SANTA CLARA – Here’s what offensive coordinator Greg Roman said at his Sunday afternoon press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
“We’re deep into camp now, in the swing of things. We get the pads on today, working through a lot of things. This is really the fourth time for guys that have been here through our whole offseason program that we’ve been able to install our offensive system. Guys are really working hard, locked in and we’re making good progress. It’s never as good as you want it, but we know that putting ourselves through the paces there this time of year is necessary. Can’t cheat the football gods. Any questions?”
As compared to this time last year, you have a lot of offensive weapons and firepower and new players that came in. How does it change your approach as offensive coordinator as far as assignment and having those new weapons as well as also your approach and what you can do now? Is there more things you can do now with the offense?
“Well, I think you’ve really got to, at least in our position, we were very excited last year as well. You know, there’s definitely always the competitive excitement. When you start thinking about how’s this all going to look together, how’s this going to piece together, what’s going to be best for our team. You’re trying to create depth at the same time. So, you know, adding those new guys on our team, it definitely adds a different dimension to things. We will evaluate it as we go. We talk about it every day and it is exciting. It’s very exciting and the guys that we brought in are doing a great job, as are the guys that have been here. So, it’s nothing but positive.”
With these new guys, are there things you’ll be able to do that you weren’t able to do before this time last year?
“I think each guy brings a unique skill set and we are always going to try to work to the strengths of a player. We’re always going to try to work to their strengths. So, I’m sure the offense will look a little different based on the additions and what they can bring to the table.”
How does putting the pads on change the dynamic of practice? Do you expect it to me more up-tempo now? Are guys going to be getting after it a little more? How does that change things?
“I definitely think so. It’s really football now. We’re not running around in our underwear. We’ve got the football pads on now, there’s contact. We’re always looking to protect one another on the field. There’s just going to be a demand on leverage and quickness. Now everybody reveals themselves on the field because of contact. This is when we really, really start to get to evaluate players and how they react to contact, how they react to bump coverage. Can they sit down on a bull rush? Now people are really raking at the football. Can he protect the football? The pass rush stunts become a lot more real now. So, all those different aspects, this is really when you get a great chance to see where you’re at.”
How much were you able to learn about the right guard competition without the pads?
“You know especially for the offensive line, you really need this padded work to get a true indication of where somebody’s at. We brought [G] Leonard Davis in. Leonard’s competing well. He’s picking up the system well. [G/T] Alex Boone, obviously, he’s been here. He’s doing a really good job. It’s a good segue, it’s a good lead-up into getting those pads on.”
How has it been having a lot of receivers on the team and a lot of depth, spreading around the reps and everything with the receivers?
“Yeah, it’s been great. You know, the more good players you have the better. All that does is increase the competition. Everybody can see it, and every one of the guys we brought in, we’re really excited about. They’re doing a good job, not only of adding a different dimension of what we have, but increasing the competition as well.”
When you look at your running backs, you’re receivers, a lot of depth. Obviously, not all of them can play or contribute. What’s the plan for sorting all that out? How many carries does this guy get? How much playing time will this guy get?
“It will all sort itself out as we look at it. It’s really important that you give everybody, that you’re coaching everybody to be successful. You’re coaching everybody to be the best. You’re coaching everybody, in essence, to beat out the next man and you roll the ball out and you let it unfold. It doesn’t need to be rocket science, and we’re not going to make it rocket science. We’re going to compete and continue to teach our system, what we expect and then see how guys react.”
When you guys acquire these players, is there a tentative plan in place, or is it just what you said, ‘Let’s see what happens’?
“Well, I definitely think that all possibilities are discussed ahead of time. The pluses, the minutes, the upside, the downside, the possibilities are all sorted through. Then you adapt as you go.”
You guys added WR Randy Moss, WR Mario Manningham and drafted WR A.J. Jenkins and RB LaMichael James. When you watch your team on tape, is it obvious that you have a faster team than you did at this point last year?
“I definitely think we acquired some players with speed. Overall, I think you can make that statement. We brought in some really good football players that happen to be fast. That’s just one piece of the puzzle, one piece of the component, speed. But it’s definitely something that’s great to have at receiver. So, I think we definitely brought in some fast guys.”
Do you see that as a challenge for you personally to take advantage of that speed to create plays that -you know- use that speed to its fullest potential?
