Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody – appreciate you guys being here – and we're working hard on San Francisco."
Coach, going against QB Colin Kaepernick and that offense, they're struggling this year. What are your thoughts on Kaepernick and how he has been able to play? (Turron Davenport)"Incredible talent. I think he's had a tremendous career, and that's what you prepare for. When you have players of that caliber who've played the way they have in this league, you know what they're capable of doing. It goes for their whole offense. They have tremendous receivers. I believe they have depth at wide receiver. We like the young guys – [Quinton] Patton. But you look at Torrey [Smith] and Anquan [Boldin], obviously, they've been here. We know them well. They're dangerous players. This running back is really playing well. [Carlos Hyde is] an Ohio State guy, but that's OK, I guess. (laughter) [He is] powerful, gets behind his pads, elusive guy. He's a feature player for them right now. They're expecting to get their tight end back – Vernon Davis. He's a downfield threat, but all their tight ends are playing really well. Their offensive line – they haven't, probably, played quite up to the way they want them to, but they got a lot better last week. And the left side of their offensive line is as good as any in football. It's a talented offense, and Kaepernick is a talented player."
Coach, a year removed, might Jim Harbaugh be of any help in scouting or knowing anything about the team and the system? (Jerry Coleman) "Not really. It's a different team now. It's a different scheme that they're running now. Plus, he his hands full with what he's getting ready for this week."
John, with the roster moves, was most of it generated, because of CB Will Davis going down and needing to sort of upgrade the depth there at cornerback? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We brought in Shareece Wright, who was released last week. He's a guy that we've known for quite a while. [We] looked at him in free agency, so we respect him as a player. I'm really hopeful that he can help us as a cover corner out there, and he's a good tackler. Then we brought Asa [Jackson] and Charles [James II] up [from the practice squad], and both of those two guys have done very well in practice. We figured, 'You know what? You reward guys that practice well.' Asa gets another opportunity; Charles gets his first opportunity here. I'm excited to see how those guys play. I think they'll both compete. All three of them will compete. It's disappointing with Will Davis, because he was doing a really good job, and I was excited about him as a player. We'll have him in the future. So, it's time for these guys to step up."
**Issues with that communication with so many new moving parts in the secondary we're seeing? I think the talent is there, but as far as working together, it only takes that much for it not to go right. *(Pete Gilbert) *"Asa [Jackson] and Charles [James II] shouldn't have any trouble. They've been here a long time, and they've been in every meeting, and they know the defense inside and out. With Shareece [Wright], it'll be … Communication will be important – getting the language right and making sure he's on the same page with the rest of the secondary."
Coach, message to the guys, the rest of the team [that] you cut two guys – two guys that had piled up some penalties and some mistakes? Is there a message sent to the rest of the team by doing that? (Jerry Coleman)"I don't think you need to send messages like that. I know all the players understand that already. They should; it's pro football. That's just the way it works. You just try to make your team as good as you can make it based on the players that are available and the players that fit what you're trying to do."
What do you see from WR Torrey Smith on tape? Is he the same guy that he was here, or has he changed his game a little bit? (Ryan Mink) "He is the same, really good player. I don't think he has diminished at all. He has gotten better. He continues to improve. I think he has, obviously, worked hard, and he looks like a very good player on tape. All the things he does well, he still does well. Torrey is still a very good player."
We talked before about WR Steve Smith Sr. being a tone-setter. The 49ers seem to have one in a former player for you – WR Anquan Boldin. Do you see a similarity as far as how they play the game extra physical? (Turron Davenport) "They're both competitive guys. You have to say that there is a similarity between Anquan [Boldin] and Steve [Smith Sr.], as far as that competitive fire. They bring it every single play and compete. [They are] physical players. There's a brotherhood of toughness between those two guys, that's for sure."
John, a lot of teams get penalties, and Rex Ryan has heard it up in Buffalo. A lot of people are quick to say, "It's a lack of discipline. The team is undisciplined." How would you respond? You've seen the penalties; you know the players. How would you respond to that? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't care what people say. Put any label on it you want. Penalties that … I don't like the two penalties we talked about at all. I don't think lining up in the neutral zone is anything that should ever happen. The hands-to-the-face penalty, that shouldn't have happened, either. The tackle put his hands in the rusher's face, also. So, it could have been called on both guys. But we can't control what the tackle does or how the official calls it. Keep your hands off his facemask. The late hit on Lawrence Guy, that's something that we'll just have to teach differently in the future. He was within the rules. I don't believe it was late, but if they say it's late, then I'll adjust. We'll adjust our coaching on that, and we'll try to do it differently, and we'll expect our quarterback to be protected the same way. That's part of the process of defining it and coaching your guys. What other penalties do you want to talk about? The two guys back off the line, they were legal. They were told to move back. They shouldn't have been told to move back. They were legal. They were fine. That was not well-officiated. What else? I'll go through them all with you." (Reporter: "There were a couple holdings – Zach Orr and Tray Walker on special teams.") "Tray Walker – ridiculous. You tackle a guy basically in front of the returner. The Zach Orr one was bad, too. He pulled the guy late, because he set up too deep and got pushed. What else? Those are both technique issues."
**Over the season, offensive holding has been … There has been a lot of offensive holding. A lot of people say that can be called on any play, but is there a certain way that you can try to instruct these guys on it? *(Jamison Hensley) *"Yes, we teach it. Basically, it starts with our footwork. If your footwork is within the framework of your target, it's a lot less likely that you're going to get an offensive holding penalty. We haven't had an overly high number of those penalties, but we've had more than we want. That's always a big challenge across the league. You look at every team – every coach – there's going to be a debate about holding one way or the other. But we need to minimize holding, and you do it with good technique."
