Chris Borland

Hey, Jim Tomsula can speak into a microphone (and “shoot bologna,” too)

Jim Tomsula San Francisco 49ers

“I didn’t do a good job. You know what I mean? Didn’t do a good job. [49ers director of communications Bob] Bobby [Lange] was trying to get me to go to bed that night and I didn’t. Anyway, I’m driving him crazy. He called me three times last night to make sure I went to bed. So, we’ll do better at that.”

That was Jim Tomsula’s answer to the first question he faced at the combine today, and it was a better response than anything he said during the disastrous introductory press conference he referenced.

I’m not sure why listening to Tomula had such a calming effect on me today, but it did. I only got a chance to listen to a few minutes of his meeting with the press this morning at the scouting combine, but at least we know the 49ers head coach can communicate effectively using his vocal cords.

I guess we all knew this already; Tomsula is the subject of a few popular online videos that show his passionate demeanor on the sidelines, and he’s shown himself capable of discussing football jargon in more relaxed interview settings. Sleep also helps, apparently.

However, just hearing Tomsula sound like he had a handle on things was a blood pressure reducer in a way. With all of the intrigue around this team’s schematic profile, its roster, and how it would all mesh, the potential for a year’s worth of awkward press conferences seemed both painful and superfluous. There will be plenty of items to dissect without worrying about weekly Q&As (this goes for the quarterback, as well).

There weren’t many revelations that I caught from Tomsula’s BEST PRESS CONFERENCE YET SINCE BECOMING THE 49ERS’ HEAD COACH FOR THE SECOND TIME. He’s a “Frank Gore guy” and wants him back. Well duh, everyone is a Frank Gore guy, unless you’re a Frank Gore girl. Even people who root for the Seahawks and Florida State at the same time have respect for Gore, at the very minimum.

Tomsula is not planning on pressuring Justin Smith — who may retire from the NFL — one way or the other, either.

That’s good, at least we know Tomsula won’t say, “Hey Cowboy, go ahead and retire already. OK? We’re done with you. OK?”

Along with several uses of the word “OK,” Tomsula also dropped his first Tomsulaism* when he said he’d talk to Smith after the combine because “that’s usually when he and I usually shoot the bologna.”

*(Warning: One who suffers from Tomsulaism may be forced to undergo a Tomsullectomy. Talk to your doctor.)

In all seriousness, if we can glean anything from Tomsula’s comments on Smith … well, I’m thinking he might come back for one more season.

“You see how we do with Justin, and quite frankly I’ve let the guys know. When you have a 15-year career in the National Football League, we’ll look at doing those things for you. So, yeah we have. Now he’s begrudging to a lot of that, but that is what makes Justin, Justin. He’s grinding. He’s in there. He’s on it. He’s working out every day now. That’s who he is. But, in terms of practice reps and practice things, I’m always looking for ways to take some steps off of him and the ultimate goal here is game day.”

That could be an overall statement on how the 49ers have gone the extra mile to keep Smith on the field in recent years. But with Smith due $2,650,000 in base salary next season, plus $1,600,000 available in roster bonuses ($100K for each game he’s active), along with the fact that he’s working out daily at the 49ers’ facility, I don’t see Smith retiring unless he suffers a medical setback.

Smith’s future could also have something to do with Tomsula’s most important statement from a tactical perspective.

“Well, the schematics, and again I didn’t want to get into a lot of things until we got a coaching staff together. I wanted the guys, I wanted us all to get in there and to watch the film. Yeah, the schematics on defense, the 3-4, our personnel is set for that and will continue in that way. Offensively, we’re going to use the players that we have. We’ve got some dynamic players and we’re going to use those guys, but obviously we want to run the football.”

Forget the part about running the football — I bolded that other part for a reason. The 49ers are going to run a 3-4, which suits Smith. It also prevents the 49ers from having to ask Aldon Smith and Aaron Lynch to put on 15-20 pounds to play as 4-3 defensive ends.

