Santiago Mejia-The Chronicle

Santiago Mejia-The Chronicle



Do you have an injury update, especially on DL DeForest Buckner, but any of the other guys who sustained injuries last night or any of those expected to keep them out for a while?

"Yeah, DeForest is the same deal with his ankle. It's the same ankle. It's a low ankle sprain which won't be a long thing, but I'd be surprised if he played this week versus Denver. He keeps doing the same thing over and over again, so we're going to have to rest him a little bit, let him get fully healthy and I expect him to be doubtful here for Denver."

Now that you've had a chance to look at some of the tape on DL Solomon Thomas, what did you see that impressed you and did you see anything that concerned you?

"No, there were no concerns. We wanted him to get out there, play some, get his feet wet, get a little bit used to the speed of the game. By no means was it all perfect, but I think you guys all saw he definitely got noticed out there, caused some pressure on the quarterback. He ran to the ball, had a big hit on the sidelines and I thought it was good to see. Just a different changeup for the guards. We've got some big, long guys they're going against so we get Solomon in there who I think plays a little bit quicker and has a little bit different type of pass rush than some of the other guys we have and it's a good change up for them."

I was wondering, I'm sorry if this was said already, but I'm wondering if you had any updates on LB Donavin Newsom's injury?

"Yeah, he's still in the concussion protocol. So, we know everything was alright to where it checked out better than anticipated last week. But, now he's just progressing in the concussion protocol. [CB] Dontae Johnson is in that also. I'm not sure where he's at in it, but he's in that protocol."

Has he been released from the hospital and if not do you have an expected release date?

"Yeah, he's been released and I expect him to be here with the team. I think he was last Thursday. I'm getting confused with my days. I was traveling, but I expect to see him here in the office next week."

This is kind of unrelated, so I was going to ask as the season gets closer have your objectives as a head coach changed since you were first hired and if so what were your initial ones versus current?

"I mean, the closer it gets to the season, the more you focus on the people that you think are going to be on this team. Last night was our first preseason game so you're trying to give a bunch of guys opportunities. You evaluate all practices, you evaluate all games. I think next week, the game will be pretty similar, trying to evaluate guys and get them out there. But, as you get into that third game you're focusing more on the people you're going to think who are going to be your starters come Week 1. When you get into that fourth game you usually want to rest those guys who you feel have solidified a spot and give some guys a chance to compete who are really trying to nail down really those last few spots on the roster."

You said the first week of training camp that you were eying this week perhaps for DB Jimmie Ward to come back. Is that still the game plan for him?

"That is, that's what we were eying. That's what we were hoping for. We did not check him out today. We're going to take him through a bunch of tests tomorrow and run him a little bit to see how his hamstring holds up and if he passes or passes with [vice president of medical services/head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson] Ferg and everybody tomorrow when we recheck his hamstring, then we'll feel good about him going versus Denver this week. But, if we don't feel 100-percent great about it, we're not going to risk Jimmie getting out there and reinjuring it, setting him back. If we don't get a 110-percent positive report tomorrow then we'll just push it another few days."

I'm sorry, can you say the name of the player who has a hamstring injury again?

"Jimmie Ward."

LB Reuben Foster was saying after the game yesterday he thought he played okay, but he wanted to make sure and check the film. How did he grade out and what were your impressions of him?

"Yeah, I think Reuben played hard. You guys saw him make that play in the end zone. It was a good job undercutting that pass, saving a touchdown. I know he really wanted to come down with a pick and so did we. So, he could definitely get better from that standpoint on that play. He played a lot at WILL, I want to say he got about 13 plays, I think, and I believe he got about 14 plays at MIKE. So, he got to play both positions. I think it was good for him to get out there for a while. He did a good job making the calls. He wasn't perfect by any means in all of his alignments and stuff and getting in the right gaps. But, he showed definitely why we wanted him. He definitely flies to the ball. He's a square hitter, a good tackler. Got a chance to get his hands on the ball in that pass play I talked about, but there's definitely room for improvement. There were some things we were excited about, but I think the more he plays the better he's going to get."

The way he's so enthusiastic out there, is that really, are you seeing it resonate with the other guys on the team, where it's kind of a contagious enthusiasm?

"Yeah, I think anytime you've got people like that it becomes contagious. Reuben is a guy who really enjoys playing football. I think you guys can tell that anytime you talk to him about football you can see it on his face and when he gets out there you can tell by his actions too. The way he flies around, he enjoys hitting, he enjoys running. And, I think he enjoys talking. The more comfortable he gets with this defense with the X's and O's part and all the scheme stuff, I think he'll become even more vocal. He's an outgoing personality, but he's also very smart and understands the scheme. I think the more we get him out there with [LB NaVorro Bowman] Bo and the rest of the guys the more he'll communicate and be one of the leaders out there."

What was DL Ronald Blair's, I know he sustained a groin injury, is that a little bit more severe?

