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49ers 27 - Redskins 24: Postgame Notes and Quotes

Obviously things are hopping with the new Mike Singletary contract.  Normally these post-game quotes are about the game that just ended and what went well and poorly.  There was some discussion of today's game, but it was more about the promotion of Singletary and the future of the team.  First a few quick facts from the game and season:

  • RB Frank Gore gained 58 yards to finish the year with 1,036 yards rushing and become the first 49ers player ever to have three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He had a team-record 1,695 yards rushing in 2006 followed by 1,102 yards in 2007.
  • P Andy Lee finished the season with a 47.8-yard average to set a 49ers record. The old record was set by Lee last year when he finished with a 47.3-yard average.
  • QB Shaun Hill improved to a 7-3 as a starter, including a 5-0 record at Candlestick Park.
  • LB Patrick Willis finished the season with 182 total tackles.
  • TE Billy Bajema had a career high 29-yard reception in the first quarter, besting a 24-yard reception he had at Washington (10-23-05).
  • WR Isaac Bruce finished the season with 835 yards receiving, the most by a 49ers since WR Terrell Owens had 1,102 yards receiving in 2003.
  • The 49ers offense scored 27 points against the fourth-ranked Washington defense, which was giving up 17.9 points per game.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the length of Mike Singletary's Q&A I just decided to move all the quotes to after the jump. So, after the jump, we'll hear from Coach Singletary, and briefly Nate Clements, Frank Gore, Shaun Hill, Joe Nedney and Patrick Willis.

49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary
Opening Statement:
“First of all, I want to thank God for the opportunity to stand before you. I want to thank my family, my wife Kim, all of my kids. I guess, for me, the best thing that I can say is it’s really interesting when you’re in a situation where you’re surrounded by a lot of guys who want to win, coaches that want to win. There’s a lot of pride, and you have ownership who wants to win. And I find myself in the middle of something feeling very, very fortunate to be surrounded by all of the good people around me. Now it’s just a matter of continuing to hype it up, continuing to move forward and keep our eyes on the vision that we have set going forward. I am very excited, very thankful, very humbled to be the head coach of the 49ers, very thankful for that. And as Jed [York] said earlier, this is something that I told our players the other day, ‘Why did I give you Christmas day off? Because you won’t have it for a while. Enjoy it. Enjoy it.’ And so, are there any questions?”

RE: Can you specify the length of the contract?
“Four years.”

RE: What do you hope to accomplish in four years? What’s your vision for this team in four years?
“Right now, I just want to talk about one year. I just want to talk about this offseason. I just want to take it one step at a time. The most important thing for us as an organization is to make sure that everybody is on the same page. That’s number one. That we’re all talking about the same thing. We’re all working towards the same goal. Once we do that, I know what that is. That is taking it to the next level. That is playing today and getting prepared to play next week, the week after that. That is the only thing that’s on my mind. Doing everything that we can this offseason to take us to that next level and then anything’s possible from there.”

RE: The team has suffered over the last few years from a lack of continuity on offense. There’s a lot of talk over whether Mike Martz is going to be back or not. Can you address what your plans are for the offense?
“Right now, Scot and I are going to sit down and look at our offense as a whole, and make the best decisions for our team going forward. And what that is, you’ll know soon.”

RE: Does that mean that Mike Martz…
“I do not know. Right now, we’re just going to talk about it.”

RE: Are you saying that you don’t know about him one way or another yet?
“No. I’m saying not 100%.”

RE: Will you reevaluate all coaching positions?
“Some positions I don’t have to evaluate. But there are some that we have to take a look at. But all of those things, we’ll answer as we go down the road. We just wanted to get through this game and now we take a step back, and Scot and I are going to look at it and we’ll go from there.”

RE: Will you have autonomy to put together your own coaching staff?
“Yes, I will.”

RE: When did you find out you were…when did you get the contract: before the game, during the week? When did you know you were head coach?
“We talked about it. My agent was in charge of it. Just conversation going forward for me was just, ‘Go ahead and do whatever you do and let me focus on the game, and we’ll go from there.’”

RE: Would you have gotten this contract win or lose?
Scot McCloughan: “Yes.”

RE: Yes? He just said ‘yes’.
Scot McCloughan: “It didn’t matter. It’s the body of work he’s done, not one game.”

RE: Can you talk about what you’ve learned in the past nine weeks about what it takes to succeed?
“I think someone asked me earlier today what I have learned in the nine weeks and really, in all honesty, the first thing that I’ve learned is when you surround yourself with good players, you become a better coach. You become a better coach. That’s number one. Number two is the quicker you can get everybody on the same page, you can move. It may not be as fast as you want it to be, but the quicker you get everybody on the same page the better chance you have of getting the goal. The other thing is, it’s just a matter of how important it is. All of the things that I thought about leadership. All of the things that I thought about being a head coach. It’s so important that you have everything come together and work as one. So that’s what I’ve learned. And going forward we just have to continue to keep our eyes on the vision and go from there.”

RE: You finished the season winning five of the last seven games. What kind of team is that compared to…?
“In all honesty, I really don’t want to talk about the first half of the season. I just want to talk about right now. I just want to talk about moving forward. And I think the biggest thing is those guys in there are excited. They’re excited to play and every time they go out they play to win. And that’s the thing that we want to focus on. Whatever it takes, whatever we have to do, we have to do together and we have to work our tails off going forward to make that happen.”

RE: You mention getting everyone on the same page. What’s the first paragraph on that page?
“The first paragraph on that page is: what do we do to have this team be in the playoffs? Once we’re in the playoffs, anything is possible. That’s the first paragraph. Somewhere in there.”

