Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

­­Press Conference – October 6, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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How have the early reports been with CB Jason Verrett and DB Jimmie Ward returning to practice?

“Yeah. I’m excited that we were able to open those guys’ window to get them back out to practice. JV and Jimmie have been great players for us. Integral parts to our defense, so I’m just excited to see those guys back out there. It’s really uplifting, I think to everybody, just to see what they’ve gone through and how they’ve battled back and attack the rehab process, so it’s good to see those guys back out there and good to see him back rolling and trying to get back into the groove of things, so it’s exciting. I’m fired up to have those guys out there practicing with us.”

What’s the process now to figure out if they fit? When they fit, how they fit?

“Yeah, I think for anyone, it’s been a long time since those guys have played football, so it’s just a matter of getting them back integrated to things and it is one thing to be in the meeting rooms, but to get back out on the grass and do things. We just see where those guys are as they continue to go along, but first and foremost I’m just excited to have them out and as they progress we’ll see where they fit in when that time comes for us.”

There was a definite raise and lift in energy on that side of the field today.

“Oh, for sure. You can feel the energy out there, what those guys bring, especially Jimmie. The energy that he brings just as a captain, as a leader of our team, just to get that guy back at this point in time out there with the group. I think it’s, for the younger guys, it’s cool to see how veterans work and cool for them to have one of their leaders back out there and everybody feels that energy that Jimmie brings for us.”

When they are ready to come back, especially when a guy like Jimmie, does S Talanoa Hufanga’s presence allow you to be creative if you wanted to keep all three of those safeties on the field?

“Well see, whatever it calls for that particular week. Whoever we can use. When you get good players. You got a good player like Jimmie Ward, who’s been a starter for us, so however we can see fit to make it work with all the guys we have, we’ll make it work.”

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said the other day that you’ve done a good job of really growing in terms of mixing things up, knowing when to press the right buttons, whether it’s coverages or blitzing. What is the process like for you in terms of how you know when to press those buttons and things? Is it a feel thing, trial and error? How do you kind of go about that?

“Yeah, I think it’s a feel thing and it’s also just product of just studying throughout the week and seeing how I want to attack our opponent. And it’s also just a credit to our players and the vibe that I’m feeling from our players and what they are able to do. Everything we do is never about me. And what I do is always about the players and what they’re able to execute. And with the guys that we have, we have such a great group of guys that it really doesn’t matter what the call is right now. Like those guys bring the call to life and that’s what it’s all about without these players. That’s the story. It’s not about DeMeco at all. It’s all about the players and what they’re able to do.”

How has that developed in terms of the talent that you have? Especially, the corners that you have with CB Charvarius Ward and CB Emmanuel Moseley like how much does that open up what you can do, particularly knowing what they do as tacklers, not just in coverage?

“Yeah, the corners, I think that changes everything for our defense. It’s always about the edges of your defense. And when you have guys who can rush the passer on the edge, you have corners who can hold up on the edge, there’s so much more that you can do and so much more freedom as a play caller because you have confidence in those guys, the corners and the edge rushers. And when you’re strong on the edge of your defense, you have a chance to be a really great defense. And we have that in Mooney and E-man, with [DL Nick] Bosa, [DL] Samson [Ebukam] and all those guys that are rushing for us, they’ve given us the ability to do a lot of different things just because of the players that they are and the confidence, the way they bring it every single day. Like that gives me the confidence in those guys and that’s allowed our defense to play really good ball.”

Hufanga said after his pick-six that he noticed something as the play was unfolding something that told him to go for the interception. How curious were you to get to the film to see if you could see it also and just how big of a play was that obviously?

“Yeah, it’s a huge play and it’s a credit to, as I talk every week about Huf and the questions that come up about him. It’s always about the preparation throughout the week. And that’s where he sets himself apart and I think I’ve said it before and you see it right there on that particular play. He’s able to not just be a robot out there. We want our guys to be football players and instinctually, when you’re able to see something and trigger on it, that’s what makes you a special player. Some guys can see something, but it’s also, oh, I have to stick to my rules and just be a robot. Huf is not a robot on the field. That’s what allows him to stick out. That’s what allows him to make the plays he’s made. That’s what allowed him to be like one of the best safeties in the league right now, because of his instincts. And he’s not scared to go make a play when it calls for him to go make a play.”

