Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys being here. We're going to work. We've been back. We got back Tuesday morning. [We] went to work on the 49ers right away, and that's what we've been working on really hard. Players will be in here starting this afternoon. We'll be doing our thing. We're going to have a walk-through practice toward the end of the afternoon, and then do our best to get ready for these guys. We had one transaction: You probably all know it's coming. I don't know if it's out there yet. I know there are rumors of it out there, but Matt Skura is a season-ending injury, a season-ending knee injury. He will not be back for the rest of the year. He should be fine for next year, but that all depends, obviously, on a lot of things. But it was a serious knee injury, and we'll be making whatever move we make by the end of the week to account for that with our offensive line."
Do you feel confident going with G/C Patrick Mekari there?*_(Bobby Trossett)_* "Yes."
Early this summer, maybe even the spring, G/C Patrick Mekari was a name that you kind of mentioned as one of the guys who was standing out. What did you see from him right away? And what have you seen from him as he's evolved? (Bo Smolka)"Like I said then, he's just a good player. We were very fortunate to get him. I don't know how he fell through in the draft. To me, that's a fluke. I blame all the scouts in the National Football League for missing him. It's kind of a joke that they missed him, and we were really happy to benefit from that. We're happy that we got him. He played well, and I expect him to play at high level."
How disappointed were you for C Matt Skura? Just because he's worked so hard to get better over the years, and he was having such a good year. (Childs Walker)"Yes, no question. I'm just really disappointed for him. He's playing at such a high level. He established himself as a one of the better centers, at least, in the National Football League, without trying even to overstate it. He was playing at a really, really high level and running the show up front and all those things. You just feel bad about it for him, but he'll come back from it. Marshal [Yanda] was reminding me Tuesday that he had the exact same injury, pretty much the exact same injury, I think. I don't know the details, but he said it was the same. What in '09, '08 or '09? It might have been '08, right? So, he said he's been through this, and he can help Matt [Skura] with it and the recovery. He'll come back from it stronger than before."
A lot of people saw when they watched the Packers and 49ers, the 49ers, especially that front, get after it. What makes that front so good? (Jamison Hensley) "A lot of high [draft] picks. They earned those picks. They're Top 5 picks, and they did a really good job. I give them a lot of credit. They decided that they were going to build a great defensive front with those picks they had, and they did it. And they all panned out. They're all good players. And not just them, they added Sheldon Day. He's another one. He's come in and played at the same kind of level, so they're all playing well. Obviously, their coaching staff has done a great job. It's very clear what they try to do, philosophy-wise, on defense, how they want to play, their style. [It's a] very hard-playing defense, very physical defense. They run to the ball really well. It's just a talented group, and they're playing the kind of football that you respect on defense."
Are they rare for how well they're able to get to the quarterback without blitzing very much? (Child Walker) "Yes, they are. That's how they do it. They start ... I'd say it's a front-to-back-built defense, and they have a good secondary, too. And they have some young linebackers they really hit on. Here's three linebackers – one [LB Fred Warner] was drafted in the third round that most people didn't have as a draft-pick guy, and look at him. He's playing great, and the two other guys are free agents. And they're sideline-to-sideline guys who can play behind those big guys. It's kind of a perfect fit. So yes, I'd say that's rare."
G/C Patrick Mekari had played tackle, guard, not a lot of center in college, if any. When he came here, was it immediate? Did you say, "Hey, he slots in as a center here," or what did you see from him that said he could play center? (Bo Smolka) "He played center and guard, and that was why we liked him. We felt like ... I think he did it in college in practice quite a bit, as a matter of fact, but that was the plan. The plan was guard/center, center/guard. The more that those guards can be interchangeable at center – you really need that. You need that flexibility, depth-wise. And so, he just went to work on it and did a great job and got his snaps ironed out. He's smart and tough and has done a good job."
Is DT Michael Pierce progressing to the point where he could be an option this week? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, yes, I think so. Yes, I hate to get out in front and make a prediction because you've been wrong before, but I think there's a chance he'll be there."
