Head Coach Robert Saleh, 8.31
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Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Other than the practice squad moves, do you have any other moves coming today?
No, not that I’m aware of.
Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Is Vinny (Curry) going to go on injured reserve or is he going to be able to stick on the roster?
It looks like he’s going to be an IR candidate for the first four weeks.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: You have a young running back room, the oldest running back is 24 currently. How confident do you feel about that group?
We feel really good about it. Like I said, we’ve got a young roster, it’s not the only young group. Our receivers are young, our DB’s are young, but we’re really excited about the talent we have in that group and now, it’s just a matter of developing them and getting them to a point where they become the staple in terms of play making ability and all that. So, love the group, love their mindset, and love the different characteristics that each of them bring.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: What gives you the confidence in this running back group?
They’re young, their fresh, they play hard, they’re smart, they’re dynamic – Michael Carter- they’re all versatile with regards to three down capability. Michael’s got a different running style than Breece (Hall) who has a different running style than TJ (Ty Johnson), who has a different running style than Bam (Zonovan Knight). They’re not four of the same, they’re four very different backs and you just trust that their mindset and just being with them every day, they’re going to be able to get it done.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Max (Mitchell) is your only backup offensive tackle right now, what has he shown you to earn that role?
Just throughout camp, with all the different things that we’ve had with the limitations of George (Fant) and getting Duane (Brown) late and (Mekhi) Becton early on, he’s gotten a ton of reps at both right and left and he’s done very well, he’s improved every day. There’s no doubt that as the season goes, he’s another one I’m very confident that he’s going to be a very good football player in this league, just needs a little more time, and I think the more time he gets, the better he’ll get.
Connor Hughes, SNY: With Vinny, (Curry) if he lands on the injured reserve, is the corresponding move bringing somebody from the practice squad up? I’m assuming, like have you guys already identified Week One?
Those are discussions that we’re still going through.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Now that the dust has settled on the roster, how would you assess your team?
Same way I would’ve assessed in the beginning, very excited about this roster and it’s potential, it’s a team that’s being built. Different than what I feel this organization has had in the past and not to speak poorly on anything or anything that’s been done in the past, but this is built roster, not bought and because of it, I just feel like there’s a chance for this team to really grow together and last for a long time, but a lot of exciting players, a lot of potential to have some game changers. It’s just going to come down to coaches developing in the way that allows them to play to their capabilities.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: With that Robert, do you feel pressured to win? I’m not talking Super Bowl, but to start winning games and not keep pushing it towards the future?
No, there’s always pressure. You’re always trying, it doesn’t matter what your roster is, there is pressure to win. As everyone, especially in this market, but we all know the goal is to win football games, period. That’s why we play, that’s why we coach, that’s why we do the things we do, but you still go in with that same mindset to approach every day to be your absolute best, find ways to get better and if the result happens to be a ‘W’ that’s freaking awesome, otherwise you just keep the main thing the main thing and that’s find ways to get better.
Connor Hughes, SNY: With this team, is it possible to have a “successful season” if you guys aren’t in the playoffs?
I don’t know about that one. I don’t want to throw a headline out there, but like I said, goals are to win Super Bowls, goals are to win, go to the playoffs, win football games, all those different things. What I’ll tell you is defining this roster is not about results. I think when you see the character, the style of play, what we put on tape, define the team for that and I think, and I trust, that the results are going to be what we like, but I never get caught up in the wins and losses and expectations and adding to setting goals that you have zero control over. We have a really good roster, guys who are internally driven and I feel like this team is going to continually get better as the year goes on.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when you talk about building that roster, how much further along do you feel you are now, versus heading into last season?
It’s a lot further, we’re a year older, coaches are a year older, I’m a year older. We’ve added to the depth of the roster, everyone’s seen. To have, really if you think about it, from the 90, 12 guys have been claimed from the 90, not just today, the seven of them, so we feel like we’ve had a lot of young guys that we developed last year, lot of those guys got a lot of minutes last year and a lot of plays and I think it’s recognized, obviously throughout the league, so you’re very comfortable about the depth of the roster and the players we can lineup against anybody. What’s going to be fun to watch with this group is who takes the bull by the horns in the fourth quarter and becomes that dude that, as you see every week, there’s five guys on every team that just take the fourth quarter over and we’ve got potential for a bunch of guys on this roster and it’s going to be really, really fun to see which one kind of rises to the top.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: How do you feel about where you’re at now that you have a year under your belt now, first (year) as a head coach, how do you feel about where you’re at right now?
