Jim O'Neil and Curtis Modkins visited with reporters this week to discuss key storylines for the San Francisco 49ers Week 6 road game against the Buffalo Bills.
Take a look at each coordinator's press conference and notable quotes below, courtesy of the 49ers communications department.
Defensive Coordinator Jim O'Neil
"Alright. I thought that the kind of mini-bye week that we had coming off of the Thursday night came at a good time. Really allowed us as a defensive staff to go back through the previous five weeks, learn about our defense, learn about our scheme, learn about our personnel and just really study and kind of dig into what we've done well, what we haven't done well enough, what direction we've got to go with some of the scheme stuff that we're doing and what direction we've got to do personnel-wise, technique-wise, that kind of stuff. Obviously, the biggest thing that we need to focus on is stopping the run. We've got to do a better job there and it's technique, it's tackling, it's doing a better job executing scheme. We've got to do a better job of creating turnovers. We were really good at it the first three weeks of the season and then the past two weeks, we've gone O-for and then we've got to stop committing penalties on third down and allowing offenses to extend drives when we're off the field. And a lot of times when we've committed some of those third down penalties, it's equaled points. But, I was happy with how we started the Arizona game. I think the first six series we forced punts. Then we had the turnover where we gave up a touchdown and then we stopped them on two-minute and then as the game got going in the third quarter it got away from us a little bit. So, we've got to continue to harp on being consistent and guys doing their jobs within the scheme and the plays will come."
Does stopping the run include personnel changes? I know you talked about DL Glenn Dorsey perhaps having a bigger role at nose tackle.
"I don't know about personnel changes, but more scheming it around what we do well with the personnel we have."
What did you think of LB Nick Bellore's first start?
"I thought he was solid. I think it's been a long time since he's played that much defensive football and I think Nick would tell you he probably left some plays out there on the field. But, I thought his communication was really good. I thought he did some really good things for us in coverage. He was, just talking to him yesterday, he was a little hesitant at times to make sure, you know, he was making sure what he saw was true instead of just going and I think that as he plays more that will happen for him. But, we were happy with him as a defense." When you're facing an opponent like this though where you've got a guy like Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor or Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy who can just really break every type of integrity you guys have out there. How tough is it to get settled knowing that these guys are such elusive type players?
"Yeah. The two guys you mentioned are really good football players. Quarterback's a dual-threat guy. He can make plays with the ball above his shoulder and below his shoulder and LeSean McCoy's having as good a year as probably anybody in the NFL as far as running the football. So, they're doing a good job and it's going to be a big challenge for our defense. We're still in the beginning phases of our game plan, but we'll be excited. We'll be ready to roll."
Do you notice a big change in what the Bills are doing offensively in the three games with Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn at coordinator as opposed to former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman?
"Not a huge, no, I think Anthony's doing a really good job. They've got good balance on offense. They're obviously running the ball very effectively. They're throwing the ball effectively. So, they're playing good offensive football right now. They're playing good complementary football to the defensive side of the ball. I didn't look at it that way, as far as by coordinator."
How big of an influence has Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan been on your career?
"Really big. He gave me my first chance in this league. I coached in college football for I think it was 11 years. You guys can check me on that. And then I kind of went to the New York Jets and got around [former NFL head coach] Mike Pettine and [Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator] Bob Sutton and Rex Ryan and everything I thought I knew about football they kind of flipped it upside down on me and really taught me a lot about attacking protections and coverages and [Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator] Dennis Thurman's the defensive coordinator now. There's so many guys that were on that New York Jets staff that I learned from. But, yeah, those guys have been huge in my development and learning this game and learning this league."
Offensive Coordinator Curtis Modkins
"Good morning. Good to see you all. Well, it was good to get a couple days off the kind of mini-bye deal and be able to sit down, reevaluate and look at some things. So, there's not probably a whole lot of reason to go back to last week. I'm sure you guys probably have some questions so we'll just go ahead and get into it."
What are you most curious to see from QB Colin Kaepernick in a game atmosphere now?
"Well, him moving the football team and scoring points and helping us win on offense. Kap has been here before. Kap has done it before. He's no stranger to being a starting quarterback in this league and we look forward to seeing him move the football team."
Can you talk about the play of WR Jeremy Kerley? He's been targeted 23 times in the last two games, went over 100-yards for the first time I think since 2012. Are you surprised at all at his progress at all being a late addition to your football team?
"Well, Jeremy obviously has done a good job for us. Some of the things we've seen schematically versus the defense that we played have been conducive for us to give him some targets. He's done a good job, made the most of them. Jeremy has always had ability. He's been a good player in this league for a few years. I've known him since he's been in college. He came out, so I'm not surprised at all that he's done good. I'm looking forward to that continuing and I feel he'll even get better."
Some metrics say that QB Blaine Gabbert was really struggling in throws, deep throws, beyond 20 yards? Was that an area that, are those throws part of this change and do you guys need to push the ball downfield and maybe open up things for the running game?
"I think we need to improve in all areas of offensive football. I don't think that's a single one defining deal. We made a change because we felt like this gives us the best chance to win on Sunday and moving forward, so that's why the change was made. But, to point to a specific metric would be probably unfair because a lot goes into being able to get the ball down the field. Protecting, the routes, there's a lot of other things involved in that." In your experience, can changing a quarterback provide a spark to the rest of the offense?
View images of the key players on San Francisco's sixth regular season opponent, the Buffalo Bills.
"I don't know about sparks. We think it will give us the best chance to win on Sunday. I'm not into sparks or anything like that. So, I'm anticipating that it gives us the best chance and that's the decision we made. It wasn't about a spark. I think we all have got to be better around whoever the quarterback is, me included."
What strikes you most about the Bills pass rush and their ability to get after you?
"Well, they're like any other [Buffalo Bills head coach] Rex Ryan defense. They can pass rush you in a lot of different ways with a lot of different people. In their normal pass rush, they have a really effective, really good pass rusher in [Buffalo Bills LB] Jerry Hughes and then on the other end, they've got a guy that's leading the league in sacks right now. So, they've got some individual guys that can rush the passer. They've got inside guys in [Buffalo Bills DT] Kyle Williams, who I was with for three years, who really understands get off and how to get to the pass rusher and they'll get I'm sure [Buffalo Bills DT] Marcell Dareus will be back. He's a really good pass rusher. So, they're able to generate it with different people, but in their base pass rush they have good people doing it."