Roman: He's better than the old Crabtree

Roman: He's better than the old Crabtree
July 31, 2014, 7:30 pm
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I just think he’s in better shape. But he’s playing strong, very quick, explosive.
Greg Roman on Michael Crabtree

Editor's note: 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman addressed the media on Thursday. Below is a full transcript of his comments. 

Opening comments:

“Good afternoon. Into the meat of training camp right now. Guys are working hard. You get to this point in training camp and you’ve kind of installed your base offense. It’s about the fourth time that we’ve done it. Now we’re really starting to kind of get into the situational stuff. Players are working extremely hard to not only really master what we’ve already installed but also add on to that with now, some very specific, type situational stuff. As you know, we have a game coming up here pretty quick, so, now we’re getting ready to play a game. Guys are working extremely hard and that’s what training camp’s all about. Any questions?” 

WR Michael Crabtree wasn’t out there today. Is this part of the precaution that you guys took with him through the offseason or did he have some kind of a late setback yesterday?

“No, Mike’s just working through something. He’s fine. Just working with our training staff, taking part of all the meetings and everything else that everybody else is taking part of.”

How has he looked up to this point?

“Mike’s looked really, really good starting into the spring. Think he’s in great shape relative to what he did last year. He came off the Achilles injury and just really gutted it out the end the year. I don’t have this as a fact, but I don’t know that everybody would’ve played that early coming off that injury, but he wanted to get out and help the team. Didn’t make a lot of fanfare about it, just toughed it out. That’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s looking sharp.”

WR Brandon Lloyd wasn’t out there today. Similar situation?

“He’s just working through something right now. Brandon’s another guy who’s had a really good offseason, and very good camp up to this point. Brandon’s a guy that, he’s been around, he really understands football. Very impressive with a lot of the little things he does aside from his talent.” 

Is there a point from the end of last season in watching Michael Crabtree throughout the spring, where you said, ‘OK, now he’s back to pre-injury form, he’s the old Michael Crabtree?

“Well, I think this training camp, as I look at it to me, I’m saying he’s better than the old Michael Crabtree. Why? Just physical conditioning, understanding of the game. I think he played the game last year under less-than-ideal circumstances, and had to adjust his game a little bit to account for that. So, think that maybe just brought a little bit even more experience to his game.”

He seems a little bigger to me, a little bit more muscular. Am I seeing something or do you see the same thing?

“I just think he’s in better shape. But he’s playing strong, very quick, explosive. Really driven to take care of all the little details on things, the technique things, and that’s what’s really stood out to me the most.”

You guys, since you’ve been here, at the very bottom or near the bottom in using three-wide-receiver sets. Usually, it’s been only in two-minute and third-down situations. Do you see the offense being more diverse in that you’ll have better opportunity to use it on first downs, second downs and not just in those specialty spots?

“Whatever personnel you want to go with, I think we’re probably going to be a pretty multi-personnel-type outfit. It’s all about what players you have and how that all adds up, and how that all adds up in the big picture. Seems to me people get enamored with personnel groupings but it really doesn’t matter. It comes down to the players, whether you’re in two tights, two wide receivers, one back. Whatever players you have available you’re going to really try to see how that matches up and maybe, you might be able to create more conflicts in three wides. If that’s the case, you’re three wides.”

I guess my question is that it appears like you’ll have more three wides available than you’ve had in the past?

“I think that’s probably a fair statement, Matt [Maiocco]. Based on what we’ve done so far in training camp, I would say that that’s a pretty fair statement.” 

What is WR Stevie Johnson showing you now that he’s pretty comfortable here? He told us he’s out to prove something that he can be that big playmaker again, even in a group with a lot of receivers.

“Yes. Stevie is a good guy, first and foremost. I really like being around him, really glad he’s on board our ship. He’s a very talented player. He’s got a very unique style that we noticed over the past couple years just seeing Buffalo [Bills] film. I think he had a lot of success with [Buffalo Head Coach] Chan Gailey, who I happen to have a lot of respect for as a coach. And I think playing for Chan a couple of years, they moved him around a lot, and used him a lot of different ways, he ran a lot of different routes, he was exposed to a lot of different things. I think that really serves him well moving forward. We’re excited to have him with us because he’s a big, physical guy. I don’t want to give other team’s scouting reports for them but he’s a big, big guy that’s really quick and you don’t really see that very often. And he’s a competitive guy, and plays the game with a great deal of energy and wants to make plays.” 

