SANTA CLARA – Greg Roman spoke in the media tent Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers offense, courtesy of the 49ers.
We don’t get to watch WR A.J. Jenkins in practice but can you describe how he’s done this year and I guess the progress he’s made through the course of the season?
“Yeah, A.J. is making really good strides, week-to-week. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunity to play. But, he’s doing a very good job day in and day out of coming to work, getting the gameplan, digesting it. And hasn’t had a lot of opportunities on gameday at this point, but we have great confidence in that when he gets those opportunities he’ll make the most of them.”
Is that a concern that at a point in the season where you need him to deliver, he hasn’t had any regular season experience really?
“I think those are things that you have to weigh week-to-week. Every week you have to look at what you have and what gives you the best chance to win, but at the same time with an eye to the future. But, we have every confidence that A.J. will perform very well when he gets that opportunity.”
Head coach Jim Harbaugh called QB Colin Kaepernick’s preparation this week savant-like. How would you describe his work for this game?
“Very good and very in tune with it. Again like I said, there’s a great focus and a great energy for the task at hand with the entire group, including Colin. He’s demonstrated that. He came in on Sunday and started getting the game plan, going through it, talking through it. Savant-like, that’s pretty good.”
Has QB Alex Smith been sharing with Colin some of the tips that he saw against Green Bay in the opener? And how has Alex been mentoring him through this preparation?
“I think Alex has been mentoring through the whole season, week-to-week, day-to-day really. He’s always going to give him feedback in the meetings. I think they have a great line of communication, a great respect there. He’s been great, really before the Chicago game all the way up. Alex is as professional as you can get and Alex himself is getting ready for this game. So, they are lock-step in their preparation.”
When Colin starts to see the game plan, does he nix stuff? Does he make suggestions or does that happen on the practice field? How does that flow during the course of the week?
“Most of that stuff happens indoors. We’re going to talk through it. I think there are some things that as a coach you say, hey, you feel good about this but there’s thing here, all right let’s talk through this. Be comfortable with it. Does it make sense to you? Can you see what we’re trying to achieve here? Just Communicating.”
Do you think through the course of seven regular season starts, have you seen good honest communication?
“There’s no question, yeah. All business, very good.”
TE Vernon Davis yesterday called it a stressful season for him. He still wants to do more. How is he sort of handling all of that and maybe not being targeted as much, but finding other ways to help this team?
“Vernon is on the field as much, other than the offensive lineman and quarterbacks, as much or more than every other player. So, he’s got something to do every play. He’s done a good job with that. Day-to-day his attitude has been great and he’s a mentally strong guy that doesn’t whither. Not getting a lot of balls, but stays focused. It’s coming, at some point. He’s done a great job. He’s a great professional and he’s a great team guy. But, from a playtime standpoint, Vernon’s on the field an awful lot. And while many people point to one statistic, well how many catches does this guy have? The reality of it is, every play, he is critical to the success of the 49ers. Whether it’s pass protection, run locking, adjustments, running a route, getting open, making a play. From our standpoint, he’s had a really good year.”
Vernon has said that you’ve thanked him after games, is that a regular thing that you do with all of your offensive guys?
“Oh yeah, anytime we win I thank everybody, because the winning is the ultimate goal.”
Are there any special concerns for young quarterback who’s starting in his first playoff game? Any special coaching you have to do about that?
“I don’t think so. I think one of the things you always want to ask somebody is, hey, this is what you want, right? You want to be on these stages, you want all those cameras, right? You want everybody watching, right? And the answer is obviously, heck yeah. So, we’re glad to be here again. For Colin, it’s another game and I think the way he handles it day-to-day has been very mature. I don’t think we’re going to see any big eyes. He’s very businesslike day-to-day. Not concerned.”
How do you combat the tempo of the offense, is it concerning to you? It’s one of the slower offenses in the league, getting to line of scrimmage, getting the play called. Has that been addressed? Does that concern you at all?
“It all depends. The play clock, we always want to be working for us not against us. There are times this year where it’s not been good enough. But most of the time it’s been pretty darn good and that’s the trend we want to continue. We’re not interested in getting to the line and snapping it as quickly as possible, unless that’s part of the plan. Whether we snap it with one second, or 15 seconds, or 20, it really doesn’t matter unless there’s a specific goal in mind. We need to be efficient and continue to work on that. But, that’s an area that we need to improve on and the past couple of weeks of practices have been great. Looking forward to another great one today.”
