GREEN BAY – The Packers' coordinators met with the media Wednesday. Here's a sampling of their key comments.
Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
On the challenge at San Francisco:
Going out to that place, it's always historically had some wind issues in that stadium. There's supposed to be some precipitation out there. They've got two really good return guys in Ray-Ray (McCloud) and Deebo (Samuel) on the back end. Their punter has the ability to put the ball in multiple places and multiple different ways. They've got a rookie kicker that's played well for most of the year. I think we'll get some chances for some returns in the game, as well as they will. The special teams coach there has been in the league a long time, I think 15 years, he's been to multiple Super Bowls. He's really done a heck of a job getting those guys playing with an aggressive style and tremendous play style out there.
On who the leaders have become on special teams:
I'd say Eric Wilson has stepped up and played well, and Isaiah McDuffie when he's played strictly the majority of (special) teams has really played well for us also. And then Jonathan Owens has stepped in at personal protector and done a really good job for us in there.
On losing Kingsley Enagbare:
That's been a devastating loss, on a personal level, too, just because of the relationship with him and how hard he trained this offseason, and he came in in supreme physical condition. He played three phases for us … and his personality in our meetings, his personality in the walk-throughs and the physical style he was playing with. We'll be excited about getting him back healthy next year, but it's a big loss for us right now.
On Anders Carlson ranking last in touchback percentage on kickoffs:
Kickoff-wise, Anders has done exactly what we've asked him to do. I think there's been a couple that have been a little bit shorter than we've liked. But we feel like if we have a chance to help set our defense, we'd like to do that. I think we covered more kicks than anybody in the NFL last year as well. That's a little bit of our coverage philosophy. He's done a good job on kickoff, and I think our guys are on the come a little bit. We've played with a bunch of different players over the last 6-8 weeks, and some guys have been playing some different spots. Now they seem to have a little bit more time on task, so we'll see what happens in this contest, but I was excited by the way they played last week.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On how different things feel now compared to a few weeks ago:
If you're in this thing long enough, you're going to experience the highest of highs and unfortunately you're going to experience the lowest of lows and that's just, that's part of when you sign up for the National Football League. That's part of the deal.
This is a show-me league. It's a show-me business. It's a production-based business and it's brutal and harsh at times but of course … when you're in this, it's about winning and it's about playing good and it's about production. That's what makes this league so great and so incredibly competitive. I told the guys a month ago when we were still playing relevant football in December. Nothing's better now. We're one of eight teams right now and now we're playing relevant football in January, so it's exciting.
On turning things around defensively:
I think the way you get out of a rut, you just keep believing, you keep digging, you keep chopping wood. You don't look for the light at the end of the tunnel. You just keep digging and eventually it's going to get there. I think that's really important to do when you do have a bad week or a bad stretch, but our players, our coaches, they just kept digging, they just kept chopping and thankfully they did because we're where we're at now.
On the 49ers' multiple weapons:
Aiyuk is their leading receiver from a numbers standpoint, but then if you look at McCaffrey next and then George (Kittle) next and then Deebo next, it's amazing how close they are. You only get to play with one football and it's amazing how they can spread that around and how close those four guys are from a reception standpoint at least, but they're a special unit. There's no doubt about it.
On Jaire Alexander's status and how he played last week:
I think he's a little bit further ahead this week than obviously he was last week. But last week, when he did what he did on Wednesday, I honestly did not think that there was any chance. Just him being the way he is, he stayed locked in, he stayed wired in the game plan and when we got to Saturday, he said, 'I'm gonna give it a shot,' and obviously we worked him out Sunday and it worked out. Just for him to stay locked into the game plan, just for him to stay so focused on Thursday, on Friday, on Saturday and then be able to not only go play but play the way he did, it's a credit to him as a pro.
On Lukas Van Ness with Enagbare out:
Daily, weekly improvement. Unfortunately with JJ's situation, it's going to be notched up even more. I think it's the culture, the veterans, the way those young guys see the veterans come in. Lukas sees Preston Smith come in and approach every single day the way he does. He's like, 'Man, this is the way you do it.' If you buy into that, you believe in that as a young kid and you are working your tail off, and Lukas does that naturally, I think the natural progression is to improve and get better, and he has.
You've got to remember with Lukas, this dude turned 21 years old at the beginning of the season. He's a puppy still. It's exciting to see, obviously, what he's done right now in the moment but it's scary to think what he's going to be in the next year, the year after, the year after. Just think what he's going to be when he's 25 years old. I'm happy and excited for him just because he's worked his tail off, and I think he sees himself getting better.
On tackling vs. the 49ers:
I think our tackling's been at times very inconsistent. Anytime you look at a defense and no matter what time of the year, if a defense goes out on Sunday and plays well, usually they've tackled well. And vice-versa when they don't. It doesn't matter if it's Christian, Deebo, George, Aiyuk, all these guys are really incredible after the catch, breaking tackles, getting those YAC yards. I think that's a huge part of us playing well this week is that we're going to have tackle really well and limit the YAC.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich
On whether the Cowboys were double-covering some guys, which opened up Romeo Doubs:
We went into the game plan not knowing, because they'd shown the ability to do that at times and take the single wide receivers away. But I really didn't notice it too much where they were game-planning around one single guy. I think that's a big advantage that we have. We can spread the ball around. We have a lot weapons all over the place. Romeo, he's just following his rule, but he also some pretty spectacular routes. When you watch some of those, you just see the talent that he has for running routes and just some strong catches and it was really fun to watch him.
On the battle up front vs. San Francisco:
You look at their roster and not only are most of them first-round picks, but most of them are top-10 picks. So they have talent. They have a lot of talent. I have a lot of respect for how they're coached. I have a lot of respect for how they play. They play physically. They get up the field. They do a really good job in their scheme, so it's going to be a huge challenge for us. I'm excited for that challenge. This young group that we have, I'm really excited to see how they come out there and how they play. It's going to be a great environment vs. a really good opponent, so it's going to be a huge test for us.
More on the Packers' O-line:
It's been fun. You see some of the guys kind of take the reins in the room. Elgton (Jenkins), (Josh) Myers, really just take the leadership role over and have done a great job with that. Anytime you can just get guys on the same page, get guys believing, it's been fun to watch. We've had some injuries and guys step in there, but for the most part we've been pretty healthy as compared to years past. So it's just been good just getting all these guys a lot of reps together, and that builds confidence.