"Yeah, he had a groin strain. We kind of see him similar to DeForest, I know it's a different injury, but kind of the time table. He's doubtful this week. There's still a chance. But, we're not very optimistic about it for this week."

There were some deep passes completed in the first half, but it seemed to be mostly down the sideline. How did DB Lorenzo Jerome grade out starting and playing with that first team unit?

"Lorenzo did a solid job. They did a good job looking him off on a couple of those go-routes, which will happen, they look him off and then they get the one on one on [CB] Rashard [Robinson] and I believe it was [CB Keith] Reaser down the sidelines. But, he did a solid job tackling. He moves to the ball well and he's got a knack for getting interceptions. I know he didn't get any yesterday, but we were happy with how Lorenzo played."

What did you see from QB C.J. Beathard and did he earn an opportunity to play earlier in the next preseason game?

"Yeah, I mean, they're in a very stiff competition right now. We gave the first nod to [QB Matt] Barkley. We haven't discussed it yet as a staff, but I expect to see C.J. much earlier. I'll definitely have more of an answer for you guys later in the week on that. But, I thought he did a solid job. So did Barkley while he was in. C.J. got off to a little bit of a rough start. There was some miscommunication on a couple run plays, a couple formations between the receivers. His first couple drives didn't go smoothly, but kept his composure, didn't get rattled, really acts the same way he's always been. He does a good job hanging in the pocket, getting the ball to the right spots. I think you guys can see he's a pretty tough competitor."

Just from a process standpoint, last night when you had a chance to look back, did everything go well in terms of communication? Is there anything that you want to tweak moving forward?

"Yeah, I mean, we look at everything from just how we travel from the airplane to the food on the planes to what time we got to the stadium. So, there's lots of little tweaks that you look at that I think we'll be looking at throughout this preseason. Hopefully we get it to exactly where we want by the first game. The game day process, I thought went smooth. Definitely was my first time as a head coach. I'm still going through the exact same process I'm used to as a coordinator and I can't lie, there's a lot more to think about. The defense is up and I'm trying to study pictures and get my calls right for the next series, but I'm also glancing at them and having to pay attention to the clock when the offense isn't up and thinking about replays and all the situations that are going on. Another tough thing that hopefully won't be as big of a deal in the season is when you've got 90 players out there it's how are you using them? How long are they staying in? Coaches always want to keep their guys in long because they want to win and look good, but you've also got to be smart too. So, you're trying to balance it out when to get guys in and out of the game. Then you have a few injuries happen and you've got to get guys back in the game. So, it's pretty hectic during all NFL games, but especially in the preseason. I'm glad we've got three more of them. I thought our staff did a pretty good job communicating our first time together. I know we had 12 people on the field that first play in the third quarter for the defense, which is on coaches. That is always a challenge here in the preseason especially. I was pretty pleased with how we did in the first game."

How encouraging was it to see so many rookies perform well and take what they've been doing on the practice field and take it into a game condition?

"It was good. I was excited for a lot of the guys. We wanted to give all three of those backs a chance to go out there and perform. Once [RB] Carlos [Hyde] got out, I think Carlos only had two carries, but once the other three got in, it gave them a lot more opportunities and I thought all three of them did a good job. Some of the young receivers stepped up, definitely, the draft picks on defense. That's really what this preseason is for and we definitely wanted to see it in the first game, you never play your starting guys very long. I thought out backups came in and did a good job. Hopefully, it will help them earn a spot to make this team."

You guys played a lot of your backup offensive linemen. How did some of those undrafted or newcomers along the offensive line hold up last night?

"They did a solid job. You know, that's always a challenge in the second half. In all preseason games, sometimes it's a huge worry for quarterbacks and play callers because the defensive lines usually in the second half of games are better than the offensive line. And, what I was really proud of our guys for is the way they were able to finish and run the ball there at the end during that four-minute drill. I want to say they burned about seven minutes off of that clock and really allowed us to run out the clock and keep our defense off the field, which I was very excited about, because the way we were going down a little bit I know guys were getting tired. By keeping the defense off there you prevent injuries and you also don't give the Chiefs a chance to win the game. So, for that young group of guys to come in there and be able to control the ball for as long as they did or run the ball that was a huge credit to them and that was a huge credit to [RB] Raheem [Mostert]. Because I felt like they were giving him, when they gave him three yards, I felt like Raheem got five and when they were giving him one yard, I felt like Raheem got three. So, the combination of all of them did a real good job and I think they gave us a good chance to win that game."

LB Aaron Lynch had an exceptional evening last night. Can you talk about what you saw from him on tape?

"Yeah, I was real happy for Aaron. I know he's battled his weight this offseason. He came to training camp in as good of shape as I've seen him. And just talking to him I feel like he's been in as good of shape as he's been in his career. He's been doing a good job in practice and you never know if you're going to get rewarded and how it plays out in the game. And for him to be in the amount of plays he was and to make the number of plays he did I think he did a very good job and I was very happy for him because I know he's worked for that."

