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TRANSCRIPT: Matt LaFleur and Wade Phillips Press Conference 9-19

Posted Sep 19, 2017

Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips addressed the media before practice on Tuesday.

Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur – Media Availability – September 19, 2017
 
(On the similarities and differences that he sees between Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan)
“First and foremost, both those guys are extremely detailed and two of the most knowledge football minds that I’ve been around. It was a great experience working for both those guys.”
 
(On their differences personality wise)
“They’re a little bit different personality wise, but again, when it comes down to football, both two of the brighter minds that I’ve ever been around and I feel pretty fortunate that I was able to learn from those guys.”
 
(On what ways they are different personality wise)
“I just think like anybody, just like I’m different than Sean – I think they’re both fiery and very intense competitors, but they’re their own person at the same time.”
 
(On his assessment of the Rams offense after Sunday)
“There were some things that I thought we did very well. It’s always tough when after the first quarter we had nine plays and then obviously we had that fumble on the first possession of the second quarter, so it was tough for us to kind of get into a rhythm. I don’t think we moved the ball quite as well as we would have liked to early, but it was great resolve. Our guys showed great resolve and were able to kind of get into a rhythm as the game went on, we were able to make some big plays, but at the end of the day, we didn’t get it done. So, it’s never quite good enough.”
 
(On if he’s surprised by RB Todd Gurley’s emergence in the passing game)
“I’m not surprised. I think to me, it’s just a credit again to how hard he’s worked. He’s got, obviously he’s a tremendous talent, right? And he’s got really good hands, so we’re going to try to get him the ball any way that we can and fortunately for us, he does have some pass receiving capability.”
 
(On what his reaction was when Gurley hurdled the Redskins defender near on the touchdown pass on Sunday)
“Well, that was the second time he hurdled somebody in that game, but nonetheless, it was an incredible effort and an incredibly talented play.”
 
(On if the new mold of an NFL running back is being able to be a receiving threat out of the backfield)
“I don’t think that’s necessarily – I mean every back is a little bit different, but when you do have those guys that are capable like the (Cardinals RB) David Johnson’s, obviously you said (Atlanta RBs Devonta) Freeman and (Tevin) Coleman and (Pittsburgh RB) Le’Veon Bell. I think Todd is right there with those guys. It definitely brings a different dynamic to your offense.”
 
(On if there is a little bit of overthinking going against a familiar opponent)
“No, I think especially on a short week you’ve got to do what you do. You’ve got to do what the players are comfortable with doing and each defense presents its own problems that you want to attack them in a certain way, but really, especially when you’re on a short week you’ve got to do what these players know.”
 
(On if he has to fight the tendency to overthink how much he knows the other staff)
“Yeah, you’re always playing the chess game with yourself and obviously we’re very familiar with each other. As a matter of fact, the defense coordinator there, Robert Salah – he and I were roommates together at Central Michigan when we were graduate assistants and then they’re running a very similar system to what I was in with (Atlanta Head Coach) Dan Quinn in Atlanta. So, it all stems from that Seattle, Pete Carroll tree.”
 
(On mixing up the run and pass with Gurley given how much success he has had in the pass game this season)
“Again, I think it’s just however we can try to get the ball into his hands at the end of the day. If the pass presents itself, then we’re going to do it that way. We got going on the ground against Washington a little bit in the second half and so then you started seeing us hand the ball off to him more.”
 
(On what he thinks it’s going to take to get WR Tavon Austin fully implemented into the offense)
“Yeah, I think No. 1 is it’s going to take us getting into a good rhythm on offense, just right from the onset of the game. I think we had 49 plays in the last game and so that minimizes those opportunities, unfortunately. We’d like to have the ball 70 plays and then it’s going to get Tavon more (opportunities).
 
(On getting WR Sammy Watkins more targets)
“Yeah, I think you saw what happened in Week 1 when we were able to distribute the ball. When you’re not doing that, you’re going to be hindered a little bit offensively. That is always the goal, is to spread it out. Again, each play is kind of predicated on what coverage the defense is playing and that really dictates usually where the ball is going to end up going. But, we certainly are trying to target all those guys.”
 
