Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
How pleased were you with what you saw from WR Jeremy Ross in the return game? (Luke Jones)"I thought Jeremy [Ross] handled the situation very well. He gave us a little spark. You could see he had done it before; his experience showed. He tracked the ball well, he timed up his breaks really well and – what's really important to me is – he demonstrated really good ball security. He got in a couple tight spaces, and he secured the ball and advanced. I think that's a really good sign."
When you play in a stadium that you've never played in before, do you spend extra time in pre-game trying to figure things out a little bit, because you might have notes on other stadiums? (Jamison Hensley)"That's accurate. The thing we don't know is – even though we look at the weather forecast – we really don't know what the wind is going to do in that stadium, because we've never been there. We don't have any record of it. We'll spend some time in pre-game looking at the flags and tossing some grass and doing what we do to kill time before the game starts. And then, when we go out there and kick, we're going to spend a good deal of time getting the ball up in the air and see how it reacts in the wind. So, you're right on. We'll be doing that in pre-game. Then we'll take notes, and next time we go back there in February, we'll be ready. I said it!" (laughter)
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
With some of the personnel and injuries, the pass rushers that you have, how do you feel like the pass rushers have developed, and is it a difficult balance sending the right amount of guys versus leaving guys kind of exposed in the back? (Jon Meoli) "One of the things in the pass rush has been that we've had to kind of manufacture it a little bit. When guys are out, guys are out. You have to find another way of doing it. We've pressured a little bit more – tried to come up with some different ways of pressuring and stuff – and we've kind of had to manufacture it, in all honesty. Like when Elvis [Dumervil] went out last week, we had to do something a little different. Sometimes you have a good four-man rush; sometimes you don't. It doesn't mean you don't have a good system or a good team. It just means you have to do it a different way. Sometimes that's what personnel dictates. And right now, that's what it's dictating."
This is the first year for S Kendrick Lewis and S Will Hill III playing alongside each other. How are they doing right now in terms of commanding the backend of that defense and playing in general? (Garrett Downing) "The thing with us is we are our own worst enemy. It really, right now, is not about San Francisco, and it wasn't about Cleveland. It's about us. We'll have a communication … We just have to be consistent in what we do. An example of that is we had a pressure called in the second quarter, and we go in there and we flush the quarterback, and he actually has to throw it away. We don't sack him, but he throws it away. We're off the field [after] third down. Wait, come back, exact same pressure on third down-and-8 in the red zone. We're going to hold them to a field goal. [We send] pressure, they block it the same way, so we had a flat, free player, and a guy doesn't run it in the same gap that he's supposed to run in, which he did earlier. That's our inconsistency, and we just have to keep harping on it and building on it. It's not a secret. It's not a panic. It's not, 'OK, we have to change the scheme.' We don't have to do anything. We just have to learn to do the same things all the time. If I see it from up above, and I see it's not going to work – or they have a good protection for it – I'm not coming back to it. I just scratch it off my list, and done, that one is off the list. [On] that one I'm saying, 'OK, I'm going to wait until the right time to get it again,' but then we don't run it the same way. We would have had the same … We would have sacked him, because he wasn't even looking for the guy. It's all of our faults. It's not just that guys' fault. Somehow, even as coaches, we just have to make it right. I know you guys can sense my frustration with it. It's the same thing in coverage. I'm answering your question in a roundabout way – I know I am – but the roundabout way is we aren't consistent back there. They work well together. They'll work well together. And then from one play [to the next] – even though they got the right call – they don't work well together. It's not only them, it's everybody. It's across the board. We just have to keep cleaning that up. I know we're a young team, but young is all relative. We're not young anymore. We're into the season. We've had OTAs. We've had training camp. I'm tired with 'young.' We can also say, 'This guy is out. That guys is out.' I don't care. It wasn't that. If I thought it was that, then I'd say, 'OK, it's different.' But we had so many opportunities in that game. We're terrible on