Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Okay, we're in preparation for this game against San Francisco. Offensively, really explosive offense, a lot of shift motions. Running game is very good for them. They use all three backs. All three of them are fully capable.They're all over 500 yards this season. Their play action game is second to none in the league, so we've got to do a good job in both of those areas on first and second down. They're like in the tops as far as third down at 45 percent. We've got our work cut out for us this week.
Q: What stands out to you about George Kittle?
A: Just the different places that they put him within formations and how they use his skillset. He's a good blocker when they ask him to block. He's good out of the backfield. He's good out at receiver. He does a lot of things for them offensively.
Q: Was there a time Anthony Harris turned a corner to make you guys believe he could be the player he is now?
A: I think the one thing with Anthony (Harris) you always see is his consistency. He came in every day to get better. There were opportunities that he had during the course early in his career where he had to step in and start. I think there was one year, I think it was eight games, one year six games. Every time his number was called, he's able to step up to the occasion and did a nice job.
Q: Do you remember seeing potential in him when he was an undrafted guy early on or did he eventually show you that?
A: Yeah, Rick (Spielman) and his staff set me up. As a matter of fact, before he came out for his workout day, he had been hurt pretty much most all of his senior year and just all the information that Rick and his staff gathered on him and you could see it equating to his ability for what we did see on tape. He didn't disappoint. When he came in, he went right to work. When he got opportunities, he made the most of every opportunity that he was able to get.
Q: How often do you see the 49ers run something you've never seen before?
A: You look at them offensively, there's a lot of shifting and motioning. There's a lot of using different guys to do different jobs. You have receivers in the backfield running the ball with 19 (Deebo Samuel), he does that quite a bit, like you said, run the option with the fullback. You've seen them run the option with number 13 (Richie James Jr.). He uses a lot of different people to do a lot of different jobs offensively. There's a lot of things that try to slow you down as far as your reaction and those kind of things. We have to do a good job of getting lined up, being disciplined with our eyes and when the ball turns over, execute.
Q: How impressive was it for Andrew Sendejo to do what he did last week given he missed a couple days of practice and never really lined up there before?
A: Yeah, I think that's a big thing. He has lined up there before. We have practiced. We have a big nickel. He and Jayron (Kearse) both have played in that positon, but last week with him being sick kind of hampered him for a couple days. Sendejo is another pro. He understands the rules of everything that we're trying to get done as far as the schematic part of it and came in and executed pretty well for us.
Q: How does Jimmy Garoppolo look compared to the 2018 season?
A: He doesn't turn the ball over very much. You can see he's getting the ball out of his hands. He's getting good reads, getting the ball out of his hands. He's getting it to the playmakers, which they have a lot of playmakers on offense. The biggest thing is you can just tell he has a better feel for what they're trying to do schematically.
Q: Do you view those three running backs as interchangeable or are there things one of them does better than the other?
A: They're interchangeable. They use them throughout the game, throughout their offense. Like I said, running the ball, catching screens, going on pass routes, in protections, they seem to use all three and divide up the reps that way. All three of them are fully capable of making explosive plays.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski
Big challenge this week. We know what is at stake, going out there to face a really good team, exceptional defense. I have a ton of respect for their coaches. I think they do a great job out there, and that they have really good players. The tape suggests that, and I think our guys will be up for the challenge.
Q: You and San Francisco have two of the most balanced offensive teams in the NFL in terms of running and passing the ball. How important is it that your offense has that balance?
A: I think we are just trying to be us and we are not too concerned about the rest of the league, so to speak. I think that just speaks to, and we've talked about it since way back when, trying to marry that run game and pass game. That is what's worked for us, and I know they do a great job out there as well, but certainly that is something that is going to be important to us moving forward.
Q: Has there been more talks about getting Kyle Rudolph more touches and more involved?