Do you ever get a sense this week – or when you talk to the team or when you gather – that you need to help lift them up after a 1-4 start, or everybody is right where you want them as far as that goes? (Pete Gilbert)"That's always part of the process. As a coach – or in any kind of role in an organization – you try to set a tone and a tempo. It's not necessary to pump guys up or give pep talks or anything like that. Our guys are grown men. They understand the situation. They're motivated. They want to do well. We're not pleased with the outcome, but the process has been excellent. Our guys are working hard. I told the guys today, I said, 'We should be a confident football team, because we have prepared properly. We have worked very hard, and we've worked smart, and we have a talented football team, and we have a well-coached football team.' I think our coaches do a great job. Our players work really hard. So, the results are going to come. Is it tough when they don't come as quickly as you want? Absolutely. But that's life. Our guys understand that. We just talk straight with them and make sure they understand, 'Hey, we have a game to win this week,' and that's what we aim to do."
John, you guys seemed to be really excited about CB Rashaan Melvin, even in preseason. Were the injuries what set him back? I know he struggled, really, when he got back on the field in the Bengals game. (Jeff Zrebiec)"I really like Rashaan [Melvin]. I think he's a good person and a hardworking guy and a talented guy who has a good future. [It] just wasn't happening quickly enough. You have to get out there, and you have to play, and you have to get the job done. And he will; he will. He's a hardworking, motivated guy."
You mentioned, at the end of last year, you sat down with the rookies and told them that they did well, but the hardest thing to do is maintain and grow from Year 1 to Year 2 and keep growing like that. Do you see that as one of the challenges you guys have faced overall with some of those second-year guys not stepping into a role you wanted? (Jon Meoli)"I'd probably need a more specific question than that. Which guys?" *(Reporter: "Timmy Jernigan, who you mentioned last week, and C.J. [Mosley] has been up and down. He has had injuries. You can't do anything about that – but just overall.") *"It's part of the process. We have high expectations for C.J. [Mosley] and for Timmy [Jernigan] and for anybody else that you might be thinking of. We want those guys to progress as rapidly as possible. It's just part of the process. You have to keep coaching them. There's no disappointment; there's no over-exuberating when guys do really great. It goes week to week. I have a lot of confidence in both of those two guys, specifically, and expect them to play at the highest level no matter how young they are. We drafted them for a reason, we like them as players, and we expect them to play really well. And the focus is on them and everybody else playing really well on Sunday."
RB Javorius "Buck" Allen – what have you seen from him recently and his readiness as far as being a runner, receiver, pass blocker and all those things? (Cliff Brown)"Yes, 'Buck' Allen has done a really good job. You see him running the ball well, and pass blocking has not been a problem. He has done a good job; he has been on his assignments. He's willing to stick his nose in there and block people. And he's a good receiver out of the backfield. He has come a long way, and he's a good back."
John, with a different scheme and, obviously, a different head coach, but the practices you had with the 49ers here, do you go back and look at that tape and kind of glean anything form that? (Pete Gilbert)"No. We have lots of tape to look at. I don't know how much we'd really learn from that right now. It seems like a long time ago. We know their personnel, the guys that have been there for a while. We haven't forgotten who they are, but you have to look where they are right now. And really, it's what schemes they are running and what they are doing well now and what we need to defend and attack right now."
John, one of the popular narratives this week is going to be that last time you guys met [the 49ers], the big game and how much has changed. I guess there are 10 total starters [from the last meeting]. Do you think that's more of – rather than a reflection of anything that has happened here and there – do you think it's more of a reflection of just the NFL in general, every year how much change there is? (Jeff Zrebiec)"That's a good question. I haven't had time to do the research on that, so I would be interested in the research on that. How does it compare – these two teams compare – to all the other teams around the league? I really don't know the answer to that, but it's the reality that we face."
QB Colin Kaepernick, his mobility obviously can be a problem. Without give away specifics, with a guy like that, what are some keys for the defense to try to keep that from being a problem? (Cliff Brown)"It seems like most every quarterback you play nowadays has mobility. We saw it last week, we saw it the week before that, but Colin Kaepernick is [another] level of mobility. He gets just as many first downs on third down running as he does throwing, and that's not to say he can't throw – because he can. He can run that well. So, pass rush becomes run defense to an extent. You have to have a gap-control understanding, you have to keep the player inside and in front [and] you have to get off blocks. You can't get hung up on blocks. You can't let them hold you and pull you back; where you're bull-rushing and they pull you back and the quarterback runs right by you. Those are considerations that we have to be aware of and make sure we defend him as a runner."
You mentioned the pass rush. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has talked about the balance of sending extra guys versus dropping guys back into coverage. Is that one of the bigger challenges you guys have faced this year, trying to find the right balance of getting guys to the quarterback versus rushing the player and getting pressure like you have in the past? (Jon Meoli)"To me, the balance is kind of a … That's kind of a hard way to define it, because balance is success, when you have success. That's what you're looking for. And we have success a high percentage of the time, but then we give up big plays. Or we don't get people stopped in two-minute or in the fourth quarter; and we don't have success. And it's not so much the calls. There were probably three calls in the game I charted, and I told Dean [Pees] this, but he agreed. He knew the exact same three calls. We both felt like, 'Man, we'd like to have those calls back.' And the other calls are calls that, when we had situations, they just need to be played better and coached better. The technique needs to be trained better. We have to be [playing with] more – I would say – more aggressiveness, play with more confidence. Play it. Go cover people. Go attack the quarterback. But we blitzed a lot in that game. We played coverage a lot in that game. We had 90 plays [on defense], so we had plenty of opportunity to do both. We'd like to have less opportunity to do either and find a balance in there. But generally, we're going to blitz close to half the time. That's pretty much a measuring stick for us. We're a blitzing team, so we want to continue to do that."
