49ers defensive coordinator Fangio believes shorter backs like Rice have advantage

January 30, 2013 | WNST Staff


(on the matchup between Baltimore and San Francisco) “The matchups in this game will be pretty tough obviously with Ray Rice. We’ll be challenged, which will be a big part of the game to see if we can cover those guys.”


(on using a 3-4 defense versus a 4-3 defense) “When I first came in the league, there were only three or four teams running the 4-3 and everybody else was using the 3-4. Then by the mid to late 90s it kind of flipped and now it’s in a slow ascension back to where it’s about 50-50. I don’t know what the count is right now, but maybe next year it will be tipped in the favor of the 3-4. It does offer you flexibility because you have a fourth linebacker who knows how to drop. It gives you flexibility to determine who the fourth rusher is. Those outside linebackers become defensive ends usually so you still have four linebackers out there in a nickel package which gives you some flexibility there.”


(on if 3-4 defense is better suited to defend a read option quarterback) “Some people think it is. The angles in the running game become a little bit more difficult than a traditional 4-3.”


(on the matchup between the linebackers) “Obviously our group is very good, and they’ve got Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. Just saying Lewis and Suggs tells you that you have a good group and our group is good too. I think there’s an unusually high talent for linebackers in this game.”


(on what advantage it gives to them to have great linebackers) “It’s always an advantage to have good players and if you’re playing a 3-4, you particularly have to have two good outside linebackers. We do since it’s a key position in this defense. We are able to keep those guys on the field the whole time regardless of who else is on the field. It allows us to have flexibility and gives us a little bit more athleticism on the field. You have more guys out there who know how to drop so you can do a little more zone pressures out there.”


(on the competition for players who can play a 3-4 defense) “Seven or eight years ago, wherever I was at that time, we felt that we had an advantage because not a lot of guys were looking for the same guys that we were. Now, it’s evened up and next year it might be tilted the other way, so you get more guys looking for the same type of players.”


(on his relationship with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine) “Mike is a great coach. He will do a great job up there in Buffalo. He understands the game and he will add to the flexibility. If they play a 3-4, it will be a flexible 3-4 and it will look like a 4-3 a lot of times. He has coached in that division for four years, so he knows the division well. He will do a great job up there. Buffalo should be happy and feel lucky they got him.”


(on what makes Baltimore running back Ray Rice so special) “He’s extremely quick and fast, number one. He has the ability to jump cut and cut the ball back at any moment. He’s only 5’8” but he’s a very strong 5’8”. He’s very tough to cover. Joe Flacco likes to throw it to him and he has been one of their leading receivers every year since he’s been in the league. So he’s a dual threat with both run and pass, and he’s a confident pass blocker when they leave him there. He doesn’t have a weakness. He’s a real threat, and he’s a guy we have to be ready to handle in the passing game.”


(on seeing more players like Ray Rice in the game nowadays) “The shorter guys have an advantage if they’re strong enough. They’re hard to find and kind of hide behind the offense a little bit because of the size difference. They’re built lower so guys aren’t used to tackling guys that short. If they’ve got a lot of power in them, they can surprise bigger people because of the leverage. Short is ok if you’re still strong and powerful. The most famous short and powerful player in the NFL is right here in New Orleans, Sam Mills. I thought  many times his height was an advantage.”