Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster Press Conference

Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster

Press Conference – October 20, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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How did T Mike McGlinchey look out there today?

“Mike was out there and he looked normal to me. Everything looked normal.”

How does T Trent Williams look?

“Like Trent Williams, which is a good thing. I mean, they both look good, I don’t want to be short. They both look good, they’re doing a good job. They’re doing what they’ve always done, they look pretty good.”

What do you think about the challenge your interior guys have going up against Kansas City Chiefs DL Chris Jones?

“It seems like it’s week after week, and I think that’s the way it is. There’s always going to be, you know, all of their players are really good players. I mean, don’t look past [Kansas City Chiefs DE] Frank Clark, don’t look past the other guys, they all do a good job. Chris Jones is another great challenge. Last week, [Atlanta Falcons DT Grady Jarrett] 97 from Atlanta. Before that we had the guy from the Rams, [Los Angeles Rams DT] Aaron Donald. Every week there’s going to be somebody that’s going to be a challenge for the interior guys. So we have to work really, really hard at all the details and the things we need to do within each protection to be able to protect the quarterback and do a good job for him. He’s a load, man. He’s a big, strong physical guy that when he wants to can be an absolute game wrecker.”

Is there a silver lining in that you’ve had game plans where you zeroed in on one guy in the interior, so these young guys will know what to do?

“Correct. Exactly. There has been a plan that when you have a great edge rusher, a great inside player, there’s always a thought in how you tweak things to just kind of help make sure that it doesn’t get out of control and you can take care of him a little bit better than if you didn’t make any adjustments at all.”

Is the starting unit still kind of work in progress or do you feel like you have the five guys there? I’m just thinking about OL Dan Brunskill and C Jake Brendel. Is there an opportunity there for Brunskill to take that starting job or how do you view it at this point?

“Right now, I think our starting five guys, if Mike’s back in the lineup and Trent’s back in the lineup, I think they’re doing pretty well. I don’t think anybody can rest. We still have some good, talented players in behind them when [OL] Colton [McKivitz] comes back and then you do have [OL] Jaylon [Moore] there and obviously Dan does a really good job. They’re all there and ready to go. And if at any time a guy starts to slip up or struggle a little bit, there’s always the opportunity. We don’t have many guys, but probably the left tackle, I think [OL] Aaron Banks is starting to put himself in that position where he’s got a position as has Mike. But I think the other guys have to keep, I don’t want to say look over their shoulder, but you have to stay on point because there are other players that can play and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re having struggles or maybe you’re banged up and hurt and we need to play another guy a little bit more or whatever it is, at least we have other guys that can get in there and play.”

 Would you say Brendel is doing well enough?

“All the guys right now are. All five that are in as the starters are starters because they’re doing well enough to be the starters. We’re not gifting a position right now to anybody, but they need to keep grinding and keep working.”

There’s been three games with a considerable amount of rushing yards and then three games that were less than 100. And sometimes that’s circumstance because of how many plays you get to run, but where do you see the evolution of the running game at this point? And what do you need to do better?

“I think the games, it’s kind of a reflection of the consistency of how we play. You know, it really is. I think the one under 100 was the Rams game, which was kind of the way the game went, the drives. If I remember correctly, that was a little bit different than the other two where we were low. It’s just consistency in our play. It’s kind of probably why we’re three and three. It’s just not consistent week-in and week-out. And I can speak from the offensive line perspective. We’re not executing consistently at a high enough level to run the ball enough times. And then we’ve had games where we haven’t converted on third down. There’s a lot of other reasons, but at the end of the day, we have to do a better job. The tight ends, the fullback, the offensive line, everybody as a unit pulling together to make sure that we have more consistency in the running game.”

It seems like Kansas City Chiefs S Justin Reid is maybe the fastest safety in the NFL. How do you account for, especially outside zones, somebody that can cut down angles really quickly?

“Well, whatever the responsibility is of the given play. If the receiver’s responsible for him, however we account for that player, we have to put our guys in position that they can get him blocked. So whatever that entails, splits, play calls, different things like that. Obviously he’s a talented player and will make plays no matter what you do. So it’s just trying to understand every part of the defense and where the challenges lie and how we can put ourselves in a position to best block the guys we need to block.”

It’s a small sample size, but through six games, the run game has been much more effective from the shotgun than from under center. I don’t know if you’ve seen those splits, but what do you think has gone into that so far?

“Who knows if it’s the play call versus the defense? It could be a lot of different things. It could be the situations that they’re called in. You know, you think back to one huge run in Chicago game at the end of the half, it was a shotgun run to [WR] Deebo [Samuel] that won for 50 or 60. That alone could take the numbers and skew them slightly. But, I think it’s all, we just evaluate each play in and of itself. And obviously there are trends and if we see trends that maybe, hey, shotgun’s this, why is it? And then maybe you build on that or not. We’re always looking at it, believe me, every single week, all those things. But I don’t think there’s anything you can put your finger on and say, this is why it’s better in shotgun or this is why it’s not under center.”

