SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman spoke in the media tent Saturday afternoon. Here’s what he said.
“It’s just hitting afternoon, good afternoon. It’s exciting to be back, start training camp, a chance to build a great foundation and build the keel of our ship. The first week or two, we are totally focused on ourselves and getting out there practicing, teaching and putting ourselves through the paces. Trying to build a strong foundation that we can build upon. I hope everybody’s been well. Any questions?”
Is that an America’s Cup reference, keel of the ship?
“No, it’s simply an analogy. But [head] coach [Jim] Harbaugh talked about it the other day. The ship builders talk about, if you want that ship to sail the right way it all starts with the keel. And the same holds true for football teams. We got to pay our homage to the football gods, put ourselves through the paces. Guys that have been around have to treat the old as new. If you’re thinking young you’re always learning something. So, we challenge our guys to come out, and even with things that they’ve done multiple times, take a fresh look at it and see where we can get better at it.”
How much of this time is also, do you set aside to evaluating, analyzing what guys do best and how, when the real games start, putting them in the right situations?
“That’s a great question. That’s an ongoing process. Every day we’re getting a feel for what guys naturally do well, where guys are with certain tasks, where we need to bring them and what that could eventually grow into. That is part and parcel with what we do as coaches. And that’s really been going on since the beginning of the offseason program. But, today’s our first day in pads, so now is when it really starts.”
WR Anquan Boldin does not have great height, he does not have great speed, but obviously he’s a very accomplished NFL wide receiver. How has he been able to do the things he’s done in his career?
“Well, that’s another great question. From the first day Anquan got in the NFL he just lit it up. I just think it’s a combination of things. I don’t think you can titrate it down to one thing. The guy is a straight football player. And he’s got great natural instincts. He’s strong, competitive, very strong-willed, very competitive to doing his job. You can sense in him that it means a tremendous amount to him. Anytime he gets an opportunity to do his job and help his team, that really goes a long way towards his success and the type of makeup and character he has. Physically, he’s extremely gifted, maybe even unique as you were alluding to, just how strong he can play. But, as athletic as he is, he’s really got a unique skill set and it allows him to do things a lot of wide receivers can’t do.”
Obviously, he’s no secret around the league, but after you’d acquired him or before or whatever, I assume you studied him a bit more closely. Was there stuff that you saw that you didn’t know before?
“I really didn’t know him as a guy. So, just seeing what a high, high character guy he is allows you to connect all the dots and say, OK here’s why this guy has been so good for so long. As you watch the film or you watch him on TV you can see the skills, the physical skills. But, just been thrilled and his character leaps off the page at you.”
With RB Frank Gore going into, I think this is his ninth camp, what way does he need to get better? But, do you also get the sense that Frank really still wants to be the main work horse of that run game?
“Yeah, I think Frank’s number one goal is winning. I really believe that, and I would say that as it’s a fact. I think anyway that Frank can help the team win, he’s excited about. And Frank is going to be a huge part of our success. In that, really he’s such a well-rounded back, everything he does. Very few backs can do what he does on three downs. He looks like he’s in great shape. Moving around really well and excited, really excited to get back at it.”
When it comes to QB Colin Kaepernick running with the football, who coaches him on how to run? Because I would assume running backs coach Tom Rathman stays with the running backs. Is that something that falls on you, quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, head coach Jim Harbaugh, or is it just Colin’s natural running ability that when he takes off?
“I think it’s you watch him run and you advise him, give him tips. Certainly, the whole team is coached on how to run, protect the football. We just had a great meeting on ball security headed by coach Rathman. But, I think we’re all after the same thing. So, we all help direct him when needed. But, he’s a very naturally gifted runner and I think he’s got good instincts on when to hold them and when to fold them. So, that’s a great thing.”
Four points of pressure applies to everyone?
“Everybody, oh yeah. Four points of pressure. Squeeze it. Just ask [running backs coach] Tom [Rathman], he’ll tell you.”
Where do you want to see the offensive line improve? And, T Joe Staley coming off two Pro Bowls, where can he take his game this year?
“Well, Joe’s playing at an extremely high level and the thing that’s just so exciting is that he is attacking every individual drill, every meeting like he would as a rookie. And he’s just itching to get better, itching to be successful. I think our offensive line, since we’ve been here, has grown, matured and hopefully ready to take the next step and play with that level of cohesion that we would expect out of them.”
Do you feel like the younger guys are pushing for more opportunities at center and those guard spots?
“No question. [G/C Daniel] Kilgore is coming along. We have [G] Adam Snyder that’s back in the fold, and these guys are constantly pushing the standard. When we got here really noticed a pretty incredible culture amongst our defensive line. It was very evident, and I really think our offensive line is growing into that type of culture. It’s really exciting to see.”
As much as QB B.J. Daniels is being spread around, special teams, all over the place on offense, how does he get a fair chance to compete for the number three quarterback job? How will you know what he’s capable of doing at quarterback with all the moving around that he’s doing?
“Well, with [QB] B.J. [Daniels], that’s something that we just have to have a feel for. He’s getting a tremendous amount of quarterback work, but also being given an opportunity to show what he can do and contribute in other areas. B.J.’s a very athletic young man. Really felt like he’s approached this camp with a great mindset. He’s really impressed all the coaches, the first couple days we’ve been here with what he’s carried over from the spring. So, I think that’s just one of those decisions you have to weigh every day and see where he’s at. It’s just one of those feel things.”
Did you spend a lot of time this offseason trying to come up with new plays or how much did you add to the playbook?
“That’s an ongoing process. I really think our offense is something that we try to install throughout the offseason. This will be our fourth installation of it. So, I think if we decided we wanted to add something or tweak something, it’s just a natural progression of us working through things. And from a scheme standpoint, we’re back to square one. It’s the beginning of training camp. We’re all about fundamental football and we’re back to building the proper fundamentals. And it’s just something, even after a bye week that you need to get back to. Let alone an extended break, because it doesn’t matter what play you run, if you’re not good at it it’s not going to work. It’s really critical to our success these first two weeks of training camp that we get better every day.”
Is the fourth install, is that the final install?
“It is, before the season starts. Yes.”
Does senior offensive consultant Eric Mangini know the offense?
“Yeah, I think he’s getting there. He’s a smart guy and he’s really picking things up quickly. And really it’s a function of learning the language of the offense. Eric’s seen a lot of football, he might have called this play something else for years, but now he’s calling it something different. And it’s not too hard for a guy, Eric’s a really smart guy.”
Has his first couple of months on the job, has it been getting him up to speed or has he had stuff to offer the offensive staff?
“I think initially it was getting him up to speed, but it doesn’t take Eric long to really observe and we certainly tell him, ‘Hey Eric, look at this, give me some feedback on that, what do you think?’ And it’s a really good interchange there amongst all our coaches. Just fitting into a great staff really well and we’re excited to have him. We had a little offensive staff meeting the other day and we all said to him, ‘We’re really happy you’re here and you’re really going to help us.’ And that’s what we aim to do as a staff.”