The Vikings and the Bears square off tonight in could turn out to be a decent game. The Vikings clinched their division, but need to win to stay a game back of the Saints for best record in the conference. Additionally, the Vikings are only a game ahead of the Eagles, so they need a win to maintain their chances of a first round bye. The Bears don't have much of anything to play for besides pride. However, divisional games often bring out the best in teams (unless you're the Redskins), so I'd like to think the Bears will give the Vikings at least a little bit of a fight.
I've attached the transcript from Coach Singletary's press conference after the jump. Feel free to use this thread to discuss Singletary's press conference, the game, or really whatever you want if you feel like hijacking the thread I suppose.
Head Coach Mike Singletary
Press Conference - December 28, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
"As far as the game yesterday, I'll go over some of the injuries. The main ones, [RG] Chilo [Rachal] will have an MRI on the knee and we'll see how that is after that. [LT Joe] Staley is day-to-day. [RB Glen] Coffee is questionable. We'll have to test him a little bit today and see how that is throughout the week and we'll go from there. [CB] Shawntae Spencer had a wrist sprain. That should be fine. Other than that, I think we're OK. Questions about the game?"
On the offense not taking advantage of the six turnovers the defense got:
"I sort it out like this: I think the most important thing for us to do going into the game is to win the game. That was the thought process going into it. [Offensive coordinator] Jimmy Raye and I talked about it earlier in the week. We talked about really simplifying it a bit, kind of going back to the 21 personnel, the two backs where you have the fullback and a tight end and let [RB] Frank [Gore] run a bit. Let's let him run a little bit more."
On why Gore only had seven rushes in the first half:
"I think the thing that we wanted to do was, you could see we started to run and it was just inconsistent, back and forth. And, because they began to put a little more people in the box, we felt we needed to pass some more to open it up. You're playing that cat and mouse game again. If they felt that that was going to be our game plan going into it, we had a few audibles in the game. Let's say for instance, I think it was maybe the first play of the game that was an audible where the guy just came off the end and we turned up and were going to throw the ball. [QB] Alex [Smith] was going to throw the ball out and the end sacked him there, or hit him. You know what I'm talking about?"
On whether RT Adam Snyder thought that was a run play:
"Well, it was a run play. It was a run play, but it was up to Alex to go ahead -- if he felt he could get the ball out - to just go ahead and just raise up and get it out. It was just one of those kind of, if they have eight people in the box, or seven-and-a-half, then go ahead and throw it out. And, if not, then run it. So, we had a few of those going into the game, out of 21 personnel. So, when they put more people into the box, then we opted to audible and throw out of it, rather than run it."
On whether scoring three points off of six turnovers is unacceptable:
"No, it's not acceptable. It's never acceptable. I don't think it's acceptable to Jimmy. I don't think it's acceptable to our offense or anyone on our offense. Our offense is continuing to - it's evolving. It has got to get to a point, and going into this last game, hopefully we can put it all together and have, across the board, a great game. But, certainly this offseason will be the first time ever that anybody on offense has a coordinator, or has a consistency going into the offseason. And hopefully, next year it will be a lot better. But right now, that's where it's at."
