Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Transcripts: What Mike McDaniel and DeMeco Ryans said ahead of 49ers-Rams

Nov 12, 2021 at 5:50 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to play the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans spoke with reporters after today's practice. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel

When people ask you, like I'm doing right now, like how do you feel about the team's offense where it is, what you see, where it's going? How do you answer?

"Well, especially when you're not winning football games, you're never content at all. And I really think as a coach, you try not to be content in general because here's the facts of NFL football. It's the best of the best. The parody is unbelievable. It's game of inches, all those clichés, which are true. But last week doesn't matter at all. You base your feelings on what has been going on. If you do that too much, you're going be heartbroken at some point because you have to look forward. So I can tell you this week, I'm very happy with across the board with the coaches, with the players. I feel like they own the game plan. I feel like they are approaching the game with the right mindset they need to need to have to win it. And that's really all you look at because you evaluate the tape, you coach it, but then you have to move on. And if you don't, you're going to learn the hard way, whether you're doing good or bad. Let down games, you're in the whole like we are, we've lost a lot of close games and we've lost games that we could have been a lot more competitive in. So it's important to think solely in that manner. Otherwise you'll be humbled real quick."

Is this unique when you face the Rams? It would seem to me that maybe one of the first things you guys talk about is, 'How do we prevent Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald from ruining the day?' Is he a unique talent in that that isn't maybe a conversation you have every week about a particular player on every team?

"He's one of the best, if not the best player that I've ever coached against in my 15 years or so in the NFL. So in that regard, he's unbelievably disruptive. The biggest thing about an interior defensive lineman is that if you only block him, there's a lot of other players that are going to make tackles. It would do an injustice to the Rams defense, which is a very good defense at all three levels, to just say you're only focused on one guy. That being said, you know that he can change the game in a heartbeat. I think the game we won last year in L.A., we had a double team on him. I can't remember what quarter it was, but he was on the backside of a run split it, had a strip fumble that was returned for a touchdown. So it happens like that. So, he's a very, very good player, might be the best player that we've ever gone against offensively. From a defensive standpoint, especially interior players. There's not many like him. But you can't just get into a rabbit hole about one player when there's a lot of good players surrounding him."

How much of Los Angeles Rams OLB Von Miller are you expecting to see on Monday?

"I'm expecting to see a ton of him, they got him for a reason. I'm sure if he's healthy, they are going to unleash him in full force. It is odd when you're preparing for a defensive player that isn't on tape at all, in the middle of a season, but it's not uncharted. And it happens every single year game one, especially when players don't play in the pre-season, so it's a hair different. All the offensive line coaches, Chris Foester, Butch Barry, Zach Yenser, do a great job of giving our players visuals. Going back and doing the research and creating pass rush cut ups and, and run fit cut ups. Then I know the tight end coach, John Embree, has done the same thing. So, we do our due diligence trying to piece him, part to whole into that system."

They have Von Miller, Aaron Donald, they also have Los Angeles Rams DL Leonard Floyd. You guys don't have T Mike McGlinchey, is this on paper, the biggest challenge your offensive line has had from a pass protection standpoint this year?

"Well, they're really good at getting sacks. They're a good defense, you put it up there in terms of the entire NFL what type of challenge it is. There's challenges every single week. So, you try to be smart with how you approach things and you try to prepare your players so that they have a good chance to perform on Sunday, which is Monday this week. So I wouldn't say it's as big of a challenge as you do get in the NFL. And we get it twice a year, but it's like everything else. There's a bigger reward when you're able to do well. That was one of the proudest moments we had in 2020 was they were leading the league in sacks again. And we didn't have any sacks that week, the first game we played them. They got us the second time. So you just line up, put your best stuff forward and let the game of football take its course really."

Why does OL Daniel Brunskill do so well against Aaron Donald in the past?

"Dan Brunskill did do a really good job blocking, but there's like 60 to 70 plays a game. It's a group effort, so on plays that he needed to hold up, he did a very good job. You're never going to block Aaron Donald every time, it won't happen. I've never seen it on tape. He's always finding a way to get pressure on the quarterback, but he doesn't always get sacks that's because it's a group effort. It's the quarterback getting the ball out. It's the receivers separating the time of the timing of the play. It's everybody. So, I would say Dan Brunskill did a really good job because Dan Brunskill played well in those games. It's not because he's the Aaron Donald whisperer by any stretch. His teammates played well around him and he plays all over the place. So every single offensive lineman has to block him. And if one player doesn't block him and he gets a sack, it doesn't mean they're not blocking them well either. He's going to get pressure on the quarterback. I think if you ask any team in the league, that's ever played him, no one has been perfect. He always gets through, it's just a matter if other people make plays when he does."

I was going to ask about that game that you've mentioned was one of your proudest moments as a staff last year. I believe if you counted the pitches to WR Deebo Samuel as runs, it was 40 runs in that game. How different was that run game plan with Deebo? I think you guys hit the edges a lot to make sure that you kept the Rams pass rush off balance.

