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Robert Saleh discusses new defensive additions

Nov 23, 2017 at 3:38 PM--

Can you give us a brief thumbnail on DB Antone Exum Jr. and DB Dexter McCoil and how their skills complement each other or what you're trying to figure out there to see who's going to play in place of DB Adrian Colbert on Sunday?

"We're working out, so you've got [S Eric] E-Reid still at strong. Between McCoil, [CB] Leon Hall and Exum, we're trying to see who can best fill that spot with the skillset that we desire with that free safety. With the range, the ability to track out of the middle of the field. Those are just things that we're working through. Then, of course, the mental aspect of it. We've got to be able to have a guy back there who can communicate and knows what he's doing. This whole week has been a good little competition, and we'll have it sorted out by Sunday."

Did DL Cassius Marsh show up today? Was he on the field?

"Yeah, he was here. He's excited. He's real excited to get out there and play. It was cool; he had a lot of recall from his days in Seattle. There's a lot of similarities there. Obviously different verbiage, but either way he is here and he is excited, and we're excited to have him to be honest with you."

Where was he lining up out there?

"Right now we have him playing the LEO. I shouldn't even say LEO. He's one of the defensive end spots. We're trying to find spots on the field for this first week. We're getting some guys back; we're starting to be healthy. To be able to add him to the mix and what he does, it's cool to have him around."

Do you think he and DL Sheldon Day will be ready by Sunday?

"The cool thing with those two, they could be, very well. You still have tomorrow and Saturday to work through everything, but there's so much recall. They understand our techniques. They understand exactly what we're asking them to do. So, Sheldon and him could just slide right in and start playing. It's just a matter of whether or not they can pick up the differences in verbiage. So again, just working all the way through to Sunday and see how that works out."

Were you surprised that Sheldon was available on the waiver wire?

"Yes and no. Yes because the Jacksonville defensive line is stacked. They're almost three deep everywhere. I should say, no, I'm not surprised because of the amount of depth that that defensive line has. You couldn't possibly keep all those numbers. At the same time, him being on the street, a guy like Sheldon. He is not in my mind a guy that, he is an NFL football player. He's a really good inside three-technique. He's got a tremendous skill set that we like. The speed and quickness and the ability to penetrate off the ball. He's actually a good piece, and that's why he made it this long. They did everything they could I'm sure to keep him. When injuries start happening it becomes a numbers game. There's no way I'm sure they could justify keeping him. Especially with the amount of D-Line talent they have."

This is going to be the first time that LB Reuben Foster goes against Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. Obviously, all you guys have to be on alert for him, but what does Reuben particularly need to do to help contain Russell?

"Well first, Reuben's got to do his job and play gap sound and understand that we need to be very disciplined in pass coverage. That's first and foremost. Really, the play doesn't start with Seattle until Russell starts creating things off-schedule, which he is probably the best in all of football at doing. With that said, the combination of relentless rush along with disciplined coverage is what it's going to take to handle the off-schedule stuff. Reuben doesn't have to do anything different in my mind. He just needs to continue to play disciplined football, let the plays come to him, and when he's in position to make the play, he's just got to go make the play."

It looks like DL Aaron Lynch has been practicing full participation. Does he have to show something? Is he in competition to be up on Sunday or will he automatically be up on Sunday?

"It's the same thing. The D-Line, they're starting to get healthy. So, there's going to be some healthy scratches. It's going to be who's able to perform during the week. It is a constant competition. It's a good thing, I guess because when you look at it, you're getting guys who are all very capable of playing. You've got a bunch of guys in there. So, the fact that we're getting healthy, and Aaron, he's out there working his tail off. Again, there's going to be a couple of guys that aren't going to be up because of numbers. It's going to be a battle. Really it's between all of them. So, there's good competition going on in practice."

Does Marsh provide a little more speed than you have on the edge at those spots?

