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-Packers

Jan 19, 2022 at 4:45 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to play the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans spoke with reporters before today's practice. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel

You're often serious in talking football with us, but you also are not afraid to show your personality and humor. I don't know if you had felt like this was any sort of decision you made, but when you started to talk to us this season for the first time, was it like, 'Hey, I'm just going to be myself,' because it seems like you could have opted for a little more conservative approach?

"All I heard when you just said that was that you think that I'm funny."


"That's all I heard. No, I think we have a lot of support, there's a lot of people I've worked with that have experience in doing press conferences and then our PR department is top of the line. The key advice that I really received was just to be yourself, so that's all I try to do. But whether people find that funny or not, there's probably people both ways, but I'm glad that there's a piece of my personality that comes out."

It's been reported you're supposed to interview with the Dolphins today, I believe. Have you already done that? And if so or even if not, what has this week been like for you in terms of trying to prepare for a game, but also kind of having that in the background?

"There is something scheduled, it hasn't happened yet. But like I said before, as a football coach, you feel there's a level of anxiety if there's anything distracting you from your job at hand, because you know that it's hard enough to win as it is. And your teammates are counting on you and so it is been pretty easy, to answer your question, because of my loyalty to my job and my teammates. It really hasn't been in the forefront of my mind because you work your whole career to be in a position like this in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, one game away from the NFC Championship Game. These are few and far between, so with as many days and hours that we work as coaches, it's not hard to focus in big moments like these."

You obviously could have done whatever you wanted to in life, but you followed your passion, which is football in general. Since you've been in the NFL, it seems like you've developed a passion for the X's and O's of the run game in particular. What about that puzzle thrills you?

"Well, really all started in Washington and moving on, we had a tendency as a coaching staff to get fired every place we were at. I just really answered the bell to what [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] needed most and in terms of assistants, you want value. So I was fortunate to be around some excellent football coaches in [offensive line coach] Chris Foerster and Kyle Shanahan and there was an avenue for me to help the team that I was on. So that was really the driving force, but really I was a receivers coach before this and football in general, that puzzle you speak of, that's a good you use of words, it is intriguing, but it was really more circumstance that drove me into the avenue that I'm currently in."

Do you use sense of humor in your coaching? Is that part of your coaching style and has it helped you just relate to players over the years?

"Well, I think early in my career when I first started working with Kyle in Houston, one of the things that stood out to me when he was giving me advice when we first started working together, was that it is extremely important to be authentic. The bottom line is players want to succeed as much, if not more, than coaches. They're living their dream. And if you can show them that you're a tool in realizing their dream, that's all they want. So you're authentic, honest, and you work hard to make players better A.K.A. coaching. That's all that's required of the position in our in our chosen field. And that's really what I focus on is that players and people that I work with know what they see is what they get."

There's a lot of great athletes in the NFL, a lot of them can do a lot of different things, but what is it about WR Deebo Samuel that makes him unique that you guys can use him like you do? And when was it that you guys realized, 'Hey, let's try using him in this unconventional way for a wide receiver rather than just leaving him as that?

"Well, Deebo has been unique to all of our careers because you're always trying to define what a football player is and it's still hard to define, but the game moves slow for him and he's fearless and he's fast and he is big and he is hard to tackle. The evolution of how we use him, that's a product of two things. Him being a really good football player and I think Kyle does an outstanding job of really pushing his staff to open their mind and see what's there maybe that we haven't done or really think through the whys of everything that we do. So that combination of a skillset with a particular player and the drive that Kyle's been pushing on me since the day I started working with him. Those type of things end up rendering the results that you guys are seeing from a whole staff perspective. We're all committed to utilizing our players the best way we can. And every person on the offensive staff contributes in that direction. It takes a village to do things that maybe haven't been necessarily done with specific players."

This is also another Deebo question, kind of related to that. Just thinking about the touchdown run, where it's slow developing. It looks like nothing is there and then all of a sudden, he's just cuts back and he's basically in the end zone. How much of that is coaching in terms of being patient? And how much is it just Deebo being able to identify those cut back lanes? And then do you almost look to create plays where he has more time to sort of survey the field because of his vision?

