Head Coach Robert Saleh, 8.25

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Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Do you have an update on Mekhi (Becton)?

Yeah, he’s in concussion protocol.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, could you shed a little light on what happened to Vinny Curry, cause obviously you sounds optimistic that he was going to be back, then you guys put him on NFI yesterday.

You know, he’s going to get an opportunity to talk to everybody soon and release a statement. I don’t want to get into his personal stuff, he’ll reveal that, but it’s blessed that we were able to find some things that were going unnoticed and obviously he’ll get a chance to talk about that soon.

Rich Cimini, ESPN: How disappointing is it from the team’s perspective because you were counting on him to contribute?

He’s been so productive in his career. His leadership, first and foremost, and his overall energy and positivity that he brings. It hurts, but like I said before, just gives somebody else an opportunity to step in.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: With him, like you had said, you talked about him kind of being an important part, veteran part of this team, defensive linemen doesn’t have too too many veterans. Do you guys now, with him out, feel the need to add a body there?

No, it’s always easy, right Connor? To play the fictional game of let’s go get somebody, but the reality is there’s very far and few in between in terms of just what’s available. Now, obviously Joe (Douglas) and his staff are working relentlessly, always trying to look at the roster and always communicating. We’ve got great confidence in the guys that are here, we still have great leadership with Quinnen (Williams), Foley (Folorunso Fatukasi), Shep (Nathan Shepherd) and Sheldon Rankins. It’s still a good group with regards to leadership, it’s just. like I said, obviously we love Vinny, and it hurts not to have him around, but it also gives somebody else the opportunity to step in.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Being down so many guys on the offensive line, do you change anything schematically when you look to get pressure on the quarterback then? Especially, when you got a mobile guy like Jalen Hurts out there?

Yeah, we always have things, we’re just working our stuff out there. When you have a mobile quarterback like that, our whole mindset shifts, but that’s more game-to-game in what type of offense is presented to us, the way we can take advantage.

Brian Costello, New York Post: What’s (Greg) Van Roten dealing with?

Veteran day off. First one of camp.

Brian Costello, New York Post: Do you know what the plan is yet for Friday with your starters and Zach (Wilson) in particular?

I want to play him, I do, so we’re talking about it. But right now, I’m leaning towards playing at least the starting offensive line, quarterbacks and a majority of the defensive players.

(follow up): For how long?

We’re still talking about that. No more than a half, for sure.


Brian Costello, New York Post: It’s interesting right now, Robert, when you look across the league, there are so many teams that are rushing their starters. What is that debate like for you guys? You know what the risks are of playing a football game, but you also want them to get the work in and get ready for September 12th.

Joe and I were talking about that yesterday. Because half the league isn’t playing anyone and the other half are playing them. And then there’s young coaches not playing anybody but then the veteran coaches like (Bill) Belichick, (Mike) Tomlin and Andy Reid are playing their guys and it’s like, ‘Well, what’s right?’ It’ll be a great case study over the next five years to see how these play out and I’m sure eventually, with all of the performance staffs that are being implemented, there’s going to be a really cool formula in how to approach these three games in this preseason with the advent of science and all that. So, we trust the way we’re going about things. We got a ridiculously young team, and they are growing and learning and all of these experiences are so important to them. I feel like they’ve gotten so much better from the first day of camp until now and to pull off now, I think we’d be doing them an injustice.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, do you think that last year, when there were no preseason games, COVID kind of ended all of them, and teams had to prep for the regular season with nothing but just training camp practices. Do you think that changed the perception of preseason games in playing your starters or coaches saw, “Well no, we can prep without having these guys play and that’s how we’re going to do it from now on?”

I think it depends on the success you had during last season. From my point of view, we didn’t get a correct offseason and it resulted in the first four weeks being an absolute bloodbath for our football team. We’re healthy during camp, like everyone else was, but those first four weeks really hurt San Francisco. But there’s other teams who were able to avoid all of that and scoot through the season healthy. I think it comes down to personal experience. I still think injuries are part of luck, especially with some of the ones that happened to us. (Conor) McDermott’s knee gets kicked, somebody falls on Jarrad (Davis), these are things that, they’re not lower extremity injuries that are not contact injuries, these are freak injuries, which are unfortunate, but I don’t think it’s a result of whether you’re working or not. Those are things that are just unfortunate.

Rich Cimini, ESPN: What’s (La’Mical) Perine’s situation?

He’s dealing with a foot. I don’t have a time frame yet, he’s still being evaluated.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: Do you think AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker) and Elijah Moore will go in on Friday?

I doubt it.

Brian Costello, New York Post: What are you feeling about the last two days?

