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49ers-Chargers transcripts: Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore among those speaking

The San Francisco 49ers lost an ugly one to the San Diego Chargers on Saturday, blowing a 21-point lead en route to a 38-35 overtime loss. We've got all the post-game transcripts.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

What do you think cost you this game?

"As a team, we didn't finish it. Up 28-7 at one point, but guys were fighting. San Diego did a heck of a job. Tremendous comeback."

All the new players you had to rely on, how do you address this with the team? What do you tell them afterwards?

"Right now, not much to say, other than keep fighting. Get our last regular season win. That'll be the goal. But that's a tough one. Everybody feels it."

It seemed like you guys had some trouble covering San Diego TE Antonio Gates, especially in the second half. Would you chalk at least some of that up to the way you had to mix and match on defense with some of the injuries?

"Yeah, that plays into it. The guys were battling and they were changing position and doing the best they could. Did a lot of good things defensively."

Offensively, you guys have had trouble scoring in the fourth quarter all season. Did you feel that this was going to happen again today? What were you trying to do to prevent this?

"Trying to get drives. We struggled on third down. We weren't able to finish and continue drives."

You didn't know what RB Frank Gore was going to be like after the concussion. What did you see from him today? Did it seem like he had a little extra zip in his legs early on at least?

"Definitely. Thought we did a good job. Frank was energized. He was playing very well. Our offensive line was doing an extremely good job. We rushed the ball very well. Weren't able to finish."

Was T Anthony Davis out there the biggest difference on the line or were there other factors that made it so much better for Frank Gore running?

"Our guys were fighting, playing to win and that's their character. That's who they are."

Did you hear anything back on LB Aldon Smith? Did he sustain a concussion? He went back in?

"He went back into the game. He was checked on the sideline."

Do you have any other injury updates? There were a lot of guys going down on both sides in that game.

"Yeah, [S] Eric Reid also had a concussion."

There was a play in the fourth quarter, late in the fourth quarter, third-down play, where the quarterback sweep and QB Colin Kaepernick ran out of bounds. And that's something that he's done before. How big of a priority does that have to be to know game situation and to just stay in bounds at that point and keep that clock running?

"We were trying to pick up the first down. That was the intent of the play."

Any of the guys that were upgraded from the practice squad, were you liking their performances?

"There's several. Who in particular? A lot of guys played. [NT] Michael Purcell came up, [CB Marcus] Cromartie, [LB] Chase Thomas, all this week. Young guys were out there battling and the entire team was. Like I said, this is a tough loss. Give a lot of credit to San Diego and the job that they did. We'll keep fighting."

WR Michael Crabtree didn't see a ton of snaps. Was that injury-related?

"Yeah, he didn't practice a lot all week. Tried to go on it and wasn't playing early in the game and then [WR] Brandon Lloyd went down and so did [WR] Bruce Ellington, so, came back in the game."

In kind of a strange way, was this kind of a microcosm of the season? Start off really hot then kind of slow down, then find your footing again and then run into the wall again?

"I don't know about that. Doesn't feel like a lot to say right now. Tough loss."

What was your vantage point on the fourth-down play to San Diego WR Eddie Royal that he caught on that final drive of the fourth quarter?

"Thought it was a great throw and a heck of a catch."

QB Colin Kaepernick
Press Conference - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

Thoughts on today's game?

"We have to be able to finish these games and pull these wins out."

You looked like, Colin, as you broke through the line, and it seemed like everything just went in slow motion, but obviously you're going full speed, taking off like a deer 90 yards up field. What's going through your mind? How does that feel as you're making that run?

"Once I got through the line it did feel like everything just opened up. I was just hoping I could make the last man miss then not get caught from there. Happy we could get the touchdown."

What'd you get from RB Frank Gore tonight in terms of effort, coming off the concussion, freshness of his legs? What type of performance did he have tonight?

"That's a grown man performance right there. Coming off a concussion we weren't sure if he was going to play or not. He said, ‘I want to go out and fight with you all. I'm not going to leave you all out there by yourselves.' And to come out and play the way he did and give this offense that lift was huge. That was a huge performance by him."

What are some positives you can take from a game like this?

"We did a lot of things well we just had three turnovers, and that's really the difference in the game. We have a fumble on the goal line, we have a fumble that ends up in the end zone for a touchdown and we have a fumble in overtime. And that's at least a 14-point swing right there, and we can't have that if we want to win games."

