Solari, Drevno: Offensive line is maturing


Solari, Drevno: Offensive line is maturing

SANTA CLARA -- Here is Part II of the question-and-answer session with the 49ers offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Tim Drevno:

RELATED: The Solari-Drevno interview, Part 1
Looking at the way the offensive line has responded, there's a pretty clear line -- that Philadelphia game -- where the rushing numbers are up and the sack numbers are down. Is that a true reflection of how well the offensive line taken in the message and performed?
Solari: "I think it goes back to the whole offensive crew coming together and maturing and developing. My personal opinion is you're behind -- without knowing every team in the NFL -- I think all the offensive lines were a little behind because you didn't have the OTAs (organized team activities) and you didn't have the offseason program and the film study, so all the offensive lines were behind. As the season progressed here, Jim Harbaugh did a great job. And Greg Roman did a tremendous job. You just kept seeing the maturity of the offense coming together. It's an awesome thing how it's coming together. Not only that, but the team. And special teams. It's great. But I think the men in this room have taken pride in their work of learning the details and putting it together."Has the line been asked to do things a lot differently from last season?
Solari: "I wouldn't say a lot differently. There are things that are different -- things that are exciting. But just the thing is, this offensive line is maturing and coming together. It's a tremendous group. They work together, all of them. The young guys we brought in, the guys who were here. It's just exciting to see them develop and gain confidence. The guys around them are doing are doing a beautiful job. Frank Gore does a great job. The tight ends are doing a great job, the wide receivers. The blocking. The things you don't see in the rushing numbers, shoot, the tight ends, the receivers. The quarterback, in the sense of what he's doing. And it's exciting."What was your impression when you saw the talent that was here on the offensive line?
Drevno: "Very exciting. You turn on the film and you see guys who are athletic, physical and can run. You know, great opportunity to be successful."You saw them on film a long time before you worked with them. How did your opinions change after you started to get to know them?
Drevno: "You see it live. 'Yeah, this guy's a physical player.' Or 'This guy can move, he's got good feet, good balance, good smarts.' It became live in front of your eyes."From Year 1 with Anthony Davis . . . he had an inconsistent rookie season, and this year the last few weeks, I'm not sure they've had stronger right tackle play here in a long time. Why do you think he has taken that leap even without the offseason?
Solari: "He's maturing. As a rookie, it's very difficult in the NFL. He's maturing. His preparation is improving. His work ethic is improving. From the weight room, his work ethic is improving. And Adam Snyder has done a beautiful job. Joe Staley has done a beautiful job. The men in this room, the leadership, you just watch those guys work. Joe and Adam, and the addition of Jonathan (Goodwin). Those guys with experience, you just watch them perform. That has enhanced his performance and Mike Iupati's performance."What does it mean to have a veteran like Goodwin, somebody who has won a Super Bowl? Is he immediately looked upon as the leader?
Solari: "No, he has to earn it. When a guy comes in, he still has to earn it. And he earns it through his work ethic on the football field and his preparation off the football field. In the facility, they have to earn it."You have seven linemen up on game day, and each of those seven guys has a role. There are times when everybody is called upon. Is it important to keep everybody engaged and knowing even without an injury that they can be on the field for the next play?
Drevno: "I think they all understand that in the room, and they're all taking accountability and they're all in this thing together. They understand that their role is so, so important for us to be successful on Sunday."How has the group responded to know that on the moment's notice the backups have to get in there?
Drevno: "They love challenges, and they thrive on competition. This is a very competitive, hard-working and prideful group that takes pride in their work. It is the best group I've been around in terms of that. They're pros. They come to work every day with a hard hat and a lunch pail and they're read to go to work."In Youngstown, you guys had gotten off to a rough start and Joe Staley made the comment, "We do not suck." Did that strike a chord in this room? Was that something talked about?
Solari: "It's a group that's getting better each week, and that's the most important thing. We have to stay constant in that. Each week you're seeing that. Now, the key is to keep building those stages and we'll be where we want to be."Do you see the confidence growing?
Solari: "Yes. Confidence is fostered by success. But, yes, each week it's growing. You see that in their performance, individually and collectively as a unit. And, again, the key thing at this level is you got to stay healthy and we've been fortunate. And those seven guys are working hard. We've been fortunate, but it's also their work ethic off the field. They're doing things in the weight room to take care of their bodies, and what they're doing in their preparation, getting ready for the game."You guys put in a full day on game days. I see before games you're working with the linemen who aren't going to suit up, going through an entire practice before games. Is that unique because there are two of you?
Solari: "Not sure if it's unique. I don't know what all the teams are doing. But everybody has their different thing. But it's really helped us. Again, it keeps those other young guys ready. It's awesome thing, also, working with them because they're improving their techniques and fundamentals. They're like sponges. They want to get better. So it's exciting to be able to work with them and we taking advantage of the time to take the opportunity to make them better."How long do you work with them before the game?
Drevno: "Thirty minutes, at most."
Solari: "Most guys get a good sweat and loosen up. It's to get them a good sweat, but also to enhance their techniques, and enhance their performance for the week coming up. So it's a chance to coach them up and teach them and communicate with them. I think it's exciting."You've had experience with a couple of those guys, tackle Derek Hall and center Chase Beeler, how do you see them growing at this level?Drevno: "Tremendously. I think they're doing football all day long, so you're going to get better at it in the classroom and on the field. On the field, you're going against better football players, so you have to be better, technique-wise, maybe something you got away with in college, you can't do at this level because everybody's good. They're growing tremendously. Every day they've gotten better. And I think it's the strength coach to the coaches in the room to the players around them, the drive to be good, the chemistry."Is it a pretty good room from that standpoint?
Drevno: "Yes."Is there a lot of fun had in this room?
Solari: "When they come in here, they put their hard hats on. Joe's Joe. You know their personalities. They know when to have fun and when it's time for business."It's a young group, with the exception of Goodwin, is there a chance here to really build something special?
Solari: "With the youth, we'll see very good growth."What will be the key to that?
Solari: "Sticking together. When you look at the teams that have been very, very successful, the offensive line has been together two years. Three years is a luxury now with free agency and so forth. Three years is a luxury. But when you look back at the teams that have been successful, whether it's the New York Giants or the New Orleans Saints, the continuity is always something that's consistent there, when you look back at those lines."

