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DeMeco Ryans, Chris Foerster, Brock Purdy preview 49ers-Cardinals Week 18 matchup

Jan 5, 2023 at 5:30 PM


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San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, offensive line/run game coordinator Chris Foerster, and quarterback Brock Purdy spoke with reporters after Thursday's practice. The team is preparing for its Week 18 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans


When you guys have a game like you did Sunday, that was kind of unexpected as far as a number of points allowed and yards allowed, where do you start the process of kind of deconstructing where things went wrong?

"Yeah. Well, the game Sunday definitely wasn't representative of who we are and the guys they knew that while the game was going on. They knew that and they knew what we needed to fix and the thing there is we have to play better in the back end with our eyes. The eye discipline it has cost us some really big plays and plays that we shouldn't give up, we're giving them up because of the discipline with the eyes and our guys understand that we have to get better there if we want to continue to play good defense."

How did everybody emotionally bounce back this week?

"Yeah, I think the guys, they came back and they were ready to work. They came back in with the right mindset. The guys understood that was a big letdown for us defensively. And they understood that at halftime during the game, they understood what we needed to fix. And I'm not happy that it happened during that time, but I'm also encouraged that it's things that we can clean up, things that we can fix. If we are more disciplined with what we need to do, we can clean up those things, so it is encouraging that we can clean up those things. We can get better and we'll see how that looks this week versus the Cardinals."

Against the Seahawks you had CB Charvarius Ward follow Seattle Seahawks D.K. Metcalf around, why not do that with Las Vegas Raiders WR Davante Adams in this game? Any sense that you wanted to kind of test the DB Deommodore Lenoir and just kind of give him a nice challenge in this game?

"When it comes to traveling, all of that is pretty much dictated on coverage, so it could be, coverage that Mooney is traveling and it may not be, so it is all gameplanning. It's all based on different calls and it's not the same call every time we line up, so there will be different looks. We won't give an offense the same look. We won't be that predictable all the time and whoever lines up out there is expected to just make the plays, play with the proper technique that they're supposed to play with. That's what we expect. It doesn't matter who lines up across from you."

How would you gauge how Lenoir has played this year coming in for CB Emmanuel Moseley and whether there's growing pains or whether there's other issues there?

"Yeah, I think D-Mo is a young player who has stepped in for us. I think he's done some really good things. He's grown a lot. He's been he's been steady for us out there and of course, for all of us, we can all make more plays, we can all play better and he falls in that category as well, but I'm happy with the growth that I've seen from D-Mo throughout the year and he'll continue to get better with the more reps that he gets. This is truly his first year of truly playing and being out there for us, so it's encouraging to see where he is and where he's headed."

S Talanoa Hufanga played so well the first half of the season. In the last few weeks, it seems like he's given up some big plays. You just mentioned eye discipline, has that been an issue for him lately or what are you seeing from Talanoa?

"Yeah, it's the same. He has to clean up his eyes. It's too many big plays we're giving up and Huf knows that. You have to clean up your eyes, especially when you're protecting us in the back end. You're the eraser for us. Your eyes can't be dirty, you can't be in the back field and he knows that and he has to get better at it."

Can you explain what eye discipline is?

"Eye discipline, it simply comes down to when you're in whatever, zone coverage, man coverage, you have a certain progression of keys and where your eyes should be. And where guys get caught a lot of times is, guys are looking in the back field at the action of the back or the quarterback when they don't need to. And if you're doing that and you're not progressing and looking at the proper things, whether it's a route concept, whether you're passing a route concept off, whether it's a particular man who's coming within your zone, or if your eyes should be in that area and they're not, it's going to be really hard to make plays. Guys in his league are too fast, they're too good for you to not look at the proper thing and then try to look late. And if you look late, it's too late and guys will make you pay. It doesn't matter who you're playing against, the guys in this league are too good. They'll make you pay."