It’s also something that fans of Chris Borland don’t want to hear, but this isn’t just a Borland conversation. NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis are coming off surgery, and Willis in particular has a pretty big cap number. The 49ers would probably love to be extra deep at middle linebacker in case of injury, and rotating guys might make sense … except you wouldn’t want to take any one of those guys off the field — for even a couple snaps — if they’re fully healthy.

The linebacker situation will sort itself out, and the offense is of much greater concern anyhow. Today was a time to acknowledge that the head coach of the 49ers can indeed speak in complete sentences into a microphone, and that’s a positive.

I added the entire transcript below, courtesy of the 49ers. Yes, a question came up about the guy he replaced.

Update: I’m a dummy and I didn’t realize that the question about the guy he replaced came up AFTER the press conference. 

Via Matt Barrows:

Jim Tomsula on Thursday called the notion that he undermined Jim Harbaugh during Harbaugh’s tenure as 49ers head coach “ridiculous.”

“First of all, there’s nothing to that, and it’s ridiculous, ok?” he told a small group of reporters following his formal press conference at the scouting combine. “Second of all, if anybody needs to talk, just give me a buzz. Ok?”

***

Jim Tomsula Alex BooneOpening comments:

“Good afternoon and we’ll try this again. Go ahead and shoot. I’m really happy to be here and I’m excited to see you all and looking forward to the questions.”

You seemed to just reference your introductory press conference, which was criticized in some circles, you may have heard that. You are a fairly energetic guy and it didn’t necessarily come off that way then. Do you agree with that and was it just the atmosphere or the circumstances?

“No. I didn’t do a good job. You know what I mean? Didn’t do a good job. [49ers director of communications Bob] Bobby [Lange] was trying to get me to go to bed that night and I didn’t. Anyway, I’m driving him crazy. He called me three times last night to make sure I went to bed. So, we’ll do better at that.”

 

I hope he didn’t wake you up.

“No. I was good.”

What can you do better in this kind of setting?

“Well, again, where you’re at, you’ve seen me in social settings and more private. So, just getting used to it.”

You’re commanding a bigger room now as a head coach. You’ve been in a small room, friendly faces with the defensive linemen. How do you see yourself now instead of standing in front of six or seven or eight guys in front of 53?

“That’s fine. And I’ve done that. I do have experience doing that in the Europe League and doing those things. I don’t have a problem there. And when I’m up here I have to watch my manners and watch my language and try to make sure that I’m nice and polite. So, that’s what I’ve got to get better at.”

Did you go back and watch some of those interviews to see what I can do better the next time or did you just disregard them?

“No, I didn’t. But, Bobby sure did have me practice. As a matter of fact I’ve got this in the wrong place. It’s supposed to be down here so it’s not in my nose.”

 

One of the things that you were asked at the press conference and you really didn’t get into it at all was just schematics. What kind of defense are you guys going to run?

“Well, the schematics, and again I didn’t want to get into a lot of things until we got a coaching staff together. I wanted the guys, I wanted us all to get in there and to watch the film. Yeah, the schematics on defense, the 3-4, our personnel is set for that and will continue in that way. Offensively, we’re going to use the players that we have. We’ve got some dynamic players and we’re going to use those guys, but obviously we want to run the football.”

You’ve mentioned winning with class a couple of months ago. Are you going to have a stricter standard moving forward on with the type of players that you bring in in free agency, etcetera?

“Well, I think as a whole, I think league wide and everywhere in society, with everything going on we’ve got to tighten up and look at things. Look, it’s very diligent and our personnel staff is extremely diligent in what they do and the way they research and look into guys. But, it’s not perfect. We’re still dealing with human beings. People make mistakes and we’ve got to be able to address those mistakes, find out how we can prevent them in the future and then put plans in place. I think we’re doing that at our, I know we’re doing that at the 49ers.”

What are you plans with RB Frank Gore? You’ve talked a lot about how important he is and his leadership and everything like that. Do you plan on doing anything with him?