Again, for us, from a quarterback standpoint, I feel like he’s had a very productive camp and that you look at our defense, you look at the Giant’s defense, you look at Green Bay’s defense. You know, the Giants have a little bit of the (Bill) Belichick stuff, you look at Green Bay with a little bit of the (Vic) Fangio stuff, you look at Philadelphia with a little bit of the Colts stuff and what they do. That’s four of the major defenses in football that he’s going to see week in and week out. So, for him to see all of that, has been very productive and mindful in terms of his development. The competitive stuff, this is a veteran offensive line and defensive line, so to get our guys and really good, very talented offensive and defensive lines, so to get that work in against them, to get the work against a Hall of Fame quarterback. Just the amount of work that we’ve gotten against some of the, not only units, but players and all that stuff, but I think they’re priceless personally. You guys know how much I love those inter-squad practices so I feel like it’s been very good.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: We’ve talked to you a lot about Mekhi (Becton) and some other players on the roster from last year and you had said, “Well, you know, they didn’t really have a training camp, they didn’t really have an offseason.” When it comes to Vera-Tucker, his injury happened so early that, he’s a guy you’re clearly going to be relying on. He’s a guy who you loved his physical talent but now, he’s a rookie who basically has not had an on-field training camp. Does that raise any concerns that he still hasn’t had those reps out there?

No, because the one thing that I think a lot of people miss is that those guys also didn’t have an OTA. So, at least Vera-Tucker had OTAs, Elijah (Moore) had OTAs and they had a first week of training camp and so they were able to go through that and have at least some of it. So, they’re not completely bare and then on top of it, with this training camp, there’s been so many more reps that we’ve been able to get in these training camps because of walkthrough’s and because of the amount of game reps and practice, there’s more stuff that they can absorb mentally with just their visual eyes. I feel like it’s a lot different than what happened a year ago, there’s less distraction with regards to the protocols and there’s more focus on football and there’s less social distancing with the vaccinations and all that so there’s more communication with one another. There’s less Zoom meetings and more personal interactions. I feel like all those equate to just a better experience for the rookies this year than a year ago.

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: How do you feel about what you got done during this camp?

I feel really excited about what we got done. Like I just talked about, with all the different defenses that the quarterback saw, with all the different offenses that the defense saw, the different types of players, the different receivers and the releases that our DBs saw which is a very young group. I just feel like all of its priceless and they need to see as much of it as possible, even in this two-minute drill. We got young (Jamien) Sherwood sitting in the middle and just a simple precision in terms of just going a little bit too far in his drop opened up the middle of the field which resulted in an explosive play and Hamsah (Nasirldeen) getting a hand out there on the second drive where he looks back just enough for a veteran quarterback to slip it behind his left ear. These are real reps that you cannot recreate. I don’t care how many times you try in practice, you can’t recreate it. For them to get those moments and see it on tape and learn to adjust for the next time that happens, because it will, I feel that you can’t draw it up any better, except for we wish we still had some of those injuries in check.

Bob Glauber, Newsday: Robert, one of the biggest challenges for a guy going from coordinator to head coach is you’ve got a lot of stuff coming at you every day that you’ve never had before.

The challenge is trying to get in the film room to watch more tape and just having to spend an extra couple of hours here to get that tape in so you can stay on top of it. Otherwise, it’s the same, you’re always busy, your business is being pulled somewhere else.

(follow up) Do you think, does your personality blend itself to be able to deal with the barrage of stuff or are you low key in your head when stuff is coming at you?

I don’t know, I’d like to think so. I don’t have that answer because, I’ve seen very panicky individuals be very good in the job and I’ve seen very low-key individuals be good in the job. I don’t have that answer, I guess organizational skills maybe.

DJ Bien-Aime, Newsday: The offensive line looked like they a better day today. What are some of the reasons that they were able to pass protect a little bit better day?

Every day is going to be different. We talked about drop back passing yesterday and how hard it is, it was awesome I got to talk to Fletcher Cox a little bit and we were talking about o-line, d-line play and it’s all the same thing. Every building in this league, from a defensive standpoint and from an offensive standpoint, tells a quarterback you got one hitch so, he hits his back foot, he’s got one hitch. If the balls not out, you’re getting hit, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how good your offensive line is. In timing and rhythm, otherwise it collapses on you. So, one hitch, get rid of the ball, second hitch, you’re either getting hit or you’re running. And that’s the objective. A lot of things come into play, there’s route running to gain separation. There’s play call, there’s obviously protection and then finally the quarterback being in rhythm, getting rid of the ball, staying within the timing of the play. I know a lot of times we can point at the offensive line but it’s not just them, it’s all 11 making the play work. Obviously, I was with the defense so, I’ll see the tape. What I bet you’ll see is more separation from receivers, obviously a little bit firmer up front, quarterback getting rid of the ball in rhythm, play calls being more advantageous for the quarterback to get rid of the ball. All of it comes in the play when we’re studying tape which is why I’m not as nervous as you guys, as you guys watch practice.

Andy Vasquez, The Record: You said you can’t recreate those in-game reps that these guys aren’t going to get. What can you do over the next two-and-a-half weeks to prepare them, is there anything you can do?

You try to. You’re going to simulate as much as you can but, until you’re actually in it, there’s nothing like being in it. I’m sure Formula 1 racers are sitting in their simulators racing cars out of safety but, until you’re actually behind the engine and feeling the roar and the vibration, it’s different. Same thing with flight simulators. My pops flies little Cessnas, and he says all the time that the simulator is a heck of a lot different than actually being in the plane. We’ll simulate the best we can but, there’s nothing like game experience.