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Transcripts: What DeMeco Ryans, Mike McDaniel said ahead of 49ers-Cardinals

Oct 7, 2021 at 4:58 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to play the Arizona Cardinals this weekend. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel spoke with reporters after today's practice. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

CB Josh Norman was out of that blue Jersey today. How is he feeling and how has he looked at practice this week?

"Yeah, he's still progressing, going through to get ready. He still has a few important days coming up here. We'll see how it goes. See where he is for the game."

You've studied Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray enough over the last couple of years, do you notice anything different what he's doing this year to get that completion percentage in the passing game?

"I think it's still a similar, same offense where the ball is coming out quick. You have the quick throws and the biggest thing, I think they added a lot of playmakers around him. Where he can get the ball out quick on screens, running backs are running the ball well. So I think overall, schematically, they're doing a good job of getting the ball in the playmakers hands and you're not seeing Kyler try to do it all himself as he kind of did in the past, whether it's trying to take off and run. He's not running as much. He can still run. He's still elusive. He's still fast. One of the quickest, fastest quarterbacks I've ever seen, very talented guy, and they surrounded him with a lot of playmakers, which makes it a very difficult offense to defend."

I appreciate DL Dee Ford's injury history and I'm sure you have to be cautious with him. But he obviously looked very explosive on Sunday, but he only played 12 snaps. How do you balance that and is the fact that he has a game where he just plays 12 snaps are you watching out for him and making sure he can get through a whole season?

"Yeah. Dee has done a great job for us. Dee has done a great job of getting after the quarterback and that's what Dee does really well. And he's done it at a high level for a long time. So when it comes to snap counts or however that game dictates, each game is different. So whatever it dictates for his snap counts, he's ready to go. He's shown the explosion, the speed off the edge, and he's been a playmaker for us. So, I'm happy with where Dee is."

I guess when he is a playmaker and he does look explosive, why doesn't he play more than 12 snaps?

"Yeah. That's the role we have for him now and if it's 12 snaps it's not a set like Dee is only getting this amount of plays. However, the game dictates his reps go, that's how it goes for him."

LB Fred Warner talked about after Green Bay, everybody needing to be locked into their assignments and it seemed like that happened versus Seattle a little bit more. What was it that changed in that week between that got everybody refocused?

"I think it's humbling when you watch the tape and you see Green Bay, they played us well. They did some really good things, but you also see the mistakes that were self-inflicted and it makes you sick to the stomach when you see those things. So, having an opportunity to just sit back and just look at it and really focus in on how we can get better from the mental part of just being on the same page. And I think all the guys, like Fred is correct. All the guys just looking at it and seeing like, 'hey, it's it won't change. It's about us.' If we're doing what we're supposed to do and make teams earn every yard, make teams have to drive the field on us and we'll see how good they are, but let's not have, let's not let the 49ers beat the 49ers. Let's not have self-inflicting penalties or mental errors where we're hurting ourselves. Let's just be as crisp as possible and play our style football."

As a linebacker, how hard is it when you see a quarterback break out of the pocket to stay disciplined and not go after him staying behind the line of scrimmage?

"Yeah, it takes a lot of discipline. It takes a lot of practice. When you see quarterbacks break out of the pocket, your natural reaction is the guys running with the ball, so I have to go up and get him. But you have to understand, with Kyler, what's been our main focus all week is talking about plastering and coverage because he's not escaping to run per se. He's escaping to hit the big explosive play, so our guys have to be disciplined, stay back in coverage and we'll come up after he crosses the line of scrimmage."

What do you guys need to do to create more takeaways?

"To create more takeaways, I think guys just have to keep plugging. I think we got two balls out this past Sunday, forced two fumbles but the ball landed right back into the opponent's hands. So, guys just have to keep doing what they're doing. Have a mindset to go after the ball. When the ball is up in the air, have the mindset to go up and pick the ball off. Be aggressive from that standpoint. So I think turnovers, they'll come. Guys just have to keep playing with the effort that they're playing with, keep attacking the ball the way they've been doing. And it'll bounce our way."

You look at Arizona's production receivers. There's like five of them, with almost the same exact line. Are they running the air-raid to near perfection when they're that balanced and then how difficult is it to prepare for something that could go to any of those receivers?

