JONATHAN GANNON: Just to recap the game quickly, guys played well. Obviously did enough to win the game, and we’re on to San Francisco and the Final Four at [Lincoln Financial Field]. Expect it to be electric in there. I was here for a Final Four game, and it was electric, best environment I’ve ever been at or a part of. We’re excited, and we have to go through the week and do a good job to give ourselves a chance to win.
Q. Was that something you felt like affected the game five years ago? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: I did. I really did. In warmups, a guy that I was coaching, he looked at me with a look in his eye like, whoa. [Minnesota Vikings S] Harrison Smith. I said, whoa, back. You could feel the energy, and it’s awesome. This is one of the best atmospheres that you’re going to get in the National Football League, and obviously being the championship game, it’ll be heightened.
Yeah, I thought the energy in the building was just phenomenal. Before kickoff, as the game got going, and it’s a tough place to play, and it’s a big advantage for us.
Q. Were you surprised by that? You probably hear a lot of stuff about coming to play here. (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: You know, you kind of think that’s an external factor that you kind of block out, but in ’16 and ’17 in Minnesota when that new facility got built, that new stadium got built, that was a really good atmosphere, too. That was the Minnesota miracle, that game, to come here to play, and I was like, wow, I don’t know if there will ever be a stadium more electric than that that I’ve been a part of after [former Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon] Diggs has a walk-off. When we were here in warmups that’s what it was. When we were here in warmups, it was like, whoa, this is as electric — it’s more electric than that place was.
I always joke about it with Mr. Lurie [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Lurie] and [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman], I’ve always wanted to be a part of a Philly team to play in playoff games at that stadium because that’s how it stood out in my mind.
But you have to lock in and do your job, but it’ll be fun. We’ll enjoy it.
Q. What does it mean to you when Head Coach Nick Sirianni is so vociferous in his support of you? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: To my face?
Q. Publicly. (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: I don’t really pay attention too much, but like I said, we’ve always had a great relationship, and he’s never once wavered behind closed doors in his confidence to me and what we’re doing, and that’s why he’s a great head coach. You know he has everyone on his team’s back, and that’s why we do such a good job for him because we don’t want to let him down.
Players, coaches, everybody in this building, he’s cultivated that ever since he’s got here day one. It’s easy to reciprocate that because you know that how much he cares about the players and the coaches and everyone that’s in this building.
I love the guy. You guys know I love the guy. But he’s always been in my corner.
Q. When you’re going against playmakers that are so multiple like they have in San Francisco, how does that up the challenge? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, big-time challenge. That’s a good question. They’re in the Final Four for a reason. They’re very well-coached and they have a lot of really good players. They do a good job. They put them in good situations, and they’re multiple. They do some unique things with their guys because of their skill sets. Just like any game, we have to have a plan for that. But you start going through, start watching the tape, and then you look at the paperwork and then you talk to different people in our building what do we need to do, this and that, and it just keeps coming back. It doesn’t surprise me, like this is the Final Four game; of course they’re going to be good in every metric. Of course, they’ve got really good players. I think they’ve got guys at their position that they’re probably the best in the world at their position.
It’s going to be a big-time challenge, and it’s going to be fun because we’re good, too, and we have some of the best players in the world at our positions, too. We’ll look forward to that challenge, and we’ll be fired up on Sunday afternoon.
Q. Does communication become more important because of that stuff when they move those pieces around as much as they do? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, like I said, you have to play what your eyes see, and you have to have a plan for when they do those type of things. We’ll have adjustments that we need necessary for some different things, but ultimately, it’s us just communicating, getting lined up, alignment, assignment, key technique, and then playing with violence. That’s what we’ll harp on this week.
Q. They’re No. 1 in yards after catch. Is that because they throw to their backs so much, or is that personnel guys breaking tackles? What kind of a challenge is that going to present? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s a great question. It’s everything that you just said. That’s why they are that way. Schematically they get the ball to guys in space, and then they have the guys that are touching the ball, those are part of their unique skill sets where they can break tackles, they can run away from people, they can make people miss in space, and I’m not just talking about one or two guys. It’s really everybody that’s touching the ball.
I think it’s a good job by [San Francisco 49ers Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan]. He knows how to get guys in space, and then those guys have unique skill sets. That’s why they’re a really good offense is they’ve got playmakers. So, we’re going to have do a good job with those guys because sometimes guys are going to have help, sometimes they won’t depending on the call.
That will be definitely a key to victory for us is tackling.
Q. What do you see when you evaluate San Francisco 49ers QB Brock Purdy? (Merrill Reese)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’s a good player. He’s a really good player. He plays extremely fast. He knows where to put his eyes. He gets out of trouble at a pretty good clip, and what I mean by that, you see some free runners or the pocket breakdown and guys have hard time getting him on the ground. He doesn’t take a lot of sacks, but he makes quick decisions, he’s accurate, he gets the ball out of his hand.
You know that Kyle is a really good coach. He knows how to coach the quarterback of what they’re trying to get done with certain plays, and he’s doing that. That’s a reason that they’re playing in this game.