"They had seen it on tape before. We hadn't reinvented the wheel, but at the same time in that particular game, a lot has to do with in terms of how many runs you get called, with the flow of the game. And whether you're converting on third downs, whether the defense is getting stops, all of those things. So, it wasn't necessarily the plays that game. That was cool. What was cool was the mentality of our offense and the group effort. When you watched the all-22 tape, you see a lot of passion out there, you see a lot of people working for a common goal and executing. And that's why it was a good moment, that's what it's going to take to have a chance against these guys this week. And that's what we're trying to prepare our guys to do."

Was that the Mike McGlinchey head-butt game at the end where --?

"Yes, it was. I think [Las Vegas Raiders C] Hroniss Grasu still feels the remnants of that excitement that was classic McGlinchey."

How has OL Jaylon Moore done with getting some snaps on the right side of things as opposed to his usual spot?

"No, it has been good to see him progress. He had a good day of practice today. A lot of guys did, it was a pretty good day practice today. It's like anything else, it's hard enough to be a rookie in the league, let alone flip sides. But that's what he's been preparing to do all season with being the swing tackle or sixth guy, or rotating with [OL] Tom [Compton]. We're very happy just like we always are with Jaylon because he doesn't get worse, he gets better. So today was better in the reps than yesterday. And you hope for tomorrow to be and the game to be a lot easier for him than it would have been had it happened last week."

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

How much of your time the past couple of days has been spent on trying to figure out if and how the Rams might use Los Angeles Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr.?

"Man. I had so many more problems before him and now there's extra problems. No, the news broke yesterday, I think. And everyone knows OBJ is a great player, he's been a great player in his league for a long time. The Rams already presented us with a ton of problems with the guys they had, a pretty good team already. So for them to add OBJ is a really good add for them and a big challenge for us. But at the end of the day, players got to go make plays. So we're up for the challenge. We have to go out and just play our game and make plays. It doesn't really matter who lines up across from us. It's just all about our mindset, our mentality. Going against these guys, we just have to be ready to go work, play our technique, play with great effort, play together and we'll be fine."

What happened Sunday because it didn't look like the typical defensive effort you've had?

"Yeah. It wasn't great. It wasn't good at all. And what happened was we gave up way too many explosive plays and I think the most explosive plays we've given up this entire season. And the problem with that is we didn't tackle well, we didn't track the ball carrier well. And when you do those types of things, you give up that many explosives, it's not going to be a great outing. So yeah, we have to, collectively, play better, play together as a unit and we have to we have to tackle better, we have to track better. We have to do a lot of things better, if we want things to change."

With DB Emmanuel Moseley and CB Josh Norman battling injuries, how much confidence do you have? How much confidence do you have should CB Ambry Thomas and DB Deommodore Lenoir have to contribute?

"I think Ambry and D-MO, both of those guys have been working. I think they're coming along really well and if it comes to it, those guys can go out there and play for us. I think they've been getting better these past couple of weeks. They've been getting better and they've been fighting to earn the right to be out there. So I'm happy with where those guys are and where they are progressing."

With Ambry, I think head coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned yesterday on the radio that he needed to add a little bit more strength coming out of college after sitting out last year with COVID, was that the case? And can he do that in half a season, add some strength that is?

"I think you can do that. You can add strength throughout the season and the biggest thing about that position, being on the outside over anything, it's all about confidence and mentality. You got to have the right mindset to be on the island, which is one of the toughest positions to play in NFL, corner. So you have to have the right mindset and I think Ambry is coming along really well. I'm really pleased with where he is now. And I think, he's put in the work to give himself a chance and be in a great position for us."

Kyle indicated it was not his decision or it was your call to bench Norman after his penalty. Why did you do that?

"Yeah, we've handled that internally. So that's between us and I've already talked to Norman about that and so we're good."

What did you see from the Tennessee Titans, what they did to the Rams, can that kind of serve as a blueprint for you guys on Monday night?

"The Titans, they played them really well. The one thing the Titans did, they play hard and their D-line really got out after the offensive line. You can tell, they put pressure on the quarterback with their front four and I think that's what helped them. And also, they took the ball away, in this league every week we talk about turnovers and taking the ball. If you want to win, you have to win the turnover battle. I think that's what the Titans did. That's the blueprint they showed, but that's the blueprint for every game in the NFL. Like you have to win the turnover battle. We have to take more defensively and we have to secure it offensively."

How do you approach this game when you're facing a team that's in 11 personnel as much as it is, does that kind of streamline things as far as what you guys concentrate on or does it open up more problems? How do you just go into a week like this?