"Yeah, you have to be dialed in, like you said, they have a lot of weapons. When it comes to their receivers, it's probably the the most complete group we'll see, as far as the playmakers and guys who've been in this league and done it at a high level. So, the ball can go anywhere. So, everybody has to be on top of their job. Everybody just has to be disciplined from a defensive standpoint, nobody has to panic or anything. Everybody just has to be disciplined, play with good eyes and we'll make the plays we should make."

CB Jason Verrett had a pretty admirable play last year against Arizona Cardinals WR Deandre Hopkins. Is he around at all or sharing any notes with corners?

"Yeah, JV has been around. Still see him, he's around and just lifts your spirits to see him with a smile on his face. And he brings me joy just to see him around and still leading from that perspective. Talking to the guys, making sure they're in tune with the gameplan. He's in tune to what we're doing and the game plan every week. He's calling and talking to the guys, checking in on them. So JV is still around, still involved."

Is the best advice, maybe he can give them is to maybe play confidently when you're going against a big guy, like he does?

"Oh, for sure. That's any corner, any safety, any DB when you're matched up out there on some of the best athletes in the world, it's all about confidence. I think that's half the battle right there. You have to be confident in what you're doing and confident that you can make a play against anyone you line up against. So, our corners, our safeties have to have that mindset and they will have it this week."

Why did you have to go with the CB Dre Kirkpatrick and CB Dontae Johnson in the slot as opposed to CB Deommodore Lenoir in one of those two spots?

"Yeah, we made some moves. Guys we practiced throughout the week and guys did a good job. And we went with what we felt like would be the best group for us going into this week."

Does he still have some, I know he didn't start playing in the slot until later on in camp. Is there still some room he has to learn in the slot?
Oh, for sure. As a rookie, it's a lot for a rookie to process and go out and handle in a game. So, I think he's still processing a lot. He's still coming along. He still has a lot of learning to do, a lot of growth, but that's any young player. That's how it was going to be for any young player. No young player is going to come in and have it all in three or four weeks. It is a maturity process that he has to go through and he's battling, he's competing, he's still doing everything the right way. He just has to keep working."

On the Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson rushing touchdown, it seemed like DL Arik Armstead took an inside rush on that play and there was room on the outside. It is that Armstead's responsibility to keep that edge? Or has that been an issue this year, last year, as far as running quarterbacks, them getting out on the edge?

"Yeah, I think that particular play, it involves more than just Armstead. Armstead yes, he took an inside move, but we have another d-tackle to wrap off it. We have a linebacker who's a free player in the middle who has to play it better. So, that play is just not on Arik, himself. We have to play better as a group, all around him."

How crucial is to keep Kyler Murray in the pocket, to defend the rush in particular?

"Yeah. If he wants to get out of the pocket, he's going to get out of the pocket whether he retreats back 10 yards. I think guys throw that out, where keeping him in the pocket. Well, this guy's elusive enough. He's probably the fastest guy on the field. So, if he wants to get out, he's going to get out."

The numbers indicate they haven't done a lot from this perspective, but what's your assessment of DL Samson Ebukam and DL Arden Key as far as pass rushing?

"Yeah. Samson and Arden have done a great job in the spots they've come in to the games for us. One thing is that they play physical, they play hard. And that's the one thing I love about both of those guys. They give us everything they have, every time they're out on the field and that's to be expected from those guys. That's what they do in practice all week. So, I'm pleased with where Arden and Samson are and I'm pleased with the production that they were able to give us."

Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel

How likely is it that QB Jimmy Garoppolo will play this week?

"Oh man. I wasn't expecting that one, so you caught me off guard. I've been looking for the crystal ball. Don't have it. What I can tell you is that Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the toughest football players I've ever been around. And let's just say he hasn't taken the week off at all. Although he hasn't practiced, he's done every rep that we've done in practice [quarterbacks coach] Rich Scangarello and [offensive passing game specialist] Bobby Slowik. Luckily for the 49ers, they're really tired because they've been grinding and making sure that he's prepared. And if he's healthy enough to play at the level that he expects for himself, he'll do that. But that's between [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and Jimmy Garoppolo. So really Mike McDaniel is just prepared for everything, so much so that he's speaking in third person."

Speaking in the third person is a sign of preparation?

"Yes! I didn't know that until now, but yes."

