Posted: 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013
By David Fucillo
49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman met with the media Thursday afternoon. He had a chance to discuss Michael Crabtree's return and success against the Cardinals, the Arizona defense in recent weeks and more. We've got a transcript for your viewing pleasure.
"Good afternoon. Another Division game. The NFC West is, it's a dogfight every week, just as we foresaw. A lot of physical play going on. Arizona Cardinals doing a great job on defense. Number one against the run. When you look at their front with [LB Calais] Campbell, [NT Dan] Williams and [DT Darnell] Dockett, very athletic, explosive group. Dockett, he's a handful. Campbell's got incredible length. And, they're playing at a high level. They play based out of a 3-4 structure, but you really want to call it a 5-2 defense with [LB Matt] Shaughnessy and [LB] John Abraham on the edge, so it's really an old-school 5-2. And, the two inside backers [ILB Daryl] Washington and [LB Karlos] Dansby are very good players. And their secondary is playing at a high level, led by [CB Patrick] Peterson, [CB Jerraud] Powers outside and a veteran [SS Yeremiah] Bell, and they're mixing some other guys through at safety. But, a very good team and a lot to get ready for in a short amount of time. Any questions?"
We just talked to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and he said that the defense, his defense, really learned a lesson from that long drive that you guys had on them at the end of your game and that they've been playing a lot better run defense from that point. Is that something that you see on film is just a lot more attention to detail from them in the run game?
"I think they're playing good and I thought they were playing good then too. They're playing at a high level. They're the number one run defense in the league. I think they were really highly ranked at that time as well. I can't remember offhand, but they're really good. They've been good for a long time. I do think though that they're playing as good as they've played since I've been here."
That drive, I mean, what was that drive like for you, to keep punching up the same calls? It was 18 plays, 11 of them were runs. What did you sense up there that just you felt a lot of confidence in the guys being able to execute their blocks and get chunks on the ground?
"Well, I think time was a factor at that point. And, it really comes down to how the players executed. We converted some key third downs, I believe a fourth-and-short there, but really came down to the execution on the field. And when you see that kind of execution it makes it pretty easy. That was a heck-of-a drive and boy that was a long time ago though, that was a long time ago. We're focusing on this week, but that was definitely much needed at that point. Players stepped up big time."
You say that's a long time ago and obviously you have WR Michael Crabtree back now. How much different is your offense now compared to what it was when you played Arizona without Crabtree?
"Well, I think when you add one of your best players back to the offense it's going to impact anybody. I think you've seen it with some teams this year, when you subtract one of their best players, how that can impact the game. So, the opposite is true. We're going to do what we do and we're going to be physical. We're going to run the football. And we're going to do a little bit of this a little bit of that, get the ball into different people's hands. But, anytime you get Crabtree back and pair him with [WR Anquan] Boldin and our other guys, [TE] Vernon [Davis] and whatnot, that's going to give you better, really good football players out there."
We've tried to make this case and I don't know if this hasn't been supported, but we're just feeling that QB Colin Kaepernick is being more decisive now making a decision when to run and when to throw and all of that. Do you see him making, just being more decisive in the last month, the last three games?
"Yeah. I mean, I think he's done a really good job the past three games of being decisive. But, then again, I think he does most all the time. And, if he's not we've got to give him better plays. That means nobody's open or something along those lines. But, no, he's doing a really good job and he's just looking to improve."
What's Michael Crabtree like in the meeting rooms?
"He's great, really good and dialed in. Interacts, knows what he's looking at and it's great to have him around, great to have him back out on the field, great to have him back in meetings. So, pretty serious though, pretty serious, all business when it comes to business."
What kind of influence do you think Anquan's had on him this year?
"Great influence. I think Anquan's had a great influence on everybody, just the way he approaches his business. Anquan is like a rock day-in, day-out. This guy is such a pro everyday irregardless of circumstance. Somebody that's had that much success over the course of their career is going to be nothing but have a positive influence on everybody. And you can see how Crab has always looked up to Anquan when he was in college and whatnot. So, it's a great deal being able to play with a guy that you've always looked up to."
We heard Patrick Peterson and Arians, they were both complementary of Crabtree and the way he's playing. They also said he's not quite all the way back. Do you agree with that? I mean, I suppose it's the best chance with him under the rest of this season and next year for him?
"Well, how many games has he played now?"
"Four. I mean, that's like a preseason for a lot of people, in a sense, with no training camp. In the passing game a lot of it's chemistry and I think that's just going to continue to improve as his route-running, all the physical things that go into the game, the more he does it the more it'll be smooth and at a higher level even. So, the more he does it, he's just going to keep getting better and better. I definitely, I think we all as a staff have noticed him just getting better incrementally every week."
How did G Mike Iupati do in his first game back?
"Good. Really good. Did really well. He was on it from an assignment standpoint and physically as well. Great to have Mike back out there."
Was WR Mario Manningham inactive, was that an injury situation?
"Yeah. He's just working through something and just felt it was best to help tend to it that way."
Arians called Cardinals TE Jim Dray exceptionally effective and perhaps his most reliable player, words to that effect. Obviously you know Dray, was he that type of player in college for you?
"You know, I can't speak about players on other teams, but when he was at Stanford he was very, very reliable, a very reliable player. And, it sounds like he hasn't changed much."
Did you view him as NFL, Stanford's produced quite a bit of NFL tight ends, he seems to be the lesser-known of all of them. Did you see him as having an NFL future?
"Oh yeah. Without question I was on the phone calling anybody who would listen, yeah."
What was it about him?
"Everything really. He's going to do his job. He's going to get it done. It sounds like he's doing that at Arizona."
Did you call the Cardinals?
"I can't remember. I was cold-calling people for him."