John, you mentioned players trying to get more confident, more aggressive. Do you think that has, maybe, shown up a little bit more later in games when you have struggled to shut down teams? (Jamison Hensley)"Part of it is finishing, yes. We have struggled to do that. It's not just this year, and with success comes confidence. We start closing people out, then we'll start gaining confidence in our ability to do that. But the other thing, confidence comes with preparation. We've prepared to do that. We worked two minutes just a minute ago here [during the walk-through]. We had all the ability in the world to do that. Let's go do it."
Does it work the same way on offense? For so long, the offense has gotten fourth-quarter, game-winning drives, and then in the first three games, it didn't happen. Does that also lead to confidence that you're going to make that play at the end offensively? (Ryan Mink)"It probably applies to everything in life. It probably would be something that [applies to everything]. If you write a piece that goes viral and becomes a [Pulitzer] Prize-winning candidate, you'd probably gain a little confidence as a writer." *(laughter) (Reporter: "I don't think that's going to happen, unfortunately.") *"I've seen your work, Ryan. I think you have a shot."
QB Joe Flacco
On the similarities between WR Steve Smith Sr. and WR Anquan Boldin: "I think the biggest thing is just the toughness and the physicality that they bring to the wide receiver position and how they actually make it a football game out in the perimeter and with how much success they do it and the way they're able to go up there. No matter how much it appears that they're covered, they're not, because they're strong to the ball. And, they have really, really good hands, strong hands. I think that's the biggest thing that you can compare between the two. They're also very fiery guys that not only play very physical, but their attitude is very much so that way."
On how encouraging it is to have WR Steve Smith Sr. and TE Crockett Gillmore back at practice: "It's good. They're important. They're important to our team and to our success. You want those guys to be healthy, so hopefully they are. And they're working through some of those things, because we want them out there at full strength. But it was nice to see them out there."
On how personally tough the losses at the beginning of the season have been for him: "It's tough, but it's part of the NFL. I think we have a lot of confidence in what we're doing around here and the way we do it, so we have to just get through it. You can't keep your head down. We still have to come to work. I think we've had a great mindset as a team, as an organization. I think it starts with John [Harbaugh] and the way he's leading us. I think we've had a great mindset coming out here and practicing and being able to put some of that stuff behind us, but it's not easy. That's the thing you have to love about the NFL: If you're not a good enough team, it's going to show at some point or the other, and it's going to be very blatant, and that's kind of what it has been so far. We just haven't been good enough, and going out there and playing on Sunday makes it very obvious, [that] you don't win games if you're not good enough."
On how head coach John Harbaugh has handled starting the season at 1-4: "Steady. He has a lot of fun coming in here and working with us every day. I think he feels as though he has a great team; I feel the same way. He's still in here doing those same things of trying to get the confidence across to us. So, I would say steady and upbeat, ready to go."
On both the Ravens and 49ers beginning this season at 1-4 despite being in Super Bowl three years ago and whether that is a testament to how difficult it is to maintain success over a long period: "Listen, there's so much turnover year-to-year, so it's not even a matter of a few years. It's really year-to-year. It's tough to stay at that level. I think you see that consistently across the board. It's just tough from year-to-year to keep that same team together and keep injuries down and all those things. It's unfortunate that we're both in the same situation right now, because I think we feel as though we have a better team. I'm sure they feel the same way, and every other team that has only won one game or two games or zero games probably feels the same way. It's probably not the best thing that I'm saying that, but it's unfortunate that we're like that. But we have to just take it one game at a time and not worry about what our record is come Sunday. We just have to go out there and play the game and worry about getting another win."
On whether it is easier to have confidence knowing that all of the losses have been close games: "I don't know. I don't want to know. But I don't think so. I think a loss is a loss. I don't think you can stand here and say, 'But we only lost them [by a close score]. We had a chance to win.' You're going down a slippery slope when you start doing those things. It's almost like you're looking for an excuse and pointing the finger. I think that's, at least, what that leads to. I think it feels bad no matter what, and we just have to keep righting the ship and go out there and make the most of what's ahead of us. I don't know what that is, but we have to make the most of it."
On whether he can pinpoint why the offense has had trouble finishing games despite being able to do so in Pittsburgh: "I don't think Pittsburgh was any different. We kicked a field goal. I think we've played very well at times, but we haven't been consistent enough to make every single one of those plays. Our mindset probably has to be a little bit different in some of those circumstances, but we weren't able to just come up with the plays down the stretch to do what we had to do. I don't think there was one thing. I think it has been probably something different every game. It gets tough to get the ball in the end zone down there against good teams in crunch time. In order to be a great offense, that's what you have to do, and right now we're kind of just right in the middle of the pack. We're playing well at times, but not well enough to win football games, obviously. It just comes down to being in the right spot and executing perfectly and everybody understanding that. If you look at the tape every week, you can narrow it down to two or three plays – one play – that if it went this much different, we would have won the football game. Now, you could probably take 20 plays in the opposite direction, too, saying we didn't make great plays then we would have got blown out. But it really is, it's such a fine line, and I think we're really close. That's why we just have to keep the confidence and have faith that if we continue to put ourselves in those positions, then we're eventually going to break through and make those plays."
On the mindset the team has to have down the stretch of a game: "We have to believe that we're going to put the ball in the end zone. Sometimes down there, I think tight, late in games, you can't just rely on the things that you did earlier in the game to get you in the end zone. You have to come up with something that's a little bit different that maybe goes against some of the tendencies down there just so that you can pop one. And it is so tough to get them in down there, because you're shortening the field up so much. We just have to, maybe, be aggressive. This game was different, because we got the ball from the midfield down to the 10- [yard line]. But sometimes when you get down in there, a lot of the times it's easy to take your shot around the 20, 25. And if we can get into those situations, I think we'll have enough of them. We did early on in some of the games where we were able to take shots, and those are the ones you have to win, and we just haven't been able to do it."
