Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel
OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney
WR Will Fuller V
WR DeAndrew White
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Do you have any better idea on whether WR Will Fuller V will play this week?
“I think it looks good for Will (Fuller V) to be able to play. Yeah, as we sit here right now, no doubt.”
The possibility of having WR Will Fuller V back must be a boost since so many people are hurt.
“Yeah, it’s good. Always good to have him back with Hop (DeAndre Hopkins), obviously. It’s tough to lose Bruce (Ellington). Bruce was a big part of what we’re doing, but we brought up DeAndrew White. We got Cobi Hamilton who we just brought up a couple weeks ago. Chris Thompson, obviously. So, we have a pretty good core of guys there working hard.”
How challenging is it to put together game plans for players that you haven’t seen very much of?
“That’s part of being a professional coach, though. Part of the philosophy of what I believe in, coaching in this league, is look, in order to manage the roster in the way that you want to manage it, you may have to bring some guys in whether it’s early in the season, middle of the season or later in the season, that you have to train to get ready to play that Sunday. So, you bring a guy in on a Wednesday, maybe you bring a guy in on a Thursday. You have to get that guy ready to play on Sunday. That’s just the way it is. Then, sometimes things happen during a game, you have to kind of piece it together during a game. That’s what you’re paid to do. So, I don’t look at it as challenging, it’s more just it is what it is.”
What have you seen from 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo over the years?
“I think he’s really good. I mean, he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience and he’s gaining that right now. But, he’s got a very quick release. He’s very accurate, smart, makes quick decisions. A couple plays against the Bears, he’s in the pocket, there’s pressure up the middle of the pocket, he can change his arm angle, kind of sidearm it. He can throw over the top. He’s athletic. He’s got a lot of really good qualities to be a top-notch quarterback. So, he’s going to be a tough guy to deal with on Sunday.”
How are things looking for RB Alfred Blue this week?
“I would say probably no for Sunday.”
Is the quarterback position so valuable that even if you have a starter you should invest in another guy?
“You just said it, it’s obviously the most important, probably, position in the league. You have to have that position. It’s interesting. It depends on kind of how it’s working out for your roster. The way it worked out in New England, they had a veteran quarterback obviously, a great player, and then they drafted Jimmy (Garoppolo) and trained him and he played a couple games and played pretty well and they were able to acquire value for him. That’s an interesting way to do it. That’s not always the way it works out but I think if you have a really top-notch starting quarterback and you can have a number two guy that you’re developing that you think can be really good, I think that’s very, very good. I think that’s not only good for the depth of your football team, but it’s good for all the reasons you just talked about.”
Who will back of RB Lamar Miller on Sunday?
“It’ll be several guys. It’ll be several guys. You can probably look at the roster and piece it together yourself, but there’ll be a lot of different packages.”
Is WR Braxton Miller expected to play Sunday?
“I think that’s trending in a better direction.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE VRABEL
As head coaching jobs pop up around the league, is that something that during this offseason you would entertain?
“Yeah, obviously I would entertain it. But, right now we’re clearly focused on San Francisco, like everybody here. I think that all those things that get taken care of in the offseason really are something that you can’t concentrate on right now or anybody can. I think we have to play and we have to coach and we have to prepare and we have to practice.”
Is it a dream of yours to be a head coach?
“I think when you get into coaching I think that everybody aspires to lead at the highest level, and clearly being a head coach in the National Football League is the opportunity to do that.”
When did you start thinking that you would like to be a head coach in the NFL?
“I think we’re going down a path right now that I really haven’t even thought about. I’m really just getting out of meetings with the linebackers. Whether this happens or not – when I started coaching I didn’t think I would be in the NFL. When I started coaching I didn’t think I’d be at Ohio State. Didn’t think I would be coordinating. So, you never really know. You try to do as good a job as you can in the role that you have and then you go from there.”
How’s ILB Brian Cushing doing?
“Good. He’s getting back into it. We just have to keep practicing. Today will be a big day for him. We walked through yesterday, but today will be a big day and then moving to try to get him ready for the game on Sunday.”
What are your expectations for ILB Brian Cushing for this week?
“I think he’ll play hard. I know that. I expect him to play hard, I expect him to play physical, just like he did when he was back out there before.”
Because ILB Brian Cushing’s been in the league so long, does that make easier to get back after being gone for 10 weeks?
“I don’t know. I think that’s difficult. Not having been out there since September, that’s tough. So, I think we’ll have to watch and we’ll have to monitor and see how it’s going.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien said that you have great relationships with your players. How important is that to you?
“I think it’s important. I think that I’ve always respected at a professional level the coaches that I’ve always had, whether that be in Pittsburgh, New England, Kansas City. I still see those guys. I still take a great deal from what they taught and how they coached. And then, being in college, I think you have to have that because you’re really monitoring those guys on a day-to-day basis. A lot of those guys are away from their families, so you become kind of that person that kind of watches over them and mentor them. You have to get to know them, what makes those young guys tick. We got a lot of young guys too, so I think you have to find out about their families, their girlfriends, what they do outside of football.”