This week has Mike McDaniel installed more QB Trey Lance specific plays into the gameplan?

"No, that's what you try to do in the offseason is build an offensive system that flourishes everyone. Then you have specific things that are tailored to people's skillsets, but for instance Trey Lance's touchdown pass to [WR] Deebo Samuel, that was a play that Jimmy repped all week. So, there's a lot of overlap."

The long-one to Deebo?

"Yeah. And you guys have seen some plays, defenses and the way the game flows dictates, how many we've run. But we have a lot of stuff up every week that hasn't been run. So it hasn't been that different, which is why when Jimmy Garoppolo goes out and Trey Lance goes in, the rest of our players, whether the plays work or not, are decisive and you can tell it's cohesive because it is one system, so it's not too crazy abnormal."

But the game plan wasn't built for Trey. So is it sort of tough when you have two quarterbacks who do have different skillsets, to try and go into a game and balance that?

"The toughest part was in the offseason, trying to make sure that our system highlighted both players, but also allowed the rest of our players to know what to do. You can't put in too much offense or two different offenses, otherwise you wouldn't be good at anything and your players would be spread thin. So that was the toughest part systematically. We've gotten used to it where now we go into a game and we have certain plays for Trey every week, but Trey is trying to master the art of quarterback. And so, he's working at every single play that you see Jimmy run on Sundays. Those are plays that he's running in his mind and working with Rich Scangarello every day between periods and after practice. So, it's really not as challenging. It was challenging, but not nearly as much as it was in the offseason."

Pistol is what Trey mainly did at North Dakota State. And is that, I don't want to say second nature, but is he comfortable in the pistol formation?

"As far as the techniques and the way we want to run stuff, he had done pistol, but that's something that our offense has been working on in the offseason and you see Jimmy do it once in a while. And that's something that you don't just all of a sudden put in. There's timing to everything. Every play that we run, you're trying to be orchestrated correctly. It's something that we've had in our offenses. I remember the first time we ran pistol in Washington in 2013, it was something that you realize that you have to fully commit to and work on it every day for it to be in your offense. So, we have worked on that every day with all of our quarterbacks. If you watch our opening games in Cleveland in 2014 against the Steelers, as a matter of fact, we're doing no huddle stuff. And [New England Patriots QB] Brian Hoyer is in the pistol the whole time. It's something that you try to orchestrate, you have different reasons to do it. And so, we didn't necessarily bank on all the collegiate work, which wasn't a ton. He was familiar with it but he didn't live in it. But we really this offseason have to work on that to make sure that everyone's on the same page and everything times out right."

A lot of Trey's drop backs, and it's understandable in Week 4 of his rookie season, his background, etc. But he just looked kind of frantic and sped up, is that a fair assessment? And obviously, the more he plays will things slow down?

"Reps are important in everything in life I've found. But he's 21 years old and he's a rookie and like every other position where we're talking about improvement and growth and we're never satisfied. You have to get into a rhythm and sometimes you come out, if you're first possession in basketball, you get fouled and you go to the free throw line, you might hit the front rim. You work through it. That's something that there were plays that he was very rhythmic and there was plays that the games fast. And that's the biggest thing, that's why those reps, I think his first preseason game, I said, I was excited for him to fail. And he kind of gave me crap about that because he was like, 'dang.' It's that you know that there's going to be things that you're going to, you just don't know what the things are until it's real live bullets. You feel there's a comfort area in practice, but in real life bullets, there's things that happen. And then you're like, 'hey, we can identify those and work on those.' And you can actually hear what I'm saying, because now you've taken that in and understood directly. 'Oh yeah, I get what you mean about pass, rush and zoning defenders and how fast things happen.' So I think during the game he got into a rhythm, the score dictated that you saw a lot of drop back action, which I think is compounding that too. You try not to drop back and throw with any quarterback, every single play. But sometimes the score dictates that. And then, there's a lot of plays that he looked frantic because there were some pass rush issues too. There's a lot of compounding variables. I'm sure the next time he plays that it'll continue to look better and better and better and that's the whole goal. And that's what he's focused on."

Was the expectation coming into the season to use Trey more like you did in that preseason finale against the Raiders? I know Shanahan said, no, he wanted the Lions to prepare for both and all that stuff, but is there an element of like you expected Trey to play more and then you had to dial it back for certain reasons once the regular season started?

