Vic Fangio says Ahmad Brooks is overweight

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?

“They’re 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.”

This article has 101 Comments

  1. Why does Dahl keep getting the nod, when he keeps getting burnt? He’s been burnt all his life, it’s not going to change….

    1. i guess it depends on your expectations for a back up safety. if he could consistently cover, then he’d probably be starting somewhere.

      1. I expect a safety with football instincts. Something Dahl does not have, and Ward does. A nose for the ball. A good sniffer if you will…

        1. I suspect that Dahl can better read plays and generally knows the defense (aside from his recent mistakes)…at least better than the rookie Ward. Again, if he were a competent covering safety, Dahl would be starting somewhere.

          1. I don’t think you get it. If Dahl ever sees the field for a significant period of time during the regular season, this defense will be shredded by Rodgers, Cutler, Stafford, etc. God help us all if you’re right about Dahl reading plays better than Ward….

            1. yes they will be shredded, unless the Niners have time to scheme around the weakness. again he’s a BACK UP SAFETY. you can’t have a Steve Young backing up Joe Montana at every position. Who was the last competent back up QB the Niners had? It was probably Alex Smith…who then became a starter (again). Who was the last back up safety you felt comfortable with?

            2. I do remember that in the game last year when Reid came out due to injury and Dial replaced him, there was a touchdown run through the secondary. I thought to myself it would not have happened with Reid in there. It was at the Stick, and we lost that game. It was against Indy or Carolina.

            3. I think he gets it, but he’s being realistic. Those QB’s shred most secondaries. The Niners have been shredded by elite QB’s a number of times. Dahl is a backup safety that is mentally ahead of Ward at this point because he has been in the league longer. You can have the strongest pigskin olfactory sense in the world, but it’s useless if you don’t know what you’re doing on the field. Hopefully Bethea and Reid stay healthy this year.

              1. When it breaks down, especially down on the goal line where there’s less ground to cover, it’s back yard football. You recognize the play and see it develop, perhaps even play off and bait a throw from the quarterback. Dahl cannot do this and there’s not a SPF high enough to prevent him from getting burned….

        2. He’s not a guy you feel comfortable as your starter long term, and I think Fangio indicated that when he said they’d have to think about whether or not to put Ward in there if one of the safeties was out for an extended period of time. But as a stop gap during a game if one of the starters is out for a bit he is ok.

          1. Yea, and I don’t understand the thinking process there. Putting a stop gap out on the field at the wrong time can lose you the football game. As soon as the opposing quarterback sees Dahl in the secondary, he’s going to exploit him….

            1. Don’t you think that Fangio is going to put the guy out there that would do the best job? If so, then what does that tell you about Ward’s readiness to play the Safety position?

              Dahl may not be very good, but he does have experience, he does know how to diagnose plays and he has a year in the Niner’s defensive system. So right off the bench he’s probably better prepared than a talented rookie.

              Now, I can see if it was a long term injury to a starter, that Fangio might think about ramping up Ward to be prepared to start (starters reps…maybe less Nickel work).

              1. Dude, I have all the respect in the world for Vic. He’s brilliant, but sometimes he’s stubborn about rookies, and I’m telling you that 5 years in the system for Dahl isn’t going to make him see his man and break down the angle, recover and make a play on the ball. He’s never done it in his entire career…

              2. I agree with you. You can see Fangio working through the logic on that. Dahl finishes the game but maybe someone else starts the next.

            2. Yeah, but if you move Ward to safety, you have to replace Ward at the nickel. Then you’d have two positions being manned by backups instead of one.

              1. If Ward did move to safety in case of injury, Culliver could man the Nickel and Cook replaces Culliver….

              2. I think Culliver is too stiff to play in the slot.

                playing Safety is hard. especially if the Niners are pattern matching. if they’re running a Rip/Liz scheme; then one of the Safeties (usually the SS) has to key and diagnose the TE or slot receiver. He has to figure out (based on film study and route stem recognition) if the receiver is going to attack the seam vertically or run a horizontal route in which case the Safety has to either protect the seam or drop down into the flat and pass of the horizontal running receiver to the linebackers. that’s a lot of heady work for a rookie.

