Editor's note: 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman addressed the media from Santa Clara on Thursday. Below is a full transcript of his comments.
“Afternoon. Getting ready to play an Eagles team that has really started the season off well. Looking at their defense, they got a lot of clubs in their bag. They do a great job. They’re very well coached. Starting up front, they play a 30-type defense, three down lineman. [Eagles DE Fletcher] Cox, [Eagles DT Bennie] Logan and [Eagles DE Cedric] Thornton, young players that have made big strides. We really feel looking at last year’s film and this year’s film, getting better. They’re really good players. Their outside backers are big, strong players. Everybody knows [Eagles LB] Trent Cole. He’s one heck of a player. He’s quite a load out there. So, is it a 34 or is it a 5-2? You answer. And [Eagles LB] Connor Barwin does a great job inside with [Eagles LB DeMeco] Ryans and [Eagles LB Mychal] Kendricks. Kendricks, a great athlete. DeMeco Ryans, great nose for the ball. Really good football player. And then [Eagles S Nate] Allen and [Eagles S Malcolm] Jenkins on the backend and [Eagles CB Cary] Williams and [Eagles CB Bradley] Fletcher outside. They got really good players. Thing unique about them on defense is they can change personalities quite quickly. Got a lot of different packages, personnel. They do a great job, very well coached. Any questions?”
Do you think you guys can change personalities quickly?
“Offensively? Yeah, I do. Think we can change personalities quickly, there’s no question. It’s just when do you want to change personalities? That’s really the question.”
Does that cause problems? Seems like in the past you guys have been one team pretty consistently. Is it tough to flip a switch and get the guys to, I don’t want to say buy in, but flip that switch and become a spread team or a power team? Does that create any problems?
“Not really. You go back to two years ago, the playoffs, we were basically a spread team. We played the Packers and Atlanta. And you can run spread concepts out of any personnel group, that’s what most people don’t quite get. But no, it really doesn’t. It’s all about the players. Who do you have, what are their strengths, etcetera.”
With the players that you’re getting back at some point, you know, TE Vernon Davis will be back and T Anthony Davis. Does that change where the strength of the team becomes or what the strength of the team becomes?
“Well, I definitely think that those guys are guys that you have to factor into the equation. And whenever they do come back, things tilt certain ways and you always want to work to your strengths or away from their weaknesses, or away from your weaknesses or at their weaknesses.”
In retrospect, do you feel you underutilized RB Frank Gore in the base-running game or were the matchups unfavorable against the Cardinals’ base defense?
“With what they were doing going into the game, I mean, they were selling out, like, full, waving-the-flag selling out to stop the run. You always want to get Frank involved, but again, you got to kind of weigh how much, when and how. And then you got to factor in everything that you think is going to happen and then everything that is actually happening. So, you got to be fluid with it. I think, for example last week, we had a plan that was different than the one we utilized early in the game and the other plan was working pretty good. So, shoot, we’re not getting to that other plan. And that’s pretty much every week, to be honest with you.”
How do you explain the inability to score touchdowns so far in the second half of games this year?
“A very wise man once said to me, ‘There was a room full of people. And these people were all throwing wild reasoning out.’ It was a brainstorming session, if you will – football, of course. Reasons for this, reasons for that, this, that, the other. And this wise man, who was very wise and successful, said to me, ‘All the answers are on the film, kid.’ I think that’s something I kind of live by. So, when you really go back and look at each play or look at the film, all of the answers are on the film.”
What does that mean? So why haven’t you guys been able to score?
“I don’t think there’s any quote or buzzword or whatnot. When you look at the film, could’ve done this, should’ve done that, just a little bit better here, little bit better there, little improvement there, and all of a sudden, you’re not having that discussion.
No common thread?
“No, it’s not something you can just throw a blanket over and say, ‘Oh, it’s because of this.’ It’s play-to-play. It’s very specific. It’s something we got to get corrected. And we will, we will. We’ve got the people to do it.”
Who’s that wise man?
“[Former Colts general manager and current ESPN analyst] Bill Polian.”
With Vernon gone, I mean, how much does that impact on your play calling and what you do when you get him back? How much will that maybe help solve some of those issues that you’re talking about in terms of execution?
