ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have released LB Aldon Smith.
Press Release Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders Media Relations
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have released LB Aldon Smith.
Press Release Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders Media Relations
Photo by Shawn Jonas
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have re-signed LB Aldon Smith, the club announced Monday.
In five NFL seasons, one with the Raiders and four with the San Francisco 49ers, Smith has played in 59 games with 37 starts and totaled 221 tackles (158 solo), 47.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and eight passes defensed. He has also posted 5.5 sacks in eight career playoff games.
Last season, the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder played in nine games for Oakland and posted 29 tackles (17 solo), 3.5 sacks and three passes defensed.
The 49ers’ first-round draft pick (seventh overall) in 2011, Smith was the runner-up in the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year voting after recording 14 sacks in his first season. In 2012, Smith was named to the Pro Bowl and selected for first-team All Pro honors after posting 19.5 sacks and his first career interception.
A native of Raytown, Mo., Smith played in 23 games with 21 starts over two seasons at Missouri where he totaled 112 tackles, 17 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and seven passes defensed and earned a first-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior.
Smith is currently suspended for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances and Abuse.
Press Release Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders Media Relations
Photo By Shawn Jonas
DENVER, CO. – Defensive End Khalil Mack tied a franchise record and set a career high with five sacks, matching Howie Long’s five sacks on Oct. 2, 1983.
Mack Also goes into Sunday night leading the NFL in sacks with 14. Before J.J. Watt battles the Patriots on NBC’s Sunday Night Football he has a total of 13.5 sacks
Mack is the sixth NFL player since sacks became official in 1982 to record five sacks and one forced fumble in a game. The last player to do so was Aldon Smith for the San Francisco 49ers in 2012.
The only other Raider with four sacks and a forced fumble in a single game was Anthony Smith on Oct. 18, 1992 (two forced fumbles).
Photo by Shawn Jonas
Aldon Smith of the Oakland Raiders has been notified that he is now suspended without pay for a minimum of one year for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Under the terms of the policy, Smith will be eligible to apply for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days before the one-year anniversary of the suspension.
[Note: The NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse is posted on nflcommunications.com. After logging in, click on “About NFL” from the homepage and then “NFL Policies.”]
Aldon has been a positive addition to the Raiders. He remains prominently in our long term plans and we will continue to support this member of our family as he gets the help that he needs.
Aldon Smith Statement
First, I want to thank the Raiders, my teammates, the fans, our coaches and our owner for supporting me throughout all of this.
I am taking this time to work on myself and become the man I need to be, my team and organization needs me to be, and I know I can be.
I had lost my love for the game and it led me to some poor choices, but I am thankful to the Raider organization for believing in me this season and will continue to better myself and grow from my experiences. I look forward to rejoining the team next year.
Press Release Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders Media Relations
PITTSBURGH, PA.- The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Oakland Raiders 38-35 on an 18-yard field goal with :02 left in the game. The old school rivalry didn’t disappoint. With over 1,000 yards of total offense combined it was a high flying score fest with defenses getting burned nearly every tick of the clock. The Steelers physical defense caused five forced fumbles three were recovered by Pittsburgh. Despite four turnovers the Raiders had it’s opportunities to win the game thanks to Derek Carr and a recently potent Oakland Offense.
QB Derek Carr
Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 301 yards on 24-of-44 passing (54.5 percent) with four touchdowns and one interception, giving him a passer rating of 96.9.
Carr is the second Raider with four 300-yard games through the team’s first eight contests (Rich Gannon in 2002).
Carr now has 19 touchdown passes on the season, the most by a Raider through eight games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Carr has thrown 11 touchdowns of 20-or-more yards.
Carr is the third Raider with four touchdown passes in back-to-back games and the first since the 1970 merger (Cotton Davidson in 1964 and Tom Flores in 1963).
Carr entered Week 9 leading the NFL in first-half touchdown passes and tossed two more today to improve his season total to 13 with only one interception (13.0 TD-INT ratio).
Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was having a big day as well throwing to what appeared to be Superman without the cape. Big Ben was 24-of-44 passing for 334 yards and two touchdowns before being knocked out of the game with a foot injury.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown had a franchise day he had 17 receptions for 284 yards. He also added 22yards on the ground.
Running back DeAngelo Williams ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns as the Steelers rolled up 597 yards of total offense.
Cooper and Crabtree Over 45 Receptions, Four Touchdowns
Wide Receivers Amari Cooper (45) and Michael Crabtree (47) are the first pair of Raiders to be on pace for 90 receptions each through eight games since Charlie Garner and Jerry Rice in 2002.The pair has also combined for nine receiving touchdowns this season, four by Cooper and five by Crabtree.
WR Michael Crabtree
Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree hauled in seven passes for 108 yards (15.4 avg.) and two touchdowns for his 11th career 100-yard game and third of the season.
He has 100-yard games in back-to-back outings within a regular season for the first time in his career.
Crabtree hauled in two touchdowns in a game for the fifth time in his career and the first time since 2012. He now has five touchdowns on the season and 31 career scores.Crabtree has caught a touchdown pass in three straight games for the second time in his career (2012).
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper finished the day with seven receptions for 88 yards (12.6 avg.) and one touchdown.
Cooper set the franchise record for receptions by a rookie, passing Zach Miler (45 in 2007). With his sixth reception, he passed Tim Brown (43 in 1988) for the most by a rookie wide receiver in team history.
