Greg Roman says LaMichael James is a really good football player

SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Thursday afternoon. Here’s a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.

Opening comments:

“It was great to start off the season with a win. We moved onto a Chicago Bears team on Monday that has a very experienced defense. Starting with their front four, they’ve got one of the best pass rushers over the last decade in [Chicago Bears DE] Jared Allen on our left. They’ve got a great rotation going through with [Chicago Bears DE Lamarr] Houston, [Chicago Bears DT Jeremiah] Ratliff, [Chicago Bears NT Stephen] Paea and Paea’s a real strong guy up inside. A very experienced linebacking crew led by [Chicago Bears LB] Lance Briggs who has been doing it at a high level for a long time. Very heavy, does a great job of batting down passes, play-action type passes and a sideline-to-sideline player. And then, obviously [Chicago Bears CB Tim] Jennings and [Chicago Bears CB Charles] Tillman on the backend. A very experienced, savvy defense and we studied their offense in the offseason, one of the offenses we looked at offensively and they do a great job on offense. We’re aware of the task. We’re excited for the challenge and looking forward to having a great day today. Any questions?”

You say you studied their offense in the offseason, or their defense in the offseason, is that different than any other upcoming opponent?

“No. You definitely try to study other offenses in the offseason just to see what they’re doing. You don’t have time during the season to really study other teams and what they might be doing. So, the offseason provides a time where each coach on offense we might assign a team to study their offense and to see what they can glean from it. I felt like their offense was one with coach [Chicago Bears head coach Marc] Trestman, what they did there and it was a good team to look at. So, just part of the offseason project routine. And we looked at their defense as well.”

Is that to help your defense or is it to kind of add things to your offense?

“It’s definitely to get a perspective on what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, how they’re doing it. Maybe they do something that we could do something or use or tweak or whatnot. It’s always good to have a great feel for what other teams are doing.”

What struck you about their offense? What do you like about what Marc Trestman does?

“I thought their offense did a really good job of working from an advantage standpoint. I really thought that they were really smart about how they went about running their offense, utilizing their players, the different skillsets of their players. But, the focus really is on their defense.”

One more question along those lines. What from the former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh tree and former 49ers head coach George Seifert stood out to you to see their thumbprints on what the Bears do?

“Well, I definitely think there’s some pure west coast principles with what they do. But, they do a great job of adapting and evolving with their players and utilizing their skillset in a very specific manner.”

Their defensive front, I think they’ve got five players with more than 10 years in the league. So, they’re an older group. Are they still as physical or would you say more a mentally smart unit that makes that their strength?

“I don’t want to pigeonhole players or teams or units with a word. I think they’re a very experienced, talented unit and I definitely think all those players it’s obvious on film they utilize their experience. Pre-snap recognition, keys, tips, etc. So, you’ve got to be extremely sharp and you don’t want to let them know what you’re doing before you do it.”

When you looked at the Bills game, what did the Bears defense maybe that you saw struggle with on that run game?

“They played the run really well. Just a few got out of there. And, credit to the Bills on those plays and all those other plays that didn’t go for more than two yards or whatever credit to the Bears defense out there playing football. They’re a very good defense.”

You mentioned some players on their defense. Last year they allowed 470 yards of offense. What happened, what went into that from what you saw on last year’s film?

“Number one thing was injuries and personnel shuffling. They rebuilt their defensive line, completely rebuilt other than Paea. So, it’s completely new players up there. That’s really the biggest thing.”

Do they still have a similar defensive front scheme as even the Cowboys just because of what was in place before that just in terms of some stunts that they’re doing?

“There are some similarities, but there are some differences, some subtle differences to how they’re playing certain things upfront relative to last year. Different than the Cowboys in that regard. But, there are some similarities.”

Is G Mike Iupati all the way back you think from that injury that he had in the Championship Game? It seems like, certainly in the game against the Chargers he seemed to struggle and didn’t seem to be as sharp as what we’ve come to expect from him.

“I think there’s a couple plays Mike would like to have back, but other than that I think he’s doing a very good job. We know Mike’s an elite player. We’re very thankful that we have him. Just like all of us, we’re trying to get better, especially from Week 1 to Week 2. I think we can make a huge jump there and be more consistent. But, I really think Mike has elite characteristics. He has a lot of big high moments. Just like everybody, working to get better every day.”


“I think he’s A-OK.”

How well did QB Colin Kaepernick go through his progressions?