Is there a tendency if you're a playmaker, you want make plays, you want to know where the ball is at all times, so that's where your eyes go?

"Yeah. Well the biggest thing is just being on it every single snap. And that's the thing that I was talking to our guys about this week, like it's not your play to make every play. Everybody will make plays in our defense when everybody is playing with discipline, playing with the proper technique, playing with the proper eyes, eye discipline. If everybody is doing that, there's enough plays for everybody to go around, so when guys do get antsy and they try to do too much, they try to play hero ball. You try to make plays that you're not supposed to make, that's when you get gutted as a defense, so defensive football, you want to be sound, you want to play great defense, you have to be disciplined at all three levels."

Las Vegas Raiders QB Jarrett Stidham got loose a couple times, clearly, and afterwards DL Nick Bosa talked about pass rush discipline and we saw him, one time for sure, he stopped his pass rush when Stidham still had the ball. Sometimes do you have to just to maintain your angle almost at the cost of getting to the quarterback?

"Same thing with the eye discipline at the back end. It's the rush discipline up front. We allowed Stidham to get out way too many times. We're running past the level of the quarterback, so we have to be conscious when we're rushing. We have to be aware at all times of where the quarterback is. We can't open up huge lanes for the quarterback to get out, so it's discipline up front. It's discipline in the back end as well and those guys, they understand that they have to be more aware of what's going on."

With the Cardinals going to a lot of their backup guys and some of the key play makers on offense in question, what kind of wrinkles does that create in the gameplanning?

"There's no wrinkles at all for us. We have so much to clean up for ourselves. That I'm really not even focused on the Cardinals. I'm truly focused on our guys and cleaning up what we need to clean up defensively, because it really doesn't matter who you play, if your eyes aren't right, if you aren't rushing with proper awareness, it doesn't matter who you play, you'll get embarrassed, so all of our guys understand we have to play better. It doesn't matter who we play against. We have to do our jobs better."

With Arizona Cardinals QB David Blough likely at quarterback, what are you expecting from the Cardinals offense?

"I'm expecting our defense to go out and play the way we play defense. Again to me, it's not about the Cardinals at all. Who's at quarterback, running? It doesn't matter, honestly. Like defensively, the Niners have to play Niner Defense if we want to play good football moving forward."

A few times we've heard about the Friday team meeting, and how head coach Kyle Shanahan has gotten on Bosa, they both have talked about. Gotten on some other players. Do you suggest some things to him or sometimes are you surprised when Kyle's kind of, whether it's teasing or just kind of like pokes at one of your guys?

"Kyle, he has this deal when he meets with the guys and talking to Bosa, talking to all the guys. Kyle does an amazing job in our team meetings and all of our meetings with the guys of just motivating, making sure our guys are ready to go. And a head coach has to motivate his guys. And Kyle does an excellent job each and every week of doing that, making sure our guys are ready to roll, ready to play our best football."

I know you say it shouldn't matter who you're facing, but after the game, Nick Bosa said it felt like the players underestimated Stidham. How as a coach do you guard against that happening this week with David Blough?

"That's each guy. Mentally what each guy's thinking going into the game. That's how they think. For me, you never underestimate anyone. There's no room to underestimate anyone. There's just room to go out and just play your best. It doesn't matter who you line up against, if you're doing your best, it really doesn't matter who you're going against. There is no letdown in this league. There is no week off, when you suit up, it's time to go out and play and be your absolute best and it does not matter who's across from you. If you're not your best, then you can get embarrassed each and every week, no matter what's the team's record, no matter who's on the other side that's what this league is about. You're going to each and every Sunday, each and every time you go out, you have to be at your absolute best."

In your experience, will a team like the Cardinals get a lift from a player like Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt playing in his last game and is that something that can lift an entire team?