Cooper hauled in his fourth receiving touchdown of the season on a 15-yard pass from Carr.
Running Back Latavius Murray averaged 5.65 yards per carry on 17 attempts for 96 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter. Murray’s first carry of the game went for 44 yards, his sixth rush of 20-plus yards this season.
Wide Receiver Seth Roberts had three crucial catches in the game, totaling 73 yards (24.3 avg.) with a 36-yard long.
All three of Roberts’ catches were for at least 18 yards, and he had a 19-yarder and a 26-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
Fullback Jamize Olawale recorded a career-long 19-yard run for his first career rushing touchdown, bringing the Raiders back within seven points in the fourth quarter.
Tight End Clive Walford caught his second career touchdown on a 1-yard reception from Carr in the third quarter, tying the game at 21-21. Walford is the 10th tight end in team history to catch at least two touchdowns as a rookie.
Cornerback David Amerson intercepted his first pass as a Raider in the third quarter, giving him three career interceptions. He finished with eight solo tackles, three passes defensed and the one interception with one return yard.
Linebacker Aldon Smith got to Ben Roethlisberger on a third-and-10 in the fourth quarter for the team’s first sack of the game, giving him 2.5 sacks this season and 46.5 sacks in his caree
By Shawn Jonas
CHICAGO, Ill.– The Oakland Raiders conservative play calling on final offensive drive, and two turnovers cost them their second straight road win. Jay Cutler vindicated himself following an interception by driving his squad down the field on a 12 play 48-yard drive in the last 2:02 and two timeouts. The drive set up a 49-yard field goal attempt with :07 remaining by Robbie Gould on Sunday. The ball split the uprights with :02 on the clock leading the Chicago Bears to a 22-20 victory over the Raiders.
The Raiders Last Offensive Drive
The Raiders (2-2) grabbed the lead on a field goal by Sebastian Janikowski with just over two minutes remaining set up by an interception by Charles Woodson deep in Oakland territory.
The drive started on Oaklands 9-yard line following Woodsons’ interception. The drive started with a nice mix of run and pass including a deep 25 yard pass to Michael Crabtree to Oaklands’ 34 yard line. The next play Roy Helu Jr. squirted up the middle of the field for a 12 yard gain down to Chicago’s 41. Following an incompletion Carr completed a 8 yard gain to Mychal Rivera who was pushed out of bounds on the 33. That was the last time Oakland passed the ball. The next four plays would be run plays by Helu Jr.
3rd and 2 – CHI 33
(4:21) 26-R.Helu left guard to CHI 30 for 3 yards (96-J.Jenkins).
1st and 10 – CHI 30
(3:41) 26-R.Helu left guard to CHI 26 for 4 yards (59-C.Jones).
2nd and 6 – CHI 26
(2:56) 26-R.Helu right guard to CHI 22 for 4 yards (23-K.Fuller).
Timeout #1 by CHI at 02:50.
3rd and 2 – CHI 22
(2:50) 26-R.Helu left guard to CHI 23 for -1 yards (92-P.McPhee).
4th and 3 – CHI 23
(2:10) ( 11-S.Janikowski 41 yard field goal
With the last four play calls being run plays, it was if the coaching staff were satisfied with kicking a field goal and trusting their defense to win a third straight game.
Question: On the last one were you thinking field goal? Or just didn’t want to throw the ball all around?
Derek Carr – “We always think we’re in Bass’ range whenever you cross the fifty, but the point there is if you can get the first down there, then yeah.”
Carr later added “I just do whats called”.
On offensive struggles:
Carr – “They had the ball a lot in the first half, Its hard to get in a rhythm. Still so much to get better at in a short week ”
Question: What were they doing in coverage?
Carr – “Yeah they liked to double Amari a lot. They liked to give help to those guys. I don’t blame them he’s a good football player.
Donald Penn, Post Game – Locker Room
Question: What cost you this game?
Donald Penn – “I can’t tell you that, can you guys tell me,” Penn said. “We had opportunities we gotta score touchdowns instead of field goals. that would help. We gotta be better on our opportunities when we get them. We can’t let them go.”
Question: What cost you this game?
Charles Woodson – “Defensively, staying on the field too long. Not getting off the field on third down. Especially before the half we had them at 3rd and 14. They threw a quick check down in the flat. They got a first down. They go down and end up scoring. Then we turn the ball over. When you have those things, not getting off on third down and turnovers, its hard to win games like that.”
Raiders Tired Defense
The coaching staffs third down run call would suggest they were alright with leaning on a defense to close out the game. The same defense that had been on the field most of afternoon. The Bears owned the time of posession battle with 33:22 . At one point they had a 10 minute advantage around half-time.
The offense had multiple 3-and-outs in the first half. A vanilla inside running scheme with the majority coming on the offensive lines right side was the theme of the day. The Raiders ended the day with only 70 rushing yards.
Different Game Plan?
In their two previous wins Oakland had thrown the ball to open up running lanes. The game plan was different in Chicago. Derek Carr and the passing game wasn’t as efficient when they did throw against the Bears. Carr threw the ball 33 times with 20 completions for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had one interception that wasn’t his fault.