"You really just wanted to give it a try because you just don't know. You approach everything week by week and you're trying to win a game and you're saying, 'okay, what advantage does this give us, what doesn't?' And you're trying not to predict the future because you don't know the way things are going to play out with the defenses that you're going against. So, you want to be prepared if you need to do that. And that doesn't mean that that's not going to happen ever again. But we wanted our players to feel that. And we've been bit plenty of times. I'm sure you guys are familiar, we have injuries once in a while. And so, we don't want to sit here, like last year in Week 2 in 2020 or whatever year that was, in Week 2, we lost our starting quarterback. And you see directly how that affects the team. And so, you want the team to be prepared. Kyle is sitting there looking at it like, 'Hey, we want to give Detroit something to think about. And maybe down the road, I want to do this.' And you don't want the first time that you ever do it to be, 'oh yeah. It's the game on the line, division game against the Arizona Cardinals. We're 2-2, they're 4-0. Yeah. Let's just try this.' So, nothing in that game and nothing that Trey's done has deviated. It's just been, 'hey, what gives us the best chance to win.' I prepare for everything to happen. And Kyle says, 'okay, we're going this way.' And I say, 'how fast'."

You talked about the art of quarterbacking that Trey is trying to attempt to learn. In terms of the art of improvisation, off-schedule plays, his skillset, obviously, lends itself to it. How comfortable are you as coaches with him deviating off of everything you guys have planned?

"It's funny because you, as a coach, you're kind of a product of your environment. And you get used to plays, needing to be on schedule for them to be good plays. So you adjust as a coach. When you, have a skillset such as Trey's, you have to remind yourself, 'hey, it's okay if it goes off schedule because we're in a bottom line business and did it get yards or score points.' So it is an adjustment for us, but it's a very quick and easy adjustment. You just have to keep reminding yourself because you do usually think through a scope of, 'hey if number two or three isn't open, our guy just got hit. So it better be open.' And then all of a sudden, you're like, 'oh yeah, it's okay if somebody breaks the pocket.' So that was an adjustment. We felt it in the game, but then you're like, 'okay, we just got a first down.' So you just end up adjusting to whatever, same as every other position, good, bad, or equal."

This is not meant as a snarky question, but for my curiosity, how do you recognize, or like the throw back with RB Jacques Patrick, did you know something in his background or did you see him throwing in practice where you say, okay?

"Yeah, when I was evaluating his middle-school tape, I was like, 'yep.' No, that's something that you're looking at an opponent, you have a reason to do it, and then you say, 'okay, who can do it?' And then you kind of do a tryout amongst the position, see who does it the best and then you try to put them in pressure situations in practice and see how they hold up. Kyle's great at putting pressure on people. And so, we had confidence in it because he made sure that he could throw from point A to point B, which he did. And that was the biggest thing. The end result wasn't exactly what we'd wanted, but the reason to do it and why we wanted to do it, we were happy with the end result and that was something that we worked on. What you do is you end up doing that early in the week and then rep the play numerous times because you don't want to do a disservice to all other 10 players and the player himself. You don't want him to all of a sudden, he goes out there in a national football game and is on Sports Centers Not Top 10, because he triple-bounced it."

So it took several seasons to get full confidence and command of the offense. Where do you feel Trey Lance is and his progress of getting of the offense?

"I feel like he's in the boat with a lot of rookies, in terms of you're looking at him and you're like, 'this isn't the end result.' I think every day he shows us that he's wise beyond his years, much more mature than I was at his age. I can tell you that much. Very, very smart. And as far as expectations, we expected him to be a rookie who threw 300 and some odd passes in college. But you know what, in an NFL football game this season, he's had more two-minute reps than he's had his entire college career. I'm not sure if you guys know, but he's really good at winning football games in high school and college, so he was never behind. Just knowing that on the front end, you know there's going to be a lot of things to grow on. And he knows that as well, which is why when bad things happen he doesn't blink. He had an incompletion on a four-yard throw and then throws a 76-yard touchdown pass. You know that there's going to be some hiccups along the road. You accept that. But you just try to do the best you can and continue to improve. That's the biggest thing, you just don't want to regress. You want to find a thing, improve on it, fix it, go to the next thing. And he's hungry enough to keep doing that, which is why we're pumped to have him."

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