The San Francisco 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, and head coach Pete Carroll was back for another round of chatting with Bay Area media. You can read the transcript below, and listen to the audio HERE.
There was plenty of coach-speak from Carroll, but he did work in some interesting points. Earlier this year, he spent some time with Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, and he broke down the advice he gave Kerr. Carroll is a Bay Area native, so it is not surprising he is pumped about the Warriors strong start to the season.
Carroll also had some really interesting comments about how the Seahawks got through some of their own struggles earlier this year. It is fairly general stuff, but he talked about teams needing to take a step back to take two steps forward, and sometimes just needing to go through the struggles to come out stronger on the other end.
After that discussion, it transitioned fairly easily later into the Jim Harbaugh rumors and that whole situation. Carroll was effusive in his praise for Harbaugh, and emphasized again that there isn't a big problem between them. At one point he even referred to Harbaugh as a "stud" for what he's done as a head coach.
Finally, he discussed Colin Kaepernick, and did a good job working around his struggles in recent weeks. He was asked about the 49ers struggles, and how the Seahawks performed against them two weeks ago. Carroll said that he could not view them just in that narrow lense given the extensive history between the teams.
On how Seahawks are playing now:
Well, we're playing better than we were earlier. We had some good moments earlier in the year, but the last three weeks have been real solid, so we're happy to try and find some consistency, and see if we can keep it going this week.
On why teams are clicking:
I think the easiest way is we just finally got healthy, it came together real clear, kind of focal point for us, about playing for one another. We've just kind of captured the energy we've been seeking all year long, and now the whole idea is to keep it consistent and keep going.
On spending time with Warriors head coach Steve Kerr during training camp:
Well, we actually had a couple days here and hung out a lot. It was really fun to visit with him, and I had great respect for him as a player. And also, I respected what he was up against, trying to figure out how to be a head coach in short order. We spent a lot of time talking, and answering questions, and just kind of going through what it's like to create your philosophy and kind of find your voice and stuff. We had a ball. He had fun with the players, got involved with some shooting contests, and stuff like that with the guys. We had a really good couple days. I got a chance to visit with him back when we were up there in preseason, too, so it was great to keep the relationship going. What an amazing start they're off to, and he's got to think this coaching stuff is easy. Really fired up for him. He's a fantastic guy and a great competitor. And it's great to see that they're doing well.
On if he's following the Warriors:
On what Carroll wanted to impart to Kerr about how players are feeling:
We talked a lot about just working with people. We got a real simple thought. We're trying to help people be the best they can be. And when you're really committed to that, there's a lot of return that comes out of that. It's a big endeavor. It's not just coaching X's and O's, and getting guys going, it's trying to help people find their way at being the best they can be. And when you do that, we've created an atmosphere and a culture to kind of raise our guys in and support them, that needs a lot of flexibility, and a lot of care and understanding and stuff, as well as the hard work and the push. So we try to mix all of that together. It made sense to Steve on some levels, and I was mostly just supporting him to be himself, find his voice and to be the way he felt strongest and most confident, and that would be his best way. So whatever he's done, it's working out great.
On moment/game when Seahawks figured out what they needed to do as a team:
Well, I think in every season there's an ebb and flow to the focus and attention to the really crucial matters, and it kind of comes and goes. Last year, we got off to a great start, we were 9-1 or whatever, and then we started faltering in the middle there, and we had all kinds of problems. In that, we had to kind of rediscover what kept us connected, what kept us so tuned in and intense like we needed to be. And we were able to find it and so this year was much of the same. It's never just steady all the way throughout. There's ups and downs, and challenges, injuries, and concerns and issues of all sorts. And you have to bounce from those things and make sure you stay true. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take a couple steps forward, and that's just the way it is.