Do you see any parallels between your tight ends and TE George Kittle? (Bobby Trossett) "I haven't thought about it like that." (Reporter: "If not, then have you seen any tape of his so far?")"Oh, yes. He's one of the best in the league. He's an all-around tight end – very physical, very fast. [He has] great body control. He's good against man coverage just like he is zone coverage. He can outrun safeties sometimes, and he does a good job of running real subtle routes against man where he leans in and creates space really well. He runs the vertical well. He runs the corner routes really well, and then he gets in there and he's a difference [maker]. You can see in the run game, he makes a big difference. When he's blocking in line, even when he's blocking as a motion guy, he just does all that stuff well. You combine him with Kyle [Juszczyk], and they have a lot of flexibility with those guys. They'll get in their base offense and line up anywhere from I-formation to spread it all out and be in Empty [formation]. Those guys have those kinds of talents. That's one of the things that Kyle Shanahan does a great job with – the versatility of their offense with the personnel that they have, because they have versatile players. Any one of their receivers can hurt you. It's kind of system-oriented. They're all talented. The quarterback [Jimmy Garoppolo] does a great job of spreading the ball around, taking what the passing game gives him. They'll move him. They'll drop him back. So, it's a well-rounded offense."
Is that kind of reminiscent of your guys' offense being able to ... (Ryan Mink) "No." (Reporter: "Their versatility.") "Oh, versatility-wise? Oh, yes. Yes, absolutely, yes. But [it's] not the same style at all. It's like kind of an opposite way of doing it, I guess you'd say. Maybe that's what you're referring to. But sure, versatility-wise, yes. In that sense, it's very similar."
Last month the efficiency – just incredible. When you were redesigning the offense in the offseason, is that kind of what [you envisioned]? Like, "We can do that, if we can be that physical and versatile." (Pete Gilbert)"Yes, that was the idea, but we have a lot of places to go. We'll see how we are this week against this defense."
I think ESPN had the stat that QB Lamar Jackson has the best passer rating when you go with an empty backfield. Is there something about him that makes that especially difficult to defend when there's no running back back there? (Aaron Kasinitz)"Well, he's good. He sees the field really well. I've always said from the beginning, and you guys know this, he has really good vision, and he has good awareness of what's going on on the field – really kind of every aspect of it. So, that's kind of what Empty [formation] is: seeing the whole field and understanding where you want to go with the ball."
Same kind of deal – I think QB Lamar Jackson has like six touchdowns this year when teams are bringing all-out pressure, that Cover Zero look. Is it just his ability to make that quick read and find the open guy? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, he's just good. All the stats are pretty good so far, so let's see what happens. We have games still to play."
You mentioned that you're just doing a walk-through kind of practice today. How big of a challenge is it coming back [from] Monday night [on the] West Coast to keep the guys mentally and physically fresh? (Jamison Hensley) "I haven't measured it. That's the same answer that I always give those kinds of questions." (Reporter: "Are you doing anything differently other than just changing the walk-through? Anything else trying to manage?") "Yes, we're just doing kind of a semi-short-week mindset. So, today is kind of a short-week mentality. That's why we're doing the walk-through. It's more of a mental day. Not that we couldn't use the work against this team, but you have to balance that with the travel and the fact that we're playing ... I told them after the game, I said – I think it was 11:20 Eastern Standard Time – and I said, 'Hey, in 40 minutes, we'll be five days from the 49ers, so let's get our minds right.' I know our guys have done a good job of that. They came back, and there were 15 to 20 guys in the weight room with the coach, me, lifting right off the plane. And I thought that was really cool. The guys were thinking recovery and getting right on the task at hand."
What about OLB Jaylon Ferguson? I can remember "Wink" [Don Martindale], maybe a couple months back, making a point to say, "Man, he's really progressing and developing right in front of our eyes." And now we're seeing that carry through on the field. How have you evaluated his last two games, specifically? (Bobby Trossett)"He has done that. He has gotten better every single week. He still knows he has a long way to go, but the physicality, the heavy hands, the edge setting, the way he's rushing the quarterback … Yes, I'd say he's done a good job."
