Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

­­Press Conference – June 1, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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It didn’t seem like you actually lacked any confidence last year, like you weren’t swimming or anything, but can you approach this year differently just because it’s not your first year?

“I think with anything, when you do things over and over again, you get the reps, you do get more comfortable with it, so it being my second year doing this, there is a more of a comfort level in me doing it. But things from that standpoint, not a lot has changed. I’m still pushing the envelope to see how much better we can get, how much better I can be to make sure our players understand exactly what we’re looking for when we go out on that field. So, for me, it’s all about a daily strive in yourself to how better can you be than you were yesterday? So that’s what it’s been about for me this second year around, how much better can I be? It’s OTAs, training camp, how much better can I be the second time around?”

What do you like about CB Darqueze Dennard?

“Darqueze is a veteran who’s done a great job for us. He steps in, he does a really good job of communicating out there. He’s where he needs to be. And the biggest thing I like about Darqueze is he does a really great job of teaching the younger guys. Darqueze has seen a lot of football, played in a lot of different schemes, so with him having that experience and that knowledge, he does a really good job of just putting his arm around the younger guys and teaching them. Saying it in a way, sometimes a player can get it from another player better than he does from a coach, so it’s been great having Darqueze out there.”

How much does CB Jason Verrett being back on the field boost your secondary?

“Jason Verrett, first and foremost, his presence, just being out there I think it lifts us all up. Just seeing J.V., just the energy that he brings. Everybody is pulling for J.V. He had a tough injury last year and we missed him a ton, so he’s fighting to get back and he’s doing everything in his power to knock out his rehab and be in the best shape possible for when he’s able to come back. I’m excited just to see him around the building, just to see him talking with the guys, it’s great having J.V. and his presence felt in that room.”

Defensive passing game specialist/secondary coach Cory Undlin said it’s so great to have him in the room because of his knowledge and what he brings to discussions about coverages.

“Yeah, that’s another guy. J.V., he’s done it, like everything we’re asking these young guys to do, he’s done it and he’s done it at the highest level. Former All-Pro player, Pro Bowl player, if there’s anybody those guys can learn from its J.V. So with him, again, how smart of a player he is, also with the talent, his ability is just off the charts. So if I’m one of those young guys, I’m definitely sitting by him, talking to him as much as I possibly can.”

What have your impressions been of the young linebackers LB Jeremiah Gemmel, LB Segun Olubi and LB Marcelino McCrary-Ball?

“We have three really good young linebackers there. I think they can help us, all three guys, they’re very smart guys. I like what I saw from them in college, these guys can run, they can hit, they are physical, very athletic guys, so we think they’re a really good scheme fit for what we do defensively. And I see them fitting right in, and those guys are also, it’s good, I know I spoke about it with the secondary, but also with our linebacker core, when you can go into a room as a young guy and you have [LB] Fred Warner, [LB] Azeez [Al-Shaair] and [LB] Dre [Greenlaw] in there, you have no way but to get better. You’re listening to Fred Warner, you’re listening to Dre, how they do things, how they operate on a day-to-day basis. Those guys are going to be really good for us. And they’re going to ascend quickly just because of the guys they’re learning from as well.”

Have you noticed since Colts DL DeForest Buckner was traded, that DL Arik Armstead has taken on more of a leadership role? Has that been a conscious thing for him to be a tone-setter, being at OTAs and running down ball carriers 30-yards down field in early June, I guess, is that a signal of that?

“Yeah. Arik has always been a leader since when Buck was here. Arik has been a leader in his own way. He’s done a great job when Buck was here and now that Buck is not here, Arik has done a fantastic job of leading that defensive line group. And he does it not only by talking, he doesn’t have to talk, he’s out there, he’s working every day, he’s running to the ball. He’s showing guys, first and foremost, how it should look, that’s how you lead. It doesn’t have to be the loudest guy in the room, but you lead, first and foremost, by example, and being accountable to your teammates every day. Showing those guys that he really cares about them and that’s what Arik does on and off the field. So Arik is just a tremendous leader and I’m very thankful and appreciative to have him and to be able to coach him, not only as a player, but all the stuff Arik does in the community. Always trying to highlight that, like that’s what a pro looks like, and he’s done it the right way for many years. Very happy for Arik and what he does. I know he’s affected a lot of people outside of this building, a lot of young kids back in Sacramento, the things that he does in the community that’s what I’m most proud of for Arik.”

Do you remember, maybe when you first came here and joined the staff, when you first observed that about Arik and what that was like for you? Like, ‘okay, I’ve seen him on tape and what kind of player he is,’ but when you first got to know him when that really clicked for you that he was that type of leader?

“Just being around him, spending time with him, you can tell right off the bat he’s a difference maker. He’s a different guy, stuck out in that way, right when you meet him. So it didn’t take me long to figure that out. This is a special player, special guy here. It doesn’t take long to see those guys. And Arik is truly one of the special guys in our league.”

You guys talked a lot about last year was what a surprise CB Ambry Thomas was. And he’s someone who’s done a lot of community work this offseason, all over the world. What does that say about his maturity really being so early in his career, and so young?

“Yeah, for a young guy to do the things that he’s done, it’s great to see that because you don’t see many young guys get in, but I think you just see the guy’s heart. You see what, he’s truly about. You see his character right off the bat if that’s the first thing he wants to do in his first true offseason is to go and help out, go and reach back and help the community. So it was cool to see that from Ambry and he’s still growing as a player, as a young man and we’re all growing and he’ll continue to ascend and be better.”

