SANTA CLAR A — Vic Fangio was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Tuesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. staff.
How did NT Ian Williams play? I know it wasn’t a lot of snaps, but how did he look?
“He did fine. I was pleased with the way he played. I was hoping to get him a few more snaps but he started tightening up a little bit so we went the conservative route with him and took him out there. But I would’ve liked to have seen him play some more.”
What about Thursday? Will he and those other first-liners play?
“Ian will play. Don’t know about the other guys yet.”
What are you seeing, in this last game in particular, from that unit, that first unit? What areas do you think need be tightened up?
“You’re talking about the D-line or just the whole unit?”
Just the whole unit.
“We had a couple good series there early. And then the touchdown drive that they got, we didn’t play a couple plays correctly, and it hurt in particular the 2nd-and-10 run that popped out of there for 14 yards. We had that thing stopped and then we didn’t fit it correctly at the end of the play and it popped out of there for 14 yards. And then they completed a third-down pass on us that we feel should have been defended in that particular call. You give a quarterback like [San Diego Chargers QB Phillip] Rivers those chances, have a couple of extra chances, you know, you’re in trouble and they got in the red zone and scored.”
There’s that touchdown and there’s the one against the Denver Broncos. S Craig Dahl was the closest in coverage but how much of it, too, was the linebacker not dropping deep enough on both of those plays?
“Well, the one against Denver, we didn’t play correctly and Craig was one of the main culprits of not playing it correctly from a schematic standpoint. That’s why the guy looked so wide open at that time. It wasn’t such of a physical beating as it was we didn’t play the play correctly. And the one on Sunday, Craig got a little too far outside. He had a tough assignment on that play. He got a little bit too far outside and got beat inside. We could’ve given him a little bit more help underneath but on that particular play, he’s going to have to play that one.”
So the first one wasn’t LB Chris Borland?
When Denver and San Diego, they went to no huddle a lot, does that bring up any more challenges in the preseason when you’re trying to install your base defense?
“Not really. I like when they do it, it actually helps. It gives us a realistic look at it. Gives the players and the coaches a feel about how we got to get in-and-out of calls and move quicker. I’m glad they did it, in both cases. It’s hard to simulate that sometimes on the practice field when you’re servicing each other. I’m glad it happened and I didn’t see many problems with it.”
How can you prepare for what may happen to LB Aldon Smith from the NFL? Have you been just getting guys in a little more than you would’ve at that spot?
“Actually, because you have a feeling something may happen at this point in the season, everybody’s getting reps now. All the guys that may play for him, [LB Dan] Skuta, [LB Corey] Lemonier, [LB Aaron] Lynch, [LB Chase] Thomas, all those guys have been getting a lot of reps so they’re all ready to go. It’s more of an issue when it happens in the middle of the season, just thrown on you like it happened last year. And then there’s no time to adjust, you just go.”
Does it look like you can do it similar to what you did last year with Skuta in the base and Lemonier mainly as the pass-rusher?
“There’s a good chance that could be the way, yes. It’ll be some combination. It won’t be one guy.”
Do you see enough from Lynch to make you think that maybe he could be pushed into some kind of role as well?
“He played well in that game, there’s no denying that. He had a lot of production and played well and had some good plays even when they weren’t the type of plays that showed up on the stat sheet, playing the run and et cetera. He’s a guy that came in here after the draft out of shape, was rounding into shape towards the end of the offseason workouts then pulled, strangely speaking, both hamstrings at once. And so he spent June and July rehabbing, not training. Rehab is different than training. He got out of shape again and put on a couple of extra pounds that were holding him back. And then when he started practicing, that’s why I didn’t play him in that first preseason game. Didn’t feel he was ready, both from a coaching and a physical standpoint. And played him in the second game and then this last game, you know, he played well. Hopefully, he can continue on that track.”
Do you have any better indication when you might know something on Aldon’s situation?
“No. I rely on you guys for that. And you guys haven’t been very good.”
Is Lynch like anyone else on the team? It just seems like he’s a different body type, different type of player than even Aldon, who’s tall and has long arms as well.
“If you’re going to try and compare him to somebody it would be Aldon because of the height and the length and the size. But each and every player is their own individual. But he is a good size guy. He’s got decent athletic ability. Hopefully, he’ll keep progressing. It’s our job to keep him progressing and it’s his job to mature here, keep maturing and become a pro so he can progress.”
Given his background, when he comes in out of shape are you like, ‘Oh, jeez.’ Has he proven something to you as far as commitment wise and dedication wise since then?