T Joe Staley said that in week one he had technique issues against Matthews. Is that what you saw?
“No question. It was so simple it just jumped off the screen. As a coach I wish I could have helped him with it during the game.”
He was coming off a Pro Bowl season, and he said he just wasn’t ready technique-wise. So people would say, you’re a Pro Bowl left tackle, what happened? Why wasn’t he ready in that game?
“Again, it was a technique issue. Whatever people say – people asked me last year before the season, hey with the lockout are you going to be able to win four games? And this year they said, statistics say that you’re probably going to be 7-9 this year. So what people say, not really concerned. However, technique, this is a game of technique and fundamentals. And when you’re playing a guy like Clay Matthews, you’ve got to be on it. You have to technically be at the top of your game. And Matthews is a great example of a guy, as a pass rusher that does a great job of identifying weaknesses while he’s rushing a tackle. I think Joe played another Pro Bowl season and that was a great learning experience going into this game for him.”
You’ve worked for a lot of different coaches in the NFL. How is Jim different from those?
“I don’t like comparing people because somebody ultimately gets diminished. But Jim is ultra-competitive, very much a thinker. He’s got a great mind, he’s ultra competitive, very fair, always looking to do what’s fair and right. What else could you ask for?”
For those of us on the outside, we tend to describe very simply as intense, he’s quirky. He seems to have these players’ back, maybe at the risk of making people on the outside mad. Are all those things fair? Would you debate any of those things?
“Define ‘quirky’ for me, I don’t know. No comment. But, he’s very intense, very concerned about his players. That’s his ultimate concern, is the player’s welfare and the team’s welfare. So, I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. I think the number one job of a coach is to have the interest of his players’ best interest in mind. I think he’s a shining example of that.”
Has he been as rah-rah this year as what we perceived him as a year ago?
“I don’t know what your perceptions of him were, but Jim is always going to be enthusiasm. He brings enthusiasm unknown to mankind to work every day. That can manifest itself differently. Not just vocally, but it can be how intensely he’s thinking about solving a problem or fixing something, or making something better. Enthusiasm is not always just boisterous, boisterous outward. Help me out here. But sometimes that enthusiasm can manifest itself into just very laser-beam focus on solving a problem and getting something fixed. So, I think all those things encompass Jim.”
With the kicking situation unresolved, do you obviously need to see any changes for you offensively, decisions that you make?
“We always talk before every game. It’s a great question. We talk before every game. Again, it’s not just the offense, the defense, special teams. It’s the team. And some people may not look at it that way. That’s fine, but it’s a big picture and special teams and defense, offense all work together and we’re definitely going to play off each other and feed off each other and consider all those things going into a game.”
Did a team reach out to you last week to interview you for a head coach opening?
“I’m not going to talk about any of that stuff. I’m focused on the Packers coming in.”
Can you, let me ask you this, how well do you know [Atlanta Falcons director of player personnel] David Caldwell and [Indianapolis Colts director of player personnel] Tom Telesco from your playing days?
“They’re two colleagues that I know and Dave’s in Atlanta so we might end up playing them, so not really talking to Dave right now.”
[RB] Frank Gore, has this extra week been that much more helpful for him and where’s he at versus where he was at last year?
“Frank, if you go back and look at Frank’s production during the playoffs last year, I thought he ran extremely well last year during the playoffs. I think this week, the bye week that the team earned was very much needed for a great benefit for us at this point for guys like Frank to get an extra week of getting is body ready for the playoffs. So, Frank’s moving around really well and look forward to a great playoff game from him this week.”
It’s easy for us to look at a game, especially the [NFC] Championship game and say, ‘Oh, Frank should have this many carries or this many touches.’ When you go into a game plan, do you have, in your mind, at the end of the day, we want to have gotten him the ball this many times?
“I think yes to a certain extent. But, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Ultimately I want him to have 40 carries because that means we probably won by a huge margin and then we can just keep handing it off to him at the end of the game. So, the ultimate goal is to win and however we do that, we have a plan going in and then you’ve got to be ready to adjust. But, Frank’s one of the best running backs in the National Football League and we’re lucky to have him and we need him at his best for this game, for sure.”