"No, so on that particular play as coaches, we said score. No, it is really cool to watch him play, it changes kind of your job description a little bit to where you're trying to give a guy opportunities and not necessarily thinking exactly about defining stuff. You're more abstract about, 'Hey, how do we get the ball with space?' So that is a unique thing that we've kind of grown into. But Deebo would make any coach look great. I've been doing this for a long time and I've never, ever, ever been around a football player that called his own shot. I get in basketball, but when you're playing with 22 people are on the field, 11 of them are trying to tackle you with every ounce of being that they have. And you just say, 'Hey yeah, give me the ball, I'm going to put the ball in the box,' and for him to do it, that was a special moment that only a special player could accomplish."

When you're looking back at that first Green Bay game, I asked defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans how much of a self-assessment have you evolved from that point? So same thing for you, I mean, Deebo had two carries for zero yards in that game. How much has the growth been from Week 3 to now?

"Yeah, we don't seem that smart now, do we? Collectively, that's the way we look at it though. That's the way that it's been ingrained within the entire organization to be extremely accountable and you look back at that and you're like, 'Wow, how did that happen? How could we go the course of a game and just not get him the ball, there's so many ways to do it,' but it's a natural progression. But really out of necessity, we found different ways to get him the ball. And to his credit he's really owning a lot of positions right now. For every time that you guys sit there and say 'Wow, they move him around a lot.' No, Deebo is moving around a lot. That means he has to be accountable for every single assignment. Every single thing you guys see him do. There's no success that comes out of it if he's not aligned properly, the timing of whatever play it is, isn't on point. That's something that you don't know if someone's up for the challenge until you progressively get there. And it's something that I know our whole team is really proud of the way he's matured and he's come to his own in 2021-22."

How is QB Jimmy Garoppolo doing, what do you anticipate him being able to do in practice? And then the other question would be about your running game and whether you think they're doing well enough right now where they could do another 285-yard output?

"Well, I think Green Bay's defense might have something to say about. You can tell they pride themselves on being a tough unit that does not want to get the ball ran on them. So I wouldn't go anywhere close to predicting those once in lifetime type deals, but just the game in general, it's too hard to predict. If you could refresh me on the first part I got distracted."

Yeah. What do you anticipate out of Jimmy Garoppolo throwing-wise today?

"Yeah, with the way Jimmy takes care of himself and at this point in the season, it'd be like pulling teeth to get him not to do everything he can to perform at his highest level. So, it's a bump and a bruise that for him is a big deal, but for the San Francisco 49ers, our fan base and us, we can all count on Jimmy doing whatever it takes so that he can perform at the level he needs to on Saturday. So I'm not too concerned. The practice has yet to happen, but if I was a crystal ball reader, which I've declared that I'm not, I would anticipate him throwing it well today and us moving forward from there."

The first run by Deebo in the game against Dallas, everyone blocked to the right and I think TE George Kittle had a kick-out block and Dallas Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs was left unblocked, but it looked really good. It just had an aesthetically-pleasing look because it was just this entire wall to the right and everyone had their guy. I was just wondering, I don't know if you ever say, that was done to perfection or if it's never quite to that level, but I don't know, was that close?

"Yeah, to be honest, we were hoping for and we were ready for it to be more. You have to credit the Dallas Cowboys defense. I think it was a nine-yard gain that you're talking about and the safety and the offensive left corner, defensive right corner compressed it a little bit. But that was something that, as a coaching staff, that we had pinpointed that we thought that we might have a chance on that play. And the real credit goes to [OL] Laken Tomlinson and [T] Trent Williams, who did a masterful backside block. I think George Kittle really executed. There were 11 guys executing to the highest degree, the technique that we work on all year. That's what it takes to be able to do something. When an NFL defense goes into a game and says, you're not going to run it on us. Everyone better execute, be on the same page. Chris Foerster's drill work better be on point. All of the things have to align and then Deebo has to feel it, run it correctly. Don't forget he has to catch the ball when it's tossed to him. And so you're excited about that, but as coaches, it's something that [former NFL head coach] Mike Shanahan really instilled in us early. We're coaching for every play to be a touchdown. That's why we're disappointed a lot. But we were excited that it got some yardage. Those plays are cool, but unless you're converting on third downs and your defense is playing well, they go in the history books as nothing."

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

How much different do the Packers look to you now than, obviously week three was a long time ago, when you saw them back then? And in what ways?

