Editor's note: 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman spoke to the media on Thursday from Santa Clara. Below is a full transcript of his comments.
“Afternoon. I think everybody saw the game on Monday night and saw the type of opponent that we’re getting ready to play. Very good on defense. Lead the league in a lot of different categories or up at the top. Very good at creating turnovers. A combination of very good players and a very, very sound scheme. I think their defense starts with [Chiefs LB Tamba] Hali and [Chiefs LB Justin] Houston on the outside, very good against the run and pass. Both very accomplished pass-rushers. And then you move into the nose guard with [Chiefs DT Dontari] Poe. One of the most talented nose guards you’ll find, big, athletic. And then [Chiefs DL Allen] Bailey and [Chiefs DT Jaye] Howard inside as well. [Chiefs LB James-Michael] Johnson and [Chiefs LB Josh] Mauga inside and then [Chiefs CB] Sean Smith, [Chiefs CB Marcus] Cooper and then we anticipate [Chiefs S Eric] Berry to play, we’ll see. And then [Chiefs S Husain] Abdullah at the safety. So, a very good defense and we’re excited for the challenge. Guys showed a lot of character in that game the other day. A lot of heart, guts, grit and character. That was a great win and we put that in the bank and moving forward once Monday morning hit. So, any questions?”
What’s Houston been able to do to get to the quarterback so often?
“He’s really good running the rim. He can really race the edge of the pocket, turn the corner. And if a tackle overcommits to the outside he’s athletic enough to stick his foot in the ground and get back inside. So, he’s a very athletic guy coming off the edge, but can get from zero to 60 very quickly. Very good get-off and very good short-area speed.”
Is he primarily on the left side?
“They’ll move him around a little bit. Last week they moved him around. They can put him either side, but generally to our right.”
The Eagles were able to get to QB Colin Kaepernick at least three times in that first quarter and it seemed like when the 49ers went more to the running game it improved. Was it more execution on the 49ers or was there a scheme that the Eagles were using that was a little unexpected?
“Yeah, it was a little bit of both [CSNBayArea.com reporter] Mindi [Bach]. It was really a little bit of both. You’ve got to tip your hat to them. I thought they did a very good job once the ball was snapped and a couple things we had to clean up during the game.”
Colin’s completion percentage is way up this year, but his interception rate is also way up. How would you evaluate just him as an individual so far through four games?
“I think there’s been a couple plays he’d like to have back. But, for the most part he’s played really well. He’s just a guy that every day is going to come in and work to get better. I think we’ll see that really from our whole unit throughout the season.”
What generally would you say he’s improved at this year? What part of his game, what parts of his game?
“I think a lot of different things. But, I think he’s definitely got a much keener sense of where his bailout throws might be and where to go with the ball within his progressions, can visualize those things. But, really just his entire game he’s working hard on every day. He is a war daddy. The guy comes in just super early in the morning and just works really hard all day. We put a lot on his plate because he can handle that. He’s just a guy that every day is working to get better.”
I’m sure it’s a good problem to have, but in the past it was this team was built a certain way, power running. You guys added some pieces in the passing game. Is it more of a balancing act than ever between how you game plan for a certain opponent knowing what the past has been, that’s been successful for this offense and what you now are capable of doing and adding onto the offense?
“I mean, yeah in one sense for sure. I think, for example, we’re doing a heck-of-a job on third down. So, those new components have definitely had a factor in that. I don’t think you totally scrap things that work or things that are good or things that put you team in a good advantage. You simply get better a little bit here, a little bit more there, maybe a little bit more there and just look to see where you can improve your team. And I think our identity will continue to evolve as the season goes on, as it should.”
Is there a common thread to the delay of game issues?
“It’s something we’ve got to get cleaned up. I don’t think there is a common thread. Coaches, myself, everybody involved just got to do a little bit better in that area. And it’s something that we’ll get fixed.”
You guys, over the last three years have either finished with the most penalties or second most penalties in that category. Is that something you just have accepted that the way that you guys run your offense the way that you like to use the game clock, you might have a few more of those than what’s typical and you can live with that or is it something that you want to eliminate altogether?
