SANTA CLARA – St. Louis Rams inside linebacker James Laurinaitis spoke to Bay Area reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about the 49ers offense.
Q: You say your defense needs to force more turnovers. Is that more difficult this week, because the 49ers generally don’t turn the ball over?
LAURINAITIS: Yeah (chuckles), it’s extremely hard. You have team that’s very good with ball security. You look at over the last two season, their plus-minus is extremely impressive. They’re a blueprint for what you want to be as a football team – they take the ball away extremely well and they don’t give it away. Anytime you do that consistently, that’s going to be a recipe for success.
Q: What jumps out at you when you look at the 49ers offense? Is it the offensive line?
LAURINAITIS: Yeah, they have a lot invested in the O-line and they do a very good job. They have the guys to do what they want to do. They’re blueprint is, “Let’s run the football and get some explosive runs.” When you have tight ends like they’ve got, and now wide receivers, it just makes that play action even more of a nightmare when you’re trying to stop the run. That starts with the O-line, a terrific running back who I have a lot of respect for in Frank Gore, and then you have a quarterback to me that it playing great football. When you look at the Niners, they definitely have a guy who can carry them when needed. I think Alex Smith has proved that in the past. On offense, they’re a really balanced attack. When you have an O-line like that, gosh. They run some weird running plays now. You’ll see some running plays I don’t think I’ve seen since Tecmo Super Bowl, that video game. They throw the house at you.
Q: What are you referring to?
LAURINAITIS: They’ll do the two backs flat with the double sweep, the wide sweep. Now they’ll do two-back trap schemes and stuff like that you don’t see a lot of teams doing any more. Teams will get in the one-back trap and do that, but the Niners will do little triple-trap kind of stuff. It’s actually been quite successful for them. You don’t really see a formation anymore where you have two backs lined up at the same depth, side by side. It’s good stuff and they have the personnel to do it because they’re offensive line can pull and get out there, and when they want to they can just come up and maul you.
Q: Did you see any of that stuff when you were at Ohio St.?
LAURINAITIS: No, no. I haven’t seen that stuff in a while. When you play teams like this, you have to trust your keys and really get a sense for what they’re going to try to do. You have to rely on your instincts and the fundamentals of football, because what the Niners do well is they don’t give you a dead-set: “Ok, they’re in this formation. Expect this run play.” They do a lot of different stuff. I’m sure coming off the Bye week, they’re going to have a lot of stuff that they can throw at you still. They do a lot of unbalance and tackle-over and they’ll put extra big boys in there and do a whole bunch of stuff. They’ll throw play-action to an offensive tackle. You just have to be very focused every time you’re on the field.
Q: Have you ever come face-to-face with Mike Iupati on a power run?
LAURINAITIS: I have. He’s a big human being. That’s all I can say. He’s a big guy.
Q: Why don’t other NFL offenses run the trap plays?
LAURINAITIS: I think it’s personnel and scheme and all of that. They have the personnel to do it. I don’t think everyone has that league wide. I don’t think everyone has a totally put-together offensive line or coaches’ philosophy that’s the same way. When you look at a lot of teams in the NFL nowadays, I believe their goal is they want to get their explosive plays through the passing game. To me, watching San Francisco, whenever they’re winning game over the last two years, they have explosive runs over 20 yards in those football games. They’re going to pound it and pound it and pound it, and then they hope to get their big shot in the running game. That’s why you can do a bunch of different stuff, because you have the personnel and the scheme and the mindset that hey, it doesn’t matter how many times you think you’ve stuffed us to three, four, five yards, we’re going to keep coming back to that because eventually we’re going to knock off a 20-plus [run].