SANTA CLARA – Here is the transcript of Greg Roman’s press conference from this afternoon, courtesy of the 49ers.
“We’re right into getting ready for our Thursday practice. Had a great walk-through, had a good, vibrant practice yesterday. Got a stiff challenge ahead of us with the Browns. Obviously, everybody knows they’re the 4th ranked defense in the league, doing a tremendous job there getting people off the field. They’re second in the league against pass. [Browns Defensive Coordinator] Dick Jauron does a phenomenal job, as he always has. Our guys are excited about this challenge.”
You said ‘good, vibrant practice,’ was that a concern coming off six days of rest?
“I think it’s always a concern. Everybody’s going to come back in a little bit differently. There wasn’t much variance from guy to guy. Everybody was dialed in pretty good. Really didn’t detect rust at all. So, energy was high, it was a very good practice and that’s behind us now, moving on to today’s practice. We’ve got to have a better one today.”
Do you anticipate Jonathan Goodwin being your starting center this week?
“I certainly hope so. Jonathan’s been very important for us. Jonathan is like E.F. Hutton, I think I’ve said it before, when he says something, everybody listens. He understands and knows what he’s doing, gets everybody organized quickly, efficiently, and he’s Cool Hand Luke in there at the center position. Understands the game and he’s been really good for us.”
What is the black jersey in practice signify?
“The black jersey for Jonathan was basically just a style that he wanted to go with. He thought he looked better in black. No, we wanted to limit some contact with him yesterday. I had to ask him what it was for, so no big deal.”
So it’s kind of just the hands off…
“It wasn’t fully hands off. You never want to put an offensive lineman in a red jersey. That’s just not O-Linemen like. You kind of meet in the middle, give him a black one.”
Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio was just in here, and brought up a very interesting topic about the West Coast Offense. He said no teams run a West Coast Offense the way Bill Walsh used to do it. Do you consider what you do a West Coast Offense?
“No question, the principles are the same. Now, I think what Vic would refer to, and we’ve spoken at length on this over the years, is just the formationally. Bill used flat backs, even backs in the backfield, whether they were split backs or what he would call brown or blue, and most teams as the 80s brought on more I-backs in college football, more backs in college ran the ball from the I. Bill never really waivered from flat backs. He always had what he looked for in a back, the Ricky Waters, Roger Craig’s, etc. It’s different, plays are read out differently by the running backs in these types of backfield sets, as opposed to from the I when the back is at seven yards deep. Also, what it allows you to do is involve more two back, pre-releases by the backs into the routes. So, what people do nowadays is instead of having two backs in the backfield with one of them running the corner route, now they just split a receiver out and have him run the corner route, but it’s the same principles. The purity of what Bill Walsh did was formationally, two-back offense, very little one-back, no shotgun. That would answer Vic’s observation.”
Cleveland theoretically runs a West Coast. Are you or Cleveland closer to what Bill was doing or are you both sort of morphed into different things?
“I really don’t know what they’re doing. I’m not really sure, but we have a lot of elements of what Bill did. Have we done it all yet? No. We’re still breaking into whatever percentile it is of what we do. We ran some flat backs against Detroit, that kind of thing. I really don’t know what Cleveland’s trying to do.”
Bill was very famous for scripting plays. He started with about 10, went up to 15, went up to 20 I think finally. Do you script and how many do you generally script before a game?
“We’ll script 30, but it’s really a collection. Sometimes we go right down the list, and sometimes we scrap the list. Sometimes we jump around the list based on what the defense is doing. Every week is different. Some defenses are so multiple, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get and they’re a week-to-week outfit. Some defenses say ‘this is what we are, this is what we do.’ Against those teams, it’s a little easier to stay on script because you’ve thought everything out ahead of time. There’s so much multiplicity in these league now on defense. Week to week you have to be ready to make adjustments. If what you had planned for does not show up, you’d better change quick. I think Bill Walsh would do the same thing.”
At this point in the season, do you add plays that you had in the run in training camp or do you work off of the stuff you already know?
“A lot of it is based off what we’ve done. Again, not to rehash the offseason, but it was a different offseason and therefore our timeline changed. I don’t think we’re as deep into it as we would be normally, so there’s more stuff that has yet to be unveiled.”
