Roman on Kaepernick: “There is still an element of, ‘I’m seeing something for the first time.’”

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.

Q: Scheme-wise?

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.

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      1. Looks like #11 is back again. Sickening. He should see these and have the confidence in his arm to make these throws. This is where I’m upset about his commercial filled offseason. I believe he didn’t stay ahead of the curve this offseason like he thought nfl defenses wouldn’t adapt and make him do things differently. I think he’s stuck in “learning on the fly” mode right now. Hopefully he can catch it quick. There is NO reason he shouldn’t have hit him in the end zone. There is no trust issue with AB. I just hope the 49ers go all out like they did in this very same game last season after a rams tie and the number 1 defense coming in on Monday night. We all know what happened that Monday night. I still think they lose this game and don’t lose another game after until next season. Lets see.

      2. Jack, in that photo has Kaep already thrown the ball? Seems like the backers flowing toward VD would’ve been in between Kaep and AB, although a nice toss to the back of the endzone might have hit Manningham.

      3. Sean,

        I watched it full speed and broke it down multiple times, there was plenty of room to throw it to Boldin even before that frame.

      4. Yep, easy toss to the left side of the R in the end zone.

        Jack- Do you see Kap throwing to spots often in your breakdowns? It seems to me he still tries to jam most of his throws. Notice how Brees’ passes seem to float to the correct ‘spot’, he rarely throws bullets.
        Touch seems to still be a little problematic for Kap, gotta have that throw in your arsenal.

      5. Bray,

        Kaepernick doesn’t throw to spots often. He waits, which is why he is often late and has no choice but to try and jam it in.

        The play on which he was sacked by the safety is a perfect example of this. McDonald should have been the throw based on what the defense was doing but he gave up on it too quickly.

      6. Is that the play were VD fumbled? Two things bother me about that play, well now three hahaha. First, I still can’t see how or where VD got hurt. Second, I really thought VD had the opportunity to catch that ball and do more with it. IMO he plays soft for his size.

      7. I can’t recall a time when he’s put his shoulder down and tried to run someone over. He seems to prefer to try and juke someone. For a guy who is a great blocker he doesn’t initiate contact when he has the ball.

      8. Sean in Canada,

        It’s ironic that you mention that. I put that same quote on this blog 2 years ago and dared someone to show me video of Davis actually trying to run a defender over. I got a couple of bogus videos up here that certainly didn’t qualify as him initiating contact by running over a defender.

        The crazy thing is, I’m happy he doesn’t do it. Clearly, he doesn’t need to bang his head on anything. It’s a large head but he clearly has a concussion issue. I’m worried because we’re on turf this week.

      9. Jack,

        Wow, I just looked at that play on the all-22 and Boldin was seriously wide open! I almost threw up my lunch he was so wide open. Damn, I think Kap had some serious issues like these around the red zone. He clearly is focused on his primary receiver and nothing else. Guys, Boldin isn’t just open. He is WIDE THE F— OPEN!!!!!

      10. Jordan, when you think about the concussion issue then it’s probably safer but he doesn’t have the quick twitch moves to be juking guys. However he does it he’s still their best downfield threat.

    1. Good illustration of what’s been happening multiple times per game. Sure QB’s will miss throws every game, but these are obvious ones that a QB of his caliber needs to at least ‘recognize’. I hope Kap isn’t getting paralyzed by over analyzing. There has to be an element of ‘just let the guy do HIS thing’ when you have a dynamic playmaker. I haven’t seen very much of that.

    2. So, there’s no problem (Based on the coverage) with thinking you know where you want to go with the ball pre-snap (Which is what the pre-snap read is all about); however, I’m not sure that he’s thinking about the 2nd thing that should/might be there if that first one really isn’t open.

      1. More specifically, going more into the pre-snap read….his 2nd read based on the call play might actually be something different when he sees the defensive alignment. So, he needs to think about what his second read is pre-snap instead of going through them live…if that makes sense.

        Plus, I obviously can’t say that he’s not doing that but just throwing that out there.

    3. Some truly excellent work here Jack. On the first picture you posted did he throw it to the open man circled, or did he go elsewhere?

      That second shot is depressing in that he’s not even looking anywhere other than to Gore in the flat. He’s got two open receivers in the endzone and doesn’t even look.

      I agree with your opinion on Kap waiting until the receiver is open to throw the ball. That was a knock on Smith too. By the time Kap seems ready to let it go, the gap has closed.

      1. Rocket,

        As you saw that link was from Prisco’s piece. My IPad is broken so I can’t do the pictures like I did last year.

        To answer your question, no. On this play he ends up throwing it to Manningham at the sticks and it is dropped. This was the 2nd play of the 2nd quarter.

    1. Ninermd, thanks for posting this article. This was an excellent break down of the offensive struggles. So the issue is not just CK as we stated and the defenses are just playing us differently. I really hope we take a look at all our 3 Losses and make adjustments to be more successful. We really need Crab asap.

      1. We do need MC back ASAP. But if they are scoring an average of 6 points a game vs the elites. It’s a way bigger issue than just one receiver. MC will help a lot, but if he doesn’t get the ball when he comes back it won’t matter. CK has got to get his confidence back and grow some patience.

  1. Both The Joe .. and Steve had games where they
    stunk up the place ..

    Look where they both are today ..

    Now … I’m not saying Kaep is destined for the Hall ..
    but … he could be ..

    it’s just a matter of learning from games like this ..
    and getting better …

    and I think he will

    From what I’ve seen of him so far ..
    he seems to have his head screwed on
    pretty well …

    (His mother dresses him funny .. but
    he seems ok to me)

  2. Another thought, do we ever call a simple hot route at the line of scrimmage? Looks to me that most of the time we audible we’re completely changing the play to include formation.

