Pears is struggling against the first team.

  1. “I want to be able to not be a meddler, but be an enabler.”
    That sounds like an interview answer.

    1. Coffee – I hope the term enabler is used in the sociological sense because in the field of psychology it’s a definite negative. Interesting because his personality could have the effect of either meaning on the team. Hope it’s the former.

  2. The Jets want desperately to win at something. They’ve read about the 49ers off season and took the opportunity to sucker punch their starting QB and break his jaw in 2 places. Now that is lockerroom issues. HAHAHHA

  3. I am liking Jim T more and more…I mean you have to love the unfiltered good intent…but serious do not Ever say you want to be an “Enabler”. o my goodness

    1. Maxprime- In my earlier post I mentioned that the term enabler had two opposing meanings. The one used by sociologists has a positive connotation. It’s the one used in Psychology that has a negative connotation. Actually it could swing either way depending how the team responds to his style.

  4. I heard Greg Cosell pontificating that Kaep will never be successful as an NFL QB until he learns to be a pocket passer, again. With JH, he took that statement as a challenge and seemed to bristle and declare that he would prove him wrong. JH tried to force Kaep to be a pocket passer even if it killed him. After 52 sacks, it almost did. Cosell may have psyched out an arrogant coach, but Tomsula is humble, and will not fall for that trap. Coach Tomsula will let Kaep use all his weapons. He will let him play to his strengths. He will allow Kaep to use his legs to avoid sacks. He will move the pocket so the defense cannot tee up and rush to a spot.
    Hopefully, Coach Tomsula will allow Kaep to be the field general, and ditch the whole notion that a play has to be called from above and relayed down to the field. He should let Kaep run the no huddle with quick snaps, and have 3 plays called ahead of time so they can rush to the line and snap the ball quick.
    If they play fast, they might catch the defense with 12 men on the field. If they do that, Kaep should throw a long bomb because it is a free play. It will prevent the defense from substituting, so it will be easier to set up mismatches.
    Last season, the Niners started out against the Cards with the hurry up, and scored 2 TDs, then did not do it again for the rest of the year. This year, I hope they have learned from their past mistakes, and will have fixed the problems and stopped the unforced errors.

  5. I think Coach Tomsula has used a slightly improper term. Instead of enabler, he should have said he is a facilitator.

  6. I’m somewhat surprized at those who criticize the use of ‘enabler’. It’s a legitimate use of the term in the context Caoch used it. Those who have a negative connotation for the phrase have put it there by association with a common useage they are familiar with.
    On another note, based on the proliferation of headlines I’m seeing from national outlets, today is Court Day for the NFL. I’ll need to be avoiding the TV today. It’s one thing to skim over or ignore stuff you don’t want to read, harder to ignore Trey droning on and on and on about stuff I don’t want to hear. Yes, we need a resolution; get to it and then let’s f-ing Play Ball!

        1. Correct Brotha, anyone who knows Tomsula doesn’t raise an eyebrow. He’s been a teacher his entire career, and this is the context I came away with….

        2. Its word association. Enabler in the context of Aldon is negative. Does not matter how it was intended.
          I just would have chosen a more concise and appropriate word. If Coach Tomsula had said-‘I do not want to meddle, I want to facilitate,’ it would have been a better choice of words.

          1. I would never allow the irresponsible behavior of another disqualify me from using a word that’s synonymous with my personality and teaching style….

            1. Agree completely with Tuna and you. It is almost annoying to see all this verbiage spilled over the use of a single word which, in its context, conveyed exactly the meaning Coach was intending. We see this exaggeration all too commonly in the world at large. Let’s try to take the big view here.

              1. Yep. Anyone with a modicum of analytic ability understands the usage in the given context, unless said person wants to read more into the use than the context of the use warrants.

              2. Yep, exactly. If coach says the situation on the OL is fluid, does anyone think he means it is a liquid substance? Common sense needs to prevail at some point.

            2. In the Art of War, one maxim is to choose your battles. Avoid the ones you do not want. If he had used- facilitate, we would not even be discussing this. This is a prime example of another self inflicted wound. I am sorry if you feel offended by people who associate enabler with irresponsible behavior, but the irresponsible one is Aldon.
              Another saying is- Choose your words carefully, because sometimes, you might have to eat them.

              1. Fair enough, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the word enabler in the context it is used. It is exactly the right word for what he meant. Just because the word has another connotation in a different context shouldn’t matter.

                One could easily argue if people just took the word in the context of what he was saying we also wouldn’t be having this discussion…

              2. I understand how it was being used and it was fairly innocuous, but it just gave people who dislike the Niners the opportunity to throw more shade. Jim Tomsula has a huge challenge ahead of him, and he will make small missteps. This is no biggie, but a more careful use of words cannot hurt.

              3. I think people looking for reasons to knock the 49ers will find them anywhere they feel like it. This is a prime example of that.

                I don’t mean this as an insult, so please don’t take it that way, but I think you are being too kind to people looking for ways to bash the 49ers by suggesting Tomsula should have used another word – effectively vindicating an obvious misinterpretation for the sake of demeaning the team and Tomsula. I in no way see this as a small misstep, or a self inflicted wound, as you have described it. He said exactly the right word for what he meant.

              4. I beg to differ. Enabler can mean enabling to help, but enabler also means that the person avoids making the hard choice, covers up, makes excuses, allows bad behavior, and it has negative connotations especially with drunk driving. You may want to wear blinders, but looking at the whole picture, the word- enabler, is not the correct or appropriate one, especially when another is more apt and applicable.
                I challenge you to at least acknowledge that the word-Facilitate, is correct and may be more descriptive to what he wanted to convey.

              5. Dont worry about insulting me. At least you are nor threatening me or spewing cuss words. I can take the heat. I also can apologize when wrong, and have done so many times, but in this instance, I stand by my arguments.

              6. This conversation actually touches on an interesting issue with word choice. While the notion of ‘correct’ is inapt with respect to word choice, the issue of appropriate, or better, effective word choice is interesting. In this sense, given the hyper-pedantic (and polemic) analysis proffered by certain posters above, the position that the negative connotations evoked by Tomsula’s use of ‘enabler’ may be deleterious to the efficacy of the intended message has validity. However, this does not entail the the word choice was inappropriate, merely that it was not as effective as it could have been. It is a matter of style.

              7. Facilitate: To make an action easy or easier.

                Enable: To give power, ability or authority to act.

                While being a facilitator would work in this context, I think being an enabler is exactly what he meant. And they mean different things.

  7. OT Just got done listening to Gary and Lee Steinberg. Of course, they were laughing through it and recalling classic Tom Cruise and Tim Macdonald lines, but they were also imparting vignettes in the history of sports in the Bay Area.
    I liked this one -Lee= I got every media celebrity in the bay area but you, Garry, how come? Garry= I didn’t want to give you tip money. LOL.

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