SANTA CLARA – This is the transcript of Greg Roman’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
“Good afternoon. Everybody is working hard, everybody is focused. We know how good Seattle’s defense is. I think they are statistically the third ranked defense in the league in yards given up. But the reality of it is, they’re good at every position, safeties do a great job of covering guys really, really tight. Not afraid to load the box up. An opponent we know and the previous games we’ve had with them really have no bearing other than we’ve got some familiarity with them. Any questions?”
I know they’re playing a lot of new faces in the secondary, how are those guys holding up?
“So far so good, the past couple of weeks they haven’t been giving up a whole lot of points. But they’ve been doing a nice job.”
Anyone in particular, the rookie [Seahawks CB Jeremy] Lane, does he pretty much fit that mold of what they look for in a corner?
“I don’t think that the guys that they bring in fit the mold that [Seahawks CB Richard] Sherman and [Seahawks CB Brandon] Browner fit, they’re just such long guys. But they’re good corners, they can play any style and they play a physical style.”
How do you think WR Michael Crabtree matches up with that sort of physical press style?
“I think Crab matches up well against everybody. Crab’s a player who’s ascending. He gets better and that’s what this league is all about, it’s improvement. He’s a young player in this player in this league and he’s a guy that’s showing up big time for us, regardless of the style of coverage.”
He had that catch in the end zone between two safeties, both of them closing in on him. I mean that’s sort of a gutsy catch to stretch out like that. Has his toughness surprised you at all this year? Were you expecting the type of breaking tackles, the things he’s been doing this year?
“Oh I think he’s elevated his game. You can call it toughness, Crab’s a football player, he’s a tough guy. The beauty of it is that he doesn’t go around banging his chest, he just gets it done and that’s what we’re looking for. That was a great throw and catch in traffic. He finished the play. That was a big time play.”
As a coordinator can you take us through that touchdown, the last touchdown to Crabtree? Head coach Jim Harbaugh had mentioned after the game that that’s not necessarily how that play is designed to go, so what drew [QB Colin] Kaepernick to making that pass?
“That play’s got a lot of options on it and it’s something that they were doing on defense. It gives you a chance to hit a guy running underneath. But they decided to all-out blitz and Kap’s got some different options if they do choose to play a zero. And he chose Crabtree and whistled it out there to him and then Crabtree made him miss and scored.”
When you’re watching that play, when you see they’re coming with seven guys, are you thinking get it to Crab?
“[Yes], but also with the knowledge that the tight end could pop open and could just flash on you vs. Cover Zero. You can pop it to him, but it’s probably one of those two guys on that play.”
Kaepernick and others have said that Crabtree is never afraid in a big spot to say, “Hey, come to me, I can get open.” Is he doing more of that this season now that his confidence has grown, his ascendancy as you say?
“I think he’s always been confident. He’s never been one, at least around me that I’ve seen, that is making wide-ranging boasts and claims. He just goes about his business and is taking care of his business. He doesn’t beg for the ball, but he’ll be quick to point out when he makes a big play that you can come to me in those situations and that’s good. He’s a team guy all the way, team guy all the way.”
How beneficial has [RB] LaMichael’s [James] emergence offset the loss of [RB] Kendall Hunter?
“I think it’s very important. It’s very important that anybody that’s active for the game is ready to contribute. I think we all think LaMichael can bring a different style to the game and he’s shown that in the limited amount of exposure he’s had. We just look forward to keep developing new ways to use him as part of the offense. He’s got a great demeanor about him. I thought all the weeks that he was inactive, I thought he handled himself very well, kept working hard, gave the defense a great look every day and didn’t make himself a distraction to the prime directive of winning. So, he’s done a great job. I’m excited to see him flourish.”
Can you coach yards after catch?
“Yeah, I think there’s no question you can, no question. There’s a skill to it, knowing where the defenders are before you catch the ball. Knowing the tendency of defenders, are they going to go low on me, if I turn my back is he coming up high? Is he just a one-shot, one-trick pony. I mean he’s going to hit you, and try to blow you up. Michael for example works cone drills before practice every day and I think we’ve seen that skill develop this year.”
Seems like study too though?
“Yeah, I mean we can take it to real high level, there’s no question. And that is definitely the highest level, know who you’re going against and what their tendencies are. That is the nth degree of study.”
Does Michael do that?
“We definitely try to bring up tendencies of guys. Some weeks there really isn’t a lot to go on, some weeks there are. But he works hard at it from a physical perspective. It all starts with the strength of just the will to make a play when you get an opportunity, I’m going to make something happen. I think it all starts there.”
What did you say, he works what drills before practice?
“He works cone drills with his feet. I think we’ve seen those come to life on some quick throws to him where he’s making guys miss and he’s playing tough and getting extra yards after the catch. But yeah, he works diligently at that every day.”
Is that something he started doing this year or had he done that in the past?
“Done it a little bit in the past, but this year it’s been real consistent.”
Did that come into play on that last touchdown where he kind of side stepped the defender?
“I don’t know, probably. I think he just made the guy miss and made a play. I think his mindset is, I’m going to make something happen and that’s a great mindset to have.”
We know this hasn’t been [K David] Akers’ best year. Has that affected your offensive play calling in the 20-40 yard range on the plus side of the field when you get down there?
“We’ve got total confidence in David. We’re always going to make decisions, team decisions on offense and whatever’s best for the team, however the big picture fits together that’s what we’re going to try to do to win the football game.”
Given the weather and the Patriots offense, there was some school of thought going into that game last week that you were going to play keep away and real conservative. Was kind of your mindset the Patriots might be thinking the same way, the way you opened the game with all those passes?
“I don’t want to explain how I think because then other people will know me, think along with me. They’re a good team and you just try to do what’s best. I think they’re pretty stout up front.”