“With each player, once they get out here on the practice field and work through things and you get a real good feel for what they can bring and what they do well, that’s what it comes down to. What does a guy do well? What are his strengths, let’s emphasize his strengths. So, if it happens to be speed then obviously that’s a component of that. But what we really want to do is look at, what does a guy do well? How can we help him in other areas to balance him out as a player and then when push comes to shove, we’re always going to emphasize his strengths.”
Have you figured that out for the spring drills or is that something you’re doing, it’s an ongoing process through training camp?
“Without question, it’s a work in progress, it always is. Now we’re putting the pads on, we’re as close as you get to real football now. You certainly get an indication of things, but this is where you get the really, really good look at each guy.”
Do you think in that sense, that’s almost what’s happened up to this point? Is it almost immaterial in a sense?
“Absolutely not, no. How a guy conducts himself in the meetings, how a guy learns, how he interacts with his teammates, how is he as a 49er. That’s all encompassing. There’s so much that goes into it, up unto this point. You’re really giving guys a chance to compete at the highest level they can at this point throughout the spring. You’re bringing them up to speed, you’re giving them a chance to understand why you’re doing things, how you’re doing them and why you’re doing things. It’s a process for sure.”
In terms of running the ball and divvying up those carries, Frank’s always been a guy that says he likes to have, get in a rhythm and the more carries the better he is. By bringing in Jacobs, James, you have these other guys, do you have to be more aware of how you work Frank so that he gets in that rhythm so that you’re not taking him out of there, maybe more than you did last year?
“I think rep wise, you’re always looking to maximize each players ability relative to the group. There’s times when [RB] Frank [Gore] may get a string of carries.There’s times where he may be pass protecting. There’s times where he’s running routes. So, all those things are talked about and discussed and worked through, whatever’s best for the team. Shoot, I’ve seen Frank come in after not carrying the ball for a while and pop a pretty good looking run. So, I think Frank might be selling himself short a little bit there.”
Frank’s been such a workhorse over the years, averaging 400 touches a year since he came here, is it almost inevitable now that he’s going to get less touches?
“I don’t think we can predict that, I think that it’s something that will unfold as we go Everyday these guys are out here is a blessing, healthy and being able to practice. It’s just something we’ll address as we go.”
Where do you see him in his career, Frank, he’s obviously on the pedestal now, all-time leading rusher, helped the team in a lot of ways. Where do you see him, his career projectile?
“I’m not here to write historical biographies on Frank, but Frank’s a great football player. Frank Gore is a team football player. Frank’s a great running back. He’s an all-around really good football player. We count on him in so many ways. –So, thrilled that Frank Gore is a 49er. He’s one heck of a football player, one heck of a teammate. When you have guys like Frank Gore, [QB] Alex Smith, all the guys that we have, it makes you as a coach want to do the best job that you can because you want to see them succeed.”
You put a lot on Delanie as far as doing so many different things can you add even more this year, is there more he can do?
“I think Delanie is again another guy that does so many different things for us, does them very well. He understands the offense better, [TE] Vernon [Davis] understands the offense better having been through it. So, we will continue to push the envelope with what we’re doing, how we’re using him. He’s a guy that gets it, he understands football. He’s got a good feel for the game. So, that tandem of tight ends, you can do a lot of different things with them. Delanie worked real hard last year to understand his role, and many roles really on the offense. He’s starting off at a much higher spot this year, So, he’s had a great offseason up to this point we’re going to go out and try to have a great day today.”
As far as NFL tight ends go, does he have a fairly unique job description as far as what you’re asking him to do?
“He does a lot of different thinks. Really the tight end position’s the bridge between the running game, the passing game, run blocking, blocking defensive ends, sass blocking defensive ends, getting open versus safeties and linebackers, catching the ball, working against DBs in the passing game, motions, understanding formations. They really have to know everything. In our offense, tight ends definitely wear a lot of hats.”
Just from a personal standpoint, you were definitely in the mix there at Penn State. Being here, seeing what’s happened there from afar. Just what are your thoughts, the fact that you’re here with the 49ers and not coaching at Penn State?
“Oh, thrilled to be a 49er. There is one job that I want and that’s the reason I’m here, because I want to be a 49er. I love working for [head coach] Jim [Harbaugh], love our staff and love our players. So, that’s it in a nutshell.”
Do you feel fortunate that you didn’t get the coaching job at Penn State?
“You know, what’s happened there, I don’t have enough information to make a comment, a good, educated comment on. So, I wish everybody in the football world the best. But what I’m really concerned about is the 49ers.”