Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

­­Press Conference – January 11, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

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What were the conditions out there during practice and were they a good warmup for what you expect to see on Saturday?

“Yeah, out there today it was wet, windy, really tough conditions, but I really loved the mindset of our guys and how they practiced today. It was really cool to see, everybody was still locked in and focused. They didn’t let the elements of the weather dictate how they were feeling and how they worked today, so it’s a really good sign when your guys are made of the right stuff and they practice the right way.”

DL Nick Bosa talked about how in the postseason, guys kind of get this second wind. Have you noticed that, felt that amongst your players?

“We’re happy to be here now. It’s weird when you clinch so early. It’s a little weird. You still have to push through these games, try to advance your seeding as best as possible, but I think everybody is thinking okay, we’re here now, now it’s time to go. We’ve been waiting on this moment for a long time. Our guys have worked really hard to put themselves in position to have a chance and we’re here now and our guys are excited about the opportunity and they’re working the right way, so I’m excited for our guys. I’m excited to see them go play.”

You had a nice rebound from the Raiders game to how they performed in the last game?

“Our guys responded really well. Versus the Raiders, we knew that was not representative of who we were defensively, so I was very proud of how our guys responded versus Arizona. Guys were locked in, guys did their job, they were playing with great technique, great effort. Guys were swarming, playing our style of football and it was nice to see. Sometimes you get punched in the face and you have to rebound. And our guys, they responded, they came out and they showed who they were. That’s the character of the guys that we have, again, just made of the right stuff and I’m just so proud to coach these guys. So proud to coach them.”

Before this matchup, the last one between Seattle Seahawks WR DK Metcalf and CB Charvarius Ward on the field was extremely physical. Do you expect to see the same type of matchup with them again on Saturday?

“This will be a very physical matchup with DK and Mooney and just across the board with their o-line, our defensive line, our linebackers, it’s going to be a physical game. It’s playoff football and that’s what it comes down to. Typically, the most physical team, the team who attacks the ball and takes the ball the most is the team that’s going to win this game, so it I’m excited to see the matchup again, no matter who lines up across from DK or [Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler] Lockett. Whoever it may be, guys are responsible, guys have to do their job and go play to the best of their ability and just try to make plays versus those guys.”

From your perspective, what are the pros and cons of facing a team three times in the same season?

“For me, I look at it as this is this game this week. I don’t look at it as the third time or I can’t look at as the third time. It’s all new. They’ve done different things, different tendencies from the last time we played them, so all of that really doesn’t matter about three times, it’s about this time and how are we going to go play this time? It’s playoff football, how are we going to go out and play our style of football? What happened before the previous two games, it really doesn’t affect when we kick the ball off on Saturday. It has no meaning on what happens on the field. We have to be the best team on Saturday for three and a half hours.”

You guys have done a really good job against Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith, but he’s having a really good season too. What makes him dangerous?

“Yeah, Geno has done a really great job all year. I think for him it’s being consistent, the accuracy, he’s really putting the ball where it should be. He has a very high completion percentage, he’s making smart decisions with the football, so I think Geno is having an outstanding season. It’s good to see a guy rebound this late in his career and really showcase his talent. Geno has always been a really good quarterback, so it was good to see him be the guy again and lead this team and lead him to the playoffs. He has to be pretty proud of his accomplishment and what he’s done this year.”

You’ve gotten significant boosts from the in-season acquisitions at defensive tackle with DL T.Y. McGill, DL Michael Dwumfour, I think he recovered the fumble the other day. Do you have any communication with the personnel department during the season as far as these are the characteristics I’m looking for, this is what we need to kind of bridge the gap when there are injuries at a spot like that?

“With our personnel department, I think we’ve done a really good job of just collaboration with our coaches and personnel, scouting not only in season, but it’s during the draft process, during free agency, so everybody is tied together and understand the type of players that we’re looking for, so when something comes up in season, those guys already know it’s the same type of guys you look for in free agency, in the draft, it doesn’t change. In season, if we can find a guy who fits our brand of football, then we would love to have him.”

Obviously, your concentration is on this game, but early in the week when you start getting requests from other teams to interview, how do you process that?

“It’s very humbling to be able to get requests for head coaching interviews. It’s humbling when you think about a lot of guys who’ve coached before me and a lot of guys put in a lot of years, a guy like Bobby Turner comes to mind and all of the years he put in, so I think about guys like that and them not being able to get the opportunity and me, truly being able to go represent for them. And that’s what it means, it means a lot for the other guys that been before me. And it’s special to be able to be in a select group, to have head coaching interviews and people requesting, it’s a special moment, it’s a proud moment and I’m very thankful and grateful just to be spoken of in that light. I’m very humble, very grateful for those opportunities.”

