Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster Press Conference
Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster
Press Conference – July 28, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
What are you seeing out of RB Ty Davis-Price and how he’s reported to camp and how he’s looked the first couple practices?
“He looks great. I mean, he looks really good. We’ve talked before about guys between their first and their second year make one of the biggest jumps. They know what to expect. They know what camp’s going to be like. They know what their shortfalls were. They went through a whole offseason of being corrected on things they needed to work on. They come back out for camp and they’re ready to go and he looks great right now.”
What did he need to work on? Because we didn’t see much of him last year.
“Just the whole process, learning how to be a professional, learning how to come to work every day and be the consistency factor. And he works very, very hard. He’s a very hard worker. Learning the offense. Sometimes you get behind the eight ball early, it doesn’t all ever make sense through the course of the year. And having a chance to sit back, relearn it in the offseason and then get back out there and apply it during the season can really be helpful. So, he’s really done a good job with that. Also, some of his running, open-field running and things like that, just making the adjustment from college to the NFL. He’s a good, hard, tough runner. But again, a little bit of the elusiveness, hitting the holes with more consistency, like with speed and trusting, knowing what he’s looking for, knowing what he sees and doing those things. It’s all coming together for him. Again, we’re a couple practices in.”
So, until he’s in full contact drills or in games, is when you can better evaluate him?
“No doubt. That’s what the value of, contrary to popular belief, preseason games have a lot of value for some players.”
With a guy like OL Matt Pryor, seemed like he had a great year with the Colts and then maybe a pretty rough one last year. What do you look at when you’re evaluating, bringing a guy in and you know how he fits in your system?
“Well, it was hard. We liked him two years ago. Obviously, we had a high evaluation on the guy and I think we, I don’t know if we got involved in it that year, but we did. And then this year it did fall off for him, but some of it was, he was kind of moved all over the place, left tackle, right tackle and the left wasn’t as good for him. So, we’ve kind of focused him at the right tackle spot now. And he looks to me to be back to the form that we knew him to be. He came in very good shape to camp. He wasn’t in the best shape when he got here. Not bad shape. He was just a little bit heavier than he usually plays in this offseason. But he came back to camp in good shape and looks good so far.”
Can you talk about learning to be a professional and the difference between college and the NFL? Do you think that’s something a lot of players underestimate as they come into their rookie season?
“Well, I was talking with [OL] Spencer Burford about it the other day, just because the difference between him this year and he says, you know, it’s just, you don’t know what to expect and it’s different. It’s just longer, the length is what gets you. They go through a process in college that it may be the same, different, I don’t really know the college routine at this point, but I do know our routine when it starts early and if you’re really going to do everything it takes as far as the re-gen, as far as hot tubs, cold tubs, training with the weight staff, flexibility, maybe it’s things that you do mentally. Then you have the actual meetings and practices and then it starts July 29th and we ended the last day of January and if you do it, you want to go into February with this thing. It’s just so long for them that literally by October, November they felt like it should be over and it just keeps going. It just keeps going. And it’s harder. You’re playing a level football that every single minute of every single day, there’s a lot demanded of you. So, learning how to take care of yourself, learning how to not pace yourself, but understand the length of it. That’s all part of the process. And it catches everyone, it catches all of them. And maybe since then, you know, it’s not like we keep them here forever, but it is a full day. I don’t know what the college day looks like as far as the hours and all that stuff. I really don’t know. But it’s demanding.”
A month or so ago former San Francisco offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick won the Dr. Z Award for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach. Did you know Bobb at all or do you know of his teachings?
“Oh yeah, I did. I actually, I didn’t know Bobb that well personally. I was coaching at Stanford and me and another coach came up to visit the 49ers right here and he was out there on the field. And then we spent the day talking to him, watching his techniques, watching his tape, and listening to how he taught it. And then I worked with [former Indianapolis Colts offensive line coach] Howard Mudd later, who he and Bobb were very close, and so I learned more about it. But Bobb was just old school. Bobb was unique. It was different. I didn’t get a dissertation when I asked questions on certain things. It wasn’t going to be this long philosophical, it was this is what we do, this is how we do it, and I’m demanding and we get it done. And I thought Bob was outstanding. In fact, when I came here in 2008, I was in the coach’s locker room there and my locker was right next to Bobb, which he was gone at that point. But they had encased his locker in glass and so there was Bobb’s whistle and hat and everything, and I lockered right next to him, in spirit only, but yeah.”
Have you seen those videos on the sled? Do those principles still apply?”
“Yes, I’ve seen them. It depends on the style of offense that you run and the principles of blocking. I’ve known guys that have coached in the league for a long, long time that implored a lot of those principles. Some of them aren’t as applicable. Some of the things they did with the chop blocks and things like that aren’t as much legal as legal anymore in how they do it. But he was outstanding. He did a great job and obviously well deserving of the lifetime achievement award and all that. So, he’s one of all-time greatest assistant coaches in the NFL, deserving of everything and worked really hard at his craft. You can tell by his players, his players all played well. They all respected and liked him. He was well-liked by the coaches. I never heard coaches say, ‘ah, it was hard to work with Bobb.’ It was always positive.”
How is OL Aaron Banks looking compared to a year ago? Last year kind of looked like he struggled in camp a little bit, and then every week he seemed to get better.
“Yeah, we’ll see when the pads going. He seems really good right now. I mean, he’s picked up where he left off. I think he’s playing well. I’m very happy with Aaron’s progress as a player, as a person. He seems more confident and ready to go this year. I think last season, he had a nice year. He struggled in camp. There was no mystery and we knew it could be. And so, anytime you have a first-time starter in there and trying to find his way, he locked down and had a good season. And it seems to be picked up right where he left off.”
