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

Nov 18, 2021 at 5:01 PM--


The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. 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


On the fourth-and-six play, I was hoping you could describe if QB Jimmy Garoppolo is throwing to a spot there rather than to WR Deebo Samuel per se. And is that a trust play with anticipation for that ball to be there in that tight window for them to make that play?

"That's a cool question because that's kind of how your past game, you want it to be. There's a rhythm and timing to everything. And that's why you're working on the same concepts from OTAs on, is so that you can have the ability to hit someone out of the break like that. So with Jimmy and Deebo, they're very comfortable with that particular play specifically. And that's something that in the pass game you have zoning players and you have two people distributed and you can just read the defender. Jimmy knows that if a guy doesn't move too far one way, he can deliver that ball. So that was execution at its finest in a pivotal moment, which is a lot of hours put between them and really our whole offense in general. And that's what it looks like when it's done right."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan described having Deebo in the backfield as, one point he said after the game, it was a different way of doing the same thing, which basically was sort of running the ball. Is that kind of the key to running the ball when a team knows you're going to run it anyway, is to give different looks to accomplish the same goal?

"A little bit, there's definitely some truth to that. You're very aware of what you've put on tape, the plays that you have done going into that game, so trying to guess what the defensive coaches are alerting their players. But also a big part of it is the LA [Los Angeles] Rams defense. They have the [Denver Broncos head coach] Vic Fangio, [Los Angeles Chargers head coach] Brandon Staley tree that [Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator] Raheem Morris is doing an excellent job with. They have like seven different defensive personnel groups that they'll play to any one of your personnel groups. When you have multiplicity like that, it's hard to get 11 players to see it all the same way. So one way that we've found to do that as best we can is what if you do the same play with multiple people so that half your team can get organized with all these moving parts and then with the defense it's not as predictable to them. Some of it had to do with, yeah, it would be cool, but there's a good portion of it that's just getting the whole offense on the same page to handle the defensive looks that we're getting."

Deebo has said that he learned recently, or in the last couple of years, what he needs to do physically and mentally to be an elite receiver. When did you see that mental shift from him?

"It started in not application, but guys only know what they know. You don't know what you don't know. And [Buffalo Bills WR] Emmanuel Sanders coming here for half the season was a big deal for him because he was a guy that's been in the league for 10 years and understood what it means to be a pro. And the rigors of the NFL season are brutal, they get one true day off. A lot of them have to do things for their body on that day, but it's six months of grind. So you saw the beginning elements of that and who knows what it would've looked like last year, had he not gotten injured. So we didn't really get a total vantage point of where he was at. This year training camp, August, we saw it in practice. I think he was looking around and saying, 'Okay, well, who's going to get everyone going?' It's kind of me and since maybe right when preseason games started going and he had a couple outings in the preseason he wasn't too fired up about, he's really put his foot on the gas and he hasn't looked back."

A staple of your offense has been under center and play action and the quarterback turns his back to the defense. And that obviously causes problems for the defense. It's hard for the quarterback as well. You guys have gone far more shotgun, almost exclusively the last three weeks. Why the change?

"Well, I think one thing that I know Kyle's always prided himself on, and we as a staff, challenge yourself to do things that fit your player skillsets and what makes them most comfortable. You try to avoid, 'Well, we've always done it this way.' So you're evolving to whatever your player skillsets are. And as you spend more time with them and learn the ins and outs of how they play you recognize, 'Well, Jimmy's a lot more decisive in the gun. He likes to see it while he's delivering tight window throws.' So how do we implement that more without losing the greatest advantage you have offensively, which is you know the play and they don't. So minimizing pass exclusive situations, which on first and second down, you can do if you have the threat of run out of gun. And we've just kind of evolved. Kyle in 2019, really started noticing that and put pressure on us to evolve our gun run package. And every week you figure out different ways to do some of the same things, maybe a couple of wrinkles. But keep the defense honest without being pass exclusive in any situation other than third-and-six plus, or whatever."

Has there been a certain tipping point because, obviously, Jimmy didn't just get here and it's been a rather stark difference. Was there like a specific-- has Jimmy had input on that or?

"No, it's funny. I'm trying to think, now that you say something and I've heard that we probably have been in gun more, but it's something that we really evolved to implementing a ton of it in the 2019 season and in training camp, almost every play we have under center or in gun. So it also has to do with the running backs. We've been playing with younger backs lately because of various circumstances. And the one thing about college football is a lot of it's out of shotgun. So then you start learning your rookies, which is a constant process. And you're like, 'Wow, they, they are a little more comfortable right now doing that.' So a lot goes into it, but it wasn't a conscious decision. It just kind of evolves. You're looking at a play, 'Okay. What are the ramifications if we're in gun? Okay, well, they're the defensive tackles get wider because they are playing pass rush. How do you take advantage of that? Okay we don't want to do that, or maybe we do.' It's something that's kind of organic. It's not something that we're doing just because we made an absolute. It's play by play really and fitting our scheme to the needs of our players."