“Well, whoever’s in the game, I feel can and will execute. How you deploy your players is different than level of execution, as they’re mutually exclusive. To your point, you get Vernon back at some point this week, next week, whenever. You’re going to change how you approach things a little bit to utilize his skill set one way or the another.”
Did you reach out to Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly to go up there and visit a couple years ago?
“Yeah. A mutual friend of ours brought the guys together and went up there and he was kind enough to … I heard so much about that nice facility they had up there and I had lot of respect for Chip and what he had done for competing with him for a couple years. Got to get up there to visit with him and meet with him, talk ball. He’s a football guy.”
What’d you come away with from those meetings with him?
“That he’s very good at not putting all of his cards on the table. Come on, come on. A little bit more laughter than that. That was good. No, it was good. It was a great exchange. Just talking football and was very impressed, obviously, but it was very good. Enjoyed it tremendously.”
So, when he came here, was it the same kind of thing, like when you went up there, was it mostly you getting the long end of the straw, and then when he came here, was he--?
“No, I wouldn’t say that. It was just two guys talking football up there and watching film and talking about things and talking about technique, a lot of technique. That was more of what we talked about than anything. But just seeing how somebody thinks. But it was good.”
He was saying that he sees some of their zone-read schemes part of your system now. Is that one of the aspects you took away from it?
“We were doing that for quite a while, but no. I think, really, when you have a guy like Chip, I think he is a guy I have a lot of respect for. And you get to go exchange thoughts, see where he’s coming from, and I think there’s value to that.”
Just getting back to Polian’s comment, when he said that, was he also meaning the play calls as well or was he just saying, ‘Here’s the play, if it’s executed well’?
“I think you can say that, too. I think you can definitely say that. I know nobody’s harder on us than us when it comes to that. I think that’s definitely a part of it. Always, always.”
The Eagles hurry up gets a lot of attention as far as being unique and trend-setting or whatever, but what else do they do offensively that you look at and say, ‘That’s a cool concept’?
“They do a lot of things. They do a great job. They do a nice job spacing out the field. They’ve taken no-huddle offense, which everybody runs to some extent, and just went all in with that concept. Runs, passes, formations, motions. I think it’s an all-in type of thing to that style. They’ve been successful at that at the college level and doing a great job.”
You joked about it, but was there a sense about the cards on the table that at some point, you guys would be on opposite staffs going against each other?
“Well, yeah, of course. You definitely don’t lay all your cards on the table, either. But you just never know how all that plays out. Really, it was just two guys talking ball.”
People have said their run plays are simple, but what makes their run game so effective beyond their personnel? If you have simple run plays, is it the way they formation things, their shifts, a little bit of everything?
“I think it starts with their players. They have great players. [RB LeSean] McCoy and the crew they have there and they work to their players’ strengths. They give Shady a chance to just kind of do his thing. The offensive line does a great job, very impressive how they run their system, and then factoring in the tempo as well. It definitely keeps a defense honest.”
Usually basketball teams that press don’t like to be pressed. When you’re diagnosing their defense on film, have you seen sequences where teams have hit them with the hurry-up or two-minute, would they seem like they’re uncomfortable? Is that something when you look at your personnel you might be able to hit them with to keep them off balance?
“I can’t answer that because it’ll be giving away stuff, but I’ll pretend to answer it. No, just kidding. Yeah, I think you can definitely put pressure on a defense with tempo and when it works out, it’s great, and when it doesn’t, it’s not. So, it comes down to execution. In regards to their defense, they do a great job. They’re very well coached and they have the ability to be a multiple-personality defense.”
That was good.
Speaking of that tempo, is there anything worse than being a coordinator in a three-and-out that lasts less than a minute?
“I’ve got to think about that one. I don’t know if there is. It puts pressure on the defense when it’s not working. Puts a lot of pressure on the team. It’s like anything. When it works, it’s great, when it doesn’t, back to the drawing board. It’s definitely something that we can do from time-to-time.”
Both you and head coach Jim Harbaugh have referred to Chip as a ‘football guy’ in admiration. It would seem everyone in the NFL is a ‘football guy,’ but what makes him more of a ‘football guy’ than most?
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask somebody that knows him better than me. But just getting around talking with him, I’ve only really talked football with him. So, I guess he enjoys talking football. It’s all about football with him. When I’ve been with him, hasn’t been talking about the weather or traffic. So, that’s the best I can answer there. Very good coach.”