"I really want to open it up to questions right away because there's a lot of questions out there. More concerns than questions, and it's only fair to you guys to try to maximize our time. So, we can try to answer them honestly without giving up state secrets."
Let's start off with, what's your biggest question that you entered this week with?
"You know, you go back to the game. We try to put Pittsburgh in the rearview mirror with some positive accomplishments, [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap setting a career record for attempts, completions. You felt like there was some movement of the ball up and down the field, extending drives. That didn't happen against Arizona. You know, you see the first pick-six, my thought went to the Green Bay playoff game at home in 2012. Kap had been there before and we all know how that turned out and how Kap played. So, you're concerned because there's points on the board but you said, ‘OK, we've probably been here before.' The second one goes back for a touchdown and you start to say to yourself, you start to let people know that probably the Philadelphia game was what it was like. You're trying to find a reference point to go back. But, you've got to rally people because not everyone was here last year and we still won that game. When the third one was intercepted, now you're in kind of uncharted waters. And everyone was frustrated. You could see some of the body language. You could see some of the way that we moved. That's quite honestly, you're in uncharted waters. What are we going to do here? And we talked about it at halftime. In some of the same approached we had in Pittsburgh, you know, you see a game ebbing away when the score starts to get one-sided. But, you still have to go out there and play football and execute football plays. We liked our football play at the start of the second half. Again, we didn't see it coming. Now you're really in uncharted waters and that's going to be the point of discussion, quite frankly, until we play again. And you know, Kap said his peace. I think as an offense, we have to come back. As coaches, we have the luxury of going and looking at Green Bay right away. It's over. We get off the plane and we're onto Green Bay. But, for people who are concerned, until you play that first quarter against Green Bay, that's your most recent mark and it's concerning."
Even though you are onto Green Bay, you have to figure out and learn from the mistakes. So, how did you go over those four interceptions with the team?
"First off, you have to show everybody. So, we met as an offense and we showed everybody, not just those mistakes or interceptions, but how it's a, and we actually put it into context just like we said. We showed Kap's first interception that went for a touchdown against Green Bay. We showed Kap's interception in Philadelphia that went back for a touchdown. And we showed as much the reaction on the sidelines by both teams as the X's and O's of the plays because that's as real to the outcome of the game as, you know, play-by-play. We can break it down as coaches. We enjoy the coach's tape. There's always a reason why and at some level, they all stand on its own. Each play had a rhythm to it. Each play had an outcome to it, and then you move on to the next play. In between those throws, there was a moment there where [RB] Jarryd [Hayne] had a good punt return. Our concern going into the game or from last week's Pittsburgh game was being efficient in the red zone. We were efficient in the red zone. So, we felt like we were taking something positive out of that. That's where we were aggressive. We weren't looking to just kneel on the ball right before the half because we felt like we had maybe recaptured some of our rhythm. But, then when that third turnover occurred, they get a field goal off it. Now, again, like I said, you're in uncharted waters and you've got to deal with it."
Obviously, there was the comment that Arizona Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu made.
And, actually, Arizona Cardinals S Tony Jefferson before the game with Mathieu after.
Do you see that?
"First off, you're exactly right. There was a comment made about, not just how Kap plays, but really what they want to do on first and second down. They wanted to, you know, be stout on first and second down, make it third-and-long and then feel like that would be where their defense would thrive. Again, in terms of predictability, which is a, you know, that is, there's noise throughout the league about that. Some also places also. We knew what they were going to do defensively and that was predictable as well. But, you also have to execute. And I would give them credit. We talked about our game plan in the Minnesota, because our base stuff was working, we didn't have to get too deep into our call sheet. I would say the exact same thing giving them credit. They didn't have to go too deep into their call sheet. I would say that we knew, and that's where it's frustrating, you know what they're going to do. You know what their mindset is, not just from an approach, but from a scheme standpoint. And yet, you're not executing the plays to beat that scheme. So, now you're in a position where you're getting away from what your original game plan should be or want it to be. So, you get off the game plan a little bit and you move on. I take that all with a grain of salt only because they had two games for us to study on. So, if you're in the second game as a baseball hitter and you're two-for-four, are you a .500 hitter? No, you're two-for-four. And some of these numbers will plane out. We've proven as an offense that we can run for 230 yards Week 1 and we've proved that we can throw for four interceptions in the third week. That's the reality of it. In terms of the predictability of it or are you tipping your pitches? I don't know. I would have to say that you take it all in stride. The fact that they executed their game plan, you tip your hat to them. We don't play them until November, after thanksgiving and again, it's our responsibility to move onto Green Bay."
One of the things that Kaepernick, some data would suggest that Kaepernick's one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the league. Are the adjustments there? Do they need to be made schematically or is it an execution thing or are you guys considering personnel changes?
"You try to alleviate whatever problems that exist. You know, I think kind of from a large perspective, it is hard to stitch up your protections throughout the league. League-wide, you see some injuries to quarterbacks who traditionally aren't injured. Whether it's a [New Orleans Saints QB] Drew Brees or throughout, or [Pittsburgh Steelers QB] Ben Roethlisberger, these guys have been pretty good. And I think at a large perspective, the padded practices, the amount of time you have to work your cohesion and stuff like that, you know, we're on the same timeline as a lot of other people. But, the office for a quarterback on Sunday is always a little bit edged. You know what I mean by that? And I'm trying to be as straightforward and honest as is it. And there are great quarterbacks and great players who have to manipulate in the pocket and there are other quarterbacks who are frustrated because that's just the way that it is. And so, Kap is no different than a lot of others is that you would prefer to throw from a clean pocket. But, the office of a quarterback in the National Football League right now is always going to be at some level, a little bit edged."
We talked, there's a lot of discussion about Kaepernick's work in the offseason becoming. But, one thing you can't simulate at a performance training facility is a pass rush.
