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TRANSCRIPT: LA Rams HC Sean McVay, QB Jared Goff discuss Week 17 plans, sitting starters

Here’s what McBae had to say to the media today.

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay speaks to the media
Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay speaks to the media
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(Opening Remarks)

“We had practice today. We did similar to what we’ve done the last handful of Wednesdays – more of a mental day. But the guys that were the typical rest guys had we practiced – (T Andrew) Whitworth, (C John) Sullivan and (OLB Connor) Barwin, they would’ve been out with just their veteran rest days. (LB) Mark Barron with his Achilles, (G) Rodger Saffold with his oblique. (OLB) Matt Longacre, like I said, we’re going to put him on IR. That transaction hasn’t gone through with his back. Then (WR) Cooper Kupp was a nonparticipant with a knee.”

(On if Longacre is going need surgery)

“He’s going to get surgery this week. It’s a similar-type injury. There’s a couple little differences, (Director/Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) would be able to articulate it better than I would. But it’s something where he’s been playing through a lot of pain. It’s been a gutsy effort for him and wanted to see if giving him that last week off would’ve maybe quieted it down a little bit and enabled him to hopefully be able to go for the playoffs and stuff like that. But it’s something that – with the doctor’s suggestions, needed to get that thing fixed and do what’s best for Matt.”

(On what goes into the decision making process of resting his starters for the 49ers game on Sunday)

“When you get in – we gave the players and coaching staff off on Monday, so then we came in as a staff. We talked amongst our coaching staff and really, our Head Athletic Trainer Reggie Scott and our Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ted Rath. We took everybody’s kind of opinions into account – what we feel like is best for the team. Certainly, you use the resources like a (Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips, who’s had some experiences that he can draw on. We had something similar like this in Washington when I was there a few years back. That was kind of when we made that decision and then we communicated to the player’s kind of what our plan is. But for us, everything that we do is intentional and designed to try to be best for our team and for our players, I think they understand that. I know sometimes people might not always agree, but when situations like this come up, we talk about it’s a nice luxury to be able to have, but you want to make sure that you handle it the right way for our team. It might not be for every team, but we feel like that’s the best approach for us.”

(On how WR Sammy Watkins role evolved in his offense this season)

“I think Sammy’s just continuing to get more and more comfortable with all the things that we’ve done. I think if you just watch Sammy down-in and down-out, the way that he’s running his routes, the way that he’s competing in the run game. And then when he does get his targets, the way that he aggressively attacks the ball and is able to finish a lot of plays. Referenced by a handful of plays like the one that he caught the other day where he’s caught a couple of those slants. He’s leading our team in touchdown receptions this year – that was his eighth touchdown. He’s done a lot of really good things. Obviously, you know what the rare speed that he’s got and he’s got great, aggressive hands to track the ball down the field as well. You see the play he makes in New York. You look at the play that he was able to make when we played San Francisco the first time. He’s a guy that a lot of times too will dictate coverage, where he ends up having some guys travel with him, or he’ll maybe have some safety play over the top and that opens up some things around him. He’s been a great player for us and just been really pleased with Sammy.”

(On Watkins’ ability to block downfield from the receiver position)

“I think it’s rare. When you see a player of his caliber and I think Sammy is a great example of kind of what we see from our group as a whole, but just watching, he’s such a physical player with and without the ball in his hands. I think that helps him set things up throughout the course of the game, but it also demonstrates the selfless attitude that he’s displayed throughout the course of the year. Being able to make some of those key blocks that have sprung some of the long runs you see from our running backs – (RB) Todd (Gurley II) in particular. You look at, even going back to the Giants game, he ends up taking two guys on the backside of (WR) Robert Woods third-down and 33 conversion that he had on the screen. So those things might go unnoticed publically, but we certainly appreciate and notice those in our building and I know that all his teammates feel the same way. Sammy’s been great.”

(On if he’s decided if QB Jared Goff and Gurley will be among the starters that he will rest on Sunday)

“Yeah. They’ll be two of the guys that won’t play this week.”

(On if Whitworth and Sullivan will not play Sunday)

“Yes. They won’t play either.”

(On if he starts preparing now for the potential playoff matchup following Week 17)

“I don’t necessarily know that we do that, but we did talk about focusing on our process – just getting better every single day. For a couple guys, it might entail helping some of those other guys that will get an opportunity to play a little bit more than what they’re accustomed to. But also focusing on getting themselves healthy and focus on some of the fundamentals and the techniques within the frameworks of just what they can do individually regardless of whoever that opponent is. But we’ve talked about that as a team today. It’s clearly been communicated kind of what our plan is going into this game and how that will effect and alter the way that a guy goes about his week. We certainly will get ready for this game the right way. We want to see our guys that are going to get an opportunity to compete, do a great job and you see the Niners coming in here with a lot of really good momentum. They’re playing really well on all three phases and it’s going to be a great challenge. I think it will be a unique opportunity that presents itself for some of those players that maybe we don’t see as much, step up and get opportunities that they typically haven’t been accustomed to, but I think it will serve us really well as a team”

(On if DT Aaron Donald will start on Sunday)

“Aaron won’t play.”

