SANTA CLARA — This is what Greg Roman said about the Patriots defense Thursday in the media tent.
ROMAN: Good afternoon. Got a great challenge this week, going to play the New England Patriots. As you look at them on defense, they’re as physical a defense as we’ve seen since we’ve been here, as fundamentally sound a defense as we’ve seen. And they present you just a multitude of things to prepare for, both from a personnel and schematic standpoint.
Their front seven is as stout as I’ve seen and it starts with the big guy [Patriots DT Vince] Wilfork, who’s a tremendous athlete for his size. I think everybody got to see him on display last week against the Texans. And then the line backing crew, they’re just big, physical, athletic guys that complement their down linemen. [Patriots LB Rob] Ninkovich is a very unique player, in that he plays a multitude of roles at a very high level, always seems to understand what’s going on and is a very good football player. Secondary is very physical as well, physical in coverage, they give you a multitude of looks and it’s a lot to prepare for. We’re excited about it. Any questions?
Q: Do they just, just like you said, give you a lot of looks? Is it more than other teams you’ve faced, most teams that you’ve faced this season?
ROMAN: I’d say yes in a different way. Their front seven, they play a 5-2, a 4-3, a 6-1, a 6-2, even seen them play an 8-2 in a four-minute type of situation. They can move around, they’ll move and switch where they’re leveraging a gap, where they’re leveraging a player throughout the presnap, so you’re not quite sure what they’re doing until right before the ball snaps. So, those seven pieces can move around and really fit in anywhere. And then from a coverage standpoint, really good disguise team, good players, good scheme. So, we’ve got a lot to get ready for.
Q: Last week you guys had some difficulty getting the play off in time, four timeouts used on offense. How does the onus fall on Kaepernick with that offense to make the Patriots kind of show their cards, show their hand before the snap of the ball?
ROMAN: That’s a hard thing to do with the Patriots. The onus falls on all of us as an offense to be more efficient. It’s a case-by-case situation. A couple of them were, I’d say, wise timeouts relative to what we wanted to do and what we actually did. The Patriots are a smart, heady, physical, productive defense that, it’s all about just getting things executed once the ball is snapped consistently and trying to get into a rhythm.
Q: One of the storylines will be Patriots head coach Bill Belichick scheming against the young quarterback, who knows what he’s going to throw out there. Is that overblown, is there an element of you don’t know what the Patriots could throw out there? It could be a real challenge for Kaepernick.
ROMAN: Yeah, I mean over the course of time as you go back and watch the Patriots, they’re going to, appears at least from an offensive perspective, that they’re going to do what they think it takes to win the game or win the situation. That might be something you haven’t seen, it might be off of something you’ve seen when they change the picture on you at the last second – that type of thing. It’s a challenge, everything’s a challenge. Kap, the whole group is having a good week of preparation and that’s what it’s going to take.
Q: When you see this game on the schedule in April, do you start to do some work ahead of time against the Patriots?
ROMAN: We try to work on all of our opponents in the offseason, not just our division opponents, but we try to work on the AFC East, for example we’re playing this year. So, we definitely have some time scheduled out to start our studies, yes.
Q: Are you saying that, they had a Thursday game last month and Brady took the time after that game to do some research on the 49ers. Have you guys done any extra research in the last month or so on Brady and the Patriots?
ROMAN: We’ve been working hard to get ready for our next opponent. Now, after the Seattle Thursday night game, which I can’t even remember when that was, we spent some time on an upcoming opponent. But, every week’s a challenge and these guys present a lot of them.
Q: How much responsibility does your offense have in helping defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and the defense keep Brady and that offense in check?
ROMAN: I think when you look at their team, we’ve seen their offense a lot as scouting upcoming opponents. They’ve played a lot of teams before we have, and we’re very impressed with their offense and the production they’ve been able to create. So, we’re well aware that we’ve got to play at our best this week against a very good team. You saw what they did to Houston on Monday night, and Houston’s a heck of a football team. As Coach Harbaugh would say, it’s going to take all three phases to play our best. So, I think it’s definitely, there’s an equation there and we all work together.
Q: Were you surprised to see the Patriots stifle Houston as well as they did so early in the game? Houston couldn’t do much of anything at all. How did they do it and were you surprised that they did it so well so quickly?
ROMAN: Every game, you never know what’s going to happen, you really don’t. When that game started, nobody really knew what was going to happen, and it unfolded the way it did. The Patriots played great, and they’re playing at a high level. So, they probably were a little more specific in what they did to Houston than Houston thought. And if you asked Houston, they probably said, ‘Hey, we left some opportunities out there.’ But nothing really surprises you. You just go out, you compete and whoever plays better for those three hours is the winner.