Latavius Murray had a rough day. He had 16 carries for 49-yards rushing with only a 3.1 yard average. He was responsible for two turnovers a fumbled pitch on an outside running play that Chicago recovered . He was also to blame on an interception where the ball deflected off his chest into Bears outside linebacker Pernell McPhee’s hands. Bears started on the Raiders 15 yard-line. Oaklands’ defense held Chicago to just a field goal. Murray also added 3 receptions for 13 yards. He struggled catching the ball after taking a shot to his right shoulder that took him out of the game briefly in the first half.
Murray – “Me having those two turnovers hurt us a lot. We gotta find a way to win these tight games. Again… I’ll play better, keep my head up, and get back to work.”
The Bears shook off two embarrassing losses, including their first shutout since 2002 last week at Seattle, to give Fox his first victory since he was hired in the offseason. The win came at the expense of Oakland coach Jack Del Rio, his defensive coordinator in Carolina and Denver. And it capped a busy week that saw Chicago trade Jared Allen to Carolina.
Cutler completed 28 of 43 passes for 281 yards after missing a game because of a strained hamstring. Matt Forte had 91 yards rushing and 64 receiving. Martellus Bennett caught 11 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Marquess Wilson added 80 yards receiving. Eddie Royal caught a touchdown on the game’s opening possession.
The Bears lost center Will Montgomery (ankle) on the opening possession. Cutler looked sharp right from the start, orchestrating an 80-yard touchdown drive to a 7-yard scoring pass to Royal. Gould’s extra point got blocked.
Game Notes From Chicago
Janikowski Ties Tim Brown’s Games Played Record
K Sebastian Janikowski played in his 240th game as a Raider, tying the franchise record also held by Tim Brown. Janikowski will have the opportunity to set the franchise games played record next week against Denver.
Janikowski converted two field goals and two extra points in the game, improving his season record to 7-for-7 from the field and 10-for-10 on extra points for 31 total points.
Woodson Moves Into Top 10
Charles Woodson hauled in his second fourth-quarter interception in the last two games, giving him 62 career interceptions, tying him with Dick Lebeau and Davie Brown for ninth on the all-time list.
Woodson has at least two picks in back-to-back seasons for the first time as a Raider, becoming the first Raider to do it since Stanford Routt from 2010-11.
Crabtree Leads Receivers; Cooper Taps His Toes
WR Michael Crabtree led the team with five receptions and 80 receiving yards, giving him 23 catches and 264 yards on the season with one touchdown.
WR Amari Cooper hauled in four passes for 49 yards in the contest, including a 26-yard touchdown pass from Carr in the second quarter for his second career touchdown.
Crabtree and Cooper are the first pair of Raiders teammates since 2005 (LaMont Jordan, Randy Moss), and the second pair in franchise history, to each record at least four receptions in each of the team’s first four games.
Carr Tosses Two Touchdowns
QB Derek Carr finished the game 20-for-33 passing for 196 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Carr had two first-half touchdowns for the third time in his career, and the first time in back-to-back games.
Carr now has 28 career passing touchdowns, moving him ahead of Tom Flores (27) for the most by a Raider through his first two seasons.
Three Timely Takeaways
The Raiders defense produced three key takeaways in the game, two fumble recoveries and one Charles Woodson interception. That marks the first time the Raiders have had three takeaways since Sept. 28, 2014 at Miami.
Two Team TD’s
The Raiders offense has posted at least two touchdowns in six straight games for the first time since Weeks 6-11 of the 2012 season.
The offense has produced two passing touchdowns in four straight games, the longest stretch since Weeks 8-11 in 2012.
Helu, Jr. Finds the End Zone
RB Roy Helu, Jr. scored his first touchdown as a Raider on a 4-yard reception in the second quarter, marking his fourth career receiving score.
Helu, Jr. was also a key part of the offense late in the game, carrying the ball five times for 22 yards and finishing the game with two receptions for 13 yards.
Williams and McGee Recover Key Fumbles
DT Dan Williams came up with a fumbled snap by the Bears to give the Raiders control on the Bears’ 25-yard line. That marks Williams’ second career fumble recovery and his first since 2012.
DT Stacy McGee recovered a Matt Forte fumble in the third quarter, his second career fumble recovery. The ball was forced out by CB David Amerson, his first career forced fumble.
Aldon Smith Notches First Raiders Sack
LB Aldon Smith closed the first half with a 5-yard sack, his first as an Oakland Raider and the 45th of his career. Smith’s last sack came on Nov. 23, 2014 vs. Washington.
Mack and Tuck Get to Cutler
DE Khalil Mack and DE Justin Tuck each reached Bears QB Jay Cutler for a sack, with Mack’s 1-yard sack coming late in the fourth quarter. Mack now has three sacks on the season.
Tuck’s sack gives him 66.5 career sacks, six as a Raider and his first of the season.
Malcolm Smith Leads Tacklers
LB Malcolm Smith again led the Raiders in tackling with 10 stops (nine solo), adding a quarterback pressure and a forced fumble in the contest, according to unofficial press box statistics. Smith now has four career forced fumbles and his first as a Raider.
Blocked Extra Point
DE Denico Autry stuck a hand up and blocked Robbie Gould’s extra point attempt in the first quarter, marking the Raiders’ second blocked extra point attempt this season (Justin Tuck, Sept. 13, 2015 vs. Cin.).