"It could. J.J.'s been an excellent player in this league. A former teammate of mine and a very well-respected guy. Great person off the field, been a great player who's pretty sure a lock for the Hall of Fame. He's just done a lot of wonderful things on the field with the sack records, defensive player of the year. Off the field, the charity, the things that he does in the community. He's just such a great guy and if that lifts them, whatever they need to help them play, that's cool, but for us, again, it goes back to being about us. We just expect teams that we play against, I'm always expecting them to play at their absolute best. Whatever motivates them, whatever they need to get up for the game, bring it on because we're motivated and we're ready to go each and every week."

Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster


I recall you talking about how you assigned different guys on your line to scout opposing players. Who was in charge of Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt or who has been in charge of J.J. Watt and what's been the takeaway about how you go against a guy like that?

"Well, last time we did it, we had [OL Daniel] Brunskill do it because he'd played against him the most, so instead of giving him to [OL Spencer] Burford or [OL Aaron] Banks, we let Dan kind of set the table as to what you do against the guy. This week, we gave it to Spencer since he'll be starting exclusively on the right side now. We'll hear what the takeaway is. We review it later in the week and kind of make sure we solidify a plan for the guy. We watch the tape during the week and J.J. is just a great, impactful player. He makes big plays at critical times in the games-- he has through his whole career. It's hard to believe he's not going to be playing anymore after this because he's done such a great job and endured for so long and been such a good player and so impactful. Just talking to my buddy in Tampa, asking them their takeaway from playing him later in the season and he said we probably didn't give him his due. A couple short yardage plays, he busted in the backfield, made a play, got a big sack on their left tackle that was in there. He said we probably didn't account from as much as we should have and it hurt them in the game. I remember, I won't tell a story again. I'll stop there. That's what it was."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan really praised OL Mike McGlinchey's play in the last game. Did you see the same thing? You may or may not know he is a relatively controversial player in 49er fandom. He gets some criticism. What do you think of his season overall?

"Yeah, I'm sorry, I don't know what others say. Coaching him, I get to work with them every day and we work on it together and I'm not aware of that, but I do know that we did work on some things last week and he came in on Friday morning and we had a great discussion looking at [Las Vegas Raiders] Maxx [Crosby], looking at really more Mike and things that he could have done. And he made a couple little tweaks in his pass sets that helped him. It happens all the time. It happened with [T] Trent [Williams] this week. It gets away from them a little bit, it gets away from me. Sometimes you're looking at schematics, you're looking at things like that and you don't realize that fundamentally there's just this little thing that might help you just a little bit. Now we had a plan for Maxx. Mike did a very good job when he had his reps and opportunities against him. We also had a plan for Maxx. It's like when we talk about [Los Angeles Rams DT] Aaron Donald, those guys are great rushers to say that somebody one-on-one did it. I'm not diminishing Mike. Mike did a good job and I'm not diminishing at all, but we also have a plan and everybody contributes. And I think if you asked Mike, he'd say the same thing. We had chips, we had slides, we had this, we had that. We had a lot of different ways to try to neutralize a good player like that because it's never just going to be, Hey, you got him, here you go, but Mike did, and part of it was some of the fundamental tweaks that he made during the week that helped him. And I think he went in with a good mindset and we were fortunate with the way the game went and he did a really fine job. I'm happy for Mike and the game that he played, but now it's this week and all it takes is one play, two plays here and there and it's the same thing. That's the life of an offensive lineman. It's like nobody knows the long snapper until the ball isn't snapped properly and then everybody knows the long snapper. That's kind of like an offensive lineman and that's where Mike is right now."

Is there almost more pressure on the guys who aren't lined up next to an Aaron Donald or a J.J. Watt or Maxx Crosby for them to hold up their end of the bargain while the focus is on that one outstanding defensive end?

