Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

Press Conference – December 2, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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I have a long shot question for you, have you ruled out LB Fred Warner from playing this week or is there a chance that he might suit up?

“I’ll defer all that to Kyle with the injuries.”

The last three games, obviously, the defense has been off the field a lot more the way the offense is playing, but I think the run defense, it seems that it has been better on the interior. Has DL Arik Armstead’s move to more defensive tackle alignment helped in that regard for the run defense?

“Yeah, I think with the run defense, it’s been all of our guys inside. I feel like they’ve all played better. Starting with [DL] D.J. Jones. He’s been in there. He’s done a really good job of attacking and making plays inside. You see [DL] Kevin Givens stepping in and making a huge play for us there last week. And Arik has done a really good job inside as well, so all of those guys, [DL Kentavius] Street, Arik. D.J., just collectively as a group, all of our guys inside have played well.”

Speaking of D.J., how much credit does he get for LB Azeez Al-Shaair’s interception on Sunday?

“If he doesn’t do what he did, with getting his hands up there, [Minnesota Vikings QB] Kirk [Cousins] is able to make a clean throw there. So I think that D.J. getting his hands up, effecting the quarterback there, it has everything to do with Azeez being able to get that interception and Azeez also did an awesome job of redirecting his body and being able to make that catch. It was a tough catch, but all credit goes to D.J. with him getting his hands up, affecting the quarterback. Something we’ve been trying to instill in our guys more. How can we affect the quarterback? And that’s of course getting our hands up when we are close.”

He gets off the line faster than anybody on that play. Was that just that play or is that something that you’ve been seeing from D.J., just really explosive get offs?

“Yeah, that’s what he’s been doing. He’s just really taking hold of the scheme and doing what we ask him to do and that’s attacking. That’s our front. We want to play an attack front. And when our guys are attacking up front, their run game is better, pass game is better. Everything is better because everything is predicated on our defense line being aggressive and attacking the front. And when D.J. just does his job, nothing fancy, but he’s just doing his job there on that play, attacking, doing what he is supposed to do, and it causes a turnover. And that’s how, we haven’t had turnovers, but they’re coming now. It’s just a matter of guys being fundamentally sound, owning their technique, doing their job to the best of their ability.”

You’ve been around D.J. for a long time while you’ve been here. What steps has he taken since you’ve seen him from the beginning?

“Yeah I think D.J., from the beginning, he’s always kind of been up and down, splash player, but I’ve seen him grow from the standpoint of him just being a more consistent player. He’s been very consistent and he’s been dominant. He’s been on the other side of the line of scrimmage, which he can do consistently. And that’s what he’s proven. And that’s how he’s grown since he’s been here. He’s just becoming a more consistent, more dominant force inside. And that’s the reason why we continue to play good defense is because of D.J. and what he does up front for us.”

Kyle mentioned with Azeez that he flies around all the time, which is wonderful. But sometimes in the past, I guess more frequently than now, he’d fly around and perhaps not break down and missed tackles. Even at this level, do you go back to the fundamentals with a guy like that? Like I’m going to break down Azeez or, how do you deal with that if that was like an issue?

“Yeah. That is Azeez. That’s who he is. He is probably one of our best effort players. When you turn on our tape, you’re going to see 51 flying around sideline-to-sideline making plays. And that’s what I want from him. That’s what I expect from him. Love the aggressiveness and at the end of the day, when it comes to the point in time to make that tackle, when you’re flying around like that, sometimes you may miss, but that’s okay if I have 10 other guys flying around at the same speed and with the same mentality that Azeez is flying around with. So Azeez, he has just continued to do what he’s doing. He’s been doing a great job, having the best year of his career. And I see him just continue to get better and better each week. But when you fly around like that, that’s what we want. And of course, sometimes you may miss, but it’s all about those other guys coming as well and are they flying around as quick as him.”

He had what seemed like an underrated play, I think it was the last tackle when he got Minnesota Vikings RB Alexander Mattison on the second down on the last drive before you get to the sideline. Is that just an example of like you said him being able to get sideline-to-sideline?

