SANTA CLARA – Greg Roman spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript.
ROMAN: I know how hard it is to play down there in the dome. They’ve been very successful down there. Their defense is playing at a very high level right now, ranked very high in a lot of different categories. They play complementary team football with their offense and an aggressive scheme. They’re very interesting in the sense that they can play you as basic as they want to, or they can get as exotic as they want to. Really just requires us to have a great week of preparation. There is a lot to look at, a lot to study, a lot to decipher. And then head on down to New Orleans, get on a plane and go win a game. Any questions?
Q: You’ve played them the last couple of years. Last year, they were one of the worst defenses ever. What has changed this year?
ROMAN: Very good question. If you go back two years and look at what they were doing and who they were doing it with, their personnel hasn’t changed a whole lot. I think they’re back more to playing a style of defense similar to what they played two years ago – that, plus some. They’ve been very opportunistic. They play hard. They play with a lot of confidence.
ROMAN: It’s a totally different scheme from last year. Totally different. A little bit more similar to what they were doing the year before with Gregg Williams.
Q: Are you looking to incorporate more three-wide-receiver packages and expand the overall multiplicity of the personnel going forward?
ROMAN: We’re always looking to do that. I think when we had two tight ends go down the other day, based on that game plan than was not ideal. But you’ve got to deal with it. The things we did in the game we had practiced. As we keep getting receivers back, we’ll probably be a little bit more of a two, three-wide-receiver unit. But the bottom line is, irregardless of circumstance you’ve got to find a way to execute and get it done. And these were things we planned for, but that particular game, it was a very high percentage of tight-end-oriented things. I hope that answers your question.
Q: You guys were the No.32 ranked pass offense last week, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal until you had 46 net yards passing in a loss to the Panthers. How much of the blame should be on you for that?
ROMAN: I think it starts with me. I think any time we don’t have success, it definitely starts with me. And we’ve got to get it fixed, and it’s something we’re working hard to do, our guys are working hard to do. I don’t think there is any question, any time we fall short I’m looking at myself first and foremost. Got to get things fixed.
Q: Is it an easy fix?
ROMAN: Nothing in the NFL is easy, but if we work hard at it, focus on it, it will continue to improve. And at the same time, we want to look at that game in and of itself and see why things worked. Was it a good call? If a call doesn’t work, how do you make it work? Or are you just better off having a different cal??
Q: After a game like that do you second guess yourself and say this is how we can do better next time?
ROMAN: Without question. Win, lose or draw, you’re going to look at every play in the game and you always decide, was that a good play for this game for us relative to the opponent? Some yes, some no, some maybe. Some of them no, but they worked out and you say, “Boy, we got lucky on that one,” or, “This guy bailed us out on that one. Man, he just made a play.” Some of them: “That one should have worked. Look at this, it should have worked. We’ve got to execute it better.” That’s why it always comes down to formulating an appropriate plan and working extremely hard on it, trying to leave no stone unturned and going out and executing it on Sunday.
Q: How is Michael Crabtree coming and when might we see him out on the field?
ROMAN: Mike’s coming along. He’s day to day. It remains to be seen if he’s going to play this week but he’s looking really good.
Q: Did he practice yesterday?
ROMAN: Pardon me?
Q: Did he practice yesterday?
ROMAN: I mean, he was out here.
Q: But he didn’t practice?
ROMAN: I mean, he was out at practice.
Q: But he didn’t practice?
ROMAN: Do we want to keep going with this? He was out here.
Q: We’re more than halfway through the season and Jon Baldwin has received only a handful of snaps. Is there a reason for that?
ROMAN: No, he’s doing a good job, Jon is. We’ll continue to incorporate him into what we do. But he’s doing a very good job and just needs to stay on course. Comes into work with a great attitude every day, works real hard, had a great practice yesterday.
Q: How challenging has it been considering so many wide receivers are gone – Marlon Moore, Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins?
ROMAN: I think every team probably has their own set of circumstances. You need to deal with them and make it work. Certainly, you lose continuity, but it’s our job to get continuity and to get it done.
Q: You guys weren’t very good on third down on Sunday, probably because you had a lot of third-and-longs. Is there any one thing you can point to – execution or play-calling – that led to all those third-and-longs?
ROMAN: Negative plays in that game. It was very uncharacteristic. It was a very unique set of circumstances throughout the game that led us to have some negative plays. We’ve got to be better in the third-and-short situation. We’ve been really, really good at it this year up until last week. We need to be better there. Any time you’re in third-and-ten-plus, it’s not where you want to be.
Q: How does Kaepernick cope with a loss when he’s with you studying tape or in meetings?
ROMAN: He breaks it down step by step. He looks at everything and is very methodical about studying it, much like a coach would.
Q: Given Crabtree’s injury and the timeframe, do you guys have to be very careful about bringing him along slowly so he doesn’t have a setback?
ROMAN: With Michael and with anybody that is injured, it really goes through our medical staff. Once they clear them, we’ll always be in real close contact with Fergie and the medical staff and the doctors on what he can do and when he can do it and that really goes for anybody.
Q: He hasn’t had any setbacks?
ROMAN: None that I know of. He’s progressing nicely.
Q: Vernon Davis said he’ll go through contact tomorrow. Is that an encouraging step or just a test?
ROMAN: It’s part of the protocol. We certainly look forward to having Vernon Davis back out there on the field. He’s one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
Q: Now that LaMichael James will be active the rest of the games, will it be easier for you to incorporate him into the game plan knowing he won’t be inactive?
ROMAN: LaMichael is a very important part of the offense. I think he brings a different dynamic to what we do. He gives us the opportunity to implement him in different ways. There are some real similarities between him and Frank Gore as well in terms of inside vision and whatnot. But every running back is unique and they all bring a different style. LaMichael brings a unique style. I’m glad he’s one of us.
Q: Kaepernick has played about one full season. Is that the stage where you start to see defenses recognize what he’s good at and what he’s not good at, and counter that? Is that where Kaepernick is in his development right now?
ROMAN: Colin is progressing very nicely. There is still an element of, “I’m seeing something for the first time.” Obviously, there was a lot of that last year, and very similar this year. I definitely think there is a punch-counterpunch thing, as there always is.
Q: You say that he’s progressing nicely and Jim Harbaugh said the same thing. Fans can’t see that and the stats don’t necessarily support that. What are you seeing that makes you say that?
ROMAN: I get to see him every day. I know what we’re trying to do and I know what he’s supposed to do and how he approaches his job. Looking at just the number or the result or the stat, that’s a little bit of in the category of, “Don’t have all the information.” We all know it’s results-oriented. It takes 11 guys on the field doing their job to get it right. It really starts with me when we fall short.
GC: Your offense is toward the bottom of the league in sack rate. Do you think you should be rolling Kaepernick out by design more often, or is that not the issue?
ROMAN: It’s something we talk about every week. It’s an interesting question in the sense that, yes, there are opportunities to do that. But do you want to roll him out into an overload blitz over here? Do you want to roll him out into an overload blitz over there? But it’s something that he’s good at, throwing on the move.