SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Getting ready to play a very talented Tampa team. It’s kind of an interesting season for them, certainly. It’s really been an interesting year for a lot of teams. But, they’re playing at a really high level lately. When you turn on the film, these guys are talented and well coached. They lead the lead in picks. They’ve got a great turnover differential as a team and have won four out of their last five, so I think that speaks for itself. Looking at their defense, they brought [Buccaneers CB Darrelle] Revis in and [Buccaneers S] Dashon [Goldson] who we know very well, two great players in their secondary. Front four is very active, attacking style. A lot of movement, stunts or they’ll just play you straight. [Buccaneers DT Gerald] McCoy, 93, is playing at a super high level and no matter what they got him doing, he’s very hard to handle. I’m sure you guys have noticed that throughout the course of the season. Linebackers are fast-flow attacking linebackers and [Buccaneers LB Lavonte] David is obviously, 54, having a great year. So, we’ve got our hands full in our preparation and we’ve got a big situational day today. Any questions?”
They lead the league in interceptions. Is there a common thread through that? Do they do it through deception? Great one-on-one play? Is there something that you can kind of pinpoint of why they lead the league?
“No, I would just say that they’re a high-pressure team, high-volume pressure. Probably more pressure than we’ve seen all year. There’s times when they won’t pressure, but they create a lot of unrest, get the quarterback off his spot, kind of get him under duress, that kind of thing. And their secondary’s playing very well.”
Do you have to tell your receivers to keep an eye out for Dashon?
“I don’t think we have to tell them that. They already know. We know Dashon’s a physical player, instinctive player, and he’s playing at a very high level. We’re all happy to see that, but at the same time, we don’t want him to have too good of a gameon Sunday.”
How does a big, physical safety like that affect the game? You had a great free safety you played on Sunday. He’s a little bit different than Dashon. How does a Dashon Goldson type safety affect the passing game?
“I just think Dashon’s got a presence back there, kind of like the sheriff in a sense where he’s going to try to reroute concepts, read splits, formations, and if he smells something, he’s going after it.”
How has TE Vance McDonald developed this season?
“Vance McDonald. Vance has done a very nice job. He’s had a lot on his plate and handled it very well. I thought he did a great job in the game the other day. Was very instrumental in the running game last week. And, he’s done a very good job, a very good job in all phases.”
People, I guess kind out of college, found his run-blocking to be his strength and said, ‘We’re not seeing much of his pass catching.’ Is part of that just him being a rookie and some of this will come?
“I don’t think so. I think part of it is we just haven’t thrown the ball a ton this year, for different reasons, some of which were just kind of strange circumstances. But, I think those opportunities will come and it’s just an area that he will be, I think, very productive as his career moves on.”
When you say he has a lot on his plate, is it too implicit to say he’s kind of taken former 49ers and current Titans TE Delanie Walker’s role in this offense?
“I wouldn’t say that specifically. However, a lot of things that Delanie did Vance does. Some new stuff, some stuff that we didn’t do with Delanie, but a little bit more specific to his skill set.”
We look at the stats and QB Colin Kaepernick’s not throwing a ton, but it’s pretty different than the stats he put up last year when he dropped in there. Do you think he’s playing just as well, better this year than he did last year despite the stats?
“I thought he played extremely well last year. And I think he’s playing extremely well this year. I can’t make a snap judgment on comparing the two. I think he’s playing real well in a lot of aspects and I think he’s a star on the rise.”
I know you don’t like going back over last week that much, but that interception he threw, was that the right read that he just underthrew or maybe should have put the ball somewhere else?
“Well no, it was the right place to go. We were going after a specific person at that point. It was the right read.”
Are you asking him to do different things this year?
“I don’t know how to answer that, Tim, in a way because you’re always asking him to play football, play quarterback. I think over the course of 16 games, there’s probably a few things that he’ll do that are new or an evolution off of what you’ve done in the past, but not a whole lot, no.”
December’s always a time when guys are playing a little banged up. How much have you tried to cut back on the physical aspects of practice to try to keep these guys fresh?
“That’s a great question and I think [head] coach [Jim] Harbaugh does a great job of that. I thought he had the team last week, had a great schedule and had them fresh and raring to go, jumping out of their skin before the game, which he always does. But, I think it’s very important to have a good feel for that and I really believe coach Harbaugh does a fantastic job of that.”
I’ve seen a stat where as far as screens to halfbacks, only Arizona has run fewer than you guys. Is there a reason for that that you can put your finger on?
“As far as our screen game?”
“Well, I don’t know. We’ve run a couple that unfortunately got snuffed out. I don’t know if they made the list. But, screens are something we carry, we work on and hopefully run at the appropriate time.”
TE Garrett Celek was inactive last week. Is that still due to his injury or is TE Derek Carrier now your number 3 tight end?
“Well, no. He’s coming off his injury and no sense rushing him back. We like what we see in Derek Carrier as well. Felt confident with him going in the game and then it’s just really kind of a competitive situation. But, no sense in rushing Garrett back out there too soon.”
Progress report on WR Michael Crabtree, how’s he doing?
“He’s doing good. I think he’s coming along week-to-week. He’s doing things closer to 100% and he’s doing well.”
He was on the injury report yesterday with an ankle issue. Is that not related to the achilles?
“No, it is not.”
Buccaneers LB Lavonte David, when you guys game plan, how wary do you have to be of where he is at all times?
“You definitely have to be aware of where he is. He’s done a great job in the middle of the field falling back underneath routes, understanding where he has to alter body position to on deeper routes. He’s very fast. He can cover a lot of ground quickly. He’s got great instincts and a great feel for the game.”
DT Gerald McCoy from Tampa came out and said that our gameplan is to stop Frank Gore, which is not unusual. Have you put any stock in stuff like that, when a player says, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do,’ and does that affect what you’re going to do on game day?
“I never believe anything I read in the media [laughter]. I mean you don’t know. Obviously, you want to stop [RB] Frank Gore. But at the same time, I don’t think you put too much stock in it because I really believe that we’ve got a balanced offense and I think everybody’s going to try to not get hit. At this point in the season, with who we’ve got playing, I think they have to respect the entire field. So, I’m sure the defensive front is very interested in stopping Frank and I’m sure the secondary is very interested in doing their job as well.”