On his assessment of the offensive line 15 games through the season:
"I think our offensive line is about - coming into this season, trying to figure out exactly how we were going to put it together and still not having the tackle that we hoped to get last offseason. It didn't happen. So, we went into the season trying to make it work. I guess after a while, we ended up being fortunate enough to get [RT Tony] Pashos to come in. So, we had two guys that were the tackles and the offensive line was adjusting. And then, both our guys get hurt on the outside. So, given that, I think when I look at our offensive line, I think they've really worked through some things and the inconsistency. Most of the time around the league, you're going to have an offensive line that has got at least two years together, three years together, and that would be a pretty decent offensive line. These guys have just kind of come together. I think that it's one of those things that our offense right now is obviously not where we want to be. We're continuing to work. There are a lot of different things that we've tried and done, and it just continues to evolve. We want to get a good plan going into the St. Louis game and come out of there with some more answers than questions. But, I think our offensive line overall has held their own. I think they've done a decent job. I think having [QB] Alex [Smith] has certainly, I think, been good for them. Alex has done a good job of getting the ball out. Alex has done a good job of really trying to understand the protections and be in the right place. But, it has definitely been a challenge. It has been a challenge for [offensive coordinator] Jimmy [Raye]. It has been a challenge for the offensive line. It's certainly been a challenge, but at the same time, I think all of these challenges, all of these changes and differences and what have you, this year will certainly go a long way into next year's offense and the strategy and everything. I think there are a lot of answers that we'll have going into the offseason when we're done, having a better idea of what we need, what offense works better, what personnel - the whole nine yards. I think we'll have a lot more answers than questions when it's all said and done."
On whether he's getting those answers now:
"I'm getting more and more answers every day, more and more answers than questions every day. I think going forward, the offensive line is what it is. The guys have battled through a lot of different things, injuries and everything else. They've really fought through and have done a pretty decent job managing that. But for the most part, each and every week, each and every day, we're finding out things that we need to know about our offense."
On whether it's his preference to have WR Josh Morgan focus solely on offense instead of also handling kickoff return:
"If he has to do special teams, he'll do special teams. But, it's something that has been - I'm very thankful that he's been able to do that. Obviously, going into the offseason, that's a priority for us, just to try and find a return guy. I agree with [offensive coordinator] Jimmy [Raye], in terms of having your starting wide receiver be your kickoff guy, I just don't excited about that. No more than [CB] Nate [Clements] returning punts in the Indianapolis game, your starting corner. No, I don't get excited about that. But, sometimes guys have to step up and do that. That is a priority for us this offseason."
On the number of balls batted down at the line of scrimmage:
"I think it's more the defensive side of the ball than anything else. If guys get a good push, or they don't have to get a good push, or if they're just standing at the line of scrimmage and they're getting in those lanes, some teams have a better knack for it than others. Some teams work at it a little bit more than others. If a team really works at it and concentrates at it, a lot of teams don't do it because they're busy trying to get to the quarterback. Other teams, maybe the coordinator feels, that ‘We're not doing a good job getting to the quarterback, so we better do a good job of getting our hands up. Maybe we'll get some balls batted down.' I think it's kind of an either or situation because if you've got your hands up, you're not going to the quarterback. So, I think that's something that the coordinators have to figure out. Certainly, yesterday, there were a few of those things. I think, particularly when you're trying to throw down the middle, that's particularly tough. On the outside, normally the guys are cutting the guys down. So, that certainly helps that situation."
On the offensive line's pass protection on deep throws:
"I think at times it has been better than others, but I don't think it prohibited anything. I just think you get to a point knowing that you want to get the ball out as fast as you can. But I think if you look around the league at teams that are throwing the ball downfield, it has more to do with the quarterback getting the ball out. It has a lot more to do with the quarterback really being in sync with the offensive line and the protection and the whole nine yards, knowing where their most dangerous guy is and stepping a couple of steps to the right or left."
On whether he talked to Smith about why he threw the touchdown pass to Davis:
"No, I have not."
On Smith deciding to pass to Davis instead of running it in himself:
"There are many different ways you can look at it. You can say the quarterback is really unselfish. You can say the quarterback just wanted to throw the ball to the tight end. The quarterback just wanted to make sure he is not looked upon as a runner. I don't know, but I am just thankful it ended up being something good. It wasn't overturned and hopefully we learn from it and we'll go from there."
On the positives he takes from the way the team won:
"It wasn't a masterpiece offensively, but I think we made the plays that we needed to make. I think there were a couple of times that we did execute very well, so I wouldn't say it was a complete, ‘Man it was atrocious.' I wouldn't say that. I would just say it wasn't our best performance, I will put it that way. I know we will get better, hopefully in our last game. We will have a great practice this week and execute well and carry that out in the game this week."
