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Transcript: LA Rams HC Sean McVay, Co-OC Waldron, & QB Jared Goff

Here’s what McVay, Waldron, and Goff had to say to the media today.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

HC Sean McVay

(On if K Greg Zuerlein has been cleared to play)

”He has. We couldn’t be more appreciative of what (former K) Cairo Santos brought to our football team over the last couple weeks. Really, two game-winning kicks. What a stud he is and what a class act. Wish him nothing but the best and very thankful for what he did for us. We’re excited to get (K) Greg (Zuerlein) back. He had a good workout, feels good. Got the full clearance, thumbs up. So, that was why we made that decision and feel good about Greg moving forward.”

(On if he expects WR Cooper Kupp to play on Sunday)

”Do not expect him to play. We’re going to take it a day at a time with him, but I think it’s safe to rule him out for this week. We’ll just see how he progresses one day at a time. But if there’s anybody that’s going to attack his rehab the right way we all know that’s going to be (WR) Cooper (Kupp).”

(On what having Zuerlein back does for him as a play caller that he might not have been able to do the past few weeks)

”Really, I would say it’s going to be very similar to what it’s been the last couple weeks. I think there’s a couple situations where just based on – didn’t really have anything to do with the kicking situation, more along the line of just what we felt was going to be best for the execution in terms of some of the fourth down opportunities that they guys have delivered on. We certainly know that he’s got some range and the ability to, once you get into really anywhere inside that 50 (-yard line), you feel like you’re in scoring position with him. That certainly is something that we feel fortunate to have him back, but as far as affecting the decision making with the way that we’ve operated over the last couple weeks, don’t anticipate that being the case.”

(On his thoughts on bringing in WR Nick Williams)

”Really, in a similar role where he’s played that slot position in our offense where a lot of the routes that we’re asking those guys to run, he’s got a good feel for. He was in Tennessee with (former offensive coordinator) Matt (LaFleur) where a lot of the verbiage was very similar. He’s a guy that you kind of know what you’re getting with him. I was with him in Washington – conscientious, smart player. He’s wired to separate and he’s got some understanding of the system. Because of the way we that we operate with certain personnel groupings, just with some of the situations that we do have, felt like it was going to be good to get him in here and get him up to speed. Then we’ll see how that affects whether he’s an active participant this week or not.”

(On what the Rams-49ers rivalry means to him and Sunday’s game)

”It’s a big game because it’s our next game. Obviously, I just have so much respect and appreciation for this organization because of the family history and my grandfather being a part of five world championships. Then, I have a whole lot of respect for (49ers) Coach (Kyle) Shanahan, (49ers General Manager) John Lynch, really (49ers Chief Executive Officer) Jed York. Those guys have been great to me. I’ve learned some much from working for Kyle. I know what a great football coach he is. They’ve got a lot of great players on their team. I think (49ers quarterback C.J.) Beathard has done an excellent job. You talk about putting guys in spots to make plays, create explosives. They’ve got a great marriage of their run and their pass game. You can see they can do a lot of different things, specifically out of 21 personnel with how versatile (FB Kyle) Juszczyk is. (TE) George Kittle is a really, really good tight end that’s making a lot of plays and really demonstrating that he’s a complete player. Then, obviously, when they got (WR Marquise) Goodwin back you could see just the explosiveness. He’s able to take the top off the coverage and the way that you’ve got to defend him just because of that track speed. (WR) Pierre Garcon, having history with him, what a tough, physical player he is. They’re physical. They’re tough up front, well-coached. On the defensive side of the ball, (49ers Defensive Coordinator) Robert Saleh does an excellent job. They’ve got a heavy rotation up front of a lot of big, physical guys that can rush and play the run. They’ve got speed on the second and third levels. Then, really, with their special teams coach, Richard Hightower – I shared an office with him back in Washington. Can’t say enough about what a great job he’s done. You can see this is a well-coached team and it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

(On how often he keeps in touch with Shanahan and if they bounce ideas off of each other)

”Not really. We keep in touch just every now and then during the season. I reached out to him after (49ers QB) Jimmy (Garoppolo) had gotten hurt. I just have so much respect and appreciation just watching the way that he’s led in spite of some of the tough circumstances they’ve had to overcome. I think that says as much about him as anything, the way that he’s handled adversity as a leader for their football team. I just have a lot of respect for that because I can only imagine that’s not easy. We’ll talk when we go through the (NFL Scouting) Combine and different things like that, but I don’t think we’re going to be exchanging ideas until after the season.”