Is there an advantage to running out of the gun?

"There can be there, in terms of, first and foremost, can you have accurate snaps? That's the first way to blow a play up is if the quarterback can't handle the football. Typically, there are some disadvantages in terms of where backers can play and whether or not they have to play the front side that much, but that's something that we've put a lot of time in to make sure that, 'Hey, if they are overplaying our offset gun, how do we make them pay?' That's something that is really the lens we approach every play and every scenario is what does the defense do to take this away or make it worse? Okay then so we need to work on something to take advantage of that."

Jacksonville has been pretty stout against the run. Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry broke a hundred on them and Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor did last week, but he only got like six yards in the second half I think. What do you notice from them in terms of why they're good at it?

"They're very well coached. Very prideful defense. You see a team that plays very hard and they're very sound. That speaks to what you're referencing. There's not a lot of explosive runs on them because they were playing a team defense and you can tell they pride themselves on that. So you're not going to get free yardage here or there, you're going to have to earn it. So that's the new challenge this week. There's always various challenges. They are a great group, a lot of really good players, but man, they do not take downs off and you can tell they do not like run plays going for more than six, seven yards. They tighten up and they really try to make sure that if you're going to get yards, you're going to earn it."

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans


It feels like you're now a much smarter rookie defensive coordinator after that game, as opposed to the Cardinals game. What happened? Obviously, it's not one thing, but what are some things that lead to that transformation?

"I think overall, you talk about fundamentals of football, like our guys, they tackle well, they play well on first and second down. We were able to get off the field on third down. What was the difference? Playmakers stepped up and made plays for us. That was the difference. [DB] Jimmie Ward made huge plays for us there, getting an interception on the first drive and coming back and getting the pick six. I think that's the difference. Huf [S Talanoa Hufanga] making a play on third down, like our playmakers stepped up and made plays on third down. We tackled well. We were physical. And that was the difference. It was nothing glorious. It's just us owning the fundamentals of our job, being ready to go, being on it and being where we needed to be and just making plays."

Did you have a lot of fun calling plays that game? Was there different aspects of it because it seemed like you had different packages in there? Maybe like DL Nick Bosa and DL Samson Ebukam coming up in the middle.

"Yeah, I try to mix it up every week. We have something different every week for those guys. We had one with Samson and Bosa up the middle that was a little different for us, different package. And so, I thought they executed that really well, so I try to keep mixing it up as much as possible every week to not let teams just tee off on us and know exactly what we're doing there. So we'll continue to mix it up as much as we can because it's about our guys. They give us the flexibility to do those things. With Bosa and Samson, their flexibility to move around, that allows me to be able to call those things and be confident in them."

How has LB Dre Greenlaw looked?

"Greenlaw, he opened his window today, so it's good to just see him back around. Good to see him in meetings. Good to see him just back. And I'm hoping that he keeps progressing and going in the right direction."

With Nick Bosa playing on both sides now, do you see more productivity from him? Is he able to do more out there?

"Yeah. I think Bosa has done an outstanding job this entire year. You talk about a guy who's coming back off of such a tragic injury with the ACL and just the way he's come back this year and he hasn't really missed a beat. He's been moving around, but he's been very productive. His sack production has been going up and he's still steady climbing. He'll probably have a career-year this year, the way he's going, if he keeps trending in the right direction. Just think it's awesome to see a guy who's come back from such a devastating moment to see him come back this year, the way he's come back and been just excellent for us. Very productive around the ball, around the quarterback. It's a credit to him and I'm just still amazed at the way that he's come back and not just have to ease his way back in, he's come back and he's played at a high level and he has not missed a beat. He's actually gotten better, so I'm really pleased and excited for Bosa and what he's done to come back this year. It has been awesome."

You were so deliberate with him during training camp, because he was coming off that injury. But it seemed like once the season started, he was off and running. Does that surprise you that it happened like that?

"Yeah, it was very surprising. Not many guys can come back and just hop in like Bosa has done. Many guys you have to take your time and ease them into games and keep them on a rep count. When you look at our first game, he got way more reps than we thought he should get, but he was fine and he hasn't missed a beat from there. It's a testament to just how hard Bosa works when he's here, when he's not here, he's always working on his body. And he's a true pro."

