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

Jan 6, 2022 at 4:58 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to play the Los Angeles Rams 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

Can you give us a little rundown on what the plan was or what the execution was at practice today, as far as the splitting of reps with the quarterbacks and how each person looked?

"Well, you don't know what's going to happen on Sunday. My crystal ball, as I've told you guys, isn't as clean and glossy as it used to be or should be, maybe. So the biggest thing for us is to make sure we're prepared for everything. So you try to do what people can do without doing too much, so you set people back. We have to be prepared so that we can operate at our highest level with whoever's out there. And that's our main objective and that's kind of really all we really think about when we're making our decisions."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned yesterday that the Wednesday practice is pretty much a half-speed practice. Thursdays are traditionally the most game-like. I'm just wondering from Tuesday to Wednesday to Thursday, did QB Jimmy Garoppolo do a little bit more each day? Have you seen progression in just the sheer number of throws that he's been able to make from day to day?

"Yeah, I'm not sure, necessarily the number of throws. It's more you're just seeing how it progresses and you're trying to forecast how it will hold up in the course of a game. That's the biggest thing, so you're trying to make sure there's no setbacks. You are evaluating that and then again, making sure that everyone can operate and execute the gameplan as their teammates are counting on them."

I don't how much you knew about evulsion fractures before Jimmy's. But has he surprised you at all with what he's been able to do this week, as far as just his ability to throw?

"No, I'm actually I'm one of the foremost experts. I wrote my thesis on that very topic, so nothing has surprised me. No, he's a tough guy and it is cool to see a guy try to work through pain. But he's also trying to be smart and he knows he has to be responsible to the football team because we've all worked, all of his teammates have worked in blood, sweat, and tears to get to this point. We're in Game 17 with an opportunity to extend our season and so he doesn't take that lightly. So that's been cool. And we trust that if he's able to give it a go it's because he knows he can hold up his end of the bargain for his teammates and all of the Niners nation."

Looking back at the film from the last game, how did QB Trey Lance surprise you in a positive way? And what are some things that you thought he really should work on that he probably shouldn't have made as mistakes?

"Well, I think so often a lot of us are guilty of kind of disassociating from professional athletes and really a thing that really impressed me was, wow, this guy hadn't been on the field in a while. And I was just reminded today that he has started three games in two years. So the most impressive thing was that all of that build up to get his opportunity, how he handled the pressure and how he showed all the fans and really the world, what we've been seeing on a day-in, day-out basis. And that's a progression and improvement, a guy that is continuing to get better day-in, day-out. And his expectations are high just like ours are for him. And it was really cool to see him play his best football as the game progressed. So often you learn about people and how they handle trials and tribulations, and when you don't score touchdowns early, you don't really know how someone's going to respond. And that was an awesome thing to view. It didn't surprise us in the least. But it was really cool that he was able to take the opportunity and play some good football."

I believe the last time you played the Rams, Los Angeles Rams OLB Von Miller had just signed or just been traded. I'm curious as to what you're seeing now, how much they're using him and how comfortable he looks with them. And I imagine he'll be a lot more of an impact player this time around.

"Yeah, it's a nightmare. The other scenario, last time we played them, it was like a literal nightmare because we kind of had to like envision it in their system. Hadn't seen him out there. And it's just another really good player. The Rams are loaded with them that in a heartbeat, can change the course of the game. So you have to be very smart with how you approach the game. You can tell that he's really gotten comfortable doing what they ask him to do and starting to find his niche within the system. And it's just another headache that the Rams present."

Why do you match up so well with the Rams?

"Well I think our success can be attributed to anytime we've had success it's because our players have made plays. Whether it's correlation or causation, that's neither here nor there. At the end of the day, when we've played the Rams our best players have made plays and we've found ways to score, not only on offense, but on defense and special teams. We've been smart with the ball. It just so happens that our players have stepped up to the plate and challenged them well but every game's independent. So all the last three, four, five games, whatever, matter nothing on Sunday which the Rams know and we know as well."

We watched the first half hour or so of practices and there's very little of the quarterbacks taking snaps from center. Has Jimmy done that this week? And is that process, accepting the ball with this injury, is that a concern with the thumb?

"No, that's a great point. A lot of people just think about throwing, but quarterbacks have to handle the ball every play. So that is something that we've had to be mindful of, that we've tried to not overdo. One of the biggest motivating factors in deciding on Sunday, is whether or not he can handle the ball. So, just like throws, we've had to put him through it for sure, but you're trying to do it in moderation so you don't set anything back and you give the player the best chance to succeed on Sunday. If he's able to go, but, we're not really concerned about that. We're concerned about executing our offense and making sure both quarterbacks are ready, so we can handle whatever comes our way."

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

LB Fred Warner was talking yesterday about LB Marcell Harris and his sort of evolution this year. Here we are going into Week 18 of the year that he becomes a linebacker. What can you say about that and what he's been able to accomplish this season?

