49ers impress Romo with snap-to-whistle defense

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49ers impress Romo with snap-to-whistle defense

Sept. 14, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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The Dallas Cowboys were cruising with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter before incurring a total meltdown in their season opener against the New York Jets on Sunday night.--Quarterback Tony Romo lost a fumble inside the Jets' 5-yard line with nine minutes remaining.--Mat McBriar's punt four minutes later was blocked and returned for a game-tying touchdown.
--With less than a minute to play with the ball on their own 41, Romo threw an ill-advised pass on first down that Darrelle Revis intercepted and returned 20 yards.--Former Cowboys kicker Nick Folk booted a 50-yarder with 27 seconds remaining to provide the Jets with a 27-24 victory.In a departure from the norm, Romo insisted on holding his weekly conference call with 49ers reporters on Monday. Typically, the conference call is held on Wednesdays. He was clearly eager to put the Jets game behind him and begin the process of looking ahead to the next opponent.The 49ers and Cowboys meet at Candlestick Park on Sunday.
Here is what he had to say on Monday:Q: What are your impressions of the 49ers?
Romo: "Good. They play hard. It jumps off the tape that they're an aggressive team that goes to the whistle. When you watch them, you can tell they're going to play a little two-man against us, probably have some sort of secondary blitzes, some corners and stuff. It's an aggressive team. They want to attack people and you gotta be prepared for that."Q: What's a two-man?
Romo: "I said two-man -- that's just a coverage term that I think they like to play. It's just they play a man-under scheme where they have two safeties open."Q: Did you see any secondary blitzes in the Seattle game?
Romo: "I think when you watch them, it depends on who you're calling a secondary, but yeah, you see different forms of it. Without giving away too much of it to you guys, I just think that they're an aggressive, attacking style defense."Q: Did you watch any Stanford film to get a better idea of what this team's all about?
Romo: "Yeah, I think a little bit. We're just started the process here, but I want to say just instantly watching they have a little of the Dom Capers feel to them. I don't know all of the background there, but they look a little bit like when we play the Redskins or the Packers in some ways, and you know, little mix-ups so they'll go from a three-down front to a four-down, things like that."Q: Tony, has this been kind of cathartic for you just to get over Sunday night's game by looking ahead to the 49ers so fast?
Romo: "I mean, you gotta get ready and go. The games come up fast, you have to be in a position to come back fast. You gotta be ready to go. For us, that's why we get in here and play this game. Last night was disappointing and frustrating and you gotta make sure that doesn't happen again, and I'm going to make sure of that."Q: The 49ers seemed to get a lot of pressure against the Seahawks, not blitzing a whole lot. How difficult is it to prepare for an opponent's blitz package when they haven't really shown much the previous game?
Romo: "Well, that's why I said we were going to see some pressure because if you're able to get it like they did with the Seahawks game with just the front guys, you know, there's no reason to continually send it. So if they're able to continually do that, they'll do the same thing to us. I would think that they're going to have to, and they're going to end up bringing some secondary pressures against us. So, I just think you prepare for it within their system and we have to be ready for it."Q: Tony, was that a pretty subdued, quiet flight home? I can imagine you guys were pretty shocked at how it turned.
Romo: "Yeah, obviously like I said, it was disappointing and frustrating just to lose that football game yesterday. That's why we're up early to move onto the 49ers now. You have to get ready for the next one. We have to put that one behind us, and I have to come out and play my best game this week, and make sure that what happened last week doesn't happen again, and I'll do that."Q: You've only had one regular season game, but does it feel like defensive coordinators are going to be more aggressive against you guys, just because of all of the new guys on the offensive line?
Romo: "Yeah, I'd think that's a good assessment, I also think when you look at the tape, I think the sense is that people usually have a way of bringing different people against us because they feel it's in their best interest to attack us. When we see this week, we saw a lot of three and four man rush as they played last week, which usually means you won't see the same for the next week."Note: The Cowboys went through a nearly complete overhaul on their offensive line. They start two rookies -- right tackle Tyron Smith (USC) and left guard Bill Nagy (Wisconsin). But the Cowboys still have a potent offense. Romo completed 23 of 36 passes for 342 yards in the opener.Q: What time did you get home, and what time were you back to work Monday morning for the quick turn-around?
Romo: "We got the airport at 4:30, got home at 5, 5:15. Back in here at 10, just getting ready for the 49ers."Q: When you look at the 49ers defense on film, is Patrick Willis the guy who catches your eye or Ray MacDonald, what you see from 91? What do you see personnel from that team?
Romo: "What jumps off the tape is that they play hard. I mean, you don't see anyone not giving 100 percent. Obviously, Patrick Willis is a great player. We're going to have to account for him. MacDonald showed up obviously last week, and I should think, these guys go to the whistle. They're going to be tough to handle and it's going to be a great challenge for our guys up front this week."Q: You've played against Carlos Rogers a lot. What distinguishes him as a cornerback?
Romo: "He's got a good sense for the ball. He's got good timing, and good instincts. You just have to be prepared for him.Q: Tony, you've never played in San Francisco. You've played the 49ers a couple years ago, but you personally have never played in San Francisco. What familiarity do you have with the rivalry between these two teams?
Romo: "I obviously came about after it was, you know stuff in the old days, but I love reading about the game and hearing about the history. I know all about the great games of the 80s and 90s and hopefully we'll be able to resurrect that one day."

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.”