Mini-Camp III: Day 3 - Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo – June 6, 2009

(On what he feels the team has accomplished at the conclusion of the last mini-camp)

“Mostly the installation and exposing them to things that we think that we would either do during the season or definitely would do in training camp. On both sides of the ball and special teams we tried to touch on things. We didn’t go deep into some things but at least we got it installed. We got them exposed.”

(On what he wants to get done during OTAs)

“Well, there’s a couple of things. Tuesday will be pretty much like all the other ones. There’s just a couple of installation items on both sides of the ball. Starting on Wednesday, Thursday, going into the following week, it’ll be concentrated on the NFC West teams. We’ll take a team a day and probably two (days) on Seattle since that’s the opener and we’ll go from there. We’ve only got six left.”

(On why it is a good idea to expose the team to the division opponents in the spring)

“I think it’s a good thing. First of all, we’ve always felt that the first goal has got to be to win the division so you focus on those guys for obvious reasons. You play them twice. We’ve got some new guys here. We’ve got some new coaches here that maybe haven’t been exposed to these three teams as much so it’s as much for the coaches as it is for the players. Kind of get them geared towards where we’re headed when they come back. It’s going to be about playing other teams now. We’ve been playing each other for a long time. That’s kind of the gist of it.”

(On if there are two weeks of OTAs remaining before the players are off until training camp)

“Yes. I say two weeks but you’re talking a week from this Wednesday is really the last one. So really I should say it’s 10 days or so and then they’re off until we come back. I’m not going to say the date because I’ll get it wrong, but it’s the end of July.”

(On if he has a flow chart for what he wants to accomplish in his first year)

“Things on paper – the training camp set up, where we are, what we’re going to do on game day – those kinds of things are all down in black and white. The other things that you might be talking about, I think I mentioned this before, right now the primary focus is on those things you really can’t measure. I’ve talked about that before – the team chemistry, the unity. I’m always pounding that. I’m always talking about how efficient they have or have not been on the practice field. I said this way back in the first mini-camp that it was a lot about learning how to practice. I think they’ve got it now. Although, I think we’re going to have a big challenge when they get here to training camp and it’s two-a-days and it’s pads and the heat’s bearing down. Right now is to develop those types of things and now we’re into some opponent study and game plan. When we come back for training camp it’ll be about getting the team (ready) condition-wise and stronger.”

(On if things are starting to become normal for him as a head coach)

“I want to say yes. If not for anything else it’s because you can come out here (to the practice field) and actually do some teaching. It gets you feeling like you’re normal. We all kind of feel the squeeze where we’re trying to get the players out of here to have some time off and then continue to work. You’re trying to get the coaches out of here to have some time off. In order to do that and set a date for them to get out of here we’ve got a little bit of a squeeze right now. But it is good to be on the field.”

(On if he feels good about the team)

“We have a long way to go only in that there’s still a lot of things that we’ve got to lay foundation-wise. What you really don’t know until you get into those preseason games is how you stack up against the other teams, until you play against somebody else.”

(On if there are players emerging as team leaders)

“Yeah, I see a little bit of that going on. I’m going to reserve giving the names and I’ll tell you why – because I’d like to see more of them do it and I don’t want to…sometimes if you know so and so is the leader other potential leaders stay back. We’d like to get as many as we can, but I see that surfacing.”

(On how close WR Derek Stanley is to fully participating in practice)

“We don’t want to do anything with him throughout these OTAs so the hope is as soon as we open up training camp he’ll be full go.”

(On if most of the offense and defense has been installed)

“We were talking about that this morning, (Offensive Coordinator) Pat (Shurmur), (Defensive Coordinator) Ken (Flajole) and I. We’re between the 70 and 80 percent. There will be some wrinkles we’ll get in there when we do this game planning just so we can expose them to that. It’s hard to put a percentage on it. The bulk of it’s in.”

(On if the players know what to expect from him and have a sense for how he wants them to practice)

“I hope so. I’m going to trust in them that I think they get it because we’ve got some intelligent players and we’ve got guys that are eager. So I’m going to trust in that and I’m hoping it gets through.”