What do you see in QB Blaine Gabbert? How he’s progressed in the system other than learning the system. What do you see in him as a quarterback?

“Well, I would say Blaine is a guy that’s really getting comfortable in our system relative to when he first got here. Blaine’s time at another team was what it was, and as we try to explain to him, ‘Man, what a great experience for you now, because you’ve learned so much in that period of time: good, bad, whatever it might be. Sometimes when you’re thrown into those tough situations, you can really grow as a player’. I think he’s extremely smart. I think he might have a photographic memory. Very efficient with the football and understands it. Really excited that he’s a part of our team. And he runs a 4.50 [forty-yard dash], too. No, did I say 4.52? He runs a 4.50, also. There you go. 

Don’t want to short-change him two, one hundredths of a second.

“I don’t want to tag those .02 seconds on him. He would not like that.” 

He had a couple of passes yesterday where the ball was kind of like different in the air, where the nose of the ball’s up in the air, coming down, almost like an airplane.

“Well, part of that was the wind yesterday. We were throwing into the wind. It was a little bit of a crosswind. It was pretty strong, so, that was a little bit like an airplane taking off but not into the wind.” 

Does RB Frank Gore ever still amaze you the energy he brings on a daily basis even now he’s into his early 30s. He’s still out to prove himself?

“Yeah, that’s a beautiful thing. Doesn’t surprise me with Frank, because Frank loves the game of football, and he loves being a part of a team, loves overcoming. It’s just been the story of his career, so why would it be any different now? And I think Frank did a great job this offseason taking care of himself and came into camp in really good shape. He’s got a heart. You can’t measure how big his heart is. What does that mean? Well, what it means is every play he plays all out and with a great will.”

You had mentioned in the offseason that TE Vance McDonald would become a bigger part of the passing game. What have you seen from him in a couple weeks here?

“Vance has done a very good job. He’s certainly, a year under his belt, he’s a lot better player than he was when he got here a year ago. He’s certainly better off for being exposed to everything that he’s been exposed to last year in terms of offseason, training camp, preseason, regular season, playoffs. He’s got a lot of experience under his belt. Played a lot of snaps as a first-year player. I think a lot of his game is coming along. It’s just like anybody else, like the sign says outside, ‘You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse’. I really think he’s making strides and getting better." 

He made a play, a catch late in that practice?

“Yeah. The seam throw?”

Were his eyes, I mean, looked like he picked that ball up late?

“We’d like to get him around a little bit quicker there. I think entirely, us as an offense going through training camp, everything is not going to be perfect and I don’t know that we’d want it to be. There are things that we need to see, do and go through to prepare ourselves for a long season. We’d like to say, ‘If it can’t be fixed by the 49ers, than it doesn’t need to be fixed’. That’s the attitude we try to take. There’s going [to] be little things that we have to clean up and learn from and move on and that’s one of the things we look at when we’re evaluating a player. Everybody is going to make mistakes, especially rookies. Once that mistake is corrected, does that guy make that mistake again or can we move on from that? It’s so important and we had a great film session last night offensively, three or four things, very little things, but critical and crucial to our success. That’s what training camp’s all about and I think its iron sharpening iron going against the 49ers defense every day. That’s something that we’re very fortunate to have.” 

Yesterday, you said that you said that RB Carlos Hyde gets football like Frank Gore does. How so?

“That’s hard to explain. I guess, you know, somebody that’s seven years old playing the piano and you kind of show him, they hear it and then they start playing the piano. It’s one of those things that if you can explain it to him once it clicks with him, and that’s happened repeatedly on a lot of different things, and then he just makes that adjustment and we keep moving. It doesn’t take a lot. It’s always interesting, it’s so interesting when a player goes through a singular play, and you might correct him on something. As you’re describing it to him, certain guys can just know immediately what you’re describing because they saw that snapshot in their head and it immediately makes sense to them. And they’re not seeing words coming out of your mouth, they’re seeing a picture. I think Carlos, up until this point at least, has displayed that kind of characteristic. I think for running backs it’s a great thing because they have so many adjustments to make in protection, and even it’s simply running the football, seeing things moving in front of them, things in constant motion and reacting to that quickly. And that’s a Frank Gore type of trait, and so far, Carlos has afforded himself very well in that area.”

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