San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil met with the media on Thursday prior to the team's scheduled practice. He started by talking about the team's practice at Kezar Stadium on Wednesday, which he felt was good. "For me personally, it was my first experience in front of the Forty-Niner Faithful and you can see why this is such a special place and the organization has had the success that it's had in the past," said O'Nell. "It was a fun day."
Friday's joint-practice with the Texans
O'Neil stated that he is really excited about the team's scheduled joint-practice with the Houston Texans. He has had a lot of conversations with Texans offensive coordinator George Godsey to make sure everyone is on the same page. O'Neil stated that the offensive scheme, the two-back formation for example, will be things that they need to see to get ready for the season.
O'Neil and Godsey communicated on what they would like to see from each other that they do not see from their respective offense and defense.
Regarding preventing fights during the practice, O'Neil said, "I just think you got to talk to your guys about being competitive and not combative. You don't want to do these things and get anybody hurt."
O'Neil stated that he and Godsey have texted back-and-forth, shared ideas before they broke for spring, and had a couple of conversations this week to make sure everyone is on the same page. They will get scripts to each other tonight. He said that the communication has been easy and seamless.
Exhibition game agains the Texans
O'Neil reiterated what other coaches have said before him, saying that there will not be much scheming going on of the team's first exhibition game. There won't be any game planning to match one guy against another as preseason is more for evaluation. "You want to win every game because they're keeping score, but it's more of a self-evaluation right now," said O'Neil.
Facing slower tempo teams
O'Neil believes that facing the 49ers offense, which has a faster tempo, will be beneficial for the defense when they face other teams. It will give them more time to gather pre-snap information and diagnose what their job is.
O'Neil was asked about Kenneth Acker falling on the team's cornerback depth chart. O'Neil stated that the media probably looks more into the submitted depth chart than the coaching staff does. "Kenny is doing a good job for us at corner," said O'Neil. "We're also cross training him at safety. He's had a great attitude every day. So I'm not down on him at all. He's competing and he's competing for a spot on this team. He knows that."
When asked why they are working him at safety, O'Neil responded by saying that they are looking for versatility. Donate Johnson and Chris Davis were named as two other players that the team is "cross training."
"It doesn't matter what group he plays with, he finds a way to make plays," said O'Neil regarding DE Ronald Blair. "He's very different than anything else we have in that defensive line room. He's a good changeup for us. But I've been very impressed with him."
What has impressed him exactly? "His ability to get off the ball, slip blocks, use his hands, pass rush," said O'Neil. "He's different. He's not that 320-pound man that's going to knock you back at the line of scrimmage like some of the other guys are built. He's more of a single-gap penetrator who can make some plays in the backfield. He'll do well for us."
O'Neil stated again, like the other defensive lineman, Blair is getting work at all three spots. "He can be a problem athletically for guards and centers just with his skill set so that's something we're going to work through in the preseason and find out where he can best help us along the front," said O'Neil.
O'Neil stated that DE Arik Armstead has been really good during practices and that they are just looking for him to be consistent on every single play, drive, and game. "He's a guy that we can do some things defensively," said O'Neil. "We're hoping that he can be a big piece of the puzzle for us."
"Mike is very strong at the point of attack," said O'Neil regarding NT Mike Purcell. "He usually takes two, which allows the backers behind him to run free. He's smart at gathering pre-snap information. So I've been really impressed with him. He's gotten better every day. He's very consistent in what he does."