              3. I think it would be Cox too. Never hear anyone give him the credit he deserves. Almost certain that if we ever release Cox again, we never get him back.

              4. Allforfunplay makes a good point from the mental aspect given Ward is learning two positions. I hadn’t taken that into consideration, and factoring in the scheme diversity…

              5. I think what Razor is getting at is getting the best players on the field instead of settling for an inferior player simply because of position. When Vic feels he can put a player out on the field who understands the calls and won’t make a mistake, he’ll do it. My guess is this will be the last year Dahl is used in that way, and Ward will take over that role when he is comfortable in the system. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them give Johnson some time at Safety over the coming years either.

              6. Cox can fill in at nickel and Ward at safety, not a stretch. I feel way better about that, heck I’d feel better about Cox playing safety. Spillman isn’t much better than Dahl either.

            3. Any QB will look to exploit a backup. If Ward goes back to safety, they’ll look to exploit him there, and they’ll also look to exploit whoever takes over at nickel.

              Mid game you would prefer to keep Ward in the nickel where he’s practiced the whole week. Those are the assignments he’s been drilled for that week. Longer term you look at what the best combo of players on the field would be. In that scenario Ward at safety with some time to prepare and Cox at nickel likely makes more sense.

              1. Thank you. I’d much more prefer that move over Dahl. I warned you guys when they signed him….

              2. Yea, I can agree too, until The Little Drummer Boy has to actually play Safety in a game that counts…..

              3. He played last year, when we had even worse depth at the position. Is he the reason we didn’t win the SB? I don’t think so. There are other more pressing concerns that back up safety, especially given Ward can be moved there if needed.

              4. Any significant time from Dahl at the Safety position and the degree of difficulty will increase on an already daunting task at hand. Ward needs to eat and sleep with the Fangio Safety Tutorial playing 24/7 over the house speakers….

              5. No doubt. Same can be said of a lot of backups. If one of Reid or Bethea are out for an extended time I doubt Dahl would be the long term replacement though – Ward would likely be shifted there (and presumably Cox take over the nickel role). That was my impression from what Fangio said, anyway.

                Dahl sucks for a starter, no question. For a backup he is fine.

              1. Not after he makes the pick or defends the ball. No one said he didn’t have to prove himself, but I don’t no what more proof you need that Dahl is a huge liability in coverage….

              2. Razor, Ward is obviously more talented than Dahl and would likely be the starter if it became a long term injury situation. He’s also a rookie that is learning two positions and would be the weak link through the eyes of the opposing QB, much like Dahl. Dahl’s advantage is that he knows what he’s doing right now.

              3. Although I think it’s silly to get so invested in the back up safety position, I’m bored, so I’ll throw this bone to Razor.

                I too have thought the one advantage Dahl had was his superior knowledge of the defensive scheme and his assignments therein. As BigP put it, I thought Dahl “knows what he’s doing.” Fangio suggested otherwise in the following exchange:

                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.

              4. Razor:

                The back up safety position is 7th or 8th on my list of concerns. If that’s the worst problem the team has, I’m confident the 49ers will be hoisting the Lombardi trophy.

              5. Really? I pray to God that the 49ers’ worst problem is the backup safety position.

              6. That problem would create more problems, and more problems are not what I pray for and that’s for reals…..

              7. I have to agree with Claude. If backup safety is our biggest concern heading into the regular season we’re set.

        3. also, instincts take over once you know what your responsibility is and know where the ball is going (key and diagnose the play). Once you can do that without thinking…that’s instincts. Ward is more gifted and talented than Dahl…no doubt. But he’s still learning his position….actually he’s learning TWO positions…so it’s going to take some time.

    1. Yep you don’t see Grant going after things Vic says. Vic speaks everything Grant would write.

  2. When Coach Harbaugh is telling them to take home 5 or 6 steaks home, and eat as many steaks as you want, what do you expect?

    1. reminds me of my high school track team. we the throwers (shot put and discus) were made up of football linemen and linebackers. the runners and jumpers were either purely runners or were WRs, CBs and RBs (who tended to run hurdles).

      the throwers used to go to track meets with their own coolers with lots of food and drink (and yes sometimes strong drinks). it was a picnic party on our area of the bus and where we set up on the field. the whole track team liked to hang out with us and join in the fun. that’s when the the head track coach threatened to have all coolers and food banned from track meets. The throwers all threatened to quit the team…all of us. So the track coach banned the runners from hanging out with us until after their events were finished.

