"We played with a little bit better spirit, better chemistry. Things we worked on during the course of the week in practice, we carried over to the game. Sometimes, it's as simple as that. So, we're looking forward to putting another good game together, maybe picking up where we left in the second half of the Giants game."
You said a week ago that you would share with us some of the changes you made?
"You have a good memory."
So, what were the changes?
"There were some tactical things, you some in the first half. And then there were some technical things. And then there's things you can do in the meeting rooms. So, take the meeting rooms, for example, you devote a little extra time, carve out some extra time during the course of a day and you get together on the same page and I thought that helped our chemistry. And really, I think the intent on something like that is everyone's got a hard job on Sunday. Whether you're the right guard or whether you're the tight end and the more that you can appreciate what your teammate is going through, I think the harder it is and the better it is when you do have success, how you can celebrate with that. So, those would be examples of things. And again, you don't want to come in like last week and flip all the cards over because you have an opponent that you're playing the following week. So, coaches will sometimes be guarded with what they, you know, line and chapter and verse are. A little more meeting time, a little more concentration on the technical aspect, getting to the team plays and then the plays we ran were the plays we ran because we thought they were going to work."
Do you play to continue rotating the right guard or is that a position you would like--?
"You know, what a great compliment to [G] Andrew Tiller. He comes in as a practice squad, he's from New York and he came in and played really well. I think the advantage is, what do defensive lines love to do? They love to rotate to stay fresh. And so, maybe there's an advantage to us in that they can spell each other. But, there's also chemistry within an offensive line. So, we've rotated them throughout the week. We've rotated them as with the other young players too. Sometimes, when you give an [G/T] Alex Boone a day off from practice or a [T] Joe Staley, you want to make sure that you're ramping up those young guys and that's an important thing to do. Again, another example of why practice is important to us."
But, is that a position though that you would like to just have one starter eventually?
"Eventually you'd like to have stability. And right now, they're both providing, or we're providing for them an opportunity and I thought Andrew took advantage of it. And they all have their own attributes, their strengths and weaknesses. So, moving forward, I think it's something that you want to watch and monitor like [offensive line coach] Chris [Foerster] does not only in games but during practice too."
How serious do you think RB Carlos Hyde's foot injury is?
"You know, I was with [Carolina Panthers RB] Jonathan Stewart from Oregon at Carolina and I think that's probably the closest similarity that I have in the sense that Carlos runs hard as a back, you know. That first collision he had with [New York Giants LB] Jon Beason on the first drive, you can see how physical he is. So, as the course of the season goes on, you want to make sure that they're as fresh as possible on game day."
Do you think he's at risk of not playing Sunday?
"I can't say that one way or the other. Like I said, I can only go back to a point of reference that I had and Jonathan Stewart did a great job the years that I was with him with the Carolina Panthers where he didn't do a whole lot during the week and then played great on Sunday's. So, I would expect the same out of Carlos. That's what Carlos wants to do."
What was the thinking, the first two plays of the game you had success with WR Bruce Ellington. I'm assuming the same exact play, one side then the other side.
"Very good, yeah."
Those are the only two snaps he played the entire game.
What was the thinking? What was the mindset?
"We actually talked about putting him in for a couple of other plays in the second half. There was actually the series that we went three-and-out, we actually took some shots down the field and, you know, part of anything else in terms of a rotation or really plays. So, we were talking about the nature of the game, being a limited possession game. We had four meaningful possessions in the first half and four meaningful possessions in the second half. So, you'd like for him to get a series. That's always a little easier, that you're not tipping your hands for a particular play. But, just the nature of the game and really in the second half where things are going smoothly you're not looking to tweak, adjust or move forward. But, Bruce is coming back off of a little bit of a minor injury and I think that he's done a great job. And you try to get a guy who is coming back off of an injury a toehold on the game plan, some things that he can execute and he did a great job with that. And really, we went back to that play at a critical time in the fourth quarter drive. It happened to be [WR] Torrey [Smith] that caught it and Torrey did a nice job with it too. So, we've got confidence in the people that are out there. And, with both [WR] Quinton [Patton] and Bruce out there, I think they do a nice job of complimenting and adding depth to the receiver position."
When you say more meeting time, more communication between quarterback and receiver, that to me seems like something that they should have been doing all the time. Is it discussing scenarios? If in this scenario, I'm going to do this, that sort of thing so that there's more--?