Head Coach Jim Tomsula
San Francisco 49ers
“Injuries, the only guy we have to talk about is [CB] Tramaine Brock. He’s been limited. We’ve limited him the last couple of days. I feel really good about him. We’re just trying to be smart and make sure we’re ready to go.”
Would you list him as probable or questionable?
“No. When you get into, that comes from [Vice President of Football Operations Jeff Ferguson] Fergie. I don’t, they were trying to explain that to me the other day. However he lists, I mean, he’s done the individual, he’s done the, I can tell you what he’s done. He’s done the group stuff. They just didn’t want him in opened up team periods. So, I’m expecting more of that today.”
How’s he looked in your eyes during practice?
“I haven’t seen a thing.”
You haven’t seen a–?
“I haven’t seen anything that tells me negative. But, they haven’t opened him all the way up, you know what I mean?”
“That’s why I stay out of it. I’m not going to get myself in trouble there, you know, with the trainer. That’s it.”
Did you want to divulge who is going to start at the other cornerback spot?
“No. We’ve got the whole group working there.”
And same with return specialist?
“Yeah, we’ve got them working. They’re doing a nice job.”
Let me ask you this, understanding that you’re not going to say who it is–?
“And you understand why. I’m not trying to be coy. I’m not trying to make anything. We don’t need to give bulletin boards where people can study everybody’s every movement.”
Then let me ask you this, how long ago did you tell these guys though when they’re starting so that they can prepare for that role?
“Oh yeah, they’ve known. And everybody knows that they’ll play. We expect our secondary to, all of them to play.”
You said early in the offseason that you wanted to get your team better acquainted, more comfortable with Levi’s® Stadium and that wasn’t as possible as you had hoped. Where are you on that and do you feel good about the comfort level, the home-field advantage you’re going to have?
“Yes. I mean, yes I feel like, you know, we’re in this building, we’ve been in this building locker room-wise and everything we’re doing that way. So, all that is extremely comfortable. Our training room is in here. So, we’ve got all that going on day-to-day. We did get a nice amount of work in that stadium in the spring and in the fall. We got time. So, yeah, I feel great about that.”
You’re a guy who wears black a lot and it looks like–?
And it looks like they’re going to be giving out black t-shirts and the black uniforms. Do you think that will help with having the crowd all being the same color and the new uniforms?
“I think so. And I know the guys make fun of me. I mean, obviously it’s neat, it’s cool. The guys like it. I’m trying to keep my connection to the younger generation. But, for me, I mean, it’s 53 and 1/3 wide, 100 long with two 10-yard end zones and an opponent. That’s kind of where I stay. But, I think the guys really, I mean I think they really like it. There’s no denying, OK, that it’s Monday night. I got reminded today about that. It’s game day. But, Monday night is obviously a thrill for the guys, all players.”
Would Australians have any particular reason to want to tune in on Monday Night?
“Well, I’ll tell you what, if I was in Australia, I’d have the NFL package. I’d be watching every football game I could watch because I just love football and it’s a great game.”
Any particular reason though?
“It’s a phenomenal game.”
Back to the stadium real quick. Have you gone out and checked the field conditions in terms of–?
Not at all.
“Not yet. Usually I do that on Saturday, check things out.”
Which would be tomorrow?
“Yeah. Well, yeah, I should say Day 4. That what we refer to it as.”
Your kickers have been practicing there throughout the week?
“Yeah. Yeah, they do that.”
How would you assess the week of preparation, the practice, what you saw from the guys on the field?
“The last two days have been really good. It’s been a really good week of practice. I’m excited about the energy level, the attention to detail. So, the practices have been crisp and sharp. Today, we’d like to really get it. It won’t be as long today, but it’ll be the team emphasis and stuff like that. So, excited about today’s practice. Seems like a nice energy level around here right now and the guys seem to be in a good spot.”
With former 49ers and current Oakland Raiders LB Aldon Smith signing yesterday with the Raiders a month after you guys dismissed him and you had a really compassionate plead for people to seek help. What are your thoughts about him getting back into this?
“Listen, all I or anybody here want for Aldon is a great life. That’s just as, again, everything there doesn’t have to do anything with football. I don’t want to speak for other people, but I would feel confident saying that about this whole organization, everybody in that locker room. All we want is what’s best for him. We want him to have a great life.”
I know you offered him help when you released him. Did he follow up on any of that?
“I don’t, I’m not going to go, that’s his business and I’m not going to get into any of that. Out of respect.”
You’re going to have one guy on your injury report which is a very low number comparatively. Do you interpret that as a success towards your approach to injuries this year? You’ve done the thing where you wouldn’t let a guy come back until he was 100-percent, that sort of thing.
“Well, there’s a couple reasons for that too. First of all, in the context of that question, not my approach. This whole, it’s the village. It’s the training room. It’s the strength and conditioning. It’s the players themselves. It’s every, it’s the food. It’s the hydration. To me, it’s everything. It’s not one thing here or there. Everybody has a hand in that. And the biggest hand in that is the players. Now, obviously, the expenses that have been, to purchase the equipment for regeneration and to take of your body have obviously been funded here in a big way. So, we have a lot of that and the guys talking about those things. The guys doing those things. There’s, again, there’s been talk all along about some of the things are shorter and there’s not this and there’s not that. The day is still the day. It’s just been distributed a little different. So, a guy sitting in boots. A guy’s in a hot tub. Guy’s getting a massage. Those things are happening during the day. That’s what I attribute all that to and we feel like we’ve worked real hard in the process. So, we don’t think the hard work, I mean, you’ve been to practices. These guys bust their tails and we’ve had collisions. We’ve put the pads on and we’ve gotten collisions. So, we feel like we’ve balanced all that out. We do check it every day. But, then again, when you talk about the practice itself, somebody not going full speed hinders a drill. So, it’s not only getting that guy right, it’s also being able to have everybody else get the work done that they need to get because we want to practice at that speed.”