(On if G Rodger Saffold III is still on track to play this week)

”Yeah, he is. Really, we’ll see if he’s able to partake in it. He’s making good progress and we anticipate him being able to go. But, always want to be smart with guys like that, that you feel like the priority is making sure that he’s as healthy as possible because you know how comfortable he feels with the things that we’re doing and what a great job he’ll do studying outside of what he can’t get from a rep standpoint today if he misses those.”

(On if he has more confidence in CB Troy Hill after watching the plays on film with his positioning)

”Oh yeah, that’s really kind of how it felt during the game as well. Really, what you have so much of an appreciation and respect for with (CB) Troy (Hill), is you talk about the poise that he demonstrated even when they complete the ball down the left sideline. Is it a touchdown, is it not? They end up getting flagged for a personal foul. He keeps an even-keel demeanor throughout the whole situation. It bumps them back to the 16 (-yard line) that ends up leading to a field goal as opposed to a touchdown and you win by three. So, that’s a great job by Troy handling that situation like a stud. Like I said, in this league 50-50 plays, there’s going to be some opportunities where, credit to (Broncos WR Demariyus) Thomas, credit to (Broncos WR Courtland) Sutton and (Broncos WR) Emmanuel Sanders, those guys are great players. (Broncos QB) Case (Keenum) put the ball in good spots, but I’ve always seen opportunities that Troy’s been in similar spots where he’s made those plays. Going back to just the Seattle (Seahawks) game – made a couple plays like that. He’s a great competitor. The ability to respond is what says as much as anything and we’ve got a lot of confidence in his ability to move forward this week the right way.”

(On being the talk of the league and what he thinks about it)

”Well, I think everybody always appreciates hearing nice things said, but there’s a narrative written every single week and I think our players appreciate that. You want nice things written, you’ve got to continue to produce and in order to be able to do that, there’s got to be a focus, a resolve, a concentration with every single day, being present. We talk about it all the time – anybody that’s the best at what they do, there’s a consistency to their production and you’ve got to do it week in and week out. If there’s anything that you can appreciate about this league, you never know what’s going to occur. Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, this team is going to beat this team’, and then, it never really seems to work out that way. So, the respect and appreciation that our players, our coaches have for every single team in this league – all the players, the coaches – we’ve got to get better every single day because those guys are doing the same thing. If you don’t get better, you’re getting worse – you never stay the same and that’s our focus and I think our players have the right mindset and mentality. But, you don’t take it for granted and I think there is a comfort level or a confidence with what they’ve done. But in order to stay confident and be able to give yourself a chance to play at your best, you’ve got to earn it every single day.”

(On protecting the ball very well and being in last in takeaways and if that’s part of their game plan)

”Well, certainly other than points, there’s no greater indicator of wins and losses in this league over the last handful of years than turnovers. That’s something that we talk about all the time – taking care of the football offensively, making great decisions from the quarterback standpoint, ball security and then defensively, doing everything you can in your power to get it back. Rake, hammer, strip – try to get that ball back for the offense. I know that’s something that they emphasize in San Francisco as well. Sometimes you just get some unfortunate bounces. But I think if there’s one thing that you can say about this football team, is they’ve given themselves a chance to win a whole lot of games. They’ve had some unfortunate circumstances that have led to turnovers, but this is a great football team that’s in every single game and somebody that is a great challenge and a really, really good team, we feel like.”

(On his thoughts seeing OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo in walk-thrus today and if he was able to work him into mental reps with the team drills)

”Yeah, you can’t really evaluate too much in that. That’s like saying, ‘How did he walk around today in the building?’ You tell me (laughs). I think more than anything, we’re going to see the physical, once we get really – Thursday and Friday is going to be a good opportunity for us to start to really evaluate him. Knowing that he’s not going to play, he’s not going to take those mental reps that guys that are going to be able to play in this game on Sunday are. But, what we will do in the meantime with those 21 days that we do have, is really start to look physically, ‘Is he going to be ready to go? Do we feel like he’s going to be somebody that can help us out?’ – that’s what we’re hopeful for.”