I recall a year ago you had an opportunity to go get multiple interviews and you said, no, I want to come back, I have more to learn. I would imagine a year later, how do you feel about that decision one year ago?

“I still feel strong about the decision I made and I feel like it was the correct decision for me and my family at the time.”

How much did going through it last year in terms of kind of balancing your time maybe help having to do it again this year?

“During this time, I’m thankful and happy to be in the playoffs at this time and the interviews and those things, they’ll take care of themselves at the right time. The focus is all about Seattle for me, it’s all about what can we do? How can I help our guys be in position to go win this game on Saturday? That’s the focus, the interviews, all those things? They’ll take care of themselves.”

What was your individual focus this last year on how you wanted to get better at your job and perhaps prepare yourself better for a head coaching job down the line?

“For me, it was just overall. There’s a lot of scenarios, a lot of situations that come up throughout the year. Not just looking at it from a defensive perspective, but looking at it from a total team perspective and just being able to sit in and listen to conversations and just really enhance my knowledge, not just on defense, but on the overall team. That’s the biggest thing for me and I feel really good about where I am right now.”

 Did you take notes from head coach Kyle Shanahan and those types of things?

“Yeah, always learning. It’s been awesome to be here and learn from Kyle. He’s been an outstanding head coach, successful, he’s coached in his league for a very long time. Very knowledgeable guy and I’ve gained so much knowledge from just sitting, listening, studying, seeing how he operates, how he runs a team. There’s not a better guy for me to be able to sit under and learn from. For the time that I’ve been here, he’s been outstanding.”

Nick said last week that one of the things he likes most about you is you push hard, but you know when to back off or you just have a really good touch with that. Does your approach change at all as the stakes get higher in the season as far as how you manage the personalities and how you drive them?

“Managing our guys, we have a standard and the standard is what our guys set. I didn’t set the standard for our defense, our team, our guys set that standard. I’m just there to push them to make sure we’re still upholding that standard and their standard was to be the best in the league. And for me, when it’s not looking that way and it’s not correct, it is up to me to make sure that, hey, who did we say we wanted to be? Who are we and are we playing that way? Is it representative of being the best in the league? It’s upholding that standard. There’s always finding that fine line to push guys, to encourage them, to uplift guys. That’s all about leadership. It’s not just pushing guys all the time. It’s about encouragement. It’s a fine line, it’s a fine balance of mixing that out and that just comes with having the proper leadership style and really understanding the people that you’re working with. That’s what it’s all about. When you’re connected to the people and you understand who they are, that’s how you can push the proper buttons. You can push guys too hard and push them the wrong way and they go in the tank, but it’s all about finding that right mix and knowing the guys who you’re working with.”

Have you developed a slightly softer touch? Some guys have said just that, not that you’ve gotten soft, but you’ve eased up some way, in a good way.

“With playing, I can be very intense when the time comes for it and I think it goes back to learning and understanding the players you’re working with and what can they handle, what can’t they handle. How I talk to one guy is not how I can talk to others, so it’s finding that fine balance of when to let up a bit and when to press guys, so there is a balance that I’ve learned and I’ve grown and become better at doing that and communicating with players.”

Is that one of the hardest parts of being a coach?

“It is. The hardest part of being a coach is how do you motivate all these different personalities, different guys, different learning styles in your room? How do you motivate each one? Each one is not motivated by the same thing, so it takes time talking to these guys, learning them off the field to understand what buttons can you push to help guys and everything I do is about helping these guys be their absolute best right on the field and off the field, so you have to know them to be able to push them in the right way.”

Nick Bosa has been so great all year, he gets so much attention and press, it seems like DL Jordan Willis has been stepping up recently and made a big impact. What’s he doing well?

“Jordan has done an outstanding job of really embracing his role and really flourishing in it. When his number is called, he’s gone out there and he’s put pressure on the quarterback. He’s played the run very well. He plays with great effort and he’s able to make game-changing plays for us, so Jordan is just being Jordan, he’s himself, he goes out, he plays the right way, he’s a physical player and it shows on Sunday.”

How does he take playing special teams like he did on Sunday?

“That’s again, Jordan, he’s a guy who he’s going to do whatever it takes to win and that’s the cool part about Jordan. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win and it’s nothing cooler than seeing Jordan make a play and everybody on the sideline being fired up for Jordan that he has the same cool, quiet demeanor about himself. And it’s always fun to see him make plays.”