49ers Vs. Cardinals Recap: Defense, Dashon Goldson Ejection, Frank Gore Rule The Day

Photo of the year? I think this describes Sunday's game pretty well. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers improved to 9-1 on Sunday as defeated the Arizona Cardinals 23-7. While the Cardinals really didn't give the 49ers a ton of trouble, San Francisco spent much of the first half simply trying to stop tripping over their own feet. Most notably in the first half, the special teams struggled in kicking field goals. David Akers pulled one kick wide and had two others blocked. Considering the offense was struggling in the red zone, missed field goals were NOT the name of the game.

Thankfully the defense was there to settle things down. The defense almost pitched a shutout, but let up a bit late and gave up an impressive touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. Other than that, the defense put together a fairly ridiculous performance, forcing five turnovers and generally making the Cardinals offense look pretty awful. We'll have a game ball post tomorrow, and it's safe to say most of the defense will get some kind of recognition.

One misstep by the defense saw Dashon Goldson get ejected after taking some swings at Cardinals wide receiver Early Doucet. While Doucet did instigate it, Goldson was the one who got caught by the refs, as is often the case. Andre Johnson got into a similar situation with Cortland Finnegan and neither man was suspended, so hopefully we won't have to deal with a Dashon Goldson suspension this week.

The offense had enormous red zone struggles in the first half, thanks to a combination of both inaccurate passes and problem hands. When a receiver would get wide open, Smith might overthrow them. When Smith would hit them on the money, some kind of drop would happen. That's something the team will simply need to continue working on as they move closer to the playoffs.

But as the team is moving close to a playoff berth, the most important news of the day was the ninth victory. The 49ers secured their first winning season since 2002. What I like about the current situation is how most folks didn't really mention it in the post-game comments. This is a pretty big deal given the last eight seasons of struggling, but it shows how far the 49ers have come, so quickly. It's not about securing a winning record. It's about winning the division, securing a first round bye and taking care of business in January and hopefully February.

The 49ers released their post-game quotes late yesterday and I've posted them after the jump for your work-time enjoyment.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - November 20, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals

What does it feel like to be the first 49ers head coach to lead this team to a winning record since 2002?

"First of all, congratulations to our players on this win. They're the ones who are leading it; I just want to make that perfectly clear. We've had success on the field. We've won games like we did today. It's a great win for us. The players are the ones that are doing it, there's no such thing as a tough coach. We give advice. We stand over on the sideline. We don't block or tackle anybody. These strong men, these guys are the ones who are leading it." 

Going up 23-0, is there any temptation to rest your starters, given the short turnaround you have this week?

"Yes and we did." 

You rested RB Frank Gore but it looks like most of the defensive starters were out there throughout.

"You understand, there's only so many guys that can come out of the game with the roster the way it is. Plus, it was always a three score game. We did the best we could. We were able to rest [WR] Braylon [Edwards, we were able to rest [WR Michael] Crabtree at points and even [RB] Kendall [Hunter]. Those guys stepped up. It started with [WR] Kyle Williams. A tremendous job by Kyle coming off the bench. I thought he made a spectacular catch the first grab he made. He was really good with the ball after the catch. Also, [RB] Anthony Dixon, tip of the cap to AD. Strong running there at the end. That was something really positive that our offense did. Being able to hold the ball, all game, but especially at the end of the game. That was huge. [TE] Justin Peelle, when [FB] Bruce Miller went out, Justin had to step up and play his position and the fullback's position. Really good by those guys coming off the bench and contributing." 

Did Kyle Williams earn more playing time throughout the game just by the way he played?

"Yes. We were targeting him, yeah." 

Did the relative few number of plays your defense had to play, was that the reason that you were able to keep your starters in the whole game?

"It was contested. Our defense played extremely well. We won that game on the strength of a lot of things but none more important than turnovers that we were able to get in the kicking game and with our defense. [S] Donte Whitner interception, [S] Dashon Goldson interception, [LB] Patrick [Willis] caused a fumble and had an interception. Those were big. Then, we got the one in the kicking game. That was big, that contributed to great field position. Our offense, I think we ran in excess of 80-some plays." 

