Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

Press Conference – January 19, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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How much different do the Packers look to you now than, obviously week three was a long time ago, when you saw them back then? And in what ways?

“Well, I don’t think they look much different. They’re a well-oiled machine, those guys are, they’re very efficient in what they do. When it comes to running the ball and also throwing the ball, they’re just a very efficient offense who takes care of the ball and just present tough challenges at all their spots, at the wide receiver position, the running back position, the O-line is getting back healthy. So definitely a good team we’re going against here. Good challenge for us.”

I assume whether it’s man or zone, you’d rather not have just one guy in the general area of Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams. How hard is it to accomplish that goal without compromising the defense in other areas, particularly against a quarterback like Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers?

“Yeah, they make it difficult because they do a great job of moving Davante around. He doesn’t stay at one spot. He can move into the slot. He can play outside. He’s all over the place. We know that he’s the top guy. He, to me, is the one of the best receivers in the NFL, just with his ability, man, he can make plays all over the field. So we have to have eyes on him. We have to be aware of where he is at all times. We also have to let the defense just work for us and when it comes down to it, whether you’re in man coverage, you’re in zone coverage, whatever it may be, somebody’s going to be matched up and somebody has to go make a play when the ball is up in the air. And that’s what it’s going to come down to. Can we go make a play?”

Week 3 game, Green Bay Packers RB A.J. Dillon didn’t get as many carries. It seems that he has been getting more lately. What kind of challenge does having to tackle a 250-pounder in this day and age, especially in cold weather, present your defense?

“Yeah, he’s been getting better throughout the year. I can see his carries increasing and you see him running the ball much better. What challenge does he present? I don’t think it’s a huge challenge. We just have to play defense how we play defense. And that’s just everybody swarming to the ball. Everybody just being where they’re supposed to be and trying to play as physical as possible. That’s how you handle jim. It’s not going to be one guy taking him down. You see on film multiple times, one guy coming in, he does a good job of running defenders over, just dragging guys along. So it is going to take more than one person to tackle A.J. because he is such a big, strong, physical runner.”

I’m not sure exactly what the status will be of CB Ambry Thomas, but are you confident in CB Josh Norman being able to step back in if called upon after not playing any defensive snaps the last two weeks?

“Yeah. I think whoever we have out there, has to step up and make plays for us. It really doesn’t matter and I tell our guys all the time that it is not about really one person on our defense. Whoever steps out there, they’re tasked with the challenge of going and just playing within the defense, playing the right techniques, doing what they’re supposed to be and being accountable to the other 10 guys that are out there. It doesn’t matter what position it is, but if you’re out there, guys are going be accountable to each other.”

I have two questions. One is about one person on your defense and that’s DL Nick Bosa. I’m wondering what he’s been able to do with you guys this week, while he is in the protocol. And then the other would be with Aaron Rogers in terms of like maybe his most dangerous throw, would it be maybe a back shoulder where it might draw a P.I. on a guy?

“Yeah, the first question with Nick, he’s come along well going through the NFL protocol there and hopefully he’ll be fine by the end of the week. Definitely need him out there. So hopefully he’ll be fine by the end of the week. And with Aaron, his best throw is, man, he can make them all. Which makes him so difficult. The back shoulder is definitely one of the toughest ones, just his accuracy on the deep ball is why you can tell he’ll be a future Hall of Famer. You don’t see guys throw the ball, they don’t spin it like Aaron does. And he just has an awesome touch, awesome feel. He’s very confident back there in the pocket. So, it’s definitely the best quarterback we’ve seen all year.”

A lot of people are asking what the Packers look like, how they’re different from Week 3, but how do you feel your defense is different from Week 3? You seem much more efficient. What do you see from your eyes when you’re watching film?

“I think, overall, our defense is much better. You see in the run game, I think we’re much better. Just [DL] D.J. [Jones] and [DL] Arik [Armstead] inside, they’ve done an outstanding job. Just all around, when I watch that film from the first game and I watch our Dallas game or the L.A. game, it looks like two completely different defenses. Just the way we’re moving, the way we’re swarming now, it just looks different. It feels different on film. Many different guys in, but many different guys are still stepping up and making plays for us. I feel like the pass rush is definitely better. Guys are working together a lot more in the pass rush. Multiple guys are making plays, not just counting on one guy to make plays. Multiple guys are making plays for us when it comes to rushing the passer, when it comes to our corners on the edge, I think we’re playing better there, so it’s just all around. Just guys have improved throughout the year.”

Your defense was so dominant the whole game in Dallas. But on that final drive, the Dallas offense was really able to get down the field without timeouts and get those three completions near the sideline. After watching the film, is there anything different that you would’ve called in that situation? Were you trying to defend the sidelines? What was your thought process on that final drive?