What are you thankful for this year with this team? (Ximena Lugo Latorre)"Why am I thankful? For the team?" (Reporter: "Yes.") "That's a good question. I'm really thankful for these guys. Just the fact that ... Their attitude – their effort and their attitude. The joy they bring to work every day. That's what coaching ... That's what we do it for. We're not coming in here not to be happy. We can be locked in and focused. And I'm sure our guys aren't going to be real media friendly, probably, today because they're tired and they have work to do. But you guys want to come in and have fun too, right? You want to enjoy yourself. Hopefully it's a good environment that way, and the players, the kind of guys they are, create that for all of us."
Going back to those guys getting off the plane and lifting, obviously, you set the tone as a leader with that. But you, probably, at this point, don't even have to say a whole lot. They just seem to be onboard with that and do it themselves anyways. Is that accurate? (Pete Gilbert)"I would agree with that. That's how they're raised. That's how most of these guys were raised. That's the mindset they take, and that's why it's really good to be with them every day."
I know it's kind of a silly question, but people say during walks you can find these great moments of clarity. When you're working out and not thinking too much about the game, do you find yourself thinking about the game in interesting ways? (Jonas Shaffer)"No, actually. Because I'm working out with [head strength & conditioning coach] Steve Saunders, (laughter) and I'm just thinking about survival, usually, at that point, to be honest with you." (laughter)
Are you aware that you're quite the hit on CB Marlon Humphrey's postgame Instagram Live after wins on the team plane? (Bobby Trossett)(laughter) "He came over to me. I'm minding my own business. I'm trying to eat my Popeyes chicken sandwich. They're popular now, you know? (laughter) That could be something like [Matthew] Judon got. Judon got free Taco Bell for life, if Popeyes is listening. (laughter) So, he comes up and he's got the camera, and he says something about, 'Hey, fans out there would like to hear what's up from Coach 'Harbs.'' So, he just turned the camera on, and I said, 'What's up?!' (laughter) Seemed easy." (Reporter: "We were hoping for more face time. That was it.") "Yes, that was it. I don't know. Marlon [Humphrey] just kind ... Maybe he sensed the moment. He kept moving. The guys were having fun. It was a fun flight. It was a happy flight. Tony La Russa, who I've kind of had the chance to get to know pretty well through my brother-in-law Tom Crean, that's what he talks about. He always texts me. He says, 'Have a happy flight.' Whenever you win or whenever they'd win a series and they'd fly back, it was a happy flight. So, there's nothing better than a happy flight. Kevin [Byrne, Ravens EVP of public & community relations] likes the bus ride from the stadium back to the airport. That's Kevin's favorite. The peaks and the valleys – try to have more peaks, if you can."
CB Marlon Humphrey
On if the team mentality changes with people looking at the Ravens as one of the best teams in the league:"I think the mentality hasn't changed, really. We're just trying to be 1-0 at the end of every week."
On how he views this matchup against the 49ers: "Big matchup. Their resume speaks for itself. They've definitely been going through teams pretty easily, and they have a really good defense and a really good offense. I think it will be a good game."
On if the team buys into the narrative that this game could be the Super Bowl preview: "No, we're just trying to go 1-0 at the end of every week. We have to take it one game at a time."
On if they have to look out for both the 49ers' run and pass attack: "Yes, you definitely have to look out for both in any game. Teams throw and pass the ball, so nothing is really going to change, as far as the approach."
On what he sees from the 49ers' offense: "I think what makes them so unique is they're able to be very successful with putting a fullback in the game. Usually, when they throw the ball, they're very confident in their receivers to get open. You know you're going to have to play single-high. You won't be able to play split-safety because of how much they run the ball, and I think the game will really be won with the run game and the one-on-one passing attack. They've run the ball so successfully. There's only so much you can limit them running the ball. But when that can't be their go-to, you really have to be good on the outside with the corners. So, me and the secondary need to be on our game and stop their guys."
On what RB Mark Ingram II brings to this team from a chemistry and energy standpoint:"He's brought a lot. Since every game, you know Mark [Ingram] is going to be turned up for the game. He's going to be turned up during the week of practice. He's brought a lot of energy to the team, and that energy is contagious. I've heard, 'Mark is a great addition in the locker room.' That's what guys have said, and people say, 'I love Mark as a teammate,' and I do, too. Not just because of the player he is, but because of the person he is and how he gets you going. Sometimes he can be a little much, (laughter) but before the game, I'll be like, 'Is this guy going to tire himself out?' _(laughter) I'll be like, 'Dang, that energy is crazy.' But then he goes on the field and he keeps it going. I love being on his team, and it's crazy. I never … I guess I didn't watch him, what he would do with the Saints and things. They said he's always been the same, but I never would have thought he would act like that. He's so hyped and he gets you going, I will say that."