What was the problem in the first half when you settled for trying for a lot of field goals, I think it was six, as opposed to going in for touchdowns?

"We got stopped on the drives. Chose to kick the field goals." 

How high is your team's confidence right now?

"Our guys have always been a confident group. You have to be confident. If you don't have confidence, you don't have a chance of winning these kind of games. I think it's good. There is definitely going to be some areas to improve off of today. It wasn't as clean as it should have been, as you point out. You like to get touchdowns, you'd like to make those field goals and that operation to be flawless. We'll keep chasing perfection in terms of finishing off drives. There was definitely some really good drives by the offense that you don't come away with points and satisfaction on those drives for one reason or another." 

How about QB Alex Smith? There's so much talk about him being this so-called ‘game manager' but obviously he's done a good job of managing your offense.

"That offends my sports sensibility, to call a quarterback a game manager. There's a manager in baseball, but if you're going to make a football analogy, a player to another sport like baseball then the quarterback's  more like the pitcher. That just offends my sports sensibility." 

Given what you said about your defense and your opponent Thursday, do you think we're looking at a really low-scoring game on Thursday? As you approach that, is that what you think we're going to see or what's your take on that?

"I don't have a take on that. From an offense perspective, we'll try to go on to score every time we get the ball in some form or fashion. Defensively, we want three and outs, you want to get the ball on turnovers. So those are the things we'll be shooting for." 

What did you see on the play in which Goldson got ejected?

"I saw Dashon get hit, get punched in the back of the head while he was sitting down and then he got up and retaliated. We talked about it in the locker room after the game and we all saw what happened to Dashon. He's remorseful about it. Talked to the team about it and understands that you can't retaliate." 

Are you noticing that maybe there's a trend developing that you're getting under guys' skins? In the Redskins game, it looks like they got ticked off, too, at you guys? And do you like seeing that?

"Can't comment on what's under other people's skin other than my own." 

Will you contact the league, though, to see if Dashon will be available for Thursday's game?

"I don't think that will be my place to do that. We'll be accountable for our actions and hopefully that will be taken into consideration. I don't know, was it seen on TV the way I saw it? I don't know. Sometimes not everything is seen." 

How do you feel that Alex played today? A little more inaccurate than we've seen him some games here?

"I thought we played well. Made some big time throws again, bought time with his feet. There were things, not going to talk about them here, but we'll talk to our players about that wasn't as on point as we would have liked it to have been. That's the reaction of watching the game. We missed on some assignments and we had some error. Now, we also had multiple position switches during the game. When a starter, like Bruce, goes out, and there's not a backup fullback, don't have one dressed for this game. When you say ‘put in the backups, put in the backups', sometimes at these positions there aren't backups. In the case of Peelle, Peelle had to start playing the fullback position. Some of that was being coached up on the sideline. But anyway, he did an outstanding job. He's not who I'm thinking about right now. We'll attempt to get that corrected and glad we can do it with a win. 

Talking about your offense, in terms of when you spread out like that, the challenges you cause defenses when you've got guys like Kyle and Michael doing what they do, how hard it is to defend?

"I thought Michael Crabtree, first of all, got us really going as an offense. Just his extra effort, third and fourth effort when he got his hands on the ball. That really sparked our unit. Kyle sparked our unit. Yards after catch by our wide receivers was really good today. Got their hands on balls and then made plays. Kyle, that was big. I thought Crab was the guy that really got us going and got those two big drives after halftime when we made some adjustments and came back and got the touchdowns in the second half. That was big in a lot of ways. Our offense was driving the ball and performing well and as you pointed out, sometimes we didn't get the points at the end of those drives. It was big. I thought Crab and a few of the other guys got us going. I thought our line was on point most of the ball game. You don't have the ball for the amount of time we had it in this game without your offensive line playing extremely well. The defense was stifling today and that was the difference in the game." 

You mentioned you were able to get Braylon Edwards some rest today. Is he right physically?

