Skins Quotes 10/18/19: Callahan, O’Connell

One of many experimental iterations ...


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Apr 11, 2009
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Greensboro, NC

Marine Corps Virginia

October 18, 2019
Interim Head Coach Bill Callahan

Opening Statement:
“We just finished up some red zone situational stuff, some get back on track calls and also some gotta have it calls, so more situational stuff today. Just concluded a real solid week of practice.”

On whether he has an update on the game statuses of RB Chris Thompson and CB Josh Norman:
“I don't. I think it would be best to just defer to the report and just look at it when it comes out this afternoon. A little more day-to-day.”

On if both players are day-to-day:

On converting turnovers into points:
“It's always game planned and it's always practiced. There are a number of calls for sudden change-type of situations. Those situations are interesting because normally everybody would think, ‘Well, let's go ahead and take a shot. They're not prepared, the ball is switching hands pretty quickly.' There are some people that like to pound it, so we'll go in with a couple different thoughts, whether we want to throw it, throw it deep, throw it short, run-action it or even run it, so there are a number of calls that are prepared for that situation. Sudden changes come up on the short field, on the long field, so the calls are dictated basically by field position and also kind of the tempo of the game and how the run game is being played out.”

On the status of TE Vernon Davis and whether he's been cleared:
“Yeah, he practiced a little bit today. Is he cleared right now? We'll have to see. We'll just take it easy and go right through this afternoon and see what the trainer says. We'll play that situation like we do all these guys. It's all relative to how [Head Athletic Trainer] Larry [Hess] puts them on the report and we go from there.”

On the 49ers run game and some of the run concepts they use:
“I've always had great respect for [former Head Coach] Mike Shanahan when I was at Oakland. We were in the AFC West Conference and I think that's where it all started, under [former Raiders Offensive Line Coach] Alex Gibbs and what they did with the stretch run game and how they featured it and the success they had with it. Everybody in the league holds those coaches in high reverence in that respect. I think a lot of people put their own interpretation on it, their own twist on it. Now, with more formation creativity and things of that nature, with the jet sweeps and those types of actions, I think it's taken on a whole other dimension, but that's really been the staple run of Mike and now [49ers Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan]. They've done a great job. They feature that run so many different ways and they press the edges and they make you defend every gap, from the perimeter to the backside, so it's a great concept and one that we've applied here and have run here and still would like to major in as we move forward. But across the league you can look at the mid-zone and wide-zone running game being derived from Coach Gibbs and what he did when he was at Denver with Mike.”

On 49ers TE George Kittle's versatility and his usage out of the backfield:
“So, he's going to be a flexible player for them. He's going to have a lot of formation alignments that they can feature him in as well. As you mentioned, he can be in the backfield. It does put pressure on you. They'll block him up, they'll also slide him across the formations, get him out the backends in their bootleg-type passing game. Then, they'll also insert him between the tackles and release him down the field, so he's a real target and someone you've really got to pinpoint. Then all of a sudden, once you hone in on him, the ball is going opposite away from his flow, so it's a little bit problematic and puts you in conflict at times. Those are all schematics and tactics that have been well-coached and well-presented and executed by the Niners. It definitely presents a challenge for our defense.”

On if he learned things from the Redskins offensive linemen that played for Shanahan that he also coached here in Washington:
“Sure. There's so much you can learn from the players, players that have been in that system not only here, but in Dallas we had a lot of success with that system. Coaches across the league that have been involved in that system have had success in it. I've always reached out and tried to find a little bit more about what they were doing and how they were doing it, especially here – [former Redskins G] Kory Lichtensteiger played here under [former Head Coach] Mike and [former Redskins RB] Alfred Morris. I always talked to those guys and what they taught, how they taught the reads, how they progressed in their running game, basically how they [planned] the run, where the landmarks were established and things of that nature. In a nutshell, yes I've always researched that. I've got great respect for what they've accomplished.”

On QB Colt McCoy's mentality after shuffling around on the depth chart:
“I think he's done a great job. [QB] Colt [McCoy] continues to work hard. He's a pro's pro, he's been in the league for a number of years and he understands the situation at quarterback and he knows what's asked of him and he knows exactly where he stands – he's just a pro. I like to see him work, he's worked extremely hard, he's still working hard to get back from that injury. He's progressing and it's all positive in that regard, so it just comes down to opportunities and situations. We'll see what happens.”

Offensive Coordinator Kevin O'Connell

On what allows the 49ers defense to be successful:
“Well first and foremost, they're very well-coached across all the position groups. [It] starts from the top with their defensive coordinator [Robert Saleh], he does a great job. You can see his energy, his enthusiasm and you can feel that the players really play hard for him. Position coaches do a great job on the back end with their coverages. They're obviously led by [CB] Richard Sherman in that [defensive back] room, an unbelievable veteran that's done so much in this league. Really at every level – the defensive line, there's a really great mix of playmaking from younger guys to veteran players who have been there, done that. Same with the line backing spot and the safety spot. It's a really impressive group of guys who have been playing really, really well together, playing really hard and putting a lot of pressure on offenses.”

