Solari, Drevno: Offensive line is maturing


Solari, Drevno: Offensive line is maturing

SANTA CLARA -- Here is Part II of the question-and-answer session with the 49ers offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Tim Drevno:

RELATED: The Solari-Drevno interview, Part 1
Looking at the way the offensive line has responded, there's a pretty clear line -- that Philadelphia game -- where the rushing numbers are up and the sack numbers are down. Is that a true reflection of how well the offensive line taken in the message and performed?
Solari: "I think it goes back to the whole offensive crew coming together and maturing and developing. My personal opinion is you're behind -- without knowing every team in the NFL -- I think all the offensive lines were a little behind because you didn't have the OTAs (organized team activities) and you didn't have the offseason program and the film study, so all the offensive lines were behind. As the season progressed here, Jim Harbaugh did a great job. And Greg Roman did a tremendous job. You just kept seeing the maturity of the offense coming together. It's an awesome thing how it's coming together. Not only that, but the team. And special teams. It's great. But I think the men in this room have taken pride in their work of learning the details and putting it together."Has the line been asked to do things a lot differently from last season?
Solari: "I wouldn't say a lot differently. There are things that are different -- things that are exciting. But just the thing is, this offensive line is maturing and coming together. It's a tremendous group. They work together, all of them. The young guys we brought in, the guys who were here. It's just exciting to see them develop and gain confidence. The guys around them are doing are doing a beautiful job. Frank Gore does a great job. The tight ends are doing a great job, the wide receivers. The blocking. The things you don't see in the rushing numbers, shoot, the tight ends, the receivers. The quarterback, in the sense of what he's doing. And it's exciting."What was your impression when you saw the talent that was here on the offensive line?
Drevno: "Very exciting. You turn on the film and you see guys who are athletic, physical and can run. You know, great opportunity to be successful."You saw them on film a long time before you worked with them. How did your opinions change after you started to get to know them?
Drevno: "You see it live. 'Yeah, this guy's a physical player.' Or 'This guy can move, he's got good feet, good balance, good smarts.' It became live in front of your eyes."From Year 1 with Anthony Davis . . . he had an inconsistent rookie season, and this year the last few weeks, I'm not sure they've had stronger right tackle play here in a long time. Why do you think he has taken that leap even without the offseason?
Solari: "He's maturing. As a rookie, it's very difficult in the NFL. He's maturing. His preparation is improving. His work ethic is improving. From the weight room, his work ethic is improving. And Adam Snyder has done a beautiful job. Joe Staley has done a beautiful job. The men in this room, the leadership, you just watch those guys work. Joe and Adam, and the addition of Jonathan (Goodwin). Those guys with experience, you just watch them perform. That has enhanced his performance and Mike Iupati's performance."What does it mean to have a veteran like Goodwin, somebody who has won a Super Bowl? Is he immediately looked upon as the leader?
Solari: "No, he has to earn it. When a guy comes in, he still has to earn it. And he earns it through his work ethic on the football field and his preparation off the football field. In the facility, they have to earn it."You have seven linemen up on game day, and each of those seven guys has a role. There are times when everybody is called upon. Is it important to keep everybody engaged and knowing even without an injury that they can be on the field for the next play?
Drevno: "I think they all understand that in the room, and they're all taking accountability and they're all in this thing together. They understand that their role is so, so important for us to be successful on Sunday."How has the group responded to know that on the moment's notice the backups have to get in there?
Drevno: "They love challenges, and they thrive on competition. This is a very competitive, hard-working and prideful group that takes pride in their work. It is the best group I've been around in terms of that. They're pros. They come to work every day with a hard hat and a lunch pail and they're read to go to work."In Youngstown, you guys had gotten off to a rough start and Joe Staley made the comment, "We do not suck." Did that strike a chord in this room? Was that something talked about?
Solari: "It's a group that's getting better each week, and that's the most important thing. We have to stay constant in that. Each week you're seeing that. Now, the key is to keep building those stages and we'll be where we want to be."Do you see the confidence growing?
Solari: "Yes. Confidence is fostered by success. But, yes, each week it's growing. You see that in their performance, individually and collectively as a unit. And, again, the key thing at this level is you got to stay healthy and we've been fortunate. And those seven guys are working hard. We've been fortunate, but it's also their work ethic off the field. They're doing things in the weight room to take care of their bodies, and what they're doing in their preparation, getting ready for the game."You guys put in a full day on game days. I see before games you're working with the linemen who aren't going to suit up, going through an entire practice before games. Is that unique because there are two of you?
Solari: "Not sure if it's unique. I don't know what all the teams are doing. But everybody has their different thing. But it's really helped us. Again, it keeps those other young guys ready. It's awesome thing, also, working with them because they're improving their techniques and fundamentals. They're like sponges. They want to get better. So it's exciting to be able to work with them and we taking advantage of the time to take the opportunity to make them better."How long do you work with them before the game?
Drevno: "Thirty minutes, at most."
Solari: "Most guys get a good sweat and loosen up. It's to get them a good sweat, but also to enhance their techniques, and enhance their performance for the week coming up. So it's a chance to coach them up and teach them and communicate with them. I think it's exciting."You've had experience with a couple of those guys, tackle Derek Hall and center Chase Beeler, how do you see them growing at this level?Drevno: "Tremendously. I think they're doing football all day long, so you're going to get better at it in the classroom and on the field. On the field, you're going against better football players, so you have to be better, technique-wise, maybe something you got away with in college, you can't do at this level because everybody's good. They're growing tremendously. Every day they've gotten better. And I think it's the strength coach to the coaches in the room to the players around them, the drive to be good, the chemistry."Is it a pretty good room from that standpoint?
Drevno: "Yes."Is there a lot of fun had in this room?
Solari: "When they come in here, they put their hard hats on. Joe's Joe. You know their personalities. They know when to have fun and when it's time for business."It's a young group, with the exception of Goodwin, is there a chance here to really build something special?
Solari: "With the youth, we'll see very good growth."What will be the key to that?
Solari: "Sticking together. When you look at the teams that have been very, very successful, the offensive line has been together two years. Three years is a luxury now with free agency and so forth. Three years is a luxury. But when you look back at the teams that have been successful, whether it's the New York Giants or the New Orleans Saints, the continuity is always something that's consistent there, when you look back at those lines."

