Curtis Modkins and Jim O'Neil visited with reporters this week to discuss key storylines for the San Francisco 49ers Week 7 home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Take a look at each coordinator's press conference and notable quotes below, courtesy of the 49ers communications department.**
Offensive Coordinator Curtis Modkins **
"Well, obviously Sunday wasn't good enough and there's a lot to go around for why it wasn't good enough. We've got to work our tails off to get it fixed and that's what we're about doing. But, we need to be more consistent on offense and we need to be able to sustain what we're doing on offense and we need to continue to work towards that. I know you guys have some questions. We'll get on to them."
When you look at it, why do you believe that the consistency hasn't been there in the run game?
"There are probably a number of factors. We're getting some decent box looks that we're running against. A run game is successful because a lot of people do the right thing at the same time. Sometimes it's not successful when a lot of people are doing the right thing, but one person maybe not. He might step the wrong way. The back's path might not have been exactly what you wanted. So, there are a lot of things. We've got a lot to clean up in a lot of areas. That's definitely one of them."
How would you assess the way QB Colin Kaepernick played?
"I think Colin did some good things. Colin hadn't played in probably a year. I thought he did some good things. In the first half he was eight of 11, something like that. He kept some plays alive with his legs. I thought Colin did a good thing. I think he's got to get better like all of us do, but I thought he did some good things and we'll work to continue to get better at what he didn't do right."
What do you think the difference was in the second half? His numbers didn't mirror what he did in the first?
"Well, it's not just him. You say it's his numbers, but it's our numbers. Sometimes it's a drop here or there in critical situations affect those numbers. A penalty here or there and all of a sudden we're off the field and that affects the numbers. We've got to do better around him and that helps his numbers."
Was the game plan against Buffalo, obviously we saw it thrown in the direction of WR Torrey Smith more but not as much WR Jeremy Kerley. Was it the way the Bills were defending him or just kind of a different game plan going into Sunday?
"Every game is a little different in terms of what you're seeing defensively. There are some schemes that don't allow Kerley to work on a particular guy. Some schemes give you this. Some give you that. I think we've done a decent job of exposing what they're doing. This so happened to be one where we were able to look to Torrey a little bit more."
How is RB Pierre Garçon doing?
"We'll see. I don't know. We'll see what [49ers vice president of football operations Jeff Ferguson] Ferg says on that and see where that goes."
Was Carlos available throughout the game? The second half was he available?
"When he went out, I'm up in the booth and when he went out I think he came back in a couple of times. But, whatever his issue was he worked on it and [running backs coach Tom Rathman] coach Rath put in who he felt gave us the best chance to win. That might have been based on health or whatever it was based on, but we'll see where Carlos is at as we move forward."
How did G Joshua Garnett do in his first start?
"I thought Josh did OK. I thought he did OK. He's a rookie, so he's got a lot to learn and a lot to grow on, but I thought he did OK. He's getting better and better and we've got to keep him on that track."
Back to Kaepernick real quick, the way he moved around the pocket, he looked a little bit more comfortable than he has in past years. Being able to slide and step into it, being more patient. Did you see similar thoughts?
"Yeah, I thought he did some good things in the pocket. He moved around and when some things weren't there he gave us a chance with his legs. That's something that Colin brings to the table and we're excited about him continuing to do that."
Defensive Coordinator Jim O'Neil
"Obviously right now we're not where we want to be as a defense. But, on a positive note, I do see growth. I do see some young guys getting a lot better. I saw some young guys step up and make some plays in some critical situations this past game, which was good to see. Guys like [DL] Arik Armstead, [DL DeForest] Buckner, [CB] Keith Reaser had a big third down stop for us. So, we have some young guys that are really starting to trust the technique and really go and that's only going to help us as we get going this season. I do see this thing turning and the reason I can say that is we've got a group of men, coaches and players included, who are thumb pointers. They're not finger pointers. And anytime you have that in a locker room, anytime you have that with your staff, it gives you a chance to grow and to get better every day you come to work. So, with that, go ahead."
You mentioned Armstead. His snap counts have been up the last two games. Does that mean that his shoulder is feeling better, that he's able to play with it?
"I think it's a combination of two things. I think he is feeling better and we know as a defense we need him to be that difference maker in the run and pass game for us to be a good defense. So, he's got to be out there for us."
With the depth you have at defensive line and the lack of depth you have at inside linebacker, is your system flexible enough that you could convert to a 4-3 if you wanted to, if you had to? Is that something you guys have considered?
