49ers' Fangio: 'We didn't know what to expect'


49ers' Fangio: 'We didn't know what to expect'

July 30, 2011
The 49ers' defensive coordinator Vic Fangio addressed the media for the first time in training camp on Saturday. Below is a transcript of the media session:
On whether he discovered anything new on defense the last two days of training camp that he didnt know before:

I really dont know if I found anything out that I didnt expect or didnt know up to this point because we didnt know what to expect. So, obviously we need a lot of work. Obviously, we know we all knew we would be behind, and that hits you right in the face how far behind we are, but weve taken the attitude that were going, like they used to say in maternity, dont tell us about the pain - just show us the baby. So, were going to get there as quickly and as fast as we can.

On whether he is taking a different approach in coaching this year, in terms of having a shortened training camp:

Its more difficult because obviously we would have had 20 some practices before this in the spring that we didnt have now, but my attitude has been we are going to still try and throw as much at them as we would have, if we had a normal offseason for the most part, because we need to find out what this team is all about and what best fits our defense. So, if we try and go too slow and hold off in inserting things because we dont want to go too fast since we havent had all these practices, we wouldnt find out that we wish we wouldve inserted it because maybe its a good fit for our guys. So we want to insert as much as we can and then see what best fits our guys, and then maybe tone it back; if that makes any sense to you.

On whether he thought about offering an offseason defensive playbook similar to the playbook the offense receives:

No, offense is different. Theres a lot of memorization. They can learn formations, learn motions, learn shifts, study routes, you know. We got to do a lot of reacting on defense. Instinctive stuff needs to be, is that, a more of a premium on defense than on offense. So, I really felt there wouldnt be much to gain by that and I still feel that way.

On whether he resisted looking at film of his defense during the offseason, as he mentioned he wouldnt back in February:

I did resist for the most part and basically, what we told the squad, the defensive team, is obviously theres a few starting positions here that are solidified. Most of the other ones are wide open. You know, and I told them, to be honest, I would be lying to you if all 11 are open. You guys know the two or three guys who are entrenched here by their past performances, and unless they fall off a cliff, theyll still be here. Weve got a lot of jobs open. As it looks now, I think, five starters from last years team at this moment are not here and dont look promising for them to be here. So, thats a whole new defense right there when you have to replace half of them, at least half of them. It might be more.
On media guessing the two or three starters:

DT Justin Smith and LB Patrick Willis. Whos the other one?

On media guessing Shawntae Spencer:

Yeah, hes in the front. Yeah, I mean, yeah. Theres a lot of jobs open, trust me.

On how defense meets both needs:

Well, theyve only had two days of insertion, so far so theyve only seen 20 to 30 percent of it up to this point, so thats an accurate assessment on their part because theres a lot more to come. So were trying to establish concepts in these first few days so we can build on those and then add as we move forward, but were going to add. But, we want to make the first few days relatively painless for them, as much as possible, but we were aggressive in what we put in I think. Aggressive in how much we put in, I dont mean the stuff we put in being aggressive.

On what he likes about S C.J. Spillman:

We like his ability, his raw ability and his raw tools. We dont have any starting safeties right now. All those guys are fighting for it. Some days two guys may work with the first unit, the next day it might be somebody else. We dont have anybody thats entrenched as a starter at safety right now."

On whether hed be comfortable going into a regular season game with who they have on the field right now:

Well, Ive got no choice right there. We have to be comfortable with what we have. Whatever we got is what we got and thats what we go forward with. Youre always looking to get better, but whether we will or wont is up to the front office and management on that.

On whether theres opportunity for LB Aldon Smith and LB Parys Harrison to switch sides:
They can switch. Right now, our outside linebackers are playing left and right. That can switch. One guy can go over to the left side one day and vice versa, so we dont know exactly how we are going to play our guys, if we are going to stay left and right or if we are going to be in a mode where we are going to flip them. Its way too early for that.
On how he makes that decision (from previous question):

Right. How it best fits each guys skill set and if theyre vastly different, maybe we can tailor one guys job more to what he does better than the other guy.
On whether the outside linebackers are included in the group where theres no starter yet:

Probably, but yeah, I would say so, but I think we got a little bit more there than - less unsettlement there than we do in other positions.
On whether the defensive line looks pretty set:

Yeah, we got DT Ray McDonald, DT Isaac Sopoaga, DT Justin Smith, DT Ricky Jean Francois and who else am I missing? And DT Will Tukuafu. Guys that were here last year, have done well. A lot of the things we are going to be doing here carry over the techniques they have done in the past. Those guys I think feel comfortable moving forward.

On the progress of undrafted rookie Ian Williams:
Yes, I think hes shown a little bit here in the first couple days, that at this point, an undrafted rookie, you can almost put in three phases. One, this guys got no chance. Two, this guys got a chance or three, hey, we might have found something and hes in that, hes got a chance. Hes definitely not a waste right now.

On whether Williams is in that middle grounds:
Yeah, yep.

On whether there are any number threes (we might have found something here):
Not yet. Takes a while more than that to happen. We havent even had pads on yet.
On whether not having the ability to go 2-a-days in pads affects his coaching:

It does a little bit obviously, but I dont look at it as very much of a detriment. Obviously, whats new versus whats happened in the past in the NFL is these first two days could have been two-a-days, they could have been with full gear. I personally agree with what theyve done. I think the players needed an acclimation period to get in here and get football movement without all the gear on and banging. I think theyre more ready now to do that moving forward now and Id still believe that even if it wasnt a lockout year, so I think what theyve done in that regard has been good and smart and well be fine moving forward. Our biggest issue is overcoming the 25 practices we lost and all that meeting time, and a lot of little details havent been covered yet with these guys through nobodys fault, not the coaches fault, not the players fault. We just havent had a lot of time yet, but well get there.

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”


Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”