"I don't think he's 100%, but there was improvement this week. Toward the end of the week he was starting to feel pretty darn good. That decision toward the end of the third quarter, was ‘let's keep that progress coming.'" 

Is there any concern, you're in the right formations, receivers are getting open in the routes, and Alex is doing a good job, however, consistently over the weeks, those balls are sailing and they're missing targets. Is there any concern there?

"I wouldn't agree with you on that. I wouldn't agree that balls are consistently sailing. There's times we had guys open and we missed, and there's times when we threw a good ball and we didn't catch it all the way to the ground. Wasn't as clean and as good as we want it to be, but I wouldn't consistently... I don't see that anyway. Maybe we differ on that." 

You talked about, you mentioned to Dashon about temperament on the field, I don't know what you call it. In a game like this where things are getting chippy, how do you approach that with your team while the game is going on to keep things under control? Do you talk to them about that?

"Yeah, it's a delicate balance. There was the whistle and then there was shoving going on after the whistle. From my perspective, maybe I'm seeing this through rose-colored glasses, but I thought our guys kept their composure. I didn't think that once the whistle stopped, that we were the ones that were shoving and getting the extra shove in. It comes to a point where you can't always concede the last shove. Like we're just always going to give you the final shove. You can't do it that way, you can't play it that way. You can't get emotionally hijacked either. We talked about all those things." 

What makes you so selfless? What makes you want to give credit to everyone else and you don't really want to take any of it?

"Like I said, what we do as coaches, give advice. Sound advice, hopefully. These guys are the ones that are out there laying it on the line. It takes a lot of courage to do that. I respect these men that play this game on both sides of the ball. Move on with a humble heart, that's the way we approach it." 

You talked about it takes several hours to enjoy wins...

"We're going to cut that in half this week. Usually six hours, we told the fellas we'll cut that to three. Coaches will be even less. We'll go home and get a bite to eat with the family, maybe two hours. Then go into the building and start working on Baltimore." 

Will you usually on a Sunday night be able to take it off?

"Yeah, usually. Usually I'll take the full six hours after a win, but tonight we'll cut that in a third for the coaches and hopefully the players will cut that in half." 

Will you stay all night there tonight?

"We'll see. We'll see how much work gets done. See how good we feel, how much work we've gotten in by midnight and if it needs to be more and goes past that, I'll stay on my couch at the office." 

Did you watch any of last night or was it so late that you had to worry about this game?

"Yeah, we have meetings on Saturday nights, so us and the fellas were doing that. I was able to catch the very end. Saw that the axe stayed in Palo Alto. So I was happy about that."

 

QB Alex Smith

Press Conference - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals

What was the message in the locker room at halftime?

"I think looking forward, it's cliché, but really coming out and looking to put that first drive together and get back on track, kind of back to basics. I think we all realized, especially on offense, how much we left out there. But we really needed to come out and set the tone with that first drive, or the half, and that was kind of what the focus was on."

You guys got that 13-play I believe it was, so did that just kind of set the momentum for the rest of the game?

"We didn't punt the whole first half, so it wasn't necessarily like it was all bad, we're definitely moving the ball, but yeah in the red zone was just bad, no other way to say it. So, the focus was on that. I thought [WR Michael] Crabtree came out and sparked us. Two great plays with his feet, run after the catch. O-line played great all day. So, I really thought they helped us. Those two things kind of sparked that drive as we moved down the field, and then finally we were able to finish it." 

What does it feel like to lead a team in a winning season?

"It's great. The W is the most important thing and now to have nine wins, yeah it does feel good. So, a little frustrating I think in the passing game with some of the stuff we left out there. But at the same time a little encouraging that we were still able to put the game away and still obviously a lot left ahead of us so." 

Was it easier to cope with the frustration when your defense was pretty much shutting them down?