On whether he will reflect on the Super Bowl win since this will be the first regular meeting between for the Ravens and 49ers since:"I don't think about it at all. It was on the TV today – the NFL Network or somebody was doing a replay of it. When you see that, it definitely doesn't bring up bad memories, but I don't think about it. It feels like so long ago. And everybody on this … It's disrespectful to even talk about it, because you have so many guys on this team that weren't a part of it, and they're trying to be a part of something great in the moment, and I am, too. So, it doesn't really cross my mind too often, and I think I like it that way."
On what stands out about the 49ers' defense and its exotic blitzes: "There [have been] a couple items guys and people have said it to me. I don't know how exotic they are, but they're going to try to find ways to not only put pressure on you, but to hold their coverage late and make it tough for you to see what they're doing [and] maybe try to make you a half-second late, later than you should be to places – things like that. I think they still have a good front. I think [NaVorro] Bowman can still play. He might not be quite the man-to-man player in the pass game, but he can still get in there and mix it up. He's a really, really good player, and he's playing well. That's kind of what I see."
On what stands out about WR Torrey Smith's time in Baltimore: "He was a very good receiver for us for a lot of reasons. But one of the biggest reasons is because he's a guy that wants to do it the right way and is very conscious about that. He's very easy to work with, and things don't happen too often on the negative side. So, you get things corrected very quickly, because he kind of understands that. And like I said, he's conscious of it. For me, that's great. Obviously, his speed comes into play big-time [and] the development of his hands through the years that he was here – all that was a lot of help for me."
On WR Torrey Smith's speed: "I think it can definitely put pressure on teams, and it definitely makes it a little bit different out there and gives teams different things to think about in how they want to cover him. Especially last year when you have a guy like Steve [Smith Sr.] that can really beat man-to-man coverage, and they have to make this, and Torrey, who can beat man-to-man coverages with his shear speed, it makes it tough for defenses. You can't double both the guys all game, so it's kind of like, 'Pick your poison,' get beat over the top by Torrey or get beat to death over the course of the game with Steve. That's kind of what made it tough last year for teams. I think we're working towards that. I think at the end of the day, that is what speed gives you."
On whether he was dancing earlier at practice: "No, we were talking about how a shame it was that Jamaal Charles got hurt. I finally had saw the clip, and I don't think it was a contact injury. I didn't realize that when he initially got hurt. That's kind of what I was doing. I didn't mean it to be funny. When you do it like that … If you ever see me doing that, then just believe that I'm not trying to dance. (laughter) I don't dance in the confines of my own bedroom, let alone where anybody might possibly see me." (laughter) (Reporter: "Did people get on you for not doing any more celebration after a couple touchdowns?") "The second one, the guy was trying to rip my helmet off as I got up there, so I had a couple choice words for him as I got up, and that was about it. And then I ran away from him. (laughter) And the first one, I just wanted to get a monster spike in, and I kind of thought it was awkward as I was doing it. But there are a couple good pictures on Instagram of me, so I liked it. *(laughter) *I just wish we would have won the game."
G/T Kelechi Osemele
On having more success in the run game the last two weeks: "I just feel like we're gelling. We've been working really hard in individual [drills]. [Offensive line coach] Juan [Castillo] has been doing a good job of working on a lot of double-teams. Obviously, it helps having Eugene [Monroe] back, having that continuity back, and I think that's pretty much what it is – just having the same guys in there working together."
On how helpful it is to have T Eugene Monroe back in the lineup:"I think it's great. He's such an experienced player, such a professional, he's so athletic, so powerful. You want to have a guy like that next to you when you go out there and you're battling for your life, basically. You want a guy like Eugene next to you, so that's very important. You can't replace a guy like that."
On how important it is to be committed to the run and initiate contact:"It's real important. Obviously, you don't want to be getting blown back into the backfield; that's never good. Being the aggressor is important. You kind of have to find that balance of not being out of control as well. It's not always about how hard you can hit. Sometimes it's how hard you get hit and you keep going; that's kind of what being an offensive linemen is, is being able to find that balance."
On how his mindset helps him translate to what he wants to do on the field:"I think it has a big deal, because it's, honestly, run-blocking, being an offensive lineman, it's really about attitude. Your mindset has to be one that regardless of how much pain you're in or what's going on out there, you can't make any excuses. Your mindset has to be, 'No matter what happens, I'm going to hit him in the mouth.' As long as you have that type of mindset that you know you're going to get hit, they get paid too, and you're going to hit them back and it's a long game, you're going to be fine."
On if there has been added urgency for the offensive line to get the running game going with all of the injuries at wide receiver and tight end:"I feel like, personally, we came out slow in the first game, and ever since then it's been kind of like us trying to catch back up and be where we're supposed to be. I feel like coming into it, we were pretty confident in our offensive line, and regardless of what the receivers are doing – I know they're working hard and they're taking care of their job – we're kind of focused on just taking care of our job. Regardless of what else is going on around us, we just want to make sure that we're the group that stays consistent and we're the group that comes out and works hard every day. And I think we're getting back to that."
On if his back troubles of before are well behind him now:"Oh, I'm feeling great. This is the best I've ever felt. Those are way behind me. The medical staff did a great job, and [strength and conditioning coach] Bob [Rogucki] did a great job in the weight room getting me back, and I feel great."
On his assessment of how head coach John Harbaugh has handled things with the team struggling right now:"He's handled it well. He hasn't been 'MF-ing' guys or kind of chewing guys out or kind of putting on a persona or anything like that. He's just been a straight professional about it. He calls guys out and he's going to let you know if he thinks you need to improve and tell you exactly what that is that you need to improve on, and that's just how he's been. We just come out here every day and we work on those things and try to get better. That's what we've been doing."