Falcons coach Quinn: Kyle Shanahan 'totally nailed that' vs Packers

Falcons coach Quinn: Kyle Shanahan 'totally nailed that' vs Packers

The Atlanta Falcons have provided the 49ers with a window from Friday afternoon through Saturday to meet with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, a source told

Falcons coach Dan Quinn has structured a normal work week to begin preparations to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51, Quinn said at a press conference on Monday. The Falcons will have a day off on Saturday before the team travels to Houston on Sunday.

The 49ers are not allowed to officially hire Shanahan until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

Shanahan is the presumptive 49ers coach -- the only candidate remaining among the six whom 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe interviewed. Shanahan's offense rolled up 493 total yards and converted 10 of 13 (77 percent) third-down opportunities en route to a 44-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

“I’m really proud of him,” said Quinn, who was hired by the Falcons two years ago after he served as Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator in Super Bowl 49.

“It’s not easy to do when there’s a lot of speculation and things going on outside your world to stay dialed in. I think it’s one that should be commended. Being on point and going for it, he totally nailed that.”

Shanahan is also expected to be heavily involved in the 49ers’ search for a general manager. The two remaining candidates among the nine who previously interviewed are Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton and Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough.

The 49ers have left open the possibility of adding more GM candidates to the list, according to a source.

49ers, Raiders fans ready to accept Tom Brady as best QB ever?

49ers, Raiders fans ready to accept Tom Brady as best QB ever?

The Super Bowl is designed ostensibly to be a massive trade show with a football game stuck on the end of it, with the idea that the teams and their fan bases who don’t have a dog in the Sunday fight can still amuse themselves by making their own news – as long as it’s very low level and doesn’t steal thunder away from the real reason for the season.

The accumulation of money.

So it is that we must find reasons to care about a game between a team 2,473 miles away and a team 3,099 miles away. After all, what else is a Super Bowl party for?

Well, let’s ignore the obvious Bay Area topics like “Any news on the Raiders moving?” or “What will Kyle Shanahan say about the soul-eviscerating task he is about to undertake?” Instead, let’s ask a third.

Is the Bay Area’s football base ready to face the very real possibility that Tom Brady could become the area’s best-ever quarterback? Yes, better than Joe Montana and his four rings, and yes, better than Ken Stabler and his willingness to fight the power, and yes, better than Aaron Rodgers and Jim Plunkett and . . . well, fill in your favorite blank.

This one is hard for many folks to swallow because, other than the Switzerland of San Mateo (starting at Serra High School and radiating out to Highways 82, 101, 280 and Crystal Springs Road), Brady doesn't resonate here the way a normal favorite son would. He would have been a perfect Raider or 49er. He also would have been a perfect Cardinal or Golden Bear. He would have been part of something that was, for lack of a better term, ours.

Instead, he did his work for geographically evil empires far to the east, and did it obnoxiously well. He went where he was wanted (Michigan) and where he was drafted (New England), grafted onto a coach (Bill Belichick) who could find the best outlets for his gifts as Montana and Stabler and Plunkett and Rodgers did, and has helped construct a ring factory to rival Montana’s and Terry Bradshaw's and dwarf everyone else’s.

And if he can guide these Patriots to a victory in 13 days over the Atlanta Falcons, he will have more rings than any other quarterback ever, and will almost surely reduce the best-ever debate to ash.

Argue all you want, you amateur Spicers, but facts sometimes beat sentiment, prejudice or child-based idolatry, and there is no objective argument a person can make to claim that Brady is merely equal, let alone inferior, to any of the others we have mentioned.

That is, if you’re trying to stack his baggage as a fort against the data.

His detractors will link him to the evils of the Patriot empire (commanding technology, skullduggery and the very air we use to breathe to circumvent the natural order of fair play, honor and dignity, or some equivalent nonsense), or dismiss him, Montana-style, as merely the product of the greatest coach of the age (well, name a great quarterback who didn’t have a great coach, or vice versa). You could even hold his choice of wives against him (which seems even pettier than normal fandom) or his choice of candidates against him (so far, it’s hard to see a countervailing argument here, though it’s only been four days out of an expected 1,461).

But the numbers and jewelry and the raw football data argue more convincingly for Brady than for anyone else – if you’re interested in settling rather than prolonging an argument.

That last part is the key, though, because once engaged, arguments are hard to kill. The development of the alternative-facts movement renders data and logic less important than the depressingly more fashionable “Well I say it’s this instead of that, I’m not changing my mind no matter what you say and I’d rather remain ignorant than consider another idea. Ya wanna fight?”

Now all this becomes moot if Atlanta wins, mostly because nobody is going to advance the idea that Matt Ryan is the best quarterback of all time. Then the arguments remain sprightly and energetic and “my facts v. your facts,” and everyone goes home drunk and satisfied that you didn't annoy the hell out of the other patrons.

But if Brady wins, the argument becomes sullen and angry and unpleasant and “Well I say it’s this instead of that, I’m not changing my mind no matter what you say and I’d rather remain ignorant than consider another idea. Ya wanna fight?” Just to name one.

And frankly, we're already getting a gutload of that as it is.