"Yes and no. At the same point it makes it more frustrating because the way they were playing we really made that game more difficult than it had to be. I think a team like that, if we were able to capitalize on a couple of those drives early with the way our defense was playing, all of a sudden that game gets really lopsided I think because you really make them one dimensional. But because we're kicking all the field goals down there and all of a sudden it's still 6-0, it's still a one-possession game. So, no there's still light at the end of the tunnel for them, there's still hope, they're still only one play away from having the lead. So, for us I think it was almost more frustrating because the way the defense is playing, they're really playing lights out, and we really didn't get it done in the red zone." 

What kind of adjustments at the halftime did you talk about?

"Just making the plays. There were some adjustments to be made, especially in the run game, but really it was just a matter of us connecting, making the plays. Obviously the Crabtree one in the first half, just lay it out there, that throw doesn't have to be pretty, and it's a score. It was a great call, protected well, and Crabtree ran a great route. The one with me and [WR] Braylon [Edwards] not connecting, kind of trying to throw the back shoulder there with the ball down there in the end zone. So, those two plays and then the one in the end the scramble play, kind of a bitter taste there." 

How much did the wet conditions affect you in the first half?

"Not much. Maybe that opening drive a little bit with the ball. But, other than that I thought it was actually really good conditions. All of a sudden when it's like that the ball almost gets a little tacky, so." 

That pass scramble play you're talking about the interception, were you trying to go to Crabtree in the back?

"Yeah, I just scrambled out of there and turned and ran, and I saw Crabtree break. He made a great adjustment, kind of scrambled the rules. And I literally was just trying to put it on him. Wasn't a great throw. I didn't even see the guy underneath, he kind of got walled by [T Joe] Staley and literally jumped out and I almost didn't know what happened. Better throw there though and it's a touchdown." 

Alex, how much have things changed for you and how much is it a luxury for you to have a game that you probably feel is not one of your best games, and then not only win but win going away?

"Yeah, like I said, frustrating but also encouraging. Hit those three field goals in the first half and all of a sudden we put 32 points on a defense that really shut down the Eagles last week. So, like you said, not our best stuff, not my best stuff. So, encouraging but frustrating. But short lived, quick turn-around, we play on Thursday. So, I think we'll have an opportunity because we play these guys in a couple of weeks, so we'll have an opportunity to get back to this tape and learn from it. But, get over this one quick and get ready to go." 

Coach Harbaugh keeps talking about achieving perfection week after week, does the fact that you guys have had your share of struggles in the red zone these past few weeks, does it make it easier to not be complacent and to be hungry week after week?

"Oh yeah, anytime you see it that we're not playing to our full capability and potential, yeah you chase perfection like that. You're never going to be perfect, but it doesn't change your mind set. But it's certainly not like we're making all the plays out there, today was evidence of that. We left a lot out there. But got the win, but yeah definitely areas for improvement." 

You say it's encouraging ‘we' can do better, you never say gosh ‘we're 9-1 I'm happy', and I understand you don't say that because it conveys the wrong message, it conveys a complacent message that you're satisfied with where you are, I'm trying to understand it.

"Yeah, I'm being honest I really think, especially us on the perimeter there, no honest truth, frustrated. I think we all understand what we can be when we're rolling, when we're hitting on all cylinders. And I think the plays that we can make out there, and I think definitely frustrated. I think if you talked to any of those guys outside. Yeah we got the win, but definitely frustrated that we didn't-you don't expect to hit everything, but we missed too many today I guess is what I'm saying." 

Larger picture, the fact that you haven't enjoyed a winning season up until now

"Yeah, it's great. We got the win, no question, it's great. Defense played unbelievable. Offensive line played great. So, and got the win. We're winning season, nine wins. So, building momentum, like I said it's easy to talk about this and to correct your mistakes after a W and continuing to get better and build on it. So, all we talk about all week is just finding a way to win."

 

T Alex Boone

Post-Game Quotes - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals 

You were there with a lot of the young guys who stepped up with TE Justin Peelle and WR Kyle Williams. Can you talk about their contributions?

"I think they did a great job. Especially for Peelle to go to fullback, that's a tough job so I'm very proud of him. K.W., he had a great game today, I thought he had a tremendous game. So we're just lucky to have guys like that on our team and we have the advantage of there not being a lot of drop-off from our starters and our backups. So that's the one thing we can hold our heads high about." 