How much progress have you seen from OL Alfredo Gutierrez?
“Alfredo, he’s working hard. He works hard every single day. He progresses, he’s gotten better every day that he’s been here. And we really like the work he’s given us. He’s a great guy and works really hard.”
The way teams prepare now is like you’re training to get to the end of the season basically. Even early on head coach Kyle Shanahan said the first practice, he didn’t want them to be too eager, didn’t want to get somebody hurt. When you think back to when you got into coaching, how different is it now in terms of taking care of players, getting them to the point where the season starts as opposed to just a battle of attrition in training camp?
“Yeah, it’s interesting. It is different because I remember, and it wasn’t smart. I always wondered how it was smart, but you did it. I did it as a college player and then the NFL, you just come in the first day, you stretch, you have about 10 minutes of individual, next thing you know, you’re banging each other for the next two hours. Hitting hard and going to drill. You’re like, holy cow, you just come off a summer vacation, next thing you know, you’re in a full-fledged scrimmage within 20 minutes of practice. I don’t know when that changed or why that changed. I really don’t. But it is, it’s taking care of players and maybe it’s because the season’s gotten longer. I don’t know. I can’t explain it. I was just talking to my guys about it. We talked about golfers, tennis players, some of these other sports, and again, football’s different because of the physicality of it, but just how hard a guy works. A buddy of mine played pro golf and ask [T] Trent [Williams] about his golf game. Trent Williams has started playing golf this summer, so he’s taking it up and he’s getting better. He keeps telling me he is getting better all the time. But how hard a guy has to work to become professional or professional proficient at hitting out of a trap, right? How much time this kid I went to high school with we’d go out and play golf and he might be in a trap for three, four hours just working on all the different shots out of a sand trap. Well, same thing with football. To become a good pass blocker, become a good run blocker, you need a lot of reps and you need live reps. How many live reps can you give a guy in practice before it becomes the point of diminishing returns? Maybe you shorten his career by a few years, maybe there’s a risk of injury. So, you have to make everything in practice as much like a game as you can without risking injury. That to me is the goal. But how do I have drills that are going to help this guy be better in a game or do they only get better playing in games. So that’s the tradeoff. In the old regime, the old way of doing things, guys could get a lot better in practice because there were a lot of full-speed reps in pads. Now it’s more of you’re getting them prepared for the games and the game reps is where they start getting better and better and better. I talked about it last year, you really won’t know about these guys until they start playing games, until they start getting beat in games and they have to recover from, oh, that wasn’t a good game to have a good game this week and they start learning that some of the things they learn in practice against our defense, but some of them, there’s just not enough reps to get that done anymore. So, I’m not one to say good, bad. I think player safety and health is, it’s great to have Trent Williams around for three more years that maybe if we practiced the old school way, he wouldn’t have been. I watched players, coached players that hit the wall in a big way at the end of their career because I think of how things were done in the past. It’s a tradeoff and you’re always trying to balance that out. Player availability has become, if you look at analytics and the people who study it, the teams that have their players available for the most games, win a lot of games, and then obviously you have to have good players to do that. But that is, that’s a big piece of it.”
With Trent, how do you challenge him? He seems to be at the absolute top of his game, top of the league from one year to the next. How do you push the buttons to get him either improved or not sliding back?
“Yeah, it’s simple for me. Luckily Trent and I have been together for a long time. Just blocking his guy, I mean, it’s how he does it. I’m always challenging him to do it the way we’ve talked about. And he and I talk and agree upon this is how this is going to get done and it’s not getting done that way. Yeah, your guy’s not getting there and your grade’s fine, i’s a plus, your guy didn’t sack the quarterback, but it’s not even close to being clean like we want it to be clean. He came into me and we’d been talking back and forth at the end of last season, and he came in before the playoffs, it may have been one game left even, and we spent a good two, three hours on a Tuesday going through his tape to fix something. That was him and it was me. It was both of us. It was just saying, ‘hey dude, we want this to look better and we know that there could be problems coming if you don’t fix these things.’ And I’ve told him for years, and there comes a time as a player that’s played as an absolute freak athlete, and Trent is a technician as well, but there comes a time where that technique you’re going to rely on that technique as maybe your athleticism starts to dwindle, which, put this in caps, it’s not dwindling. But you want to have that ready to go so those fundamentals have to be on point when you do get to that point if you want to keep playing and he obviously does. He’s a pro that way too. He wants to be really good and he wants that challenge. I’m lucky, he says, tell me what, and I do, I have no problem correcting him as much as I correct [OL] Nick Zakelj. I mean, it’s the same thing. I’m a little nicer to Trent than I am to Nick, but it’s the same thing.”
Are you sort of in awe of the way he’s aged? It’s an age where players regress and it seems like he’s getting better and better a little bit every year and he’s almost at the full force of his career.
“Yeah. His thing is, he’s had so many reps. It is amazing, physically, that he’s one of those physical specimens that as time’s gone on, he doesn’t look any different. It shocks me when he comes back. It seems to me he moves just as well as he always has. He really loves football, so he really dives into finding out everything about a lot of things. He’s a big football junkie. He knows about all the players in the league and he loves football. He loves this stuff. And that’s what’s helped him too, is he just wants to be really good. He wants to do it, you know, he wants to do things well and in the right way, and he’s always looking at himself really critically to see how can I be a little bit better? How can I do this a little bit better? And he’s not afraid to say that he doesn’t like the way I teach this, or can we look at doing this a different way and talk about it, and things like that. So, it’s been fun. I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with the guy for as long as I have and he’s just a really special person. A talented, talented guy.”