How do you work on that at this point?
"Your concern would be for someone that maybe isn't a experienced quarterback. But, whatever, Kap's had over 50 starts, so you know that the tempo, that the speed that the game is played at. You kind of hope to settle into that. But, there is no way. That's what makes Sunday great. That's what makes the game great. You have an emotion and a speed to it that is hard to simulate. And so, we're moving forward. Hopefully, as you continue to play deeper into the season, you can plane that out. But right now, there is no real substitute for the game experience."
How do you cultivate confidence in Kaepernick in light of what happened on Sunday?
"You look at his whole body of work. He had gone, I think it was five games without an interception. He had gone the previous week where he put the ball up in the air an awful lot and he had some success. So, you've got to come back to work. We all know Kap is a hard enough worker that he'll come back to work, acknowledge what transpired, try to answer to the bell and come back out. And so, his long body of work and his unique ability to threaten a defense. We've watched a lot of Green Bay tape because we play them this week. He threatens them both in the run and the pass. But, you go back to who he is. And he's the same guy six days ago that said, well, you know, he managed himself and he managed the passing game in the second half against Pittsburgh. Well, that didn't happen in this game. And athletes have to deal with that. The more experienced you are, every now and then on an outing you might get shelled and you have to come back and rely upon, I think, your fundamental structures. What's my workout routine, studying the opponent and getting back to it. And I think that's where Kap referred to, can't get emotional about it because there's another game just six days away."
Did you in fact go back and self-scout and watch video to see if you are tipping off?
What did you find?
"And again, same for the amount of numbers that you can crunch because you've only played, going into it, two games or three games. Quite honestly, we're aware of some, you know, tendencies in among themselves aren't a bad thing because you can play off of that. But, we're aware of some tendencies that we never got to moving forward. But, again, I would have to say, if you watch it play by play, or you watch the particular player that spoke about the tendencies, there were moments at which, in the game, receivers were open. And then at anything else, there were moments at which the run was blocked efficiently. And really, when you come down to quality offensive execution, you've got to block the run at the point of attack, and in the pass game, you've got to play with timing. And you can make a cut-up of plays where we blocked the point of attack in the run game and you can make a cut-up of plays where we threw the ball with timing and efficiency. But, it didn't happen enough."
One of the postgame observations, criticisms, whatever, was your passing offense had become so simplified. You've been here for a couple years--?
I think the outside perception is OK, well, the 49ers have talked about tweaking the playbook, playing to Kaepernick's strengths. Is that a fair assessment that thinks this passing game is simplified when you compare it just to, say, to last years?
"First off, you have to take the games and context. There was no doubt at halftime we were behind on the scoreboard. So, independent of what plays we call, the defense is going to behave a certain way. And the number one thing they should do is what? Not allow a quick strike. Allow yourself to take the short gain because that's the only way that we could probably get back in is some type of turnover, some type of quick strike. And the other thing that I think you try to accomplish is you try not to totally abandon the run game for the pass game when you're behind by several scores. So, I think we had 31 rush attempts against Pittsburgh. To me, when you evaluate the Arizona game, we were 0-for-5 on third down in the first half. We didn't extend drives like we did against Pittsburgh. Now you can get to some type of balance. But, if you're not getting third down conversions, you're off the field, they're on the field, now you become one-dimensional and within that one dimension, if they're taking away the deep ball, there's really not a whole lot. Again, that's why you play the game, to put yourself in a position, as Arizona did, where that was pretty easy, pretty comfortable playing for them in the second half."
You're saying basically once the score got like that you really couldn't show--?
"At some point in time, you don't want to make a disaster a catastrophe. We do play them again. And we also have a game the next week. At what point in time does the math say to you that it's whatever it is. You're better off just trying to execute plays and get some type of balance back into your offense as opposed to just throwing it deep every chance you got."
You mentioned earlier that all NFL teams are having trouble stitching up there protection.
"As a general rule."
To what do you attribute that? Is there a deficit of offensive linemen in the league right now?
"It's a good question. You watch the tape throughout the league and you are concerned about injuries to the quarterback position as with any injury. But, we're all under the same parameters. The same offseason parameters. The same preseason parameters. In my opinion, listening to veteran or retired line coaches who have seen a lot of football, a lot more than me, what they observe is pretty much every defensive player is a better athlete than an offensive lineman. So, the advantage of the offensive line, five playing as one together, the opportunity to put the pads shoulder to shoulder, that's the best way to handle a game between a tackle and an end, or things like that nature. Or even in the run game. You're working your double teams along those lines. It's all under the same auspices. We aren't in pads as much as we used to be. And there's a lot of good benefit from it. But, I think, when you look throughout, the short windows of time that you do have when you're trying to put together new lines, and lot of teams are doing that, like I said, I think the office of a quarterback on Sunday's is always going to be a little bit edged. It's just the way that the game of football is being played right now."
The offense had success running outside the tackles Week 1. T Joe Staley said it's tougher to run outside the tackles against a 3-4 defense. Why is that?
"Again, from week to week, what you see, but take guys like [LB] Ahmad Brooks. He does a great job of setting the edge. So you here this phrase, setting the edge. We're going to set the edge. And once you do that, if I establish that bookend edge right here, now you're forcing the cutback. And then if you know that you have a good edge set, the linebackers who aren't fast flowing as much, again, if a scheme is setup to set a hard edge, then that's one thing to do. Same thing with play-action passes. If I have a linebacker as opposed to a defensive end in a two-point stance, you can get into the kind of schematic argument, can you still bootleg back into them? And the answer is, it depends from play to play, what technique are they playing it with. And short of having the game film up, sometimes you can make plays on it and sometimes they make plays on you. That's the ebb and flow of football."