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49ers Q&A: Interim head coach Jim Tomsula

49ers Q&A: Interim head coach Jim Tomsula

December 29, 2010

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Interim Head Coach Jim Tomsula
Press Conference Dec. 29, 2010

On the injury report:
LB Patrick Willis will be out with a hand, LB Takeo Spikes is playing, LB Keaton Kristick is out, youve got G David Baas, hes day-to-day, ribs looking good. CB Phillip Adams is out. T Joe Staley is out, TE Nate Byham is day-to-day. On whether Willis is out for practice or the game:
Willis is out for the game. Yeah, hes out.On why Willis will not play:
His hand. He had to have that hand was fixed again.On when Willis hand was fixed:
Yesterday. Was it yesterday? Im not sure the day. The other day. Im not sure of the day. Im sorry, I dont know. He had that I dont think it was major, I just think they had to go in and I dont want to go in, I dont know details.On whether it is fair to say that Willis had a second surgical procedure:
Yeah, I think thats fair. I dont know, I think its fair.On whether Willis would play if they had won Sunday and were playing for a playoff spot:
No, that was irrelevant. I was told that was irrelevant. That had nothing to do with it. No matter what anything is, thats the way that was. This whole the whole injury update sheet is that way. On who will be the starting quarterback:
Alex Smiths the starting quarterback.On what contributed to that decision:
Experience.On whether he thought about starting QB David Carr in order to evaluate his potential:
No, it didnt come up.On whether he thinks of this game as a way to determine who will be brought back for the next season and whether he has talked to the players about that:
Well in that kind of a thought process, thats every week in the National Football League. And again, in that area, and that thought process, there really isnt one here with these guys. They play, theyre going out, preparing and playing. You know, I dont even think that anything goes into that.On whether he had talked to QB Alex Smith and how it went:
Yeah, actually, I sat down with him yesterday. Terrific.On his thoughts on Smith:
Ill tell you, with Alex, in my dealings with Alex Smith, is Alex Smiths the kind of guy youd want your daughter to marry. Ive got two daughters. Hes a nice guy.On whether he has evaluated Smiths level of confidence after being benched last week and whether that will effect him for the coming game:
Oh, no, no. And again, up until Monday, the only evaluation I have is on defensive lineman, front seven, defensive play, OK? And Im a guy that through the course of my coaching career, Ive held different positions, and I keep my spoon in my soup. I dont taste your soup. I go in and do my job, and do what Im asked to do, and I try to do it to the best of my abilities.On whether he gave the starting quarterback decision to offensive coordinator Mike Johnson:
Oh yeah, well I mean we obviously talked about it, I led the conversation in the area that I wanted it to go.On whether he plans to stick with Smith throughout the game:
Yeah. Obviously, everybody here look, theres 53 guys on the field, 53 guys and then the practice squad guys, but out of those 53 guys, theres still always at the end of the week, with special teams, and some of the things that we need there, there will be guys evaluated all through the week, to see whos on that 45. But out of those 53 guys, youve got 53 guys that have to prepare like theyre going to start and theyre going to play. So everybody does it. Now things happen during the course of a game, and decisions have to be made, and thats when those decisions happen. But everybody prepares like theyre going to start, like theyre a starter, like theyre going to play. And if theyre not doing that, theyre probably not in the NFL long. On whether LB NaVorro Bowman will start:
Yeah, NaVorro will start.On whether he intends to do more evaluation on young guys like S Taylor Mays:
No, I mean, again, the one thing I want to make clear, our preparations are to win. Were preparing to win a game. The evaluation process is ongoing, always. Yeah, I understand all of the other things with where were at, our record, all of those kind of things. What were preparing were preparing for a game to go in and compete to win.On his reaction to DT Justin Smiths Pro Bowl selection:
Right on. I get to work with that guy, and theres a lot of guys here that in my opinion, when you take everything into account, the way they work at it, the way they maximize their talents, the mental work, the physical work, all those kind of things, the kind of people they are, that are Pro Bowl guys to me. Obviously theres voting, and thats always the nice thing, whenever you vote for anything, right? We can always have the other side of it, thats why we keep the college bowl system going too, right? So youre never favorites, and talk about whos this, whos that. Weve got good conversation.On the decision on who stays on the 49ers coaching staff being in the hands of a new general manager or head coach and how he envisions the transition after this weeks game:
When I say a one-week calendar, I mean, thats not something new for me. My whole life is a one-week calendar, OK? Theres prior planning in the off-season, we get our ducks in a row, get lined up, but I can speak for me. When Sunday nights over, I go in and thats why I watch film on Sunday night, to close out the week, and Im on to the next. And that next day, Im working on day-to-day, climbing that ladder to get to game day. Game day is on the top of that ladder. So all the preparations are going into that day. Im very singular in my focus in that way. Im a football coach. Im Jim Nobody from Nowhere, Ive coached in different places. I dont run form that. My family is not going to starve, and if my wife has stayed with me for the last 19 years, shes not going anywhere, so Im good.On what he sees himself doing next week and if that includes helping with a transition:
Honestly, I have not spent a second thinking about that.On whether he has slept since Monday and what the last couple of days have been like:
Well I mean, when youre into coaching, and were talking about me, theres a whole coaching staff up there. Nobody is getting a whole lot of sleep during the season. I mean, you just dont. Youve got a window thats a small window every week, and youve got a certain amount of work to do. And when things come up that are out of the norm, you have to deal with those, but you still have the same amount of work to do. So thats the way you go with it. So, what do you look for? Theres coaches in this building that dont sleep on Sunday nights and that do those things. Thats the nature of our business. I think thats why when you get on an airplane and you take a look at where the coaches are, most of the time I think everybody is sleeping as soon as their backsides hit the seats.On looking refreshed today:
I had a shower (laughing). 49ers director of public relations Bob Lange told me to shave.On whether he has addressed the fact that some players will not be back after this game:
Yeah. Okay, in that, yeah. What weve tried to do right here, and again, its with anything, the players come in on Wednesday for game plans need to be set and things need to be done early in the week to move forward. So its always, my focus is, anything out of the norm, whether its this particular situation or whatever, anything, you want to handle it fast. You want to handle it on Monday, you want to get it done, and you want to attack it. You dont want to let it drag. You attack it, you hit it head on, and you speak honestly about it, you deal with the facts, and you put it in its place. Now, I can put it in its place and move forward.On whether he has thought about filling the open roster spot with an inside linebacker:
We have - Alex Joseph is here.On whether Joseph is a linebacker:
Yes sir.On whether Joseph will play Sunday:
Oh yeah, hes up. Yeah. I mean obviously were going to go through some evaluations right here, but the thought process is for him to be in here and he was meeting with the coaches last night. Great guy.On whether Joseph would be a backup for the inside linebacker position:
Yeah, hell be a backup there. And again, youve seen us. The way were built, weve got guys that can multi-task. So you always have a plan, no matter what goes on, you always have a plan for any kind of situations that may happen. So, the guys are trained in that way.On whether he will look to give game time to guys who havent played this season like T Alex Boone or LB Thaddeus Gibson:
Yeah, well, yeah, I mean were looking to win a game, were looking to prepare to compete to win. But yeah, yeah. Were looking but I mean, Im always- I can speak as a d-line coach. DT Ricky Jean-Francois is my young guy. Im always looking for opportunities to get Ricky on the field. Thats my thought process, I want to get him on the field, I want to get him playing reps. And if you do it here on the practice field, you earn the right for playing downs on the practice field. And then from there, we get into the game. Yeah, I mean, you like to get guys in the game. I mean, you want to stay fresh, thats my thought process. Thats where I fight with Justin Smith all the time. That guy doesnt want to come out. That guy wants to play, he doesnt care. And you know, all those guys have that, so sometimes youve got to protect them from themselves. You know, and so yeah.On whether he intends to start young guys in the last game just to get them playing time since they are not playing for a play-off run:
No, absolutely not. Thats why I tried to at the beginning of the week, its crystal clear where our approach is here. And quite frankly, I mean, with where were at right now, we wouldnt want to go that way. I mean I think you all can see the logic in that. Thats not smart in my opinion. So Im really happy with the way everybody is heading and everybody is going in the same direction.