On why the team forces so many turnovers:
"I think a few things have happened, I think some guys have really begun to mature. If you look at [S] Dashon Goldson, I think Dashon has really gained more confidence and has got more comfortable back there. He is really doing a good job of reading the quarterback better and anticipating better. I think when Dashon was back there earlier in the year, he was maybe looking more at the receiver and not seeing the quarterback as much and trying to make sure he was in the right place. And then you look at [LB] Ahmad [Brooks] and I think Ahmad has really, the second half of the season, really stepped up a little bit, and earlier in the year, he was banged up a little more and still trying to figure out certain things that he needed to do in order to be a better football player. Ahmad just has a knack for getting a good takeoff and trying to make things happen as he gets to the quarterback. I think the maturity of those two guys, and I think when you begin to get turnovers, it can become infectious in other guys. ‘Hey, I want to get one too.' When you have a guy getting to the quarterback and knocking the ball out, all of a sudden [LB] Manny Lawson, he gets excited and [LB] Parys [Haralson] gets excited. They want to get there too. It is amazing how competitive guys are. It is just one of those things that we emphasize and talked about it and it happens in practice. And if it happens there is a pretty good chance it will happen in the game."
On whether he believes the turnovers will carry over to next season:
"Right now, I certainly hope so. But I think the biggest thing for us is just to continue to get better in every phase of the game. I don't want our guys focusing so much on turnovers, even though you want them. I really want them to focus on doing their jobs. If they do their jobs and do all of the little things that are involved in that, then I think turnovers will come."
On whether any linebacker in the NFL has the same range as Patrick Willis:
"No, I can say that plain and simple. No. But I am still saying this, Pat has a ways to go before he gets all of it. This guy, I don't know how good he can be. But I know he's not there yet. He knows it as well. There is so much more that he can do better, and I don't say that being negative towards him. I say that in God's gift to him in terms of what He has gifted him with is tremendous. It is amazing to me that a guy could have that much ability as a linebacker. This offseason, I am really excited about some of the things and some of the goals he has this offseason of trying to take that next step. I am excited to see where it goes, but he is exceptional."
On the effects of winning another road that could carry over to next year:
"Well, I would like to end that way because we started that way. We were on the road against Arizona to start the season and we are on the road again and it would be a great way to close it out. We just have to be focused this week and I want to make sure that guys understand. I heard how easily you said 8-8, we have to go earn 8-8. St. Louis has not done well this year, but I will tell you what, I know what I am going to see when I look at the film. I am going to see the same thing that I saw when I looked at Detroit. They are a team that unfortunately, when bad things happen, it just goes bad. We are a team that has had to work through that, had to work at overcoming things when they got bad to make sure that when we are down that we are not going to be out as well. That is something we have had to work through this year, and I just want to make sure our guys understand how important this game is and how important it is that we close out the season not just winning the game, but getting better and going into the offseason on a positive note and realizing all of the work that we have to do. We have a lot of work to do this offseason in a lot of different areas. We will talk about that when it gets here, but for right now we really have to focus on this week and not be distracted by all the other stuff."
On whether K Joe Nedney or CB Nate Clements will play against St. Louis:
"No sir. We won't have either one of those guys up."
On his plan if G Chilo Rachal cannot play:
"Someone else will go. I'm not sure yet, but someone else will go. I don't know yet, but someone else will go."
On why Brooks is not a starter:
"I think it is just one of those things where I think he is having success because we haven't just thrown him in there and said, ‘Okay go get this. Go take this.' I think this offseason he will begin to really have the full grasp of everything that he needs to do to become a starter and then compete with Manny and Parys to see how it works out. But he is certainly a talented guy. We will see if he is ready to take the next step this offseason."
On whether there will be a three-way competition at outside linebacker next year:
"It is possible."