Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster Press Conference

Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster

Press Conference – December 21, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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In the beginning of the year, you talked about changes that you have to do on the fly on the offensive line and how you have to be ready for them. Now, recently you’ve had a good run of having people in their spots. Can you see that in their play?

“Yeah, knock on wood with that one. The guys have worked really hard. I don’t know what it is, it’s kind of the luck of the draw. Some teams they can’t keep the same five guys on the field. I’ve been through years like that and in other years you go through some bumps in the road. I don’t want to say it’s luck, but it’s been nice and I do think that as guys play together more and more and more, I noticed on the sidelines, I think there’s a lot more understanding of the whole group of understanding exactly what we’re trying to accomplish in a game. And there’s a lot more talk between themselves, adjustments that need to be made and more of sometimes asking when they get to the sideline, like ‘Hey, we were thinking about this or thinking about that,’ where early in the season, it wasn’t as quite much that way because we did have some younger starters, so I think there is beginning to be a little bit more ownership from the guys that haven’t played a lot of football before and then the group plays together. Early on we talked about you really don’t know about a group of guys until they play and as they’re playing during the course of the season, the group gels and becomes what they’re going to become and so we are where we are today and it’s a good group right now. They’re working well together.”

Much earlier in this season, a lot of articles were written about the three unknowns on the interior and obviously didn’t know for sure, have they surprised you at all with how apparently good they’ve been?

“Well, it wasn’t like we rolled it out there and said we hope. We hoped, yes, but we also talked about they all had a skillset that said they could do it, so is it a surprise? No, the guys are playing to their skillset and still with room to grow, so with that being said, it’s not a surprise. Just glad that we were right at this point, that the guys that we thought could play and be productive in this offense have been able to do it up to this point. There’s still a lot of football left to play, so guys have to continue to grow, continue to sharpen their skills and hopefully be ready for the rest of this season and beyond.”

What challenge do those guys have this week with those two defensive tackles?

“Every single group we play has been something that presents a challenge. And these guys, obviously their two interior players are outstanding. Their edge rushers are very good. This is a really good defensive football team. The stats are the stats, there are a lot of reasons for statistics, but when you get this far into a season, when a team is ranked high statistically, they’re there for a reason. They’ve done a good job. They’ve obviously statistically done a good job. They play good complimentary football offense, defense, special teams in how they do it. And this group defensively, you can see they’re very sound in what they do schematically. They’re very well coached. Their techniques are very good. They’ve got skilled players on that front four, five. They are outstanding players, talented and they reflect the toughness and mentality of their [Washington Commanders] head coach [Ron Rivera]. He’s a tough-minded guy and they reflect that in how they play. When they come to tackle you, you know you’re getting tackled. When you hit one of them, you know you hit one of them. It’s a stout group. They bring it every single week and they present a great challenge for us up front on the offensive line.”

When you look around the locker room, there are a lot of stars on this team, but it feels like not a lot of the ego. Is that something that has been talked about or is it naturally just what’s happened with the people you guys have brought in?

“Well, that’s a nice observation. I get that feeling, but sometimes they just kind of tell coach what coach wants to hear, so it’s good to hear it from you. I think from the beginning point of the players that we put on this football team, I think [general manager] John [Lynch] and [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] do an outstanding job of getting the right kind of guys there that just like playing football. It’s not about who gets the credit, they’re just football players that like being part of a team. Obviously, it’s professional football and players want to be paid for what they do and if they do a good job, they want to be paid a lot. I understand that. We all understand that and so do they, but they understand that sometimes being on a good team, being part of something special is something that’s important too and we have a bunch of guys that it means a lot to, that way. Not a bunch of guys that are just here for a paycheck and trying to figure out where their next spot is. They’re legitimately vested in trying to see the 49ers win. The organization treats people well and if you bring the right kind of people in, which we have, I think that’s reciprocated and so, it’s really a cool group of guys to work with. My guys are amazing and it does run throughout the locker room.”

When T Trent Williams went down with the high ankle sprain in Week Three and he only missed three games, how has that ascent back to his all-pro form gone? It looks like he’s back.

“I can’t remember how it worked. We were talking about it two or three games after the Bye that he had the ankle and then when he came back, it was like the timing of the Bye Week and everything else just seemed like he hadn’t played a lot of football, even when he was kind of healthy, he wasn’t back in a rhythm yet, so at this point, he is feeling really good about himself. I know you guys hear me say it and we all appreciate how talented Trent is and what a great career he’s had up to this point, but he’ll come to me every single Thursday when he does his full day of work with full pads usually and it’s like, what do I need to work on today? What do you see in my game that needs to get better? He’s constantly looking to work and be a better football player, so to say he’s been in any form, he just keeps working to improve. He’s done a lot of things to change his game a little bit this offseason and how he looked a year ago. He didn’t like some of the things he was doing. We talked about it in the offseason. A lot of them are his suggestions. Some of them are mine and he’s worked through it and really is playing well at this point. Another challenge this week though, there’s always a week to not look as good and obviously last week was a great challenge, the noise and all the things we had to manage with that, it was really cool for him to be able to go up and have a nice game again.”

We asked you a lot about OL Jake Brendel or we talked about the interior a minute ago, but we asked you a lot about Jake Brendel, specifically earlier in the season. How’s he going to do? How’s he doing? It seems like he’s doing pretty good.

Yeah, he is. Like I mentioned earlier about the ownership that the guys are taking, that really starts with the center position. He’s the guy that runs the group. He’s the guy that runs the room and obviously you have to deal with Trent and [T] Mike [McGlinchey] who are some veteran players, but Jake has really taken ownership. Jake has been really been good for me because he absolutely wants to do exactly what I want him to do. He and I are close, so that helps me. He’s like a coach on the field, I’ve told him that, but he’s begun to take ownership. He’s begun to have ideas and thoughts, he’s begun to say, ‘Hey, maybe we should do this, or maybe we should do that, or this is what’s happening, or that’s what’s happening, I’m trying to do this and this isn’t working.’ I’ve watched him develop through that. There are still areas that he needs to improve on, things he hasn’t done a lot of. But man, it’s been fun to watch him. Him, [OL Aaron] Banks, [OL Spencer] Burford, each week, they just learn and then they grow a little bit from it and they get a little bit better in some areas. Sometimes they revert back. Right now, for example, Aaron, if we don’t have a full week of practice where we get the full Wednesday, Thursday, Friday routine, his games when we had the short week, you come off a Monday night game, his games weren’t as good, not as clean, maybe not noticeable, they just weren’t as clean. The same thing could be said for Jake. Not that he takes a step back, but it just takes time to now they’re going to start to get into in groove. We’re towards the end of the season now, you hope that this now carries on, but it’s still a learning curve. Things are still adding up, and nothing is set in stone yet with these guys. Although they are getting better every week. Jake included, it’s been really cool to watch him develop and it’s not easy because from his perspective, he could have some mental errors early in the season that you’d be like, ‘gosh dang man, this is not good,’ but then to fight through those bumps in the road and to come out the other end of it, learning from it and getting better. He’s doing that.”