(On the players having incentives in their contracts and what the process is handling those incentives)

“That’s one of the things that you definitely are exposed to in terms of handling things the right way where you figure out how to make good on some of those things if they might be a couple yards away or if they have something being 16 games active then that’s a coaches’ decision. That’s something that because of (Rams Owner/Chairman) Mr. Kroenke then you look at (Rams General Manager) Les (Snead) and (Rams Chief Operating Officer & Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Kevin (Demoff) and (Rams Senior Assistant) Tony Pastoors – those will be things that you’re definitely mindful of that you get exposed to for the first time. Certainly you want to make good on those things where you don’t want them to not reach their incentives because of a coaches’ decision to hold you and get you healthy for the playoffs. We definitely are mindful and aware of those guys that were affected and want to make sure that we take care of that and handle that in a first class way and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”

(On Gurley being a part of the passing game and what did he envision from him when he was building this offense in his mind)

“I think it’s kind of evolved at the season has progressed. The one thing that you can say about Todd just from day one, not really knowing anything about him, other than just the special talent that you see on tape is he’s come in with the right attitude of just getting better every single day. He’s one of those players that kind of represents the way that you work day-in and day-out and then how that practice preparation leads to the game reality. But, he’s really worked and been intentional about getting better as a receiver. I think he can catch the ball outside of his frame. That’s a difficult catch he makes on the shallow cross. Last week, catching it behind his body – when you’re going across the field, that’s a hard catch for receivers to make let alone a running back who typically isn’t accustom to playing outside the core. I think he’s got a great feel in the screen game. When you look at some of the things that just marry up with what we’re doing offensively. It’s ended up kind of being a good fit. I think our offense has evolved just based on we’ve got a lot of great players and you as coach and we as a coaching staff always want to try to evolve and adapt to them, because that’s what’s most important and I think that’s something that’s kind of just going as the year has progressed. But when you see the way that Todd has played specially these last couple weeks, it’s been impressive and it’s been instrumental in us being able to win the division.”

(On incorporating giving space to Gurley to gain reception yards in the offensive scheme when he’s having trouble on the ground)

“Todd’s always a player that you want to try and find different ways to get him involved in the game whether that be through the pass game or through the run game. When the ball’s in his hands good things happen. A lot of what we do is also predicated on what the defense presents. When you’ve got a quarterback like we do that can recognize and read different things and get us in and out some of the right looks based on whatever it is that we’re trying to get done. A lot of those plays the other day, we’ve got a couple different plays called in the huddle, when you see us running some things and Jared ends up getting us to the appropriate play that leads to a positive look and then the players are executing at a high level. Todd’s a guy we’ll always try to find ways to get him involved. We talk about being able to maintain a certain level of run-pass balance, but if a team is fully committed to kind of stacking the box and playing with that extra defender that we can’t account for, then you want to try to make sure that you get him the ball and space to the pass game. But he’s always going to be a guy that, when the ball’s in his hand just when you look at good things are happening and we’ll continue to do that.”

(On if Goff will be the backup quarterback on Sunday)

“Yes, just because we’ve got two guys. (QB) Sean (Mannion) will start, but Jared will be active and he’ll be the backup. He’ll be up on game day, but those other guys that we talked about – they’ll be inactives.”

(On if WR Cooper Kupp hurt his knee in the Titans game)

“It was something that he’s kind of been playing through. He aggravated it a little bit more. He had had just the normal bumps and bruises, but that knee had kind of gotten banged around a little bit. He’s making a bunch of different plays and he’s competing in the run game. It was aggravated on that play, but it had been bothering him before that as well.”

(On how different does QB Jimmy Garoppolo make the 49ers from the first time he played them)

“I think when you look at the first time that we played them. I thought (QB) Brian Hoyer played a really good game, did a great job getting in and out the huddle. They changed some tempos up, made some big plays down the field. You look at some of the things (WR) Pierre (Garçon) was able to do, I thought they ran the ball well. I think when you just look at what Jimmy’s done since he’s been playing these last couple weeks – he definitely instilled a confidence and energy on their offense. I think (49ers Head Coach) Kyle (Shanahan) does a great job putting them in good situations and he’s distributing the ball to a variety of playmakers. You look at last week, they’re 10-for-15 against Jacksonville on third downs. They’re finding ways to make plays through the play action game. They’re changing the launch point with some of those run actions that are married with the play-action, where they’re changing the launch point as far as a bootleg or some of those where you’re actually setting up in the pocket. I think the skillset where he can kind of speed up his delivery at the top, he keeps his eyes down the field. Some of the off schedule plays he’s made in red zone have been really impressive. He’s definitely given them a spark. They’re playing really well. You even hear some of the comments that his teammates are making in terms of just the confidence that he instills based on swagger and demeanor that he has. They’ve been playing really good football behind his leadership offensively.”

