Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans Press Conference

Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans

­­Press Conference – August 22, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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After watching the film, what were your impressions of your defense against the Vikings?

“I thought we were much better, much tighter in coverage. That was one of the improvements we were looking to build off of from our first week. It wasn’t good enough. And as always, we’re always trying to be a physical team. We’re trying to attack the ball. And you saw that from our guys. They went out, they did it in practice against those guys last week. And it continued to show during the game, so I’m proud of the way our guys played, the effort that they played with. They played with great technique and they attacked the ball. It put ourselves in position to win that game, helped our team win the game, so I’m excited and happy for what the guys put on tape this past week.”

It seemed that CB Emmanuel Moseley was eager to get back out there today, had a pick and a pass breakup. How did he handle the last couple weeks out and what are your expectations for him this season?

“Yeah, E-man has handled the past few weeks like a true pro. I wouldn’t expect anything less of him. He’s handled it with class. He’s handled himself well. He’s done a good job of staying attentive in meetings, being in position to help the guys that are out there. And I know he was eager to get back, but you don’t want to push things too fast. And it was great to have him back out today and to see him just show up instantly impacting our defense. Making plays, getting the interception, PBU. It’s fun to have a guy back out there who just loves to compete each and every day. And it’s just exciting to see him on his first day make plays to help us, so it was fun. And I’m happy to see where E-man is right now.”

You can kind of see DT Javon Kinlaw as a run stuffing guy in the middle there, but how has his pass rush, how’s that come along and what does he have to improve on as far as that goes?

“It’s his overall game. Like I think you mentioned, he’s good in the run game, but also in the pass game, just being able to redirect off what’s given to him. Whatever the guard or the center presents to him, is he able to counter with moves? And I think that’s what you saw from the game. He had a nice inside move there to be able to counter with the guard oversetting him, so it was just good to see him just being instinctive, reacting and finishing and making a big play for us. So he just continues to improve each week that he’s been out there from his first week to last week, I saw major improvements with his pad level in the run game. And also just his effectiveness of affecting the quarterback. He was there in the quarterback’s lap. I was proud of what he’s done and he’s still getting better. So it’s going to be great to see where he ends up by the end of the year, when he continues to build all of those reps and how much better he can be. It’s going to be cool to see.”

Your tackles, do they have more space to operate because of how your ends play?

“Depending on the formations, they could have more space, because a lot of times people are chipping our ends and the ends get a lot of attention. So it has been a major point of focus for us to get our inside guys more active as far as when it comes to pushing the pocket more and those guys have been doing a good job of it.”

As solid as the defense was last year, there wasn’t a ton of interceptions, but we’re seeing first two preseason games we’re seeing them and we saw three more today. How much was last year’s interception total kind of stressed on these guys? Like we’re doing better than that this year guys.

“It hasn’t been, honestly, it hasn’t been stressed much of what we did last year, because to me, it doesn’t matter. What we did last year, we had a different group of guys out there. Last year is last year. How good can we be as the 2022 Niners defense? How good can we be? And that’s where we are challenging ourselves each and every day. Can you be better than you were your last practice? Can we go get the ball more than we did the last practice than the last game we played? That’s our challenge to us this year.”

How significant is to see DL Arik Armstead back at practice and any sense for where he’s at?

“Yeah, it’s really great. Again, to get Arik back, to get E-man back. Arik’s presence, just being out there inside his presence, he’s a great player in his league. So anytime you can get a really great player back to help our defense, it’s just fun. And to have not only great player, but to have one of the leaders, true leaders of our team, not only the defense, but a true leader of our team. Just to have him back at practice, being active, for me, it’s just uplifting to everyone. I feel the energy from everyone on defensive side just by having E-man and Arik back today. So definitely excited for both of those guys and where they’re headed.”

I saw you working with the three nickelbacks there early in practice. Those nickels, they play closer to the box and a lot of people say they have to do stuff the linebacker has to do, what’s the challenge and what kind of characteristics do you look for in the nickelback to be able to kind of execute a linebacker’s duties when they’re closer to the scrum like that?

“Yeah, with the Nickelback position, it’s really evolved over the past few years, but that position now, it’s almost like you’re a starting linebacker. So with that nickel position, you have to be able to fit the run like a linebacker, but the passing, where it changes when it comes to third down pass coverage, those guys are athletic and sticky enough to play man coverage and defend the passes. But everything first and second down wise, they’re getting everything that linebackers get, whether it’s using their hands versus blockers, whether it’s blitzing, the angles they need to take in blitzing. What are they’re keying? Are they keying it back? Are they filling the line of scrimmage? So it’s a lot of little intricate details that goes into playing a nickel position that guys who haven’t been that close to the box before they really have to get some training, individualized training to just make sure they’re as sharp as they can be. And those guys they’ve done good. Each week they’ve gotten better and I’m excited, encouraged with the guys that we have there. And I think they can step up and play some really good ball for us.”

Were you happy with the way CB Samuel Womack III executed his two blitzes in the game on Saturday?

“Yeah, he did an okay job. We’re working on it. We’re working on getting him blitzing and it’s a little different when you’ve had one of the best nickels I think to play in [Denver Broncos DB] K’Waun Williams and just his style of the way he blitzes, the way he’s able to get after the quarterback and also play the run. I was just showing those guys and teaching them off of some of his tape and what he’s done and what they have to bring.”

It looked like on the first takeaway that DL Drake Jackson initially went to the ground and then he popped up. And then he was able to get pressure on the quarterback. Are you impressed by the way that he recovers, changes direction and it always seems to be in the right place at the end, at the critical time in the play?

“Yeah, Drake is a very unique athlete from that standpoint where you see some guys who may hit the ground or get tripped up some type of way. And they’re done, they’re out of the play, it’s taking him forever to get up. But Drake is unique in a way that he still finds a way, like even if he’s falling, he’s still working his way to the quarterback and for him to slip on that pressure and still affect the quarterback. Most guys, they don’t have that type of athletic ability. And that’s what I call God-given ability that some guys have and Drake, he has that. It’s not something that you coach or teach. It’s just something he has uniquely within himself to be able to be effective. And he’s always in a play because of his ability to still maneuver, make plays, even when you think he should be out of it. In some kind of way he pops up and he’s still able to make a play, so it’s fun to watch. It’s interesting. It’s fun to watch and it’s fun to see him really grow this past week. As far as his physicality, his strain in the run game and also him being able to affect the quarterback was good to see.”

Did the tackle that he had on that run play towards him, did that jump out to you?

“That did I think one thing with our D-line or any D-lineman, I think the one thing that’s going to stick out the most is how you strain in the run game. Because for us, you have to be physical, you have to strain, you have to make plays in the run game if you’re going to be out there for us. Not just get out and just rush the passer on passing down. We always tell our guys, you have to earn the right to rush the passer and you earn the right to rush the passer by stopping the run. You have to pay the price and he’s done that.”