On if he is surprised at how much the personnel has changed since they last played the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII:"There's always going to be turnover in personnel – it's the NFL. We just worry about what we're doing, and they're nameless, shapeless faces. We're going to prepare against any team the same way. We respect them as a team, but we're going to go out there and we're going to perform at the highest level possible, regardless of who's out there."
On if seeing the 49ers at all reminds him of the biggest game of his life a few years ago:"No, not at all, man. The NFL is one of those things where it's the next game. It doesn't really matter what happened the last game."
ILB Daryl Smith
On the importance of staying disciplined against a running quarterback like QB Colin Kaepernick:"[It is] very important. As soon as he sees an open lane and everybody's covered, he's going to take off. It kind of happened to us this last game – guys kind of getting upfield past the quarterback. And [when] he sees an open lane and guys are covered up, he's going to take off. That will be very important this week, and we know he's a guy that will [run]."
On the one or two things that can help the Ravens finish games:"I don't know – just playing every play like it's the last play and just going as hard as you can and just playing smart, as well, because we've also been having penalties and just things that we can't have to be successful. On third down, we got a stop, but we got a penalty; and it prolongs a drive. Anytime you do that, it betters the chance of the offense to go out and score. [There are] quite a few things, and we're searching for it, and hopefully we find the answer this week.'
On the defense not playing up to the team's standards so far this season:"It feels terrible. Like you just said, everything this franchise has done in the past … We definitely don't want to be the guys that offset that. We've got to find our way, and I believe we will."
On if the team's struggles result from execution or game-planning:"I think [the coaches] always come up with a great game plan. It's up to the players to go out and get the job done. You're usually going to get something new the offense is going to show you, and you plan your roles out, you adapt and you make plays. For whatever reason, we haven't made those plays, and hopefully that will change this week."
On the difficulty of overcoming injuries and the sentiment of the defense:"Here's the thing: Guys get hurt every week in the league, and the league is still going on. Guys still have to go out and play ball, and the next guy has to come up and play. Like you said, you can't use it as an excuse, because we've still got a job to do."
On how he avoids negative thoughts when the results are not what the team expected:"Every day is a new day. You come in, and you've got to work. You win that day, and then you move to the next day. [We take it] a day at a time, a week at a time, and that's how you look at it. You don't look at the overall picture. Some people might, but I don't. I think the majority of the [team doesn't]. We don't, and we just take it step by step, and hopefully that leads to a change."
CB Jimmy Smith
On what it's going to be like to line up against his former teammate, WR Torrey Smith:"It's just going to be fun. I know Torrey so well; we're like brothers. I know his moves; he knows my moves. So, it's going to be fun out there. I'm pretty sure we're going to get out there and have some plays where we're actually just laughing at each other at the end. But I think it's going to be a great matchup."
On who he thinks has the advantage on that matchup:"The Ravens do, overall."
On the matchup specifically between he and WR Torrey Smith:"The Ravens." (laughter)
On if he had any beforehand insight to the Ravens signing his high school friend, CB Shareece Wright:"They told me they were trying to pick him up and [asked me] to give him a call, because he was leaning towards going to the Seahawks."* *
On if he put in a call to Wright:"I called him and was like, 'How rare is this that you get to play ball, starting corner, with your best friend in the league and in high school?' So, it's a unique privilege and it's a great feeling to have somebody that you've known for that long right here."
On what type of player the Ravens are getting:"To be honest, when I first started playing football, he was the one that taught me. Him and another one of my friends, they were like the football gods in our area, and I was just a basketball kid trying to play football. So, they taught me a lot. But we've always had a great relationship; we've always stayed in contact. It's just kind of crazy that he's here."
On if Wright was the one that got him to play football:"No, actually my freshman year, I played at a rival high school. But when I met him, he was their best player. And [I met] another one of our best friends named Allen Bradford – he plays for Atlanta now. So, it was pretty much just us three all throughout high school until this point now. So, if Allen came here, it'd be crazy, crazy."
On how much influence he thinks his call to Wright had for him to sign with the Ravens:"I'm 100 percent sure he came here because of me. *(laughter) *No doubt about it; he's a West Coast guy. He was not coming out to the East unless I was there."
On how much he has worked with Wright to get him up to speed to the Ravens' defense:"We train together in the offseason. So, it's a blessing in disguise that we get to sit and talk about this defense now, how to play it and what to do. It's a really good situation."
DT Brandon Williams
On the defense's struggles early this season: "I feel like we definitely have to step up. Everybody is playing their hearts out. Everybody is playing each game to the best of their ability. You can tell by how close the games are. But the biggest thing we have to do as a defense is finish. That's the biggest thing that it's coming down to – the last play, the last whatever – just coming down, going out there and playing the first half just like the second half or better. That's the biggest thing that we have to do – just finish the game and execute the best we can."
On how challenging injuries have been for the defense: "It's difficult when you lose big-time players. But at the same time, it is the NFL; it happens every week. People get bumped up, moved, whatever. So you just have to ... The coaches do a great job of just teaching the next man coming in, and [they] execute just like the next person. That's the biggest thing that we love about our coaches is that they get everyone ready to play the game. No matter who is up, no matter who is down, [we] just plug them in and keep going."
On defensive coordinator Dean Pees trying different schemes to account for injuries:**"Coach [Dean] Pees is doing a great job. I think he is doing a great job with everything he's got, everything that he's doing, everything that we're doing. He's coaching us and telling us … He has a great game plan every week. It's just up to us to finish and make that game plan even better. [We have to] just go out there and execute it to the best of our ability."
On what can be done to finish on third down:"It comes down to execution. That's the biggest thing – having that mindset [that] it's third down, it's time to get off the field and just executing the play and getting off the field. That's what it comes down to – finishing."