“He did a great job in our last game, did a great job. He was marvelous. Just cool as a cucumber. Did everything he should have done and then some. So, just played the quarterback position really, really well. Moving on from that game and working hard in practice. I think he had a really good practice yesterday, so we’ve just got to keep that going.”

Can WR Bruce Ellington kind of fit the fly-sweep [inaudible]?

“Well, you know, we ran one with him in the preseason. He’s definitely a guy that you can do some of that stuff with. We don’t want to put too much on his plate all at once. But, he’s a football player. He gets things. It makes sense to him and I’m excited to see how he evolves with what we’re doing.”


Is he your number three emergency running back?

“He would definitely be able to fulfill that role. [FB] Bruce Miller is also another guy that can tote the rock. And, we’re going to hand the ball to a lot of different people, so you never know. Be alert for [T Joe] Staley on the reverse.”


With how good WR Anquan Boldin was on third down last year and he was good again on Sunday predictably, was part of the offseason emphasis you talked about reworking the offense and finding other options on third down, guys like WR Brandon Lloyd and WR Stevie Johnson?

“Yeah, and [WR Michael Crabtree] Crab. Crab had some really good plays that got called back on some penalties I guess. But, it’s really, if you get a good group of guys out there who do you double? That’s really where it starts. Who’s getting doubled? Where’s coverage allocating itself? If people are doubling, I think we’ve all watched football games and guy’s getting doubled and the quarterback throws the ball right into it and the ball gets intercepted, that is not good for the team. So, we try to throw it to the open guy. If people are double-covered, a lot of times you don’t want to throw it there. When you’re able to distribute the ball to guys that have leverage, probably great things are going to happen.”

How has Crabtree looked this week versus last?

“This week?”


“He looks really good. He looked really good last week. He’s working really hard and I love his approach. Doing all the little things, doing everything right. He’s going to make plays for us.”

How about his calf injury? That was obviously a problem last week–?

“He looks 100 percent. He looks great.”

You were talking about Kaepernick’s progression reads a few minutes ago. When you think about the development of a young quarterback, how does that develop? Is that just a product of comfort in the system, the game slowing down? Where do you expect that to manifest itself?

“Well, we could probably talk about that for days. The simplest, quickest answer I can say is each guy is different. Hopefully you find out what his strengths are and you try to work towards those strengths. The more experience they get, the more they see, some guys get better. It’s just like any other position in that regard. We’ve got a quarterback that’s very competitive and detail-oriented. My experience has been guys like that, if something doesn’t go exactly as planned they’re going to learn from it. It’s going to get stored away and they’ll move on. There’s a lot of little things that go into it, but I think Colin is attacking that position the way it should be attacked.”

How much of that goes back to what you were just talking about for this year when somebody’s getting doubled, there’s probably somebody else open whereas maybe last year there wasn’t?

“Yeah, I can’t remember what play, but I definitely think I really like our players and however we deploy them. I really like the discipline our quarterback’s playing with. We definitely want to be able to work away from the double teams so to speak, work away from the leverage of the defense, throw it to the open guy. We’ve got some really good guys to do that with. So, there’s always things to get better at and that’s what we’re looking to do this week.”

RB Carlos Hyde looks physically when he has the ball in his hand he looks like an ideal fit for the offense. But, when you guys were evaluating him, was the fact that he worked in the read-option in school was that more appealing for you guys?

“[49ers head coach] Jim, coach Harbaugh made a point that this guy can run anything that we do. I really feel like that’s the case. He can run pistol, the gun, under center. And that was really the evaluation process. I think we all felt that way. But, you never know what we might do with him, you know?”

Talking with RB Frank Gore yesterday, he said Carlos sometimes the holes are there and sometimes you have got to make one and that was his advice. Do you see that from Carlos yet and where is he in that process?

“Yeah, I think he learns by doing. Like when something happens, if he doesn’t hit the hole or tries to make too much and bounce it, he’ll come back the next time and hit it. That’s my sense of him. Whether it’s protection, motions, whatever it is, learn from it and move on, the wiser. He’s a big guy that when he gets behind his pads he can get us a lot of hidden yards.”

Another running back question, was former 49ers RB LaMichael James not a great fit for this offense?

“I think LaMichael’s a really good football player and just circumstances were that he had some injuries and this and that. Just, things played out the way they did. I wish him the best of luck.”

This article has 23 Comments

  1. If Roman indeed is being truthful about James being that talented and such a good football player, how come Roman could not find a decent way to utilize James’ skill set to an advantage????????

