Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- November 9, 2018
Opening: When you have the bye week, itís a good chance to go Ė we constantly self-scout and weíre constantly looking at what we do and when we do it, but itís a good time to kind of go back and not only reflect on some of the things you didnít do well, but some of the things you did do well. Overall, we kind of had a couple of things: one, I got to call some better calls in some situations and we got to execute a little bit better. I know those are really kind of vague statements, but the truth is when you try to find things that arenít there, you end up lying to yourself, so when you look at the tape and it reveals something, trust what youíre seeing when you see the tape. Thatís something they reveal to us and we have that mentality. We got to keep having that mentality and just play one play. Just execute on one play. When the playís over, letís play the next play and have it be simple-minded in that manner. The second thing is the last half of the fourth quarter, we got to play better. We had some breakdowns, giving up some big runs. Some runs we actually had shown up earlier in those games and that we played those runs well, so that doesnít talk about the inability to execute. Just talks about execution (inaudible) which leads to first downs. Those are a couple of things we talked about, had some good practices bye week, had two good ones this week so far, encouraged. Weíre playing an offense that whether itís (Marquise) Goodwin and his speed on the perimeter, (Pierre) GarÁon and his route running ability, (George) Kittle at the tight end position. (Matt) Breida is a tough running back, have a lot of respect for the way he carries the ball. Doesnít matter whoís at the quarterback position. Those are the guys that theyíre going to feature in the offense and coach (Kyle) Shanahan has done a great job, going back to Atlanta, keeping you on your heels a little bit with lots of motions. Going to try to mess with your eyes, outside stretch run game, play action passes and the boot game. Some of that, even when you look last week with (Nick) Mullens, some of the stuff they did, those are still the core of who they are even though heís the quarterback. When C.J. (Beathard) was playing quarterback, it was the same things the previous three or four weeks so we would expect them to do those things that are the core to their offense and getting to have two really good days of practice and encouraged. Guys, I think, are looking forward to a new season being the second half of the season.
Q: With that in mind, though, at 1-7 and defense is so much about effort and commitment and all those things, how do you guard against maybe guys seeing that record and things not going your way, some of that kind of tailing off?
A: I think the first thing is the character of the guys in the room. I think our guys have great character. There hasnít been a time this year, and I can honestly say this, there hasnít been a time this year that Iíve had to challenge their effort, that Iíve had to show clips in the room after a game and say weíre not playing hard enough. I think that speaks to the character of the position coaches on defense. As the coordinators and position coaches, weíre not going to allow that and our leaders in the room arenít going to allow it. When you have that mindset and mentality in the room, thatís the first thing that has to happen. Then the second thing to that question is when we started putting this together all the way back in April, the things that we said were going to be core to what we did on defense, one was relentless effort and thatís in our room, thatís a sign we put up and itís not a bumper sticker. Itís not something you stick on there and donít talk about. Itís the core to what we believe in and play good defense, so all those things considered, thatís what I wonít let happen here.
Q: You mentioned, when you look back, there were some calls that you need to call better. Is there a consistency to that when you look at this and say I need to be more aggressive as a general rule or I need to be less aggressive as a general rule?
A: Thereís certainly some points in which both of those could be the case. I kind of leave those for my mind as the play caller, kind of keep that under my hat, but I think no one that is a very good leader only points the finger when everyone else needs to do better. The first thing I evaluate is myself and the first person our position coaches evaluate is, theyíre good men of character, theyíre going to evaluate themselves and how weíre teaching and how weíre doing what weíre doing. Then weíre going to evaluate our players on how theyíre doing what weíre doing and thatís really the order in which it happens.
Q: What have you seen in (RJ) McIntosh in practices that you think that heís ready to play and heís going to make an impact?
A: I think heís a young player thatís coming along that we realize that this is like the second week of OTA worth of practices for him and we know that. Thereís going to fundamentals and techniques and some of those things everyday that weíre just going to keep hitting him with and keep hitting him with and the thing that Iíve been the most encouraged with him about is just his work mentality. Heís been studying film, heís been great with what Garyís (Emanuel) been asking him to do and you could see some of the things that weíre really trying to work on in individual carry over and heís very aware of the things that he needs to continue to work. I think thatís what makes a young player in this league have a chance to play for a long time is when they come in and have a mindset like that.
Q: Can you see him getting onto the field?
A: I can see him this week or next or here in the near future being the guy playing for us, yeah.
Q: You mentioned you guys need to play better second half of the fourth quarter. Why has that been a problem or do you know why it is a problem?
A: When you look at execution over four quarters, having been doing this for a while as a coach, whether itís a position coach or coordinator, it all comes back to playing one play. Whether itís the first play of the game, the first play of the fourth quarter, the first play in overtime, the last play of the game, just having your eyes where they need to be, being aligned correctly, communicating the same whether the score is 13-7, 13-6, 20-3, the score doesnít matter. We donít judge the scoreboard in those moments and thatís one of the things that weíre continuing to focus on and to me thatís what leaves a consistent play through four quarters.
Q: Is that a question of maybe players trying to do too much? If they have already done it earlier in the game, theyíre trying to do too much and kind of not using Ė
A: I would never tell our players or try and do too much, but I think sometimes you press and you press as a play caller too. You press at times as a guy playing the game. You understand that because thatís the human nature of the game and we just got to focus on one play at a time. That really truly is the answer.
Q: How do you think you can generate better pressure on the quarterback? Are the calls that youíre making part of what youíre referring to as far as disrupting the QB and along with that, Kerry Wynn has seemed to be one of your more disruptive players, but is not always on the field all the time. Will a change in personnel or upping personnel like that be one of the changes youíre trying to get more pressure?
A: I think the first thing to speak with Kerry Ė love how Kerryís playing, I really do, but I also love the rotation we have. Sometimes hidden in the fact of someoneís production and the plays they get is the actual rotation that allows him to play that tempo and speed throughout the course of the game, particularly talking about guys upfront. Thatís not to speak to what Kerry canít do if he plays more snaps, but that speaks to what he is when he gets his snaps. I think our rotation is part of that and I believe in a great rotation upfront and bringing guys in, keeping guys fresh. In terms of disrupting the quarterback more, whether thatís with pressure or a four-man rush, I think one of the things that I learned a long time ago and itís one of the reasons I believe in bringing pressures or bringing things that look like pressures that arenít is just trying to create one-on-one matchups. When we get one-on-one matchups, we got to be better winning those matchups, whether thatís a matchup on a back, whether thatís a matchup on a guard or tackle. When you get one-on-ones, we got to be more disruptive in winning those one-on-ones.
Q: In terms of Sean Chandler, how much improvement have you seen and how much can his role grow over the last eight games?
A: I think a guy that when you get to this point in time of the season, itís eight games in. Rookies that are involved in your rotation, theyíre not rookies anymore. They donít need to look at themselves like rookies because now theyíve had OTAs, theyíve had training camp. Some of these guys have had game experience and whether itís a motion and having their eyes right or whether itís an alignment or something that you would maybe say, Ďoh, heís a rookie, heíll get it.í Thereís no more. Weíre at a point in time where thereís no more getting it and the thing I like about Sean is he doesnít practice that way. Heís practicing at a point where heís communicating, heís starting to really be in rhythm at the backend both as a safety, as a nickel where weíve played him at times, as a guy thatís blitzed off the edge a few times for us and done some different things. Weíll be excited to see how he plays along with some of the other young guys down the stretch.