SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers.
“Good afternoon. Big Division game this week. We kind of treat it as a one-game season so-to-speak against a very good defense. They’re one of the top teams in the NFL against the rush. When we turn on the film it’s pretty obvious why. They got a lot of new players on their defense, some of which we’re familiar with. But, they’ve done a great job handling, kind of like our defense, they’ve had to shuffle some people around, and they’ve got some great results out of that. So, I’ve got a lot of respect for what we’re seeing on film. Our guys are working extremely hard. Getting some great veteran leadership, guys like [WR] Anquan Boldin, [RB] Frank Gore, [T] Joe Staley, [C] Jon Goodwin provide some great veteran leadership, both on Sunday’s on game day and throughout the week. Any questions?”
How has Boldin kind of lived up to all of those preseason expectations of him coming in to fill WR Michael Crabtree’s role and has he done that to the best of his ability?
“Well, I don’t know, I don’t think Anquan Boldin came in to replace anybody. Anquan Boldin came in to be Anquan Boldin, to be specific. Much storied career. Does not bring a lot of attention to himself, never has. Probably has never gotten the credit he’s been due of what a complete football player he is. We see it every day in meetings, before practice, warming up, during practice, how he practices, how he works, how he communicates with his teammates and then how he plays on Sunday. At times, it’s just, it’s almost like he wills things to happen. The catch he had in the game the other night, early in the game, was just another example of that. It was a really good throw low and outside. And very appropriate for the coverage, the leverage on the coverage, and he went down and made a play that most guys just won’t make. So, Anquan has been everything we expected and then some.”
How have defenses adjusted to him through five weeks now?
“Well, he’s getting doubled some. I mean, he got doubled quite a bit last week, especially on third down. And, there’s a lot of different ways you can play doubles and he’s seen just about all of them this year. And it’s just becoming more prevalent and to be expected really.”
Having said that, are you really eager to see somebody step into that number two role, number two wide receiver role and take advantage?
“Always. Always. There’s no question. I mean, the ball is going to go where the coverage dictates for the most part. Especially when you have multiple receivers in a pattern and you’re trying to distribute the field a certain way. We don’t just say, ‘Hey throw it to this guy,’ because if he’s doubled, that’s not good for business as they say. So, the ball’s going to go to the open guy and other guys besides Anquan need to step up. I think [WR] Jon Baldwin was a great example. Coverage dictated the ball goes to him against the Rams, that’s where the ball goes. And he makes the play. So, guys are stepping up. [WR] Kyle Williams is another guy over time that’s stepped up. And, it’s just a constant evolution and as far as coverage goes, the best passing teams are always going to use that as their modicum. Their really starting point is if we’re going to throw the ball where the coverage tells us to go.”
Is Jon Baldwin where, since he joined the team late, where you’d expect him to be? Ahead of it? Behind?
“I think he’s right there. I think he’s right there every day coming in with a great attitude, working hard. Like his demeanor. I think he’s doing a really good job. But, I’d say right where we want him to be.”
Are there things you can do as a play caller to get the ball in Kyle Williams or Jon Baldwin’s hands or is it all dictated by the defense?
“No. I think, obviously if the team’s going to double Anquan for example, you try to give that other player the best route that he could possibly have against the leverage that you expect. So, if they’re playing, if they’re doubling over here, Jon’s over here in single coverage, well is he inside or outside? If he’s inside, obviously you’d love him to be able to have some kind of option to run out. If the guy’s playing outside, try to funnel him, you’re trying to get him a route that he can break in on. So, that’s where the coach comes into play. Once the ball’s snapped though, they can do whatever they want, they can mix it up. And, really, every third down we saw last week we got a pretty different look.”
Do you feel like your hands are tied at all because there hasn’t been a number two or a second wide receiver really have any kind of production through five games?
“Absolutely not, no. Guys are busting their tails, working hard and just the opposite. Love the attitude. Love how we’re approaching it. Love how the guys work. And, we just got to continue to improve. Last week’s game was an interesting game. [CB Tramaine Brock] T-Brock houses the first pass of the game, we go down and score. Guys made some big third down conversions on that drive. The run game was a little sticky on that drive. It’s 14-0, and then pretty soon after we punch another one in and it’s 21-0 before you got to go refill your beer. So, it just took on a different life of it’s own. But, I felt the guys played extremely well and just didn’t call a whole lot of passes because our O-line was moving some earth.”
When you go up 21-0, do you as a play caller keep it in the front of your mind or the back of your mind let’s not taking any chances?
