Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: You played a game (San Francisco) without (running back) Saquon (Barkley) for the first time. And you ran the ball as few times as you have in a long time. Does that speak to his value to your offense?
A: I think it's just for that game, that was that game. Every week's different so we're going to have a good approach this week and find a way to put or players in the best position to be successful.
Q: Do you think if he was active for the game, you would've run the ball that few times?
A: Don't want to get into kind of the guessing or anything like that. But he wasn't and we didn't, so this week's a new week.
Q: How did you land on (guard) Shane Lemieux starting that game and what was the thought process in doing that?
A: That was just a collective decision there between myself, (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs, (General Manager) Joe (Schoen), (offensive line coach) Bobby (Johnson) talking through all that and thought that was the best thing for the offense.
Q: You talked a lot this offseason about the offense starting fast, why do you think it has been such a struggle?
A: I think we evaluate that every week and those are things we're looking to improve on. I mean, we talk about it, schemes, the fundamentals, the techniques, the sequencing, and those things. So, we evaluate that and we're really critical of that as an offensive staff, as players, as coaches – collectively. So, we want to have an emphasis of that, and we obviously want to start a lot faster and that's what we're working this week to do.
Q: Dabs said earlier this week that (guard) Marcus McKethan was going to stay at right guard. What are you guys seeing from him? What do you like so far?
A: He's done a nice job for a young player. He come in and he's played physical. I think he has a nice calm demeanor about him, and he's got some poise and he's a big, strong physical kid. He has all the tools, so as a young player, learning, developing, and growing, I think you're seeing him getting better each and every week.
Q: If I can go back to Saquon, we didn't talk to you last week. Against the Cardinals, he played every single snap in the game before he got hurt. It seems pretty rare in today's NFL. How much of a luxury is that and why is he able to do it?
A: I think that's just the type of player he is. He never wants to come out of the game. He's a competitor, that's what we love about him. I think when you have guys like that, which we have a lot, those guys want to be in the mix, and they want to be involved and they want the ball. As an offensive coordinator, that's what you want. You want players like that and Saquon's definitely one of those.
Q: Did Brian Daboll get involved the play calling in the second half of Arizona?
A: No, our process has been the same.
Q: People suggested and from our observation that it look he was more involved.
A: You guys are doing your job. You guys are trying to ask questions, I don't resent that at all. Fair question but process has been the same.
Q: What would you say to the people that were looking at it, he was looking at the sheet more than he was at other points of other games? What does that mean?
A: I think he was just trying to talk into the microphone without anyone reading his lips, but I don't want to speak for Dabs. I mean, we communicate throughout every series, every drive, throughout the game, what we like, what we don't like. Again, the process hasn't changed from last year to this year.
Q: One of the things that seemed different in the last game was (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) did not run as much. I think it was only two carries. We're they spying him or just doing something to keep him in the pocket.
A: No, we had those plays in the game plan, just didn't end up getting to them based on the situations.
Q: Was he instructed not to run?
A: No. No, he wasn't instructed not to run.
Q: What can (wide receiver) Jalin Hyatt do to get on the field?
A: Jalin's doing everything we're asking him. He's doing a great job. Obviously, he's another one of those young players that are continuing to grow and develop and the role that he's in right now and continue to expand and grow and he's handled it like a pro, which has been great. Like I said, every week's kind of a new week to see where these guys fit based on the schemes that we're seeing and put together the best game plan.
Q: With his abilities to create mismatches, how does he not get targeted in a game?
A: That's a great question. On offense, there's an 11-man operation, there's one football and obviously you want to get players involved as much as you possibly can, but you have to make sure that you have certain things set up for certain plays, situations come up. So, I think we want to get everyone the ball, absolutely. There's one football, right? So, at the end of the day, you've got to understand that. We're working to improve in that area and get everyone involved in the offense.
Q: Were there situations the other night that you were designing plays for him, and they just fell through?
A: Yeah. I think whenever those guys are on the field and based on the scheme or concept, whether he's running a short route, a deep route, intermediate route. I mean, those are all kind of designed and has to build into what defense you're seeing, the progression, the protection, are you hot, are you not? So, there's a lot of aspects that kind of go into it on where the ball could go on a given play, whether it's versus man, versus zone. So, there's a lot of things that the quarterback and the offense has to work through to be able to make that happen. I think you saw the one big shot in Arizona where we took advantage of an opportunity and then there's other times where it doesn't go the way you anticipate.
Q: The 49ers pass rush, did that play a role? It seems like Jalin's specialty is the go down the field but the quarterback's got to hold the ball to let him get down the field so with how quick they get to the quarterback, does that play a role?
A: I don't want to keep on going too far back because we've been able to learn from that and move on to this week, so I think that's probably what the most important thing is that we just grow and learn from the wins, the losses and all that and build it for this week's practice.
Q: Not trying to go backwards again but is there anything that you can pinpoint that can lead to why the offense looked so different in those two quarters against Arizona than it has the other 10 quarters of the season?
A: I'd say that those are things that we were building on, we were working on all week, and you finally get an opportunity, you make a play, we let it happen downfield and then that kind of sparks something, right? So, that happens all throughout the entire season, all throughout the game where you get a play, it sparks something then you kind of get on a roll and you're grooving. Then sometimes, something doesn't happen, and you've got to find a way to kind of get out of that rut. So, there's things that we're doing and that's why the guys had a great week of practice so far. We're going to keep on working on it, keep on bringing energy and enthusiasm, and I'm excited about the guys and how they approached it yesterday.
Q: Looking forward, if you look at the number,s they say, "throw the ball against Seattle." Is that what you think?
A: I think when you look at it you want to have a diverse gameplan, run and pass, and I think our players are prepared to do both. So, that's one thing we're excited about and looking forward to work on.
Q: (Wide receiver) Sterling Shepard doesn't seem content in his role. Would you have any answer to that --
A: I don't want to speak for (wide receiver Sterling Shepard) Shep but he's doing a great job, he's been a pro. He comes to practice every day and he works. He's a great teammate and every week everyone develops their role for the offense and how they're going to be used and that's what we're working on this week.
Q: Generally speaking, when a player talks to the media in those tones, do you approach the player for a dialogue at all?
A: Yeah, me and Shep have a great relationship. We talk. I think he understands where we're at and I think if you're a competitor, which is what we want, which is what we love, and you're not playing, then it's the opposite side of it, then you want to play. Those are the kind of players I want to be around. Guys who want to play, who want to be out there and help their teammates, help their team win and Shep's one of those guys.