SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman spoke in the media tent Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said.
“Good afternoon or is it morning? It’s day six, another opportunity for us to get better. We just had a good little P.A.A.C.T. practice, practicing our alignment, assignment, communication and technique. Going to head into some meetings and then have a great practice today. Any questions?”
Yesterday, LB Patrick Willis was gushing about a throw that QB Colin Kaepernick threw to TE Vernon Davis in practice, that deep one when Vernon was running down the seam. Has that been something that you’ve seen improve with Colin, his deep ball accuracy? And is that something that you think you can add to this offense that may not have been there last year?
“Well, I think Colin’s getting better, really at everything he does just because of the approach he takes. And he’s definitely somebody with a live arm and I think he’s really focused on all his throws, short, intermediate and deep. Anytime if you run the ball and you have opportunities to throw it down the field you certainly want to take advantage of that. So, it’s something he’s working hard on and we’ve seen some really nice throws this camp.”
Do you think you’ll have more opportunities this year just given your personnel is a little bit different at wide out? Vernon, obviously, is in sync with Colin.
“Now it’s hard to predict what the defense is going to do. Hey, are they all going to play soft and passive, they going to try to take that away or are they going to challenge at the line. I’m sure we’ll see some of each and we just got to be ready when that opportunity strikes.”
Has anyone stepped up at the X?
“It’s a day-to-day competition. We’re six days into training camp. We got a long way to go. Today’s an important day, as istomorrow. We can move people around, do this and that, but everybody’s getting ample opportunity to step up, show what they can do. Guys are competing hard. There’s a lot on their plate, there will continue to be a lot on their plate and it’s a straight competition. And it’s exciting to watch.”
Has anyone stepped up?
“Again, it’s an ongoing competition. I think everybody’s stepping up on a daily basis to a certain extent. Everybody knows that there’s an opportunity and I don’t think anybody’s really pulled themselves out from the pack just yet. But, guys are working hard and it’s a healthy competition.”
Where do you have WR Chad Hall mostly? Is he capable of playing the X?
“Yeah, Chad’s moving around. Our X and Z are pretty interchangeable, really and truly. So, Chad’s a guy that knows multiple positions. He’ll play inside in the slot. He’ll play outside strong and weak. And I think one of the things Chad’s done is shown that he can handle all those different position responsibilities.”
What has C Jonathan Goodwin meant and mean to the stability of that offensive line playing center and having veteran experience to help Kap?
“Well, since the day we got here it harkens back to Jonathan’s first trip here. I remember [head coach] Jim [Harbaugh], myself we went out to eat with Jon and at the time putting in a new system. And here’s this veteran center who’s just a cagey vet, knows the game, can handle all the different kind of communication that’s so critical there. I remember when he got on board with us it was really an exciting day for us. And he has not disappointed one bit because he directs traffic as good as you can. So, it’s been a real key cog in our wheel.”
Vernon last year, when he wasn’t getting many catches, he said sometimes he’d go to coach Harbaugh and say, “Hey I think this will work or that’ll work.” I assume he’s had, has he had the same communication with you? As far as, does he bounce things off you or suggest things?
“Oh, we talk all the time, I mean every day. Vernon’s doing a great job. Another thing that’s a little interesting, at least when we got here, there was a lot of talk about all the different offensive systems that the quarterback had prior. Well, Vernon had a different offense every year too. So, now it’s his third year in this system and I think we’re seeing his command of it every day. It’s really been exciting this offseason to see and he’s really taking it up, really, to a new level. But, our communication flow is very smooth and direct.”
He obviously has looked pretty impressive in training camp. Is a large part of that just he feels totally comfortable and he knows this offense inside and out now?
“Well, I think part of it is just that the guy’s a great player, Vernon’s a great player. And then what you’re saying, I think is true. His chemistry with Kap, whatever you want to call it, I think his chemistry is definitely improving. And that’s what we believe in, the more we work at something the better we’ll get. I think his command and comfort level in the system is definitely a contributing factor there.”
When you look around the league you see a lot of production out of slot receivers. What’s your take on why they’re so successful nowadays and how important having a great slot receiver is for an offensive threat?