"Yeah, it's kind of what a lot of teams are going to now. You don't see as much 12 and 21 personnel. So that's pretty much been the kind of theme for most weeks for us where teams are going heavy 11 personnel, but with the Rams, they are pretty good in that they can do everything out of 11 personnel with the personnel they have. I think with a great player as Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp is, he gets in there, he blocks and he can block just as good as a tight end on some of the run plays that they have. So with the personnel that they have, I think they they're able to get away with it just because of the talent that they have at that receiver position."

When you say get away with it meaning they can still run the ball?

"Yeah, they can still run the ball there. They've been successful running the ball. We know that's what [Los Angeles Rams head coach] Sean [McVay] wants to do, first and foremost, he wants to run the ball. They do a good job, the offensive line and the receivers blocking. That's the one thing that sticks out the most watching these guys on film is the effort of their receivers blocking in the run game."

You were, I think, a team captain for most of your football career. When a team is whatever it was 3-5 or just struggling, what was your approach as far as leadership and rallying the guys?

"Yeah, when things aren't going good, as a leader or whatever it is, I think everybody just has to take a step back and hit the reset button. And one thing that happens when things aren't going well, everyone tries to panic and you try to find this reason, that reason, everybody just has to hit reset and just get back to doing the basic things the right way. And it's football, so we have to tackle, we have to attack the ball, we have to run it, we have to throw it and catch it. We just have to get back to the basic, the fundamentals. And when I was ever in these positions, it's just reminding guys to get back to what got you here. Remind guys what got you into the NFL. What made you special. What sets you apart. Just go be that guy. And when you're that guy, you go do it on Sunday, Monday, whenever it is. When you go do that, collectively, everybody doing that as a team, that's when things are changed. It's not about pressing and trying to do something different. Everybody just has to be themselves, be who you are. And the reason why you were in this position, why you're in the NFL, just Playmakers got to go make plays. That's one thing I was telling our defense is that's when things will change. No matter how you look at it in this league, playmakers make plays. And when your playmakers are making plays, you got an opportunity to go win and change things."

You strike me as more of a lead by example type, but how you would talk, was that screaming and hollering, is that-- there's been talk about, 'oh, the Niners have quiet leaders, etc… and they need someone to scream and yell and carry on. Can that be effective? Or is that like maybe it'll get guys charged up for five minutes?

"Yeah. I think, the screaming and yelling, that goes well with some people, some people it doesn't. And how long does that last? I don't see that always an effective form of leadership. I think, like you said, leadership is by example, it's how you work in practice throughout the week. It's how attentive are you in the meetings, how detailed are you with your notes and how you go play on Sundays. That's what matters. That's setting the example. Going in and playing to the best of your ability. When you're playing up to the level of your ability, that's to me, that's leading. Some guys can talk and not play, if you're going to talk that's okay, but back it up with your play and guys will follow along, but everybody has to be a leader in their own right. And just play to the level of their capability."

When Lenoir is he getting outside and nickel snaps during the week? How are you bringing him along this season?

"Yeah, Lenoir, he's focused more, he's been more on the outside, but we've also been getting him some inside reps as well. And he had some reps out there today, yesterday. He looked good in the inside as well. So he's juggling both. He's doing a good job of it."

When you're looking at a young guy who potentially could be a nickel, what do you look for? Is it sort of tackling ability, feistiness or what are the attributes that you're looking for?

"Yeah, well that nickel position now. We've talked about like the 11 personnel and more teams going into that. So that nickel position now, to me, you're a hybrid, you're almost a linebacker. So you have to be able to be tough enough, physical enough to be able to fit the run. Nickels have to be physical guys, but you also have to have quick feet. You have to be quick enough to mirror some of the slot receivers who are sometimes some of the quicker players on offense. So you have to be able to have that foot speed and lateral quickness to cover guys in the slot as well. And the nickel as well, one thing that makes the nickel stand out is you have to be a really smart player. Because like I said, as a linebacker, you're doing both. You ahve to understand run fits and you have to be great in pass coverage, whether it's man or zone. So nickel has to be a very smart player. And one thing we have with [CB] K'Waun [Williams], he's a very smart guy, very sharp player, physical. He does it all, blitzing, covering. He can do it all. And D-MO has a great guy in front of him who he can learn from."

You had referenced best players have to be their best. LB Fred Warner acknowledged he's not having his best season, as a former linebacker, what does he need to improve to reach that level he was at?

"Yeah, I think Fred is fine. Fred will be fine. Like I talked about earlier, he doesn't need to press. He doesn't need to press and feel like he has to do something special or extra ordinary. Fred just has to be Fred and go play like he's always played. He doesn't have to put extra on his back and do more because we don't have this guy or that guy, he just has to go. He just has to go play and be Fred and everyone around Fred has to play better as well. So it's not just on Fred, every player should look at themselves internally and always want to do better and be better for the team. That's everyone. It's not just Fred. It's everyone on the team. We all expect it, I tell guys you should expect the best out of yourself and he knows what he's capable of doing and Fred will be fine. He just has to keep playing ball."

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