“Yeah. That’s going on right now. Frank Gore, yeah we talk about all of the things that he has and you talked about the leadership and the passion and all of those things, but let’s not overlook that he is a prolific running back in the National Football League. I’m a big Frank Gore guy. So, I know those talks are ongoing now, are starting this week along with all of our free agents.”

Have you spoken to DT Justin Smith since you’ve taken the job and how can you gauge where he’s at?

“Yeah. Justin’s come around to bust my chops. That’s the way he does things. What we usually do with Justin, me personally for the last three or four years, you all know the respect I have for him amongst other guys but we’re talking about Justin. He’s earned the right to make decisions on his terms. The guy’s had just an unbelievable career. He’s brought so much to everybody he’s been around, that he’s worked with and for and alongside. So, out of respect for Justin, I’ve told him that I will not try to talk him into anything and I will not try to talk him out of anything. He has earned the right to make his decision on his terms. But, we’ve said that for the last three or four years. I usually get with Justin after the Combine and when we get back. That’s usually when he and I usually shoot the bologna.”

So, this is nothing new? You’ve had these conversations with him during offseasons previous?

“Oh yeah. This guy has played a lot of football. So, it’s probably been three or four years since we’ve started having some of those talks.”

Just given on wear and tear on his body, if he does come back have you picked out a program for him where he kind of takes the offseason programs off in some ways and training camp? Did you have those discussions with him?

“Well, I think, you’re there all the time. You see how we do with Justin, and quite frankly I’ve let the guys know. When you have a 15-year career in the National Football League, we’ll look at doing those things for you. So, yeah we have. Now he’s begrudging to a lot of that, but that is what makes Justin, Justin. He’s grinding. He’s in there. He’s on it. He’s working out every day now. That’s who he is. But, in terms of practice reps and practice things, I’m always looking for ways to take some steps off of him and the ultimate goal here is game day.”

There was a lot of speculation of how your coaching staff came together. But, general manager Trent Baalke said yesterday, “Look, I know everybody’s worried about who makes the decisions, but I wasn’t even in the room for a lot of these interviews. This is Jim’s staff.” Is that pretty much the case? It came together the way you wanted and the guys that you wanted?

“Yeah it really did. And I take full responsibility for the results of the coaching staff and the team and the game day results.”

 

Obviously you’re a defensive coach, but how difficult or different will the transition be without Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, the guys that these guys have played for the last four years?

“Well, I mean there’s always transition. Those guys, specifically the two names you brought up, I worked very close with and those guys are tremendous football coaches. We’ve had a lot of success. So, there’s a transition. That’s life. We’ve got a group of guys that are ready to handle that. And just as you’re thinking through the names in that room and those guys, it’s an even-keeled group when it comes to that stuff. These guys have been through a lot. The older guys, we’re talking eight years ago. They’ve been through some stuff and these guys are well equipped to handle that. There is transition, but we’ll be fine.”

You said the talks with Frank Gore, but what about a guy like WR Michael Crabtree? There is the speculation that he’s not coming back.

“The speculation side of things, I don’t go there. Absolutely. And I know that those talks are happening this week. I don’t have the checkbook. I’m not in those particular conversations, but I do know that leaving San Francisco, heading to the airport the other day, that everything was lined up to talk to all of our people, the guys that are our guys.”

What are the best traits you’ve seen out of RB Carlos Hyde and how do you see him being integrated? Is he going to be integrated more in year two even if Frank Gore is back?

“I would think. Carlos Hyde is a heck-of-a football player. You’ve seen it in college, but then you’ve seen it translate to the pro field. And you’ve seen the plays. You’ve seen the guy run. His vision. His feel. He can plant, redirect. I mean, the guy’s got some stuff. I like his speed. I like his burst. So, I’m really excited about Carlos Hyde.”

Yesterday Trent said that he envisions TE Vernon Davis being on the team, having a big role as always. Have you had those conversations? I think he alluded to something on social media about him not taking the offseason program off this year and that he’ll be around.