"Well, I don't think they look much different. They're a well-oiled machine, those guys are, they're very efficient in what they do. When it comes to running the ball and also throwing the ball, they're just a very efficient offense who takes care of the ball and just present tough challenges at all their spots, at the wide receiver position, the running back position, the O-line is getting back healthy. So definitely a good team we're going against here. Good challenge for us."

I assume whether it's man or zone, you'd rather not have just one guy in the general area of Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams. How hard is it to accomplish that goal without compromising the defense in other areas, particularly against a quarterback like Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers?

"Yeah, they make it difficult because they do a great job of moving Davante around. He doesn't stay at one spot. He can move into the slot. He can play outside. He's all over the place. We know that he's the top guy. He, to me, is the one of the best receivers in the NFL, just with his ability, man, he can make plays all over the field. So we have to have eyes on him. We have to be aware of where he is at all times. We also have to let the defense just work for us and when it comes down to it, whether you're in man coverage, you're in zone coverage, whatever it may be, somebody's going to be matched up and somebody has to go make a play when the ball is up in the air. And that's what it's going to come down to. Can we go make a play?"

Week 3 game, Green Bay Packers RB A.J. Dillon didn't get as many carries. It seems that he has been getting more lately. What kind of challenge does having to tackle a 250-pounder in this day and age, especially in cold weather, present your defense?

"Yeah, he's been getting better throughout the year. I can see his carries increasing and you see him running the ball much better. What challenge does he present? I don't think it's a huge challenge. We just have to play defense how we play defense. And that's just everybody swarming to the ball. Everybody just being where they're supposed to be and trying to play as physical as possible. That's how you handle jim. It's not going to be one guy taking him down. You see on film multiple times, one guy coming in, he does a good job of running defenders over, just dragging guys along. So it is going to take more than one person to tackle A.J. because he is such a big, strong, physical runner."

I'm not sure exactly what the status will be of CB Ambry Thomas, but are you confident in CB Josh Norman being able to step back in if called upon after not playing any defensive snaps the last two weeks?

"Yeah. I think whoever we have out there, has to step up and make plays for us. It really doesn't matter and I tell our guys all the time that it is not about really one person on our defense. Whoever steps out there, they're tasked with the challenge of going and just playing within the defense, playing the right techniques, doing what they're supposed to be and being accountable to the other 10 guys that are out there. It doesn't matter what position it is, but if you're out there, guys are going be accountable to each other."

I have two questions. One is about one person on your defense and that's DL Nick Bosa. I'm wondering what he's been able to do with you guys this week, while he is in the protocol. And then the other would be with Aaron Rogers in terms of like maybe his most dangerous throw, would it be maybe a back shoulder where it might draw a P.I. on a guy?

"Yeah, the first question with Nick, he's come along well going through the NFL protocol there and hopefully he'll be fine by the end of the week. Definitely need him out there. So hopefully he'll be fine by the end of the week. And with Aaron, his best throw is, man, he can make them all. Which makes him so difficult. The back shoulder is definitely one of the toughest ones, just his accuracy on the deep ball is why you can tell he'll be a future Hall of Famer. You don't see guys throw the ball, they don't spin it like Aaron does. And he just has an awesome touch, awesome feel. He's very confident back there in the pocket. So, it's definitely the best quarterback we've seen all year."

A lot of people are asking what the Packers look like, how they're different from Week 3, but how do you feel your defense is different from Week 3? You seem much more efficient. What do you see from your eyes when you're watching film?

"I think, overall, our defense is much better. You see in the run game, I think we're much better. Just [DL] D.J. [Jones] and [DL] Arik [Armstead] inside, they've done an outstanding job. Just all around, when I watch that film from the first game and I watch our Dallas game or the L.A. game, it looks like two completely different defenses. Just the way we're moving, the way we're swarming now, it just looks different. It feels different on film. Many different guys in, but many different guys are still stepping up and making plays for us. I feel like the pass rush is definitely better. Guys are working together a lot more in the pass rush. Multiple guys are making plays, not just counting on one guy to make plays. Multiple guys are making plays for us when it comes to rushing the passer, when it comes to our corners on the edge, I think we're playing better there, so it's just all around. Just guys have improved throughout the year."

Your defense was so dominant the whole game in Dallas. But on that final drive, the Dallas offense was really able to get down the field without timeouts and get those three completions near the sideline. After watching the film, is there anything different that you would've called in that situation? Were you trying to defend the sidelines? What was your thought process on that final drive?