I’m going to ask a Hayne-related question that’s not necessarily him. With all that’s gone on, has anybody sent you request for you to look at them? Like maybe other sports stars or any of your ex-NFL Europe products sent you? Any fan mail about what’s going on? Any cross-sport guys?
“Yeah. I mean, those things happen. But, again, anything having to do with personnel we do funnel to the personnel department.”
But, have you gotten people that have reached out to you?
“Well, yeah that was before anybody ever heard of Jarryd Hayne in America. Yeah, that’s just constant. That’s always happened. So, DVDs, you get sent a lot of stuff, you do.”
Have you heard from any of your old NFL Europe cross-sport guys?
“I’m not going to tell you that I have. But, again, I don’t check the mail as much. Just honestly I don’t. [49ers employee] Vilma sorts it and gets it. Anything personnel related she sends it to the personnel guys. So, there could have been, but I don’t know about it.”
LB NaVorro Bowman mentioned yesterday, potentially his first game back, obviously Monday potentially being jacked up and he’s going to have to deal with maybe trying to harness his emotions. What’s your sense been of him this week when you’ve checked in and what message is he giving off to you in terms of how he’s preparing for Monday?
“Focus. That’s the word. Extreme focus. I might say that’s the one thing that stood out to me this week, really good focus. We want to have as much fun as the next guy and we’ve got the table tennis going on at the end of the day, things like that. But, from the time we start to the time we end practice it’s a very focused setting. And he’s obviously a major part of that.”
Press Release Courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers Media Relations
Offensive Coordinator Geep Chryst
San Francisco 49ers
“It’s great to be here. Week 1 of the regular season, there’s a lot of juice throughout the league and in our locker room. But, can’t wait to play Monday night. That’s about all I have to say, but I know you probably have some questions.”
How has the offensive line starting to come together now that OL Jordan Devey’s set at right guard?
“Yeah, you know, that work up in Denver was really good work for us. We were trying to find those final combinations. But, since that game, I think we’ve locked in. The padded practices are real important for the linemen. If you lined up those linemen together and start to develop some chemistry, I think that’s what we’re seeing. So, we were valuing the practices, not just the good work we had up in Denver, but then coming back here and working with ourselves has really been good. And I think we’re kind of getting that chemistry you want to see going into Week 1.”
You had padded practices last week, what Wednesday before and then Friday?
“Yeah. And we’re trying to work that in because what happens, normally, is you’re trying to find the final 53 in the fourth preseason game. So, we probably worked a little harder, knowing going to Denver, we probably didn’t play some of those guys as much in the game itself up in Denver because we had gotten some good work, a padded day, even though we had shorts on it was a padded day and then an unpadded day and then carrying that momentum into Week 4 of the preseason. A lot of the guys went through a normal week even though it was a short week. So, trying to back-end the Denver week with the fourth preseason game, I think we’ve picked up right where we left off right now knowing that it’s a Monday night game and we still have some work to do this week.”
How have you seen TE Vernon Davis, pretty motivated to bounce back from a tough year? We see him over on the side working with tight ends coach Tony Sparano, how has that relationship been with those two?
“Yeah, it’s been a great relationship with Vernon and Tony and we love all of our tight ends. But, Vernon, been here now the fifth season and you see Vernon and you realize just what we think an anomaly the previous year was. And that happens, especially to veterans. And I think he’s come out from the first day of offseason all the way through and there’s been a nice chemistry. We have chemistry between linemen, chemistry between receivers and the quarterbacks, but we’re also seeing some chemistry between the coaches that have been brought on board and then those position players. And that’s really exciting to see. Those of you that have been out there, we’ve gotten a lot out of the practice segments. The individual portion of practice, there’s a lot of work going on. There’s more gadgets on the field in terms of receivers running through what looks like thoroughbred hoops. But, at the end of the day, we’ve gotten a lot of work out of that and we hope some of that will pay off on Monday night.”
Do you expect the Vikings to test your offensive line in different ways to make sure they’re all on the same page?
“Yeah, there’s a lot of different ways to do it. You can test them by personnel. They’ve got some good young people playing defense and then [Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer] Zim’s scheme has been always very sound. He’s been around a long time. He’s got that nice blend of being a tough disciplinarian yet they still enjoy playing for him and playing hard. So, you try to fit your plays into the scheme that it’s going to be knowing that you can forecast maybe some of the things that they’ve done in the past to try to put their best foot forward on opening night.”
You said in training camp you thought you had the right offensive linemen there but time will tell. You ended up making two trades for offensive linemen. What do you feel now? Do you feel like–?
