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What DeMeco Ryans and Brian Schneider said during 49ers minicamp

Jun 8, 2022 at 3:01 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and special teams coordinator Brian Schneider spoke with reporters after Wednesday's practice during the team's mandatory minicamp. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

It's hard to kind of chart sacks in these things, but it seems like DL Samson Ebukam was getting a decent amount of pressure these last two days. Is he continuing where he left off at the end of last year?

"I think with Samson, towards the end of last year, he definitely started to ascend as far as when it comes to pressuring the quarterback. He started to gain a lot more pressure. I think the more comfortable he got, just playing the position, he's picked up exactly where he has left off. Here in camp, he's been doing a really good job of continuing that, getting pressure, doing those things, all the things that we ask him to do. So Samson is definitely a guy who's getting better up front."

DL Charles Omenihu also really picked up steam there towards the end. I noticed he was lined up at tackle a couple times today, is that kind of like the DL Arik Armstead situation last year, and also Jacksonville Jaguars DL Arden key was inside. Do you see that? Do you want to use the athleticism against guards?

"With all our guys, whether they're ends or tackles, all those guys will move around as much as possible. So it's nothing that's kind of set in stone right now. We're just working on technique, fundamentals right now and just putting guys in as many different positions as possible to see what they can do. Charles has done a good job, I think OTAs has been very beneficial for him. He came in mid-season, so for him to get all the groundwork, day-one fundamentals of how we play D-Line, this has been huge for him. I'm happy that he's able to get these OTAs under his belt. He's going to be much better for us just because he has a really base level of how we do things now."

What's been your assessment of having DL Nick Bosa back in here the last couple days, just how he looks? Does he look leaner? What's his mindset?

"Nick is looking great, just like he left here. It's great to have him here just around the guys. That's the biggest thing for Nick being around the guys, building that camaraderie during this time here in the offseason. It's about those guys just working together, being out there, going to dinner together, whatever. As much time they can spend together to become as tight as possible as a defensive unit and as a team. That's what matters most and Nick is looking great. I'm excited to have him back in the building."

QB Trey Lance said he noticed a different energy with T Trent Williams, Nick Bosa and WR Deebo Samuel in the building. Did you feel that change?

"Yeah, for sure. We go to mini-camp and you get some of our big-time players, Trent, Deebo, Bosa coming back in the building. Those guys are not only the talent that they have, who are definitely topnotch, all-pro players, but they bring a different energy to our team. They are big-time play makers, but they're also big-time personalities as well. So they bring good energy. Deebo is giving the defense a hard time out there. Great to see Trent. Trent picked up right where he left off. It's great to have your best players here and it makes practice a lot more fun."

QB Trey Lance completed a couple of long touchdown passes on your defense today. How much stress has he been putting on your secondary this offseason?

"Trey has done an outstanding job. I think each day Trey has gotten better and better and better each day. Again, another guy who's benefited from having these practices, these OTA practices, Trey has done an exceptional job and I know we're proud of where he is right now. And defensively, defending him has been tough. He's putting the ball on the money every time he throws it, the accuracy is there, the deep ball is there to show whatever he wants. He can zip in there and make a lot of plays, so I'm excited for Trey and what he can do. He's setting himself up to have a really good season for us."

You obviously have talked about linebackers coach Johnny Holland in the past and your relationship with him. Just from your perspective, how has he handled his health battles and have there been times during his journey where you've been really concerned for his wellbeing?

"Johnny throughout the entire process, he's just been unwavering in his faith and how strong he is. As a man, he's been very steady throughout the process, which it's encouraging for me and for everyone else around the building, just to see him and the way he's handled himself through it all. If he was having a bad day, it'd be hard to tell if he is having a bad day, but he's handled himself very well, just truly been a professional through it all. I'm just proud of what he was able to do. The people he's able to encourage with the things that he's going through. Johnny never has a bad day. Always has a smile. Never has a bad day, always in great spirit, always great energy, so he's been great throughout this entire process and I've learned a lot. How do you handle difficult situations? You keep going, no matter what, you keep going. You stay positive through it all and it's just great to see where he is now."

You obviously can't measure something like this, but how much inspiration do you think you guys maybe get from him, even last season and into the playoffs?

"I think it's huge just for all the guys, the entire team. They know what he's going through, not only the linebacker group, for sure, I think those guys came together and played well towards the end of the end of the year. I think just overall, when you know what someone is going through, you know how tough a battle it is. We all, in life, have our own personal battles and struggles and just to see him just persevere through it all. That just encourages everyone around. Like, man, what we're going through is nothing. We can all get through whatever it is, whatever you have going on in your life, you can make it through. Just keep the faith and just keep pushing, keep persevering. You can make it through anything you're going through in life."