(On QB Jared Goff being on the same page as him with play-calls)

”Yeah, that’s what we talk about all the time. That’s really where our week of preparation is so important as well. We spend a lot of time together throughout the week and we try to sequentially try to piece the game plan together, so that you’re not every surprising him with any decisions that we’re making. A lot of the instances, like you hear us talk about, it’s about our players and when (QB) Jared (Goff) feels comfortable with a play, that makes us, as a coaching staff feel that much more comfortable. So, in certain situations, whether it be third down red zone, some of our priority first and second-down calls, I think he has an idea of what are the plays that we’re going to run and I think the goal is to never surprise your players with a call. But also, to be on the same page and that goes with the communication and part of that communication is us being able to listen to each other. I feel like we’re in a lot of instances on the same page.”

(On how many hours a week he spends with Goff)

”I would say we’re spending a good eight hours Monday through Thursday and then a few more on Friday and then, Saturday nights with the meetings. So, anywhere between 30 or so – 30-plus. I really like him. That’s good.”

Pass Game Coordinator/Co-OC Shane Waldron

(On his thoughts since reviewing QB Jared Goff and the passing game after WR Cooper Kupp left the game due to injury)

“I think it was another great week of (WR) Robert Woods stepping in and really stepping up in a role where those receivers have done such a good job of understanding the entire offense. So a guy like (WR) Cooper (Kupp) goes down, a great player for us, Robert is able to slide over and (WR) Josh (Reynolds) steps right up and we’re able to continue on with our game-plan the way we thought we could attack those guys throughout the game.”

(On what he knew about Woods before working with him and what he’s seen from him that’s surprised or impressed him)

(On TE Gerald Everett being more involved especially on third downs, and where he has seen him take strides to be successful in that role)

“I know ever since — it was unfortunate getting dinged up in training camp and coming back. He’s worked himself back nicely and been able to be a little bit more a part of the game every week. With both him and (TE Tyler) Higbee splitting that duty and really producing in the different areas they’ve been asked to produce in. (TE) Gerald’s (Everett) done a good job on third down. He had that nice catch on the first down when he catches it on the keeper and snatches it, shows his good ball security and still shows his explosion. He’s just been able to progress every week and getting better and better. With that, the roles keep improving every week.”

(On if there’s anything in particular he’s learned from working with Head Coach Sean McVay)

“Anything in particular? Other than he can remember every play that’s ever been called in the history of football (laughs). The biggest thing I’ve learned working with (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) is just his ability to communicate with everybody in a positive manner. Everyone is excited to come in and work every day – players, coaches, everyone around the building that does such a great job helping and supporting us to be where we want to be. His ability to communicate and stay positive and bring energy every single day has been something special.”

(On his familiarity with WR Nick Williams and when he might be able to add him to the passing game)

“I just briefly got a chance to meet him. It’s that point in the NFL season, he comes in, get a chance to talk to him. He does have some familiarity in our system as far as the verbiage and what we call certain routes or formations, stuff like that. So, anytime you bring in a guy midseason that’s a big help for him so he can jump right in and really fit in where he needs to as the week progresses, and kind of figure out by Sunday where that exactly entails for him.”

(On from his vantage point how McVay and Goff have grown together)

“I think they just complement each other in a great way. Sean’s always high energy, and like I said about the communication part, where he’s just that great communicator. (QB) Jared (Goff) has done a great job listening, being poised at the quarterback position, and taking in all the new information he gets from Sean every day and from (Quarterbacks Coach) Zac (Taylor) and the coaching staff. And delivering it to his ten other players on the field every snap in that nice calm demeanor and then executing what we ask of him. So I think they just have a good balance in their relationship, in their personalities and it’s worked out really well for us.”

QB Jared Goff

(On if having WR Cooper Kupp out of the lineup changes anything for him or the offense)

”He’s such a great player, so obviously it’s going to change a little bit of the stuff we can do and some of the stuff we like to do with him and change some of that. But, we’re excited to see (WR) Josh (Reynolds) step up and move some things around and be in a good place and feel good with all the other guys. It sucks to have him out for however long it is, but he’ll be back healthy soon enough and be good when he gets back.”

