Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

­­Press Conference – August 7, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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How is DT Javon Kinlaw coming along? I know that you said he had to get his legs back underneath him, do you feel that he’s been making progress?

“I think Javon, he’s been doing a really nice job in there, just taking his time of really ramping himself back up, so the biggest emphasis for him has just been on his technique. And I feel like he’s done a really nice job these past couple days of going in and playing with low pads, using his hands inside and making plays in the backfield. So he’s doing really good at being focused on the small details of his job, which will allow him to be a very dominant player inside for us.”

He was pretty after one there, was that a run stop I think, that he was excited about there?

“Yeah, it was a run stop in the backfield where he had, again, an excellent technique, which allows him to make plays. And that’s the biggest thing for him now that he’s feeling much better. Now it is just the emphasis on those techniques, which will allow him to be a dominant player. He keeps doing what he’s doing and he’s in a really good space. He’s bringing energy to our group. He’s physical, he’s looking good out there, in good shape, getting his legs back under him. And I’m excited to see him just continue to progress and I’m looking forward to him having a big year for us because it’ll be really vital for us to have really dominant players inside. That’s what helps our defense perform the way we perform is those inside players, so having Javon and having [DL] Arik [Armstead] inside would be huge for us.”

You mentioned technique with him a lot obviously is the pad level and him being, in the past anyway, him being too high, is that the biggest coaching point?

“I think that’s one of the main points at any position, but especially inside, interior D-line, if you play too high, you’re going to get drove out of there and they’re going to reset the line of scrimmage from the offensive perspective. So we want guys attacking, knocking back and resetting the line of scrimmage so we get TFLs. So if our interior guys are doing that, if they’re playing low, they can do that. You play too high, you don’t have any power, you can’t play with the power that you need, if you’re playing high and that’s any position on a football field.”

Was there a teammate you had in front of you that was particularly good, maybe even say, ‘Hey, look at this guy, what he used to do,’ to Javon?

“Yeah, a lot of good teammates, [Philadelphia Eagles DT] Fletcher Cox, [Arizona Cardinals DL] J.J. Watt, those are two good ones that played in front of me. They’re really great players, talented guys, but those guys, just like J.K., all those guys they put in the work, put in the work on their technique. And they’re also, just some things you can’t coach, it’s just god given ability for a lot of those guys and J.K. definitely has it.”

DL Kerry Hyder Jr. has been out there with the ones a lot. Does he look like he did before when he was here?

“Kerry does and it’s so great to have Kerry, just first and foremost, the guy that he is, the man that he is off the field. He’s an unbelievable person, unbelievable teammate and leader. And Kerry’s a very, very smart player, so he makes plays that you think he wouldn’t make, he makes those plays just because he’s very smart out there. And the ability of what Kerry has is he can play in, he can play tackle, like he can move up and down the defensive line at any position. And he’s smart enough to where he won’t bust. And he’s the guy who never makes mistakes inside no matter where you put him. He’s always on it. And he’s always leading that group and bringing guys along with him. A true veteran leader, Kerry Hyder is the epitome of that and we’re excited to have him back. After he left us in ‘20, we’re excited to have him back for his leadership.”

Can you shed some light on your second-year defensive players and maybe who stands out among that group?

“Second-year players, I think the one guy right now that stands out to me is [S Talanoa Hufanga] Huf. I think Huf has been doing an excellent job. Back in OTAs when we started even up until now, he’s been doing a good job of just communicating much better. Being at the safety position, we ask a lot of those guys to communicate and to run the show, making calls and making checks on the back end and making sure everybody is on the same page. So I think he’s taken a step there with the communication of running the show and he still has a way to go. He’s still getting better, but I’m happy with the progress that he’s made from the spring up until now.”

DB Deommodore Lenoir and CB Ambry Thomas, are they where you want them to be right now?

“I think with D-Mo and Ambry, with those guys, they’re still learning. They’re still learning. They’re still growing. They have a lot to improve with their technique. And they have to continue to show us that, they have to show their teammates that, they are headed in the right direction. They are improving. And they are headed in the right direction. They are doing good things, but they still have improvements. Still need to keep bringing it.”

Heading into your second year as defensive coordinator. If you can go back a year ago, did you give any thought about coaching from a booth and then how much more I guess seasoned are you with the role being on the field as a DC calling plays instead?

“Yeah, I think for me, naturally just calling it as a player for 10 years, I’ve always been on the field. So I never thought about going up in the booth. I’m just more comfortable being down on the field, being there to talk to the guys face-to-face if something happens. So that’s my comfort level. And I felt it went fairly well because, I have good coaches up in the booth that help me out. They’re doing a great job of communicating. [Safeties] coach [Daniel] Bullocks, he does a really good job of communicating to me from the booth, so having good people around you helps. And I’m happy to have those guys on our staff who can help me out there. And second year, for me, it’s been fun. Second year, just going through it a second time, I think it’s just like with players like that second year you should be a little bit better. You should be a little more comfortable with what you’re doing, understanding what’s coming, understanding how to plan and prep better, put guys in better positions. So it’s all about getting the reps for me, just like the players, you get reps and you get better. I feel more comfortable doing it, but I’m always trying to learn more, always trying to be the best that I can be at my job.”