DB Jimmie Ward talked a couple weeks ago about some plays he left on the field last year that were maybe the difference between being an all-pro and being the player he was last year. What does he need to do to sort of make those plays that sort of take him to that next level?

"I think Jimmie is an all-pro player. Sometimes those accolades they can't come to everybody. Jimmie just has to remain the course and go play football. Jimmie is one of the best football players I've ever been around. Just his instincts, his feel, playing that safety position. He is a really great football player. Sometimes the accolades, they don't show up. He just has to keep doing what he's doing. He's continuing to get better and [S Talanoa Hufanga] Huf out there with him. They're both, I feel like both of those guys are working well together and Jimmie will, if it's meant for him to be all-pro, he'll just keep playing ball. He doesn't have to worry about that status. That'll come. You just play ball, have fun, do what you're supposed to do and those accolades and things will come."

When you were doing your offseason homework, did you take a peek at the Jets, just from a schematic standpoint? Do you give New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh a call, talk scheme or are you guys doing different things now?

"No, I haven't, I just study. No slight to him, but I've just been studying what we do and how can we get better defensively? So the offseason homework for me has just been, man, what did we do well and what do we have to improve on? So really just diving in to see how can we be better? Situational football, how can we be better? How can our guys play smarter? How can our guys play with better technique? That's what I dove in on this offseason."

How much better is your cornerback core this year than it was a year ago?

"I think our guys have a chance to be really good. Corners, adding [CB Charvarius Ward] Mooney, [CB Emmanuel Moseley] E-Man has done a really great job this entire offseason. [CB] Ambry [Thomas] still is improving, still has a ways to go when it comes to improving and he's working at it daily. So all those guys, there's a lot of competition back there. The young guys we brought in with [CB] Tariq [Castro-Fields] and [CB] Samuel [Womack III], those guys have done a great job of coming in and doing what they're supposed to do and really pushing those guys. So, it's a really good group and I like where we are. It's going to be great to see those guys coming back and coming to camp when it's real football and time to take off. I'm excited for where they are now and they can still improve and get even better, so it's going to be exciting for me to watch that."

What are your initial impressions of DL Drake Jackson?

"With Drake, first off, just getting Drake, I'm just happy to have him because I didn't think he would be there in that spot. Getting Drake was an awesome pick for us there. He has really great ability and he just has to keep working. He has the ability to get to the quarterback. And if he keeps working, keeps getting in there with [defensive line coach Kris] Kocurek, and learning from Bosa, learning from [DL] Arik [Armstead], learning from Samson, just diving in and really detailing out his job, Drake has a chance to be a really good player for us. The sky is the limit for him, he just has to keep working, keep improving daily."

Special Teams Coordinator Brian Schneider

What made this the right opportunity for you?

"First of all, [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan]. I've had great respect for him over the years. Not only personally, but just the team and the organization. Playing against these guys for 11 years, a couple times a year, one time, three times a year, I had great respect for the way they play. I've always thought this is the most physical opponent when I played against the 49ers. And it was just the right time to come here for me and my family to make a transition."

Do you remember the last time the 49ers had a punt return for a touchdown?

"Nope. Hopefully we'll get one soon."

It came against your team in '11, that first game of the season, I think. Former NFL WR Ted Ginn Jr.

"Yes, thanks for reminding me. That was my second year there, first game of the year. And we've all had games like that, and that was one of the all-time worst, but yeah, no, I remember that."

Is that becoming a more rare thing in the NFL that the coverage units, the punting has become so good that it's difficult to do?

"I think the biggest thing is the punters have become so good at playing keep away. Different punts that they've done, just a different talent level of the punters has really changed, probably more than the coverage, I would say. So just the level of that play has really changed."

There was a big emphasis on special teams personnel this offseason with LB Oren Burks, S George Odum. It just seems that the front office made that a big priority. What are your thoughts on some of the new pieces and how they can help the unit?

"Oh, I'm really fired up. When you look at those guys that we brought in, I think they're even better than I originally thought on tape, which is awesome. Burks is such a good athlete and that was really obvious on the tape, but even when you get to work with him, it's even better. Odum is the same thing. When you get those guys in a room, you get to talk with them every day, you get to coach them and you see how hard they work, not only in this setting, but on the field, it's just really exciting. There's no question why they have the reputation they have. And then you throw [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud III] in there and that's just unbelievable, so I was extremely happy at the time, and I'm probably even a little more excited now that I've worked with them."

Did you have a chance to lobby for some of those signings?

"They always ask me and I always try to, because we evaluate everybody. And they were at the top of my list and so when I said to him this is who I think is the best, who I like the best. And hopefully it works out the way they see it too and I try to stay away from all the money issues and all the big-time decisions and hopefully that fits into our team. And for that, it did, so I'm really excited about that."