“It’s game-to-game, opponent-to-opponent. It changes week-to-week. It was a very limited possession game early on, a very limited possession game. Before you knew it we had three series or so and we’re looking at almost the end of the first half. So, that’s going to change things a little bit.”
Is that really that number two receiver to step up? I mean, how flexible then can you be with the tight ends and maybe use TE Vernon Davis in that situation since you have TE Garrett Celek and TE Vance McDonald? How have they been able to contribute maybe in those aspects?
“The receivers are working hard, doing well. The tight ends have a role, week-to-week it’ll change, what formations are we going to use this week, who are we going to emphasize, where are some good matchups at, that type of thing. But, we feel very good about our receivers and we just need to keep improving, creating cohesion really in our entire offense. Our goal is to win. Our second goal is to improve. And really that’s all we care about and that’s the track we’re on.”
Do you expect WR Mario Manningham to practice next week?
“That’s possible. It’s possible.”
QB Colin Kaepernick showed up on the injury report again yesterday with a foot issue that he had Week 3 also. Has that affected him or how has it affected him on the field, during games or what you can do offensively?
“I’m not going to really talk about the injury report. I’m going to respectfully leave that to coach [49ers head coach Jim] Harbaugh or [vice president of football operations] Jeff Ferguson.”
Did the injury to RB LaMichael James kind of hamper his playing time per say?
“I think any time a guy gets injured, the first thing you want to do is get that injury handled as appropriately as you can and make sure he’s full-speed, fully healthy and fully able to come back and contribute relative to our training staff and doctors. Any time a player gets injured though, it’s definitely going to get him off track a little bit, put him behind the 8-ball a little bit. But, LaMichael’s doing well, thought he played well the other night in the opportunities he was given and is a very valuable member of our offense.”
WR Michael Crabtree has had a lot of success against the Cardinals in the past. How active is he in meeting and giving tips to receivers on not just this game, but game-to-game?
“Very active. He’s been doing a good job. Coach Crabtree, been doing a wonderful job. Just got to get him a whistle and a clipboard and there we have it. But no, Michael has been very good in meetings, out on the field on game-day and he’s working really hard. Looking good.”
What do you like about QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson?
“What do I like about McLeod Bethel-Thompson? We had McLeod right out of college and we were very impressed with him then. He has taken a very sar—how do you say that word—circuitous route back to Santa Clara. Thanks, Matt. Very impressive when he was here as a young guy coming out. Liked his demeanor, his release, a lot of things about him. He went and played in a different league, ended up with the Vikings for a while and he’s somebody that we’ve really liked since day one. As fate has it, here he is. We have an opportunity to get him and we get him.”
You cut him for Packers QB Scott Tolzien a couple years ago, now you bring him back. Has he improved? Is there something he’s doing better now than he did two years ago? Why the renewed interest?
“I think the interest has always been there. I think we’ll have to see him out at practice. His preseason tape was pretty darn good and he definitely flashed to us during the preseason. But, we’re going to have to see him out at practice to truly answer that question.”
Finish this thought; to be able to win and be successful this week, you have to be able to do what?
“I can’t give away those secrets, but I’ll answer you. Well, the Cardinals are a very good defense and it starts up front against the rush. Their secondary is extremely active. [CB Patrick] Peterson is playing at a very high level, [CB Tyrann] Mathieu is impressive for a rookie, really their whole secondary. They revamped their secondary. Peterson is the only guy that’s still there. Paying at a high level. Front seven playing extremely well. They’ve got [DE Matt] Shaughnessy playing outside, a 285-pound guy. He’s probably one of the reasons their run defense is so good. Not taking away from any of the other guys, but we’ve got to continue to take steps forward really in our offense and believe we will.”
Following up on watching McLeod at practice, will he get any reps with, I’m assuming Colt still gets most of the scout team reps, if you’re able to get him out there, do you try to give him the play from a 49ers perspective and what the play in the 49ers playbook is that he’s running for the Cardinals?
“Oh yeah, that’s part of it. We’ll always try and reinforce that. You’re always trying to get guys caught up to speed, ‘Hey this is hound two Y ram,’ just to reinforce it. But yeah, he will get reps, he will get reps.”
Enough to make a judgment on which guy?
“I think so. I definitely think so.”
Does he remember most of the playbook from when he was here two years ago or is it not much carry over?
“Some. But he just got off the plane and we’ll wait and really see how much he can truly understand and know. But, very excited to have him.”