“I think number one, we want to be in control of the game. There’s a lot of different ways to do it. There’s definitely versus specific opponents in the past, there were a couple of situations that I was very willing to live with that. But, generally speaking it’s something that we’ve got to improve and become more efficient at really. And there are other areas as well. We’re just erased to get better.”
You boxed the defense into a look at the end of the play and it allows you to go with the best play for whatever that defense is at that moment?
“I have no comment regarding scheme.”
Back to Kaepernick, when you talk about him maybe being able to pick up later options as he’s moving around, I would assume that the throw to RB Frank Gore across his body, what option was that? Is that maybe a throw he doesn’t make, that maybe he just takes off a year or two ago?
“Yeah, that’s possible. I wouldn’t include that in that category. That was just a great play finding him. Again, Kap brings a lot of, definitely a dimension to his game where how often do you see, this has happened in the past, 10 or 11 guys on one side of the field because that’s where he is or, [TE] Vernon [Davis] draws that kind of attention sometimes, but his athleticism and the threat of him running drew all those people over there and he was able to create that space and find that throw, which is pretty unique. You don’t see that a lot. I’d kind of put that off into the Kaepernick-making-a-play category.”
Not great coaching?
“Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That does not fall under that category. But, if you go through history and there’s some other guys in this league, there are guys that, [former NFL QB] Steve Young was a guy, the guy back in Minnesota, [former NFL QB] Fran Tarkenton.”
Is there some point in your playbook where you just kind of say, ‘OK, here’s a spot. If this doesn’t happen, Colin does his thing?’
“Yeah, just to talk ball a little bit, there’s some landmark outlets, we call them. But, there’s scramble drills when the quarterback’s moving, but sometimes those things just have to happen athletically, athletic instincts, and sometimes you’ve got to just let that happen.”
Frank said that 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman always tell him, ‘Keep working when Colin’s moving.’ Is it keep moving 50 yards away from where he is? Is that part of the discussion with him?
“Not specifically, but Frank was over there and he just kind of saw everybody leave, so he just kind of drifted away and tried to make himself known. That was just a good instinctive play by Frank there. Speaking of Frank, he’s just such a stud.”
When you were watching that play and he’s throwing from numbers to numbers and doesn’t stop and set, he just flicks the wrist, what was going through your mind?
“Well, I had a good vantage point from upstairs, so I saw that nobody was within 25 yards of him. So, my fist was going up in the air.”
But, did you think he could get it there?
“Yeah. Oh yeah. No question.”
Speaking to Chiefs QB Alex Smith and LB Patrick Willis this week, they spoke of their competitions against each other on the field. Mutual admiration, but they each say they’re better during practice from going against each other. Is there anything that comes to mind when you were here with your time with Alex, where it would be 7-on-7 where, ‘Hey, we’re going to get this middle linebacker.’ Anything like that?
“Yeah, we’d always try to throw the ball right down the pipe to Vernon when they were in a certain coverage in a two-minute drill or whatnot. And a lot of times, Alex would just call that play and if he had the defense on his heels, he would just call it and try to get them. We won some, they won some. It was pretty good competition. But, Alex is a true competitor, a very dangerous opponent, dangerous foe, and we are well aware of that.”
RB Carlos Hyde runs, and blanket statement, the holes aren’t necessarily there for him. Is part of that because of the pace at which he runs with and is there an adjustment the offensive line is still working to make with him at this point?
“I would not agree with that statement. But, I really like Carlos Hyde. I think he’s got a great future. And there’s some things we’ve got to clean up, a little bit here, a little bit there, and we’ll just continue to try to get better. But, I think Carlos is doing a very good job and I think he’s got a very bright future.”
G/T Alex Boone in a radio interview may have been halfway joking, but he said he doesn’t like all this passing offense stuff just in general in the NFL, said he wants to smash everyone in the face and beat them up and run the ball. Is that just a typical offensive lineman’s mentality or is there something to that? Is this offense best when it’s doing stuff like that?
“We’ve always been a multi-dimensional offense, always. And we’ll rely on that type of offense at the appropriate time hopefully. But, every offensive lineman wants to run the ball, every receiver wants to throw the ball and on and on and on. So, I think what we’ve got though, all joking aside, is a group of guys that play for one another and are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. And that’s the number one reason we’re going to have a bright future.”