When you stepped away, was it always your intention to return to coaching?

"Yeah, I think so. Life happens and you start walking through some things, but I always knew this is what I was always made to do. And the passion I have for it, that never changed. I was just happy to get the opportunity here. It's perfect for us."

Do you want to say why you or do you want to keep that private?

"Just personal stuff. We all have things we go through in life and it gave me new perspective to be able to step back, which looking on it, I'm very fortunate to be able to do that. When you have four kids and a wife, it's just life. And so a new perspective on a lot of things and I know that's made me a better coach being able to step away and really to feel how important this is to me."

What did you do last season? Did you stay up with the game? Did you watch?

"I bugged my wife a lot, that was the number one thing I did, but it was an opportunity to watch my youngest son play football every weekend. I kept in contact with friends, but I really kind of stayed away and looked at the whole game and the whole experience from a distance, which again was a really cool experience that I don't know, I just needed to go through at the time. And I didn't know what was going to happen in the future and I was okay with that. But it was a great time to reconnect with my family. I got to see another son, who coaches in Montana. I got to go to a couple of those games, which I've never been able to go to. I got to visit a daughter in San Diego. I got to see a son in Colorado, so things that I've never experienced were really cool to do."

With the grind every day, taking some time off, do you think you come back as a better coach, more perspective on whatever, how to relate to players, scheme-wise, whatever?

"Absolutely. There's no doubt in my mind that I'm the best I've ever been in terms of all those things. And it just gave me a different perspective and I know what it means to me. And I know, again, I've always loved this job so much and I love being around the players and around the coaches and to have this organization, the type of people that are here, it just reinforces that. So yeah, there's no question. I'm better because of that."

You mentioned some of the newcomers on your units. When you went back and you looked at the film from '21, as far as the carryover players, which of those guys kind of stood out to you?

"Well, instead of looking at it that way, I just look at each of the 90 people that are here. And the history of playing against this organization, I've known all the players throughout how I viewed them when you play them. And that's always a little bit different when you get in the room with them, for whatever reason, you get to know their personality a little bit better. So really the approach I take is everyone in this room, if this is our team, everyone in this room, I'm coaching. I don't care if you're the free agent rookie. I don't care if you're our all-pro safety/linebacker, I coach everyone. And the offseason to me is big, fundamental drill work stuff, so everybody's involved in that. So when I try to make my evaluations, I do it off that and I try to really press to the players every drill we do is going to make you a better football player, whatever position you're in. So that's why we have everyone drilling, because I don't know who's going make the team, but I want to prepare everyone to have the best chance. And that's the first thing I tell them too, is I want everyone to make our 53-man roster, but out of 90, it just doesn't happen. So if we don't make that, I want you to make our practice squad. If you're not able to make that, I want to help you enough to be a football player, to make another roster. That's the way I approach it so really, we're training everybody. And however that shakes out, then we decide where the depth chart looks like and how we go from there."

Kyle said that he always liked your energy and the way that your teams competed against each other. Were you aware of his interest at all? Or did it come as a surprise when this job opportunity came up or was it something that you were like 'oh, that would be perfect?' Or how did you look at it?

"I always followed Kyle and it wasn't like we kept in touch a lot, but I always had a lot of respect for him and obviously this organization. So when the opportunity arose, I was really excited because I know what he's about. And it was really important to me for him to know what I'm about too, because that that's always part of the deal too."

What's your impression of K Robbie Gould and why was FB Kyle Juszczyk having to hold today? Was P Mitch Wishnowsky not around?

"Yeah, Mitch had a personal thing, so he wasn't here and it's always good anyway to get Juice in there. Robbie's great, we've competed a lot over the years. A real professional, obviously, he's been doing a long time. One of the first specialists that loves to go talk football, so that that's a cool experience for me too. He knows football, he knows kickoff return frontline play, he's interested in that. He's interested in breaking down and looking at the opposing team's kickoff return, so that's cool. That's been a fun experience, instead of most specialists who are just so specialized in what they do that they're not seeing the big picture a lot. He really enjoys it, so I've loved it."

When you describe last year, it sounds very nice. Montana and San Diego and high school football. A lot of NFL coaches say it's a crazy grind and life, were you ever like, 'maybe I want to be a normal person again?'

"No. It made me feel more normal. What was weird to me though, is if I'd go out on Sunday and people would just be doing normal everyday stuff, I was like, 'what? there's football going on? Don't You know?' So it took me a while to get that, but I think I just needed the perspective, because sometimes we can get lost in this. I've been doing it since '94 and it is. You miss a lot of high school games, which drove me crazy. And you miss a lot of things and you try to get to everything you can and then as your third child goes to college, it's like what happened? So I needed to step back and I'm really happy I did, but it is. The best way to explain it to me is just perspective has changed on everything in my life."


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