It seems like you’ve had confidence in S Talanoa Hufanga, since he got here last year, what inspires that confidence and has he taken his game to the next level in year two?

“The confidence in Huf is just his daily approach. It’s not a surprise to me that Huf plays well, that he does great things for our team because of his approach every day, so it’s not like you get out there on game day and he surprises me because I see the way he works, I see the way he’s in the building. He’s always asking questions in meetings. He’s always looking to get the answer and get it right and get it done exactly how he want it done, so it’s just his consistent approach daily. That’s what sets him apart. That’s what will allow him to be a really good player for us.”

Did he approach the game like a veteran from the moment he got here?

“Day one, Huf has been a pro. Day one, and it hasn’t changed. That’s something a lot of young guys, they come in that way kind of, but Huf has been consistent. Sometimes it dies off, but Huf has been that way day one and he’s still that same way right now, so really happy with where Huf is.”

Safeties coach Daniel Bullocks said he looks like he’s just a little bit faster, a little twitchier this season. He worked with Pro Football Hall of Fame S Troy Polamalu during the offseason. Have you seen that same thing from him?

“Sure, this offseason has been eye opening for me just to see Huf the way he’s communicating out there, much better, louder, better communicator. You do see him move faster because I think things are starting to slow down for him. As a rookie, things are flying, it’s hard to figure things out. As a rookie, you’re just trying to figure out where do I align and what do I have on this particular play? Now, Huf is getting more comfortable where he’s able to decipher, ‘okay, how is the offense trying to attack me? And where can I be to put myself in the right position to make plays?’ So Huf is definitely ascending in the right direction and I’m happy with where he is just because that’s what OTAs is about, guys coming in, owning the techniques and trying to get better every day. And when you see a guy like Huf do that, you see the purpose for it. And it’s been great for him.”

From a defensive perspective, how are you seeing QB Trey Lance’s improvement and how he’s going about throwing the ball? No lazy throws, it looks like out there, that he’s challenging guys.

“I think Trey has done a great job. Yeah, it is good to see him with his command and him running the offense and he’s zipping it past us a lot. He’s making it tough on us. Trey has done a great job. It’s good to see him just coming into his own role as a leader and being able to take control of the team. We’re fired up for Trey and what he can do for us.”

What’s defensive assistant Nick Sorenson’s role on your staff this here?

“Nick has been helping out with the linebackers. He’s been working with [linebackers coach] Johnny [Holland] assisting with the linebackers. Nick is a guy who I’m very excited to have because you get a guy who’s played, a guy who’s done it in this league and done it for a long time. There’s instant credibility when he steps into the room and he’s talking to those guys and he’s coached a lot of ball as well. So Nick, I’m very pleased with him and what he’s done, helping our guys at the linebacker level, not only the linebackers, but just his expertise in the backend as well, him being a former safety, coaching the nickels before. So he has a lot of experience in coaching and playing, so Nick has done a fantastic job for us.”

Why didn’t you have a second interview last year with the Vikings?

“The deal with the Vikings, it was outstanding. The ownership group there, all the people I met with there, it was outstanding. I thought it was a really good interview, great organization there. Just the fit, everything about the opportunity for me and my family and everybody involved, everything has to be the right fit for us. And I think for myself, I wanted another chance, another season to grow and develop more, become a better coach, a better leader myself, so when I do become a head coach, I want it to be the right opportunity because I’m not just in it just to be a head coach and say, ‘oh, I’m a head coach.’ If I do it, I want to be very successful at it and I want to do it for a long time. So it’s not about just jumping at the first opportunity, but for all of us, whatever opportunities we get presented in life, you want it to be the best for you where you can see longevity in it and make a lasting impression and be able to impact lives beyond just me. It’s not about me. It’s about all the people who I would serve and making sure that I’m in that right fit, where I can serve in a capacity where I can really impact a lot of people.”

Working close to Johnny Holland, how good is it to have him back out on the field?

“Oh, it’s great. Johnny has been a tremendous blessing to me and not only my career, he was my first linebackers coach in the NFL, but he’s just been a blessing to my life, to my family. To me, Johnny’s like a father figure to me. He’s taught me a lot and I learned from him, he’s been my mentor in coaching, encouraged me to get into coaching. And he’s been a great mentor to me, not only teaching me about football, but just the life skills about how to handle money, how to handle relationships, with your wife, your kids and that’s what it’s about. Johnny is very special to me and it’s good to see what he’s went through and the people that he’s able to impact from his story, that’s even more powerful to me for Johnny. And I’m excited to see him back and he’s just always positive, always has a smile on his face, always uplifting, always bringing great energy to any room he steps in, so I’m excited to have him back for sure.”

What you said about the Vikings, I understand fit, there was a lot that went into it, but you just started coaching not too long ago. Was part of it, obviously you could be a head coach, but maybe you just don’t feel quite ready? Is that right or would you be ready?

“I think with any job you get, like for everybody in here or whoever, everybody started somewhere and everybody was technically not ready when they first started. How do you say someone is truly ready? No one knows until you actually get in that position and you go and show people. I was a first-time defensive coordinator, was I ready to be? I don’t know. Am I ready? I don’t know, but you go out and you just work as hard as you can and be the best that you can be each day. And you just prove to yourself and prove to people that you’re capable of handling any job. And that’s for any of us out here, everybody has to have a first time starting something. And once you do it enough times, you’ll become good at it. So it’s not about not being ready. I’m ready to go at any moment. To me, being a head coach is just about leading men and that’s what I do on the defensive side. You get the head coaching job, I understand a lot more responsibilities, but it is essentially how are you leading men and can you lead them in a positive direction?”