Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

Press Conference – January 6, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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LB Fred Warner was talking yesterday about LB Marcell Harris and his sort of evolution this year. Here we are going into Week 18 of the year that he becomes a linebacker. What can you say about that and what he’s been able to accomplish this season?

“I think with the position change as the year has gone along, Marcell was able to get more reps. As time went along, this Houston game was the game where he probably had the most amount of reps and he’s just feeling more comfortable in that position. And he was able to make a huge play for us there to get the interception when we needed it most for our team. To change the momentum of that game, Marcell stepped up big time for us. And he did a really good a job on Sunday, it was probably his best outing of the year playing linebacker. So happy with where Marcell is and I’m just looking forward to him continuing to progress and get better, continue to learn and study, be locked in. He’s done a good job for us.”

Fred was talking about yesterday that he was in a dark place mentally, this year. And he talked about the pressure he put on himself because of the contract extension and that he’s beyond that. And he thought the way he played against the Texans was some evidence. Did you, not that you’d talk about your private conversations with him, but did you in any way feel like you were able to help him get out of that valley he was in earlier in the season?

“I think for Fred and for any guy who gets a contract, you feel added pressure for sure. It does happen. It’s just human nature, but he just had to understand that it is still just football. He’s still the same player he’s always been, he just has to relax. Like he was before. Relax and go play. Just own your keys and go play ball, go have fun, play with great effort like you’ve always done. And the plays that you’re kind of pressing to make, plays will just start to come to you because you’re loose and you’re locked in, you’re exactly where you need to be and you’re just having fun. You’re playing a game, having fun. And the plays, the big plays, just so to speak, that guys press for, you don’t get them when you press. You get them when you’re just doing your job. Be where you’re supposed to be and having fun doing it.”

Looking at your opponent this week, you’ve seen the Rams. Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford has thrown a lot of his interceptions when they’re backed up. Have you seen anything situationally that has led to that, that you might be able to take advantage of? You did before in Week 10.

“Yeah. I think haven’t seen anything, just truly situational, to take advantage of it. With those turnovers, we know turnovers are a huge part of the game, so I think it’s just guys really studying their offense and understanding when can we have those opportunities to make plays on the ball. And guys just have to own their job, be where they supposed to be and I think those opportunities will come. With our mind on the ball, we’re attacking the ball with the right mindset and we’ll get the ball.”

What can you do as far as the guys who are currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, as far as getting them ready to go. What have you been doing behind the scenes in the case that they do get cleared to play? How do you keep them up to date on the gameplan and just what you are expectations for them are if they’re cleared?

“The best part about it is we’ve had all our meetings virtual. So all those guys have been in the meetings. They understand the gameplan. They’re able to ask questions about the game plan. So our guys, they’ve been locked in mentally and the guys who are on that list, they’ve played a lot of ball for us. So they understand our scheme, what we’re trying to do defensively and those guys, we’ll be grateful to have them back as soon as we can get them back. But I think there won’t be any mental hurdles for our guys. They’ll be able to plug right back in and get out there and help us.”

And is there anything they can do physically to stay ready? I know they can’t come there to the practice fields, but is there anything they can do at a public park or whatever to kind of just go through the motions of what you expect from?

“Yeah, I think it all depends on how those guys are feeling. If they’re feeling well enough to get a workout in wherever they can, that would definitely be beneficial for them to help us on Sunday. The biggest thing and the most important thing for me, is just making sure those guys are okay, health-wise. That’s the biggest thing. The game is the game, it’ll take care of itself. But the biggest thing for me, is making sure those guys are feeling good. That’s the biggest thing.”

Obviously, you guys have won five straight against the Rams. Why do you think you match up so well against them?

“It’s a division opponent and it’s two teams who are very well-coached teams, two teams who play hard, two teams who respect each other and we just get after it. It’s always going to be a battle when we line up across from each other, we know we’re going to get their best. They’re going to get our best. And I think that’s what we’ve seen over the past couple of years playing against the Rams. It’s always been great games, but it’s always going to come down to who can take the ball away.”

Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp, obviously, everybody knew he was a good receiver coming into the year, but he is putting together like an NFL HOF WR Jerry Rice type year. I’m just curious in your observations on what makes him so successful in this offense?

“Yeah, the biggest thing with Kupp, he’s a very smart player. Talented, can run all the routes they need him to run. A very smart player. Very efficient route runner and yeah, his quarterback over there in Stafford can find him wherever he is on the field. So I think those guys started to mesh really well together, started to gel and they have a really good connection. And that’s why you’ve seen the success that they have. Two smart players working together there, I have the utmost respect for Kupp, not only him in the passing game, but you see how he blocks in the run game that’s where it really makes me tip my cap to the guy. He’s not afraid to get in there and block, whether there’s a defensive end, whether it’s a nickel, whether there’s a linebacker he will get in there and block. And I definitely respect him for that.”

Matthew Stafford has had an up and down season this year. How much can you take away from what other defenses have been able to do to him to get pressure and kind of throw him off of his game?

“We just study it as much as we can. Try to study it to see what can we do, what can our guys handle to go out and play our best. But as long as our guys continue to stay locked in to our game plan and we are where we’re supposed to be, it’s just going be a matter of how bad do we want it? Guys have to go out and execute, have to play hard and we have to attack the ball. If we do that then we’ll be just fine.”