“We were defending, they had to score a touchdown. So they wanted to keep ditching it and getting it out of bounds. That’s fine. But we knew, at the end of the day, to win the game we couldn’t allow them to get in the end zone. And we weren’t going to give up a huge chunk play to those guys in the middle of the field.”

I assume you’ve reviewed the Week 3 game against Green Bay. What emotions were stirred when you had to review the last two completions Rodgers had in that game?

“Just again, incredible throws by him and you see why he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Very great throws by him, but also you just see where we can be better, defensively in those situations as well. And I think we are better, much better defense than we were then. So Week 3 seems like so long ago, but I’m happy for Week 3. I’m very happy for Week 3. I think it was a definitely a pivotal moment in our season. Just defensively, for guys just making the turnaround and really changing. You take a heartbreaking loss like that and you know the plays that we could have made defensively in that game. You go back, we had multiple opportunities to make plays, to help our team win that game and defensively, I feel like we did not help our team win that game when the offense went down and scored to put us in position to win the game. So defensively, I just feel like guys have owned it more to where we have to put at the team on our back to be better in those situations and to make plays when it comes time for us to make plays.”

It’s been reported that you have an interview with the Vikings today. First of all, is that coming after this? And then have you asked New York Jets Head Coach Robert Salah about that process? Gotten any advice from him or anyone else?

“Yeah, interview with the Vikings, we’ll handle that over the next couple of days. We’ll get that handled, but the main focus right now for me, is just all on the Packers. And that’s where I am right now, just all on the Packers and how can we play our best versus the Packers to get a win?”

D.J. Jones said the after the Dallas game that Arik Armstead was the most important piece of the 49ers defense. Can you just talk a little bit about that and how he’s stepped into that role?

“Yeah, I love that D.J. says that about Arik. I think I spoke about it before where Arik is just, his unselfish move going inside, when he’s been a defensive end for so long, but him moving inside and to not be as comfortable inside with the technique, but to see him just continue to work, continue to focus on the small details of playing three technique or two-I and continue to get better at it. And now to see him over the past couple weeks, just really dominate inside, it’s awesome to watch. It’s awesome to see a guy like Arik, step in and step up for our defense when we needed him most. He stepped up the biggest for us and that’s been the biggest turnaround in our defense is the play of Arik Armstead inside.”

I have one more about the run defense against the Packers. They weren’t really explosive in Week 3, but they managed to seem to kind of keep the line moving, I think 100 yards and 25 carries, so four a pop. What was the primary problem there? And how important is it to make sure they can’t do that again so that Aaron Rogers is a little bit more off schedule?

Yeah, we definitely have to tackle better. We gave up too much leaky yardage and I’m showing the guys the film like, we tackle a guy, we got a body on him at two yards and a run that should be two yards, it ends up going for six yards and we have to make sure that we have guys at a two-yard gain. It has to be a two-yard gain, so we can’t allow leaky yardage, the yards after contact there. That was the issue in the first game and we just have to populate the football much better. We have to have more guys show up around the ball because both of their backs are really talented backs, so we have to just swarm and tackle better.

Arik Armstead’s play seems to have improved so much since he’s moved to defensive tackle full-time. He’s making such an impact. Is that his new home fulltime? Is he going to be playing there next year too?

“I don’t know that. Wherever he needs to play, Arik can play outside, Arik can play inside. That’s Arik. He’s a Playmaker, no matter where he is. When he was on the outside, he had a huge year for us in ‘19 where he got over 10 sacks playing outside. He moves inside this year, probably the most tackles he’s had in his career. So Arik has had career years on the outside and on the inside. So you’re talking about just a very talented player, no matter where he plays, whatever position it is, you can just call his position, playmaker.”

In regards to the offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, we’ve seen his personality quite a bit this year. He’s obviously got an unusual sense of humor, great humor, whatever but anyway, how would you describe him just as a guy and your relationship with him?

“Mike is one of the most detailed, one of the hardest working guys. I don’t think I can ever beat him in the building. Every time I show up, his car is always here, he always beats me in, but always one of the first guys in the building. All the work he puts in behind the scenes, he grinds. Mike grinds and he definitely deserves all the recognition that he’s getting. He’s a very smart guy. Very fun guy, you were talking about the humor. He’s a very fun guy. He has some quick wit about himself and he’s just done an excellent job. Ever since I’ve been around him and just seeing his growth as a coach, as a person, I can’t be happy enough for Mike and the recognition that he’s gotten. It is well deserved for the work that he’s put in, so happy for him.”