third down, because of us. [If] we [did not] have a hands-to-the-face [penalty], we're off the field in the red zone, again, they don't have a touchdown, right? On third down-and-9, we get an interception, and we're setting the offense up on the 48-yard line. What do we get? Roughing the quarterback. It's those things. We have to eliminate those things. Those are our self-inflicted [wounds]. They [do not have] anything to do with what Cleveland did, what San Francisco [will do], what Cincinnati did. We just have to keep driving it home, driving it home, driving it home. OK? That's all I know how to do as a coach. I've been doing this a long time, and all I know how to do … Somebody asked me, 'Do you work harder?' If I said I worked harder, that means I didn't work hard enough before. No. [We are] working as hard as we can. We all are. And the players are practicing hard. They just have to learn [that] when they take it to the field [they need] to be consistent with it [and to] just let it go. Let it go. Don't play cautious. Don't play like, 'I don't want to give this up.' That's when you give it up, OK? And we just have to keep driving that home as coaches, and that's our job. This isn't on … I'm not blaming it on players. I'm blaming it on us. We have to drive it home to them to make them believe that they can do it. When you believe you can do it, you can do it. Long answer. (laughter) *I got on a roll, man. You got me jacked up!" *(laughter)
What are your early impressions of CB Shareece Wright in not just the practice he has been here, but what you know about him as a player and how he fits in with this defense? (Luke Jones) "There are a couple things: No. 1, obviously, we think [Shareece Wright is] a good enough player, or we wouldn't have brought him in to do the things [we need]. We have to get him up to speed. To try to ask him to do all the things in our playbook is kind of unrealistic and not fair to him. We have to do a good job of putting him in a position that he can have success. The other part of it, too, is obviously, I know Eric Mangini very well. [Shareece Wright] came from [San Francisco], so I also kind of know the terminology and some of the things that Eric has taught him. I can kind of tell him, 'That's not how we do it,' or, 'Yes, that's the same as how we do it.' There's a little bit of an advantage, I think, even there, because I coached with Eric for a couple years."
With all your injuries at outside linebacker, OLB Za'Darius Smith is, obviously, going to have to take a pretty big role. What have you seen from Za'Darius so far? (Ryan Mink) "Early on, we talked about him being a rookie, and he made rookie mistakes, and he still does. We all do. There are some senior mistakes out there, too. I just think the guy is playing really hard. He makes a tackle in that game [against Cleveland] that goes really unnoticed. They hit a pass on us and the guy cuts back over the middle and starts running, and he came from off the rush to go make a tackle about 15 yards downfield. That tells me enough about the guy. I love a guy like that. If we play hard … Like I say if you're tough, you're smart and you play hard, what else can you ask of somebody? I'm really pleased with the guy. I think he's just going to keep getting better and better. I thought he played really well in the Pittsburgh game – had some production – but I thought he played equally well in this game. I think he had an offsides penalty, but other than that, I thought he played well."
**Has OLB Za'Darius Smith made strides with his pass rush technique? *(Ryan Mink) *"Yes, we're using him in a lot of different ways. In those guys' defense a little bit, this is not … The first question was about the pass rush, there are sometimes … This isn't just like line four guys up and teach them how to pass rush – you do an inside move, you do an outside move. Sometimes we're asking them to do things that are not necessarily … Like with Pernell [McPhee] a year ago, it may not necessarily be in your best interest, but it's in the best interest of everything that we're trying to do on defense. Again, he's doing whatever we ask of him, and that's all I can ask."
What are your impressions of QB Colin Kaepernick as a quarterback? (Jamison Hensley) "He is a heck of an athlete. The guy can run. I think he has converted more third downs with his feet than he has his arm, and that's scary. Obviously, if he gets loose, he's a nightmare. I think as a passer, I think the guy has a cannon for an arm. I think he can stick it in there in a tight window. I've seen him throw it a long ways and be very accurate on it. I think the times that he hasn't been [accurate] is when he has had pressure, and he has had to move around a lot in the pocket. Any quarterback is going to have a tough time if you can't set your feet and throw the ball. I think when he can set his feet and throw the ball, he's excellent. And he's obviously … He's even more dangerous as a scrambler."