There were so many different guys catching passes too. The ball was being spread around to so many different guys. Was that just fun?

"Absolutely, and I think it's beneficial because then it makes the whole defense have to cover everybody, instead of just having to cover [TE] Vernon [Davis] or cover [WR Michael] Crabtree. You have to cover the entire offense and this is an offense that we can hit you on one side and then hit you on the other side. We're doing, we're scheming things up and that's what's so fun about this game. You get people who are all of a sudden backing up and they don't know what to do and that's when you just hit a long one on them. It's fun out there, it's like backyard football." 

This has been a winning season, but do you guys feel like there's still more out there?

"Absolutely. Never be complacent. That's the one thing that we all say is, ‘You can never just sit here and say we have a winning season and we can make the playoffs, we can do whatever.' We're going to the top. We're getting better every day. We still need to do a lot of work and we know. We're not sitting here saying, ‘We're doing a hell of a job.' We're saying, ‘Hey, we're not doing that good of a job, we need to get better at this, this and this.' And then we're going to try and go out and do it." 

What are some of the things you guys might need to work on after this game? Obviously, a lot of field goals in that first half:

"I feel like just getting in rhythm with some of the things, just keep going and going and going. Like you said, field goals, we've got to get some field goals going. There are just little things we've got to clean up but when we do it's going to be awesome."

 

WR Michael Crabtree

Post-Game Quotes - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals 

You had a big game for yourself, Michael. Go through what you went through today.

"It's football, you know. Just out there catching whatever comes my way. I'm just trying to take advantage of it." 

For yourself, though, a big game in contributing to the win.

"I'm just doing my part. I'm happy to come out with the ‘W'." 

How frustrating was it in the first half when you guys couldn't get things going?

"It's a 60-minute game. Every game isn't going to go your way. It's how you finish. I felt that we finished up strong and we came out with the win." 

How important is it to get the win going into a short week at Baltimore?

"It's very important. Every game is important. Every win is important. We're just taking it one step at a time. It may sound like a cliché, but that's what we're doing." 

The last two weeks, you guys have come out passing. Are you guys showing people something that they didn't think you could do with the passing game?

"It's just football. Everybody passes. Everybody runs. We're just showing them we can play. We're just going out there playing. Everybody's contributing to the play. The offensive line is blocking. The running backs are blocking and running the ball hard. [QB] Alex [Smith] has been making plays. It's football." 

How did you like playing on that field? It was slick and it was rainy.

"I thought I slipped one time out there, but you have to keep your feet under you. Like I said, that's football. Rain, sleet or snow. It's all going to be fun." 

Do you feel like a veteran now? You've been in the league for all of those games and everything. Do you feel like a vet?

"I'm going on three years. I feel like I've been in the game. I've been in a lot of tough situations. I learned from that."

 

TE Vernon Davis

Press Conference - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals 

Vernon, what's it like to say you are on a winning team? You have been here for a long time and this is your first winning season, really.

"It feels great, it feels great to be on a winning team. Like I said each week, I've never been in this position before, 9-1. It's all the hard work. It's all the hard work me and my teammates put in since we got here, since day one and it's just starting to payoff." 

Has Head Coach Jim Harbaugh ever talked to you about the fact that now this is a winning season? Has he brought that up or has he just sort of slid past it?

"He kind of slides past it. We take each game one game at a time and that's all you can do. Someone asked me not too long ago ‘Vernon, are you thinking about the playoffs?' I said no. You can't think about the playoffs. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We've just got to take our time and focus on the things that are right there in front of us." 

Was coach Harbaugh's message in the locker room different than after other wins given the game that you have coming up. Was there any talk about the Ravens being right around the corner?

"He spoke briefly about the Ravens, not too much. He just said it's going to be a short week. We have to get off our feet, celebrate about two to three hours, get home, and get ready for tomorrow." 

This kind of will be seen as a measuring stick game, you played the Giants recently. What can you prove on national TV against a team that's won a lot of games over the years?