So when guys come in, do you think they’re not seeing concepts that have not been introduced up to the this point?
“Maybe. We’re going to do whatever it takes to win. If that means coming up with something new, then that’s what we’ll do. If our guys by the end of the week have a good feel for can we really do this, is it ready for primetime, and that’s our job to make that evaluation.”
Is it easier to script against an opponent that is coming off of Monday night because they don’t have a lot of time to change their approach before they play you?
“It might be, but we don’t look at it that way. We’ll treat it the same. It could be on their end, but we’ll let them worry about that. We’ll prepare for all contingencies.”
Let me ask you another way. Were you able to stick to your script against the Buccaneers and the Lions?
“We moved around a little bit.”
Speaking of contingencies, do you find yourself in a situation where you have one game plan if WR Braylon Edwards is playing and another if he’s not playing?
“I think certain things get pushed up and certain things get moved down. I don’t think it’s a separate game plan, but there are definitely specific plays that feature certain players, so you’ll shift it, but you’re not going to scrap one. That’s too much. That wouldn’t be fair, I don’t think, to the players.”
You obviously work with a lot of tight ends in your time. With TE Delanie Walker’s size and skill set, is there someone who’s kind of similar to him that you’ve worked with or is he unique?
“Delanie’s unique. I worked with a tight end when I was in Houston named Billy Miller, who was a converted wide receiver, who really had never played tight end, so his transition was steeper than where Delanie and I intersected. Delanie is pretty unique in that he’s got the raw speed and he’s developing into a very effective blocker, which makes him multidimensional and he can be on the field quite a bit. He’s a unique guy. He’s shouldered a lot of things very well that we’ve asked him to do.”
Both Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and QB Alex Smith talked about his intelligence, just the volume he has to take in and learn this business. Can you just touch on that?
“He’s got a great football sense. Great instinct for the game. [RB] Frank [Gore] is another guy that’s got a great football instinct. We try to pile a lot on Delanie and he does a great job applying it.”
Was there a point in the season where you realized you he could do that? Not everyone, I’m assuming, can do that.
“Yes, about the second day. I felt very encouraged through just some conversations we were having.”
When you were at Stanford, Jim was known for the tight ends and his unique way of using them as well and that’s kind of carried over here. Is that his input on the game and your input on the game sort of how Bill to the West Coast Offense with the two backs and the flat backs and the blocking tight end positions to be more versatile?
“I think it’s just a function of having good players and utilizing them. I’ll throw Justin Peelle in there, too. He’s getting in there some and doing a heck of a job for us. No, I’d say it’s nothing but just evaluating what you have and then trying to figure out what you can do with them. What can they do to help the team win? We love tight ends, there’s no secret there.”
How has Braylon been moving and are you encouraged by what you’ve seen on the field?
“Yeah, it’s day to day with Braylon. He’s moving around pretty well and we just had a walk-through, so you really can’t tell much there. We’ll just keep taking it day-to-day. But, he looks like he’s in pretty darn good condition physically. He’s been working really hard and that’s been Braylon Edwards since the first day he got here, he’s been the consummate professional. The guy that I want to be in the fox hole with.”
Can you talk about the Browns defense and what they are? They really haven’t played super strong opponents yet, no one with winning records except the Raiders. Can you tell me what you see from them on film defensively?
“I see a very, very disciplined defense. Not overly exotic, but extremely disciplined. They’re the time of defense that they want to make you, if you’re going to score, do it in 12 plays. They try to put the pressure back on you to execute. I’m sure they have other ways of saying that there. They’re going to play a sound, physical scheme and everybody is going to be in the right spot and they’re going to play hard. They’ve got very talented players. Outside, the corners are doing a phenomenal job in coverage. The safeties are very active and always in the right spot. Up front, those two inside guys are something to deal with. They are big, physical guys that just stuff the inside pretty well. The ends are very active players. The linebackers are a lot like Detroit in a sense, they’re going to be attacking downhill, attacking gaps. They’re a one-gap, downhill, attacking scheme. The proof is on the film. These guys have been very protective. Teams have had a hard time against them. We’re excited about the challenge though.”