Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Chris Foerster Press Conference
Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Chris Foerster
Press Conference – January 4, 2024
San Francisco 49ers
I don’t know if you can say or not, or whether you know or not, but do you expect to have OL Jaylon Moore for this game?
“Jaylon was able to practice today. I think he was a full participant in practice.”
You’ve talked a little bit about OL Ben Bartch and liking him as a center prospect. Has he done any work there and is he a possibility at center on Sunday?
“Yeah, he works it every day he’s been here. He has been working it on the scout team. He also worked at some with our group today. [OL Jon] Feliciano was doing some other things and so, he was able to get some center work. He’s been doing it all along. We’ve been trying to rotate him in at guard and center. Not natural for him yet but he’s working really hard at it. And so, it’s a very good possibility on Sunday that you’ll see him some at center.”
For a few years you had Tennessee Titans OL Dan Brunskill, obviously you could do a little bit of everything and you had to replace him this offseason Feliciano was kind of that guy. How important has he been to have just a dependable guy who can be kind of your sixth man but also start?
“Yeah, it’s huge. I mean, you get these guys, these veterans, they understand the game. They understand the positions. They’ve had a career of starting at left guard, right guard, center. So, it doesn’t trip them out when all of a sudden one week you’re at right guard, one week at your left guard, the next week you’re at center, you go in and end the game at center. They’ve done all that stuff before. So, it’s invaluable and yet at the same time, they can start and play, it’s cool. It’s really good. It seems like every team you’re on, you have that guy, you need to really find that guy because they really are invaluable. You’d love it to all be young guys, you’d love that position, the six, seven, eight linemen to all be young and developing players for a lot of different reasons. And you hope they develop into starters as opposed to having three or four old heads in there that are just you know what they are and they’re solid. But like we talked about the other day, we were talking about the splash plays for a guard and the splash plays for running back. That sometimes just the good old dependable, the comfortable old shoe works for you for lack of a better term, that’s what Feliciano is.”
What did you like about him when you were looking at him in the off season and has he exceeded your expectations?
“Here’s the thing, and I think when we study film, there’s not a lot of teams that do what we do. I mean, we look a little different us, the Dolphins. We kind of have a style, [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and [Miami Dolphins head coach] Mike [McDaniel] and the guys that do it. So, it looks a little bit different and we kind of do a little bit more outside zone and run a little bit more. So, when you study other teams, you just don’t see them do that as much. So, you have to look hard, whether you’re evaluating college film, free agent film, you have to look a little bit harder to say, where do I see glimpses of what we do? And then you say, how many times do you think you can do this for a sustained amount of time in a game? And really you didn’t see it at all until what I saw is I saw him pull on some plays at center or get out in space in some of the toss crack plays and, and I said, you know what, it’s in there. And Jon’s not a guy coming out of college or through his pro career where you said he’d be a great scheme fit for our offense, but it’s in there and if you drill it every single day and it’s there, you can pull it out of him and he can do it consistently. So, we saw that little glimpse and when he got here, even Kyle would say earlier, you’re like, I don’t know about this Feliciano guy, but then when you give an opportunity to play and he practiced it, he got kind of used to it. It’s there and it’s kind of cool to see.”
There’s a motion you do mostly with RB Christian McCaffrey that looks kind of funky and he ends up in some funky spots where he shuffles to the side and you end up in some weird areas. What is the benefit of that motion in particular and sort of how did that come to be?
“Well, some of it is, you motion for coverage tells, others you just get him in a position where he can best release to do what we need to do for a pattern. So I mean, I think it’s all play-driven and depending upon what we need from the back and it gives a little different look to the defense at times or undresses the defense or tells us something. So there’s a lot of different reasons to do it.”
How do you find the balance of guys may be sitting out? I know you’ve mentioned before like when T Trent Williams missed a couple of games, he didn’t play his best when he came back. So how do you find the balance of that when you’ve got guys that may sit out this week and then you got a Bye Week next week?
