SANTA CLARA — This is a transcript of Jim Tomsula’s Tuesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Probably the two guys you want to talk about; [C] center Nick Easton was added. I think you all are familiar with that, Harvard guy. And then, [T] Tanner Hawkinson to the practice squad will be a new name for you out of Kansas. So, there’s where we are there. Any questions?”
Have you decided on your cornerback starting opposite of CB Tramaine Brock?
“No. We’ve got [CB Keith] Reaser and [CB Kenneth] Acker are right there right now really getting after it. Now, [CB] Dontae’s [Johnson] in the mix. You will see throughout the year, matchup-wise you’ll see us matching up the way we need to matchup with those guys, between those three. But, Acker has really come on and done a great job. If you want somebody that’s going to be on a depth chart, it’ll probably say Reaser and Acker through the week.”
Both of them?
“Well, through the week right here.”
So, they’ll be competing as the week goes on?
“Yes and no. Yes and no. Acker has done a great job, but Reaser is in the mix.”
ME: What’s Tramaine Brock’s status?
“Great. I don’t even think he’s on anything today. I think we’ve got that to where we wanted it to be coming into the season. I don’t think he’s going to show up on any of your injury reports.”
What about TE Vance McDonald and his ankle?
“Vance was running around yesterday really good, all the workouts and everything, sprinting and cutting and all that stuff. Again, I’m not sure where they’ll put him there. I’m not even thinking about him.”
When did you start looking into the Vikings and just what you’re going to be facing? At what point this summer did you kind of sit down and analyze what you’re going to need to do?
“Well, in the summer I would probably tell you, looking in the division, started that pretty much making sure there was time allotted every week for myself. And then as we took care of ourselves that increased. And then the summer was, once the schedule came out, taking a week and putting on an opponent and writing notes and doing all that stuff. Yeah, just since I’ve been here.”
What strikes you about the Vikings? Obviously Vikings RB Adrian Peterson’s coming back for them. Just what kind of a challenge is that going to be for this team?
“Well, I mean, Adrian Peterson is always a challenge. If he puts on a helmet and a shirt, he’s a challenge. But, I mean, [Vikings QB] Teddy Bridgewater is doing a nice job, tight end’s doing a nice job they’ve got a nice tight end. The wide receivers are obviously a fast crew, good crew. You’ve got a mobile quarterback, so that’s always extra time spent on how you want to attack that guy. And that offense is a [Vikings offensive coordinator] Norv Turner offense. So, you put all that together, obviously we’ve got a ton of respect for them. O-Line coach is a terrific coach and I’m sure that those guys are, we’ve got a lot of respect for them.”
What are the characteristics of a Norv Turner offense in your mind?
“The biggest thing is the way Norv calls a game in my opinion, if you want to talk about the first thing. Go ahead and try to get a beat on Norv. You’re not going to. Everybody will say, ‘Norv’s going to have the boots, he’s going to have the power game, he’s going to have the gap scheme, he’s going to have a little bit of zone in there, the play-action pass, the deep routes, he’s going to utilize the tight end.’ Yeah, he does all that, but just go ahead and try to get a beat on when and where he’s doing and what he’s doing. And he’s going to use all the pieces he has.”
I don’t know if you have time to reflect on this kind of thing, but all up until now it’s been kind of pointing moving forward and now you’re here. Is there just kind of any of sense of here’s the opener right on the horizon and what that all brings about for you?
“No. I mean, I know it doesn’t sound like, I know it’s not great drama, but I wake up every day with the same feeling in terms of how to attack today and sense of responsibility. That’s the way it goes. I really don’t. And I really honestly don’t believe this is The Jim Show. This isn’t about Jim Tomsula. It’s about the Niners. It’s about the locker room. It’s about everybody that puts the pieces together to make this happen organizationally. So, I take the piece that I have very seriously and I feel a sense of responsibility to do it in the absolute best way that I can possibly do it to make sure that everything else can move forward in their way.”
