At Stanford last year, players didn't refer to their defensive coordinator as 'coach Fangio.' They called him 'Lord Fangio,' which conjures up all sorts of images of Vic Fangio walking around with a black cape and helmet as Star Wars "The Imperial March" music plays in the background.
Stanford nose tackle Sione Fua today said there was definitely an intimidation factor at work with Fangio. But he said it wasn't in the Buddy Ryan cuss-you-out mold.
"He's a very stoic guy," Fua said. "He just kind of keeps to himself a little bit. He doesn't say a whole bunch. But I think that silence really scares guys a little bit. You don't know what he's thinking, you don't know what he's going to say to you."
Fua said both Fangio and head coach Jim Harbaugh portrayed a very professional, very serious image, and he said that philosophy was adopted by the players. "Coach Harbaugh always said to the guys you have to be assassins out there, you have to have ice-cold blood in your veins," Fua said. "That's how they coached, and that's why we were successful this past year."
Fua was impressive at last month's Senior Bowl - both on the field and in front of the microphone - and he sounded, smart, thoughtful and sure of himself again today.
After weighing in at 307 pounds last month, Fua was 308 today and acknowledged that NFL teams seemed to want him a little bigger. His size, however, was perfect for Fangio's Stanford defense in which he sometimes played nose tackle in a 3-4, sometimes played defensive tackle in a 4-3, was asked to penetrate on some and held back on others. Fua said he was shooting for 33 or 34 reps of 225 lbs. on the bench press.
The 49ers did not use the franchise tag on starting nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin like they did last year and Franklin's status for 2011 is up in the air. Both Ricky Jean Francois and Isaac Sopoaga have lined up at the position in the pass.
Since the Senior Bowl, Fua has been working out with former 49ers and Raiders center Jeremy Newberry, who is working for the Octagon sports agency. Fua said Newberry has helped him on technique and has been particularly good at pointing out weaknesses he needs to iron out.
"He played in the league for 12 years, and he wants to spread that knowledge that he's gathered," Fua said. "He makes the transition from college to the pro level very smooth."
Fua said he ran into Harbaugh and Fangio in the hall here at Lucas Oil Stadium but has not had a formal interview with the 49ers.
-- Matt Barrows