On what feedback he received from fans at a recent local event:"Baltimore fans are lovely. They're a great bunch, a great group, a great crowd. That's the best thing about Baltimore is that their fan base is just so loyal and so true, and we feed off that all the time. We just love them for it. You've obviously got a couple of stragglers that jump on the bandwagon and jump off when we're doing well, we're doing great, but it's the real ones that come out when you're down. And we're down right now, and the fans like that help a team get picked back up."
On whether fans have been encouraging despite the tough start to the season: "Definitely. [The fans are] definitely encouraging, definitely saying, 'We'll get them next time.' [They] just always have encouraging words and kind words. There was no one out there kind of bashing – nothing like that. We have great fans."
On facing a mobile quarterback like QB Colin Kaepernick and the challenges it present:"The biggest thing is pushing the pocket and caging him. Don't let him become a running back; just let him be a quarterback. That's one of the biggest things we have to do – stay in our rush lanes and make him be mobile in the pocket and nowhere else."
On the mood in the locker room and what leaders have stepped up:"First of all, there's no one leader. We're all doing our job to keep everyone up and just looking forward to the next game. What happened last Sunday is what happened last Sunday. We're on to this Sunday. That's what we have to focus on, that's what we have to work towards. And morale has been good. No one is down on themselves. No one is [saying], 'Woe is me,' pointing fingers, nothing like that. I was always told if you point one finger, there's three more pointing back at you. You have to look at what you've been doing wrong and get better at that. So, that's what we are doing."
CB Shareece Wright
On why he signed with Baltimore: "I just want to say thank you. It's an honor – it's a blessing – for this opportunity and [to] be able to play for the Baltimore Ravens. It just happened that way. When I was asking for my release out of San Francisco for the past couple weeks, we were trying to get a trade done with [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome], and we weren't able to get that done. I was finally released, and things happened, and it was a great opportunity to come here and be on this defense and play really soon. That's all I wanted to do was get on the field. I saw an opportunity, and we made it happen."
On returning to San Francisco this Sunday with the Ravens to face his former team: "It's just the way things work. I'm a believer in everything happens for a reason, and I'm just going to take full advantage of my opportunity going back there and knowing them so well. I've been there since free agency, so I practiced against [their offense] a lot. It's good to be able to [have] my first game being on the field going against my ex-team. It's one of those things [where] things happen for a reason."
On CB Jimmy Smith recruiting him to Baltimore: "Me and Jimmy [Smith], we've been best friends since high school. We hang out in the offseason, and we've always talked about if we have the opportunity to be on the same team – playing corner on the same team, one day like we did in high school – how it would be a blessing. That opportunity came, and I called him [and said], 'What's going on over there? What do you think about me coming?' I told him about the other teams, and we talked about the opportunity for me to come here. I told him, 'What do you think about me being able to come and play a significant role on the defense?' And he said, 'You come here, you'll be a big part of us. This is my recruiting. You know I want you to come here.' (laughter) I said, 'What about this [other] team?' And he was like, 'No, I want you to come here.' Of course, it helps a lot just having him with me coming … I've been on the West Coast my whole career – [including] college – since high school. Coming to the East Coast and having him to help me adjust – and just having somebody familiar in the building – I knew would make the transition easier for me."
On whether his friendship with CB Jimmy Smith influenced his decision to sign with Baltimore: "It played a big role. That's like my brother, like a little brother to me. To be able to be on the same team … [It was also] just the opportunity, the situation with guys going down and me being able to play, because that's all I wanted to do is get on the field and play football."
On learning the Ravens' defense this week and giving advice to the team about the 49ers: "It's a lot of that. It's a lot of trying to get some rest at the same time, trying to adjust my time clock and trying to learn this defense. I'm here until 8 o'clock every night trying to figure it all out. It's good. It's informative – I'm helping them, they're helping me. I'm just trying to help us win."
On why he was released by the 49ers: "Honestly, to me, I just feel like they wanted to go a different direction. I feel like when I signed there, they had plans for me, and a lot of things happened on the defense. They lost a lot of guys. I feel like losing all those guys, they kind of went a different direction. I don't know if there was a rebuild-type of mode. And [with] me being on a one-year deal, I kind of didn't have a future with them. They had a bunch of young guys who didn't play last year and were drafted guys. I just feel like if I played the whole season, these guys [would be] going into their third year [and] haven't played yet. [It was] a lot of things. I heard from some coaches a lot of different things [about] why I wasn't playing. They love me and they … I don't know exactly what it was, but that's just the [intel] I got, which is why I asked for my release. If you're not going to use me … I know I'm better than a fifth corner on any team in this league, and if you're not going to use me, let me go and get an opportunity to play football."
On what else drew him to the Ravens organization: "Just looking at the schedule, me being a fan growing up and watching the Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowls and be a great team – and being a physical defense – and my style of play and having an opportunity to get on the field. Like I said, Ozzie [Newsome] has been trying to get me here for a while now, and finally, I got to talk to him and the opportunity came for him to get me, and we agreed, and we made it happen."
san francisco 49ers CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Jim Tomsula
On what WR Torrey Smith has added to the 49ers:"You can't talk about Torrey Smith without talking about the kind of person [he is]. You are all very aware of that, I'm sure. And the way he has worked, really, he's just a tremendous person and just a guy you want to be working with. But then out on the field, his work ethic, he's here all the time and [he has] a beautiful family. His little boy is something else, and you just see what kind of father he is. So, those things are just unbelievable. The work ethic – the way he works in practice, the way he does things – [he's a] terrific teammate. And then, obviously, his skill set is something that we greatly appreciate."
On how much of a focus it is to get WR Torrey Smith more involved on offense:"Yes, it is; it is. Torrey [Smith] is here. We were extremely excited about being able to have him here, and we want to continue to grow and utilize him."