“Yeah. Again, you’re talking about guys that I’ve been with for a long time. I’m a huge Vernon guy, you know that. Vernon’s work ethic and the way Vernon works, the last year I know Vernon wasn’t here in the offseason and things like that, but Vernon was working. Vernon showed up in shape. Vernon showed up physically fit. So, those things are happening and you know that with Vernon. But, Vernon’s a great football player and he’s still a great football player.”

Has QB Colin Kaepernick been in contact with offensive coordinator Geep Chryst and the new quarterbacks coach and talking about how things are goin to change for him offensively next season?

“Yeah. He’s been in touch. I’ve been in touch with him. Geep has been in touch with him. [Quarterbacks coach] Steve Logan’s been in touch with him. But, there’s a fine line there. We’re not getting into a lot of schematics. And again, we’re still, as a staff we’re still going through everything. So, it’s really not the appropriate time to talk about any of that from our standpoint staff-wise. We’re still in the middle of that. But, also with the CBA and things like that, you don’t want to get into all of that.”

Why isn’t the entire staff here?

“Well, we’ve got a lot of guys, some of the guys are in now and we’ll have a few in. But, I personally made that decision because we’re trying to crunch and we’re trying to get this thing put together. And instead of coming in with an already-made playbook and lay it down and flip through the pages and whiteout one team name and put in another name, I really wanted the staff to look at the players and build this thing around what we have. And that’s obviously cumbersome. So, there’s a lot of film getting watched that way and a lot of meetings going on and then you get the drawings and you get the different things you’ve got to get done, making the cutups. So, that’s what we’ve got going on right now and we’re in a tight window. These guys are going to have a lot of work to do looking at tape on the draftable players. Everybody will be here next year. That’s just simply the reason.”

The first phase is self-assessment?

“Yeah. Absolutely. I didn’t want anybody brining any playbooks in the room or any of what I call reference material. Let’s leave that in the office. Let’s turn on the tape. Let’s look and see our guys and then let’s get the perspective from each coach at the position that they’re responsible for and let’s look at how we do things and what each player does best and then let’s put it together.”

 

A couple of young players on the defensive side, DT Tank Carradine and LB Chris Borland. Can you just talk about your evaluation of those two guys?

“They’re really good. Chris Borland was put in some situations this year and really, obviously, had a great season. Just did a great job. Really excited about that guy. And Tank Carradine, Tank obviously coming out of Florida State was a position change. He had the knee injury and that was a tough year and a half for him. And just watching him battle through that and seeing where he’s at right now, Tank’s in the building every single day and working like crazy. He’s gotten that stuff behind him and he’s moving forward in the weight room and he’s really doing all of the heavy squatting and things right now, so he tells me. I’m really excited about those guys. And there are other guys. We’ve got some young guys that can really play football.”

Your quarterback just recently went back and forth on Twitter with a fan. Do you look at that stuff? Do you see that stuff? What do you think of that?

“Well, first thing is, yeah I heard about it this morning. I haven’t seen it. To be brutally honest, I’m not a Twitter guy. I don’t Tweet or look at Tweets. I’m not real good with all of that stuff. I’ve been advised on the walk over here that I need to get better at it. So, I need to look into that. But, obviously all that back and forth, I don’t know enough to speak about it.”

What are some qualities that Steve Logan will bring to your staff? Was it hard to get him out of retirement?

“You obviously know that Steve, there’ve been a few people that have tried to get Steve out of retirement over the last couple of years and he just decided not to. I worked with Steve over in the Europe League. And I mean, obviously the quarterbacks that have played for him in the college level, at the college level that have moved on, there’s obviously nice success there. But, where I got to see Steve, which was most impressive to me, was on the field in Europe. Obviously a developmental league, so you had different quarterbacks every year. And to watch Steve change his approach with each different guy and to really evaluate the mechanics and the traits of each guy and then coach them to those strengths, that’s what’s really neat about Steve Logan. I’m really excited about him, along with the whole staff.”

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