Before the game on Monday, it looked like you watched DL Javon Kinlaw work out a little bit and you did a lot of talking there and it sure looked like you were the one to deliver the news to him that he wasn’t going to be suiting up. Is that your call? And how did that all take place and just how do you feel about where he is and what was the thought process behind not trying to push him out there?

“Yeah, I think with any player, as I talk to players, it’s always about the player first to me. And it’s not about pushing guys out when they’re not ready to go, because I care too much about the men and not just the player. So that’s what it’s all about with me. So whenever a player is ready and his body is ready and he’s able to be out there and play for us, that’s the right time for him to be out there. But as I’ve played, all players, you always think that I’m ready to go. And what your body may be saying is another thing, that you’re not ready. For me and a position that I’m in, I owe it to all the men that I’m over, in charge of that I want to do right by them. And it’s not about one game here, it’s about doing right by the man first. And that’s how I’ll always approach it.”

Do you kind of have to save some guys from themselves?

“For sure. As players, that’s what makes you a good player because you have that warrior mindset that you can always go out and I’m going to be good. I’m tough, I’m okay, but someone has to pull you back and let you know when that time is not quite right. And I just expect that from everybody who’s in this position as coaches that we always put the men first and it’s not just about players, it’s about these guys as men and their livelihoods.”

It’s been four weeks and national outlets are already talking about you as a head coach candidate and the team you’re going to face is one of those teams that they point out as you being a good fit for, the Panthers. How do you deal with that after four weeks?

“I don’t. I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about how can we get our guys prepared to beat the Panthers? That’s truly my focus and that’s what I worry about. Things like that, I can’t control that. All I’m worried about is making sure our guys are prepared and I’m able be my best for those guys on Sunday. Put them in position to excel and make plays. That’s what it’s all about for me.”

Off of that point, how do you deal with a guy like Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffery? What are the challenges that he presents?

“Yeah, Christian, he still has juice man, he still has a lot of juice. He’s a big-time playmaker for them. Watch the tape. This kid is very explosive. It starts in the run game, teams have the run fitted up and he can find any small little crease and make them pay. So the first thing, first we have to stop the run game. And then Christian still, he’s great in a pass game as well, whether it’s picking up protections as a blocker and also getting out in the screen game. He’s just all over the field and an explosive player, so we have to have extra eyes on him the entire game because he can definitely make you pay if you’re not on it and you’re not ready.”

Having been a player so recently, does that help you relate to Javon Kinlaw when he wants to play so badly and does it also, I guess let him be more understanding since you’re giving it to him kind of at that level?

“Yeah, I would like to think that experience of playing. I’ve been around so many different guys in the locker room and I know what it feels like to not be able to go out there when you want to be out there with your teammates and it’s a feeling that’s very hard to swallow. If you’ve ever been in that position, I’ve been there and it’s tough. One of the toughest things that you probably go through as a player when you’re in this league is not being able to suit up with your guys. I’ve been there, I understand that and I’m able to empathize with guys who’ve been in that position. I’m able to empathize with these guys who’ve been on IR or battling from injuries and going through rehab every day and the struggles that your guys are going out to practice and you’re back in the training room, so it is very tough. It’s emotional on guys. It’s a lot that goes into these injuries and all the things that players go through, but I’ve been through it and like I said I’ve been in their shoes and I know what it feels like and it is not good. I think it’s cool when you have someone who can relate to you, who’s been in your shoes.”

Emmanuel Moseley has always been fairly small. Now he’s bigger, but he’s not a huge NFL cornerback, but he comes up in run support and is pretty violent in coming up on screen passes. Did you immediately recognize that he had that in him and that toughness and his contact courage?

“Oh yeah. You knew from just watching E-man his first year, just when he got into games, he was physical, he made plays, even though he’s a smaller guy, he’s not backing down from anyone. And he’s a physical corner. He’s made a lot of plays for us and it’s not always about the size, you’ve heard it before, but it’s all about the heart. E-man has the heart of a lion. He’ll stick it in there, he’ll tackle, he can cover anybody in this league. E-man is just a true competitor. A guy you want to go to battle with any day of the week because you know who he is and you know he’s going to accept the challenge anytime because it is there for him. So whether it’s coming up, cracker-plays, tackling, he can do it. Whether it’s covering their best receiver on their team, he can do that as well. So I love where E-Man is and he’s doing a great job for us.”