SANTA CLARA – Greg Roman spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the 49ers.
“Good afternoon, we’ve got a tough opponent this week, Arizona. Their defense, we have a lot of respect for, we know pretty well. You saw what they did to Detroit a couple of weeks ago. They’ve got good players, some guys we really think are among the top in the league at their position. We’re hard at work. It’s pretty clear cut, we win the game, we win the division. That’s always the number one goal we set out for. It’s the quickest way to get in the playoffs, if you look at our team goals that’s always going to be the first one. Any questions?”
After falling behind so big early, how much does that change the game plan and what you guys are trying to accomplish?
“It’s always going to change it. We tried to stay into our base game plan there for a while. It’s really game by game. The game plan changes throughout the game, no matter what happens. If you do fall behind by a large margin, at some point you’ve got to change what you’re going to do.”
Where is [RB] Frank Gore in running out of the Pistol? Is that something that he’s sort of evolving to, adjusting to, figuring out the timing and the holes and things like that?
“I think Frank understands the running game without a whole lot of words, no matter what we do. Anytime Frank’s shoulders get downhill, we think he’s the best in the business. I don’t think that’s any secret. I don’t think our opponents fail to recognize that. So, running out of the Pistol at times, allows you to get those kind of runs where the back can approach the line of scrimmage with his shoulders square to the line. Frank’s got a great feel for the running game.”
In the Pistol, he’s seven yards back, is that right?
“We vary it, a lot of times he’ll be anywhere between six and six and a half. It’ll be varied though.”
Where is he on a play where the quarterback lines up under center?
“Really anywhere, six, six and a half, seven, sometimes seven and half. We generally don’t go any deeper than that. Every once in a while you’ll see a back line up at eight, but that’s more preference.”
All five of your offensive linemen got Pro Bowl recognition either as starters or alternates. What is that like for you as a coordinator to see all of that?
“It’s a credit to the players, it’s a credit to the position coaches, [offensive line] coach [Mike] Solari and [offensive line] coach [Tim] Drevno. But, ultimately it’s a credit to the players. You always want to see your players succeed and it’s great that they’re being recognized. Those guys work hard, we put a lot on them and they come in every day with a great attitude. I think offensive line play starts with that. You’ve got to have the mindset to be a great offensive lineman. It has to happen every day, it can’t be a sometime thing.”
How helpful is it that they’ve started every single game together?
“Very helpful. Anytime you can get continuity at that position, there’s so many moving parts, communication, recognition. And when I say communication, it’s verbal, it’s also visual. There’s a lot of unsaid things that just have to be understood between them to operate at a high level. Anytime you can have continuity, that’s going to help.”
I think [G/T] Alex Boone has been flagged maybe twice this year, two or three times. Is that surprising you or pleasantly so, that a guy who’s never played that position, first time, has gone through the season with very few mistakes?
“Yeah, we definitely want to minimize and really eliminate all penalties. Anytime we can get a young guy in there, especially inside and minimize the negative production, that’s big. It’s a credit to him. We’ll always tell him two is two too many, but at the same time in the big picture it’s a pretty darn good job by Alex.”
If [TE] Vernon [Davis] is not available for Sunday, will [TE] Garrett Celek just step in his position? Or do [TE] Delanie [Walker] and Garrett split?
“I think they’ll probably split different things. Delanie is such a valuable asset as what we call the ‘Y’ tight end and also as the second tight end, the ‘F’. He can do both and does do both at times. It will definitely be a mix and match.”
He played some wide receiver as well last week, Delanie. The three receiver set?
“He was a tight end split out, however you want to define that.”
When you go to three receiver sets, is that something where he would be in that place or is that [WR] A.J. Jenkins or is that still scheme stuff?
“Anytime Delanie is on the field, we’re not in three receivers. It’s two tight ends and we just happened to create the picture of three wide receivers. But when you have a tight end like that, you can do all that, you put him in the backfield, put him at the line, split him out. You can build a lot of different formations with him and do a lot of things.”
How have you seen Garrett’s receiving skills grow over the season? Because he himself admittedly said that wasn’t one of his strengths.
“Yeah, he didn’t get a lot of action at Michigan State catching balls, I believe he caught 12 or so. The ones he did catch you could see some natural catching ability. And I’ll be honest with you, the first week he was here, he wasn’t catching that well. But he just got better and better and better and better incrementally. He’s got a good feel for it. He comes from good stock, his brother is a pretty good pass receving tight end on another team. But he just continues to get better at everything, that’s a credit to him.”
Does it make a difference when you see a guy is struggling but you know his brother is pretty good, does it sort of give you – there’s something there, it will get better?
“No, I wish I could say that. But you could see flashes of it, the consistency wasn’t there. It is nice to know though that’s one of his brother’s greatest strengths and he just never worked on it in college, really. So, he’s a bit of a blank slate.”
When you look at the film from Seattle, so many things went wrong for many different reasons, but what was the main thing you’d like to see this offense do well against Arizona? Just strictly 49ers, what’s the one thing you’d really like to see to close out the regular season doing?
“Everything really. I mean, we’ve just got to execute at a higher level and finish drives better. But really, it’s just pure execution, really at every position. There’s a lot of positives in that game on an individual basis, play-to-play, but just not enough to get done what we wanted to get done. But, we just have to operate a high level and put drives together, finish drives, and do a great job protecting the football.”
How early in the week do you decide if you’re going to take a shot the first play of the game?
“Sometimes toward the middle or end of the week. It’s different all the time.”
And when you saw that play developing…
“There was an opportunity. We felt like there was an opportunity from watching film and it was developing as we kind of foresaw. But it wasn’t the intended result, so you move on.”
What do you need to see out of [QB] Colin [Kaepernick] this week to get him charged up for the playoffs?
“He just needs to do his job, every single play, at a high level, just like every other player. It’s that simple.”
What have you seen from the practice squad receivers? What do you like about them? They seem very different, different skill sets from those two guys.
“They’re definitely different from a physical standpoint, but they’re both, WR Chad [Hall] has great quickness, really good understanding of the game. He competes extremely well. I’d say his greatest asset is quickness. The big man [WR Ricardo Lockette], he can run, catch, just does a great job of pushing it vertical on deep routes, post routes, in routes, big body, really good catch radius, great attitude. So, they’re both doing a really good job though, really good job and improving every day.”
Up to this point, how much have they belonged to you and how much have they belonged to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio?
“Well they’re offensive players, so they’re offensive players.”
So, you do, they’re in tune with the game plan and the offense?
“Oh yeah, without question. They’re in tune with the game plan as well as certain similar defense, which is a very important part of what we do, very important.”