T Joe Staley
T Joe Staley
Press Conference – January 23, 2020
San Francisco 49ers
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said he tries to tell you a story each game.
“Defense, not the offense. We don’t get a story, wish we did. I’ve heard they’re epic.”
What is it that has made you guys such a great run team beyond the obvious commitment from the coaching staff?
“Schematically what we do offensively is really hard to defend. I think also just the mentality we have as any entire offense. It’s not just all on the offensive line, it’s not on the fullback, it’s not on the running back. It’s a complete team effort. I think the wide receivers really buying into really being run blockers and committing to that is huge. You don’t see that around the league. And they really understand that if they really commit and go all aboard in the run game, it’s going to open up things in the passing game. I think a lot of our skill players have no ego as far as stats go. They’re going to do whatever they can to give us the win. I think this last game, the game before that, too, was really indicative of that. You didn’t hear any complaining after the game. Obviously we’re going to the Super Bowl, it all worked out, but even during the game no one was playing about no targets or anything like that. They were all fired up for the run we were able to do. So I think that’s a lot to do with it, just the mentality of everything.”
Does that permeate the whole team on both sides of the ball?
“Yeah, I think just that, like, no ego, doing whatever we can do, fill our role, that whole thing that’s preached about all the time, but it’s never really done. I think that’s really indicative of who this team is and what we’ve done all year is just whatever we can do to help the team, whatever our role is for this football team. [RB] Raheem [Mostert] is a huge example of that, just being a guy that wanted to be the best special teams player he could, never complaining about touches, gets his opportunity as the season goes on to get more carries, takes advantage of that and then has the biggest game in the biggest moment.”
You gave DL Nick Bosa pass-rushing advice in the summer when you were going against each other. Has that continued?
“I didn’t have to give him much, though. We were talking. It was more like, hey, why are you beating me so bad.”
Do you ever kind of give him tips during the year about how to attack a certain tackle or anything like that?
“Not really. I mean, he’s been unbelievable from day one. He’s so physically gifted, whether it’s just his pure athleticism that he has, the power that he plays with, his understanding of how tackles are going to attack. I might, during a game, say, if I’m watching or catching something, I’ll be, like, a tackle is really sitting down in your bull rush now. You have him set up so whenever you want to do hands or whatever like that. But he’s also usually one step ahead of me. He’s, like, yeah, I know. I’m going to be doing that next series. He’s got plenty of sound boards and have been very successful in his life, his brother being the main one, but, yeah, we always keep communication open. Practicing against him always makes me better.”
How do you view all the discussion around QB Jimmy Garoppolo just given the fact that he’ll take criticism because you guys only threw eight passes in the NFC title game?
“That’s wild that he takes criticism for that. We won the game. We were doing what we needed to do to win the game and that’s the main point of an NFL football game. I think he would be pretty sad if he threw 450 and we lost, so it doesn’t really matter.”
He also said that he does see it and he does take it in and does not address it publicly like CB Richard Sherman does, but how do you think Jimmy is handling all that talk?
“If he says he sees it, he doesn’t show it. He’s been the same exact person since he’s been in here. He prepares the exact same way. We have the utmost confidence in him to do whatever needs to be done. We’ve had plenty of games this season where we’ve really had to lean on him heavily to win the games for us and he’s come through every single time. I think that’s a storyline because we didn’t throw the ball obviously the last game, but we didn’t need to. I think that’s also a strength of [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] is that he’s going to do whatever it takes to win the game and whatever he feels is working the best is what we’re going to do. That doesn’t fall on Jim’s shoulders at all. It’s a complete team effort and I think that’s another example of this team being very selfless in what we’re doing is that you have the quarterback could care less if he throws 500 yards or if he throws for 10. He just wants to win the game and the whole entire team is like that.”
How will your Super Bowl experience help you in this game?