On sensing when this kind of thing is happening
I think everything counts. We have to be great observers, and listeners, and watchers, and communicators, so that we always can stay abreast of what's happening. And sometimes you can't stop it from the way it's going, until you kind of get to a critical juncture. And that's just how it goes. Last year, we were down 21-0 to Tampa Bay at home, and they were 0-8 at the time. And they played like the Green Bay Packers of old, you know, they were killing us. It was a fantastic game for them, and we had to come back from that, and we fortunately did. And we had to regroup after that. This year, we got bounced around some in uncommon fashion. It took us some depths to get to before we could figure out we needed to get back to the right business, and all that. It's not as easy as it sounds. It's like tuning a fine instrument, it's difficult. And so it does take observation, information from the players, a feel, and all kinds of stuff to get it done. And that's why we have a big staff, and all try and take care of our business, and figure it out.
On Colin Kaepernick:
I can't look at him that myopically. I look at him over the course of the years that we've played against him, and all of the things that he does. And as a coach, in our minds we have every play he's ever run against us. Every play that we can recall that he's ever run. We have tremendous respect for his ability, and the system that can utilize all that stuff. And their ability to get the ball to different receivers, and what Vernon can do, and what Crabtree can do, and what Frank Gore can do. It's all part of a big puzzle that we work with, and this is a very, very talented football team that's coming in here. They're extremely talented, because they've got great coaches and all kinds of stuff going for them, and they've proven that over years. The fact that there's a couple games separating us, that's nothing to us. It's about this game, this week, right now. So, I think Colin can tear us up. We've seen him do it in the past, we've seen him do all the things he can do. We have great respect for him.
On win at Levi's Stadium and atmosphere at the stadium:
I think it's different. It doesn't feel the same. You know, Candlestick was Candlestick. I grew up going there. To play games there, there's a lot of history there. I don't know what it is. You guys know there's some soul about that old stadium. It was a mess, but it was a great place, and that's different. But this is an extraordinary venue they're in now, and everybody is finding their way a little bit. Fans and where they're going to park, and how they're going to get there, and how they're going to get fired up, and where they drink and don't drink, and everything else they do. I think everybody is just kind of finding their way, but it's an incredible place. I'm sure it's going to be much better as people get accustomed to it.
On Jim Harbaugh and the rumors:
You know, I've watched Jim for a long time. Even way back, he recruited my son to go down to San Diego. I've known about his coaching for a long time. I've never seen him not be a really good coach. He's a fantastic football coach. I've watched him do all the stuff he did at Stanford to turn that program around, what he's done at the Niners. I know that he's a great football coach.
Not everybody likes everybody or gets along with everybody, they sometimes they don't see the magic that guys have. I think he's a fantastic football coach. He's proven that. There's no question about that.
So, the fact that he's going through all these conversations and stuff, he's a stud. He ain't gonna waver. He's going to keep battling and do what he does. He's a great competitor and always has been. That's why they're so dangerous coming in right now, because of his leadership and the toughness about the way he runs this program. And the fact that all these conversations are going on, that's something I have nothing to do with. But it has nothing to do with the kind of football coach he is and the style of play that they generate and the way they bring it. I have tremendous respect for him. All the other stuff you guys always thought was going on, there ain't much to it. Really, this is two football guys going at it, two guys that love to compete and battle. There's nobody I'd rather play. I love playing against him. That's the way it's been since the beginning.
If he'd be surprised if Harbaugh wasn't coach next year:
I'm not commenting on that. This is football season, you guys talk about that garbage, not me.
On NFC title game and how great it was (Russell Wilson said it was the greatest he'd seen):
Yea, I don't know, there's a lot of great football games. I'm glad Russell feels that. It was an extraordinary football game up here, with our fans, and what was at stake, and accomplishing the Super Bowl, all in one night with that great matchup and the finish, and everything. Terrific teams, terrific players, all the stuff that was going on, it was a really magical night. I think it feels like that up here, I don't know if people around the country feel that way. Russell's entitled to his opinion, and it was an incredible night of football.
On Richard Sherman's tip and if he thought it would have otherwise been a touchdown:
I just watched the play like everybody else. I'm just cheerleading from the sidelines. I had a pretty good view, but knew that the moment that the ball went up and Malcolm was trying to make a grab on the ball, that that was it. That's an extraordinary moment, because it's a turnaround turnover kind of situation, there's the surprise element to it. It just added to a great moment for us up here, and our fans and everybody. We're just grateful that we were on that end of it.