On what it says about the defense that they maintain the same intensity level that the offense does: "It's definitely been different. I think, just the last game, I was sitting there, and it seemed like we were on the bench for a long time. So, for the offense and what they've been doing, they've been doing great. If we can just continue to play at their same level, we can be really successful."
On if he and his teammates look around in amazement on the sideline as the team keeps dominating opponents each week: "It's definitely been a show, I'll say that. I've been enjoying watching it. I know every game won't come easy, but you have to really appreciate the ones where it does."
On if CB Richard Sherman was a player he watched growing up: "Yes, Richard Sherman definitely was. I've watched some of his film this year, and he's really been doing a good job. I know he negotiated his own contract. People were like, 'Whoa, how's he doing with this?' He banked on himself to be a great player with that contract, and based on what I've seen from different games that I've watched just watching other teams that he's been going against, he's definitely showed that. So, being on the same field as him, is definitely a pretty big deal for me."
On what it meant to him to watch CB Richard Sherman have the confidence to negotiate his own contract and create his own way:"It means a lot. Like I said, he negotiated that contract and banked on himself. The only people that do that are people that really are very confident in themselves and think they're a really great player. And he reached out to me earlier this year, and for me, that really meant a lot. That guy – All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl champ – had something to say good about me. So, to me, that really meant a lot, and I look forward to being out there on the field with him."
On if CB Richard Sherman told him that he likes the way he plays: "Yes."
On how he views the way QB Lamar Jackson openly talks about his goal to win the Super Bowl:"I think anytime you're playing well, the Super Bowl starts coming to mind. But it seems like a couple weeks ago people were saying we wouldn't even make the playoffs when we lost two in a row. So, it really doesn't mean too much to me."
QB Lamar Jackson
On what he sees from the San Francisco defense: "Speed – all 11 to the ball, that popped out on the screen, and their front four is dangerous. They've been No. 1 in almost all aspects, statistical-wise, and it shows on film."
On RB Mark Ingram II being his personal hype man:"He's not our personal hype man. (laughter) He just brings a lot of energy to the game. He loves the sport. You can see it within him each and every day. He makes us better. Even [in] the practices, we're always up. We're never down in practice, no matter what's going on, because of him, and we need that."
On losing C Matt Skura for the year and on his relationship with G/C Patrick Mekari:"He [Matt Skura] was awesome, our starting center. He's been doing great all season. He's been dialing it up, having our O-line do what they're supposed to do. He's been doing a great job, and Pat [Mekari] filled in. He came in first quarter and just made it productive like [Matt] Skura never left. He did a great job, and our chemistry is very good. We were working in OTAs with him, just in and out, just in case something like this happened. And when it happened, he came up, showed up, and he helped us win."
On if he gets a lot of reps with G/C Patrick Mekari snapping the ball in practice: "Nine times out of 10, it's [Matt] Skura, but we will have ... Some days we'll switch centers, but nine times out of 10, like I said, it was Skura. But 7-on-7, stuff like that, Pat [Mekari] will come snap us the football."
On if it's especially tough to see a teammate like C/G Matt Skura get injured when he's having such a great year:"Absolutely, that's a brother. He's been with me for two years, and he's been working on getting better each and every game, each and every damn practice. He's a smart guy, very smart guy. He showed it on the film, on the field and off the field. But like I said, yes. Like you said, it is hard to see that."
On what he likes the most about offensive coordinator Greg Roman as the play-caller: "He's been about business. We want to come smack the defenses in the mouth; that's what he's been telling us. Not just certain teams, but he's been saying that all year. That's what he wanted to do. He wanted to be aggressive this year. He's been showing it, and I love it right now. [We] just have to keep it going."
On if playing against a really athletic front like the one the 49ers have changes what he's able to do or if he just has to be sharp as possible in his execution:"No, just like you said, 'sharp as possible in our execution.' Just this past Monday, we played a very athletic defensive line, front four. Can't take anything away from them. So, we just have to move on, and, like you said, just keep executing and doing what we do."