“Yeah. You pull the scope back and you realize that there was going to be some replacement of the people who were there from previous years. And we’ve done that. For example, [former C] Johnathan Goodwin, we did a nice job with [C] Daniel Kilgore coming in. He’s injured, so we’ve got to keep finding that combination. And again, going back to the value of having pads on for those linemen to work as a cohesive unit. I think we’ve gotten a lot out of that. But, you have to probe the different combinations. You saw that throughout, not just within the games, but even during practices. Those of you that have been out there, you saw just how much we were trying to probe to find the right combination and right now as we stand here, we’re healthy which is important and we’re developing some good chemistry. And I think those are really good things to bank on going into the game.”
Apologies to the beat writers, a RB Jarryd Hayne question. How have you found him dealing with the attention for a player who has still got a lot to prove?
“You know, it’s been a remarkable journey since he first got here. He’s so good at handling the ball in flight. We remember maybe fielding a punt or catching a pass, but then during the game itself, you know, they come at you with different angles then maybe what he’s used to. It’s been quite remarkable for him to be that comfortable so quickly. So, it’s been a remarkable journey. I’m glad you can check it out for yourself because it’s been remarkable.”
Are there any management issues with you given that he’s still got a lot to prove and is getting so much attention as a rookie? Has it been a challenge for you?
“What’s been great is [head coach] Jim Tomsula’s background in NFL Europe. I think that the European player, he’s worked with a lot of projects. We had [former 49ers DL] Lawrence Okoye. I would think right now, there’s no language barrier. Sometimes when you’re working with foreign players, if it was a language barrier, then communicating is hard. But, even though we have football terminology, I think that’s been a major plus is that other than an accent every now and then, there is no language barrier.”
Did you see enough just in the last week when he was healthy for WR Bruce Ellington to be the number three guy?
“You could tell right, the fourth preseason game we wanted to get him in. We actually tried to call some plays in the second half of the Denver game, trying to see where he was at because he’s a dynamic player when he’s out there and when he got out there the first third down, it wasn’t exactly called to be a touchdown, it was called to move the chains but he did it on his own. Again, as an example of someone where you don’t want to jump to too many conclusions after the first day of training camp or in the offseason. But, it seems like where we stand right now, he’s at a good spot and confident and healthy.”
WR Torrey Smith seems unconcerned that they didn’t hook up on a lot of passes in the preseason, with QB Colin Kaepernick. Is that your take too? I mean, they hit a lot in practice.
“Yeah. I would have to say over the long haul of training camp, games and practices blend together. And so, we saw enough from the offseason, the OTA’s, the mini-camps and the practices themselves including the practice yesterday, where there’s enough connections that you’re not losing sleep over that.”
Are you getting along with C Nick Easton?
“No problems there.”
When you guys were scouting him, did you look at him as a guard as well? Is he capable of playing that?
“Yeah. We all know what the numbers look like on game day, right? You have a big group of 90 that dwindles down, but then you’re only going to have probably seven, it’s a luxury to have eight dressed up. So, you’re always looking for someone that can be that swing guy, the person that has the ability. So, we worked hard last year, for example, with [C] Marcus Martin so that he could pull the ball and play center and also play guard. That versatility, position versatility, is really important and any of the guys coming in, including [OL] Ian [Silberman]. We were out there, for those of you that remember watching we had that one training camp practice where we were rolling the ball back there. But, we just have to stay with developing him as a center even though that’s not part of his background. It’s just the versatility, and hopefully though practices and reps and over the span of an entire season, everyone becomes comfortable with it.”
In basketball, coaches likes to say it’s important to get a big man involved early, get him touches early.
Does the same principle apply to Vernon Davis?
“I think Vernon’s very unique in that way in that for a big man, he does run. And there’s another basketball analogy that’s reward the big man for running the floor. So, Vernon, I think it’s important to get everyone going early. And the easiest way to do that is to get first downs so that you get more plays and you string some plays together in a drive. So, I think you’re conscious of everyone’s role on game day. And then within the game plan, can you spread it out, not just for Vernon, but what is Bruce Ellington’s role in the game plan? Or what is [WR] Anquan’s [Boldin] role? Or Torrey’s role? And if you feel like you’ve got a balanced call sheet going into a game, you feel like everyone has ownership within that game plan.”
Could you imagine how tough that was for him last year dealing with some injuries and not being utilized maybe the way he–?
“Yeah, and any athlete, you talk to athletes, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. And I think there’s never the perfect season where everything just falls into place. So, the challenges are kind of playing through some of the sticky points to a season and for the most part, the people who are good athletes play through all of that. And every now and then, they do get stuck and you’ve got to make sure to just stay with the plan and move forward. And so, we’re moving forward off of that and there’s been a lot of plays that have been made throughout the course of this training camp that, you know, the past is the past.”
What kind of differences have you noticed out of RB Carlos Hyde the rookie to Carlos Hyde the number one back replacing someone like former 49ers and current Indianapolis Colts RB Frank Gore?
“First off, he’s had a great rhythm to things. So, you come in as a rookie, you’re not quite sure what’s around the next bend. I think he took full advantage of the offseason here to put himself in a good spot conditioning-wise. I see him working out so hard with [director of human performance Mark Uyeyama] Uye and in the weight room, and then working on the practice field. There’s just a comfort level. You’re no longer a rookie, you see that, take a Marcus Martin, that draft class of people who are coming back for their second go around. They’re looking at some of the rookies and realizing what it was like. But, we really see a lot of growth from Carlos both physically and then within the playbook.”