On if he gets a sense that the matchup with WR Torrey Smith's former team means more to Smith:"I don't know that. We kind of stay away from all that every week, because you get players from different [teams]. In this NFL, guys are from this team, that team, and we just try to stay focused on what we need to do and kind of fine tune ourselves to focus on what we need to do to get better every day leading into Sunday."
On WR Anquan Boldin setting the tone for the 49ers:"Well, again, you all are familiar with him, and [he's] another class individual. But that's Anquan [Boldin]; that's been Anquan his entire career. I remember back when I first got here, he was down in Arizona. My gosh, we were going against him twice a year, and just that competitive edge and just the way he is on gameday and the way he attacks things – he's just an exciting guy to have. And obviously, [he's] a tremendous football player."
On the decision to release CB Shareece Wright a week before he signed with Baltimore:"I don't have anything but wonderful things to say about Shareece Wright. Shareece came in and was in the mix with things and worked his tail off. And he's a five-year guy, and he is another really good person. It was just a point of – with the roster right there – we needed space, and that was just one of those things that had to happen. But Shareece Wright is a heck of a guy."
On the Ravens and 49ers playing in Super Bowl XLVII, both teams struggling this season and how difficult it is to win consistently in the NFL:"The NFL in itself, every week – you all know that – every week is crazy. Every week is hard. And you talk about three years ago, that's an eternity in the NFL – in my opinion – with free agency and the way everything goes that way."
On NT Ian Williams and his impact on the defense: "Ian Williams is … He's a guy that has had to come through it the hard way. Obviously, coming out of college undrafted, came here, busted his tail, put up with me for three years. (laughter) The first two [years] were really hard. I know he'd like to shove me in a garbage can a couple of times. (laughter) He just kept battling through. And then, obviously, with the injuries, he never let it get him down. The guy just kept working through it. I think Ian is a really good football player. Just the way he works through it and works every day, I believe that was part of the reason the guys voted him captain. Just watching him is the total package of the guy – the work ethic, never letting his chin drop and locking his jaw and pushing forward. I think that had as much to do with him being voted as a captain here as his performance."
On if he would be surprised if WR Steve Smith Sr. does not play on Sunday: "Listen, you have to prepare for him. We're preparing for him. We don't know, won't know, so we're preparing for him. There's another one now. What a competitor."
On last week's game helping QB Colin Kaepernick's confidence: "We, as a team, have not played good enough to win, obviously. I understand [that for] the quarterback position, [there] is also more put on that position. You get more credit than you deserve when you win, and you get more grief than you deserve when you lose. 'Kap' [Colin Kaepernick] played a nice game on Sunday. He did all the things that we asked him to do – ran the offense well and threw some nice balls. He did a nice job. We just have to … There were a lot of other guys that did some good things. But we didn't put it well enough [together] to win and didn't make enough plays to win. We have to continue to trudge forward and get ourselves in positions to win games."
On the struggles of the right side of the offensive line and whether the rotation there will continue at the tackle position: "We had the guard position with Andrew Tiller and [Jordan] Devey. Erik Pears was at the right tackle. And it's more of an indication of Tiller [and] on the things he has been working on and seeing him improve. It was time to give him a chance. So, he's just working his rotation."
WR Torrey Smith
On his emotions and expectations while preparing to play his former team:"To be honest with you, I haven't thought about it much at all. I've always said that from the beginning, but I didn't think when the time came it'd actually be that way. But right now, we have big issues. Me playing our former team, we've got to try to get a win ourselves. But it's definitely a little bit weird looking at guys I played with on film and not being practice film, being game film and knowing that we're going to be playing against them. So, it's a little different, but at the end of the day, it's a football game." *(Reporter: "Does it mean more?") *"To be honest with you, I can't say it means any more than any other game, because each and every game I play in, I want to go out, I want to play well and I want to score 1,000 touchdowns. I want to have 1,000 yards every game. That's the way I approach every game, but I guess when it's all said and done, Baltimore is still home for me. So, when I come back home and I go see Jimmy [Smith] or 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] or somebody, it'll be nice to have some bragging rights."
On having the opportunity to line up against CB Jimmy Smith in a game having practiced against him in Baltimore:"I can't say I'm looking forward to anything, but it's going to be fun. Jimmy [Smith] – that's like my brother. I've had his back since Day One; he's had mine since Day One, and he's a heck of a player. I've always felt like he was very underrated as a corner, and now, obviously, he has proven that he can play ball and he's one of the best in the league. So, I have to approach it that way. Jimmy Smith is one of the best corners in the league, and if I see him on Sunday, I'm going to have my hands full."
On if he is surprised by the Ravens' struggles this year:"Yes, but I always look at it and I know that they've been in every game. So, it could go either way. You could say they could have been 5-0 with some very tight games and have some things to work on, or you could be 1-4 and everyone's losing their mind. They've been very competitive, and I don't think that's something you can write off, because obviously, they've been hit with the injury bug. But you can look at it [as] they know how to win, [John] Harbaugh knows how to win. There are a lot vets there that know how to win, and that's just about finishing games."
On if he took a while to get over the sting of embracing change after leaving Baltimore:"It took talking to [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome]. Yes, I cried like a baby. [I was] talking to him, and I was just like, 'Man …' I know that when I called everyone and basically said thank you to them, it was tough, but I understand it's a business. And if you understand it's a business, then you don't let your emotions be involved. But it's tough when that organization, the Ravens organization, changed my life; and it changed my family's life. I'll always be thankful for what they've done for me, and to be honest, I still can't pay them back to this day. So, I'm just thankful for it, and I still have that relationship with Ozzie. And Ozzie actually has a great relationship with our GM [Trent Baalke] out here, so I get to speak through him sometimes. And I can talk to Ozzie; I saw him at a golf tournament one time. But he always says, 'What's up?' through Trent – they have a great relationship. He also gave a good recommendation for me, too, so I owe Ozzie one."
