Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster Press Conference

Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster

Press Conference – November 10, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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TE George Kittle was saying last week that having a tailback with speed like RB Christian McCaffrey, especially on the outside zone, really helps him out as a blocker because it gets his opponent, that edge defender moving and George can take advantage of that. Is that true for the offensive linemen as well? Does that speed sort of get everybody going on the hook?

“Yeah, it definitely helps and then all the backs have good speed. It does, if you can press the edge, obviously the more you threaten the defense, the more the defense moves. George talked about it a lot that that threat of getting outside that guy that George is blocking for a minute, thinks maybe this ball’s going outside of me. So he moves a little more, which allows George then to move him that extra little bit, which may open up a running lane for the runner. But I think everybody in general, when the speed of the back pressing his landmark, doing what he’s supposed to do in our run game, whatever the run is, it does make the defense have to react and do what they have to do a little bit faster, which then maybe we can get them to move and we can do what we want to do from that point. So it does help.”

Have you been impressed with the way Christian’s been able to run that play? I don’t know how much he did it prior to coming here and how is he and RB Elijah Mitchell at kind of pressing the edge?

“Those guys are outstanding. Christian and Elijah both do a great job of understanding the run, understanding what they need to do to affect the defense in the run, what their read is, what landmark they’re supposed to press, understanding the defense in front of them and how this play is going to play out versus the defense as well, and helping the blockers and set up the blocks. Both these guys are outstanding. The other guys were good as well. They just really have a knack for it. Christian is a natural runner in every way, shape or form. He’s run some of this. I don’t think he’s ever been in an offense that emphasized maybe some of the plays that we do, but he’s run all of them and understands all of them and really is a real student and sets up blocks excellently and does some really good things. On our touchdown run there was a little bit of a communication thing and it was very congested on the short one-yard run, and he just had the patience to wait it out and then the hole showed up and he got in the end zone. So, it was a nice run by him.”

How does RB Elijah Moore look this week?

“So far, so good. Everything looks good. He’s out there working and seems to be in good shape.”

In general with the zone blocking, I’m sure it’s something that the longer you’re in the league and the longer you practice it, the better you are at it, like everything else. But how has your inexperienced line done with that? Have you seen progress over the first eight games?

“We have. And I think we’ve talked about it in here before, how the game reps are so valuable and when you start running them in the game, then they start seeing the value of what you talk about in practice. When you get a full speed rep and you’re like, ‘Oh, now I see coach has been emphasizing this point, but maybe you haven’t felt it quite because the practice just doesn’t play out like that.’ So, I think with each week if we continue to be able to run it, the guys do understand it a little better and there’s a point of reference for young players that haven’t been through it before. When you have the veteran players like [T] Mike [McGlinchey] and [T] Trent [Williams] who have done it before, you can reference, or even [OL] Dan Brunskill, you can reference things, ‘Hey, remember last year remember this? Hey, we’ve talked about this before.’ Oh yeah, jogs their memory and they’re right back into it. The young guys haven’t experienced this before, so continuing to practice the same things over and over, give them the reps and practice and then getting them called in the games, which Kyle’s done a great job of, it allows these guys to make those improvements in every area. And so we’ve been able to see gradual improvement as we’ve gone through the year with those guys.”

The Chargers have given up a lot of big plays. Teams have been able to run on them for a lot of yards and a lot of big plays. Is there a danger in looking too hard at that and seeing that’s the target right there?

“Yeah, as always, you study a defense and you look at what you can do against that defense and you look at your matchups and things that you think will be good. It’s always a danger to think anything is that big of a strength or that big of a weakness just as like we’ve talked about and before we’ve talked about a great player like [Los Angeles Rams DT] Aaron Donald. You have to be aware of them, but you can’t be paralyzed, but you have to be aware, right? You see that they do certain things that they’ve maybe struggled with. Maybe that’s the point of emphasis this week that they shore up. And so you can’t count on that still being that. You have to always, I think I know as a, as an offensive coach, if you have a weak spot, you know that everybody’s going see it and they’re going to try to exploit it, and so you have to do everything you can to fix that so it doesn’t stay a weak spot. There’s always a danger in thinking anything’s going to continue to be any certain way, but you have to evaluate the defense, evaluate what they do, see what you want to do, how you want to attack it, and what that looks like every week is always a little bit different. What they’ve given up, what they haven’t given up, obviously that’s something that we study, but yet we’re going to do what we need to do to have success and win the game.”

Does Los Angeles Chargers OLB Khalil Mack still look as good as he has in the past?

“He’s a good player, man. He has still got really good rush skills. He’s really good at setting the edge. They move him everywhere. It’s hard to know where he is going to line up left and right side. He’s very productive on both sides. Still a very, very good player and somebody you have to deal with.”

For someone like Elijah Mitchell who had so much success as a rookie, what’s the conversation about integrating the best way possible after a trade for a Christian?

“I don’t know what that conversation has been between he and [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and the running back coaches. I know I haven’t had it with them. I think that most guys, they really just compete and Elijah knows he has a role. [Miami Dolphins RB] Jeff [Wilson Jr.] knew he had a role. I mean, every guy has a role here and if you play well and you and are productive, we’re going to find a way to get you to the football and get you in the game. It’s a long season, we need everybody, so I don’t think anybody feels pigeonholed or feels like, oh, well this was my job, now it’s his job. It’s a long year. A lot can happen. I think these guys are just working together. I think it’s really cool to see how, I think Christian talked about it with Jeff, it’s the same now with Elijah coming back, is that how well these guys just help each other out and work together as teammates with the common goal to win. Yeah, everybody has individual goals of trying to be the starter and hit your bonuses and make money and do all that stuff. But I think at the end of the day, these guys all work really hard together to do what’s best for the team and realizing that in the end there will be enough touches for everybody.”

I don’t know how you judge the outside zone runs, but have they been as efficient this year as they have been in the past or as you want them to be?

“I think there’s always room for improvement. I don’t think it’s been where we’ve needed it to be. I think we’ve really missed some stuff. I don’t think it’s been as productive as it should have been. I really think that we should be, I’m not saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to be the greatest.’ I’m really just saying that we’ve left some stuff out there and part of it’s been because the defense has done a good job. They’ve done a good job. They’ve defended us well and we probably haven’t executed as well as we need to. But there have been opportunities, there have been things that we’ve had, whether it be the line, whether it be the runner, whatever it is, it hasn’t played out quite to our liking, which is good. I mean, we’ve had some success, but yet we’ve still got a lot of room to grow and you can always point to things through the BYE week, which we did. We pulled some tape and said, Hey guys, look, this is why this isn’t going, this is what we need to fix. And it’s fixable. It’s like, we’re just not very good at this stuff or we’re not very good at this position. That’s not it. It’s fixable things and things that I can do better as a coach and presenting opportunities for the players as well.”

For OL Aaron Banks as a first year full time starter and OL Spencer Burford as a rookie starter, how big was the BYE week for those guys? Could you see that when they came back that they needed it?

“Yeah, I think for Spencer, it was good for him. He got away, got home, which was good for him. He came back refreshed and ready to go. I think those young guys really do need the break. I think Banksy probably a little bit better. He went through it last year, even though he wasn’t playing, I didn’t notice as much of a sigh of relief. And Spencer’s good. Spencer really has been one of the better rookies as far as coming in, doing the deal every day, having a routine, preparing. But no matter what you say, it is the second week of November and normally these guys are winding down to the end of their season these rookies and this year they’ve still got this as we’re now just really starting our season to see where we end up at the end of this thing. But it was good for both those guys. I think more probably for Spencer than Aaron.”