Special Teams Coordinator Richard Hightower Press Conference

Special Teams Coordinator Richard Hightower

Press Conference – November 17, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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Did you tell DL D.J. Jones exactly what to expect on that play?

“First of all, D.J. made a heck of a play on that play and he deserves a ton of credit on that play. There’s nothing really that I have to tell anybody. It’s just what the players do in terms of their study habits, what they do in terms of what the call is. We have a call in our system that allows D.J. to drop out of there. But what’s really cool about that play is everyone was on top of their assignments. You see [LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles] Flan cover the guy that went out and that was an un-scouted look. I mean, they hadn’t shown that one before, but for the guys to be on top of their rules and for those guys to play the call within the system is excellent. And [S Talanoa Hufanga] Huff actually going, forcing the holder there, [Los Angeles Rams P] Johnny [Hekker] to have to throw that ball and rush him, that was a really great play by Huff having the sense and just the awareness to come out of the rush there and redirect just like he’s supposed to do. And then D.J. did a phenomenal job tracking the receiver in an open field and making just a phenomenal play by that big man with those good feet and going to attack. He’s a fun guy to coach. He is a joy and everything and anything he does he’s always really into it. Whether it’s field goal protection, whether it’s defense stay, whether it’s field goal block, that kid is a delight to coach and he’s always got a great attitude. And the guys in the locker room really love him. So the sideline and everybody was really happy for D.J. and that’s a huge play for him to help our football team before the half to make sure that those guys don’t get any points there and we go in with the momentum. It was a good play for our football team.”

You guys called timeout right before that play. From the outside, it looked like why are they stopping the clock? There’s not going to be much time to get the ball back. Was there, I don’t know if it’s like, ‘Hey, watch out for a fake here in that timeout.’ Was that part of that conversation?

“No, not really. You’d have to ask coach on the timeout on that one. We didn’t ask specifically for that. Coaches just probably feel for something that he had there. Which was excellent though, because we did have a chance to say some things to [CB] Ambry [Thomas] who relayed that, but those guys know that. All week we’d kind of been talking about that and I mean, they’re actually telling us before, as coaches, they’ll telling us about it before it happens. They’re like, ‘Hey, we’re watching a fake. So, they already knew what situation we were in and when the players take it over that way and have listened in meetings and they take over then things like that happen. So, yeah, they were on it before we were getting ready to tell them as a coach.”

You have said you love RB Trenton Cannon, even when Trenton Cannon had that game. Trenton Cannon is now playing very good games again. How has he, I guess what do you make of how he has improved and how well do you think he’s playing?

“Yeah, I think that’s a good question. It’s a really good question because a lot of people wanted to do away with Trenton Cannon, but we look at tape and we look at ability and sometimes you have a better feel for a person and for a guy and for him to fight through what he’s fought through resiliently shows you what kind of guys [general manager] John [Lynch] and [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] can find. And [assistant general manager Adam Peters] A.P., and those guys, a guy that plays with tenacity. The guy that plays with heart, a guy that lays everything on the line, that guy had three tackles, had two tackles and an assist in a Monday night game and played phenomenal. And he’s top in the NFL in tackles. As a gunner and kickoff, he’s phenomenal and probably should be up in some Pro Bowl talks, the type of football he’s playing right now. And that’s why you don’t give up on people. That’s why I always pull for guys that do things the right way. Yeah they’ll make mistakes. We all make mistakes. It’s our job to get that corrected as coaches, but it’s also our job to be behind players if you think that they can help you win. And that guy definitely has helped us win and I couldn’t be more proud of him and more proud of the way he’s responded. But again, it’s a new week and every week’s week to week. So he’s got to do it again. And we need other guys to come along and do it. And our guys are getting better. That’s the thing that I like, our guys are getting better and we’ve got a huge challenge this week in [Jacksonville Jaguars WR] Jamal Agnew. He has had eight career touchdowns on special teams. He is a phenomenal returner. Was drafted by my mentor. Guys, I told you about [former NFL coach] Joe Marciano, he loved him as a returner. He had him in Detroit. So he is a good player and we’ve got our work cut out for us. And we’re excited about going against him because we want to play the best. And he is definitely one of the best.”