A: I think each week we talk about every one of our players and how we can involve them, and I know earlier in the season we talked about this; it's a pendulum. Sometime it swings one way or the other. The opportunities didn't come early, but every week we go in, with a player of his caliber, and we're looking for ways that he can impact the game. Obviously proud of how he played in that ballgame, and certainly the last play, but there were a bunch of plays prior to that where he's doing a great job, and he's a big part of any success that we're having. He's typically somewhere in that success, whether it be the run or pass.
Q: Have you been surprised how consistent Rudolph has been able to stay year after year?
A: I'm not surprised. I think he's one of our hardest working players. It's hard to beat him into the building in the morning, he's here early and he just takes his craft very seriously.
Q: It's been reported that your Cleveland interview will be tomorrow. How much of a talent is it to have that on a short week?
A: I'd prefer to just keep the focus on what we're doing at San Francisco, our players, and really not worry about any periphery right now.
Q: Will you go to Cleveland for the interview or will it be held somewhere else?
A: Again, there's a lot to focus on this week. I'm going to keep it on the 49ers.
Q: What stands out about San Francisco's defensive front? How much have they changed since you played them in last season's opener?
A: What stands out is really good players. (Nick) Bosa is exceptional, the two players from Oregon that are six-foot seven (DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead). It's just great players, and you've heard it said, it's nothing new, they're playing the quarterback on the way to playing the run. It's just an impressive group, they get off the ball, and they're making a ton of plays. So our guys know that, and they know that it's a big challenge this week, but I think the caliber of player is very impressive and that it matches the scheme and what they're trying to do.
Q: How do they maintain leverage at six-foot seven?
A: Again, credit to their coaches and their players, they're an attacking scheme, and that's what they've decided to do and employ. They've had some success with it, so our job is to find a way to go get some runs, get some passes going, but it certainly won't be easy.
Q: With the type of season that Adam Thielen has had after not being injured for much of his first five years in the NFL, how have you seen him mature through the process of getting back on the field?
A: Adam is another guy that takes great care of his body. He works hard in the nutrition world, in the strength and conditioning world. I think he's just so aware of what he needs to do to get his body right for each game. He's big into recovery, so I think he's one of those players that understands all those little things that you have to do to be a pro in order to get your body right for the next Sunday.
Q: What does a breakout performance like Thielen had last week do for this offense?
A: I think we're fortunate in that we have guys at every position that we feel confident can make a play. When you have a player of Adam's caliber that you know can make a play in the pass game, coupled with Stefon (Diggs) and the running backs and the tight end that we have, I just think it gives you another element to what we're trying to do. When he wasn't out there, it just meant everybody else had to step their game up, but obviously we'd rather have him out there as somebody that can affect the game, and he certainly did that in the last football game.
Q: Give everything that Thielen does with his nutrition and everything that he mentioned, do you think it is perhaps extra frustrating for a guy like that to have a soft tissue injury where you can't really do anything other than rest?
A: Yeah, and I'll give him credit. I think our trainers do an outstanding job throughout the season, but there's so much that goes into getting ready to play physically, and then mentally, we've stressed these guys a lot in the playbook in what we ask them to do. So we've been very lucky to have him to navigate and help these young players in the wide receiver room, navigate how you prepare for a game, the amount of time that you have to spend studying. I just think it's an all-encompassing thing when you talk about getting ready to play a game on Sunday.
Q: Did you call the overtime drive any more aggressively than normal, just knowing you had the chance to go score and end the game?
A: I don't think so. Not consciously. I think consciously we're trying to score every time we touch it. I think that drive, just credit to the players, Diggsy (Stefon Diggs) makes a big play on third down. Adam (Thielen) and Kirk (Cousins) make a great play, and then Kyle (Rudolph) makes a great play. Dalvin (Cook) had a good run in there to get us a first down. So I think that drive was indicative of our players making a ton of plays in a big moment.
Q: Did you feel like getting Dalvin Cook established in the first half opened things up more in the second half in the passing game?