You also needed to rally in the fourth quarter. You guys have had trouble all season putting up points in the fourth. Could you go over what was going on there, in the fourth quarter, when you were just trying to put them away?

"To be honest, it wasn't our fourth quarter play that put us in that position, it was the fumbles before that. That's, like I said, a 14-point swing right there, we're not in that position where we have to make something happen late in the game."

I saw you, after WR Quinton Patton's fumble, you kind of walked over to him, took off the towel off his head. What'd you say to him to motivate him?

"That's one of my close friends. That's like family to me. And I just wanted to let him know this isn't your fault. Everyone on this team's a competitor and he's going to feel like it is because that's the last play that people are going to remember. But he's done a lot of things well and he did a lot of things to help put us in the position to win that game, and I didn't want him to dwell on that."

In a strange way is this kind of like a microcosm of the whole season? You guys start off hot, then you hit a roadblock, then you get your legs under yourselves again and then you hit another roadblock?

"I guess if that's what you want to call it. To me, it's just being able to finish games, close games out. We can't have the mistakes that we had. We have another touchdown by [TE] Vernon [Davis] and it gets called back because we aren't on top of the little things. Those are the things that we have to be able to not shoot ourselves in the foot with."

On your 90-yard run, it gave you guys back a 14-point lead. Did you think, at that point, everything was back in order?

"I wouldn't say back in order. We still have to approach it to try to score every drive. They have a great offense and they showed they can come back and put points on the board. So, we have to keep going regardless of the score."

At what point on that run did you realize you were in the clear? Once you got past FS Eric Weddle?

"Once [WR Quinton] Patton was running next to me I knew I was good. At that point I felt pretty comfortable there was no one around me."

Did you talk to Weddle after the game about it?

"Yeah, he's done a lot of great things, but he told me don't do it again."

Do you realize there's only one longer run in 49ers history?

"No, I didn't."

RB Garrison Hearst, season-opener in 1998.

"We're going to try and go for 99 then."

Only one other quarterback has run for a longer touchdown. Last year, QB Terrelle Pryor with the Raiders did it too. So, elite company, elite grouping, does that mean anything to you or does leave a sour taste because of the ending of the game?

"I'm more worried about the outcome of the game."

S Antoine Bethea
Postgame Quotes - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

Your teammates, T Joe Staley was saying with 355 yards rushing and a loss, he's never been part of a season like this. Can you put your finger on anything?

"I can't, it's just tough. Come out strong and just fizzled out in the second half. You really can't put your finger on what it was, just one of those years. It's a tough year."

What allowed QB Philip Rivers to connect in the second half so well?

"Making plays, they made some plays. We were able to make a couple plays in the passing game, but they just made a little more in crucial times and eventually he led a team to a win."

Whether it was him, TE Antonio Gates, WR Eddie Royal, was it so much what they were doing or so much what you guys weren't doing?

"Both. At the end of the day, that's what it comes down to, who executes the best, and on some of those big plays, they executed better than we did."

On your interception, it looked like you read that all the way and you knew what was coming before they even called the play. Did they make adjustments based on something that maybe they saw that you picked up on?

"No, the interception was a play we run year in and year out, and I was able to get the pick. In the second half, like I said, they were running the same stuff, but they just made plays when they needed to."

They had two big fourth down conversions in the fourth quarter, and it was one perfect throw on the one, but was there something in the coverage you were doing similarly or differently on those plays?

"Nothing at all. Like I said, it was two crucial fourth downs. On mine, I thought I was able to get a hand in there, but a good pass, good catch. The other fourth down, they were able to convert and, like I said, they were able to make plays. We were in position to make plays, and even on the sack fumble, good play by Skut [LB Dan Skuta], but wasn't able to jump on the ball, so I guess it's like that sometimes."

What hurts worse, the way you lost it or just the fact that you lost?

"That we lost, and the way that we lost. Being up like that in the first half, the ground game the way it was going, it's a tough one to swallow. All losses are tough to swallow, but this is tough."

Have you ever been part of a team that just hasn't been able to figure it out throughout the year, put it together?

"I've been on one team, we went 2-14 in Indy, and that was a tough year. This year, it's tough to win in this league. Obviously this year it seems like one of those years."