But, was rhythm maybe an issue for him last year in the sense that he was a much different runner than Frank?
“Yeah, and again, you want to have a little bit of a piece of a game plan for everybody. But, when it’s game day, no one wants to come out of a huddle on game day. But, you want to mix people in. So, there’s always a balance associated with that where right now, he knows he’s in the huddle and he doesn’t want to come out. So, he wants to make the plays. So, I think it’s a different role for him and something that he’s excited and looking forward to and has worked hard to be in that spot right there.”
What’s your assessment of QB Blaine Gabbert’s preseason performance?
“You know, the last time we talked, a couple of things we wanted to look at, we wanted to look at the O-Line as a rotation, we talked about Jarryd a lot and how phenomenal he was just picking up this game. And then we talked and it was really a serious effort to try to get Blaine what he was doing on the practice field, and I thought he had it, I don’t know what else he could have done in the preseason games to give himself more confidence and to give us more confidence. And that’s always a great feeling going into the season.”
Defensive Coordinator Eric Mangini
“Good morning everybody, how are you doing? We are just pushing forward on our installation, our situational defenses. Got through walk-thru, we’ve got another good day of practice today. I thought yesterday went well, and just moving the plan along.”
How do you kind of account for what you think the Vikings will do on Monday night?
“I’ll tell you, the first game of the season, to me, is always one of the toughest because you’ve had a whole offseason, they’ve had a whole offseason. What you show in the preseason isn’t necessarily what you’re going to do or what you’re going to get and you don’t know what things they like from their OTAs, from training camp, things along those lines. Then you add an element like [Vikings RB] Adrian Peterson, who is a special player. And, what’s the balance going to be? Run? Pass? How are those things going to play out with Adrian back there?”
How hard is it to game plan going against two burners on the outside, you have Vikings WR Charles Johnson and you have Vikings WR Mike Wallace who can basically just clear out, opening the middle for Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph, so how do you, how tough is it to game plan for something like that?
“Yeah, and you’ve got a really special running back. You’ve got a quarterback that can run and do different things that create problems outside of what you normally get. There are a lot of different things that you have to try to get in place because you’re first answer may not be your best answer and you’ve got to work on a couple of counters. So, as the game goes on and you go into the plan thinking it’s going to unfold one way and it doesn’t, having the ability to refer back to, ‘Hey, remember when we did this or this,’ and be able to not only put that in on the sideline, but also execute it.”
Have you decided on who’s going to start at cornerback and where are you in that process?
“Well, we’ll let the week play out. All of those guys are working at it and some of it is how they practice, but it’s also how well they deal with the game plan and understand the game plan. So, we’re evaluating that as we go and then we’ll work it out at the end of the week.”
It seems like those guys have different skills sets. Would it make sense to decided playing time based on matchups?
“Well, there’s a component to that. The other thing that you get is you see a significant amount of 11 personnel. Not just from Minnesota, but from all teams, so that’s when you get in your substituted defenses where multiple guys can play. You can look at it from a matchup perspective and I’ve done that quite a bit over the years, where you put certain guys on certain guys. Sometimes I’d say it’s a really good approach and other times you really want to go left and right, depending on how they are building the formations, how they’re building the passing game, what the threats are, because even though that player has a specific set that you’d like to matchup on, those routes that you’re getting aren’t consistent with where it’d be a big edge.”
WR Torrey Smith said the other day that he was surprised to find out that CB Keith Reaser and CB Kenneth Acker both had missed last year due to injury because they were both so good and so polished when he arrived. Did you have the same reaction that they didn’t really seem like guys who are feeling their way along this offseason that they just kind of jumped into it with two feet?
“Well, I’ve liked that about, not just those guys, but when you look at the rookies, guys like [S] Jaquiski [Tartt] or [DL] Arik [Armstead] or [LB] Eli [Harold]. Those guys have all approached it the same way. You don’t get the sense from any of them that it’s too big for them. You don’t get a sense that they’re in awe of it. If anything, you feel their excitement. You feel their excitement about the opportunity that they have and the challenges that they’re going to have and that’s what you look for. The last thing you want as a coach is to have a guy that you’re comforting through the first game. So, I’ve liked that and young guys have a nice quality about them, because sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know and that’s a good thing.”
How has LB Ahmad Brooks looked after being away for a week?
“He’s looked good. Ahmad has looked really good. And Ahmad is a guy that throughout the spring, throughout camp, really been impressed with his work ethic, his toughness, his consistency, his approach in the classroom. All those things have been outstanding, outstanding.”
You would expect no restrictions on him, he can play?
“No, I don’t expect any restrictions on Ahmad at all and Ahmad’s built in versatility where he can go left, he can go right, he can move around. Ahmad can be anywhere.”
Did you see him take some, you know, new approaches to his fitness, to his eating or did he share any of that with you over what he did during the offseason?
“I should probably talk to him about his fitness and eating, I could use some of those tips. We hadn’t talked much about that. Its, and again, even though I’ve been here the past couple of years, the relationship you build with guys on the other side is a little bit different. I’ve talked to [TE] Vernon [Davis] probably ad nauseum about his eating and fitness. He’s got a good regimen going. But, we haven’t done a lot of that. We talked more in lines of the importance of it and it wasn’t a conversation that had to be revisited because he’s been so proactive with all that stuff.”