ILB Brian Cushing said yesterday that he had some worries as early as the offseason. Is that something that he shared with the coaching staff and let you know that he was going through?
“I think Brian (Cushing) did a good job of addressing everything yesterday. Brian and I talk. We talk about kids, we talk about families, football, life after football. So, really I’ve always appreciated those conversations between Brian and I.”
Do you think that you’re ready to be a head coach?
“Right now I’m trying to be ready to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Really, I think that our focus to where we’re at now, I think we have to have some grit. We talked (to) our players about having grit and when their grit wears off of the sandpaper, they get rid of it and they get some new sandpaper. So, that’s the message I try to give to the defense, is that we have to continue to be gritty. We have to continue to play hard, play fast and just try to limit some of the mistakes.”
Is that grit there just like you want it to be?
“Yeah, I think so. I think you watch them, I don’t think that it’s a lack of effort. I think we have to coach and we have to play better.”
ILB Brian Cushing also said yesterday that one of the things he was concerned about was the hits you take playing in the NFL, concussions and things like that. You played for 14 years in the league, is that something that ever crosses your mind?
“I think that that’s always something that my wife and my kids, I think we’re conscious of. I think Mike Mitchell said it best yesterday. This is a violent game played by grown men. I think you understand kind of what you’re getting into. You love it. My kids play. Tyler’s going to college next year. So, I think they all understand the risks. My family’s seen me laid out cold on the football field. And so, if you have a wife that can understand that that’s what happens and drives you home after the game, that’s a pretty good thing.”
You mentioned your son Tyler, are you excited about the opportunity he and his teammates at St. Pius X High School have at this weekend’s TAPPS Division I state final?
“Yeah. It’s going to be cool. (I’m) excited for the program. They lost last year in the semifinals and they beat some good opponents to get there. They beat a team that won it last year. I think St. Pius is – they’re excited and I think the players are excited that they got a good team. I’m glad he’s there. I’m glad that he ended up at St. Pius and he’s at the right school.”
In the years that you’ve studied 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, practiced against him and now his time with the 49ers, is there anything in particular that stands out?
“Quick release. He’s got guys bearing down on him last week and it’s like he’s flipping it to first base like a shortstop. Just arm angle, just getting rid of it as (Akiem) Hicks is barreling down on him a couple times and completes the passes. So, quick release, looked like he had good command. They clearly feel comfortable with him. They went no-huddle maybe 12 times on normal down and distances. So, whatever command he’s got, they feel OK going no-huddle with him and putting him at the line of scrimmage.”
Is his command another thing that also seems to be there whenever he’s been put out there, he seems in control and confident in what he’s doing?
“Yeah, they moved the ball. They had a 14-play drive, 12-play drive, 15-play drive. They just stalled in the red zone. So, we can’t let them drive the ball with that success.”
After having watched it on tape, how would you describe 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense?
“Well, we’ve played against them. We’ve played against them in the past. There’ll be some 21 personnel. He uses a fullback. He likes the fullback. He’s pretty versatile, Kyle Juszczyk. So, they mix the runs in. it’s a zone running scheme with play action pass and then they’ll mix personnel with 12 and 11. Clearly they have a deep element in (Marquise) Goodwin, a guy that can fly. So, you understand what the zone scheme is and then they mix in some runs, but they’ve always had a good, versatile fullback.”
You talked a little bit earlier about entertaining opportunities, one opportunity that you reportedly did and ultimately didn’t take was the 49ers defensive coordinator job under the last regime. With what’s happened there, relative to what’s happened here, does that speak to making sure that you take the right opportunity?
“Well, I think that every job’s not a great job. It’s got to be the right fit. I think that could be for any profession. You guys going to a different station, you guys going to a different newspaper, new magazine, it’s not always about the money, it’s not always about the step up. It’s got to be the right time. It’s got to be right for you and your family and what you’re doing at the time and where you see yourself in five or 10 years.”
OLB/DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Does Michigan playing South Carolina in the Outback bowl bring back any memories for you?
“Yeah, we won.”
What do you remember about your infamous play as a member of South Carolina against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl?
“It was a big hit. Still hear about it to this day.”
How many times do you think you’ve watched your infamous hit as a member of South Carolina against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl?
“I don’t know. So many times for the last four years, five, it’s been a while.”
Do you ever get tired of watching your infamous hit as a member of South Carolina against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl?
“No, I don’t think I get tired of it.”
Do you ever talk to former Michigan RB Vincent Smith about your infamous hit against him as a member of South Caroline in the 2013 Outback Bowl?
“No, never talked to him about it.”
Was your infamous hit as a member of South Carolina against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl a good thing or were you bombarded with attention?
“It didn’t bother me. It was actually pretty cool, pretty fun. Was it a good thing? Yeah, for me.”
What do you think about the job Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel has done in his first season in the position?
“Pretty good. I like Mike. Mike’s a good coach.”
Do you and Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel have a good relationship?
“Yeah, we’re pretty close. He’s a pretty good dude.”
Do you think Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel will make a good head coach one day?