"We were defending, they had to score a touchdown. So they wanted to keep ditching it and getting it out of bounds. That's fine. But we knew, at the end of the day, to win the game we couldn't allow them to get in the end zone. And we weren't going to give up a huge chunk play to those guys in the middle of the field."

I assume you've reviewed the Week 3 game against Green Bay. What emotions were stirred when you had to review the last two completions Rodgers had in that game?

"Just again, incredible throws by him and you see why he's one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Very great throws by him, but also you just see where we can be better, defensively in those situations as well. And I think we are better, much better defense than we were then. So Week 3 seems like so long ago, but I'm happy for Week 3. I'm very happy for Week 3. I think it was a definitely a pivotal moment in our season. Just defensively, for guys just making the turnaround and really changing. You take a heartbreaking loss like that and you know the plays that we could have made defensively in that game. You go back, we had multiple opportunities to make plays, to help our team win that game and defensively, I feel like we did not help our team win that game when the offense went down and scored to put us in position to win the game. So defensively, I just feel like guys have owned it more to where we have to put at the team on our back to be better in those situations and to make plays when it comes time for us to make plays."

It's been reported that you have an interview with the Vikings today. First of all, is that coming after this? And then have you asked New York Jets Head Coach Robert Salah about that process? Gotten any advice from him or anyone else?

"Yeah, interview with the Vikings, we'll handle that over the next couple of days. We'll get that handled, but the main focus right now for me, is just all on the Packers. And that's where I am right now, just all on the Packers and how can we play our best versus the Packers to get a win?"

D.J. Jones said the after the Dallas game that Arik Armstead was the most important piece of the 49ers defense. Can you just talk a little bit about that and how he's stepped into that role?

"Yeah, I love that D.J. says that about Arik. I think I spoke about it before where Arik is just, his unselfish move going inside, when he's been a defensive end for so long, but him moving inside and to not be as comfortable inside with the technique, but to see him just continue to work, continue to focus on the small details of playing three technique or two-I and continue to get better at it. And now to see him over the past couple weeks, just really dominate inside, it's awesome to watch. It's awesome to see a guy like Arik, step in and step up for our defense when we needed him most. He stepped up the biggest for us and that's been the biggest turnaround in our defense is the play of Arik Armstead inside."

I have one more about the run defense against the Packers. They weren't really explosive in Week 3, but they managed to seem to kind of keep the line moving, I think 100 yards and 25 carries, so four a pop. What was the primary problem there? And how important is it to make sure they can't do that again so that Aaron Rogers is a little bit more off schedule?

Yeah, we definitely have to tackle better. We gave up too much leaky yardage and I'm showing the guys the film like, we tackle a guy, we got a body on him at two yards and a run that should be two yards, it ends up going for six yards and we have to make sure that we have guys at a two-yard gain. It has to be a two-yard gain, so we can't allow leaky yardage, the yards after contact there. That was the issue in the first game and we just have to populate the football much better. We have to have more guys show up around the ball because both of their backs are really talented backs, so we have to just swarm and tackle better.

Arik Armstead's play seems to have improved so much since he's moved to defensive tackle full-time. He's making such an impact. Is that his new home fulltime? Is he going to be playing there next year too?

"I don't know that. Wherever he needs to play, Arik can play outside, Arik can play inside. That's Arik. He's a Playmaker, no matter where he is. When he was on the outside, he had a huge year for us in '19 where he got over 10 sacks playing outside. He moves inside this year, probably the most tackles he's had in his career. So Arik has had career years on the outside and on the inside. So you're talking about just a very talented player, no matter where he plays, whatever position it is, you can just call his position, playmaker."

In regards to the offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, we've seen his personality quite a bit this year. He's obviously got an unusual sense of humor, great humor, whatever but anyway, how would you describe him just as a guy and your relationship with him?

"Mike is one of the most detailed, one of the hardest working guys. I don't think I can ever beat him in the building. Every time I show up, his car is always here, he always beats me in, but always one of the first guys in the building. All the work he puts in behind the scenes, he grinds. Mike grinds and he definitely deserves all the recognition that he's getting. He's a very smart guy. Very fun guy, you were talking about the humor. He's a very fun guy. He has some quick wit about himself and he's just done an excellent job. Ever since I've been around him and just seeing his growth as a coach, as a person, I can't be happy enough for Mike and the recognition that he's gotten. It is well deserved for the work that he's put in, so happy for him."

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