  3. Roman on Kaepernick: “There is still an element of, ‘I’m seeing something for the first time.’”

    49er fans and media on Roman: “There is still an element of, ‘I’m seeing something for the first time.’”

    1. I wonder what’s the element Roman is seeing on Kap? For the 49ers sake, I hope it’s a good thing for Kap and the 49ers. Time is almost running out for Kap and the 49ers, it might be too late for the 49ers when they find out that element of surprise.

      A 49ers loss to the Saints this Sunday at N.O. put the 49ers three games back of the Seahawks in the West, and it’s going to make it a lot tougher for the 49ers to win the NFC West, there’s a big possibility too, that they might not even make the wild card in the playoffs.

      I see the Carolina Panthers in South taking one of the wild card, and the 2nd wild card will come from the Central either Chicago Bears or GB Packers. Right now, the 49ers are six seed in the NFC.

      West : Seattle Seahawks
      Central: Detroit, Bears or Packers
      South: N.O. Saints
      East: Cowboys, Eagles.

      Wild card…….
      South: Carolina Panthers #1
      Central: Bears or Lions #2
      West: S.F 49ers maybe.

  4. “Your offense is toward the bottom of the league in sack rate.”

    There is a disconnect here, because they have the 12th fewest pressures by percentage in the league.

    1. Dink and dunk isn’t as evil as some would suggest. Moving the chains is going to be vital vs the Saints to keep Brees off the field.

      1. No Jordan. This was the 3rd and 6 play a couple of series prior to that. I don’t think even a perfectly thrown ball would have been caught there.

        Take what they give you. “A bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush.”

      2. The pick at the end of the game was William’s fault according to Kevin Lynch. Lynch said Williams ran the wrong route and led his man right into where the ball was being thrown to another receiver. A day later Williams was on the street !

    2. I can’t imagine Kap enjoyed watching the film on this game. So many open receivers he didn’t even look at. Just adds further fuel to Dilfer’s thoughts that he looks for one read and then is kind of lost if it isn’t there. He’s also locking in on one guy to throw to before the snap. Definitely things he can improve on but it’s going to take some time.

  5. What I am about to say can’t be substantiated but last summer when Kaep worked his tail off to increase his speed and strength I would have rather had him work on reading defenses. I don’t know how much he spent doing it in the summer but what has his half a step faster speed done for the team this year? Here is to less naked photos and weight lifting and more film room study!

    1. Dude, I get what you’re saying but realistically he’s only working out for maybe 2 1/2 hrs max a day which leaves plenty of time for film study. There’s only so much working out ’til it becomes counterproductive for the body.

      On the other hand I’m not vouching for him and saying that he did use that other time wisely and did film study.

  6. VD is Fragile and can’t play against physcial teams. It take about 1-2 quarters before he leaves the field. His 300 lbs ench pressing is just a myth.

    1. The injury and concussion keeps filing up for Vernon Davis. If he continue getting a concussion, he’s career in the NFL will be short.

  7. Roman statement, we’ve been really, really good in the third and short situation. The truth is that the 49ers have a hard time converting 3rd down against good defensive team whether it’s short situation or ten plus situation.

    He said that Kap cope with the loss by breaking down everything step by step, and looks at it methodical studying it, much like as a coach. Wow! If he studies game like a coach, he shouldn’t have any problem recognizing his mistake and make adjustment during the game? My only question is if they say after the game, he goes back to study the film like Mike Singletary used to do. But the problem is, why is he still having the same negative result the following games? An intelligent Qb can make an adjustment during the game, he gets film from the sideline during the game, he gets to study it, and see what went wrong on the previous play.

    Roman doesn’t want to roll Kap out into an overload blitz where he’s good at, because they don’t want to risk injury to Kap. That’s not the only problem the 49ers offense has, when Kap is pressure by a good defensive team, his inability to make adjustment makes it tough for him.

  8. “There is still an element of, ‘I’m seeing something for the first time.’”
    Was this a quote FROM Roman on seeing an NFL passing game for the first time and HIM not understanding how to scheme to get WR’s open?
    I think so !

    1. Tim,
      Good news for the Seattle Seahawks, R. Okung, P Harvin and Giocamini are all back this Sunday against the Vikes. The Hawks can now protect Russell and the returned of Percy Harvin should give Wilson another weapon at wide out position. The bad news for the S.F 49ers and their fans, the Seahawks should be in full force comes December 08, against the 49ers at the stick.

  9. Jerry Rice said it is the WR’s fault that they don’t get open(aren’t good enough to make plays ). I think it is Roman’s fault that he doesn’t know how to scheme to get mediocre WR’s open,like a good OC should be able to do .
    Sure Kap is still learning but Roman never seems to learn.

    1. That’s because Roman is running the routes and does not have the speed to get seperation nor does he have the discipline to run the right route combo right Tim?
      Come on man. Boldin is a glorified tight end. He is slow and better down the middle. The Niners have a lack of talent at the position but at then end of the day Colin Kaepernick has to throw guys open too. This isn’t a Roman problem, its a personnel problem.

      1. Maybe, if they put kaep on therapy, it can help bring back he’s self esteem? He’s totally a different player from last season. It looks like he lost his confidence and trust in himself.

    2. Tim,

      Don’t worry Roman is still learning to be an offensive coordinator in the NFL. Kaep is the greatest QB ever. This two will be in the hall of fame someday.

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