Why do you think Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel will be a good head coach someday?
“He’s a smart guy. He’s the same guy every day. High-energy guy, like I said. He brings the best out of his players and he’s a good coach.”
What do you think of 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo?
“They’ve been winning games with him. They’ve won two games this year, but he came in and made a couple of key passes in some of those games and he’s moving the ball down the field. We’ve got to get ready to stop that guy.”
Can you talk about the infamous hit as a member of South Carolina against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl from start to finish?
“It’s been so long. I’ve had a lot of collisions. I don’t remember.”
You’ve got to remember something about the infamous hit as a member of South Carolina against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl, right?
“It was a third down when they gave the guy – it was a fourth down, it might’ve been. Third or fourth. They gave him one yard for the first down and clearly they were short. The next play, I just made a play.”
At what point did you realize you would be able to lay into Michigan RB Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl?
“I didn’t really think about it. I just made it happen. It was one of those things I wasn’t thinking about at that point, like how can I make this happen? It was just like make a play.”
Was your hit in the 2013 Outback Bowl an instinctive thing?
“Yeah, a lot of plays I make are.”
Are a lot of the plays you make still instinctive?
“Yeah, still to this day.”
When did you realize your hit against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl would be such a big deal?
“It still doesn’t bother me like everybody else, making a big deal out of it.”
Too bad you haven’t been paid for every time your hit against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl has been shown.
“They pay me enough here. They do it pretty good.”
What do you think is the best play of your collegiate or professional career?
“Probably that play (against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl). In college football, I mean, it was pretty cool. It was a big play in the game, it gave us momentum in the game, put us in good field position after what had just happened on that previous play. It was crazy for it to come out and happen at that time in the game, for me to make that play.”
Did you have any contact with Michigan RB Vincent Smith after the 2013 Outback Bowl?
Do you have video of your hit against Michigan RB Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl somewhere?
“Yeah, YouTube. The same place you can see it.”
Is there some element of what the defense isn’t doing that you think can change?
“Yeah, like you said, turnovers. We’re playing great defense, we’re getting off the field on third downs but we need to get the ball back to our offense and get more turnovers. The more times we get the ball to them, the better odds we have of scoring touchdowns and everything.”
Do you think the nature of the game has changed with how easy it is to come up with turnovers with the way teams are playing against you?
“They’re usually pretty easy. We used to create turnovers all the time. Now, I don’t know what’s going on lately, but we’re playing good defense. We’re in games and holding guys, we’re just not getting the turnovers like we’ve been getting. I hope we can force some this week.”
So your defense feels like you’ve been doing everything to make turnovers and they’re just not happening?
“Yeah. Once we get one to start, then they all start coming in bunches. It’s like what they say about sacks. Once you start it off, they’ll come in bunches. We just got to get it started this week. Just going into the game, hopefully we create like three of four in this game and put the offense in good situations to go score points.”
WR WILL FULLER V
How does it feel to be back?
“It feels good to be back.”
Were you surprised to be out as long as you were when you got hurt?
“I just didn’t know what to expect. I never hurt my ribs before, so I just didn’t know what to expect.”
Are you in pain or do you feel 100 percent?
“I’m feeling a lot better.”
Do you feel good to go for Sunday?
“Yeah, we’re going to see today. Today is going to be one of my first practices back, so we’ll see how I feel today.”
How important is it for you to get back this week?
“I mean, it’s important for myself. I want to be back out there on the field.”
How frustrating is it to have the injury after playing so well?
“It’s part of the game, so that’s what comes with playing football. They happen.”
Do you feel like you’ve improved this season and how excited are you to get back out there?
“Yeah, I mean, I’m real excited to just be back out there with my team and trying to help them get a win. That’s all I’m worried about.”
How tough is it for you being out?
“It’s always hard being away from the guys.”
WR DEANDREW WHITE
Did the Texans tell you they wanted to bring you back?
“Yeah, when I got hurt, I was doing pretty good. So, I had a pretty good chance. I talked to them and they had to do what they had to do. They said they would bring me back and they kept their word and I thank them for every opportunity they’ve given me.”
How special is it to get an NFL opportunity in Houston, which is so close to where you played high school football?
“About 20-25 minutes from my high school. So, I can’t complain. I’m just blessed and everybody can’t say they’re in the same situation. I’m just thankful for the situation.”
Did you grow up a fan of the Houston Texans?
“Of course. I grew up an Oilers fan and a Texans fan. I’m a Houston kid, so I had no choice. My whole family is Texans fans. My whole family has season passes and things like that, my uncles and aunties. The family, all support there.”
What kind of family is going to be here on Sunday?
“The family, the whole family. They’re all coming. Most of them have season passes already, like I said. I’ve got to get a couple more tickets, but other than that, they’re more excited than I am. I’m grateful.”
Have you jumped right back into the offense?
“Yeah, I can say it in a sort. This offense is a pretty good offense, pretty complex offense, and I got the hang of it pretty fast and I just had to refresh my memory when I got back and add the new stuff and it’s been pretty good.”