"There certainly can be. Yeah, there certainly can be when you've decided to do something to focus, to take away a guy, the other guys, you're saying have to hold up. It all depends on where the guy is and what his skillset is and how you can handle him and how you're going to take care of him. That does do it. And the great thing for us as an offensive line is Kyle is so flexible with how we can adjust things to help linemen and we've had to be, because you have to adapt to having Aaron Donald in your division. And if you just say, well we're just going to let the chips fall, we're going to block Aaron Donald like we would any other three-technique, you're in for a long day. And some people do that and they managed to win and do a good job. I'm not saying you have to account for him on every play, we've just decided, we started to create within our system the ability to be able to do it. And it's grown over time because we've thought of ways, the lineman has suggested things, I have, Kyle thinks of something and then we try to incorporate it and find other ways to do some of the same things. Maybe still allowing as much flexibility in the passing game as we can and then still being able to either protect and in the run game accounting for what they do to disrupt, being careful of what we run at or away from those guys, so it does put though, to answer your question, a lot of pressure on the other guys, but that's the way it works. The good thing is those other guys also get help when they happen to draw J.J. or when they happen to draw Maxx or when they happen to draw Aaron Donald because he doesn't just exclusively line up on one side like Maxx did. The other guys benefit too, we're going to come help you too, so it spreads it out a little bit."

On RB Christian McCaffrey's screen in the fourth quarter he gained like 40 yards down the left sideline, Brunskill had that block, he had to get out. Is that a particularly tough assignment for Brunskill in that case and what do you think of the effort had?

"Yeah, well if your name's not Trent Williams, anytime you have to run about 20 yards to make a block, it's going to be a challenge, so, first of all, they're challenged that way. Secondly, when you have a rusher in your face and you have to block him for a second, then you're going to try and slip him and get out into the screen and then in that process get there in time to make a block on a guy that was really pretty aggressive on Christian. I think when you watch screens, the thing to notice is if the guy that's catching the screen is way ahead of the offensive lineman, meaning that he's out here and we're still back here, that screen is going to have a hard time succeeding, so to get that block when you're that far away takes a lot of patience by that guy and the lineman has to really go to get that block, which is what happened on that play. Normally, you want to see the back and the guard coming out together and when you see that, that's like one of the key timing points in the screen because now whoever's coming to defend the screen, he's lined up for my big guys because they're not going to be running around in space all the time. That lines everything up for them, then the back can set the block. When they're way ahead, like what happened to Dan, he's just running his butt off to get out there and then just laying out, I credit Dan. One of the few times I hugged a player on the sideline. I hugged Dan when he came over. I thought it was such a good block and a big point in the game and also I thought it was a great effort to get out. It's what his job is, but it's not easy. and he did it and he did it well. And I give a lot of credit to Christian too because he's a very good screen runner as a back and he saw what was at hand and he was able to just pause enough. A young guy might have just caught the ball and ran and Dan couldn't have made that block, even with the situation as it was, he set the block up well."

How many hugs do you give out a year on average?

"It's my first one in a long time and I don't remember the last one. How's that?"

I think that was Brunskill's first game at left guard or at least extensive game, how many snaps in a week will he get at left guard?

"Not, because if he would been the swing guard, which he is, but if he literally was not like, when Spencer was playing full-time at right guard, if they hadn't been splitting time, Dan would've probably gotten probably 16 reps a day at both guards, but because he was splitting time with Spencer, he was probably only getting probably four to five reps a day, so maybe that's 15 reps in the week, maybe less at left guard. Now Dan's played both positions. He's played left tackle, he's the one guy that can do it, but it's not easy to all of a sudden go out there and it is a little bit, yes you can brush your teeth with your opposite hand, but it's not comfortable for the first couple times that you do it. It's a little bit like that, it's a little bit backwards for a minute. He luckily has gotten reps at it and did a good job."

I think at the time of the draft there was talk about OL Nick Zakelj and OL Jason Poe playing center at some point in the future. Have those guys gotten a lot of center snaps during the season?