CB Perrish Cox
Postgame Quotes - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

I don't think anyone saw that coming after a fabulous first half. I don't know if you ran out of gas or healthy bodies or both in the second half and overtime.

"I wouldn't call it running out of gas. We just didn't finish. We preach about it all week long that we want to finish the season strong, but I don't know what it is."

You left with an injury and then returned, but so many guys couldn't finish the game, literally.

"I tried to help my teammates out and do what I can do, but we just couldn't finish it."

What is the feeling afterwards? I saw 49ers CEO Jed York and 49ers Co-Chairman John York in the locker room after the game. What was the message?

"I don't really know the message; I was in the training room. From what they probably did say, it's frustrating, it's very frustrating. Being up 21-0, what else could you ask for?"

QB Phillip Rivers tore it up in the second half.

"He's a good quarterback. We all know that. He's one of those quarterbacks you have to just get out on. He just came through in the clutch when he's supposed to and did his job."

Losing S Eric Reid to a concussion didn't help.

"Yeah that was kind of a big loss for us. But like all season long, the next man has to step up. You either make it or you don't. Like I said, I don't really know what happened in the back end because I came out, but it's just tough to lose."

WR Bruce Ellington
Postgame Quotes - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

Can you wrap your head around being able to put up all these impressive stats in the first half, and then for whatever reason, I am not sure if the team pumped the breaks, they crawled back into the game in the second half?

"I don't think we pumped the breaks. Give it up to their defense. Their offense came out hungry in the second half and ended up on top. I don't think we stopped, they just got the best of us."

Could you feel the complexion of the game changing as it wore on?

"Yeah. When you see them catching up on the scoreboard, you say to yourselves ‘we need to pick this up.' They got the best of us like I said."

RB Frank Gore
Postgame Quotes - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

What was there early in this game that hadn't been there for the run game in a while?

"My whole offensive line was there. All year, we missed one guy here, one guy there. I think that is what the problem has been. My O-line dominated their D-line tonight."

Take us through that 52-yard run.

"I was just playing football. I just wanted to make a play. My offensive line got me through the hole and our receivers did a great job blocking down field."

I know it might take a while, but can you wrap your head around being able to gash these guys on the ground, and still at the end, come up short?

"It's tough. We played hard. I have to tip my hats off to them. They kept fighting. They made plays and they got the win. It has been a tough year for our team. Even starting in camp, it has just been injury after injury. It's hard to win when you don't have your top guys, but I am happy for the guys who did step up. We are still fighting as a team, and that is all we can do now. Next week, we have to get ready for Arizona. We know they are going to be a tough opponent who wants to finish their season off right."

When Kap [QB Colin Kaepernick] busted it for 90-yards, did you think it was over?

"Yeah, I thought it was over. I am happy for Kap, he looked like himself out there. I thought it was over. Like I said, San Diego kept fighting and things didn't go our way. They made plays when they had to make plays."

Did you think getting [T] Anthony Davis back gave the offensive line more of a mean streak that it had been missing?

"For the first time in a long time, we had our whole group together. They did a great job. They were physical."

Did you know before this game started that you were going to have this kind of game?

"I knew that San Diego was going to come out and give us a good fight knowing that they have a chance to make the playoffs. Like I said, my O-line dominated tonight. We did a great job on the ground."

Where you kind of a victim of your own success in the first half to what they did in the second half putting so many guys in the box?

"They put their whole team in the box to stop the run. They did a good job in the second half. I just think we didn't make enough plays in the second half to win this game."

On the chop block did you see [G/T Alex] Boone go high when you went low?

"I did not. I should have just stayed up. I didn't see him. I was just attacking my gap. I knew on that certain defensive look, the coaches tell me to loop around. I guess Boom's [T Anthony Davis] man went out to the right and he came back in and tried to help. I should have just stayed up."

You put a couple of guys on the ground earlier with clean blocks, so that is kind of your thing to block guys and get them on the ground.

"It was a chop block tonight. I wish I could have stayed up and it would have been a touchdown."

DT Mike Purcell
Postgame Quotes - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

The first half you held the Chargers to seven points but then they had 28 points in the second half. What changed and what was QB Phillip Rivers able to do so well?

"They made plays. They just made plays. We didn't make the plays we needed to make to come out on top.