Mini-Camp III: Day 3 – Defensive Coordinator Ken Flajole – June 6, 2009

(On an overall assessment of the defense)

“Well, I think we’re growing. We’ve got maybe about 70 to 75 percent of what we do installed. Haven’t had a lot of reps at it because you try to get everything that you’re going to run in training camp in before the end of everything. But I think we’ve been encouraged. Guys are working hard. We’re making some mistakes, but that’s understandable every day when you install three or four new pressures or a coverage or a front or something, it starts getting all muddled in together a little bit. But we’re working through it and the guys are working hard and we appreciate their efforts.”

(On how LB James Laurinaitis is coming along)

“Been pleased with James and been pleased with all our Draft choices. I think now again it’s a little premature because we don’t have the pads on. Certainly, that’s the telltale of it. But been happy with him. He seems like he’s a very bright young man, passion for the game, all the qualities I know that we look for here. So far, so good.”

(On if the strongside linebacker position is going to be one of the big battles in training camp)

“There’s always competition at every position. Nothing’s locked in right now. But as you guys know, depending on who you have on your roster and what your makeup is on gameday as far as the number of linebackers are concerned, we’re mixing and matching a lot of different groups right now. Today you saw (LB) Chris Draft work a little bit there and he had been kind of working a lot at mike linebacker. So we’re working a lot of combinations. You have to do that just to protect yourself in the event that there’s an injury on gameday.”

(On what kind of offseason DE Chris Long has had without the pads on)

“I think he’s been good. I know our strength coaches have been happy with the progress that he’s made in the weight room. Just getting his body another year stronger so to speak. He’s done a good job that way. Again there’s still some time left between now and training camp and that will be a big push, a big emphasis for us just to continue the good, hard work that they’ve had so far and make sure that we still make strength gains.”

(On how it helps having players on the team that he’s worked with in the past and Coach Spagnuolo has worked with previously)

“It’s been a lot of help. Particularly (S) James (Butler) because James has been in the system the last couple of years. My familiarity with Chris Draft and Will Witherspoon, as you guys know was in Carolina, but it was with a different system, so they’re learning it on the run just like the other guys are. But James knows all the intricacies, all the details so to speak that kind of make it fly. So it’s been great having him with us.”

(On what he has seen from CB Tye Hill)
“We’ve been pleased with Tye. He came back from battling on that knee. I think he’s getting better every week. I’m cautiously optimistic about Tye.”

(On how playing with just left and right defensive tackles instead of a three-technique and nose tackle will help players)

“Well I think what happens is that as far as not playing a three-technique and a shade technique, it just gives a little more flexibility when we go to some different fronts. Guys get comfortable playing out of certain stances and if you’re always on the three or the shade sometimes you kind of get kitty-holed into playing out of a certain stance. Then all of a sudden now you try to get to a different front and it’s not the same stance, now they’re out of their comfort zone. I think they’ve been working through it fine and I think its gong to help us.”

(On if this defense can be mentally overwhelming for players)

“I don’t think so. I think any time it’s a new system there’s always some growing pains. I think when they get more repetitions in it, more experience in it I think there’s some simplicity to it that will help them play faster. Now, again, I say that because we’re adding new things every day right now. When you finally get all the installation done and you go back and you review then I think a lot of these concepts take hold and now they don’t feel like they’re so fuzzy on some things. Again, I think there’s some growing pains that are expected but I’m happy with the progress we’re making.”

(On if he has a sense for what he has on defense or if he has to see players in pads at training camp)

“I think pads are the tell-tale. Then you’ve got to get them out underneath the lights when the pressure’s on. Right out here if you make a mistake it’s not going up on the scoreboard. I don’t know if you feel the same sense of urgency. I’m always interested to see how guys react when its show time and the lights come up.”

(On if he is looking forward to the competition at spots during training camp)

“Absolutely and I hope the competition improves us. If a guy feels like there’s other people that can push him or take his spot I think it just makes that guy perform that much better. The more competition that we have by position I think it just breeds your progress as a defense.”

