Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Chris Foerster Press Conference
Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Chris Foerster
Press Conference – January 17, 2024
San Francisco 49ers
What do you see from Green Bay’s defensive line? They have a bunch of different guys that are having a lot of success.
“Very well coached. One of the better coached groups we’ll play. Everybody’s well coached in the NFL, but this group’s very well coached, very disciplined in what they do. They play with a lot of intensity, play with great pad level. They play with great passion. They know what they’re doing. They execute well. The defense is called, you’ve got to block them. You’ve got to get after them and you’ve got to really work hard to stay on your blocks. I was showing some clips today, going back to that game up in the tundra, the freezing cold a couple years ago, that we had some space for big gains, and there’d be five yards, four yards, six yards. They did a good job of defeating blocks and making tackles and they’ve done it and continue to do it since then. They continue to get better in their scheme. And very, very big challenge for us this week.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan yesterday was talking about how RB Christian McCaffrey’s probably been ready for every game back into his Pop Warner days. Have you seen a guy who was drafted that high, who’s been so eager and so hardworking in this position?
“I mean, he’s in the group with the elite guys. Like I’ve said in the past, working with a [former NFL QB] Peyton Manning, you work with a [former NFL T] Jonathan Ogden. You work with some of these guys that are [former NFL G] Randall McDaniel, Hall of Fame type players that prepare as nobody else does. And they’re almost crazy about their preparation. They’re never going to let up. They leave no stone unturned as far as game planning, as far as work, as far as their physical preparation and Christian’s in that group of just elite players like that. There’s been a handful, but they’re generational type players.”
Kyle said yesterday that when you actually look at the film, it’s not so surprising that the Packers were able to come in and upset the Cowboys. Did you see that as well?
“Yeah, I think everybody in the playoffs has a chance. I remember when we lost to the Rams last game of the year, some of the guys on that staff I’m friends with, I had texted them and said congratulations and they all said, ‘Hey, we’ll see you in a couple weeks.’ And I said, ‘I think we’re going to see the Packers.’ And it’s nothing against Dallas. Dallas is a good team, but I’ve been watching Green Bay recently, and they’re a good team. Dallas is a good team and it was going to be a good battle. Not that Dallas couldn’t have won as well, they were the higher seeded team. But everybody, once you’re in this thing, you just don’t know how it’s going to turn. And the team that gets hot, the team that’s playing well, you take care of the football this time of year, you’re going to have a chance. And Green Bay’s doing all the right things right now, and there’s not a surprise that they won the game. They did more things well in that game and were able to come away with the win.”
You were with Kyle and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur in Washington. You’re probably not looking at their offense real closely, but do you see a lot of similarities in the way these teams operate?
“Well, they do. I mean, their offensive coordinator [Adam] Stenavich was here for the first couple years with Kyle. Then, obviously, you have Matt there. And I think when they were there with [New York Jets QB] Aaron Rodgers, you’re going to take some of what he did, some of what you do, and you kind of blend it together. Now, this is a little bit more along lines. There’s a lot of similarities, although they’ve started from a different jump off. They started the thing with Rodgers and now it’s evolving a little bit more towards what I would think Matt would be not as similar to us, but there’s a lot of things they do. It’s really cool to watch what they do because all the teams from this tree, whether you look at Cleveland, you look at us, you look at all the teams that kind of run similar, the Jets when [Los Angeles Rams Offensive Coordinator Mike] LaFleur was there and down with [Los Angeles Rams head coach] Sean [McVay] and everybody takes a spin with it. In fact, last year I was talking with [Cleveland Browns head coach] Kevin Stefanski. I think it was a year ago, two years ago, I was trying to get recommendations to hire our assistant offensive line coaches. And Kevin said it’s always fun to see what each guy does with the system. When a new guy gets a job, [Houston Texans offensive coordinator] Bobby Slowik now in Houston, you take every single one of these guys, Matt LaFleur, Kyle, Sean, everybody that gets their little piece, it’s just a little different flavor, a little different spin. And that’s what Matt has.”
When you were on that staff, did you ever look around at all these young coaches and think, man, this is a pretty special group of guys, or was it more just, let’s just have a good day of practice?
“Well, no, like I told you, I think I said this before, it’s one of my favorite stories about Matt and Sean. I’m interviewing and I’m suited up and I’ve got Kyle and [former NFL head coach] Mike Shanahan sitting right where you guys are right across this big staff table. I’m on the chalkboard and I’m sweating, ‘oh my gosh, here’s Mike and here’s Kyle. And I get my chance to interview with them.’ And then in the corner, there’s these two guys sitting there with short haircuts all buttoned up and young. I mean young. And I’m like, who the, I’m wondering, what are they doing here? I’m here, I’m talking to Mike and Kyle trying to get a job, and it turns out it’s Matt and Sean and they looked like the two guys who were going to pick up the free agents at the airport and then they’re going to bring them back for meals. And literally they’re working their tails off. Matt’s the quarterback coach. Sean’s working quality control. And I just knew we had a special atmosphere, the group we had there with coach Shanahan, how he built the thing, how he taught us all, how he tried to change the culture and environment there. Then, how Sean and Kyle were with his dad, and then how they trained. We worked all together to learn this thing. And then to put the thing together with RGIII [former NFL QB Robert Griffin III], that’s when you kind of saw everybody kind of coming to their own, their own flare of creativity. And Kyle gives guys a lot of freedom. ‘Hey, Matt, you’re in charge of third down, Sean, you’re in charge of Red Zone. Bring me your report before I delve into it.’ And seeing how they would come up with their own flare and spin on things. And some days it was, ‘man, great job, Sean.’ Some days he yelled down the hall at Sean. ‘Sean, what’d you do? Did you work out all day? You didn’t do anything for my report here.’ It was Kyle, but it was the way we all got better. Kyle held us all accountable and did a really good job, as did his dad. And that’s kind of how the thing grew.”
