Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

­­Press Conference – December 21, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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You had a chance to watch DT Javon Kinlaw for the first time in a while, what did you see from him today? How did he look?

“Yeah, really excited to have J.K. back out there. It’s just refreshing to see just his presence, to be out there and it’s it’s cool to just see him get back into the groove of playing football again. I know he’s been on a long pathway to get back and there’s a lot of struggles along the way. If anybody has been injured, they understand how tough it is to battle back from that and I just commend J.K. for his effort, his persistence throughout the rehab process to make it back at this point.”

I’m assuming he was in meetings and stuff still throughout this, how much can you help him in terms of film throughout that?

“Yeah, the biggest thing with him is just getting the body right. I think when it comes to ball and playing ball, guys naturally just kind of sync back into football mode, but it is really just overcoming the mental hurdle of being injured. That’s the biggest thing for injured players is the mental aspect of it and how much it drains you doing rehab so much. Once you get over that and you get back out to on the field with your brothers and you’re out there playing football again, all that stuff just goes out the window, now you can get back to focusing on your techniques and getting better at your job.”

The Commanders, I realize it’s the NFL and everyone is physical and violent and all that, but do the Commanders have an offensive mentality or style that they’re going to try to match you guys and your physicality and come right at you?

“Yeah, we know. Washington, they’ve done a really good job of running the football, controlling the game. They’re first in time of possession. They do a good job of just trying to stay on schedule that way, of protecting the football, running the football really well with two really good backs, a good offensive line, so it’ll be a really good matchup for us and when it comes to the run game, probably the best run game we’ve seen since Atlanta, so  it’ll be a really good matchup for us.”

Your defense clearly has very few weaknesses, but if there was an Achilles heel, it seems like it might be the quarterback scramble on third-and-long. Would you consider using a quarterback spy in certain situations against certain mobile quarterbacks, or is that something you don’t like to do?

“I think every team, every situation calls for whatever it takes to win, so for me, if it’s a quarterback spy that we need, we would use that if we felt like that would help us to win that game or win that down. When it comes to that, yeah, sometimes the quarterback does get out and even scrambles and make plays on us, but it’s it’s not something that anybody is just totally freaking out about. It’s just that we have to make plays when it comes down to it, guys have to be sound and where they need to be, and if the quarterback gets out, we have to go get them down.”

You were able to move CB Charvarius Ward on Seattle Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf a lot last week at different spots. What does that do for you as a playcaller, having a guy that you can do that with against a number one wide reciever?

“Yeah, it’s confidence that Mooney brings to our entire defense. When you have a guy who can go and match up against a top receiver in this league, like Metcalf, it’s just confidence for everyone. You know Mooney is going to go over there, you know he’s going to do a great job no matter who he’s lined up against, so it’s a breath of fresh air knowing that he can handle the top wide receiver on the other team.”

When you acquired him, did you have that in mind as that could be a way you could use him or did that kind of emerge naturally through conversation?

“It just emerged. From a gameplanning standpoint of what we need to do to win the game that particular week versus Seattle, we felt like that’s what we needed to do and that allowed us to win the game. Mooney played an, outstanding game. He challenged their best guy and he went up and made plays, so I’m really happy for Mooney and for him to go out and play that way that allowed us to be NFC West champs. All the credit, hat off to Mooney for the job that he did, it was awesome to watch.”

You guys have a fair amount of stars on defense and it seems not a lot of ego and that seems to be the case throughout the team. Is that something you guys talk about a lot or is that naturally the kind of people you have?

“Yeah, it starts with the people that you bring in and it’s also about the guys geling together with the leaders that we already have here. When you have [DL Nick] Bosa, [DL] Arik [Armstead], [LB] Fred [Warner], guys who are not big ego guys, guys who are team first guys, it’s just the culture that [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and [general manager] John [Lynch] have created here in our locker room. Just overall. When you come in, nobody is bigger than the next man and the only way that we thrive as a team, as a defense is everybody just doing their job and playing together. That’s what makes us a really good defense is when we play together, I always tell the guys, no one needs to play hero ball. You’re not on the field by yourself, so if you take that mindset that all I have to do is my part, do my job, then we’ll play really good football and that’s what guys have been doing and nobody is saying, oh, look at me or what I’ve done or looking at their own personal accomplishments. It’s all about us collectively as a unit.”

