Mora in charge, Part I
Q: What kind of advantage do you have this week knowing the Niners' team and personnel so well? Mora: The advantage, I don't know that there is an advantage quite frankly. I think sometimes when you go against your old team, such as Greg (Knapp), I, Chris (Beake) and Brett (Maxie) are doing, you might have a tendency to say, 'Oh, I know them so well,' that you make the mistake of filling your players heads with a lot of information that they really don't need. So, what we're trying to be careful not to do is over-coach because really it is all about players going out and playing the game on Sunday. So, yeah, we'll give them little hints here and there about some things that maybe we have some insight into. We're not just inundating them with a bunch of stuff. We just want them to go play and execute. Q: How curious are you to see what Willy Robinson has done with what used to be your defense? Mora: You know what, I really don't care. All I care about is us going out and executing our offense. I know what he has done. Q: Are you concerned at all how quarterback Michael Vick is adapting to the new offense you and Knapp brought to Atlanta? Mora: It's zero question and zero concern for me, for Greg, for our offensive staff and for our organization. I'm just excited to grow with it as the season goes on. He's been outstanding in every single practice we've had. He's put in hours and hours of work, both in the meeting room and on the field. He came in early in March well ahead of the time we asked players to be in here on their own. He spent a lot of extra time with Greg and Mike Johnson. It's an offense that is setup for him to have success in. But, it's like anytime there is a change, anytime you change coaches and don't keep the coordinators, there is going to be some transition period regardless of your quarterback, running back or the line. So, there is always some of that. The guy is ... number one, he's a great kid. Number two, he's a tremendous competitor and he's an unbelievable talent. So, as we get going in this thing and he starts to grow in this offense, you'll see some great things out of him. Q: How long will the learning curve be for Vick? Mora: I don't know. I don't think anyone knows yet. That, we'll see as we go. I think he's a smart kid and I think he's picking up the concepts. I think he is motivated to learn what we are doing. It's just a matter of him getting more and more repetitions during games. He's had about 1500 repetitions in practice in 11-on-11 situations. It's not like he hasn't taken snaps. It's just, we haven't played him much in the preseason, which is great because the two things that I heard when I came to Atlanta was, number one you have to keep Mike Vick healthy in the preseason, and number two got to find a backup quarterback. We've accomplished both of those things. We've kept Mike Vick healthy. He is 100% healthy going into our first game, and we have two backup quarterbacks that we think that we can win with. So, mission has been accomplished thus far. Q: Did Vick ever express concern about not playing enough in preseason? Mora: No, he just said, get me to September 12th. Q: Do you feel Vick has to get the ball to receivers and use his running ability as a fallback? Mora: I don't know. That is a good question. I know that with Steve (Young), that he felt like he really made the move to the next level when he realized that he could get the ball to the other playmakers and have effectiveness as an offense. You know, Steve and Mike are a little bit different. Mike is a real creative athlete. He's a real creative quarterback. He's an outstanding runner. We don't want him to not run at all. We like it when he is a running threat. All we want to make sure he is doing is making the right decisions, in terms of when to run, and when he is running, when to get down and when to go down. Things like that. I think as you mature as a quarterback and get a little bit older as a quarterback and maybe you're tired of running as much and taking some of the hits you do, you decide, you know what, I'm going to change my tune here and I'm going to start getting the ball to my playmakers. But, Michael will eventually get there. But, I'm not worried about him running too much, that's for sure. Q: Do you want him to get there on Sunday? Mora: I just want him to go play on Sunday and that is what he'll do. Just go be Mike Vick. If that means he runs, then he runs. If that means he throws, he throws. He's going to go and be the great athlete that he is, that is all I care about. Q: Is Vick as hard to convince as Steve Young to get down and not take the hits? Mora: I don't know because the two times I saw him run in the game, one time he ran out of bounds and one time he got down. So, that would lead me to believe the message is getting through to him, but we'll see. He's a little bit different than he and I. If we see a 200-pounder or 300-pounder coming from us from one side and a 250-pounder coming from another side, we say, 'man, I got to get down.' He says, 'Huh, I'm through those two guys, they can't touch me.' So, it's a mindset thing. It's about experience and he's gaining experience every minute he is here. Q: "What's in the adjustment for you as the head coach, any surprises? Mora: Not to this point. No, there haven't been any surprises, other than and I mean this truly, the only surprise is how infatuated with injuries the media would be because that doesn't make sense to me, but I've come to understand it a little bit. That was the only thing that caught me off guard. It took me awhile that guys cared who was injured and who wasn't. Other than that, it's been what I expected. Like I said, I have the good fortune, advantage or whatever you want to call it, of growing up the son of a head coach. So, I saw what went into the job. The ups and the downs. I saw the ins and the outs. I knew the hours that we work and I knew the pressure you felt. And then I've got a guy that I call anytime in my dad, and I can call Bill Walsh at any time, and I can call Steve Mariucci anytime, and call Dick Vermeil at anytime and they can help me out if I'm having a problem, which I really haven't had to do yet. Q: Why did you go out and get former 49ers cornerback Jason Webster in free agency? Mora: Because he is the type of player that I love to have on my team, in terms of character, toughness, competitiveness, commitment to what you're trying to get done, stability in the locker room. He's reaching his prime right now. This is his fifth year. He is a tremendously consistent player who I knew we could go get because he was coming off of an injury where people didn't really know him, but I did know him. I spent hours and hours and hours and hours and hours with him and Ahmed Plummer, as you guys have seen over there just the three of us doing drills. So, I got a pretty good feel for Jason and he is the kind of guy that you want to start a program with. Q: Are you surprised those guys made out as well as they did in free agency? Mora: No, absolutely not and I'll tell you why. Number one, there is such a need for corners out there. People are going to pay the premium for corners. Number two, the one thing you can't put a price on is character. Jason Webster and Ahmed Plummer are two of the finest people that I have ever been lucky to coach. Gil Byrd was the same type of guy. They are the kind of guys that you want to build your team around, both him and Ahmed. People are going to pay for that. I think people in the National Football League realize, and I know Terry Donahue realizes it and I know Rich McKay realizes, how important character in the locker room is, especially because things aren't always going to go exactly how you want them to or exactly right. When you've got high character guys like Jason or Ahmed, you've got a chance to pull out of anything that is not positive. So, you are going pay a little bit for those guys. They're with the program. You know that you can count on them. So, it's not as much of a gamble than if you go out and get someone that you don't know that may have some baggage. So, those guys, I'm glad they made out. They've deserved it. They've worked their tails off to get it. I'm happy for both of them.
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