“Yeah, the thing is that these practices become important. You need to practice. Everybody needs to practice. Everybody needs to practice hard because you can’t just take weeks off. Nobody can. It’s any sport, you just don’t take weeks off and jump back and play at the level – we’ve been playing pretty solid football through the season. You want guys to stay at that level. And at some point, you realize a guy doesn’t need to play a game to risk injury because of where the game is. It could be the end of a game that you’re getting killed in or it could be a game you’re way ahead in, or it could be a game that doesn’t have as much consequence in the big picture. At the same time, you still want a guy to get ready. Same thing in the preseason games. You’re like, okay, should they never play a preseason game? How many snaps are there? Is it 30 snaps? Is it 40? What is that number? So, it’s that balancing act between what’s the health of the player now? Where is he in his development? What does he need to do to keep his edge and keep himself ready to go? Because if you look at it, you say, okay if a guy practiced once a week, Trent usually practices, let’s use him for example. He usually practices on Thursdays and Fridays. Fridays is more of a down tempo practice for us. Thursday’s a full speed practice. Wednesdays he doesn’t practice. He’s with strength and conditioning. So, if you take that and say three weeks, this week, next week, the following week, that’s three practices and no games. Is that enough work in 21 days to be ready to play at the highest level? It could be for Trent, or you might need to have a few more reps than that to be sure you’re ready to play. Same thing with preseason, it’s a balancing act and how many of those reps are to a point where, like Trent would say to me we’re scrimmaging against the Raiders, and he’s getting bullrushed a little bit. And I’m like, hey dude, you need to sit down a bit and anchor. He goes, “I only got so many anchors left in this body.” [Laughs] He said, “so I ain’t gonna waste them all in training camp against the Raiders. I’m going to save him for the season.” And I said, “understood, big fella” and so he does the best he can, but it’s right. It’s one of the reasons he’s been able to play as long as he has is not every rep is a full. He understands the big picture. And so, it’s us talking to him, and that’s my relationship with him, Kyle’s relationship with him, we’re able to say, hey, Trent, we think you need this. And I think as he’s gotten older, he has appreciated that he does, everybody needs to stay sharp. Everybody I think I always go back to other sports, Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson, all of them, they still shoot free throws. They don’t stop shooting free throws because they’re great players. They still shoot free throws. They still have to practice.”
You put OL Colton McKivitz into the starting lineup right away. And he obviously held the position, he’s played through all these games. The first three-sack game with Steelers LB T.J. Watt, everybody was a little nervous about it outside the building, you guys didn’t seem to be so much. What have you seen from him? Is he about what you expected?
“Colt’s really doing a good job this year. I mean, obviously there’s always room for improvement and he’s getting better every week. He works really hard. He’s got a great attitude about getting better and Colt’s got great responses. I’ll ask him, hey Colt, what happened on that play? And Colt looks at me and says, ‘yeah, I didn’t do what you’ve told me to do a thousand times’ [laughs]. I said, okay, what are we going to do about it? So, the point is he understands what he needs to do and how he needs to do it to fix it. And that’s not like, oh, coach knows everything, but he’s like, yeah, I get it. I didn’t do what I’m supposed to do, and I have to do it. And so, he’s got that workman-like attitude that every single day, I’m going to get out here, I’m going to work, I’m going to do things well and win. I was worried after the first game because I think I explained to you guys, we did have a chip system set up to help him. But sometimes the chip system based on coverages is not, you need to get those guys out and sometimes chipping isn’t the best thing, so you have to take your chances. And we did more of that than I would’ve thought we were going to do, but we had to do it. So, Colt had to hold up on some one-on-ones, and he lost some and gave the three sacks the first game. And I had to be sure that he understood that if we put anybody out there and give him that many one-on-ones against that player, he was going to get beat. And some we could’ve got the ball out, others the guy beat him and got a sack. And so, I had to make sure he is okay coming out of that. And he was, but some guys, it’s hard, the bright lights come on and you’re like, you don’t want to be the guy that everybody sees, oh crap, that was the sack that cost us the drive, the game, whatever it is. And Colton’s got that tough mindset to get himself through it.”
OL Jake Brendel was a streak free agent. He’s now been a Pro Bowl alternate in back-to-back years. Did you envision that for him? And talk to us a little bit about what his strengths are as a player?
“Well, Jake Brendel, the first time when he and [OL] Jesse Davis came to us in Miami when I was there on the practice squad. And we the head coach there at the time cut three starters, three draft picks for the Miami Dolphins after like the fifth or sixth week of the season. He just cut them. He was tired, done with them, wanted to make a change. So, [former NFL coach] Adam Gase cut three guys and we poached three practice squad players. One of them being Jesse Davis, the other being Jake Brendel and some other, I don’t remember the other player. And the day you got out there with Jake, you’re like, wow, this guy’s got some quickness, this guy’s got some strength, he’s got some toughness, he’s intelligent, and I just liked the way he played and you saw everything that you would want. Now, we didn’t do everything in Miami and subsequently, they didn’t that we do here. And I knew that in this system he was kind of a prototypical center for the system, the quickness, the speed, the strength and things like that. And intelligence, the importance to how he can run a line, leadership qualities and things like that. Who’s to say, who envisions Pro Bowl, not Pro Bowl. I love the guys they play really well. I just think the system, [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan], how we do things, how we build, plays build upon each other. It allows guys to maximize their abilities. They get to show everything that they are, they can be highlighted in this offense if they’re willing to use the plays because the plays work together. And so, you can help yourself if you understand the offense. And that’s kind of what these guys have done. Not to diminish that they’re not Pro Bowl players, but it all fits together for them here. And that’s why these guys have all been able to flourish and have some success in the system because they are the right guys for what we do. Not just temperament, not just intelligence, but physically the quickness and things that we need.”