Ken Norton Jr. leaving 49ers after just one week for DC job


Ken Norton Jr. leaving 49ers after just one week for DC job

Ken Norton Jr.'s stay with the 49ers lasted about one week.

Last Monday, the 49ers hired Norton as the assistant head coach -  defense/inside linebackers. But now, he's going to exercise an opt-out in his contract in order to return to the Seahawks to become the defensive coordinator.

Originally reported by the NFL Network and KING 5 News in Seattle, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area the news that Norton was given permission to leave.

"Last week, Ken was presented with an opportunity to once again coordinate a defense. Because of how we feel about Ken as a coach, we understand and respect his desire to pursue the position," Shanahan said.

Serving as Jack Del Rio's defensive coordinator in Oakland, Norton was fired by the Raiders on Nov. 21. Norton coached the Seattle linebackers from 2010 through 2014.

This past week, Norton sat down with NBC Sports Bay Area to discuss his relationship with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and shared his thoughts on Reuben Foster.

Why Garoppolo's bank account should be rooting for the Patriots


Why Garoppolo's bank account should be rooting for the Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo is no longer his backup, but the 49ers quarterback should still be cheering for Tom Brady to win another Super Bowl. 

Well, at least his wallet should. 

Garoppolo earns a big payday if the Patriots win two more games. If the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, Garoppolo can add $56,000 and another $56,000 if New England wins it all. 

The Patriots play the winner of Jaguars vs Steelers in their seventh straight AFC Championship Game. 

The 26-year-old finished up the last year of his rookie deal this season. He signed a four-year, $3,483,898 contract when the Patriots drafted him in 2014. Garoppolo made a base salary of $434,158 in 2017. 

After leading the 49ers to five straight wins as the team's starting quarterback, the team is expected to try to sign Garoppolo to a long-term contract or give him the franchise tag is negotiations hit a snag.