“Yeah, of course and Azeez, he plays all over the field and that play there during the two-minute drive. We try to teach our guys in two-minute, you want to tackle the outside leg, knock guys back, so the clock can continue to run. And that was a perfect example from not only Azeez, but also E-Man [CB Emmanuel Moseley] had a tackle on that same drive. That’s exactly what we want there to continue to make the clock move. So that’s Azeez, he’s all over the place, he plays with a lot of energy, hair is on fire and he’s a guy who can rally the guys around him as well.”

How is Moseley playing and how much do he and everybody else in the secondary got to watch out for the deep ball with Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson? Have you noticed any difference in Russell’s deep ball the last three games?

“Yeah. I think E-man has done a good job. E-man has been consistent for us. One of the most consistent guys in the backend. E-man is doing a good job for us. And when it comes to Russell and the deep ball and those things, guys just have to play their techniques. We know they’re going to try to attack us with [Seattle Seahawks WR D.K.] Metcalf, get him the ball. So our guys are aware of that, but guys can’t panic or anything. When that time comes, you just have to trust their preparation and what they’ve been doing all week, what they’ve been studying all week, just trust that and go play fast, man, go play confident. That’s what our guys have to do.”

As S Talanoa Hufanga develops, how fun is it for you to find ways to get him on the field in those three safety sets, because obviously those have been increasing here over the past couple of weeks?

“Yeah, with Talanoa getting on the field is just a credit to him. First off, how smart he is. First things first, he’s a very sharp guy. He can handle a lot and I put a lot on him and he’s able to handle it. He does a great job of studying and always being prepared. So, with that, we try to get him out on the field as much as we can because you see he can be a playmaker for us and he’s made some big time plays for us when he’s out there, so as much as I can, I want to keep him out on the field.”

You have a bigger sample size of Seattle with their new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, at this point, than you did the first time. What have you seen in that group? And what are maybe some strengths and weaknesses that you’ve identified now that you have a bigger sample to work with?

“Yeah, I think it’s still Seattle. As I watch these guys and study them, they want to run the ball. They want to keep the game manageable, so Russ can get there in the fourth quarter and be Russ and try to make a miraculous play to win a game. So to me, everything they do offensively has still been the same. They have a few more wrinkles here and there with some play action plays. But for the gist of everything it’s still, Seattle heavy. They want to run the ball, play action pass, take some deep shots to [Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler] Lockett. It’s still who they are. We’ve went against these guys a lot. We know it’s going to be a tough battle, those guys always are competitive. They’re going to play hard, just as we are. So it’s always going to be a good matchup.”

With them struggling as much as they have in the last few weeks, how much do you brace for that? Like, ‘Hey, you guys, they’re eventually going to snap out of this?’

“When you look at the tape and you really watch these guys, these games are all close. Their record may not say that, but all of the games, they’ve been in. So our guys aren’t looking at it like, ‘Oh, look at that record. They’re not who they’ve been.’ Seattle is still the same. They’re going to play tough. They’ll be in the game, no matter how the game looks, how the outcome looks. They always find a way to be in games and have an opportunity, a chance to win the game. Just like they did on Monday night, as bleak as the situation looks, they still are able to generate a drive there when they need it. So, we’re not overlooking these guys or everything like that. We know this is going to be a tough matchup. We’ve got to play our best ball against these guys if we expect to win.”

I’ve got another D.J. question. I think early in his career, stamina was a question mark with him playing well into December and January. How has he done in that regard? How is he looking right now?

“Yeah, a big credit to D.J.. I think when he came into camp, he came back probably in the best shape that he’s been in and he’s sustained that throughout the entire year. So it’s just a credit to how D.J. has worked in the offseason. And he hasn’t missed a ton of time, he’s been available and he’s been able to showcase his talent. And that’s what you see. Like he’s been out there. He’s been able to showcase a consistent and dominant player inside, so it’s a credit to him and just how he’s worked from the offseason and how it’s paid off for him throughout the year.”