It’s more manageable, it’s not any easier, but at the same time, the curve balls are slowing down a little bit if you will, but you expect them more. You’re never comfortable, which is a good thing. You’re always trying to get better and try to evolve. I don’t want to say it’s easier, it’s just a little bit more -I’m not as surprised.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: You did say last year, I think on multiple occasions, that this team is going to win championships – plural. I haven’t heard that in a while…
I still believe we’re going to win championships here. I think when you look at Joe (Douglas) and his staff and the way he communicates with us as a coaching staff, our process is too good. I think the players that we’ve brought in are made of the right stuff. The way this organization communicates, the way Woody (Johnson) and Christopher (Johnson) give us whatever we need in regard to player acquisitions and being in this building and their support, it’s too good for this not to work. Just really excited again to continue to build this roster and develop these young men and live up to the promise that we made when we first got here.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advanced Media: You guys obviously improved the talent level, but from your standpoint, how do you take the next step of teaching these guys how to win games?
That’s going to be everything. There’s going to be a lot of fourth quarters. There’s going to be one score games in the fourth quarter and that grind and learning off of those and finding that 60% that we talk about. It’s going to be a lot of reps, a lot of experiences, a lot of things that a lot of these guys have never been in, where you’re in the fourth quarter and you’re up one or you’re up a score and you have to hold the lead or you’re down score, up two scores, whatever it is just to continue to fight and find the ways to grind in that fourth quarter, how do we start faster? Which was an issue a year ago. How do we finish faster? There’s just a lot of different things that this team is going to have an opportunity to get better at from a year ago and continue to grow on. You rep it on the practice field. You get the opportunities in the game. You talk about it. You relive it over and over again, and you trust that the makeup of this roster continues to get better.
Connor Hughes, SNY: When you were in San Francisco, you had a similar quick turnaround. You went from a team that was really struggling to one that seemed to turn that corner quick. Can you draw or see any similarities between that San Francisco unit that made the jump to the team you have right now?
Yeah, you know in ’17 – Kyle (Shanahan) and John (Lynch) – two models when it comes to how you want to run an organization. I was very fortunate to have been a part of it. In ‘17 we took over a roster that had been beat up for a little bit, and we got through that. ‘18 felt like we had a really cool roster and there were a lot of moments in those fourth quarters where it was just slipping away from us. Obviously, Jimmy (Garoppolo) got hurt which was a big part of the lack of wins that year. Then, that third year, all of those young guys — (George) Kittle, Fred Warner, (Deforest) Buckner, (Arik) Armstead, we drafted (Nick) Bosa — everything came to fruition. Jimmy Ward and on the offensive side, a lot of those young guys turned into what they turned into. So, to draw similarities, I don’t want to compare anything to that group. I do think that we have a really cool group of guys. Just like those Niners teams, you’re going to see some guys come to fruition and come to light like, ‘Holy cow, that dude’s a playmaker. He’s a gamechanger.’ It’s going to be really fun to see which one that is out of this group because I know they’re here. It’s going to be fun to see which one it is.
Brian Costello, New York Post: One guy you kept on the roster we didn’t ask about yesterday was Ashtyn Davis, I think some of us were surprised. What did you guys see that made you want to keep him?
First off, character. He’s made of everything you want, he comes every day, he prepares every day. His first season was a little bit derailed. Last year, I think people forget he missed all of OTAs and a good portion of training camp, still comes in and he gets the ball a few times, has some production, obviously has some situations or some plays that he wishes he had back, but just his overall body of work, felt like he got better throughout training camp and OTAs, really a vital part of special teams also, but his overall body of work, he’s still getting better, but really excited to have him back and what he brings not only off the field, but on the field especially with regards to special teams.
Steve Serby, New York Post: No update on Zach Wilson?
No update on Zach (Wilson).
Steve Serby, New York Post: So, Chris Streveler starts week one? (Joking)
Got him back in the building, really happy getting him back in the building, the way he kind of pumps in that quarterback room with excitement, so we’re really excited to get him back.