We saw Dan Brunskill back in at tackle for the first time since 2019. What’s been behind that thought process over the past several years to have him at guard and not really experiment anymore with him at tackle?

“Well, I think that when we moved him, when he came here in 2019, if I remember correctly, [former 49ers T] Joe [Staley] got hurt in the Cincinnati game and McGlinchey got hurt a little bit after that, so [former 49ers OL Justin] Skule and Brunskill were basically our backup tackles at that point. They were the next man up. Dan has had tackle and guard ability. Center was a reach for him when we put him in at center, that’s been a stretch for him and he developed. Dan can play every position if you give enough time to figure it out, but his body type, his athleticism is more suited to guard than to tackle. So right now, when you think about it, if tackle one is Trent, tackle two is Mike, tackle three is Colton, tackle four is Jaylon Moore, tackle five is Dan Brunskill, right? So you’re talking about our fifth tackle on a roster. Then you get down to talking about the sixth guy. You’re talking about guys that are, you know, [OL] Leroy Watson, who’s on the practice squad and guys like that. So basically we’re playing with the guys that if you were listing up from how we had them ranked, it’d be their fourth and fifth tackle. So Dan was next guy up. You’re lucky to have four, we’re lucky to have five or six guys that can literally slide out and do it. You also have [OL] Blake Hance, who’s had some substantial time at tackle with Cleveland, and then he played some for us in tackle. He spelled Mike for the first couple plays when Mike came out, and then we went with Dan and [OL] Spencer [Burford], the rest of the game.”

Some coaches and players have talked about reviewing the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs and saying it’s not a great thing to do. Has it been more clinical in watching that or do people comment on the plays?

“There’s a play or two. You get the ball back at the end of the game and you see certain plays, but there’s always plays in every game when you look back. Whenever you look back and watch a game of yourself, we’ll go back and look at, I think we play the Rams next week and I think we’ll go back and look at the first game. You look at all the games, you go back at that Championship Game and your stomach sinks when you think about, gosh, here was this opportunity. It happens all the time when you watch yourself against a previous opponent. It doesn’t matter what the year, what the game, everything else. Obviously the Super Bowl’s a bigger stage and a pretty big game, but I think that it happens all the time. But most of it now is you get in the grind of these seasons and the hours you spend, yes there’s time for emotion, but there’s mostly time for, let’s just get the work done, let’s see what we have to do. How are we guys best going to attack this team? Finding clips of film that can help your guys play a little bit better, watching how Chris Jones did things against us then. Are there things that we can take from that to help us, or just all sorts of things you’re trying to pile together to piece something together for your guys to help them play better, help the offense to play better.”

In terms of your rookie running backs, is the biggest hurdle for them learning the scheme?

“Yeah, part of It’s the scheme and part of it is just inserting yourself as the best runner. It’s not just, well, am I good at pass protection? Do I understand all the things? And that’s a learning curve that can take years for guys to really master and own, which is part of it. But the other part of it is when you watch them in practice, are they hitting the holes? Do they understand the concepts? Do they understand what this play’s trying to accomplish? It’s more than just run like heck and get yards. There’s more to it than that. There’s setting up blockers. There’s, you can set up blockers to get yourself, anything from a four yard gain can become a 20 yard gain if you just learn how to press a little bit more, set your receiver up and then hit the hole and all those things in college, they really don’t apply as much. So, there’s parts of it that are that as well as the learning curve. They’re being coached really well. The guys are learning as fast as they can. And then, I’ve stated in here a number of times, getting opportunities in games are where the real reps occur and until you’re ready, until you get in the game, until you actually are operating in that situation, it’s hard to develop as fast as you might need to.”

You mentioned inconsistencies. Is there anything that you could put your finger on as far as what’s causing the inconsistencies? Is it just across the board, small mistakes here and there?

“Yes. It’s inconsistent in the inconsistencies. There’s a lot of different things. No, there’s just a lot. It’s every given play, right? For example, on a certain play, it could be the most basic thing. If Aaron Banks towards the end of the game does one thing a little bit different on a linebacker, the play breaks out the backside and it might be a 25 yard run. Now all of a sudden you have 100 yards in the game instead of 80 or whatever. I don’t even know what the numbers were for the game, right? There’s another run in the game where we miss a down block, and if we get that one down block, right? It’s as always, when you don’t have success, it’s usually just a bunch of little things that kind of add up and then pretty soon the sum of the whole is just not good enough. The sum of the parts isn’t good enough. And that’s kind of what happens when you’re not having success. You just, it’s one guy here, it’s one guy there. It’s not this overriding thing of oh, we’re just not good enough. It’s just a little bit here and there off. It’s the other team playing well. It’s us not playing as well or whatever each play. But each play kind of stands alone.”