WR Deebo Samuel just did something that only, that only former Washington Redskins WR Charley Taylor had done before in terms of rushing and receiving yards his first five years. With Deebo, is he just such a natural talent that when you’re putting in run game stuff that you don’t necessarily have to be as finite with him on the detail? I know your run game is very detailed. I’m just curious how different it is maybe when you work with Deebo.
“Yeah, there’s some things that obviously he is so talented, you get the ball in his hands and it’s always, there’s a lot of good things can happen. But there are certain plays that require a few more reps as a running back and others don’t require. So, we do lean on the ones that maybe don’t require as many reps. Not that he can’t read it or doesn’t read, he’s just not going to get the work at it because by the time you work at receiver, you do everything that you do there, by the time you do the blocking that we need to get done with the game. And then you give him some handoffs as well. There’s only certain things you can do. So you try to keep the focus on things that don’t require quite as much, but there’s certain things he likes and is good at. And whether it’s done perfectly or not, he finds a way to get yardage out of it. I remember against Green Bay up there a few years ago we ran a play at the end of the game to ice the game, no pun intended, but he ran through there and it wasn’t blocked well. It was a very poorly executed play and Deebo found a way to get us the first down. And with that was the end of the game. We were in victory from that point forward.”
What kind of advantage does it give you guys to have the interchangeability of Deebo and Christian and what they can do?
“Oh, all those guys, it’s great. I mean, every single guy that goes in the game, it’s a little bit different. Between [RB] JP [Jordan Mason], between [RB Elijah] Mitchell and then you have Christian and you have Deebo and all those guys when they handle the football and what they do with it. Shoot, even [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud III], when you’ve seen him handle the ball at times, anybody that can touch that football, we’ve just got a lot of guys with ball in their hands and a lot of different ways to get it to them. The creativity that Kyle uses and the other coaches use to help get these guys involved, it’s a great advantage to be able to do that. So it’s not always going to be Christian. Christian may be lead blocking, we’ve talked about it before. It’s just a great advantage. I don’t know how it affects the defense. It is a great way to get everybody involved in the offense.”
The Cowboys had a check at the line of scrimmage early in the game where you could hear QB Dak Prescott on the TV copy saying ‘False Shanahan, False Shanahan’. It was a run play to RB Tony Pollard to the left. Does that mean anything to you?
“Well, I’m assuming Shanahan, it was an outside zone play. So, the Shanahans have been known for the outside zone running game, so I’m assuming, and then the L word someone there probably meant their code word for running the play to the left. So, if I were guessing, I don’t know anything about it. So False Shanahan would be, we’re running left Shanahan or something. Who knows what all their code words are. I’m sure they have a ton of them and they’re ones that I can’t spend time breaking, but when I heard Shanahan, I said, I bet it’s an outside zone. And I’m sitting there watching with my son. Well, sure enough it was so yeah.”
Will it be OL Jon Felicano or OL Spencer Burford at right guard?
“We’re working through that right now. Jon had some, we were working through some things the last week of the season. I think we’re going to see, probably you’ll see some of both guys in the game as far as who starts and who doesn’t. Although I’m not sure at this point, I think we’re working out through the week and it could be a hot hand thing, could be a let one guy just go with it and see, I don’t know. We’re still, both guys have been working and we have to have flexibility in there. My thing is that [OL Aaron] Banks has had some things this season, so the flexibility of Jon being able to work all the positions that’s always going to leave us making sure that Jon’s ready at all the spots. He’s the backup center, he’s the backup left guard. So that always weighs into our equation a little bit. So, we have to keep some flexibility there.”
How valuable is FB Kyle Juszczyk to what you guys do as an offense in general?
“Kyle, he’s instrumental in so much that we do. I think that when you have to deal with the fullback, you’re saying, okay, the fullback running game, then you can put him as a tight end position, then you can put him in the backfield on third down, then you can split him out and he can run routes in our route tree and do everything. He can run down the field and catch passes. He’s not a great matchup at times for linebackers to cover. So that flexibility, all that we can do with him, plus having him dot the i, be the fullback in the I formation gives us a great deal. And as I’ve stated in here we’ve talked about this before in here, how the fullback position, the guy in the backfield allows you to cut the defense in different ways. So everything you can do in the run game protection-wise everything he does, just very flexible. And really, again, forget where he went to school, he is a really smart football player and the guy really does a great job of sometimes helping the other guys put everything together and sees the play and understands and he understands the intent of the play. So not only does he execute what we ask him, he executes it pretty cool too. He does it in a good way.”
Four different teams have run for 200 yards against this Green Bay defense. Is there any common denominators in any of the success against their run defense?
“Yeah, and every team can have its day on offense or on defense and I think that what happens is all it takes is a couple big runs and you pop a big run or two and that can happen. And so that’s what ends up happening. I mean, a couple years ago we ran for a lot of yards against the Vikings in the first-round playoff game, but we didn’t have a run over seven yards and it was hard to get a big number. Whenever you have a big day running the football, there’s going to be some explosive runs in there somewhere. And when you get those explosive runs, did that happen because of a missed gap, missed tackle, great blocked play, good design? There’s a lot of different reasons that that plays like that can happen. I don’t know offhand exactly what they would be. Obviously, we’re going to look at what we think we can have success with within our package and what they do. And as I told my guys the other day, it’s playoff time and expect the unexpected. What you think you’re going to see, you may not see. What you’ve prepared for all week may not happen. So you have to rely on your 18 weeks, 17 weeks of playing football games and how you’ve worked together as a group to build on that and get yourself ready for whatever they may bring, and hoping that you can have that kind of success running the football.”