On if this team is done making statements and if the game against San Francisco is just another game: "Like I said before, it's not like a statement. We're just going to play ball. Each and every game is important, no matter who the team is. We're trying to win, and that's the goal. We're trying to chase the Super Bowl right now, and we have to play the 49ers right now."
On not being bashful about talking about the Super Bowl:"That's always been my goal." _(Reporter: "Why do you approach that?") "Every team wants to chase the Super Bowl. That's why we're playing the game. [It's] not just, 'Oh, I want to win this game.' Win one game and go 1-15 – that's not a goal. Everyone wants to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season, but it just takes us a long time to get to it. Each and every week, [we're] trying to get better and better and win games week-in, week-out. We're on the right track. There are a lot of teams on the right track right now. But we have the 49ers this week, and that's what we're focused on."
On when he first thought about winning the Super Bowl: "When I first got drafted to the Baltimore Ravens, I said it."
On how pleased he was to get the wide receivers involved against the Rams with WR Marquise Brown and WR Willie Snead IV each getting two touchdowns:"Yes, I was loving it. 'RG3' [Robert Griffin III] threw [Miles] Boykin a pass, and that was great. We wanted to get all our receivers involved in the game. That's why they're here, not just to block. They help us out with that. They do a great job running routes. Each and every play, they're grinding, and we love it. So, they have to get rewarded with touchdowns as much as possible."
On his first touchdown pass vs. the Rams where he looked off S Eric Weddle:"It was a safety read. They went Cover 3. Eric [Weddle] rolled down, and we had a 2-on-1 on the safety. And 24 [Taylor Rapp] just stayed in the middle of the field, and Marquise [Brown] just did a great job of staying on his line. I was just happy to make the throw."
On how many times in his football career he's been pulled at the end of a game not due to injury: "A couple games this season. It happened in college. It happened all my life. It always ends up happening, but it's our defense playing great. It's our offense playing great. Our special teams is doing a great job. It's a whole team thing going on, so that's why we're able to do that." (Reporter: "In consecutive games like that?") "We just have to keep playing at a high level and just keep doing what we've been doing."
On the Madden video game adjusting his speed rating to 96 and on some of his ratings being low on the game originally: "It still is low, (laughter) but it is what it is. They're doing whatever they're doing right now, but I'm focused on winning right now. Madden – if it happens, it happens, whatever."
On what these past two days have been like after arriving back home early on Tuesday morning:"I'm just sleeping. Like I've been waking up ... On Tuesday, I went to sleep. We got in at like 6. I went to sleep, woke back up, fell back to sleep the whole day, because it's just been happening. But, we're going to get ready for Sunday."
On being named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this season, tying QB Tom Brady's record:"That's dope. I didn't know that, but that's pretty cool. To have something with Tom Brady, that's dope. Any quarterback would want that, but I'm just trying to win."
On what he was thinking and feeling when he was drafted and said that he wanted to win the Super Bowl:"Well, it hasn't happened, but I'm chasing that goal right now. But, I was sitting down [in the draft waiting room]. I was the last quarterback in my class, and they believed in me. Ozzie [Newsome], Eric [DeCosta], those guys, the whole organization believed in me, and that's what I'm going to bring."
On what is it about this offense and his play that seems to bring out the best in so many guys: "Not just the guys ... I'm just doing my part. Those guys bring the best out of me – my receivers, my tight ends, my running backs, my offensive line. They do a great job at doing what they're supposed to do, and I just do my job. And that's why we're having so much success right now." (Reporter: "How much does what [offensive coordinator] Greg Roman do and the way he uses you guys play into that?") "You have to talk to Greg [Roman] about that. (laughter) He knows what to call, perfect timing. He's been doing it each and every week. It's like we're clicking on all cylinders, and we just have to keep it going right now. We're not trying to get on our high horse or anything. We're far away from the playoffs right now. Anything can happen, but we're just trying to win."
WR Willie Snead IV
On if he could smell the end zone on his second touchdown against the Rams: "I was not going to be denied, that's for sure. (laughter) It was funny, because we were calling that play all week to the right, and then on gameday he calls it to the left. So, it's like you have to make it work."
