Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Chris Foerster Press Conference
Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Chris Foerster
Press Conference – October 12, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
How do you think you guys did against Dallas Cowboys LB Micah Parsons on Sunday?
“You know, obviously the stat line was good and the guys performed well. I mean, I think everything kind of went well for us. Things kind of went our way and we were able to get the ball out on time. Went to some players that were open, so we didn’t hold it. So that had a lot to do with it. But I think overall we performed – we did a nice job against them but overall, the whole game kind of went our way. So, I never want to say because with those guys, you just only hope to contain them. That was one game. Obviously, if you see him again this year, he could have a breakout game if we’re not careful. So, I’m always careful about what I say, but it was, it was a good game.”
Can you talk about the challenge of Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett. He’s just wrecking shop every week right now. How’s he look on film to you?
“He looks like all the great rushers we face. I mean, when you face [Los Angeles Rams DL] Aaron Donald, you face [Pittsburgh Steelers LB] T.J. Watt, you face [Dallas Cowboys LB] Micah Parsons, I don’t want to miss anybody here. Everybody you face, you find somebody on the team that has an elite rusher and Myles Garrett has always been one of the most talented pass rushers in the NFL since the minute he walked in the league. And he continues to do that. The style of defense that they play, how [Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim] Schwartz coaches, how they coach the D-line, it’s a little bit different than what he’s done in the past, I think. And it’s been to his benefit and he looks better than ever.”
Do they move him around as much as the Cowboys move Parsons around?
“Yeah, I don’t remember the percentages on Parsons. This guy plays on the left more, but they do move him around. He’ll stand up inside and move around, he’ll line up over the guards, he’ll line up on the right some. He’s been more left than right, but what they do with him is you never know from week to week how that may change.”
Do they use the wide-nine defense?
“Yes, they do.”
What’s difficult about facing that?
“Well, I just think more than anything else, it’s one of the reasons why we gravitated towards the wide-nine and the jet defense. It’s just penetration, sometimes is difficult to deal with for an offense, especially when in certain run schemes you’re trying to get to the line of scrimmage and they’re in the backfield and it’s just disruptive and the wide-nine kind sets edges, it makes it harder to get outside. You have to find ways to do it. We talk about the wide-nine defensive end, it’s a bigger guy out there, but 3-4 defenses, hose outside linebackers are wide-nines setting the edges as well. You go back, I remember when I was in Indianapolis and I was coaching [former NFL tight ends] Dallas Clark and Marcus Pollard at tight end and they had [former NFL linebackers Mike] Vrabel and [Willie] McGinest, they didn’t call them wide-nines, but they were wide-nines and they were setting the edge and you weren’t running outside of them. That’s kind of what this wide-nine does as well. It kind of sets the edge of the defense. They don’t feel like you can run outside of it and then the rest of the players play off of that.”
Fans sometimes will look at a team that’s playing well like you guys obviously are and wonder, ‘Man, is this team peaking too soon?’ Does that exist? Is that something that’s even discussed ever by coaches or anything about it?
“No, I don’t. I don’t think of it like that. I mean, because what [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] does such a great job of, in my opinion, is it’s always about football. It’s always about the X’s and the O’s and the execution of the fundamentals and the techniques and getting better. So, this big picture thing, this thing of peaking, not peaking, it’s really we’re just out there playing every week. Everybody has things they can improve on. Everybody has things they can work on. We study the tape from the week before, we study our opponent tape. And there’s always challenges that each team presents, some greater than others. And some individuals have greater challenges than others. And so that’s kind of what keeps you on an even keel. That’s what Kyle keeps it about. And it’s, I wouldn’t say a business-like approach, but it really is, we just have to take care of our business, working on getting better and then working on what we need to do against this team to beat this team. And if that means we do great for six straight weeks of doing that, that’s great. Seven straight. I don’t think anybody’s looking back, obviously there’s been a lot of good ball going on over the last year or so, but heck, it can come to a screeching halt at any time if you don’t take care of business and do the things you’re supposed to do. That’s one of the great things I think too, I give [general manager] John [Lynch] and Kyle credit for this is just that the type of guys we bring in, they like football and they like getting better at football. They’re here for the right reasons. And yes, they’re going to get paid and yes, they want to be the best at what they do, and yes, they want to have all the endorsements and everything else that goes on, but man, these guys love ball and that’s what it is. When you have a guy like [LB] Fred Warner who literally is never satisfied and never feels he’s good enough and he’s one of your team leaders playing at a high level, it’s really hard for anybody else to feel like they can be content. And so that thing of peaking too early, possibly being complacent would be the thing that would happen. You’d be like, ‘Wow, we got this.’ And there’s no such thing. You just keep working and whether you play the same, a little worse, a little better, you just keep working.”
How much has RB Jordan Mason improved since last year?
“Man, greatly. He really has. Have you noticed it? Do you see it? He’s always been physical and a hard running guy, but it’s just as always with this offense, we’ve talked about it with [RB] Christian [McCaffrey]. We’ve talked about how learning how to press the hole and do all the things that we ask a running back to do in the running game. He just keeps getting better and better and better at it. And gosh, he’s a serious minded, hardworking guy. It’s very important to him to do it right. And he just continues to improve.”
What have you seen from OL Aaron Banks as far as just physically his ability to get out there and be himself?
“Yeah, we said it last year when he had to get out there and start playing and when he played the games, it got better and better as the year went on, and he’s kind of picked up where he left off and that’s the great thing. All those inside three guys, they kind of picked up where they left off and they’re slowly getting better as we move forward.”