How do you maintain faith and confidence that you will get rid of one little thing each week?

“We just keep working. That’s the part of the NFL season that I love. I love the season. I think the season’s the greatest time because you get to put your stuff out there on tape and it’s live and it’s real. And when we’re doing OTAs and we’re doing training camp against each other, when it’s preseason, it’s pretend. Now it’s real. It’s under the scrutiny, the pressure of the whole world, seeing what you’re doing on a daily basis. People circling you, pointing you out. And now how are you going to develop in these pressure situations? And that’s how you really find out what you’re made of and what kind of football player and what kind of football team you have. So I don’t worry about it. I actually welcome it because that’s when you have a chance to get better. That’s when you actually get to get a guy and say, hey, listen dude, this is what we need to do to improve and now we can really work on these things. And if the guy has the ability and the guy has the grit and the grind, he’s going to get it done. That’s part of the process. And then you find out we’re three and three right now, 11 games left, right? I think they’re going to let us play 11 more. So we get 11 more games here. And when we get those games, now we’re gonna get to see where we’re made of it. And that’s the challenge every year and every year’s different. I coached Joe Staley in 2008, 2009, 2015, and I was back here again in 2019, right? Three different times, four different seasons in my career and every season was a different challenge, a different set of things that came up with him that put us in a situation on how to coach that guy. Every guy’s the same way. I’ve coached Trent Williams for so many years, but some practices, it’s like, hey, Trent, we’re working on this today. You know, this seems to be something that’s creeping into your game. Or Spencer Burford, you made great progress here. Let’s make sure that doesn’t go back. I mean, so do I worry? It’s the season, it’s what happens. And then all of a sudden these moving parts, you start throwing different guys in there. You’re like, okay, now I got a new set of problems or situations to work with, but that’s what makes it fun. It’s why it’s not just going and punching the clock every day and flipping burgers. You’re working with people, you’re operating with guys that are human beings, that are laying it on the line, that are competing at a high level. And you’ve got an opportunity to help them, to build together as a team, to grow as a team, to watch our offense excel and do better every single week. That’s the challenge. The hard part is when you’re having inconsistencies, well, which one are we, are we good? Are we bad? What are we? And it’s like, no, just keep working and we’ll see what we are at the end. That’s what really matters. And every week you get a test to see where you stand, to see where you are. And that’s awesome, right? You get six days to work as hard as you can on a seventh day, boom, how’d you do? You lost? Well, it wasn’t good enough, man. We have to come back the next week, pick ourselves up, get to work and let’s go see what we can do. So that’s what I love about this thing. So, no, not at all. And regardless of who it is, it’s even sometimes even more fun when you have the challenge of all of a sudden I’m looking in the sideline and [OL] Nick Zakelj is standing next to me and I’m like, okay, Nick, whoever gets hurt, you’re going in and whatever happens, we’ll shuffle the deck and see how it goes, and let’s go try and win this game in the fourth quarter. And that’s what makes it kind of cool.”

How are defenses more prepared against Deebo this year and what are you seeing from him in terms of his hunger to kind of get moving again in the run game?

“I think when a lot of runs are going, there’s more opportunities to insert Deebo when we’ve had limited opportunities, whether it be, we’ve had some opportunities where we didn’t convert on third down. I’m not blaming anything on that. We have to do a better job running the game in the game. This past week there just weren’t the opportunities. So all of a sudden there just isn’t the ops, then you get one and it doesn’t go, you get another one, it goes. So, it’s a hit or miss thing with him right now. I don’t think it’s that they’re defending Deebo any differently. We’re put him in very similar situations and there’s opportunities there. Some have been missed by him. There’s specific games I can think of. Others have been we haven’t executed properly for him.”

The 2012 team is coming in. Former 49ers RB Frank Gore was part of that group, obviously one of the best running backs that the Niners have had. What is it about his game that was so special?

“I was fortunate enough to be with Frank in 2008 and 2009, and I was there the game against Seattle in Candlestick where Frank had two, like a 75 and an 80-yard run, two really big runs in that game, which was really cool to watch. Frank had some of the best vision, like you’d run power and Frank was a great power runner, and there might be literally the width of this podium of a hole and Frank had the patience to wait on that thing, and then all of a sudden he’d press it and it would open and he’d hit it. Most guys would say, that’s not a hole. Frank could see it and be able to hit that hole and go. Frank’s vision. And then Frank was just tenacious about running the football. He was not going to be denied. He had great vision, he had great stamina, he had great power. His will to win and be successful. I mean, Frank was just awesome. So it’s all the things combined in here, plus I just thought it was a tremendous vision thing is what I saw and what I see in every really good back.”