A: It does, and I think as you guys have seen all season, Dalvin is a special player. When he touches the ball, good things happen. Does it open up other elements of our game? Certainly it does, and we're never going to shy away from saying that we're going to be multi-faceted in how we attack a defense, so having number 33 is certainly a nice bonus for us.
Q: Are guys more focused, or perhaps playing at a higher level, in long-shot situations? If so, why is that?
A: It could be. I don't know, I'm sure there's a psychoanalyst out there that could answer that better than me. But I do think when you're on the road, specifically, when you're dealing with crowd noise, that does make you focus as a group and come together and really lock in in the huddle and lock in on the sideline. So maybe that has element to that.
Q: With rain being in the forecast, does that make game planning any more challenging or unpredictable?
A: We kind of plan for everything, have a contingency plan for everything. And really we'll know once we get out there and get out there for pregame, see what the elements are and how we need to deal with them. But that's something that we work through during the week, but then you really got to get to get to game day and a couple hours before the game to make a determination on that type of thing.
Q: Why do you think Richard Sherman has been able to maintain his status as one of the league's best corners, even after ten seasons?
A: I mean he's a great player. He is physically gifted, he's long, and he's got incredible ball skills. There's nobody smarter, you're not going to trick him. He's been doing it a long time. I just think the guy understand how to play in that scheme, and then at the end of the day you just see his football intelligence is off the charts.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf
Getting ready to play a really good San Francisco 49ers unit. Happy to have this opportunity to be playing. That is what Coach Zimmer said at the end of practice, too. There is not many teams left. We are one of them. I was happy with the effort our guys gave last week against the Saints, which is a very, very good special teams unit. Happy with our protection there. We had a couple things we needed to clean up which we did and which we are this week. Just getting ready to play, like I said, a really good San Francisco 49ers unit. Good specialists. Another good returner [Richie James Jr.] and a lot of team speed. We have to match their speed and out-perform them and help our team win.
Q. How do you assess how Britton Colquitt has done help win the field position battle?
A. He's done an excellent job all year. The level of consistency that he has had is very good. Like you mentioned, the touchback last week, I don't mind that touchback against that returner [Deonte Harris]. That guy was All-Pro. They [New Orleans Saints] have done a great job with that guy down there. But getting back to Britton, he has done a very good job just with his consistency. The operation has been good, knock on wood. I just have been happy with his performance and his professionalism the entire year. I think it's good that you mentioned it because I think people forget about him. He's done a really good job for us.
Q. Did the problem of the long return to open the second half begin with the kick not being deep enough?
A. A little bit of placement, the depth of it. I don't know what it is about kicking there. We kicked there in the preseason and the ball wasn't traveling quite as well as we anticipated then, too. Dan [Bailey] has gotten that corrected and I think we will be ready for that. The thing that made that thing a little bit more glaring was we missed two tackles. We had the guy closer to the 25. I think we over-pursued and those are the things we ended up cleaning up this week.
Q. Does playing against a guy like Deonte Harris and knowing they can play well against him get the juices flowing knowing that can transfer over?
A. Absolutely. That is a good point. He is the best returner in the league. We play against some very good returners in this division with [Cordarrelle] Patterson and [Jamal] Agnew in Detroit. We've been tested. That is another level test. That is a graduate level test. I think it comes at a good time because at this run, 13 [Richie James Jr.] does a good job as well. I think it just gets our guys geared up a little bit more. We are playing outside and there might not be as many touchbacks. We have to go. Just like Coach [Mike Zimmer] says, "It's big boy football now." Let's go get these guys.
Q. How much do you keep an eye on the weather and how do you prepare for it than when it's different weather than you prepare for inside?
A. The good thing is we have a lot of time during the season with the wind that we have outside here to prepare for that. The positive is that we have two 10-year veterans that have kicked outside a lot of times in their career. If the wind is going to be a factor, we want to try to use it to our advantage. The guys are aware of it. We've been on top of the forecast for pretty much the entire week so far and it could still change. We just have to be ready for that and overcome everything.