Have you seen any difference with the shoulder?
“No, right now. The injury thing is the injury thing. I’m not going to talk about it, but he practiced, so he’s hanging in there.”
Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz are from the same coaching tree. Will you sit down with Kris at all this week and go over ways to defeat the wide-nine in the running attack?
“Yeah, I think we’ve been together so long doing it and we also played Schwartz when he was in Philly. Yeah, we do. There’s a couple things you may walk down the hall and ask, but we’ve either tried it against our defense, tried it against somebody else that runs the style defense. We’ve tried it in the past. We see other teams try it because everybody’s trying to take advantage of the guys jetting up the field, the wide-nine, all the different things that the wide nine entails. And so, we haven’t sat down and had a big meeting about it because we really have had that already.”
Christian McCaffrey’s leading the league in touches. When you see that, do you think, it’s a long season, let’s back off or this is a Hall of Fame caliber running back, let’s press the issue?
“Yeah, I’ve been a big believer in you have a two running back system. I’ve always talked about, you have the great run team, you’ve seen, [former NFL running back] LaDainian Tomlinson had somebody, there was always another guy that was pretty good with him. We’ve got other good players and you want to give them those reps so you don’t tear your guy down. Now, I say that to Christian, he’s like, I’m fine. And he feels he can carry the load and do all that. He does carry the load in third down. That’s very important. So, you do have to be careful that Mason or [running back] Elijah [Mitchell] or one of those guys gets in there and does spell him some. I mean, is it concerning? We’ve had a lot of plays too. I don’t know how much of that is, it’s just kind of happened where Christian’s out there a lot. I don’t know. I think you just always have to be careful with anybody that’s in harm’s way. With running backs, can be receivers, tight ends. You just have to be careful at times to see if you’re overdoing it. But if you told Christian that, he’d say, ‘No, I want every touch, every carry, every pass. I want to be out there every snap of the game.’ Oh, it’s really tough. Yeah, he doesn’t want to come off. I mean, he didn’t want to come off after that big hit on Sunday. I think part of that was he wanted everybody to know he was okay because I think the officials were like, ‘Dude might have a concussion or something like that,’ but he’s like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ And then we were going like, ‘Well, let’s get him out for a play.’ And he says, ‘No, I’m not coming out of the game.’ And because they just did that to me, I’m going to make sure I have a chance to get back at them right now. That was kind of his mentality, I think. So that’s Christian, man.”
How many players on the team can do that? Say I’m not coming out.
“Not many. <Laughs>. I coach one that’s probably not coming out, he usually does, but there’s a couple, but not many. And you trust him. You’re like, ‘Hey dude, do you need it? Do you need a rep?’ And he’s like, ‘no, no, I’m good.’ And other times you’re like, ‘Hey, no, get over here’ and then you have to get him out.”
QB Kurt Benkert, ex-Niners quarterback was saying this week that one thing he loves about Kyle is that he’s so collaborative on the plan, that he’ll take an idea from anybody and incorporate it into the plan. How does the plan come together and do you have any examples of Kyle using suggestions either from yourself or other coaches or other players to formulate the plan?
“Yeah, I don’t know if I have a specific example, but what you said is a hundred percent right. He is. And on game day, it’s the same way. I mean, we have a plan, we have openers, and it can be the second series. Like, hey, if somebody has something that they feel is good now, tell me. And then he’ll filter through it and decide whether he wants to call it or not. During the week, it’s the same way. If you have ideas, Kyle’s thing is, is the idea well thought out? Just don’t throw stuff against the wall and see if it sticks. But if you’ve thought your idea through and it’s a well thought out idea, if it fits what we do and you understand what we’re trying to get done and accomplished, he’ll take an idea from anybody if it’s well thought out – quality control, offense, defense, whoever. It’s happened and it’s happened before, just somebody says something in a meeting and you’re like, that’s a good idea, we need to incorporate that in some way, shape, or form. So Kyle is all about, it’s like I said, it’s about football, but it has to be well thought out and he’ll push and poke and prod sometimes to the point of you like, dude, come on. But he’s just making sure that it’s fully vetted before he says, okay, this guy has thought through this idea before we put it in and do it because any idea that he puts on that plan has been well thought through. And the process with the other coaches that he goes through to study the tape and put the plan together, that’s very well vetted.”
When you guys were playing against LB/DL Randy Gregory, say in the playoffs a couple years ago, what do you remember about preparing for him and how tough he was to block?
“Yeah, Randy was he had an unbelievable year that year. I mean, he was as good a rusher as we’d faced all season. He was powerful, he was long, he was quick, he was agile, he played with great effort and energy. And I don’t know what happened the next couple years, but ‘21 when we played him in that playoff game, you want nothing to do with that guy. [T] Trent [Williams] was like, this guy’s at another level right now. It’s the best he’s ever played. So that was what I remember of him. After that, I don’t remember. We played him in the preseason, they were playing him in the fourth quarter. I don’t know what was going on out there, so I can’t put too much stock in that, but it’s been up and down. But that ‘21 season was, oh my gosh, lights out.”
Do you remember when you put in Pass 18 Gumby? Was that last year that play came into the playbook?
“Gumby has been around for a while. Gumby is a form of another play that’s like Gumby. New England ran the play and they made it, they did a really good job with it. And so something like it. And so we always thought about doing, we did it, we did it one time against somebody in a play. We did it against Seattle in a playoff game in Washington. And then, I don’t know what it was, it’s kind of come and gone. So, it’s not a play that we use sparingly, I would say we use it sparingly.”