On the schematic challenges of matching up with the 49ers defensive personnel:
“The edge rushers get a lot of credit, like they should. It's due because they have tremendous pass rushers. They've got three or four of them on the edges that'll give you problems if you don't focus on how to try to stop them or limit their impact on the game. I was actually in San Francisco the year [DL DeForest] Buckner was drafted and from day one he was an impact player and [DL] Arik Armstead was already there. [DE] [Ronald] Blair was there, guys that I watched practice and really grow from when I was there during that season, so I know all about those guys up front. Then, they add a very high quality linebacker in [LB Kwon] Alexander in free agency to go with the backend that's really gelled together. A lot of those guys have been together at least a couple years going back a few years before that with guys like [S Jaquiski] Tartt and Jimmie Ward and some of those guys. Top to bottom, they do a lot of really good things to complement each other, the scheme compliments the players. They do a really good job of fitting their playmakers in spots by down and distance where they want to try and make some plays, whether it's pressure here from the nickel spot or safety pressure, whatever it is. Then with a good old-fashioned four-man rush with games like a lot of teams we see in our division – Philadelphia, Dallas – trying to put pressure on you that way. So, it'll be a huge test across the board. First, second, third down, situationally, down in the red zone, short yardage, every situation that we work really hard on will be a huge test Sunday.”

On the challenges of running against the 49ers run defense:
“They're incredibly powerful up front. You're going to play against a loaded box for a lot of the day. They've also had some success stopping people [while] playing two-high coverages and allowing that front to play in a six- or seven-man front with the safeties and corners kind of roaming in their coverages and occasionally, like I said, fire a blitz or a dog that causes you some problems. Right about the time you get locked in on this or that, they do something different. Schematically, you'd say it provides you with some opportunity, but you've got to be very careful trying to be too aggressive in those situations when those plays present themselves. Every level of the defense, every aspect of throwing the football, you've got to be very careful about what you're doing in their coverages as well as the pressure that they have, but then running the football. Whether it's going to be a zone game, try to condense the formation down, spread the formation out. They've got some answers because their scheme is down.”

On what adding a fullback provides to the run game:
“I think it provides us tremendous flexibility. Especially with [FB] Michael [Burton] has done a great job coming in, obviously coming in his role. We want to see where we can go from here -- obviously short week with him coming in and having two or three days of practice. We're going to try to get him in here a little bit if he's ready to go. Randy Jordan, our running backs coach, has done a tremendous job getting him ready to go. Really how that fits in with how we want to run the ball just adds another layer of execution we feel really good about. Then all the complimentary plays that come off of it.”

On how difficult it was to not have QB Case Keenum at practice on Wednesday:
“It's never perfect when you can't have him out there for every rep, but it provided [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] with a great opportunity to get out there and simulate a Wednesday as if he was playing and I thought he did a really, really good job. Practice flowed really well; he was getting us in and out of the huddle really well. I thought that was a big time positive. Then [QB] Case [Keenum] was standing next to me the entire time so we could be talking the entire time, as the ball was getting thrown or, ‘Hey there it is against this coverage,' or run check whatever we may have up in the plan. He's a veteran guy, he's done it in a lot of different offenses so sometimes the best thing for him and I is just [to have] communication throughout the week, which we were able to do anyway.”

On whether he's seen a change in QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. over the last two weeks:
“I have. He's done a good job of really understanding that responsibility of being one snap away, but also I think – after that Giants game when he got in there a little bit – I think he feels the urgency of the next phase for him which is his preparation, not wasting a minute in his preparation for not only the 49ers this week, but just his daily routine, his daily practice habits, what he's doing with [Quarterbacks Coach] Tim [Rattay] and Coach [Matt Cavanaugh] out there on the field, what he's doing after post-practice. All of those things are helping him capitalize on his work day and having a good Wednesday, and then learning once you've had a good Wednesday it's about coming back the next morning and being locked in Thursday morning ready to roll. There's really no let-up for any of us, and that's coaches, players, everybody throughout this building. We won a football game last week, but the urgency is still there across the board and I think [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] is really starting to feel that. It's been fun to watch.”

On how the game plan changes without RB Chris Thompson:
“It always changes without [RB Chris Thompson]. Since I got here, he's definitely been a safety net for me in a lot of ways because I always know he's going to be there in protection, I always know we can try to work him in in the pass game and he's very, very good in some aspects of our run game. Obviously, [RB Wendell] Smallwood since the day he came in has kind of filled the role of that versatility guy that – we need to be able to give [RB] Adrian [Peterson] a [rest] and we need it with [RB] Derrius [Guice] being out, then obviously Chris can't take every play that we possibly want to run out of certain formations. So, he's gotten a lot of work and he's gotten great experience doing some similar things in the offense in Philadelphia, so I feel great about where he's at. Then, obviously, we'll just see where Chris is at. He's always locked in in meetings, I always know that he can handle the entire game plan, so as we head into the weekend if we have him I'll be very, very excited, but I'll be excited to see some of those other guys if he's unable to go.”

On how much of the playbook is accessible if QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. is put into the game:
“That's something we continue to work through throughout the week. The plan is the plan and I think it's important for [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.], as we go throughout the week, to really try to digest the whole thing. Obviously, when we get down to it, starting about now when I walk out of here, we start really focusing on what we're going to detail out, what we're going to really focus on as an offense, then Dwayne and I will get together and talk through some of what he likes and maybe some of the things he doesn't like or doesn't understand at this point. We'll sit down and try to piece together a good plan for him so he can finish off his preparation with some of the things that I would call if he went in the game. Obviously, we've simulated some things with me having the ability to talk with him now with the coach-to-quarterback system – the idea of being able to call some plays out, give him wristband numbers, then give him whatever coaching points he may need – could help if he gets into the game just with handling a little more volume than he had against the Giants last time he went in there.”

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The Owner's Favorite
Jul 16, 2009
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Air Force

I don't think they'll have to worry about red zone stuff too much this weekend

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