"Are you talking about the Ravens?" 

Yes.

"They're definitely a good team. They have a lot of weapons. A lot of good players on defense and we really have to be on it. We can't take them light and if we do, we're just throwing ourselves off. We have to get off of our feet like coach Harbaugh said, get ready to study the Ravens and take it to them." 

In the locker room after the game, was there anybody ever mentioning nine wins and we're a winning team for the first time in so many years?

"No not really. Like I said, we can only take it one game at a time. We don't talk about the simple fact that we're a winning team now. We kind of just go with the flow and expect the win now that we have been winning. It's a blessing, a blessing, and it feels great to be in this situation." 

There is frequently a lot of talking between the Cardinals and the 49ers before  you play, when you play. Was it more so today even than usual and how much does that motivate your teammates?

"Pardon me, can you repeat that?" 

Was there more of that today than usual and how much does that kind of stuff motivate you and your teammates?

"Talking about the Cardinals?" 

Yeah, just the talking back and forth.

"It was more than usual. I would have to say today, [DT] Darnell Dockett, he was really talking a lot, but we expect that out of him. He is an emotional player, but I think he did a great job today. He really executed and made some plays and went hard. We answered it, we answered it. I give a lot of credit to my offensive linemen. I think they did a great job today blocking, they were physical.  They matched the Arizona Cardinals intensity." 

A couple of moments ago you said ‘we expect to win now'. Before this season, was there some times when you might not necessarily have expected to win?

"There was a little doubt because we were losing. We were losing two, three years in a row. We always had a lot of confidence. We had a lot of confidence. That's something we have always had around here. Each week is different and when you are losing it's kind of hard. It's hard because you are down and you're trying to find an answer. You're scraping and just trying to find an answer. Why, why us, why are we losing? Why can't we win? We have the players, we have the talent, but we just can't put it together. Now this year, we're starting to put it together." 

It must feel a lot better this year when you can put it together as opposed to, you said doubt, doubt must not feel very good.

"Doubt doesn't feel good. Like I said, we got a lot of confidence around here. We got a lot of play-makers, we got a lot of plays on defense and offense that can get the job done. We have a great coaching staff in Harbaugh and all the guys he brought in. Now we're just putting all those things together, the confidence, the doubt, we washed it away. The coaches are always on us about the little things. That's one thing that I can say about this year that these coaches on the little things all the time. That can be the difference. It makes a big difference in my eyes, I believe." 

What are some little things? What's an example of a little thing?

"A little thing could be me getting the correct depth on my route that's 12 yards. Don't get 11, get 12. Don't get 14, get 12, those type of things. Catching the ball with your eyes, whether it's [T] Anthony Davis getting his second step down right after his first step. Those little things right there can make a difference, a big difference." 

Had you not been really focused on the little things? Not you yourself, but the coaches not really focusing on the little things in prior years?

"One thing that I found out is that you can focus on the little things as much as you can. Year after year after year, but you revert back to your bad habits. You always revert back. That's what the coaches are there for: to get on you. Sometimes you get coaches that don't really talk about the little things. You might be doing so well that they don't mention the little things to you." 

Your touchdown catch, did you feel that that was finally the nail on the coffin for you guys? That it gave you the breathing room you needed?

"It did, it did. That touchdown catch that I had, it gave us some air to breathe. It really helped us out. Whether it was me, [WR Michael] Crabtree, [TE] Delanie Walker, whoever it was, I would have been excited. I just wanted to take it to them. We needed this. I think we deserved it. We went out and played a hard game, we played tough, we were strong and we stood up to the Arizona Cardinals. It was rough in the beginning, but it's not how you start, it's how you finish." 

Your touchdown catch set the team record for tight end touchdown catches, passing Brent Jones. Does that mean anything to you? Will you say anything to Brent next time you see him?

"It means a lot to me. I was just aware of that today. It means a lot, it definitely does. Anytime you can make history is a good feeling. It's a great feeling. The win meant more to me today. I'm more excited about the win than anything. I can celebrate the touchdown catch later. It's all about winning right now and that's what I'm most excited about." 