"I think with the position change as the year has gone along, Marcell was able to get more reps. As time went along, this Houston game was the game where he probably had the most amount of reps and he's just feeling more comfortable in that position. And he was able to make a huge play for us there to get the interception when we needed it most for our team. To change the momentum of that game, Marcell stepped up big time for us. And he did a really good a job on Sunday, it was probably his best outing of the year playing linebacker. So happy with where Marcell is and I'm just looking forward to him continuing to progress and get better, continue to learn and study, be locked in. He's done a good job for us."

Fred was talking about yesterday that he was in a dark place mentally, this year. And he talked about the pressure he put on himself because of the contract extension and that he's beyond that. And he thought the way he played against the Texans was some evidence. Did you, not that you'd talk about your private conversations with him, but did you in any way feel like you were able to help him get out of that valley he was in earlier in the season?

"I think for Fred and for any guy who gets a contract, you feel added pressure for sure. It does happen. It's just human nature, but he just had to understand that it is still just football. He's still the same player he's always been, he just has to relax. Like he was before. Relax and go play. Just own your keys and go play ball, go have fun, play with great effort like you've always done. And the plays that you're kind of pressing to make, plays will just start to come to you because you're loose and you're locked in, you're exactly where you need to be and you're just having fun. You're playing a game, having fun. And the plays, the big plays, just so to speak, that guys press for, you don't get them when you press. You get them when you're just doing your job. Be where you're supposed to be and having fun doing it."

Looking at your opponent this week, you've seen the Rams. Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford has thrown a lot of his interceptions when they're backed up. Have you seen anything situationally that has led to that, that you might be able to take advantage of? You did before in Week 10.

"Yeah. I think haven't seen anything, just truly situational, to take advantage of it. With those turnovers, we know turnovers are a huge part of the game, so I think it's just guys really studying their offense and understanding when can we have those opportunities to make plays on the ball. And guys just have to own their job, be where they supposed to be and I think those opportunities will come. With our mind on the ball, we're attacking the ball with the right mindset and we'll get the ball."

What can you do as far as the guys who are currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, as far as getting them ready to go. What have you been doing behind the scenes in the case that they do get cleared to play? How do you keep them up to date on the gameplan and just what you are expectations for them are if they're cleared?

"The best part about it is we've had all our meetings virtual. So all those guys have been in the meetings. They understand the gameplan. They're able to ask questions about the game plan. So our guys, they've been locked in mentally and the guys who are on that list, they've played a lot of ball for us. So they understand our scheme, what we're trying to do defensively and those guys, we'll be grateful to have them back as soon as we can get them back. But I think there won't be any mental hurdles for our guys. They'll be able to plug right back in and get out there and help us."

And is there anything they can do physically to stay ready? I know they can't come there to the practice fields, but is there anything they can do at a public park or whatever to kind of just go through the motions of what you expect from?

"Yeah, I think it all depends on how those guys are feeling. If they're feeling well enough to get a workout in wherever they can, that would definitely be beneficial for them to help us on Sunday. The biggest thing and the most important thing for me, is just making sure those guys are okay, health-wise. That's the biggest thing. The game is the game, it'll take care of itself. But the biggest thing for me, is making sure those guys are feeling good. That's the biggest thing."

Obviously, you guys have won five straight against the Rams. Why do you think you match up so well against them?

"It's a division opponent and it's two teams who are very well-coached teams, two teams who play hard, two teams who respect each other and we just get after it. It's always going to be a battle when we line up across from each other, we know we're going to get their best. They're going to get our best. And I think that's what we've seen over the past couple of years playing against the Rams. It's always been great games, but it's always going to come down to who can take the ball away."

Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp, obviously, everybody knew he was a good receiver coming into the year, but he is putting together like an NFL HOF WR Jerry Rice type year. I'm just curious in your observations on what makes him so successful in this offense?

"Yeah, the biggest thing with Kupp, he's a very smart player. Talented, can run all the routes they need him to run. A very smart player. Very efficient route runner and yeah, his quarterback over there in Stafford can find him wherever he is on the field. So I think those guys started to mesh really well together, started to gel and they have a really good connection. And that's why you've seen the success that they have. Two smart players working together there, I have the utmost respect for Kupp, not only him in the passing game, but you see how he blocks in the run game that's where it really makes me tip my cap to the guy. He's not afraid to get in there and block, whether there's a defensive end, whether it's a nickel, whether there's a linebacker he will get in there and block. And I definitely respect him for that."

Matthew Stafford has had an up and down season this year. How much can you take away from what other defenses have been able to do to him to get pressure and kind of throw him off of his game?

"We just study it as much as we can. Try to study it to see what can we do, what can our guys handle to go out and play our best. But as long as our guys continue to stay locked in to our game plan and we are where we're supposed to be, it's just going be a matter of how bad do we want it? Guys have to go out and execute, have to play hard and we have to attack the ball. If we do that then we'll be just fine."

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