"We play 4-3 spacing every time we go into our sub-packages. It's more 3-4 spacing in our base packages. So, if you really broke it down, we're probably 50-50 3-4 versus 4-3 spacing."
Would you consider that, a 4-3, on base downs?
"We do play some 4-3 on base downs based off of the formation. There were a few plays where you see [LB] Ahmad [Brooks] as a stack backer. So, that is some things that we do."
What's kind of the attitude or the reaction, the intensity of guys in the second half of these games? What are you seeing on the sideline?
"Yeah. [Head coach] Coach [Chip Kelly] talked to the team about it this morning. As a team, we're in it, we're in it, we're in it, we're in it and something bad happens, whether it's a turnover or the game gets a little bit away from us and I don't know if we relax a little bit as a team, but that's where we've just got to be consistent for four quarters because we're competitive in all these games and then something happens and two or three series go by and then you look up at the scoreboard and you're like, 'What the hell just happened?' So, I just think that's where we've got to grow as a team. I think that some of that's being probably young and learning how to be consistent for four quarters. We've got to do a good job coaching them on how to do that, but that's probably our biggest problem right now if you ask me."
What's prevented LB Gerald Hodges from having a bigger role in that linebacker rotation?
"He needs to play more. He does."
You mentioned last week taking away some things maybe the guys were having trouble understanding, kind of simplifying things a little bit. Is that something that you have to continue to do or do you think maybe you need to mix things up this week?
"The biggest thing I said, and I don't like the word simplify, I like the word that we're trying to build it around what we're learning about our guys and what they do well. You really don't know until you get into these games because guys react different on Sunday's. The preseason's totally different than the regular season. OTA's are totally different than the preseason. So, as we learn our guys, we're just trying to take advantage of what we think that they do well and then we're trying to put them in those situations to do those things."
You say that the biggest problem you see is not consistency and learning how to play four quarters. Is that something that a coach can really get the players to do or do you need those veteran players on the field to do that?
"I think that's a great question. I think it comes from everybody. I think that it starts with your mentality as a player. And again, we talked about that this morning as a defense. You've got to be excited every time you take the field. You've got to almost have the mentality, 'Hey, this is great.' Even if the ball's on the one-yard line, 'Hey, more TV time for us. Another chance for me to make a play.' It can't be like, 'Oh, damn we turned the ball over,' or something like that. To me, it starts with your attitude, it starts with your mentality and we've just got to keep preaching that. And you're right, the older guys, the veterans got to take control of it and get it going. It's just got to be everybody."
You say that you see things turning. I think a lot of people, based on what just happened Sunday when you allowed the second-most rushing yards in franchise history, 500-yards, there's been five straight 100-yard rushers, on and on. People don't see things turning. What would you say in the face of some pretty bad statistics?
"I don't get too wrapped up in the statistic stuff. I understand where you're coming from. But, like I said, we've got a group of guys that point the finger at themselves. They're not looking for excuses. So, to me, when you have that in the locker room and you have that in your coaching staff, it gives you a chance to grow because it takes the ego out of it. If you have guys that are looking to blame other people, you've got no chance. So, that's where it starts. I do see specific techniques improving. Like I started my press conference, I know we're a long way from where we want to be, OK? I by no means am satisfied. Quite frankly, I'm embarrassed by what happened on this past Sunday. But, I am positive as to where this is going. I think Chip's got a great plan. I think we have a great coaching staff. We have a lot of good, young talent. We've just got to continue to develop guys. We've got a lot of guys playing for us that don't have a ton of NFL experience. Every time that they're out there, they learn so much and those reps are so valuable for them. So, just as we go, it's going to turn. I'm very positive. I told the guys, never in my life have I flinched and never in my life will I flinch and I expect the same from them. Just keep going, keep grinding, keep putting the work in and we're going to be fine."
Do you think some of your better players are pressing right now to try and make too many plays?
"That'd be a good question for them. I think that they're all pressing because I think that there's a very high standard in that room and we as a coaching staff have set it. Some of the guys that have been here for a while know what that standard is and we're not playing up to it right now. We've got to get everybody playing up to that standard that we know we can play at."
You talk about having a Swiss army knife. DL Ronald Blair III is a player who, as a front seven player, is probably the most versatile player you have on the roster. Would you agree with that and if so, why aren't you trying to incorporate him more into the defensive game plan even though--?
"He is a part of our game plan. The way that game went, we ended up in a lot more base than we did in some of our sub-packages. He's a guy that we might have to start getting involved some at outside backer. So, you're right on with that. He's a guy that has shown a lot of versatility, has some playmaking ability who can help us and we've got to use him that way."