My Super Bowl experience was a long time ago. I think something I can really draw from that is just how chaotic it is when you get down there, telling a lot of the younger guys what to expect and make sure the distractions that come with that game are not so much the game, but they’re like all of a sudden you have 20 family members down there, everybody wants to have an experience down there. Just managing all that, making sure you have someone, like I tell my mom and my wife, hey you’re going to be the know person. We’re going to have a set dinner we’ll go to, but this is a business trip for me. I tell a lot of the guys the same thing, is to manage their expectations of your family, what you’re supposed to do down there and really focus on the game.”
Did the level of chaos surprise you the first time?
“A little bit, more so the media day and the media obligations because you’re used to just doing what we do here and then you get down there and it’s like almost 100 times what you’ve done your whole entire career. So that’s a little bit overwhelming at first, but I think there’s lessons to be learned in that and I think that we have enough guys here that have gone through it and we have a good enough team, quality guys that it’s not going to be a distraction.”
What’s it like going against Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark, and how intense does he get on the field?
“I’m very familiar with Frank from his time in Seattle. He’s a hell of a player, a guy that plays with relentless effort the whole entire time. So he’s a huge challenge. As far as like intense and like trash talking, anything like that, I never really had, I don’t really talk trash and guys really don’t talk trash much to me. It’s kind of a battle. We have mutual respect for each other. So it’s going to be a hell of a battle going against him on the biggest stage.”
In the previous Super Bowl was there any surprise to you about the intensity of the game?
“No, I think the surprise for me was going up to the game, the buildup and telling yourself it’s another game, been doing this my whole entire life. Then you go out there for pregame warmups and that was the only time for me that I actually felt like, we’re in the Super Bowl, just because there’s so many people around, you realize in that moment that you’re playing in the Super Bowl. And I think too just embrace that understand you’re playing in a game, but also it’s something you’ve been doing your entire life, you’ve prepared for this moment. I think that’s something you can really fall back on is just the preparation and understanding what you’re going into and accepting it and going forward, but once the whistle blows and you play the first snap, everything is just the same old.”
Do you think your perspective of the second half of the career that you’ve had or maybe your approach to the second half of your career, would it have changed if you had won that Super Bowl?
“No. I don’t have a drawn-out answer, but I don’t think it would have changed. I wanted to play a certain amount of time. I wanted to play as long as I could still play at a high level that I felt was up to my standard and I haven’t been fallen off yet.”
When you look at game tape of your run game and how it has been blocked, are you seeing, just generally speaking, really high level stuff, precise execution across the board? What have you seen from that?
“Yeah, just seeing guys being on it, all 11, really just physical play, coming off the ball, a lot of execution, a lot of guys being on the details of blocks. There’s a lot of little intricacies about exactly where to place your hat as an offensive linemen or the different rules we have for receivers and tight ends and fullbacks and everybody just doing it and being on top of those details. I think that’s just, generally speaking how football is, though. When your reps are getting at a high level, it’s about all the details that you go through a week of practice and get ironed it out.”
Did you get an NFC Championship ring obviously seven years ago and what did you do with it?
“We did, and I have absolutely no idea where it is, it’s probably somewhere. I hope it’s somewhere” [Laughter].
What makes Kyle such a good play caller, especially the timing of knowing when to make a call?
“It’s just the way he’s able to piece everything together and completely understand exactly how a defense is trying to attack us and defend what we do and then exactly how to counter that and he usually seems like he’s two or three steps ahead. He understands like this certain play, while it might not give us that home run that we’re looking for, it’s going to set something up in the second quarter that is. He’s a complete chess player when it comes to pieces on the football field and exactly how we design plays and how we put people in position to be successful.”
What makes Jimmy such a great leader, behind the scenes and then when you get on the field and in tough situations?
“He’s an unbelievable human being, A. Guys just love being around him. He’s a very genuine human being, comes from an unbelievable family, just salt of the earth kind of guy. Then B, here, his preparation, I think that’s always what gets a lot of respect, a guy that’s just preparing exactly how they’re supposed to. He knows every single detail of this offense. He knows exactly what his role is for a certain play, what he’s supposed to do on his pass play or run play and he just plays with incredible passion for the football game and he makes you want to be better.”
Were you surprised you beat him in tic-tac-toe?
“That was actually staged.”