How are you going to remember this game and this season? So many of your teammates say they've never been part of a season like this.

"I'm going to try and forget it. I'm going to try and get past it because we've got to get ready for Arizona."

FB Bruce Miller
Postgame Quotes - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

What does a guy like WR Bruce Ellington bring? I think we saw a little bit of that tonight with his speed and his ability to make people miss. How much can you use him in the last game and heading down the road?

"We could use him a lot. Playmaker, does a great job for us all the time making plays, run and pass. Great player."

Does he open up the rest of the offense too?

"I don't know how much it opened up, but just putting him in there is pretty dynamic."

A couple touchdowns were called back, but I think what was interesting were the illegal formation calls. Was something new installed this week that maybe was throwing off the line?

"No. Again, another talented group of pass rushers, and you try to gain an advantage with getting off the ball and they wouldn't let us take it. They kept making the call, but [T] Joe [Staley] and AD [T Anthony Davis] played a lot of football, they know where to line up. They were just being picky, I guess."

It's kind of the same thing we've seen all season though, the second half struggles continue. Twenty-one offensive points in the first half, then in the third quarter the team comes out and just struggles to move the ball. What was the biggest difference if you could pinpoint something?

"I always say, if you turn the football over you probably won't win games, and I was the culprit down on the five-yard line. You have to take care of the football. Whether you get in or not, you have to give us a chance to run another play. That hurt, that hurt big time. With a chance to go up, defense playing great, we gave them some air, let them breathe."

What was it like when everything was going well with RB Frank Gore early on. How does that feel when you see 21 popping through there?

"It's awesome. All the things that have been said and he comes out and plays like that. You don't see anything slowing down. The guy plays his tail off the whole game and is one of the best runners that has ever been."

Was he saying anything during this where you could tell that he was feeling it?

"I knew when we started getting going that you could feel that we were in a rhythm, running the football well, the guys up front did a great job and then Frank was doing the rest, so it was fun to see, but you have to finish."

It looked like they were making adjustments in the second half, particularly putting nine guys in the box. Is that what you were seeing? I think RB Frank Gore only had 29 yards in the second half. What was the difference?

"I still feel like they gave us a lot of the same looks. They brought some things right into the play where it's just a good call, a good defensive call, good defensive players, but we were moving the ball well. Second half we just have to keep going and finish and, again, like I said, turning the ball over, especially on the five-yard line running in, I have to give them a chance to run another play, kick a field goal and we probably walk away with a win."

WR Quinton Patton
Postgame Quotes - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

I know you were just trying to get down on the ground, but what was going through your mind in overtime?

"I was just trying to make a play. They chose to give me the ball and I wanted to make a play."

When you were hit, could you feel the ball slip out?

"The ball came out. I didn't get it in tight enough like I am coached to do. I let the ball hang out a little bit."

We saw you on the sidelines and it looked like you had been kicked in the gut. Was it that kind of feeling?

"Yeah, it hurt. But, that's football. It happens. I'll do better next time."

What's the biggest thing you can point to in the first half for this offense? Obviously, the offense was moving the ball well in the first two quarters and then really seemed to struggle at the start of the second half.

"We just have to finish. We've been saying it all year. We just have to finish in the second half. We come out on fire, but we just have to maintain it. It was a whole different half. We just have to finish."

Was that the message at halftime?

"Finish? Yeah. That is always the message at halftime. We just have to finish."

T Joe Staley
Postgame Quotes - December 20, 2014
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers

Tell me how [T] Anthony Davis helped the line out there.

"He played really well. We ran the ball really well, and we had a lot of yards running to his side. He did a good job for us."

After the fumble was lost, and the Chargers picked it up in the end zone and scored, it looked like you were upset on the sidelines. What were you upset about?

"The personal foul."

Did you think you had that ball?

"Yeah, I had my hands on it but their guy fell on it and I was trying to pull it out."

What did you do to get that personal foul?

"I told the ref he was terrible at his job."

In those exact words?

"No. I am paraphrasing."

21 first half points by this offense, and then you really struggled to move the ball in the second half. Is there something you can point to?

"No. It has been a frustrating season."

355 yards rushing and a loss. Does that kind of sum it up?


Have you ever been through a season like this?

"No. We have had losing seasons before, but with the success we have had in the past, it has been weird."