  3. Another great interview from the Godfather.
    I can’t really put the blame on Dahl for Sunday’s TD. If you have a Pro Bowl TE going up against a backup S, the chances of that safety getting burned are fairly high. There needed to be some underneath help on that play.

        1. I’m saying I could have been in better position to make a play on both occasions. Is that clear enough for you?

          1. And I’m saying a backup needs help against a Pro Bowl TE. I don’t care if it would’ve been Dahl, Ward, or even D. Johnson; he still needed some help underneath. Am I being clear enough for you?

              1. Yea, that’s going to be my new nickname for him, if you don’t mind me picking up on your drum analogy. The Little Drummer Boy….

            1. You can’t help the helpless. Are you kidding me? Someone get this guy some glasses. First it’s Ellington, now it’s Dahl….

              1. You can’t help the helpless.

                Dahl sure didn’t look helpless on that crucial 3rd down stop when the Chargers were in the red zone for the first time. You make it seem like he horrible throughout the whole game when in fact his performance was up and down, which is typically expected of a backup.

              2. I never said he couldn’t make a down hill tackle, but you don’t want him in the open field to breakdown an opposing runner or there will be more redness of the skin, swelling and pain….

              3. Every time I see number 43 in the Secondary, and the game is not in hand, my head turns beet red, I sweat profusely with heart palpitations along with fingertip sensitivity. I have to put my hands around something to wring before I blow a gasket. How can you calmly sit there and continue to make excuses for him, comfortable in the knowledge he’s going to betray the 49ers for a TD for every quarter of spot action he sees?

              4. Because he isn’t going to see much action and we have one of the best secondary coaches in Donatell.

              5. Even the great and powerful Donatell can’t help him. That should have been your first clue, and I’m still upset about your seemingly lack of concern for my medical condition when Dahl attempts to play Safety….

              6. Sorry Razor, but symptoms that pop up when a certain player is on the field aren’t an example of a medical condition. ;-)
                You say that Dahl can’t be helped, but I seem to recall when the same thing was said by others (including me) about Tramaine Brock. I’m not comparing the two. Just saying that there is hope.

    1. Jack.. I tend to notice you have a keen
      eye and some inside insight on this team… Any idea if we will be trolling out our starters come Thursday?

        1. What good would it have done Kaepernick to have played this morning. What we need is to get him more game experience on Thursday.

  4. ‘It’s hard to simulate that sometimes on the practice field when you’re servicing each other.’
    For the record, I am sorely against players servicing each other on the practice field.
    Keep that stuff in the locker room boys!

    1. LOL Kauai! I thought I was the only one who noticed that.

      I knew what he meant, but yea a better choice of words could have been used.

      1. Couldn’t resist.
        Gotta be careful though…someone might call me out for a lack of football insight.
        Not supposed to have fun here wthout permission.

  5. Ahmad Brooks out of shape!!! What in the name of Jared Lorenzen is going on. You bust your hump for this team, get rewarded for that effort, and instead of continuing to be an example you pull this stunt. Wow. I wonder if that pay cut he took to “help the team” had something to do with this. Well in the name of Albert Haynesworth, get in shape, pass those physicals, and get back to that mad man you have been the past 3 years. Because there is a young man named Lynch, who coincidentally was also out of shape, who has worked his way back into shape and is playing with fire and passion. Although against 2nd and 3rd stringers. You dont want to lose yourr job for being out of shape. Have it taken from you. By any means necessary, by being in shape and playing your heart out. Then if you lose you will know the person took yourjob from ccompetition, not because one competitor got lazy

      1. Yea, especially with Aldon gone for awhile. Don’t think our coaching staff will allow more inexperienced guys out there starting

    1. Steelmatic: One would think that a pay cut would translate to less money available for food.

      1. Let’s hope it gets replaced with a video of Seahawks fans weeping and prostrating themselves before their TVs.

        … or throwing themselves off of buildings. There are days when I could go either way.

    1. If he gets too much bigger perhaps they should forget his losing weight and have him gain until he is big enough to play noseguard.

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