“Injuries; [WR Dante] Pettis is going to be out, [DB] Jimmie Ward is doubtful, [WR Pierre] Garçon, questionable, [CB Richard Sherman] Sherm, questionable, [WR] Trent Taylor, questionable, [CB] K’Waun [Williams] and [CB Ahkello] Witherspoon, questionable.”
Just in general, how did the guys make it through the week on the short week?
“I thought they did a good job. We walked through on Wednesday. We had a full practice yesterday. We ended up walking through today, just trying to give those guys their legs back on the short week, especially with the number of guys down.”
Witherspoon is still questionable because of a concussion?
Does he have to pass the test tomorrow in order to play?
“Yeah, I believe tomorrow is the final stage.”
Do you have any hesitation on playing him in the starting lineup without playing a defensive snap last game?
“No, not at all. He practiced all last week. He practiced this week. He was limited with no contact and everything. I think he’s got one more step to pass, but no, I’m not worried about that.”
What makes their use of play-action so effective for them?
“Same as everybody. You get the run game going and when you have a good run game and a good back, it takes a lot of people to stop that. It takes big commitment. You’ve got to shoot your guns and not hesitate. When you do shoot your guns, people usually are very open behind you. So, it’s the same philosophy that we do that a lot of people do and it’s just to balance the field out.”
Is that something that your defense needs to work on? It seemed like maybe Monday night some guys were looking in the backfield a little bit too long while guys might have been getting open behind them.
“Yes, definitely. When you have a responsibility in coverage and you go up and play your run fit and don’t look at your responsibility, that’s how a guy gets very open. So, that’s something that we try to do a ton on offense. That’s what a lot of people try to do, and that’s a bind that people put you in and we missed a number of them last week. We’ve got to get better in that area.”
Throughout the NFL, usually there’s a strong correlation between a strong run game and winning. Maybe it’s changing as the pass game gets more prevalent. Anyway, are you surprised give your run numbers what your record is? Obviously, it takes all three phases and all that.
“I would say the most consistent stat is turnovers, and we’re not doing good in that area at all. So, no. When you’re that bad in that stat, nothing surprises me. I do believe a run game helps because usually when you’re running the ball well, usually you’re winning. That’s usually most games that you run the ball well in, you get 30-something carries, it’s usually because you end up getting a lead and you win. I think that’s why that stat happens a lot. The main thing is scoring. So, you need to score and you need to not turn the ball over and you need to get turnovers.”
How has Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley II matured as a rusher?
“He’s getting better and better. He’s as talented of a back as I’ve ever studied coming out of college. I think he played eight games his rookie year, and those eight games he looked as good of a rookie back as I’d ever seen. I know it slowed down the next year for him. But, since he’s been here with [Los Angeles Rams head coach] Sean [McVay] and the new group, he took right off. He’s been the same guy since his rookie year when he played. Everyone knew he was going to be real good coming in to this league. He’s continued to show that and he’s continued to get better and better. It wasn’t a coincidence he was the NFL MVP last year. So far, he’s on his way to looking that way again.”
You’ve got the statue unveiling this week. A bunch of the old guys are coming back. I don’t know how much of a chance you get to interact there. Are there any plans to have guys speak to the team or any sort of interaction that way?
“None right now. I think they come in tomorrow. They’re all invited out to our walk through, so I think we’ll see a number of them out there, whoever gets in by that time. I’ll probably talk a little bit about the history and stuff, maybe Saturday night. Just tell our guys so they’re aware. But, I know our guys will be pumped up to see them out there.”
Have you seen the statue yet?
“No, I haven’t.”
Do you get a sense guys are excited to put on the uniform?
“I do. They usually like change, new uniforms, whatever it is, and I think they like the ones that we’re wearing this week. I always think you look faster in all white, so hopefully it makes them feel faster. If you feel faster, you usually are faster.”
Do you have a throwback jacket you’re going to throw on on the sideline or something?
“I don’t know. We’ll see what [equipment manager Jay Brunetti] J-Bird has in my locker, see the choices and stuff. But, I don’t know. Those throwback jackets, I remember one sleeve looking like a Zebra stripe and the rest being Niners. I had to wear one on the sidelines during the Super Bowl and I’m still embarrassed about it. So, I don’t know, not if it looks like that.”
Do you know if you still have that former NFL CB Deion Sanders jersey you wore?
“I’m still a little sensitive about it. But, I had too many people over my senior year of high school and someone jacked it from my house. I’m still looking for that guy. So, if you see someone wearing an authentic Deion jersey, 75-year anniversary, please let me know.”
McVay says he has one. It could be yours.
“I’m worried about that.”
It was a red, right? Not the whites?
“Yeah, it was the red.”
On the same theme, you wore a different hat Monday night. That was a very small Niner logo. What was going on there?
“I wear hats a lot outside of the football office. I’m usually not a big fan of some of the hats and that was one I liked. I hope you liked it. It was cold, so I put it on. But, I’m glad you noticed. I like your Rice University t-shirt too, it looks good.”
Where do you think DL Solomon Thomas is at just confidence-wise right now?
“I think Solomon is at the same spot all of our guys are. We’ve done some good things, but we haven’t been consistent enough. Solomon, I want everyone to get better, but I believe a lot in Solomon. I know he didn’t get as much opportunity as last week and I plan on him definitely getting more this week. But, I plan on Solomon improving as this year goes. He did some good things for us last year. We haven’t gotten out to the start that any of us expected or wanted. But, I believe in Solly. I know he can bring things to our defense and help us. I know him and us as a coaching staff are still trying to develop where he can affect the game the most. There are some different spots that he’s had to go through with that. But, as long as he stays healthy and can continue battling through this year at that stuff, I think we’ll have a very good feel for him at the end of this year. I expect him to continue to play at a high level.”
I know it’s a meritocracy and everything like that, but what’s the balance you have to strike between getting the guys who deserve playing time in there versus just getting a guy in there so he gets the reps that he needs?
“There is a balance. We’re trying to win games and we’re trying to adjust things and do whatever we can to have a good run defense and then at the same time to try to generate pass rush and you use personnel differently according to that. Just like we use receivers. They all have different type of roles. Sometimes it’s a speed guy, sometimes it’s a shiftier guy. Sometimes it’s a physical guy. I see D-Line very similar. We have a number of different traits on our D-Line. We’re working through that trying to figure out the best way to be effective. We’ve had inconsistency through it all, but there has been some good things and I think we can capitalize on those and continue to get better and I think Solly will.”
Did QB Jimmy Garoppolo come back into the facility this week and what kind of interaction has he had with the team and the quarterbacks?
“Yeah, he got back from his surgery. He got back on Tuesday so since Wednesday he’s been in all of the team meetings and stuff. It’s been good to have him around. He’s still on his crutches and everything so he’s not going out to practice or anything. But, it was good to see his face. Definitely he’s grown his beard out a little bit. You can tell he’s been sitting in a hospital or a bed most of the time. But, it’s good to have him back in the building. He’s got to make a few more strides just healing from the surgery and things like that and we’ll get him around a lot more.”
What are his spirits like?
“He seems good. Seeing him in the meetings, just talking to him a little bit, I think he’s happy to be back with the team and get back into this with us.”