(On how good it makes him feel that the team is figuring out ways to win in spite of some of the things that are happening)

”I think that’s signs of a good team. We’ve been able to do that up to this point. There’s a lot of season left for us to still prove that and still do that. But up to this point, like you said, finding ways to win – it seems like every week it’s a different way, which is awesome. It’s good when different guys step up and have to show. It’s all been really good so far. A lot of work to do and another one this week that’ll be tough.”

(On his ‘no flinch’ mentality and if it’s something you can learn)

”I think it’s just been from playing the position for a long time and understanding that you’re probably going to get hit a little bit and it usually feels better if it’s a completion and not an incompletion so staying in there and take the hit. But, where I learned it? I don’t know. Just from playing the position a long time.”

(On if he used to flinch)

”No. I don’t remember ever flinching (laughs). Maybe. You’d have to go watch my high school film or something. I don’t know.”

(On the Rams-49ers rivalry)

”I think just the history of like L.A., Bay Area – all sports rivalry is kind of a theme. (San Francisco) Giants, (Los Angeles) Dodgers tends to be pretty heated. Now that we’ve moved to L.A., the San Francisco rivalry is pretty obvious and it’s a fun one. It’s a lot of fun to go up there personally, to play up there in front of a lot of people I know. A lot of people that I grew up with that are still Niners fans is the best part to kind of get a chance to play against them and have them kind of maybe root against me. It’s fun.”

(On what it’s like to have a running back like Todd Gurley II who is so efficient)

”Incredible, incredible. It’s been great. Such a great player. I know I’ve talked about it a bunch of times with all the stuff he’s good at, but when you get a guy like that who can go for 200 (yards) and take a lot of pressure off me and certain things they were doing to take away some of the stuff in the pass game. You can rely on that. It’s huge and helped us win that game tremendously.”

(On if he’s thought about the possibility that it could come down to himself and Gurley for the MVP award)

”No, I haven’t (laughs).”

(On if it brings any level of comfort that the 49ers have the fewest takeaways in the NFL this season)

”No, I don’t think so. I think you respect them. They’ve got a guy like (49ers CB) Richard Sherman over there who’s had a bunch of takeaways in his career and I’m sure led the league at one point in takeaways in a season. Guys like that always keep you aware and keep you on your toes. We’ve got to play really well this week.”

(On WR Robert Woods’ versatility and if there’s anything in his play that has evolved this year)

”The number one thing that I think he would say he worked on and that is obvious to us in the building, is just his pure hands. I think last year, he tended to let the ball get into him a little bit and it’s something that he really worked on this offseason and came into this season. He’s got some of the best hands I’ve ever played with. It’s comparable to anyone I’ve ever played with. If you guys watch most of his catches nowadays, it’s all out in front of his body – all with his hands. He makes some miraculous catches as well with his hands. He’s just become a guy that I can really trust with any route, any sort of cut, anything. He’s a guy that I really have a lot of faith in.”

(On if he likes having the Rams be the ‘talk of the town’ as they continue to win)

”Well, we’re going to obviously, keep trying to win. Hopefully, every week that’s going to be the goal. If that comes with added pressure, so be it. I think each week you treat it as one week at a time. Truly, I haven’t felt like we’re trying to be 7-0 this week. We’re really trying to win and the previous week, the same thing. We really haven’t felt that way ever. So, each week, yeah, we will go into it putting our best foot forward and trying not to think about the overall pressure or anything and just trying to win one week at a time. Understanding the bigger picture of the season that there are a lot of games left and we have a lot of work to do.”

(On how much of a lift it is getting K Greg Zuerlein back)

”Huge, huge. He’s a guy that we’ve relied on for the last two years – won us some games. It’s been huge. We’re appreciative of what (K) Cairo (Santos) did for us – won us a couple games there the last two. It’ll be great getting (K) Greg (Zuerlein) back and just having that consistency where you get inside a certain number as an offense. To be honest, you really don’t even think about it. You kind of go to the sideline and expect three points to go up. He’s been that way and he’s earned that. We really trust him.”

(On if he feels like he has been making strides at playing in the red zone)

”Yes and no. There’s some things that I think I’ve done okay. The three turnovers that I still think about is bothering me and I’d like to finish with more touchdowns there. Just something I’m continuing to work on and we’re as a team, continuing to work on. Just continue to finish drives and be smart down there and take care of the ball.”