49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

December 20, 2008
Martz on Bruce, Staley, Hill, communication snafus

About to jet off to scary-cold St. Louis (high of 17 degrees Sunday) and I remembered I had promised to post the Mike Martz transcript from earlier this week. Here are the salient remarks. Have at it .... Also, you'll notice that after a months-long hiatus, the Q&A portion of the blog is back. So ask away ...

RE: Shaun Hill was talking about Isaac Bruce's suddenness, the way he changes speeds. Is that sort of the key to his success, what keeps cornerbacks from being able to keep up with him?

"I think that suddenness...I think there are guys that have that, but he absolutely has such a great feel for how and when to use that. He understands his position so well and has such a great library of information, if you will on how to deal with every kind of corner play there is and how to change your speed, when to come out of things, burst, all that stuff, but certainly that's a real asset of his and I think that's something that quarterback, when they first throw the ball to them, gradually get used to because he is out of it so fast it kind of shocks them a little bit."

RE: He seems to have a special knack with the out patterns, the ones on the sideline with the tippy toe and just get the first down. What is it about him, just being a professional that he can make those plays look so effortless?

"I think that his...He's always so aware of everything that's happening around him where he is, the relationship of his body on the sideline. The suddenness that got him out the cut to beat the corner. All those things come into play. He's just so aware of everything. He's the most aware player I've ever been around. He sees everything, the whole picture, the defense, everything, it's amazing when you talk to him, what he sees."

RE: Has he always been like that or was that something that he...

"No, he's been like that since he was a rookie. He's always had such a great understanding and a feel for playing this game at the position particularly."

RE: Another position, coming off the type of game that Joe Staley had last Sunday in Miami going against [Joey] Porter. Is that something that you look at...

"Joe is very young, this is his first shot at left tackle. Our expectations for him and the standard we have for him is awfully high and he reached that standard or approached our expectations of what we think he's capable of in that game. The bad news is we expect him to be like that every week. Good news, or bad news, however you want to look at it. Tease Joe a little bit about it but that's who Joe is, that's ascending like that, that's pretty exciting to see him move up like he's doing. It allows us to do things and helps us immensely offensively when a guy can do that and play like that on the left side."

RE: And that was the first time that he's reached that level?

"Well that was an outstanding performance, he's played really well all year, but that game was a real high standard for him to hold himself to."

RE: DeShaun Foster had some big shoes to fill last week, what did you think of his performance?

"I thought he was outstanding. I wish we could have gotten him the ball a little bit more, but I thought he was outstanding. He had some runs in there where he just moved the whole pile, pushed it real well. I am very pleased with DeShaun, he did a nice job on checkdowns, showing up for the quarterback. He had a real early one that was very critical. He did a nice job in blitz pickup, I thought he was outstanding in the game, he really was."

RE: I'm sure the score had something to do with it, but you ended the game with 21 straight passes and a spike. What happened out there that made you have to stick to the passing game?

"I wasn't even aware of that. Now you see, we're in two 2-minute drills which however many plays that is two 2-minute drills we're going to gobble up a lot of that and than prior to that a lot of it has to do with defensively what they're doing and the best way to move the ball. If there are too many guys down inside there then you got to change gears a little bit and you don't worry about the ratios at that point. You try to push that ball down the field and get in scoring position. That's what happened and we were moving the ball very effectively moving the ball and we just kept getting those first downs. The one-on-one matchups, the guys kept winning and they did a great job of it so we've tried to stay with it a little bit and once we got down there we kind of didn't do as well as we probably could have and missed a chance to win it."

RE: The communication problems at the end of the game is that something that you've ever experienced...

"Yeah I know, it happens all of the time. It's frustrating you'd like to have the formations set a different way and [Quarterback Shaun Hill] can't hear it but the success of the play we still have a chance to play so it happens. It does happen particularly in Seattle obviously when it gets so loud that t it just absolutely just shuts off. It was awfully loud down there in the red zone at the end of the game and he was getting bits and pieces of the play. You just do the best that you can."

RE: The headphone issues are not specific to 2008? Has that's happened to you in the past?

"No, here it's a little different in our stadium than up in Seattle because there's interference and then, the way I understood it in Seattle, the noise gets to such a level when it actually shuts down which is unique to that place. Sometimes just the clarity of it you just don't quite get it. That's happened quite a bit in other places."

RE: Are you talking directly to Shaun, or is it Adam [Gase]?

"Adam does."

RE: So you relay to Adam and he relays to [Shaun Hill]?

"Yeah, Adam does a great job getting that stuff in and it's certainly not his fault. It's just that sometimes that stuff isn't real clear and it's really loud. You could that's why you always see the quarterbacks like this [making signal hand signs] and still it's kind of jumbled. In loud stadiums that happens all of the time."

RE: Is there a way that you could do hand signals...?

"Yeah, we do. We do all of those things but you've got to remember now in the two minute drill precious seconds are going and you might get 'I didn't quite get that. Was it this or was it that?' When the clock is running, you've got to guess at it, call it and go. But like I said, that part of not hearing the communication is not unique, that happens. It just happens."

RE: How do you feel about the progress of the rceiver group in general? It seems like Isaac [Bruce] and Bryant [Johnson] have been good, the young guys are coming on, young guys like Jason [Hill] and Dominique Zeigler. Can you see this same receiver group playing back? Would that get the job done?

"I think that Jason has really made the most remarkable progress, I think that [Bryant Johnson] has really settled down and has been very consistent and made some big plays for us. The consistency of how they play, the less mistakes and making big plays that are there to be made those guys are starting to make those plays now where in the past it was kind of a hit or miss deal. Dominique [Zeigler] has stepped forward and made some plays. He's starting to grow as a receiver. Josh [Morgan] is frustrated because he's been injured so much. When he was injured here a few weeks ago we really felt like he was going to break out. To answer your question all of these recovers have potential. Now whether or not they do that I don't know, but all of them have terrific potential."

RE: You mentioned Jason [Hill] as being a remarkable progress, in what way?

"Early when he was trying to learn what we do he was very indecisive and you didn't see his speed and the run after the catch that you see now. It's like anybody, when they're not really quite sure, they're not running as fast, they make mistakes, I think it says a lot. Jerry [Sullivan] has done a real good job with him in terms of settling down and he's very sure of himself and he's playing fast. When guys start going like that, the don't have to think about what they're doing and then they watch Isaac [Bruce] and they just know 'ok, here's what I have to do' and boom and then they go. The one-on-one situation is a big deal. It's when we get corners or [defensive back] one-on-one with wide receivers they've got to always win on their routes and he's doing that right now."

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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