On how the Ravens' atmosphere feels:"It feels amazing. We expect to do things like this – not to sound cocky, by any means – but the work that we put in all year, just to be at this point, we expect to be here, and we expect to get better from it. Everybody has a humble attitude, a hungry attitude, so we just have to continue to keep getting better."
On if this winning situation with the Ravens is similar to his experience in New Orleans: "I think it's similar in many ways. I think the winning and the confidence, that all rolls together. But the camaraderie, the brotherhood, that just skies over everything. When you trust the man across from you, even when you trust the man on defense, you know they're going to get their job done. That's why we always talk about trust. Trust your man; trust the man next to you. Trust your brother. And we have that here, and it's something really special."
On what makes the camaraderie with this team different than others he has been on:"It's just the men that we brought in. We brought in Mark Ingram, Earl Thomas, [Pernell] McPhee. We brought in Marcus Peters. We brought in a lot of guys that have that same energy and that same mindset that most of the guys in our locker room have, which is [being] competitors, not losing, getting the best out of every day and making your teammate better. Those are the types of men we have in our locker room, and it's contagious. It's contagious to have that attitude, and a lot of guys just want to get better from that. So, every week, it's always something new. But at the same time, we've been together for a long time, and we know and expect a lot from each other."
On RB Mark Ingram II bringing a strong leadership role to the team:"I've been seeing it for three or four years in New Orleans. This guy hasn't changed at all. That's the type of person he is. And people ask me all the time, 'Has he always been like this?' He was on another level in New Orleans. He was in the locker rooms before games screaming and getting everybody amped up. So, the person that you see on camera, that's kind of new, because he wasn't really on camera in New Orleans. But he has always been that same person, for sure."
On if the team likes the attention they are receiving: "Maybe a little bit. (laughter) Just a little exposure is always good, but we're not watching the TVs, for sure. We're definitely not getting caught up in the rankings. We're just trying to get better every week, but it's definitely nice to have some recognition."
On his reaction when RB Mark Ingram II was being signed to the Ravens: "I told 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] when he asked me about it, I told him, 'He's the missing piece.' This dude, not only as a football player, but as a leader and as a guy that you want in your locker room, that's the piece that brings everything together. Like I said, all of this is because of team camaraderie. The brotherhood that we have together, when you bring in different guys that have that same energy, it makes everything lock up. And I feel like once we signed Mark [Ingram], we went to that next level. And even as a football player, he's a beast. He runs angry. And that's the whole reason that our offense is moving like it is. But when we talk about locker room guys, he's one of the main guys that brings that energy, and we need that."
On what jumps out to him on film about the 49ers' defense: "Fast, aggressive, physical. Their front seven is pretty stout. And they come in here with that swagger like they expect to win. It's going to be a huge challenge for us, and we're looking forward to it. We respect the heck out of them, because, shoot, they're 10-1. They deserve that. So, when they come to The Bank [M&T Bank Stadium], they're going to get our best, and we expect to get their best."
On what he feels when people say this game against the 49ers may be the Super Bowl preview:"It's definitely humbling, but right now, we're just trying to take it one game at a time. We know the potential that we could have. We know the matchup. The last time the Ravens were in the Super Bowl, it was huge. But right now, the whole reason that we're in this position is [because] we've taken it one game at a time. I feel like we have to continue to take that approach, and everything that everybody is talking about will come up. It's just going to take some time, and we can't look too far ahead, because we have the 49ers in our face."
On QB Lamar Jackson being unafraid to talk about his goal of going to a Super Bowl and how that affects the team: "That's the vision. He brought that vision about since he got drafted. When you have a guy at the helm that has that vision … If the guys around him don't have that vision, we have the wrong guys in the huddle. Everybody in the huddle has that same vision. All 11 guys see the Super Bowl in our near future, and it starts with Lamar [Jackson], like you said. I remember what he said to me after the playoff game last year. 'I'm going to be a better passer. I'm going to be a better football player. I'm going to be a better teammate.' Everything he wanted to be better at, that's what he's doing right now. So, everybody has his back. Everybody is on his side. It's all about how far he wants to go and how far we want to take this thing." (Reporter: "When did that conversation happen?") "Some time in the offseason. It was a good conversation, though. We were just being honest and direct with one another. I saw it in his eyes that he wanted to be that guy. He's doing it."