QB Jared Goff

(On if he is okay with sitting out this Sunday)

“Yeah. I agree with the decision on our coaching staff’s part to get some guys rest and get some guys healthy. Yeah, I think it’s good to get myself back to feeling really good and feeling fresh.”

(On if he’s worn down mentality or physically and if this comes at a good time)

“Yeah, I feel like I was kind of just saying – I feel good. I don’t feel banged up or anything, but a week off can never hurt, especially this late in the year. You count the four preseason games and then 16 games, or I guess for us 15, so yeah it can wear on you. But no, I feel good. I think ultimately this is going to help guys that really take a beating. I’ve been kept pretty clean most of the year and guys like (RB) Todd (Gurley II), guys on the defense, guys that really take that beating, the guys up front, it will really help them, I think.”

(On his connection with WR Sammy Watkins and what’s happened on the slant patterns)

“Yeah. He’s got really strong hands. He’s a really strong player, really strong hands and he runs those routes really well. That’s one of the main things that he’s really, really good at so we try to get in those situations as much as we can. We’ve bene pretty consistent with him up to this point and we want to keep going that way, but I know when he gets a step on somebody, if I put it anywhere close to him he’s going to make that catch.”

(On how QB Sean Mannion is developing as a quarterback)

“Well, he’s done a great job helping me this year so far. That’s one thing that I can say, is how appreciative I am of him and everything he’s done, all the work he’s put in to not only help himself, but help me weekly and help me on the sidelines weekly in the games. I’m excited to see him go out there, I know we all are. See him get a chance to really show what he can do an we’re all excited to see it.”

(On how the role is different being a backup)

“Yeah, I’ll do my best to try to help him on the sidelines and tell him what I see. For the most part there isn’t much I can help him with, but there’s little things – I played the Niners earlier this year, there’s little tidbits that I can give him here or there. But, ultimately I think he’s just excited to be out there and I’m excited to see him play.”

(On if he envisioned Gurley making the leap in production from last year to this year)

“Yeah, for sure. You know what he’s done and his past and it’s no different than anyone else on the team. Last year was tough for damn near everybody on the team, we were bad as a whole team and most individuals didn’t do what we were supposed to. I think this offseason, I was able to see what Todd was doing working out and all the work he put in and it was truly impressive. So no, it wasn’t a surprise. It’s not a surprise to see what he’s done up to this point this year, it’s really not. He’s playing at a high level right now, but it’s nothing I don’t think that’s not sustainable for him. I think he’s a great player and expect him to continue to get better and his work ethic will carry him.”

(On if Gurley’s performance had anything to do with the offense around him)

“I don’t know. All I can speak to is what I saw him do this offseason, which was like I said, truly impressive. All the work he put in – as good of a player he is, he’s a better teammate and harder worker and it’s good to see.”

(On the difference between the community from last year to this year)

“People seem to like us a bit more nowadays (laughs). It’s nice winning. They say winning fixes everything and certainly we’ve won quite a bit this year, so we have built that fan base a little bit and have built the kind of family feel in the Coliseum now. We know every Sunday that we’ll have our faithful fans out there and it’s really good to see some of the same people that were with us last year that have been able to do this ride with us and get to see them enjoy that. It’s been a good back and forth with the fans this year for sure.”

(On if the team feels like they can compete with anyone and if that has to do with their confidence level in sitting certain players in this game)

“I think that’s definitely part of it. I think the confidence we have in each other and the confidence the coaches have in us, and in fact yeah, we do feel like we stack up with anybody in the league and we feel like we can beat anybody, so that is sure part of it. But, I think more than anything it is getting healthy, getting fresh and understanding that we are locked in to a first round home game and that’s all we can worry about right now.”

(On if he’s anxious to see who they’ll play in the first round Wild Card and if he will be scoreboard watching during the game)

“No, I’ll be dialed in. We don’t want this to be misconstrued at all – we’re trying to go out and win this weekend. I don’t think it matters who we’re putting out there, I think (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) will echo this as well, we’re trying to go out there and win the game. It’s not a preseason game, it’s not anything to be taken lightly. So no, I’ll be dialed and trying to help Sean (Mannion) the best I can and hopefully he can go out there and lead us to a ‘W.’”

(On how he thinks QB Jimmy Garoppolo changes the dynamic of the 49ers organization)

“Yeah, he’s done a good job. I think we’ve seen a little bit of their film in the last three or four weeks. So yeah, he’s done a good job and it’s good to see. It looks like he’s settling in and I know he’s won four in a row and just beat Jacksonville who is a good team. So yeah, they’re tough and he’s a good player. I know our defense is getting ready to play.”

(On if he felt like the team was a few pieces away from completing the puzzle last year)

“Again, you talk about last year so much in this room. It’s been good seeing the culture and everything that’s changed, but we’ve really had a good time this year learning and getting better and really haven’t focused much on the year prior. It’s been a whole new culture and a whole new staff and a whole new feeling in the building, a new energy and up to this point this year we’ve been successful. Our first goal is knocked off with the division and now we’re looking to bigger and better.”