SANTA CLARA — Jim Tomsula spoke in the 49ers’ auditorium Thursday afternoon. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Good day. Injury report; [WR Bruce] Ellington will be out, [LB Philip] Wheeler will be out, [WR] Dres Anderson will be out. Two muscle strains and then the soreness in the leg. Same, that hasn’t changed. Again, the monitors, we’re still the same there. In terms of this week’s preseason game, what I can tell you definitely; Dres Anderson, [LB] Nick Bellore, Bruce Ellington, [RB] Kendall Hunter, [G/C] Daniel Kilgore, [LB] Aaron Lynch, [WR] DeAndre Smelter, [DB] Jimmie Ward, Philip Wheeler and [LB] Michael Wilhoite. They will stay back with training personnel staying back and strength and conditioning coaches staying back. So, they are going to stay back and continue the rehabilitation and continue the strength and conditioning. So, those guys are back. In terms of playing in the game, again I am going to still reserve the right. We’re going through practices and everything. I’ve got to get myself where I’m at. It’s not that big of a deal, but there’s a few guys we are talking through. We are obviously in an evaluation stage and we want to see people on the field that we don’t know what they can do on the field. So, how many reps guys are going to get and things like that, we’re going, Colin is going to be playing. We’re going to have those things, but I do want to get [QB] Blaine [Gabbert] out there. I want him out there. I want to get, who was the other one? I want to see the tight ends. Tight ends, I want to make sure guys are getting their reps at the tight ends and then obviously in the secondary. But, those key areas right there, we want to see some things. You’re going to see us working the inside three. There’s no secret to that, seeing the combinations. So, you will see different guys working in there. But, that’s where we are on that. Any questions?”
We saw Kendall Hunter getting some, what seemed like significant reps back in May and June. Why, I mean, was there a setback at any stage? Why isn’t he making this trip?
“No, I wouldn’t say it’s a setback at all. More preventative. I guess I would put it in that category. Kendall, and you’ve seen him practicing, but the cuts and we’re playing against each other at a faster pace and all that kind of stuff. And, we’re just trying not to be, trying to be smart there. I mean, I can tell you now [RB] Reggie Bush isn’t playing. That’s another one I forgot to mention. I’m not playing that guy. I know who that guy is. I know exactly who that guy is. I know exactly what that guy does. You’ve seen in practice and he’s doing those things. I’m not doing that. So, that’s one guy I can say. In Kendall’s situation, just, we don’t need you on the field. He’ll play in the preseason at some point, but right now let’s just keep going.”
Where’s LB NaVorro Bowman stand for Saturday?
“I’m going back and forth. Again, that’s another guy who will play in the preseason. There’s no doubt about that. We’re going to get on a plane. We’re going to fly down to Houston the day before the game. We’re going to get off the plane. It’s a quick turn around and all those kind of things. Obviously, been practicing very well, moving very well. We’re seeing all those things. Again, another guy that I feel really good about knowing what we have. If he plays, it’s going to be a short block of plays. It’s just getting, it’s more for the other guys than it really is for him, breaking the huddle with his voice, that kind of stuff. That will happen in the preseason. I just, I’ve got to get myself exactly where I need, where I want to be on that.”
In terms of what you can actually glean from a first preseason game, what can you get out of this for this offensive line going against whatever Houston decides to do with their defensive line?
“Thank you. That’s the big thing that we are going after and you’re hitting it on the head. We are going to look at those combinations. Not only individually and what we can do, what each guy does individually, but how they are working together. And, obviously, we’re talking about those two spots that we’ve, I mean, there’s no secrets, but how that’s working together in combination. So, we are looking at that and we are paying attention to that. So, that’s obviously one of the areas. And, also gets into, you start talking about the safeties, some of the younger safeties and how are they are doing together with the corners, with those combinations. So, that’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
How does this first game work for you in terms of your first run out as a head coach on the field and how you will be managing things?
“I haven’t really spent any time thinking about that. I mean, I can promise you I won’t be running out of the, or however you phrase that. I’ll be on the sidelines.”
You mentioned Blaine Gabbert, the last time that we at least got a long look at him was in the preseason and he didn’t have a great preseason and you brought him back. What was the thinking behind bringing him back? Did he look better in practices as the year went on and that gave you encouragement that he could be that number two guy?
“Well, I’m a believer in Blaine Gabbert. I am. Just point blank, I’m a believer in Blaine Gabbert. Again, we are building a team, so in terms of the on-the-field play and the team, Blaine Gabbert, that’s a beautiful piece. We talk about Blaine Gabbert’s performance in the preseason last year, when did he get in, who was blocking for him, what was the cast around him? This preseason we are going to, that cast will probably be different. Maybe not as much this weekend, but Blaine Gabbert is going to be in a position with a cast around him that’ll look different. So, that’s what I say to that. It’s, and that’s not downing players or any players in the past, but we will make sure that he’s in there in situations where he’s got a solid supporting cast and playing team offense and him being that component, but major component of it.”
What makes CB Tramaine Brock a good fit for that nickel job that he’s competing for?
“Quite frankly, the foot quickness. You see it. He’s got that small-box quicks, smooth athlete, can run but he can change direction, he can plant and drive. You start looking at some of those slot positions. Those are those little jitterbug dudes and with his skillset. And he’s bright. He can get it. I mean, he gets it and he’s a competitive little son of a gun.”