On what makes offensive coordinator Greg Roman's offense so unique:"The thing is, when I saw a lot of the tape with the 49ers, you just saw the mixture of guys, the weapons that he has. The weapons that he has here at his disposal, the way he's orchestrating the offense, he's keeping defenses off track. That's all that goes into it, is just him scheming up teams and seeing their weaknesses and then exposing it. The Rams didn't have a lot of weaknesses, but we just knew our mentality was to be physical. And he set that tone on Friday, like, 'These are going to be the three plays. We're going to run these plays. Whether it's third-and-12, we're going to run these plays.' And that's just the mentality of him having, 'We're going to beat the [crap] out of them, because that's how hard we work.' And that's the mentality we have. So, when it comes to 'G-Ro' [Greg Roman] and his play-calling, it's all about his mindset and how he wants to attack defenses, and then we take it over from there."
On if it has been difficult to be patient as a wide receiver on this offense that has so many weapons and if he just has to be patient to get the ball:"'G-Ro' [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] definitely helps us out – the receivers, I mean – when it comes to that, because like you said, we're not seeing 10 targets a game. We're definitely grinding it out. And then when we get our opportunity, we know what to do with the ball. So, 'G-Ro' has that trust in us to know that we're going to do our job in the run game, and then when we get the ball in the passing game, that we're going to make plays and we're going to protect the ball and get in the end zone. It's tough as a receiver right now. It's not ideal, but shoot, we're winning, man. And that's all it's about, getting those Ws and making this run."
On what the offense's mindset says about the core group of players it has:"We all love each other, and we're out here balling for each other at the end of the day. We're winning the games, and a lot of my brothers are balling. Mark [Ingram II] eats every game. Lamar [Jackson] is having a huge season. I'm happy for him, because I just remember everything that was said about him. And now, he's going over and taking the NFL by storm. And that's all I could be happy for, and that's what everybody in our locker room is happy about. We don't have a lot of prima donnas or things like that. But when our opportunities come, we're going to take advantage of them, that's for sure."
On his layout touchdown play vs. the Rams: "When I got the ball, I was like, 'Dude, I have to score. This is my second catch of the game. I'm this close to the end zone. I might as well score, right?' So, I just laid out for it, got in the end zone, and that was his [Lamar Jackson's] fifth touchdown, I think, to break a record or something." (Reporter: "Monday Night debut.")"Yes. So, I definitely wanted to get that for him."
On if he means to say that if it were a year that he was getting 10 targets a game he would not have taken that dive: "No, I'm definitely taking that dive. (laughter) Any opportunity to get into the end zone, I take advantage. I have four touchdowns this year. I only had one last year. Every opportunity is a huge moment. So, I'm definitely taking it."
On if he senses a point when the offense breaks the opposing defense's will: "It's usually the third quarter when we feel that. When we jumped on top of the Rams, it was like 28-3, and we got the ball in the second half. At that point, we were just pouring it on from there. And that's just like the mentality [of], 'Don't be satisfied – 0-0.' Everybody was saying that in the locker room: '0-0, 0-0,' like, 'We're not beating these guys, it's 0-0. We have to come out here and demolish them now. We have to do that.' And that's the whole mentality. Usually, you start to feel that from the other team in the third quarter. And then you see the body language. You see the score. And then everything starts to set in from there. That's our brand of football, and that's how we're going to keep it going."
On what makes QB Lamar Jackson so good at getting the ball out and feeding it to open players while under pressure:"I think it's just the confidence to know where to put the ball and where a guy is going to be. We've seen every type of Zero [Coverage] this year, so for him to just be able to put it in the spot and trust me that I'm going to be there, that's all connection and week of preparation with the coaches. They do a great job of getting us ready and seeing different coverages and knowing what to expect. So, at the end of the day, it's all Lamar [Jackson] seeing it, and just being on the same page."
