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

July 31, 2011, 3:29 am
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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.

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