(On if he sees Austin as more of a situational player at this point)
“I think it’s on us to try to roll those guys through. Like I said before, we’ve got confidence in all six of those receivers, so we’ve got to get them involved, whether it’s rotating them every couple of plays or whatever. But, it’s on us to get them in the game and put them in position to make plays.”
 
(On if he still sees Austin as a viable deep threat)
“I think there’s nothing that he can’t do. We’ve used him a little bit more on those jet sweeps and ghost actions those last couple of games. But certainly lining him up outside and letting him try to take the top off the coverage is always a possibility for us offensively.”
 
(On the communication and dynamic between him and McVay)
“I think the communication has been on point from really, collectively, our whole staff, so really pleased with that. Again, we’ve got to do a better job offensively getting these guys going and when their number is called, they have got to make a play.”
 
(On TE Gerald Everett’s development)
“I think Gerald has done a great job. He’s definitely much more urgent. Like a lot of rookies, naturally I think there is a learning curve and a progression that each one of those guys goes through. But, I think he’s really diligent and urgent in his preparation and I think he’s been able to display that out on the field.”
 
(On Everett being more urgent)
“Urgency to learn what his responsibilities are on each play.”
 
(On if it’s going to be awkward coaching against his brother)
“(Laughs) No awkwardness. It will be interesting. This is the first time I’ve ever been in that situation and especially the last two years we were together in Atlanta, it was a great experience, especially when you get to go to a Super Bowl with your brother. Really, I know so many guys on that staff, I’ve coached with a lot of those guys before, whether it was in Houston or in Washington, so I’m sure there will be some mixed feelings because you always want your closest friends and obviously in my brother’s case, I always want them to do well, but not at the cost of our team and what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
 
(On there will be some trash talk back and forth)
“I’m sure there will be a little bit, but when it comes down to it, it’s really all in fun.”
 
(On if he thinks Washington was more prepared for the passing game after seeing them on tape against Indianapolis)
“No. Again, I just don’t think we ever got into a good flow offensively. We just didn’t really get into the flow of the game until our backs were up against the wall a little bit and then we started to move the ball.”
 

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips – Media Availability – September 19, 2017
 
(Opening remarks)
“What’s wrong with the run defense, right? Here we go. We don’t need to say anything about the pass defense. But, yeah we didn’t play the run very well and we’re upset about that, but we’re going to do something about it. I did think we fought back in the second half and played a lot better run defense than we did, obviously, the first quarter kind of shocked us. And they have a good running game. I don’t want to take away anything from them, but that certainly hurt us. I think having both of our corners out at the end of the game hurt us too. When (CB) Trumaine (Johnson) went out – and (CB) Kayvon (Webster) didn’t play. But, we’ve got to play better to win on defense, so the only good thing out if it is, I think we’ll put more emphasis on the running game and we play quickly, so we’re back into San Francisco. Last week’s gone, so that’s the only good thing about it.”
 
(On why he thinks the defense struggled against Washington)
“You know it’s – guys haven’t played this defense together. They ran a lot of plays that we really hadn’t seen before. They did a good job of that. I mean, this group hadn’t seen. We’ve seen them, I’ve seen them, but it’s a copycat league. They tried to copy all the plays that had any success against Denver or Texans or Philadelphia or New Orleans or Houston or – where else have I been? And, they were successful on those. We actually went into the game – gameplan wise – they had been throwing the ball a whole lot on first down and they hurt us on run plays because we were basically rushing the passer. As far as (DT) Aaron Donald, he showed flashes. But, he was rusty. He’s still – the more he plays the better he’s going to get and the more he practices the better he’s going to get, so we’re looking forward to him playing again this week and maybe get a few more plays. I think he’ll be – I know he’ll be able to make plays. He almost intercepted a pitch out on – you know, nobody does that. Nobody even comes close to doing that, so you see those flashes of the greatness, but it still takes time and work to play football. It’s not an individual game, but I think he’ll be alright.”
 