You mentioned this is your first year as a head coach. I just want to know, has your dad given you any coaching advice?

"Yeah, he always gives me advice. He's given me advice my whole life. I definitely listened to it a lot more when it pertained to football. But, we talked a lot. It's been hard in training camp. I didn't get a chance to talk to him much going into this. Actually gave him a call just sitting in the locker room a few hours before the game. That was the first time I got to talk to him for about a week just because of how busy training camp gets. But, this is something that we've gone through our whole lives. It's a little different being a head coach, but he's done it for a while so I always lean on him for advice. I don't have any questions until I'm struggling with something. I usually call him once I've already messed something up. I wish I could tell the future a little bit better and ask him before it happens, which I don't always. But, usually, I tell him, 'Hey I messed this up. Has that ever happened to you?' And he's like, 'Yeah, maybe you should have called me before that and I could have helped you.' I think that's me being his son sometimes, but he definitely helps."

Was there any key things, memorable pieces of advice that have really stood out to you or you really abide by?

"Just my whole life and in coaching. One thing he's always told me is to always be myself. That's something I try to do. I think that's something that I always felt he was. Being able to work with him for four years when I did in Washington I was able to see that. He was the best head coach that I ever worked for. I'm not just saying that because he is my dad, but he's really good at what he did. It was nice for me to watch that growing up. I was fortunate to be able to work with him for four years. He gave me, just the advice he said going into that game, he told me when you go into these preseason games people don't talk about winning and losing that much. But, we're taking over a 2-14 team. We need to learn how to develop the habit of winning. I was very happy that we were able to do that in the first game no matter how it happened.

You guys didn't see any of WR Kendrick Bourne during the offseason program. But, obviously to stick with him and keep him around you saw plenty of him in the draft evaluation and the lead-up to signing him. What has he shown since he's been able to get on the field?

"He's got a natural ability to separate and he's got good hands. I think you guys could see both of those things last night. We were excited to get Kendrick coming out of college and then I was really excited with what I saw in the rookie minicamp. And then I didn't see him again until training camp. That's a tough part about the rule. Those kind of guys that I was bringing up to where guys like [Carolina Panthers RB] Christian McCaffrey and Solomon Thomas, those guys get all the attention because they're first-round picks, but those are the guys who are going to be alright regardless of whether they miss an offseason. It's more of the guys like Kendrick Bourne who was undrafted and other people like that who are battling to make roster spots who have only been here for a few weeks, it really puts them behind the eight ball. He is a talented guy who definitely made some plays last night. So, that gives him a chance and I was happy to see that for him. But, he missed a whole offseason, basically, not counting the rookie minicamp. So, that's had him behind. You've got to be the right type of guy to really catch up on that because it's just impossible to get the same reps as everyone else has."

How do you address and eliminate the non-aggressive penalties? Illegal shift, illegal formations, 12-men on the field, false starts, things like that?

"The most disappointing ones to me were the illegal formations. That's nothing new. We motion all the time. We do that every single play almost in practice, and then to get to the game and not be sharp with that stuff was a little frustrating. The first third down in the game we got called for that and I know that was one that they missed because we were okay in that formation. But, unfortunately, they called that and that got called back and had us go three-and-out with our guys. The other ones that happened later in the game, we definitely deserved to be called on them. And, that's stuff that's frustrating because we can control that. That's just concentrating, doing what you've done in practice and we obviously didn't do a good job of that last night. False starts the same thing. I kind of expected a little more holding. The personal fouls, it's definitely not something that you're happy with, but it's something that you kind of expect or are ready for just with my experience going into these preseason games. We definitely got the attention of our players now and I would be surprised if you guys saw the same thing next week."

Going back to Kendrick Bourne, when you guys were talking about signing him, was that something that was discussed, that if we do get him we're only going to get him for the rookie minicamp, that we're not going to see him for nine weeks? Was that something that you guys talked about?

"Not really. I think that's stuff you talk more about with a drafted guy. But, when it comes to trying to sign a guy after the draft, you're trying to just look at the most talented guys that didn't get drafted and you're doing whatever you can to get them into your building."

What was the closest experience that you had to a head coach prior to this coming season?

"Well, I've been a coordinator the last nine years. Being at Washington I think it was always the fact that having the same last name as the head coach, I think sometimes I got treated like one from perception standpoint and sometimes the media. So, I think I had to deal with that a lot there. Going to Cleveland for a year and then going to Atlanta for two years where I worked for a defensive head coach, I think that's where you get the feeling a little bit even more where you're the head coach of the offense because the head coach is running the defense. I think in Cleveland and Atlanta both those years, I really felt the 100-percent full responsibility for what happened on the field. You really weren't sharing that, the praise or the blame, with anybody else. In Washington, I felt like from a media standpoint, with having the same last name as the head coach, I think press conferences and things like that and the attention you got I think really got me battle-tested to be a head coach because I feel like I've kind of dealt with it over the last few years."

* Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers