Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

Press Conference – November 4, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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LB Fred Warner said you’re still preparing for Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray to be the quarterback on Sunday?

“Yes, for sure. We are still preparing for Kyler to be the quarterback and until we hear anything else different. That guy’s been a competitor all his career throughout college and in the NFL. So, fully expecting him to play.”

Is there any advantage or disadvantage when you just played them just a few weeks ago? Would you rather have more time, kind of get more film or is it kind of an advantage to have them so close?

“I don’t think it’s an advantage or disadvantage one way or another. It’s an opponent that we know pretty well. We play against them twice a year, every year. So pretty familiar with what they do schematically. So, it’s not an advantage one way or the other. We are excited to get back and play these guys. Didn’t like the outcome of the last game. So, it’s good to try to get that bad taste out of your mouth as quickly as possible. Excited to go against them again. We know they’re great team. We’re up for the challenge.”

It looked like on at least a few key plays your cornerbacks we’re definitely playing a little softer. Was that a result of the D.P.I.s? Was that part of like, maybe you’re trying to stay away from that a little bit?

“No, that’s not a result of that. With the corners playing off there, that’s not exactly what we want there from where we teach these guys. I want them to be competitive. I want them to be aggressive in everything that we do and not let penalties stop our guys from being aggressive. We just have to play smarter with the penalties, it’s not from a lack of aggression. We want our guys to always compete and be aggressive.”

Technique-wise, when you’re emphasizing to avoid the D.P.I., generally, what are you telling them?

“At the end of the day, when you’re trying to avoid a D.P.I., it’s about playing smart at the top of the route. Just can’t pull guys’ jersey. That’s the only thing where we get in trouble, where you get at the top of the route and you’re pulling guys and restricting them, that’s where you’re going to get the penalty. So, we just have to play cleaner, win at the line of scrimmage, be in a position where we’re on top of the route and if we don’t put ourselves in bad positions then we can eliminate the D.P.I.’s.”

Did they surprise you by not going deep very often, I think there were only two deep balls? It seemed like you guys were anticipating a little bit more than that.

“Yeah. We anticipated them throwing deep for sure, because they had the highest percentage of deep balls going into that game. The Bears had the highest percentage of deep balls in the NFL, so we assumed they would go deep and they didn’t.”

How big of a step was that for S Talanoa Hufanga to play all 70 snaps and what was your evaluation of how he did?

“Yeah, his first start. I thought Huf did good. First start, getting that extensive amount of time in there. I thought he communicated really well. He flew around, made some plays for us and Huf is just going to continue to get better and better. He’s a great communicator, really smart player, and he plays the game with a passion and energy that’s contagious to others.”

Because of the assumption that they would go deep more, did that leave a little bit more underneath for them?

“No, at the end of the day, they may complete some underneath, but for me, all our philosophy is about eliminating the explosive, eliminate the big play and make teams drive the field on you. Now, of course we would have liked to get off the field on third down. I thought there were some situations there on third down, we should’ve played tighter and better and got off the field and we didn’t. And that’s where they continue to drive on us. We didn’t execute on third down as well as we should have.”

In your first game against the Cardinals, Murray didn’t really try to run very much. I don’t know if that was a function of stellar defense or just the way they were calling it. They didn’t have any like designed runs or scrambles. What went into that? Was it a combination of both?

“Well, I’m not sure we know what went into it with his decisions. Kyler is a guy who can pull the ball at any time, so if he wants to run, he’ll run it. I thought our guys did a really good job up front, started with our defensive line. Last time we played these guys, our defensive line, with [DL] D.J. [Jones] and [DL] Arik [Armstead] and those guys did a great job inside of owning the line of scrimmage. And Kyler didn’t run as much, but he’s a guy who can run it anytime he wants to.”

You guys did such a good job of containing him and Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson a few weeks ago. Why do you think you struggled containing Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields just as a runner?

“Yeah, he got out on us a couple of times. We can be better in the pass rush up front, D-Line and got a little too loose in coverage a couple of times where we could have eyes back on him and he got out and made some plays on us.”

What’s the difference, they obviously lost Arizona Cardinals TE Maxx Williams and brought in Arizona Cardinals TE Zach Ertz. What’s the difference between those two guys and have you seen their offense change a little bit with Ertz?

“Yeah, Maxx is a really great player, really good blocker. It kind of goes unnoticed, but he was really, I felt like he was one of the keys to that offense, the way he blocks in the run game, he’s really good there. Now getting Ertz, a guy who’s more of a pass threat. Whether it’s the RPO-type game, he’s not as much of a blocker, but he can be effective in the pass game.”

Do you look at Armstead mostly as a defensive tackle now? I know he’s always moved in on pass downs, but is he mostly going to be a defensive tackle?

“Yeah, Armstead has moved inside. He started last week, moving inside, that’s still fluid. We’ll see, what do we need for each particular week. We’ll see in what area Arik can help us.”

 How can your newest defensive lineman, DL Charles Omenihu, help the team?

“Yeah, Charles, we’re excited to have him. Excited to add a guy with his talent. I think it’s a great player to add to our room. Very long player, instinctive guy who can make plays for us. So, Charles has been coming along, learning the scheme, picking up on everything pretty well. We’ll see how much he advances, but I’m really happy and excited to be able to add a player of his quality at this point in the season.”

Is he an edge guy for you?

“He’s played on the edge. He’s played inside. We’ll see where he thrives best for us and where he fits the best for us and wherever he can excel the most and showcases his talent that’s where we’ll put him.”

Is keeping Armstead inside somewhat a function of DT Javon Kinlaw not being available?

“Yeah, moving Armstead inside, the thing about him is he’s done it before and he’s very good inside as well. And we know his dominance on the edge. Nobody really wants to run the ball to Arik’s side when he’s on the edge and now putting him inside, I think Arik was able to make a lot more plays inside this past week, putting him inside. So, he can be a productive playmaker for us inside. And with Kinlaw, I think not having Kinlaw does attribute to that, putting Arik inside. But Arik has done fantastic. He did a good job last week and he’ll continue to get better the more reps he gets inside.”

Can you explain the challenge that defensive tackles in a wide-nine scheme have when it is stretched out a little bit with the ends? I know one of the reasons you guys like Kinlaw so much is because how big and strong he was in that situation. But what is the challenge for those guys behind him and for Armstead on the inside in the wide-nine?

“Yeah. For the guys inside, it’s all about penetrating. It’s about our guys just playing as best we can, playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage. So you want quick guys, like D.J. Jones who can penetrate or you get longer guys like, Kinlaw, Arik who can play inside, can stretch out and make plays sideline to sideline.”

How about their running game, what do you see? They have a couple of different running backs that they like. They also have Arizona Cardinals WR Rondale Moore, but it seems like Arizona Cardinals RB James Connor is their biggest scoring threat.

“Yeah, the running game is really good. I think Connor comes to life more in the red zone when he’s attacking. He’s a physical runner, he can punch it in running it downhill. But you can see Rondale Moore, they’re trying to get the ball to him anyway they can. And he’s a dynamic playmaker on offense, on special teams. You can tell, you want to get the ball in his hands. And we have to have heightened awareness for when he’s in the game and wherever he’s aligned on the field, we have to anticipate that the ball is going to him in some shape or fashion.”

Yesterday Fred mentioned that you told them it needs to mean something for them to play at Levi’s Stadium. In a defensive perspective, how important is it to get that home field advantage back?

“I think it is everything, for me. Playing at home, it has to mean something to us. We haven’t won here in a long time and we owe that to our fans to go out and play well and get a win here in Levi’s Stadium. And when we get that support from our fans, the fans are rocking and when the defense is out there being loud, disrupting their offense, I think it’s a special environment when you have that when you’re at home. But it really needs to make it a home field advantage for us especially on the defensive side. But we have to go out and we have to play well. We have to earn that homefield advantage by showing our fans that we can play well at home.”