“He has. He did come in out of shape. We can’t do anything about that. That sometimes happens to these draft guys. They travel the whole month of March, but his was to the extreme, more than it should’ve been. Whatever happened in the past happened. That’s why they got drafted where they were. Then we take over from there. He has made good progress here. He’s been diligent, probably, what little I know about his past, but more diligent than he’s ever been. Hopefully, he can continue on the upward trend here.”
Is Corey taking steps as a three-down player since last year?
“Yes, he’s vastly improved as a linebacker, he is. You can see a big difference from him in year 1 to year 2. Still has a lot of room for improvement there, and it just comes with playing time. It’s just recognition and reaction. He can tell you everything perfectly, it’s just reacting and getting it done quick enough.”
What’s been your impression of him through three preseason games this year?
“He’s done well, he’s done well. He’s rushed the passer pretty good. He’s made good improvement in his outside linebacker play. He just needs to play faster, and I don’t mean that from an effort standpoint, just play recognition.”
Has LB Michael Wilhoite proven that he’s ready to be your Week 1 starter or do you need to see more out of him Thursday night?
“Well, he hasn’t proven that yet totally, but we’ll wait to after Thursday. Give these younger guys a good, healthy dose of snaps and see if they can make some progress. We’re confident in Mike and we think he’ll do fine in there like he did last year in those couple games he played.”
LB Ahmad Brooks somewhat flown under the radar after what seemed to be his best season last year. Does he look like a guy who’s ready to repeat that this year?
“I hope so. He’s gotten a few extra pounds on him now that I think is holding him back. We’ve been trying hard to get that off of him and hopefully he’ll be back to the guy that we saw, really that we’ve seen for three years.”
Do you have a good feel for DT Tank Carradine right now? Is he someone you can kind of plot in your mind you know what he’s going to do or is still kind of a question mark?
“Well, you definitely see flashes of his ability. He’s a strong guy, an explosive guy. He’s got some up field athletic ability. He’s totally not zeroed in on how to do it all the time. He’s made great improvements in that area and he needs to continue to improve. I think once the camp slows down and he has more of a chance to practice at a less-strenuous tempo, from an amount of practice, I think maybe he’ll show some improvements there.”
You gave the start to Dahl when S Antoine Bethea was out. Was that just because it was Bethea out? How does DB Jimmie Ward fit into the backup safety mix?
“You mean if we lost a safety?”
“Probably, if we lost a safety during a game, we would finish it with Dahl and then we would make a decision depending on how long that safety would be out whether we would put Jimmie in there or leave Craig in there.”
It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re losing S Eric Reid or Bethea?
Are both safeties interchangeable?
You guys have had about four months to start studying up on the Dallas Cowboys. How have you mixed in some film study of the Cowboys with respecting your exhibition schedule and all, but also –
“We haven’t done very much of that. Training camp, the main thing is to get your team ready for the season and we look at it that way defensively. Last week, even during the week of preparation for the Chargers, you know, defensively, we’re still using those plays we get to prepare the team for the season. We didn’t work much on the Chargers defensively. We kind of take that attitude. We don’t want to work too far in advance on opponents. We’re still getting the guys ready for 16 games, not one. Hopefully, we’re putting enough in and exposing them to enough that when we play each and every team, we just pick and choose all the things we’ve put in and learned in camp and apply them.”
Back to Lynch, have you noticed anyone who’s sort of taken him under his wing or motivating him to get back into shape, lose those pounds, stuff like that?
“No. Nobody, no one guy in particular. Obviously, I coach the outside linebackers, so, I’ve been with him a lot. When we do our nickel-rush fronts when we’re in nickel, [defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula kind of coaches the front-four so he is involved in working with him there. The players have, you know, the veteran players have given him their wisdom when they can. [Head strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama] Uye works with him, so, I don’t think it’s one guy. He’s got a lot of guys helping him.”
You talked about Chris Borland and he needs to get more assignment-sound. Has he shown you progress in that area?
“He is. He’s getting better. He’s understanding that what he sees, he can’t always go to all the time. There are assignments that have to be carried out. It’s not perfect yet but he’s improving in that area. It’s easy to tell a player what to do. They’ve got to feel it and see it and see the importance of it and it’s happened to him enough that I think he’s moving in that good direction.”
Ahmad’s been pretty good for, you know, the three years you’ve been here. Do you have a sense of around the league, people, you know, appreciate and understand how good he’s been or does he get overlooked because of the other linebackers?
“I know the coaches around the league have an appreciation of how good he is because I’ve had them tell me that. I know when his contract was up, was it prior to last year or the year before? I can’t remember. I think it was prior to last year, wasn’t it? I had a couple of guys tell me that if we hadn’t signed him they were going to try to. We signed him before the free agency started. The league, the inner circles of the NFL, know about him. I do think he’s gotten overlooked media-wise and public-wise.”