He expressed that he wants to be that. Is that something you look for too, a guy who’s willing to take that on because there is a lot more on his shoulders?
“Well, yeah, and really, in the broad scope of things when you look at it over the years, how many starting corners come to you and say, ‘Hey, give me a shot at that nickel.’ Some just want to stay out there and do their thing. He’s coming and saying, ‘Hey, I want to do that job. Give me a chance.’ So, again, that’s all got to sort out, but Brock’s going to get some work at that nickel. He’s getting work at the corner. He gets all the corner reps, so he’s getting that all the time and then we go to the nickel deal, we’ve got him inside and he’s getting the work at the nickel. So again, whether he’s that guy and somebody else is the corner when it’s all said and done or we’ve just created depth at that position. So, T-Brock is, again, having just a wonderful camp.”
With that being said, a guy like DB Jimmie Ward who, first year cut short, he’s got to be behind the eight ball a little bit not being able to get out there and start competing for that?
“Obviously, Jimmie doesn’t, Jimmie would have rather there never been a problem with his foot a year, two years, a year-and-a-half ago. But, what I’ll say about Jimmie is, the way Jimmie’s handling things and where he’s at, he’s doing great. You’ve seen him out there in individuals, see him moving. You’re not seeing any hitch in the giddy up, we’ve got that, they’ve got that, they call it a turtle or something, it’s just on his shoe. And I mean, he’s really moving around really well and that thing is going good. But again, OK, everything’s good, just put him in there, let’s try to take a smart approach before we got him back into the team drills. I hope I’m explaining that right. It’s common sense to me. I hope it’s coming across that way.”
ME: Your defense was one of the best in the league consistently the past few years. Now there’s a new scheme and players say it involves more aggressiveness and thinking. Why did you want to make those tweaks to the scheme when the old one was working?
“Well, I mean, year to year, everybody in it, we, there are different people and different pieces of the puzzle. And again, preseason-wise, I think you’ve seen it. I’ve been here eight years, I think you’ve seen thing in the practices and in camp, very aggressive and then you find out who you are. And at that point where we’ve gone is, in the past, is felt like that’s who we were. So, we’re taking a look at ourselves right now and we’ve got some guys back there. You guys read the numbers. We’ve got some things that say four-three-something. We’ve got T-Brock, so what fits us? That’s what we’re trying to make sure. What fits us and where’s the answers? Now, have we always had a blitz package around here? For eight years, we’ve had a very complex blitz package. It’s been installed, it’s been practiced, it’s been there. Have we used it as much? No. But, that’s where we’re at. That’s why you’re seeing, alright, the blitzes are going right now, we’ve got that. And you will see some days where there aren’t any. We are doing that too, making sure that we’re just lining up and playing ball, playing fundamentally sound football and techniques and things. I hope that answers your question.”
I have a depth chart question. I realize what you’ve said about the depth chart and how important the depth chart is.
Reggie Bush is listed as your starting kickoff returner as well as punt returner. He hasn’t done kickoffs in the NFL, he’s had one. Do you view him, obviously, as a viable option there? Is that something he also wants to do in addition to punts?
“Yeah, I mean, yeah. Reggie’s got the skill to do that. Reggie wants to do that. And again, why I’m set, I don’t want this coming across as any misleading. Right now, out the gate, before we do anything live and people are going to get tackles and have to field punts or kickoffs, the guy best and most proven on our team is Reggie Bush, because [special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey Jr.] T-Mac brought that up. I said, ‘OK, I’m fine with that.’ I’ve let everybody know, Reggie’s not going to have shoulder pads on this week. [RB] Jarryd Hayne’s going to be catching some kind of a punt. [WR DeAndrew White] Alabama is going to be catching some kind of a punt or kickoff. So, we’ve got a proven, am I saying this correctly? We’ve got a proven entity there. Let’s see, let’s see where these other guys are. If you’ve got a 22-year-old guy or 23-year-old guy that can catch a punt and get going and make something happen, maybe there’s a rep you take off somebody that’s been doing it for ten years, but we’ve got to find out. Today, we don’t know. So, as we go through the preseason, we’re going to find those answers.”
Watching NaVorro at practice, it seems like, obviously he’s in the process and he’s picking and choosing when he’s deciding to explode on a certain rep and get after it and when he’s, when it looks like he’s just focusing on the mental aspect of the play and maybe not pushing himself physically. Can you take us through that process, and what conversations you might have had to kind of pick and choose his spots during practice?
“And again, it’s not only me. Yeah, I have conversations with him quite frequently. But, [defensive coordinator] Eric Mangini, [linebackers coach] Clancy [Pendergast], everybody’s talking about that. And again, we’re not, it’s more of in our minds right now we have NaVorro Bowman the veteran. We have moved on. We have done that. We are moving forward. So, as we talk about veterans, and again, anybody that’s seen me in a position, veterans, there are some guys that take more reps, some guys that, alright, here’s the five you haven’t, this is new. Get in there and get this rep. Hit it full speed, get your feel. Then there’s the four or five reps where, alright, you’ve got that, we’ve done it, alright, tempo through. We’ve got to get to game day, we’ve got to get to the season, we’ve got to get to games, week to week. So, those are, that’s the overall gist and philosophy of the conversations.”