Is there any, was there any awkwardness there with Ahmad being gone for that time and then being welcomed back? Because he was kind of in limbo for a while, how did you kind of plan for that in that time?
“Well, it’s going back to what I said initially with the first game, there are so many different plans that you have in place and really our planning has changed pretty dramatically throughout the course of the spring and training camp, where changes have taken place and one system, plan, idea, core group of things that you liked looks totally different. And then, you push the next one forward and something changes and you have a different group then you change again. And, going into this game, now you have to have a ton of different things prepared because you don’t know what you’re going to get, I mean, you have an idea. You try to eliminate as many variables as you can, but you just don’t know.”
One of those big changes was former 49ers and current Oakland Raiders LB Aldon Smith. Obviously, you only had him for this offseason, but today he signed with the raiders up the freeway here a little bit. Any reaction to him getting on with his career?
“Yeah, I’m really happy for him. There’s another guy that I had a great experience with. Loved the way he was working, approaching things. I’m really happy for him and I’m cheering for him to do great things.”
Can you talk about how you see LB NaVorro Bowman approaching this game and whether this has kind of played up to a dream scenario for you, just he’s come in all the way through this healthy and is ready to go Week 1?
“Yeah, that’s exciting. We’ve worked with him and he’s worked with us in terms of how much, the approach. And a lot of that for a guy who goes through a major injury, there is a learning process, there is a building confidence process because the first few times you make a certain movement, you react, you’re not thinking, it’s a measured movements. Things can, sounds can be made that you’re not used or that you worry about and it’s just part of the healing process that comes with it and you just try to get the best plan and everybody is a part of that plan.”
He’s such a key figure, not necessarily on the defense but on the team, do you sense or do you notice other players sort of reacting, when he makes a play does it kind of lift up the rest of his, the guys around him?
“Yeah, the group as a whole is very supportive of each other and another thing that you always look for in this situation is how guys respond to each other and you can see it on tape. A guy makes a play, there are a bunch of guys over there congratulating him. It’s not about, ‘Hey, I need to get mine. I need my plays. I need my sacks. I need my tackles.’ It’s we need to be successful and guys are excited about other teammates success and that, to me, isn’t always an easy thing to get. It isn’t always an easy thing to build. It’s organic. You can try to push that along but as I watched, have watched the guys and seen how they respond to each other, they like each other. They care about each other. They don’t want to let each other down and I respect that and really like that.”
The Vikings offensive line, obviously, has a few moving parts, more so than you would usually, do you try to test them to make sure they are all on the same page?
“Yeah, you’d love to test anything that’s different but we have a lot of moving parts and a lot of different things as well. And, they’ve got a moving part that came in that really is a huge test with Adrian. And then, the things that he can do, whether he has perfect blocking or whether he has no blocking, he can create yards after contact. He can create holes that aren’t there. He can bring the ball all the way backside even though he’s pressed the wall front side. He tests the integrity of your front and there are plenty of examples on tape where things have broken down and he generates something that really a lot of backs can’t generate. And, he’s a guy that gets stronger as the game goes on. It’s not like he shoots his gun early in the game and then slows down. He builds, builds tempo and I’m sure Minnesota’s going through the same process. They’ve got new guys working together, communicating together. In the offensive line, there’s a lot of communication but we all deal with that, you deal with it in secondary. And, they’ve been working with each other for a little while now and I’m sure they pushed that comfort level up.”
In the preseason, we saw Jaquiski working in maybe playing some linebacker in some certain sub-packages. How much of a luxury is that to have a guy who physically can probably fill in the run game but also has the speed maybe to cover some players in the modern NFL?
“Yeah, you’re always looking for that. In substituted defenses, you want to get as much speed as you can out there, but you don’t want to get so little that they just run the ball and you can’t do anything about that. And, [DB] Jimmie Ward’s done a nice job too. He’s a guy that had missed a bunch of time and missed some more time, but has come back and gotten stronger and stronger as we’ve gone on through this preseason, so I’m excited about him as well. Both of those guys, it’s amazing they played high school football together. I don’t know what that record was but that team should be pretty good.”
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers coaches’ headsets weren’t working properly last night in New England and that sort of thing happens a lot there. You coached there and against them, any comment?
“No. I have nothing to add to that.”
Press Release Courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers Media Relations
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed free agent LB Aldon Smith, the club announced Friday.
Smith joins the Raiders after four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in which he totaled 44 sacks in 50 games. His career totals also include 192 tackles (141 solo), five passes defensed, one interception and 5.5 sacks in eight career playoff games.
The 49ers’ first-round draft pick (seventh overall) in 2011, Smith was the runner-up in the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year voting after recording 14 sacks in his first season. In 2012, Smith was named to the Pro Bowl and selected for first-team All Pro honors after posting 19.5 sacks and his first career interception. He totaled 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons with San Francisco.
“Aldon is an extremely talented young player,” said Head Coach Jack Del Rio. “We welcome him to the Raiders family and expect him to bring his best every day and be a great teammate.”
“We are confident that the Raiders provide an environment where Aldon can thrive through the support, structure and leadership within the building,” said General Manager Reggie McKenzie. “We are excited to have Aldon here in the Raiders family.”
To make room on the roster, the Raiders have waived DE Lavar Edwards.
Press Release Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders Media Relations