What did you know about Jimmie Ward when you came here and how has he evolved? I know he says he's happier being a free safety now, but he's not necessarily always hanging back there. He was up in the slot basically with Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp on that pick-six.

"Yeah, I know coming here Jimmie moved around. He was a corner and he's moved around safety, he had nickel, so he's moved around a lot of different positions. I think Jimmie is a lot more comfortable playing the free safety position, being able to come down and play man on third down. That's, where he gives us the most flexibility. He's one of our best man coverage guys on the team. So Jimmie is a very versatile player and he's also shown that play-making ability, it hasn't been always the interceptions that showed up this past Monday, but he's always on his guy. You don't find his man catching the ball much. He's able to eliminate a guy from the field just because of his technique and the way he plays man coverage and him controlling the middle of the field. And the most important stuff that people see or don't see is just his eraser reps coming from the middle of the field. When you have Jimmie in there and something breaks loose. Somebody misses a gap or something happens, Jimmie is that guy who can get the running back down, get the receiver down, whoever it may be. He's confident in the way he's been tackling. I think he's tackling much better as the season went along, he's confident he's flying around. He's playing at a very high level for us."

He talked about how you asked him and the captains to talk to the defense and then they ended up having a players only meeting. Can you tell us how that transpired?

"That was just between those players and our captains. The leaders of the defense, just asked them to speak guys who voted them as captains. They were voted captains for a reason because the men in the locker room saw something different in those three guys that say that they want to follow those guys. They want to follow their lead, so I just asked them to say a few words to the defense. And then they kicked me out, so they had their own meeting, which I loved. I love seeing it and I don't know what they talked about, but whatever they talked about, it worked."

Going back to your days as a player, did you do that as well? Were there any points where you put that notice on the yourself?

"Yeah, that's always comes up as a player. Sometimes you meet with the group yourself. As a leader, as a captain, you want to make sure that everybody's on the same page. And my biggest thing with those guys is just understanding that you play for each other. It's not about us as coaches. Like it doesn't matter. It's about those guys, the players, it's about them, offensively and defensively playing for each other. And when they're tight and they're playing for each other, that's when you become unstoppable."

LB Azeez Al-Shaair had a couple of plays, I think back-to-back right before the fake field goal where the Rams were threatening maybe to get back into the game. Was that his best game? And that sequence how big was that for you guys?

"Yeah, Aziz has been playing really well all year. And yeah, he made some big plays for us there on the screen when they had us on the screen. Azeez, again a playmaker stepping up and making plays. Azeez made a big time play at a big moment in a game to knock them back. And that's what he's been doing all year. And I'm very happy with how he's developed and come along, he's gotten better and better each year. This is the most snaps he's ever played and he's taken advantage of the time that he's been in there. And he's done a really outstanding job just flying around, playing with great effort. His technique has been good and he's playing physical and I love to see Azeez out there because he has fun out there. He's excited. He has a lot of enthusiasm when he's out there playing and guys feed off of that."

The meeting that you had, did you feel there was some sort of disconnect in the locker room with your defense or something that needed to be done? And is that why you asked and if so, can we now trust that connection that they had on Monday is going to continue on for the rest of the season?

"I've never felt a disconnection from our defense at all. I just wanted the captains to talk to the team. It was no disconnect. Just wanted to change it up and let the guys who are the leaders speak to the team. So it's never been a disconnect. And I never see that happening here because we have a really great locker room all the way around with all our guys that we have here. These guys are tight on and off the field, and it's a special place to be a part of."

How big of a loss, DL Darrion Daniels goes down yesterday and gets hurt. He's off the practice squad now. It went on the transaction wire today. How well did he play last week leading up as Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald, I guess was his role? And just what was the effect in the locker room yesterday?

"Yeah, Darrion has done a great job since he's been here. He's been a lot on a scout team role, but he's relished that role and he's done a great job. He continued to get better and better each week. Darrion is a high energy guy who's done a good job for us. It's just unfortunate what happened to him. I know he'll bounce back just fine."

Even though DL Charles Omenihu only played a few snaps against the Rams, what did you see from those snaps and how does all of that kind of build from here forward?

"Yeah, I think Charles had a couple really good reps where he was able to get back and affect the quarterback. He just has to keep going, learning the techniques and performing them at a high level. But I thought he had a couple of reps where you can tell he's close to getting to the quarterback. He just has to keep going, keep getting more reps and I think he can really help us in along the defensive line. He can help us when it comes to getting pressure at the quarterback."



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