"He adds speed, for sure. When you watch his tape, he's relentless. He does not stop. He's the definition of all gas no breaks. He does provide added juice off the edge. But, he also brings in a little bit of experience with pass rushing that right now [LB] Elvis [Dumervil] has from an edge-rush standpoint. The guys are starting to develop and learn, but he already has it through his first three years. Working with [Seattle Seahawks DL] Cliff Avril and [Seattle Seahawks DL] Michael Bennett and those guys, understanding he's got time in our system and he understands exactly what we look for from a pass rush standpoint. He brings added speed, he brings added knowledge, he brings added veteran presence. Even though he is a young guy – he's only 25 – we're excited to have him because he's very athletic, he does have enough speed, and he's relentless with his pursuit. Those are the things that make him a tremendous asset for us."

I assume you thought this was good move for you getting Marsh and Day. You talked about why Day may have been on waivers, but there's a reason why they're on waivers. But, still they're young guys, and I'm sure you're intrigued to see what they could add. Were you pretty pleased within three days to pick up those two guys?

"Heck yeah. Any time you can find pass rushers and depth to your defensive line you can't ask for much more than that. We are excited to have them because Day provides an inside element that is the exact opposite of [DL DeForest] Buckner. Of course, adding to that edge rush to help Buck and those inside pass rushers that we do have. To add guys who actually are versatile and help us, I don't care where you get them or how you get them, any time you can find a guy who can help you win and perform on game day you get excited about it."

It seems like DL Solomon Thomas is going to come back after missing a couple of games. What are you expecting from him for the rest of the season?

"To build off what I feel has been a strong start for him. Before he got hurt, he was leading all rookies for tackles for loss. He was leading all defensive linemen in tackles. He had two sacks. He was actually producing. He was playing at a very high level, especially in the run game. The big thing for him is to continue to build on that and to continue to work and develop as a pass rusher so by the end of the year he's feeling confident and we're feeling confident that he's going to be the inside pass rusher that we're all hoping he'll be."

What's the status of DL Tank Carradine? I know that this was the week I think initially you guys had circled on the calendar for him to return.

"He's a guy that we could get back. He still has to work through a couple more days. Trying to get him through practice. I'm sure you guys have seen him for the past couple days. Again, we're excited to get him back too and his presence, especially in base downs versus the run. That thing's going through Friday, and it's going to go all the way through Sunday and see how he feels. If he's ready, he's going to roll. If not, we'll wait a week."

The Seahawks obviously have suffered a lot of injuries and some changes on that roster. Just reading some of the stories out of Seattle this week, there is a sense that they may have lost their aura. Do you buy into that? What's your impression of your former team?

"You know what, I do not buy into that. Let's be real, they played the Atlanta Falcons who were the NFC Champions a year ago, and they battled all the way until the last second. In the NFL it's hard to win football games. When I watch that team, I see a team that flies around, they play their tails off, and they're going to bring everything they've got. Because they've lost to some really, really good football teams, in my mind, does not change what you see on tape. If you really want to know what they're about, just turn the tape on. Don't look at the final result. Look at what they're producing on tape. They're a team that plays as hard as they've ever had. Russell and those guys, [Seattle Seahawks WR] Doug Baldwin, especially on offense, [Seattle Seahawks TE] Jimmy Graham, Jimmy Graham is playing a much more physical brand of football. Russell still makes a ton of plays. Doug Baldwin still grinds. The O-Line is much improved, especially with [Seattle Seahawks T] Duane Brown aligning at left tackle. And I'm being honest. I'm not trying to sugarcoat it, but they still play their tails off. Sometimes in this league, you fall short of being able to pull out a fourth-quarter win. And so, they're still a team that it would be zero surprise to see that team in the playoffs."

Sheldon Day was saying that in Jacksonville if they have a common opponent with the 49ers, they turn on the 49ers tape first. And he was saying one of the reasons is because you guys play with so much energy. Is that something that you like to hear and is that something that you see a team that is number one in defense and they're looking at your tape?

"It's cool. We pride ourselves on our whole mantra of all gas no break. The one thing we will not do is not play 100, just rolling all the way through, playing with the physicality that we want. [Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash] Washer being there, the linebackers, and the relationship that we all have over there, it's kind of reciprocal. We'll watch Jacksonville. We watch the Chargers, we watch Atlanta, we watch Seattle. We've kind of got a cool little group of guys with regards to our system, and there's a lot of similarities. So, to be able to have those guys watch our tape, and they have had some crossover games, it is cool because they are playing at a very, very high level, which we all knew they would. We all knew they would after last year."

* Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers


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