(On DE Leonard Little)

“He’s done a great job. He’s a great leader. I’ve been happy with him. He’s a great role model for the younger guys. We’re going to knock on wood and tape an aspirin to his knee and hope he doesn’t get hurt.”

Mini-Camp III: Day 3 - Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur – June 6, 2009

(On an overall assessment on the offense)

“Well, I’m impressed with the players. Their attitude’s been good, preparation’s been good, they are very smart, they’ve taken to the scheme. The idea is to get it all in, so that when we get to training camp everything’s a review. So the preparation’s been great, they’re out here competing and everybody’s getting better.”

(On if the offense has learned the verbiage of the new system)

“I don’t know if they’ve all totally learned it, but they’re getting used to using it and executing. A lot is made out of the communication of the plays, but as I mentioned, we have very smart players here. They’re really into it and you can see that they’re finding ways to make plays and that’s the challenge is to first make the first one and then be consistent and do it time after time after time.”

(On if the players are at the point where they ask questions about variations of plays or if it is still absorption)

“Well, the play is called and then you execute it. Then within each play you have to attack specific things and if you don’t get those things, then go through progression and the routes change or you try to run the football. With Steven Jackson having the ball in his hands, that changes things quite a bit.”

(On if he has a sense of what he has on the offensive line or can he not tell without the pads on)

“You have to hold final judgment on how the line plays until you get pads on, but from what we’ve seen we’re very excited. We’re anticipating that the stuff that they’re doing here will carry over to training camp.”

(On what he tells someone who has concerns over having a young receiving corps)

“I like the guys we have. I think they’re playing hard. They’re working hard to get open and they’re really working hard at catching the football. I think they’re all trying to think of themselves as playmakers and that’s what you want.”

(On how big of an impact TE Randy McMichael has on the offense)

“Randy’s done a nice job. And you’re right, the tight end needs to be a pass receiver and he’s doing an excellent job also with his blocking. (Tight ends) Coach (Frank) Leonard does a great job of instructing him. I think Randy’s going to be big piece of our offense.”

(On how T Jason Smith is coming along)

“Jason’s doing great. We’ve had a chance to work him at both sides and he’s a guy that going to be real good player. He’s working hard, he’s developing and we’re looking forward to see how it carries over to training camp.”

(On what he sees in the some of the running backs behind Steven Jackson)

“Well, Ken Darby is doing a terrific job. Really good football player. He’s got a good feel for protections, he catches the ball, runs the ball well. (Antonio) Pittman. The guys do a nice job behind him. We feel good about the backup guys. We’re anticipating that when they’re in the game that they’re going to do a great job.”

(On if he has a preference in what type of running back will back up Jackson)
“We want Steven in there, but if Steven isn’t I’m really impressed with the guys that we have. They all are a little bit different, but obviously when a backup player comes in he’s a role player. And so there’s things that they’re good at and other things they are developing, so I think that’s the case with all our guys.”

(On how quarterbacks Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller are grasping the offense)

“I think the quarterbacks have done a great job. A lot of the challenge is them getting the play calls communicated and they’ve done a terrific job of doing that. Very few errors in terms of their performance. Again, they are like everybody else, they are getting better.”

(On if there were any mechanical changes he had to work on with Bulger)

“No, Marc’s a fine player. Again, they have an idea of what they’re looking at. The key is to get the play executed, know what your looking at and know when you see it and pull the trigger and Marc can do all those things.”

(On what he has seen from T Alex Barron)

“Alex has done a real good job for us. He’s like all those guys up front, they’re working hard, getting used to working together. Worked him a bunch on the left side in this camp. He’s doing a nice job.”

(On if it will difficult to determine which tackle fits in which position)

“I don’t think so. I think as we go forward here we’re going to put the best five guys out there. We feel like we have guys that can fit in those spots.”

(On if they would be ready to play a game next week if they needed to)

“We’re not playing next week.”

(On if he is excited about having a physical offense)

“We get excited in the spring, but as coaches we always hold judgment until the pads go on. But we’re anticipating that their effort and performance will carry over.”