When you talked about guys being in difficult positions, does that apply to OLB Courtney Upshaw, too? He has been an unsung edge-setter. (Jon Meoli) "Right now, it's really applying to everybody up there, because we're doing whatever we can do, schematically, and asking them to do things that whatever we can do to try to get a chance to get home – whether it be on a pressure, whether it be on a four-man rush, whatever it is. We've been pressuring a lot, and we've been asking those guys to do a lot. It's really all of them. There's really nobody that we've just sat in there and said, 'This guy is just nothing but a pass rusher, and he can always be on the edge or always be in the same position.' We've had all those guys moving around. If that's what we have to do, that's what we have to do."
How strange and challenging is it to prepare for WR Anquan Boldin and WR Torrey Smith after being on your side? (Luke Jones) "It's not strange. The good thing about it is we kind of know what they do and what their strengths are. I don't know if there are a lot of weaknesses. I think our guys know, too. You go up against Anquan [Boldin], you're in for a battle. He's going to be physical. He's going to be tough. He's going to play hard. And if that ball is anywhere in his vicinity, he's going to catch it. I still remember all those catches on the sideline at the Super Bowl that he probably shouldn't have made. One was on fourth-and-2, I think, or something like that. And Torrey [Smith] can take the top off of anybody's defense. We know what those guys are. It's really no different than when we play against somebody that's on another team that has played for us before. We kind of know – like [Paul] Kruger last week and all that kind of stuff from the offensive side. We're looking forward to it."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
What have you seen from RB Javorius Allen, and if he has to start, how confident do you feel he can take care of that? (Ryan Mink) "No. 1, we have a lot of confidence in 'Buck' [Javorius Allen]. We've seen him grow in the classroom, and certainly, on the field over the last month-and-a-half. He's running the ball better in terms of how he's finishing and seeing the holes, taking the opportunities to make plays when he gets a chance to do that. We've seen his pass protection improve, and his entire focus. He is taking the opportunity to seize the moment with the opportunities that he has had."
What do you think it says about WR Steve Smith Sr., who had some broken bones in his back on Oct. 1, and he's out here practicing after a couple days? (Jamison Hensley) "Somebody once said, 'It's not how you feel; it's how you look,' and right now, [Steve Smith Sr.] looks like he wants to play and work and practice. That's a good sign, and it's a testament to his career and what he has accomplished. His level of durability is really second to none."
Marc, were you pleased with what you saw from WR Jeremy Ross as a receiver? [He played] just a handful of snaps, but had two receptions. Do you envision, maybe, expanding his role a little bit? (Luke Jones) "I think that we've seen him work in practice. He has picked up the offense very quickly. He has great football intelligence. He really did make the most of the opportunities that he has had and that he did have during the game. That would signal us giving him more opportunities if and when that happens. Steve [Smith Sr.] will be back – and hopefully, he'll get most of the playing time – but Jeremy is involved, and he'll be a part of our game plan on Sunday."
TE Nick Boyle got more snaps than TE Maxx Williams in this last game against the Browns. Why is that, and do you see that continuing going forward? (Ryan Mink) "I think that at that point [last week], Nick [Boyle] gives us a little more girth. Maxx [Williams] has really played off the line of scrimmage all of his college career, where Nick has played on the line of scrimmage. With Crockett [Gillmore] being out, Nick had to take on some of that role. [The] two of them have done a good job. They've done an excellent job of blocking. And when they've had opportunities to get their hands on the football, it has been a positive thing for all of us. That's probably one of the reasons why his reps went up during the course of the game."