"So they all took snaps starting in the preseason. The quarterback center, exchange early. Very little team reps, because we had two or three guys we were repping through the position. And when we get to this point in the season, what happens is as long as you have two guys, as long as your backup center isn't playing all the time, which in this case Dan wasn't, you feel pretty good going into a game with two centers, because he's not on the field all the time, but when both your guys that are your centers are on the field playing, you get a little bit nervous because you're now putting both of them at risk more, so now this week we have had to up the reps. Now they've actually started taking reps with the scout team reps, well not with the offensive center, but Dan takes the second reps with the offensive center, but with the scout team. Nick because he's active, Poe is on the practice squad, so we're not repping him. [OL] Keith [Ismael] also is not, but [OL Colton] McKivitz is another guy that's taken snaps for us. He was the guy that we had prepped for a lot last year as well and in the past. So Colton's taken reps at center, so they were splitting reps inside. So between Nick and Colton, we've got a third and a fourth center if need be to at least, I think they'd do more than get us out of the game. For example, when they used to only let us dress seven linemen, I've had a couple games where we had to put a tight end at tackle at the end of the game. That's getting you out of a game where you're holding on and you're not getting out the game very well. These guys could actually go in and snap the ball and have some success playing center, albeit they just haven't had a lot of reps."

QB Brock Purdy


Head coach Kyle Shanahan was saying yesterday he hands out far more criticisms than compliments when it comes to reviewing games. Probably with all players, but quarterbacks and he basically said you have thick skin, which he appreciates. Have you always taken to hard coaching or is there some origin story of how you developed tough skin?

"Yeah, I don't know. Just all throughout my career of playing football, I've always wanted the truth and honesty from a coach, from the guy who's trusting in me to go out and play. And that started since I was little playing ball, so yeah, I've always appreciated a coach who's just real with me with what I need to get better at or what I need to do to be better. In terms of a coach telling you everything's all good, I'm not about that. You can't get better from that, so when coach is real with me about this past game or any other games that I've played in, I appreciate that more than telling me that I'm good and I don't need to work on anything, so I think just all throughout my career I've sort of developed that kind of mentality."

You talked Sunday about being particularly hard on yourself and always looking at the little things that you do. Was that something that started when you were very young as well or how did that develop?

"Yeah, same thing. I think my dad had a lot to do with it too. He played baseball in the minors for numerous amounts of years and played at [the University of] Miami, so he's been through some good stuff in terms of playing and how to get better and all that kind of thing, so I definitely learned from him in terms of being real with where I'm at with my performances. And he was always straight up with me growing up about what I need to do better, what I'm doing well and that I can continue to do, so I feel like that's sort of where it has come from. It's something that I've always had and I'm not planning on changing anytime soon."

Do you feel like you know what Kyle's going to say to you before he says it?

"Yeah, I feel like I do. There's plays where I'm out in the field and if I miss a read or whatever and something happens, literally right in the moment I'm like, man, I know that I should have done this or that and I can sort of anticipate him saying, 'Hey, we have to do this and that,' or 'You missed this', which I appreciate and I'm on the same page with him, so I totally see what he says in terms of how I can get better. Same with [quarterbacks] coach [Brian] Griese and everyone, so I'm never a guy who has my wall up and you can't tell me anything like I have to learn it on my own. I definitely love hearing feedback from my coaches."

It was a tie game with like six minutes left, you were down around the 10-yard line. I just wanted to ask you about two plays and were these examples of you kind of immediately knew, alright, Kyle is going to mention this. The first down where TE Tyler Kroft became open and you threw to WR Brandon Aiyuk and then the third down, should you have tried to out hold the guy who was covering WR Jauan Jennings? Did you not hold him long enough when on the throw to TE George Kittle?