What’s are the dangerous aspects of Washington Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke and same goes for Washington Commanders QB Carson Wentz if he comes in to replace him?

“I think Heinicke has done a really good job of just managing the game for them. I think here in this last game, you’ve seen him take a few more shots down field, so I would anticipate them trying that on us. Taking some more shots down field. They have a really good receiving core, I have a lot of respect for it. Those guys can go up and make plays on the ball, so we have our hands full, not only with the run game, but also with the receiving core. They’re a really talented group of guys, so Heinicke can definitely push it down field and get the ball to those guys.”

DB Jimmie Ward seemed less than thrilled at first to be playing nickelback, but now it seems like he’s playing the position at a really high level. What’s your assessment and how much do you appreciate him doing that?

“Yeah, he’s gotten better each week. Jimmie, he’s a very gifted player. He can do a lot of  different things that most defenders can’t, whether it’s safety, nickel, Jimmie has played corner, not that we’re asking him to do all that, but he is the guy who has the flexibility, he has that God-given ability to go in and play the slot for us and he’s done a great job and he’s getting better each week. And Jimmie is making even more plays. I feel like every week he’s making a play. He’s around the ball more, making more plays for us, being a big-time playmaker for our defense and it’s scary to say this, but he can get even better. He can get even better in there, but it just comes with the more reps he gets, he’ll continue to get better and make even more plays for us. Jimmie, he’s definitely climbing, he’s doing a really good job for us in there and for him to unselfishly go in there, it just speaks to the man Jimmie is. It goes back to the ego question. Like it’s no ego, it’s just what can I do to help our team win games? And that was the attitude that Jimmy had about moving in there and he’s been outstanding so far.”

What enables someone like Armstead to miss all the time that he missed? I think it was eight games and then come back and be impactful now. Like right away, it doesn’t happen that way all the time.

“Yeah, the first thing is you have a very dominant player in Armstead and he’s been a great player in his league for a long time, so it doesn’t take him long to get back going or to get back into football mode. Once he hits the ground, hits it running, he’s affecting the game. When it comes to our pass rush, I feel like it is different when Arik is in there because he can just do things that other players can’t. And Arik, he has been a good player for many years now and he’s just always steady, always consistent, always around the ball making plays. And the cool part about Arik is, he makes everyone around him better, so I feel like our defensive line, our defense in general has played better by having Arik back and I’m just happy to have him back with his presence and his playmaking ability has allowed us to play even better.”

With three games to play, does Fred, any other team leaders have to say anything this week to make sure that nobody sort of you know, exhales with three more weeks to go?

“Yeah, I said some things. It’s a great accomplishment to win the West. It’s a great accomplishment, but everyone knows that’s not our goal and also to that, we didn’t play our best in Seattle. There’s a lot of things that we can do much better. If we want to go where we want to go, we have to play better on defense and guys understand that wasn’t our best game, and if we want to be a great team and move on, we have to play better defense and guys got that message and they understand what we need to do, so there’s no take a breath, take a breather. There’s none of that. There’s no time to relax. It’s actually a time to pick it up for everybody, for us.”

I have a non-football question for you. What are your favorite Christmas traditions and your favorite Christmas song?

“Favorite Christmas song would be Silent Night by The Temptations. Favorite Christmas tradition, I would say it’s when I was younger, my family would always have a huge gathering on Christmas Eve and everyone would always exchange gifts no matter, it didn’t matter about the how much the gift costs. It was a matter of giving and everybody just being thankful for what they had and it was just a really cool time for the family to get together. And I think that’s what Christmas it is all about. Just family, being around each other, loving each other and just having a great time. A time of giving, that’s what it’s all about. Time of giving and not just receiving, but it’s always about giving and just being thankful for what we have.”