(On DT Aaron Donald’s physical shape)
“He was fine. We talked with him all game. He was in good shape. I don’t know if I told you this story, but one year Bruce Smith at Buffalo had the same kind of offseason, I mean regimen. Didn’t practice, didn’t play in one preseason game – played 85 plays the first game of the year in overtime. Sacked the quarterback in overtime, fumble, we recover, kicked the field goal and beat them, so some guys can do more than others. Bruce, obviously was the exception, but I thought Aaron held up physically pretty well.” 
 
(On if he’s concerned with Donald’s ability to quickly turn around)
“No, I think he’s alright. He seemed to feel good. Like I said, he was in a lot better shape than – he was in football-type shape, which was good. That’s why we were able to play him. We wanted to go about 25-30 plays, but he was ready to go. I just think the feel for the game is important for him, too.”
 
(On how to keep his defense deep against the 49ers since they’re a throwing team)
“Well, the running backs made a lot of explosive plays and they’ve got one receiver that’s a world-class sprinter, so they can throw the deep ball. We played the quarterback (Brian) Hoyer when he was with the Browns and he had thrown for 470 yards the game before, so this guy is capable. He’s got really good receivers and they have a pretty good offensive line. The running back is one of the top running backs in the league. What did he go for one hundred and something against Seattle? And, they have a pretty good defense there, so it’s going to be a challenge for us. They’ve got to be licking their chops. They had 159 yards last week against Seattle and now they’re playing us who gave up two hundred and something,”
 
(On how LBs Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron performed in the game versus Washington)
“I thought they got better as the game went along. Both of them made like over 15 tackles, so they made a lot of plays, especially as the game went along. I think you look at it now, the second half they had like five runs that were minus yards. So, like I said, we started playing better in the second half, but too little too late – got us too far behind.”
 
(On how much of the defense’s improvements are on coaching adjustments and player adjustments)
“Well it’s all on coaching – number one. If we didn’t play well – it’s me. Well you always make adjustments, but I think just the feel of where everybody is, especially for linebackers – how to set the edge for the outside backers. (LB) Connor’s (Barwin) done it before, but (OLB) Robert Quinn has never played outside linebacker so I’m talking about him in the running game, he’s always rushed the passer and we had him rushing the passer quite a bit. And the two inside guys have played linebacker, but they haven’t played a 3-4. And even the safeties, I think, you know where to fill – those kind of things. Just took some live action time, unfortunately, we didn’t do as well as we wanted to, but I think we’ll do better.”
 
(On CB Nickell Robey-Coleman’s performance playing on the outside as a replacement for CB Kayvon Webster)
“He’s not very big is the problem. They had a big receiver on him at the end of the game when…we had (CB) Trumaine (Johnson) on their big receiver. Nickell didn’t get him down really probably the biggest play of the game for us. But he’s a fighter, he can cover well. Tackling wise against a big receiver you’ve got to be careful.”
 
(On his impression of how OLB Robert Quinn is fitting into the new defense)
“Yeah, Robert gives us some pass rush – that’s what we’re looking for. Like I said in the run game, I thought he played really well the first game against the run, too. I look for him to do well. He faced a really good tackle this last week and got some pressure on the quarterback. I think he’ll keep doing better and better.”
 
(On what about Quinn’s skillset that makes him naturally a good player)
“He’s big, strong, fast. You know, that’s a pretty good start right there. He’s really athletic. The really good players can accelerate, whether they’re a running back or defensive back, defensive lineman, pass rusher – they can speed up. And it’s harder for the people to judge that they can do that and it makes them better than most players.”
 
(On what 49ers RB Carlos Hyde did for his team’s offense against Seattle last week)
“Well number one, Hyde is a really good back. Every time I’ve seen him play, he’s done exceptional. Good backs and a good line, a good run blocking line go together and they evidently put that together already.”
 
(On if having starters sitting out in the preseason correlates to the team taking longer to adjust once the regular season begins)
“Yeah, I don’t really know. I think some of those are baseball stats. At nights and weekends they get so many hits and all that stuff and the first two weeks this happened and well we’ll see what happens for 16 weeks. I just look at the team we’re playing and see how we’re going to do against them. And overall league-wise I’m not sure as to who’s good on offense or defense. We’re just trying to be good on defense. I did a good job on not answering that at all. Basically, I don’t know. (laughs)”