Looking back to your first season, did you have a favorite game in retrospect, as far as how the chess match went, you getting to call those plays, going back and forth with other playcallers?

“Favorite? All the ones we won. Those would be my favorite. No, I think my favorite games were when it matters most, I think it’s the playoff games. Those are the ones, versus Dallas, Green Bay and even the Rams. Unfortunately, we didn’t close it out like we wanted to, but those are my favorite games. Just being in those moments with the guys that we have, those were just special moments that a lot of people dream of, a lot of people never even make it to the playoffs. So it was a fun moment to be in the playoffs and to have a successful group throughout the playoffs. So all of those will be moments I always remember.”

I saw you chatting with WR Deebo Samuel during practice a little bit. Does he come to you and talk to you about defensive schemes at all? Or just personal chatting?

“Just personal chatting. I think Deebo is a guy who he can talk to anyone. Like he’s a very personable guy. He’s fun to be around. He brings great energy to our team and I just love talking to him and it’s not always ball. Most of the time I’m talking to guys it’s about life, just off the field, that’s the things that matter most to me, like what’s going on with guys off the field, how are their families and kids, how are all those things going? That’s the important stuff.”

Can you explain what it means to you to have a defensive line with a lot of depth that are all capable of getting in the game? Because when Indianapolis Colts DL Deforest Buckner first got here as a rookie, I think he played like 99% of the snaps. How much does it mean to you to not have to do that?

“I think D-line depth is huge, because that’s, for me, that’s the group that drives everything we do defensively. So we need as much depth as possible and those are some of the guys who unfortunately go through a lot of nicks and bumps along the way throughout camp. So you want to have enough depth there to keep guys rolling and you want to keep those guys fresh. That’s the biggest thing. If you can rush the passer in waves, not just one guy or two guys, but if we can rush the passer in waves where guys are always fresh coming in, it gives us a competitive advantage. So having depth there is huge for our success.”

Do you have a little extra pride when three linebackers get interceptions in a practice and what’s reflects from that in terms of how they’re playing?

“I think with the linebackers, it’s reflective of [linebackers] coach Johnny Holland and [defensive assistant] coach Nick Sorensen and just working with those guys, daily. Continuing to work the ball drills, work keys, where their eyes are, being in the proper position, it’s just a credit to the coaching and a credit to the players for putting in the work and going up and making plays. Everyone gets excited when we execute and we make plays, so today, the guys had a really good practice. I felt the energy there because guys executed and that does spark energy for everyone, the entire team.”

It seems like you guys have more like capable NFL quality edge rushers than you can keep on the roster. Is that accurate? And when you’re trying to figure out who’s going to stick, does some level of versatility help guys, like maybe a Hyder Jr. who can do both?

“Yeah, I think it’s always a luxury when you have guys who are on your team who are capable NFL players. So if it comes down to a tough decision, it’s a tough decision to make, but you’re happy to make a tough decision and not have that decision made before, you even go through any games. I’ve always learned, in my few years of coaching here, is you always just let it play out. And once we play the games, it always works itself out to the guys who should be here on our team will end up on our team and we’ll get the best however many guys that is we need for our defensivee line. We’ll have the top guys that we want. And the versatility part, like you said is huge. If we have a guy who can move inside, move outside, can do multiple things. Then that gives that guy an advantage to be up on gameday. If the guy has special teams value, the more you can do, the better chance you have of making it.”

Your shirt and the 49ers staff wearing our Former 49ers WR Dwight Clark shirts. Can you just talk about how nostalgic this franchise is?

“Yeah, watching NFL football growing up, the Niners were always that premier organization. It felt like they were in the Super Bowl every year when we watched the Super Bowl. So being able to work for such a storied franchise, just when you see guys [NFL Hall of Fame QB Joe] Montana, [NFL Hall of Fame WR Jerry] Rice, Dwight Clark, [NFL Hall of Fame DL] Bryant Young, just so many guys I watched growing up. You kind of take a step back and it’s almost like a wow moment. Like, oh, I can’t believe I’m here. Working with the Niners. It’s a special moment. And it’s an honor. It’s a blessing to work for the Niners, just because of all the rich history that you have here. Not every NFL team is in that position to have so many legends to be a part of the organization. So it is a special day to honor Dwight Clark and all that he’s done, all that he meant to the 49ers organization. I’m honored to wear the shirt and represent him today.”