With the expectation to win, has that increased you guys' big picture goals? Are you talking NFC Championship and things like that?

"No, we're not talking championship right now at the moment. We can't. I don't think that's something we should be focused on right now. Keep it in the back of our mind, each and every guy individually, yeah, but as a team, I don't think we should come together and start talking about a championship. We should talk about the next game which is the Ravens. That's what we need to talk about. That's something we need to discuss. Me and Delanie should talk about the DBs and what they're looking like. That's more important."

 

RB Frank Gore

Post-Game Quotes - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals 

How does it feel to have a winning record?

"It feels great. It's my s year and so far it's my best year having fun and winning. On our situation, the goal we always wanted to reach was to get into the playoffs. It feels great." 

With the knee injury, you couldn't even tell out there and it seemed like you were running as hard as you have all year.

"I was fine once I got out there. My trainers did a great job all week making my mind and my head get right. Once I got out there I came out to play football. It was tough on the ground, but I like games like that. That shows how tough our offensive line is and how tough our offense is." 

How do you think the line played today?

"They played great. We love that type of game." 

TE Justin Peelle and T Alex Boone both stepped up big today.

"We have great depth. We are doing a great job studying, everybody in a different position. Peelle did a great job when he came in."

 

LB Aldon Smith

Post-Game Quotes - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals

What's it been like playing as a young guy playing with those veterans? Day-in-and-day-out, you work hard and make plays on Sundays. How does it help you?

"It helps me out tremendously. It helped me be a pro a lot faster. I've learned from guys like [LB] Pat [Willis], [DT] Justin [Smith] and everybody else on the defense." 

In the second half, they had the back-up quarterback in [Richard Bartel] and you know they're going to pass. How much fun did you have pass rushing those guys?

"We had a lot of fun. We were trying to get back there and rattle the quarterback a little bit. We were just out there trying to make some plays." 

As a defense, how much do you want to win this "Harbaugh" game coming up? Your coach is facing his brother.

"It's the next game up. It's the next game we have to win."

 

T Joe Staley

Post-Game Quotes - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals 

Is it a big step for this team to get over that hump and get the ninth win of the season?

"No, it's a completely new team; new coaching staff, new players. Some of the guys that have been here for a while, this is the most we've won since we've been here. But it's a completely new season, new attitude, new confidence. We have to definitely keep improving. We saw a lot of mistakes made today and we were fortunate to come out with the victory. Our defense played lights out, offense we have to really tighten down and do some better things." 

A lot of young guys stepped up and played today. Can you talk about their contributions?

"It was huge for them to come in. Unfortunately [FB] Bruce [Miller] went down injured today but [TE] Justin [Peelle] didn't miss a step. He came in there and played fullback for us. It just talks about the kind of preparation every guy takes in this locker room. You never know what position you're going to play. [T Alex] Boone always being ready; [T Anthony Davis] A.D. unfortunately went down with an injury and Boone steps in there and does a real nice job for us. It was awesome seeing [WR Kyle Williams] K.W. coming in there and scoring that touchdown, making a lot of key, third-down plays for us and it's good to see the depth we have in this football team going forward. It's going to serve us real well going forward in this season and getting into December." 

S Donte Whitner

Post-Game Quotes - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals 

On the run back, did you think [regarding his interception at 6:23 of the third quarter].

"I was tired, actually. I was trying to pitch it to [CB] Carlos [Rogers], but I looked at Carlos and he was trying to run ahead of me and get a block. So I went ahead, got a couple more yards and got out of bounds. It's all fun. If I could've pitched it and let him run it in, I could've done it. He was looking. Other than that, we were going to get out of bounds and let the offense go in and score a touchdown." 

It seems as though this team has a certain standard. You just don't go below that standard.

"We have a standard. In training camp, Coach [Jim] Harbaugh spoke of excellence and outworking our opponent. We take pride in outworking people. Even today, we got sloppy in the second half. On defense, we felt like we shouldn't have given up any points or any big plays. We gave them too many big plays. It's things we have to fix. When you play against the really good teams, you can't make those mistakes because it will cost you the football game. We're happy about the win, but our long-term goal is to compete for a championship and championship teams don't give up those types of plays."