Is the regular season kind of almost, because it’s a lot more routine than training camp, is there some almost relief to that, that you know what the calendar or what each day of the week, in most cases, you know what you’re doing on most days in the regular season?
“Yeah, I mean, once you get cards in. The biggest thing that goes on in training camp, you all see it, it’s us against us. So, it’s like let’s talk team, keep the locker room together and do all of these things, but it’s us against us. It’s just the nature of football. It’s every locker room in football you go against, somebody’s got to win and somebody is going to lose. So now it’s, now we’ve got everybody preparing to win. So, the practice schedule, you’ve got the cards out and you’re working that way. So, in terms of that, I think it’s, the structure of it starts pulling all three phases together.”
Have you guys elected team captains for the season?
“Yeah, yeah, the guys did. They voted on them. That’s on here isn’t it, [49ers vice president of communications] Bob [Lange]? Yeah, offense; [T Joe] Staley, [WR Anquan] Boldin, [TE Vernon] Davis and [QB Colin] Kaepernick. Defense; [S Antoine] Bethea, [LB NaVorro] Bowman, [S Eric] Reid, and [NT Ian] Williams. Special teams [K Phil] Dawson. That’s player vote. Nice crew of guys. Congratulations to them, obviously. The one thing that’s neat about all of that is when they tally everything up and tick, some of the other guys on the roster that got some votes, just, that’s a heck-of-a compliment.”
Will you guys wear the stars?
“No. No, sir.”
You’re not a stars guy?
“No, sir. I’m into a team game.”
Can you repeat the defensive captains, please?
“Defense is Bethea, Bowman, Reid, and Williams. Ian Williams.”
Could you explain a little of what went into the decision to let LB Ahmad Brooks back into the mix?
“Really, quite frankly, there isn’t anything to explain. We, I went through it and we’ve, it’s been well documented what we’ve done and the procedures and policies that we’re rolling with. And then with the, through the investigation of things that are going on. So, that’s why I won’t comment any further. But, I feel confident in the information I’ve gotten and just the way that the, let the investigation through the National Football League and the courts go where they may.”
ME: ESPN reported this morning that the New England Patriots videotaped other team’s defensive signals during 40 games between 2000 and 2007. Do you know anything about that and do you have a comment?
“No and no. I wouldn’t dare speak about anybody else’s team and I honestly don’t know what that was. I didn’t hear it all, but something about, I didn’t hear you.”
ME: ESPN reported this morning that the New England Patriots were filming other team’s defensive signals during 40 games between 2000 and 2007.
“No, I don’t have, yes sir, thank you. Yeah, no comment to that.”
Have you made a decision as far as your return game, who will be back there for kickoffs and punts?
Or better yet, can you tell us who?
“Yeah, we’ve made a decision, yes.”
Who are those?
“The same group you’ve seen. It’s the same group you’ve seen. All the guys are, all the guys have done a nice job at that.”
Is that still, have you decided who’s not going to suit up or is that still, you know, is there a competition in any way?
“To me, the way every 46 works, all the way through the week. Obviously, you start at the beginning of the week with an idea of who that’s going to be. And, off of game plan and the way you want to attack and different things like that, special teams. But then that also changes with, week to week throughout the season on. Do you have, you have somebody who has a little something and maybe you’ve got to back it up. But, there’s always a thought process at the beginning, but that’s why you don’t say anything until the end. I’ll say this as a coach, an hour and a half before the game I go take a look and see who’s up and who’s not. If you’ve got nine O-Linemen up and two receivers, I’ve got a real good idea on what you’re thinking about doing. That’s why with us, I won’t, none of that information will be, I have obviously, I mean, lastly just to protect him [Lange], the last guy in our organization that’ll know who’s up will be him.”
Did you have any special message for your team? You have the final roster, the practice squad. Just as you begin the season, was there anything that you said to the team or just wanted to say to the team?