Q. You talked about the electric environment that you’ve been in it as an opponent. In your experience, does that affect young quarterbacks more than veterans? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: You would have to ask them. I never played quarterback in an environment like that. But I think honestly once the ball is snapped — now, the noise definitely affects an offense when you’re at home. I know that. The noise will force them to do some different things maybe, but they’ll have a plan for it and be ready to go.
I don’t think so. I think what affects any quarterback is the way that we execute and the way that we affect him throughout the game.
Q. Assistant Defensive Backs Coach D.K. McDonald overlapped with Brock Purdy at Iowa State, is that familiarity, obviously he’s on the other side of the ball, is that familiarity useful for you guys? (E.J. Smith)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, absolutely. Any opponent that we play, we turn over every stone, and we try to talk to the people that have been around him and that know him.
Yeah, [Assistant Defensive Backs coach] D.K. [McDonald], he had a whole list of things that this is what we need to get done to have a chance, so we use those resources.
Q. During the joint practices, the players remarked they had exposure in those sessions to schemes they usually don’t see obviously in training camp practices and those schemes are comparable to what you’ll see on Sunday. Were those sessions valuable, and have you had exposure since then? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: You’re looking to use every tool that you need to use, and then you see different ways that people try to attack you, you have to be able to combat those things and use our different tools that we have applicable to help us.
But again, ultimately it’s going to be about us, about getting lined up, putting our eyes in the right spot, playing blocks the right way, supporting the run the right way, tackling, covering, rushing, staying connected and having good emotional stability, good positive attitude, and let the chips fall.
Q. As far as, I know you’re looking at the offenses of other teams, but as far as San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans goes, have you had a chance to look at him as a defensive coordinator the last couple years and did you ever have dealings with him when he was a player? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: Not as a player. I know [San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator] DeMeco [Ryans] a little bit. They’re a good defense, so we look at in the off-season we study a lot of different defenses, and they do a good job of putting their guys in position to make plays, and just like their offense, just like our offense or our defense, they’ve got good players. It’s going to be a big-time challenge.
Q. You guys made a lot of different personnel changes on both sides since the last match-up you guys had last year. What takeaways do you take from that first game, and how different is that offense in the first game from what you expect to see this week? (Chris Franklin)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, a lot of the same concepts. They’ve got some different people in there, especially adding [RB Christian] McCaffrey. Their O-line is a little bit different, but we use that as a tool. Like this is what we did good versus them. This is what we struggled with. We got hit a couple times on certain routes, or these couple runs we have to have a plan for.
But our guys will watch that, and we’ve watched that.
I thought that we did a pretty good job that game. It was early in the season. But there are some things that they out-executed us at, and that’s kind of their MO. That’s why they’re a good football team. They run their staples and really just out-execute you.
We’re going to have to do a good job with our execution to combat that.
Q. In what ways do they put strain on the middle of the field? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Just the players, honestly. I think a little bit schematically, and then the players that they have, if you look at how they deploy people, a lot of those guys are doing a good job in the middle of the field. Depending on what coverage structures you’re playing and who’s on those people, we just have to have a good plan for that.
There are certain coverages where the ball should be dictated by the coverage and the route concept of where you want the ball to go, and when it does go there, you have to do a good job of tackling it and minimizing the game.
Q. You didn’t play a lot of five-man front against the Giants. Were you matching personnel there? Is that something you felt like you didn’t have to do versus that offense? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Versus the Giants? Yeah, you know us; whatever we think is the best way to go with the structures and the coverages, that’s kind of what we do. We look a little bit different from week to week and game to game.
But how we set up the game plan and what we decide to do, how we start the game, how we finish the game, what adjustments we’re making, that’s kind of talked about all week with our players in mind. Obviously, that’s the number one thing.
Then you make adjustments as you go. That’s what we felt was the best way to defend them.
Q. They’ve kind of taken off since San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey got there. Obviously, the skill set, but has he added anything to the scheme? Do they do anything different? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: You know, they were doing a lot of the same things that they were doing with the other backs who are really good. [San Francisco 49ers RB] Elijah Mitchell I’ve got a really high opinion of, but you just add in another really, really good player into your organization, and that shows up. He can beat you a lot of different ways, and we’ll have to have a plan for all the ways that he’s beating people.
Q. When they throw the ball over the middle of the field so much, does that lessen the impact of having CB Darius Slay and CB James Bradberry on the outside? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, not at all. They’re going to play a huge part in our success on Sunday. But there’s different coverage structures you can play that can kind of help that and stuff, but they’re going to be matched up on guys like all our guys every week. There’s a situation, strength and a stress of each call, and our guys are versed on who’s got the stress and who’s got the strength of each call, and we know we’ve got to one-on-one on one match-ups and play the coverages the correct way to give us a chance.
Q. How tough is it to try take away or limit San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle? (Merrill Reese)
JONATHAN GANNON: Tough. You know, because they deploy him different ways, and he does different things. They do a lot of different things with him. It’s not just like they align him here and these are the couple things that he does. He does a lot of different things for them, and they use him accordingly like they do with [San Francisco 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice, the fullback, 44, with [San Francisco 49ers RB Christian] McCaffrey, with [San Francisco 49ers WR] Deebo [Samuel], with [San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon] Aiyuk. They use all those guys in different ways. It makes it hard to defend.
We’ve just got to understand when he’s aligned in different spots how they’re using him and what we need to take away.