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