“No. Yesterday, I mean, congratulations, obviously, you know. It’s kind of unique because it’s, I see these guys, you’re busting your tail, you’re trying to build a team concept and this togetherness. And if that’s going right and you have the right people, then that starts getting really tight. You’ve got 90 guys and that’s like, you start building this camaraderie and this thing and then you go to 75 and it’s sobering. And then same thing. And then you go to 53. And I know a lot of guys are happy that they’re with the 53. And there’s a moment of happiness, but then there’s also that emotion of somebody you care about or somebody you’ve been working hard with isn’t here anymore. Hopefully they’re with somebody else. Hopefully things worked out, but congratulations to it. The worst thing you can do is exhale, feel like you made it. I think it’s the worst thing you can do. Exhale and say, ‘Yeah, I made it.’ We just got to the starting line. The race, you know, it’s a long race. We just got to the starting line. We’re all huddled up, shaking hands and getting ready to put our hand down on the starting line. So, it’s kind of a unique spot and that’s what I said.”
How big of a chore does Nick Easton have to learn enough to be able to earn one of those 46 spots and be able to function if called upon?
“Yeah, obviously. I mean it’s, you’ve got some work to do man. Hope you use that Ivy League degree.”
Does he play guard as well?
“No. We’ve got him as a center. I mean, he’ll work some at guard, but we haven’t seen him at guard. We’ve seen him at center.”
ME: I may have misheard you, but did you indicate that RB Jarryd Hayne would be returning punts as he did during the preseason or you haven’t determined who’s going to return punts?
“Yeah, we don’t have, we’ve got that whole group. We’re happy with the group that you’ve seen. And for obvious reasons, I mean, there could be more than one. There could be, I don’t want to get into half-truths and splitting hairs and all that kind of stuff, but we are happy with the whole group.”
You’ve been telling your players that they’re only at the starting line. Do you feel like that fit personally?
“Sorry. I didn’t hear you.”
Do you feel like, with yourself, that message of only being at the starting line, is that how you feel personally?
“Yeah. We just got to the starting line. You work your tail off to qualify for the race. That’s all. You’ve got preliminaries. You’ve got all the races leading up to it. You’ve got to win a lot of races to get to the Olympics. All you do is get a shot at the Olympics. You get to walk through opening ceremonies. That’s all you’re guaranteed. So, I mean, that’s basically the way I see it. You’ve got to win a lot of races before you get to race the Tour de France. A lot of things can happen over those days. So, that’s the way I see the whole thing.”
Regarding team captains, obviously you know Ian Williams quite well. He’s still a pretty young guy. Because of injuries, he hasn’t been able to play a lot, but it seems to speak to something about him that he was a team captain. What do you think that is about?
“Well, you know, I didn’t ask anybody. I completely stayed out of this for a reason, because I wanted them to do it. And actually saved all the voting forms and the sheets in case anybody, in case we had, what do you call it? Recount. You know what I mean? So, this was solely the guys. So yeah, I think that’s a compliment. You talk to all these guys here. You see some veteran players here that work hard that you see daily and you look at it and you say, ‘OK, that’s cool.’ And, you know, with Ian, I mean, obviously Bowman you see and his level of play, but then also with Ian, how hard he works. He’s a guy that never leaves. He lives around the corner. He’s always working, always going. Had to overcome some things. So, I mean, I don’t want to speak for the guys on the team, but I have my own little thoughts on why they picked that group.”
Was there, I mean, how many captains is that about eight or nine?
So I mean, in past years there’s only been what two on each side along with guys that would roll over. Was there a matter of capping it at a certain amount or did you want–?
“No. I just wanted to see what it was first, to be honest with you. I did. I wanted to see how the team was feeling just to be quite honest. I wanted to see what it was. I was looking to see where that is and that’s where it ended up. So, that was, just left it alone.”