Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster Press Conference

Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster 

Press Conference – September 14, 2023 

San Francisco 49ers 

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There’s a lot of focus on OL Colton McKivitz – that Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt’s not a terrible player. But overall, what was your assessment about him? 

“Overall, the offensive line didn’t play good enough as a whole. McKivitz, [OL Spencer] Burford, [C] Jake [Brendel], [OL Aaron] Banks and [T] Trent [Williams], everybody could have played a lot better. So as a whole, we need to play better. Obviously, we did enough things well to have some production on offense. But it’s not to the standard that the guys want play to and we played against a good front on the road, and the game got the way it got, but it’s still, our guys, we have to play. We have to play at a higher level and play better. And the first game of the year, you don’t know until you get out there how you’re going to be. So, we obviously have to play a little bit more consistently is the key. There were some really good snaps. There were some really good things. There were times where all of them were playing at a very high level. There were other times where each guy would take their turn and have just a little bit off, some more than others. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t a consistent enough performance by the offensive line.” 


When you go out to practice for the first time on Wednesday, what are the points of emphasis for Colton McKivitz? 

“Same things as always. There’s no change. Nothing’s changed. So, the same reason you get beat on Sundays, the same reason you get beat in August. The same reason you get beat in April. They’re all the same things. There’s no, oh gosh, this happened now. We’ll fix this. No, it’s the same points of emphasis. And during the course of a game, a guy can fall back off and fall back into bad habits. Or a guy can just, in the course of a game, lose sight of it. He needs to set a little bit deeper or set a little bit wider, or he’s pulling back his outside hand too quickly. Whatever. There’s a hundred different things, but it’s no different than you just look at it and go – this is what’s wrong. And it’s that simple. It’s simple, but it’s not easy to do and to perform when you’re in the heat of battle against a great rush or a silent count, all the things that went into the game, but no excuses, that’s what we have to do. We’ll be doing it this week and we’ll do it every week for the next 17, however many weeks are left, and if we get to play after that, then we’ll have to do it then. So, but really there’s nothing like, there’s no, oh, hey Colton, now we’ll go out and now that will never happen again. Shoot. No, it’s going to happen again. It’s the same things that when Trent struggles with something, it’s the same stuff. It’s all the same. It’s very rare that a guy stops having whatever his Achilles heel is, it’s going to kind of stick around for his whole career. It’s hard to finally put it to bed. You’re always going to have something in you that you have to continue to address, and sometimes new things crop up.”  


How do you term it though? The mistakes that he made, were they easy fixes? Are they difficult fixes? 

“Yeah, no, all the typical, when a guy runs around the corner on you, there’s a lot of different reasons for it. Sometimes it’s because you don’t sit deep enough. Sometimes it’s because you lean at the point of contact. Sometimes it’s because you don’t use your outside hand properly. Sometimes it’s because you do something with your footwork. Sometimes it’s you reach across with your inside hand too quick, I mean, I could go down a list of 15 things, 20 things that all of them could lead to a guy turning the corner and spinning at the top and getting the pressures that he got from that, which is how he rushed the passer, which is what you work on, which is really hard to replicate during the week. But as the game goes on, you would hope that it would get better. And it just didn’t, we just didn’t make those steps during the game that you hoped to make. But a great learning experience for him and for our team. And obviously it has to be better and we’ll keep working to make it better.”  


Facing Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald, over the last four years, eight times or nine times you’ve seen him, how many different places have you seen him?  

“Every spot, all five spots I’ve seen him at. I even saw him off the ball I think at one point in our game a couple years ago when [former San Francisco 49ers C Alex] Mack was here, we were looking at it the other day. But I’ve seen him on all five spots across the line and they just put him in a position where they think they can get him in a one-on-one matchup without somebody helping – trying to create one-on-one rushes for him. And you see him everywhere. Everybody’s going to see him. I think he’ll favor our right side and based on how we set things up too, because they kind of know what we’re trying to do to them. So, when we show a certain formation, they may put him somewhere else thinking that’s where the one-on-one’s going to be.” 


Since 2019, when WR Deebo Samuel got here, that was kind of when head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch shifted more towards the physical receivers, particularly as it relates to the run game. How have you seen that commitment to getting physical guys, especially on the edges, in the run game kind of evolve? 

“Yeah, I mean, I know one thing in this offense since I was involved in 2010 with Coach Shanahan in Washington is that receivers are required to block, receivers are required to be physical, receivers are required to be the guy that they’re not going to say, well, that’s acceptable. Everybody blocks. Everybody’s held to a high standard and takes all 11 guys to run the football, and if we don’t have all 11 doing it, we’re not going to be as effective running the ball. That’s always been the expectation here. So, the physicality and the blocking, I think those guys have done a phenomenal job. As far as the physicality of running, we’re drafting receivers to be receivers. If they happen to be Deebo Samuel who’s a running back and a receiver, whatever he’s called himself the wide back or something like that. But he is tremendous at both and we’ve got physical guys, I think if you asked Kyle, I’m not sure he’d say that’s the mold that we’re trying to fit guys into. We’re going to go get good receivers and then whatever they can do from there, they’ll do.” 


Guys like Deebo and WR Jauan Jennings, when other younger guys come in where they’re setting a tone though in terms of blocking? 

“Absolutely. Our guys are asked to block linebackers on a lot of plays and because of that, they don’t turn it down. They do a nice job. It’s a challenge for them too. They’ve blocked defensive ends in our toss-crack game, and they take it as a challenge and they work really hard to do it, and I’m very proud of the way they execute it. So yeah, it shows the other guys that, well, if Deebo’s doing it, if [WR Brandon] Aiyuk’s doing it, if JJ’s doing it, then I need to do it.” 


Brendel said that what makes Donald so hard to block is that he’s small but strong and fast, so he doesn’t give you a big target. You guys have had some success against him. How would you describe him? What makes him the special player that he is in your mind? 

“Jake nailed it. I mean, he’s a guy that’s by no means, he’s just hard to get your hands on, which that’s the key to protection. If you can get your hands on a guy and keep them on a guy. You have a guy like [former NFL defensive end] Aldon Smith who was tall and linear and slippery, you just could never get your hands on him. This guy’s shorter and stockier and hard to get your hands on. What’s funny is you can put together a highlight reel of some players that you probably wouldn’t know who they were blocking him at times because when you do the right things against Aaron, he is a smaller guy, but getting your hands to that spot are almost impossible and he makes it impossible to do it. Even when you do, he has the counter moves to take it off of him. So, he’s just got a complete package. There’s just not a lot of surface to hit and he’s so strong and so low to the ground that once he gets an edge, once he gets something on you, you don’t recover from it. It’s over. It’s over when it’s over. And so you have to make sure you make it not be over as long as it can be.”