On if he is surprised that teams bring the Zero Coverage look despite QB Lamar Jackson's ability to escape pressure and find the open player:"He's just been getting better at that. I think that just has a lot to do with his film study. It's gotten a lot better, and he's becoming a better pro every year. It's Year Two, but I told him this yesterday, 'Dude, you're becoming a better pro. You're in the facility right now. It's Tuesday, we just got off the flight, and you're in the facility. Nobody is here.' And that's because he wants to be great. He wants to be that guy. That's why I told him, 'It's all about your maturity at this point. How great do you want to be? How good do you want to be?'"
49ers HEAD COACH KYLE SHANAHAN
(Conference Call with Baltimore Media)
Coach, you're known for your creative play-calling and your offenses, but what is it like preparing for the Ravens? This is one of the more difficult offenses you've ever had to prepare for. (Jeff Zrebiec)Definitely. [Offensive coordinator Greg] Roman has done a great job with it. It's similar to some of the stuff he had going when he was in San Francisco, just all the fronts and ways he has to attack every front that you have, all the personnel groupings. He doesn't just run plays to run them; he's got a rhyme and reason for each one. It's evolved even since then. He's got more to add to it, and he's got some really good players to include in it."
If you had to pinpoint why your defense has been able to hold its effectiveness week after week, what would you point to? (Childs Walker)"I think we have one of the better pass rushes in the league, which helps every defense. Most teams that have that type of front four – and can get to the quarterback with a front four – are usually up there defensively on the year. Then when you add in our secondary and sound coverages we have, and some of the players on our back end, the way we've been able to mix some stuff up while still staying sound, I think it's allowed us to get a huge jump this year."
I know that C Matt Skura is obviously not going to be playing you guys, but the rest of the offensive line, what makes them able to do not only what they do in pass protection, but also in the run game so well? (Jonas Shaffer)"They've got a really good group of players. [Marshal] Yanda has been one of the best guards that I've seen in my career over these last 10 years. And then all the other guys out there, they've got some young guys, and Ronnie Stanley is playing at a very high level, but they all are. The continuity that they've had … They've played together all year, which always helps. I know they lost Skura, which always hurts, but you add the talent of those guys in with the running scheme that they have, anytime you use the quarterback you are going to have a lot of advantages with the angles and things like that. And when you have advantages with angles, and you're as good and physical as they are, especially when you include those tight ends, it's why they are doing this better than anyone right now."
I apologize if you've been asked this this week, but how are you guys simulating QB Lamar Jackson in practice? (Aaron Kasinitz)"I haven't been asked yet. We're going to use one of our receivers to do it a little bit, [with] Richie James. He's a little bit faster than C.J. [Beathard] and Nick Mullens, so hopefully that can simulate it a little bit. But we all know that Lamar is one-of-a-kind, and you're not going to get the real deal until Sunday."
Have you sensed any extra excitement in your building this week? With sort of the cross-conference matchup late in the season, obviously people are talking about how it could be a Super Bowl preview. (Childs Walker)"Our guys have been excited pretty much every game. We had a big Sunday night game just like you guys had a big Monday night game these last two days. I think it's great for both teams where we're both at. I know both cities are very excited, and I know that carries over to our fans and coaches, too. But, yeah, it's going to be a cool matchup going against a team this good with both of our teams and the records we have. [It's] a team we don't get to play against very much. It's exactly what you ask for and what you try to sign up for."
I know your history with QB Robert Griffin III goes back a ways. For you to see him land on his feet, find a good position in Baltimore and become a really capable backup quarterback, what has that been like for you to see? (Jonas Shaffer)"I've been happy for him. I know it didn't end great for him in Washington and Cleveland, but I think he stayed with it, kept working, and I think he's got some coaches who believe in him. They've got him in the right type of scheme, and it sounds like Robert … It seems like he's happy. I haven't talked to him in a while, but it seems like he's doing a good job out there, and it's been neat to see him get a job."
What is your relationship like with John Harbaugh? I think on a couple different occasions it was rumored that earlier in your career there was talk that you could have been a member of the Ravens' staff. (Jeff Zrebiec)"I've got a lot of respect for John. I've gotten to meet with him a number of times and always try to spend a little bit of time with him when we're down at the owners' meetings and stuff. He's one of the coaches in this league that I respect the most. He's done a good job, does it year-in and year-out, and he's all about ball. He's been a fun guy for me to just sit and have a beer with and talk ball with."