RE: Will Shaun Hill be the quarterback going into training camp?
“Don’t know that yet.”

RE: Can you talk a little bit about today’s game? Because it sort of seemed typical of the way you guys have played. Emotionally, it ran the gamut.
“I’d like to try to be philosophical about it, but I’m not. We just were not playing very well. It’s as simple as that. We go down the field, we score. We come back. We have the opportunity to go up 10-0, we don’t. We miss that opportunity. They take it down the field – it’s just a…We talked about what good teams do, and for us, we wanted to answer that question today. And I’m just very thankful that we were able to come back and fight out way back into it and win. Good teams don’t miss opportunities to score, and that’s something we missed early, but we were able to come back. Good teams do find a way to come back. We did that.”

RE: This is something you really wanted. If you guys were not able to win this game, would this feel hollow?
“I don’t know. I can’t – it really would have depended on how the game went, how we lost the game, how did we lose it. But, you know what? I really want to talk about what did happen instead of what didn’t happen, what could have happened. I don’t want to deal with those things. I want to deal with what actually happened. Today, what happened is we went out, and we did not play very well at the beginning. We found a way coming in – going back out after halftime. We found a way and really got our eyes back on what it is that we wanted to do, the question we wanted to answer. And, the guys went out and made plays, played better in the second half and made it happen.”

RE: Can you talk about the type of reaction you got from your team when they found out?
“I think all of the guys that were happy today, they’re going to regret it [laughter.] Very soon. I love those guys. I really do and I know that they know that, and it’s just a matter of us coming together and working. But, they know what the prerequisites are that we talked about. It’s work. And we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

RE: Was there one moment where you realized you had gotten through to the players?
“It was the day after the first game. The day after the game against Seattle, when the very next day, I had players, I had coaches call me and say: ‘You know what? What you did today, what you did yesterday, that’s going to take us somewhere. That’s really going to take us somewhere.’ That’s when I knew. I thank you very much. God bless you all…”

RE: Coach, was it the second game?

RE: The first one?
“No. Yes. Second.”

CB Nate Clements
RE: What do you think about your performance in the last game of the season?
“I’m just proud because collectively as a group we got it done. We got the victory, ending the season on a good note. There’s always some things that I could have done better, as far as putting myself into better positions to make a play. But, I’m just glad we got the victory.”

RE: There seemed to be a little jawing going on between you and Antwaan Randle El. Was that just in good fun?
“Yeah, it was clean fun. He was complaining about me holding and I was telling him he was holding me when he was blocking. I told him not to really complain about it. He was good with it.”

RE: Does this win mean next season starts on a good note?
“Definitely. We’re going into the season with a good taste, a good feeling in our mouths. This is just the beginning of a good start.”

RB Frank Gore

RE: How does it feel to be the only 49ers running back to gain 1,000 yards in three straight seasons?
“I’m happy. Everyone wanted me to do it today. My O-Line, they wanted it. All of my teammates wanted it. It’s special to be the first running back in this team’s history to do it, especially with all of the great players that have been here. I’m very happy. I have to thank God. I haven’t really been healthy the last few games, but I’m happy He gave me the opportunity to do it today, and to do it in front of my boy (Redskins RB Clinton) Portis. I have a record in this great franchise’s history, and that’s a great thing.”

RE: What was the emotion in the locker room, with Mike Singletary being named the head coach?
“I’m happy that we can go in knowing what we’re going to get from him, just from playing with him these last eight [Note: Nine] games, knowing that when it’s time to go, we can be real. It’s a great feeling.”

QB Shaun Hill

RE: How did you feel winning your second consecutive come-from-behind game?
“The most important thing is that we got the win. I don’t pay much attention to them being come-from-behind or not. I just know that at the end of the game when that clock hits 0:00, all I care about is that we are winning.”

RE: On the game-winning drive was there any doubt in your mind that you were not going to score?
“There was no doubt at all. I don’t think any of us had any doubt. We practice that all the time. We feel we are a good offense and that is what good offenses do.”

RE: On the second to last drive of the game, how did you feel coming out passing rather than running the ball to wind down the clock?
“I just thank Coach Martz for having the confidence in me. There were a couple of times today where I missed a couple of throws, but he had the confidence in me to go out and throw the ball being up by four points.”

RE: How great is it to now know for certain that Coach Singletary is the 49ers head coach?
“It is great. Everybody is excited about that. We feel like we are really close. We are very happy about it.”

K Joe Nedney

RE: What was going through your mind as you line up the field goal in the final seconds?
“I’ve been growing this moustache for six weeks, and there was no way I was spoiling all this growth by missing that kick. We had to make that ball. This was destiny. We had to make that kick.”

RE: As the clock was winding down and the score was tied, was there any thought about overtime?
“Oh no, no. There was no overtime. I really thought we were going to get the ball down the field and score. As soon as they were inside the 10 yard line threatening to tie it up, I was already thinking about a game-winning field goal. That’s kind of my job. I’ve got to be able to project myself in these situations so that when they actually do happen, I’m prepared for them. It’s one of the things that we do. About one possession away, we start thinking ahead to what we potentially could be doing, and it makes it that much more comfortable when you get into that situation. So, we were prepared.”

LB Patrick Willis

RE: How do you feel about your position coach being hired as the head coach?
“It’s a blessing. Coach [Mike] Singletary, it’s not just because he’s a linebacker or because he coached me, but I think they’ve got the right man for the job. Just his aspiration fort the game. What he brings to it. Just the whole meaning – I’m just glad he got the job. He deserved it. He earned it.”