“I think you can pick and choose what you want to do. Ultimately, you got to put your players in the best situation you can for the team to be successful. And I think just in general terms, slot receiver is a pretty defined spot that you can let a guy with real good quickness work, change of direction, short area change of direction, option type routes, etc. that you see around the league these days. I think it’s pretty much pick your poison on offense, what you want to do.”
Is there a guy that’s standing out or a few guys? Which guys are you looking at as your slot receivers right now?
“We’re looking at everybody really. We’ll have routes inside for guys with quickness, we’ll have routes inside for guys with size and strength. I think all those things apply. We definitely do not discriminate when it comes to how we can possibly win a football game.”
What are the initial impressions of TE Vance McDonald as far as his blocking ability? That was a big question mark after the draft.
“I think one of the biggest things with guys coming in, O-line, tight ends from college is the reality of blocking and that there’s no lunch meat in the NFL to block. So, it’s all about technique. Love his approach, think Vance is doing a good job there, real happy with his progress there. Obviously, it’s something that needs to continue to advance. But, he’s doing a really nice job with what we’re giving him. And it’s just everything requires such precision in this league to block the [LB] Ahmad Brook’s, the [LB] Aldon Smith’s, the [DT] Justin Smith’s, you can’t be off. And in college you might be able to get away with some poor technique and what not, but not here. And he’s doing a good job, doing a good job, real pleased. ”
With WR Anquan Boldin having the ability to extend drives on first downs and has averaged a little over three per game and WR Michael Crabtree averaging a little under three per game. WR Kyle Williams, since you became offensive coordinator in 2011, had 24 first downs of his 34 receptions. Do you see him kind of filing in that role with the departure of Crabtree this year?
“Kyle Williams? Please, could you rephrase that question specifically?”
Yeah, sorry. So, with Anquan Boldin having the ability to extend drives on first downs, he’s averaged a little over three per game and Michael Crabtree averaging a little under three per game, do you see Kyle Williams filling in that role, so to speak? Because since you became offensive coordinator in 2011, 24 of his 34 receptions have resulted in moving the chains?
“Yeah, I think Kyle is a dynamic player that, a little bit like we were talking earlier, he’s got great short area change of direction. I think he can work a defender to get open and we can give him some different options on routes and what not. And Kyle’s going to be a big part of what we do. He’s an ascending football player, got a great attitude and he’s meant a lot to this team and will in the future, more importantly.”
He’s noticeably bigger now than when you guy’s drafted him. How’s that help him get off the line of scrimmage and have you noticed that in how he plays?
“Yeah, I think he’s definitely playing stronger for sure, and we would expect it. I think his whole game’s improved, his understanding of the game, all the little nuances that go into the position. And he’s a competitive guy that really I think’s coming into his own, really.”
What do you do with WR Quinton Patton in the blue uniform? He can’t catch passes with that finger, but what do you do to try to get it so when it heals he can step in as if he hasn’t missed any practice time?
“Well, he’s getting a lot of work in practice. So, aside from actually catching the football, he’s pretty much staying right in tune with everybody. And I really like Quinton’s approach. I really think from the day he got here, he showed that the game wasn’t too big for him. Really been impressed with how he’s staying on top of things. If he’s not practicing fully all the time, you wouldn’t know it because he knows exactly what’s going on, what he’s doing and what other guys are doing. So, as any rookie right now, he is working his way, clawing and scratching every day to learn and get better. And he’s doing a really good job of it. We’ve been impressed so far.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before, a receiver who’s just not catching passes but is doing everything. Have you guys done that in the past?
“Not to my recollection, no.”
What are his directions when he steps out on the field when he sees a pass whizzing his way?
“Just stay away from it. Catch it with your eyes.”
How many receptions does he have in training camp?
“Visually, a lot.”
What’re your impressions of WR Marlon Moore?
“Marlon Moore is really doing a good job. Marlon’s showing up, making plays, knows his job inside and out, and really doing a good job at a lot of different things – short, intermediate stuff, deep. He’s a pretty diverse guy with a diverse skill-set. He can do a lot of things well. He’s definitely a guy that’s jumped off the screen at us so far.”