    Roman actually is indicting himself as a less than creative offensive co-ordinator by making a statement about the talents of James. Of course, he may be attempting to sell James to other teams.

    1. Not the first time Roman has indicted himself. Remember last year before the Saints game when he said there was still an element of Kaepernick seeing things for the first time?

    2. Meh. They said the same about Jenkins after they traded him. What’s the benefit in ripping on the guy after you’ve just let him go?

      1. Haven’t they said that about every draft pick that hasn’t worked out? It’d be like admitting they were wrong to say otherwise.

        Imagine if this was their response to Jenkins/James, etc:

        “We initially thought he was an exceptional talent, but after we saw him play at the NFL level we realized that he just wasn’t that good. He had a bad attitude, couldn’t catch, run, block or anything else that would help our football team so we cut his a$$ loose…..Next question??”

        1. Ha!

          I’d also love to see Baalke after making a draft pick say something like:

          “Well, we really wanted one of [INSERT NAME’S], but we couldn’t work out a trade to move up and get them so we were left with taking [INSERT NAME]. To be honest we aren’t overly thrilled about the selection, but that’s the draft for you. You play the hand you’re dealt.”

    3. You seem to miss the point that GR is the OC….JH is the HC. When the Head Coach TELLS the Offensive Coordinator what plays to script, what attack to write, The OC scripts those type of plays… or he’s unemployed. He can’t just go off on his own..It is a good question you ask…just the wrong person to address it to.

      1. Interesting to compare Mark Trestman’s description of working for Bill Walsh with your description of Roman working for Harbaugh.

  2. Groman may be a pain in the butt offensive coordinator, but he has always conducted himself with class. He praises everyone. This is Harbaugh’s offense not his and LMJ was never going to work out.
    Meanwhile Greg Cosell brought up that one pass from Colin Kaepernick, the one where he took a hit and made a 37 yard pass to Boldin. He said Colin did not make that pass last year. He would take off, he said that was quarterbacking.

  3. Is Roman being a class guy in praising LMJ, or is he just still doing damage control for drafting a returner in the second round and when he didn’t pan out not releasing him earlier. If he was really a good football player he would be with another team right now. LMJ is just another example of the Niner’s completely over valuing a player and refusing to acknowledge reality because of an ego and face saving mentality. Bet you they will use Ellington in ways they never used LMJ because he really is a football player.

    1. I think it’s a little of both. Harbaugh and his coaching staff have made it a point to not throw players under the bus – even ones they haven’t liked. Part of it is damage control, but I think most of it is respect for all players and treating them how he wished he’d been treated during his career.

      1. It seems to me, maybe I’m naive, that with AJJ and LMJ they tried to give them a chance to succeed, and then more chances, the hope being the best result for all parties. LMJ found a ST niche from which to contribute while the team waited. AJJ showed less and contributed little so was sh#*-canned sooner.
        I keep remembering a line from a lengthy interview with Baalke. (Best recollection of actual quote) > Drafting is a crap shoot, anyone who doesn’t think so just doesn’t know.<
        So my guess is that in a candid moment Trent would just grimace and shake his head about 2012. If 2014 turns out as promising as we hope, he'll just have to have a wry smile. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you,

    1. I couldn’t remember how to get my old one to work, so I asked for help. It was contagious….but in a good way ;)

        1. Although it’s too bad that Grant hasn’t caught on to the new craze since he looks nothing like that photo anymore.

  4. Isn’t LMJ dead cap money? And if someone picks him up are the Niners off the hook? Not sure about the business end on this one…

    1. Isn’t LMJ dead cap money?

      Yes, but not much. He only had approximately $425,000 of his signing bonus left unallocated. I believe the 49ers have the choice counting it all against this year’s cap or splitting it between this year and next year. I assume he earned his $50,000 workout bonus this year, so that money will count against this year’s cap. Other than his game 1 check for this season, the 49ers do not have to pay his 2014 or 2015 salaries.

      And if someone picks him up are the Niners off the hook?

      Not as to the signing bonus, workout bonus and game 1 check. The 49ers must account for that money (which they already paid) against their cap. Because the 49ers do not have to pay James’s 2014 and 2015 salaries (other than game 1), they are not on the hook for it.

  5. I find it somewhat surprising that LMJ has no interest from other teams. I wonder if his attitude is what is keeping teams away. If it is known he is the one to have said Harbaugh lost the locker room, I could see how no coach or GM would think he is worth the trouble.

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