"Yeah. So, if Sunday's the test, how much homework could you put in? And at some point in time, you don't want to squeeze it too tight or overcook the eggs. But, we had a structure and a routine, but we felt like we needed to add one more meeting, one more layer of meetings that we felt would be beneficial. Why? Because if you're not scoring so well on the test, you need to get a little more homework done. And again, if each game is a chapter in a book, you know, certain problems reveal themselves in the course of the book. Chapter three or chapter four revealed things that maybe chapter one or chapter two didn't have. But, you try to do anything to try to improve and that would be an effort to put in extra time, extra credit, again, getting ready to try to do better on the exam and every Sunday's another exam. So, can you study infinitely? Can you condition infinitely? It's all in balance."
On the field, what did you see the biggest improvement that QB Colin Kaepernick made Sunday night?
"We've talked about him being a great rhythm athlete. I thought he found a way to get into rhythm. And again, it takes 11 to pass the ball. I thought the line did a great job of protecting, receivers made plays when the ball was in the air and we strung together some first downs. I thought we were good on third down. That helps not just a first down and a second down play, but you get eight, ten-play drives if you're converting on third downs. So, all those things came together. We had built, I think, some good rapport during the week. So, when I came here last week I knew that the rapport was already established and we had made strides. And we felt all along that this is a team that has to improve from September to October, improve from October to November, and that's the challenge for this week playing the Ravens. Can we continue to improve?"
Speaking of the Ravens, is there any similarities from all the tape you studied for the Super Bowl on these guys? The personnel is so different.
"You know, the personnel's different. It seems like a long time ago. You know, [New York Giants defensive coordinator] Steve Spagnuolo was there for two years and probably more similarity to the fact that we went after the first preseason game and stayed there for a couple of days and went against them. So, you have a point of reference, but the most recent point of reference is probably the preseason game followed by spending time going against them. And [Baltimore Ravens head coach] John's [Harbaugh] got a great staff. I know a lot of the guys on the staff. [Baltimore Ravens wide receivers coach] Bobby Engram was here. So, they're a well-coached team and motivated to win. But, in terms of point of reference, you probably go with the most recent point of reference and that was the solid work we did in the preseason last year against them."
Has TE Garrett Celek turned into your best all-around tight end?
"I'll tell you what, Garrett's done a great job. At this time last year, he was fighting through a back injury. Those are really hard because there's no X-ray, there's no scar from that. It's just, my back's not feeling good. And, I think he's really broken through. He did a great job, again, the touchdown pass to him, he did a great job in the week. On Thursday, he ran the very same route and kind of opened everyone's eyes up. So, that was an easy call to make down in the red zone not just because of what the Giants were playing, but we had great confidence. I think everyone in the huddle, everyone on offense, had confidence because of what Garrett did on the practice field. And that's what coaches love to see. You do something on the practice field, you replicate it on a game field and the little things like he's blocking extremely well at the point of attack. On third-and-one that [RB] Jarryd [Hayne] got a first down, almost scored, that was a great block by Garrett Celek. The touchdown run on the goal line, [TE] Blake Bell had a great block. And sometimes that's the grunt work that they do, but what a great job Garrett's doing and deservedly so. To be a starting tight end in the NFL, he's earned that right."
Are you going to get to Stanford tonight?
"Of course. Got to get my homework done early if we're doing the test. But, yeah, it's a lot of fun. It's a fun football season. There's a lot going on. It's a good way to take your mind off of the task at hand by going to watch other football teams."
How well do you know former Nevada head coach Chris Ault?
"You know, I've never met him. I know that he had some comments during the week. He obviously knows Kap. I feel like after having been around Kap, you kind of know him as well. So, what he observes is what he obverses and what I observe is what I observe."
Is there anything to the critique that Kaepernick is dropping his elbow? Is that something you watch at all?
"I was joking with Kap that we put a towel right under his right arm and then we threw it because we wanted to throw like [San Diego Chargers QB] Philip Rivers. But, really, biomechanics or techniques or technical, we're at the point in the season where you kind of have to execute and hit the open jumper. And I think, like Colin did in the offseason, that's a great thing to work on in February, March and April. Another thing is, you know, we're only made a certain amount of way. We walk a certain way. We talk a certain way. And so, to have a cookie-cutter technical approach to things, sometimes is probably not realistic. So, Kap is who Kap is. At this point in time, he's old enough and further enough into his career that you try to take advantage of sound fundamentals and clean mechanics. But, like I said, Chris knows him well and I feel like I know him well and you try to figure out a way to win, for us, win on Sunday."