 

WR Kyle Williams

Post-Game Quotes - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals

You had some opportunities today; do you think you made the most of them?

"Yeah, I think so. We stress it so much in our locker room, we have so many guys that can make plays when their number is called so, whoever's turn it is can get up and make the play. I'm happy to know it was me today that got my number called. Maybe it'll be somebody else next week but we just have so many weapons that it's hard to contain all of us." 

Can you talk about that touchdown catch, your second of the season?

"We got the right look we wanted and, again, [QB] Alex [Smith] trusted in me and put it up there for me and the rest is what it is. You just have to make a play when your number is called when they put you in that position. So I'm happy I made it." 

Can you talk about the job Alex did today? Again, just another strong performance from him:

"He's our bus driver and we go as Alex goes. He's been taking care of business out there. He gets us in the right situation all the time and he's making all kinds of great throws. Kudos to Alex because he's balling right now, he's taking care of business." 

LB Patrick Willis

Press Conference - November 20, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals 

How does it feel to be on a winning team?

"It feels great. For the first time in five years to have a winning record, it feels unbelievable." 

Is that something you guys talked about going into the season knowing that that streak had been going since 2002?

"No, not really. We just talked about this being a new season and what's ahead of us and having no excuses about the lockout, or new coaching staff, or anything. We talked about just going out there and playing football and not worrying about any of that." 

Are you surprised when the team scores on you?

"I am a little bit, because it's something that, as the defense, you never want a team to score. You never want them to get any points. Anytime someone scores, you don't like it, but it's part of the game. Things are going to happen and you just have to dust it off and go again." 

You're interception, when [CB] Tarell [Brown] deflected it in your hands, did you see that coming the whole way?

"I saw the quarterback looking and Tarell made a good tip on it and it was a good break. It just happened to fall in there and I'll take it." 

Did you guys have a really good sense of what they were doing on offense going into the game?

"It was really about going out there and executing on defense. [Defensive coordinator] coach [Vic] Fangio makes great defensive calls. When he calls them, we have to execute them. I think we've done a pretty good job of that." 

On your interception, it looked like you sniffed that out. Is that something you studied on film?

"It was just one of those kind of routes. After you play for a while, you just see things happen and that's one of the ones I saw and knew exactly where to drive to." 

What's behind all of the turnovers you guys are forcing this season?

"We know that any time you can get turnovers and get it back to the offense, it makes your chances of scoring and winning even higher. We also know that anytime we can be great in the turnover margin by getting the ball that a lot of times it leads to something great and so far we've been doing that." 

Did you think that the [WR Early] Doucet and [S Dashon] Goldson altercation was going to escalate into something more?

"No. When we're out there on the field, we're out there for one another and it's unfortunate what happened - Dashon getting thrown out of the game. When you're out there you know it's hot and things happen. I hate that it had to happen to us, because Dashon is a very valuable player to us." 

What did you think of the call on the altercation?

"The refs called what they called and at the end of the day, my job is it to go out there and play football. I never have the intention of hurting anyone, I jut want to play football. They made the call and that's what it was." 

So you didn't like the call?

"You never like the call when you get a flag, but it happens." 

It seems like you it's something you keep seeing late in games, like in the Washington game.

"Sometimes things escalate, especially when you're doing so well and you've found ways to get in the other team's head. We have to be smart about what's going on and know the scenarios and be smart." 

Are you looking forward to the Ravens game on Thursday?

"I am. Ray Lewis is a guy that I've watched play and looked up to for a long time. There's only been one other time that I've gotten to play on the same field as him - when they came here about three or four years ago. I would love for him to be out there next Thursday. If he is, he is. If not, football goes on." 

Is it a big deal for you guys to win one for coach against his brother?

"It's a big game because it's our next game, but there's a little bit more to it because they are brothers and we'd love nothing more than to go out there and play great football to get a win for this organization, for this team, and for our head coach."

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