How valuable is it to have a lineman like G/C John Urschel who is a backup, but he has played a lot over the past couple years? (Jamison Hensley) "[John Urschel] can really play three, four, maybe, five different positions. Certainly, he has the intelligence to play all of them. He's a very good football player and a guy that some people may say he's the sixth or the seventh [offensive lineman], but he's really a starter. Everybody who is up [on gameday] is really a starter, and we look at him that way. When he's in the game, we feel he has starting capability."
Marc, you obviously can score every time. [With] your red zone offense, where do you see that as it has been, and how it is progressing? (Cliff Brown) "I think that the last two weeks ... We didn't score enough to win, and that's … We're not sitting there anointing ourselves right now after the game. I think we've scored six of the seven times – touchdowns – over the last couple weeks, and we're conscious of that, and that's a positive thing. But we want to score every time. We look at it as we have to score enough to win to help our football team. When we didn't get it in that last drive, that was extremely disappointing to our guys. Last week, I stood up here and said we wanted to put it all together, and we did up to a certain point, but we didn't do it enough. That's the challenge. And the beauty of the guys that we have is they start over, knowing that we can build on what we did, but we still have a lot of room to get better. The feeling in the room is that we can continue to do better and to score at the time when we needed to get the touchdown."
Have you ever seen – in your long coaching career – a fake work as well as QB Joe Flacco's fake hand-off on the 1-yard line, and was that your call, or did he audible? (Ryan Mink)"No, that was Joe [Flacco] all the way. I wish I could take credit for that. He certainly has the ability to do that at any time, and he chose a great time to do it. I think he fooled just about everybody in the building." (Reporter: "Did he fool you?") "Yes, he did." (laughter)
RB Javorius "Buck" Allen
On potentially being the No. 1 running back against San Francisco:"[It is an] opportunity I've been waiting for, and I feel like my coaches did a great job preparing me for this moment – coach Thomas [Hammock] preaching [about] being ready when your time is called."
On if he feels added pressure possibly filling that role:"No, I feel like if I do everything I need to do in practice – make the right read, pick up the right blitzes – and go out there on gameday, it's second nature. There's nothing to go out there and panic about and nothing to be afraid of."
On his biggest improvements over the past few weeks:"Understanding the offense and different defenses and just learning where the protection is or where I've got to pick up my guy that's coming from [a certain spot]."
On what it takes to improve his understanding of the offense:"Study. It's your job. It's your job to know why the quarterback changed the play from this, and it's your job to know why the tackle blocked this way. [You need to] just put more time in learning the plays, more time learning the offense and learning different defenses."
On his 44-yard run against Cleveland, and if there could be more big plays in future weeks:"Most definitely. Like I said, I've had a great week of practice so far, and, like I said, if you do it in practice and go to the game, it'll just be second nature to go out there and get the job done."
On what he would have said if someone told him before the season began that he would be starting in Week 6:"I probably would have laughed. But it's a blessing from above and God working in mysterious ways. If I've got to take on the job, I'm going to take it full force and do [it to] the best of my ability."
TE Crockett Gillmore
On the performance of the two rookie tight ends in his absence:"The young guys have done a great job. I don't feel like they've had any issue – they've really played well. I'm happy for them, and both guys are really taking strides to really fill in and be valuable assets to the offensive side, as well as special teams. They've done a good job."
On if he feels like he's made progress during his time away:"Yes, I progress every day. There's not going to be a day I'm sitting around not doing something. So, I'm always getting better."
On if the last few weeks have been frustrating after getting the starting opportunity and then getting injured:"I kind of took the opportunity – it wasn't something given to me. [The injury is] really something put upon me. And it's not really frustrating; it's just part of the job. There are 32 teams and 53 men on every one; everybody is going to get hurt sometime. It's just part of the game."
On if he feels like he can get back to where he was when he returns to the field:"That's the way I practice [and] the way I go to work every day. There's not going to be any difference."