Fangio 'very hopeful' Ward will excel in 49ers nickel position

Fangio 'very hopeful' Ward will excel in 49ers nickel position
August 3, 2014, 4:15 pm
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Jimmie’s made nice progress and progresses every day. He’s not a final product by any means yet. But, he learns well, doesn’t repeat mistakes and has shown good skill level there. So, we’re very hopeful there.
Vic Fangio

Editor's note: 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio addressed the media on Sunday. Below is a full transcript of his comments:

So, what was your reaction and how do you move forward without DL Glenn Dorsey?
“Well, obviously disappointed that it happened. It was kind of a freaky thing. He was just playing a block, came off, you know, at some point in there he hurt his arm. Obviously, very disappointed for Glenn and him personally. He was in great shape. Played great for us last year. Got better and better for us as the season went on last year and was looking even better this year. I feel bad for him. I feel bad for us that we won’t have him for a while. We’ll just move on and get the rest of the guys ready.”

Is it your understanding that he could have his surgery and be available at the end of the season, postseason type thing?
“I think that’s part of the possibility. I think we’ll know more after that happens, what the prognosis or length of time might be.”

[RELATED: Dorsey suffers torn biceps, season in jeopardy]

What have you been told about NT Ian Williams and his prognosis, length of time?
“I expect him to continue to rehab with the trainers and strength staff, and hopefully at some point here, he’ll be able to come back and start practicing.”

He looks like he’s moving pretty well laterally, side-to-side. Do you have any report on the progress?
“They tell me the progress has been, you know, steady. You know, he had a setback early in the offseason after that and kind of set him back. Although it’s almost 11 months out since it happened, he had a little setback there which put him behind. You know, I’m confident at some point he’ll be able to start practicing again.”

[MAIOCCO: 49ers hopeful for Dorsey's return, but preparing other options]

Are you thinking for the regular season he could be on the field?
“Haven’t decided that yet.”

What have some of the guys who may fill that spot show you today? There were some hard hits. What have they shown you?
“Well, I think [NT Mike] Purcell’s had a good camp all the way through. Obviously, last year, if you remember, [DT] Tony Jerod-Eddie was the backup to Glenn after Ian went out. Tony did fine last year when he was in there, We just got to get him re-honed up in there. We may look at [DT Quinton] Dial in there. So, we’ve got three guys right there, and we’ll go from that.”

Did Dial get some reps today?
“You know, I don’t know, I haven’t watched the tape yet. I don’t know that.”

At his size, is it tough to be a nose tackle?
“Well, he’s just got to get his pad level down. Basically, he lines up a lot like a nose would at the end position. His double teams come from a tackle-tight end, rather than from a center-guard combination. I think he has the potential to do fine in there. We just got him worked in there and he’s got to recognize the schemes. Things are a little different in there when you’re operating between the center and two guards.”

[RELATED: How 49ers expect to compensate for loss of Dorsey]

You got a look today at LB Aaron Lynch for the first time in a while. How does he look particularly in pass rush drills and things like that?
“Well, we only had one pass rush drill where he got a few of them in there, and he did fine, did good. Thought he moved well. We were trying to be cautious with him. Didn’t want him to get extended too much to where he’d have to open up and run an extended length there on his hamstring and got through that good, I think. It was a good first day for him considering he’s still not 100 percent.”

TE/DT Demarcus Dobbs made a nice play today in coverage?
“Yeah, made a hell of a play.

Looked like a tight end.
“Might have to throw him into that inside linebacker mix.”

[REWIND: 49ers release first depth chart of training camp]

How is that inside linebacker competition been going? Seems like you’ve got a lot of good candidates there. Is that one of the stronger competitions that you’re watching?
“It’s a good competition. You know, we’ve got, obviously, [LB Michael] Wilhoite, [LB Chris] Borland, [LB Nick] Moody, [LB Shayne] Skov. They’re all getting a lot of reps. They’re all getting a lot of work. Hopefully here, at some point, somebody will separate themselves from the pack, make our decision easy. Like I said, everything’s open there. Could end up being two guys playing like it was at the outside backer position last year. One guy in base, one guy in nickel, or some form of a mix or it could be one guy playing all the time, much like [LB] NaVorro [Bowman] did. And it’s not close to being clear yet which way we’ll go or who we’ll go with. It’s a pretty even competition.”

With all these moving parts, how much of a look do you think you’ll get of your first defense on Thursday?
“The first defense that we will put out there on Thursday will be a little bit of a mix and match. Some guys will play very little. Some guys won’t play at all if they’re still nursing something. So, our first 11 that go out there might not be a lot of the guys that are listed as number one.”

The nickel job, is that getting closer to being resolved in your mind?
“[CB] Jimmie’s [Ward] doing a good job out there. We haven’t worked [CB] Perrish Cox in there a whole lot lately. We’ve been having him focus at corner. Just from the standpoint that he’s had a lot of reps with us as the nickel, knows what we’re doing. At some point we’ll get him back in there and get him re-honed up to the nickel position. And [CB Darryl Morris] D-Mo has been doing a good job in there too. So, feel pretty good about that right now. Obviously, Jimmie’s made nice progress and progresses every day. He’s not a final product by any means yet. But, he learns well, doesn’t repeat mistakes and has shown good skill level there. So, we’re very hopeful there.”

How has S Antoine Bethea fit in and what has he brought to this team?
“He’s fitting in very well. He’s a very business-like guy. Very serious about his job. I think he’s had a good influence on the other guys, particularly in the DB group. He’s slowly but surely earned a lot of respect here from all of his teammates and coaches and anticipating him doing a good job for us.”

One of those nose guard candidates, Purcell, I think in terms of pedigree is not someone that I guess fans really think about. He was with you last year. What have you seen from him that has made you say he’s looked pretty good?
“He’s a strong guy. Does a good job in the trenches there of taking on double teams, any type of two-on-one block. He does have some activeness in his play when it’s one-on-one. He’s got a long way to go from being from the practice squad last year, but he’s a candidate right now. The depth chart in front of him just became one less. It doesn’t mean that he’ll be the guy. It doesn’t mean he’ll be on the team, but right now he’s one guy, one slot closer.”

With DT Justin Smith and DT Ray McDonald not practicing, no DT Kaleb Ramsey, do you have enough guys along the defensive line or would you like to bring somebody else in?
“We’ve got enough guys here, we just don’t have a lot practicing at this point. We may only go into this preseason game with six or seven D-lineman playing, which is a low number for a preseason game. We’ve got guys, you alluded to the names that aren’t practicing and now Glenn joins that group. We’ll be OK as long as we can keep these guys upright. And it’s good work for a lot of those guys, because the guys that are left, [DT Tank] Carradine, Dial, [DL Lawrence] Okoye, Purcell, Dobbs, Jerod-Eddie, they’re all young guys at different stages in their career that need a lot of work and they’re going to get it.”

How has Carradine looked?
“He’s getting better. He looks kind of like I thought he would. He’s healthy, which is a good thing. He was never healthy last year and now he’s getting a chance to learn and show what he can do mentally. He’s got a ways to go there yet. Like I’ve said, sitting in those meetings doesn’t mean you’ve learned it and he’s living proof of that. So, he’s got to do better from an assignment standpoint for us to feel comfortable to play him. Right now he’s missing too many things mentally.”