"I would say the one to Kroft, yes, I rolled out I was trying to hold the defender with my eyes and then come back to hit B.A. on that shallow, obviously Kroft was there. In the moment, I was just trying to make a play to B.A., but right as I threw it, I look back and I see Kroft and I'm like, man, I already know that's going to be one of the plays and it was. I'm real with myself about that kind of thing. I told Kroft, I said, 'dude, I owe you one.' It's not like I have some kind of excuse of why I didn't do it. Like I have to be better. I have to keep my eyes down the field and see that. On the third down to George, yeah, I feel like I could have got the ball out quicker and also, if that's not there, continue to go throughout my progression and you know hit B.A. on the backside of that, so there's little things like that where I'm real with myself. I tell the coaches how I feel in the moment, like, this is what I thought, this is how I reacted, but when you watch the film, you see what's real. I'm real with that. They're real with that and I appreciate them telling me the right feedback."

You mentioned your dad playing the minors. Was it ever a thing with your family that he played in the Giants organization and now here you are with the 49ers?

"Yeah, it's part of his story and where he played, so he knows some of the guys that ended up going to the big leagues for the San Francisco Giants. He has some people that he knows and connections, but it's cool to see that I ended up here in terms of the organization that he played for too in his career, so little things like that I feel like you can appreciate as a family."

What was your baseball background?

"I played baseball all the way up until my sophomore year in high school. My junior and senior, I didn't."

Do you attribute that to arm angles and sometimes when you have to throw a pass from your side?

"Yeah, 100%. Yeah, I played middle infield growing up and then towards the end, I played third base and I pitched, but the arm angles, having a base as a thrower, all that kind of stuff, definitely I feel like it helped me to be where I'm at now, especially with like quick game and throwing around defensive ends, so that's definitely a credit to baseball."

Shortstop or second base?

"Both. Played both, yeah."

Did you stop to focus on quarterback?

"Yeah, I was at a high school where in Arizona, you play baseball year-round. I feel like there's a lot of guys that were getting really good and I was decent and pretty good, but I feel like football was more of my calling, so my junior and senior year for recruiting in college, I feel like I had sort of had to focus on that."

Among other things RB Christian McCaffrey is just piling up first downs like crazy. I know you were just in the game, but at some point, are you thinking, man, every time I get the ball to this guy it's a first down?

"Yeah, I feel like I always know in the back of my head, he's always got a chance, so all I have to do is get him the ball if the play's design for him or if something's not there and he is the check down, it's a pretty good check down to have, so he makes plays. He's very reliable, everyone trusts him, he's always where he needs to be. I feel like the dude doesn't mess up and I definitely love having him."

Do you ever have to manage your perfectionism? Is it possible to be too hard on yourself?

"Yeah, I feel like in college, after I took over, I think I was going into my junior year, I feel like I was really hard on myself in terms of like wanting to be perfect, wanting to be a great leader, and when I messed up on the field, I was so hard on myself that I feel like it almost became detrimental to my game, so learning that in terms of letting things go, learn from them, but you have to play the next play and have that kind of mentality of whatever's next, I have to have a clean slate and a clear mind in what I'm doing. I feel like I'm still learning as we go, I'm just a rookie and still learning every day."

What are your feelings about facing Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt and making sure you're not the last quarterback he sacks?

"Yeah, I definitely respect him with everything that he's done in his career. My mentality for this game is I have to go in and just do my job, do what the coach is asking of me. I'm not trying to think of anything outside of that or make it more than what it is, but he's definitely a factor in the game and we have to do our part to make sure that we just put up points, get first downs and not have to worry about J.J."

Any thoughts this week about playing against the team that you grew up watching and went to games and is that surreal for you?

"Yeah, I think it's really cool. I went to a number of games growing up and yeah, they're my home state team and to be able to go up against them I think is pretty cool. A lot of our family and friends from where we're from are all Cardinal fans, so it is pretty cool, surreal, but at the same time, I'm at the point in my life where I am where I am and it's another team that I have to go up against and I'm not trying to make it more than what it is, so I'm definitely thankful to be where I'm at, but it is another game."
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