On if he roots for the Ravens:"Definitely. I'd say that I want to beat every NFC team possible, and I want to see them be successful, as well. I still have a lot of friends, a lot of family, on that team. You want them to be successful, but if it's between me and them, I'm rolling with my team all day."
On if it is hard not to think about what the situation could have been had he remained in Baltimore, given the Ravens' injury situation at wide receiver:"No, to be honest, I haven't thought about it at all, because I know that it's a 'next man up' philosophy. When I left, I knew I was gone. I was excited for Kamar [Aiken], I was excited or Marlon [Brown], because I'm in their way, and I was in their way. And they deserve to have their shot to be successful and prove to everyone what they can do, and Kamar is definitely taking advantage of that, so I'm very happy for him. Those are my brothers. I had the opportunity to eat with them when they were out here playing the Raiders. We're still in the same group chat. We still send jokes back and forth to each other every week. We're all still very tight, but I'm playing for a different team; and I'm thankful to be out here, as well. It's been a great change for me. I've been on the East Coast forever, been in Virginia – growing up in Virginia – then being in Maryland and Baltimore, which is special. But to take me out of my comfort zone, I think it has made me grow a lot in a different way. I've also been able to spend a lot more time with my wife and my child and focus on that without as many distractions. My mind has been very clear out here, so I'm thankful for that."
On if it has been frustrating picking up a new offense and trying to produce on the field:"You know the offense; I understand the offense. I'm fine, assignment-wise, and everything like that. But when we aren't playing the way that you want to play, it's tough. I'm never one to really get caught … I don't really mind if I don't get the ball if we're moving the ball and we're scoring points. But when we're stalling, I feel like I can help, I can change that. It's though when we're not hitting on simple plays, and it definitely got the best of me that game, in a game where I felt like we could have taken advantage of it. But we came up short, and [we've] just got to continue to improve from there. For me, don't let emotions show and just go out there and worry about what I can control."
On if he expects the emotions of the game to be different lining up against former teammates:"No, not at all – maybe if we were playing in Baltimore. But we're out here, so it's different. But when you're in Baltimore, you see fans that have the same season tickets, people's faces you know. That's what – to be honest with you – that's the biggest thing that I miss about [Baltimore]. In terms of playing with the team and stuff, there's nothing like looking across the huddle and seeing [Marshal] Yanda, 'K.O.' [Kelechi Osemele], the big 'fellas' in there. I loved playing with them. But the biggest thing I miss … Football is football; I'm going to be on a different team. I understand that, and I love it here. I love the locker room here. I love the culture here, but the biggest difference to me is the people in terms of I miss [receptionist] Val [Wideman], miss [receptionist] Toni [Lekas] up at the front desk. I miss Craig [Singleterry], the security guys, Darren [Sanders], all those guys, and Manny [Tejada] up in the kitchen. I had great relationships with people like that in the whole organization, and it was really a good family vibe. But we're developing that relationship out here, as well. I'm sitting in the office right now where T.J. [his son] comes up here every off day. They take care of him up in here. So, it was kind of similar when I was in Baltimore in that way – same kind of family vibe. I've been lucky and blessed to be around some good people, and those relationships in Baltimore don't change. That lasts way longer than football." (Reporter: "I noticed you didn't say you've missed the media.") *"I miss you all, too, man. *(laughter) *I miss [BaltimoreRavens.com staff writer] Garrett [Downing] and everybody. You all were good to me. I appreciate it." *(Reporter: "I'm just kidding.") "I appreciate it."
On the University of Maryland football program:"I think it's tough for anyone to get fired, and the way it happened, I know it's probably tough on the players. But [Randy] Edsall did a great job while I was there. And obviously, that's the big guy's choice, but I'm excited for coach [Mike] Locksley, to see what he can do, because I think that he can handle the job. I think that recruiting and all those things that we need to get people in, I think he's a guy people want to follow. I hope he takes advantage of this opportunity and performs well, because we could have a guy like him there getting those recruits in. That's all we need. It's a great school academically, and we're building the facilities to compete with everyone else. So, I think that Locksley is going to do a great job."
On the competitive similarities between WRs Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith Sr.: "They are both aggressive in their play and their style. Steve [Smith Sr.] is more vocal, probably more angry, too. (laughter) Anquan [Boldin] plays very angry. I've been spoiled being around two cats that I think should end up in the Hall of Fame one day. They are completely different players. You can't really compare the two besides knowing that they are two of the toughest to play the receiver position. They are both great players, and they are not aging, so I think that's a credit to them."
On if he will be surprised if WR Steve Smith Sr. doesn't play: "I think you always expect him to play, because you know his pain tolerance and what he can take. But if he doesn't play, I wouldn't be surprised either, because the injury he's dealing with isn't a joke. It's not a tweaked little hamstring or a pull. This is something pretty serious he's dealing with. He can downplay it with his toughness, but I can only imagine the kind of pain that he's feeling right now."
On if he thinks about the two teams' roster turnover since Super Bowl XLVII: "No, because the NFL is a revolving door. Every year, they are trying to bring in someone to take your spot. We had a lot of vets on both teams, too, so you're always going to have to deal with that as well. I'm not surprised. Being on the other side, the other team, it's different. It's weird. We were walking out for the walk-through a while ago, and they were playing the Super Bowl on the TV. And Joe Staley, we were in the huddle, and he looks at me and was like, 'You didn't deserve that.' (laughter) We kind of talk trash about it every once in a while, but it's definitely a sensitive subject. I'm still glad that I was on the winning side of that. But I think that change happens, and it's about what you do next. Next man up."