Super Bowl 54 odds: Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes clear favorite to win MVP

Super Bowl 54 odds: Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes clear favorite to win MVP

The 49ers' defense will closely watch Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV. Just over a week before the teams square off in Miami, oddsmakers have their eyes on the reigning NFL MVP, too. 

Mahomes is the odds-on favorite to be named Super Bowl MVP on Feb. 3, according to Caesars Palace. The third-year pro is listed at +105, while 49ers counterpart Jimmy Garoppolo has the second-best odds at +275.

It's hard to go wrong with a QB for Super Bowl MVP, considering a signal-caller has won the award 29 of 53 times. Mahomes arguably is the most exciting player in the NFL, too, orchestrating double-digit comebacks in each of the Chiefs' wins to advance out of the AFC to their first Super Bowl since 1970.

Caesars clearly are banking on Garoppolo driving the 49ers' bus rather than being a passenger. Garoppolo threw the ball a combined 27 times for 208 yards in San Francisco's first two playoff games after averaging 29.75 attempts per game during the regular season, and his odds indicate an expectation -- whether that's the sportsbook's or bettors' -- that he'll return to form in the Super Bowl.

[RELATED: How Kittle's run-blocking enthusiasm rubs off on 49ers]

Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis was the most recent running back to win Super Bowl MVP, and only six running backs have earned the honor. A tight end has never won it, and those notions are reflected in Raheem Mostert (+600) and George Kittle's (+1000) odds, respectively. Mostert is coming off a franchise-record-setting performance in the NFC Championship Game, while Kittle led the 49ers in receiving for the second straight season and graded out as Pro Football Focus' best player this season.

Given their role in the 49ers' offense, they'd seem to be decent longshots if San Francisco wins its sixth Super Bowl. As those who picked the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Round can tell you, you ultimately bet against Mahomes at your own peril, though. 

How George Kittle's run-blocking enthusiasm rubs off on rest of 49ers

How George Kittle's run-blocking enthusiasm rubs off on rest of 49ers

SANTA CLARA -- George Kittle loves to run block, and his joy for that aspect of the game has become contagious to his 49ers teammates. 

It’s not often that a player who has led their team in receiving yards in each of the last two seasons is also the biggest proponent of run blocking. But after amassing 1,053 receiving yards during the regular season, the tight end couldn't be happier after catching just four passes for 35 yards in the playoffs.  

Kittle wishes coach Kyle Shanahan would run the ball even more. His coach is very appreciative and realizes what effect it has on the rest of the offense.  

“I mean, he had more yards in the pass game as a tight end in the history of the NFL last year,” Shanahan said. “So, any time you have a guy like that who's one of the best players on your team who's always just talking about running the ball and playing the physicality in the game and giving everything you can, it helps you hold everyone else a lot more accountable, and rarely do you have to. 

“When people are watching guys like that do that type of stuff, when they watch guys like [cornerback Richard Sherman] play the run and things like that, it makes your job a lot easier. When your best guys are doing it, everyone else really doesn't have much of a choice.”

Because Kittle’s enthusiasm for the run game permeates throughs the offense, Shanahan has been able to make his schemes more elaborate. He has always involved fullback Kyle Juszczyk, but now the receivers are bigger parts of the run scheme as well. 

Veteran Emmanuel Sanders has mentioned that he enjoys being a “bully” while run blocking. He believes that Kittle sets the tone for what can be accomplished when everyone contributes to the ground game. 

“Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the league, but everybody wants to talk about his blocking as well,” Sanders said. “So, I think it's contagious around the building in terms of going out and doing your job. When you look at your best players and they're doing it, I feel like everybody else will hop on board as well. So, it's contagious.”

Kittle remains humble about his abilities permeating through the offense but will admit that Shanahan’s scheme has been able to grow over the years with everyone’s participation and effort. He describes the transformation with the same joy he shows on the field. 

“Our offense from my rookie year against [the Carolina Panthers in the] opening game is much different than what it is now,” Kittle said. “And, it's really fun too. Just being part of the evolution, how it's grown and how it's changed is really fun because you can look back, ‘Wow, man,’ that's what we were doing and now we're doing this stuff, and it was so much more fun. 

“Just the fact we basically install new plays every single week, we have a whole new playbook every single week, it makes football really fun. You get to learn every single week's techniques, how to block guys. The similarities always carry over, but the difference is what makes it really exciting.”

Sanders knows that Kittle’s efforts don’t just affect the offense. The tight end’s attitude is felt throughout the locker room. 

“I think it's a mindset,” Sanders said. “At the end of the day we've got a lot of guys who aren't 'me' guys, it's about let's get the job done and let's win. It's more about 'we' than 'me.' And I'm one of those guys as well. And I think everybody is a part of it.” 

[RELATED: How Shanahan, Lynch make 49ers CEO York's job easier]

Kittle doesn't need extra motivation to run block, but he might have some against the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 3 in Super Bowl LIV.

The University of Iowa product will line up opposite some former Hawkeyes teammates in Miami, and Kittle has revenge on his mind. 

“I'm looking forward to blocking the Iowa linebackers Ben Niemann and Anthony Hitchens [on the Chiefs],” Kittle said. “Hitch used to bully me in practice when I was on scout team at Iowa, and so I'm going to give it back to him a couple times.”