Week 6 for the San Francisco 49ers featured a matchup with another 1-4 team, both desperate for a win. 49ers fullback Bruce Miller, who has been somewhat quiet this season, had a more active role early in the game, getting all 3 of his receptions for 89 yards in the first quarter. Why he hasn't been utilized more has been a question on the minds of many faithful, including mine. Unofficial snap counts for Miller from Jeff Deeney at Pro Football Focus were 23/60 snaps, (1st half 13/36, 2nd half 10/24; including plays nullified by penalty). He played 7/8 of the final plays of the game which leaves only three other plays in the remainder of the second half. Regardless, it was good to see him more involved in the game plan.
After the game, Bruce spoke to the media. He spoke for a while as people continued to gather around him. As a result, some of the questions are a little redundant.
These were plays that you were working on in practice, you knew it was going to come up at some point, you just weren't sure when?
Oh, I can't tell you that, that's practice secrets.
You already ran it in the game so it's not really a secret anymore.
We practiced it. We knew it was going to get dialed up, we just didn't know when.
You guys got a lot of yards off of play action. What is it about that that works?
I think we ran the football really well last week, and that makes teams have to bring the roof down, put more guys in the box, because we're running the football well, we're able to take shots. I think we hit three of them today. So, that was nice to see, finally get some big plays and switch the field position on them, that was big for us.
You had 89 yards receiving in the first quarter, does that get things rolling for you?
Gets things rolling, gets our offense in a rhythm, but gives them another thing to have to prepare for. As long as guys are continuously making plays, I don't care who it is, move the ball around and let get everyone involved, so I was glad I could contribute today.
That was a pretty mean stiff arm you put on CJ Mosely.
That was good. I usually...I don't get a lot of opportunities to catch the ball and have some space. Usually when I catch it, they tackle me or hit me so it was nice to be able to try to make a move at least.
What's the biggest difference between this offense from the first couple weeks to now?
Rhythm. All over the place, just guys building chemistry together up front, in the backfield, with the quarterbacks and receivers. We had a new group, a lot of new faces, so there was a building that took place that we're still in the middle of. We're just trying to get better and learn from each other and play together as a group. I think the past two weeks we've done a good job of all 11 guys playing together.
Is it good to have a week where you don't have to answer questions about your quarterback, about what is wrong with you're quarterback?
I think the biggest thing that was wrong with the quarterback was we weren't making very many plays. So, today he gave us opportunities to make plays and guys were making them. Plays were there early in the season. I don't feel like we were making enough plays to put points on the board and move the chains and give him an opportunity to get in a rhythm. So, that was nice when he put the ball up, maybe it wasn't even the best decision but guys went up and caught the football and made plays for him.
That had to improve his attitude.
Absolutely, just building confidence in him that when he throws you the football that one, you're going to protect the throw and make the play, so, I think we're building that as we go along. He has confidence in guys to put the ball in the air and let them make a play for him.
On that scramble drill where Boldin was covered and still makes the catch, is that the type of play that you expect him to make?
Absolutely. He's made them since he showed up here; contested catches and big, big points in the game where we need a play and he makes them. You can't put a price on what he does for our offense and for our football team.
Which play did you like more, the stiff arm or the deep pass?
I like the stiff arm, because I got [run] down by the big guy. Nah, that wasn't good, they clowned me about that one.
Torrey said on that deep pass...
He's a little bit faster than me.
He thought he would have scored.
He would have? Oh yeah, he would have scored. He's pretty fast.
Was that in the game plan?
Yeah, that was in the game plan. I didn't know when, I knew we had an opportunity to call that play so whenever it was called I wanted to make it work. I don't get opportunities to be the number one read, so when they're there, I gotta make them happen.
That deep ball, was it almost a little too much time for a fullback to think about...
Were you the number one read on both of those long plays?
No, I was on the one, but the other one, just in the progression. Kap was able to find the open guy.
So the one down the right sideline you were the first read?
Yes, I was the first read on that one.
Both Torrey and Anquan talked about the Ravens secondary being a little banged up and having good match ups in the passing game.
A match up? I don't ever really count myself as a match up for us to key on but the plays were there so he found the open receiver and a few times it happened to be me.
You averaged 21 yards a completion...
Did you feel like those chunk plays were coming for this team?
Yeah, I think we needed to make them. We haven't taken many very shots and we haven't completed them so it was nice that when the ball went up we were able to change the field position and put our offense and special teams in position to score points.
Did you feel the Ravens softening up at all?
Teams doing cover one and cover two all game and daring Kaepernick to throw? He's been making the throws, did you feel the change up?
Yeah, I think they might have softened a little bit in the secondary because we hit 'em for a few long ones but they were still playing aggressive and physical. That was a desperation game for both sides and we were able to fight it out and get the win.
Has the offense been playing with a new level of confidence the past two weeks?
I think confidence and then just growing as a unit. Like I said we have so many new faces on our team that we were in a growing, building stage where we were learning to play together and that takes time. We'd like it to to be a lot faster than week six but we're putting it together and we're playing well and playing confident.
Was part of it the open communication that developed before last week?
We always try to communicate together and let him know things that we're seeing and thinking and he has so much on his plate that we try to chip in and help him out but he always does a great job for us, we were just able to make plays for him today.
The last couple weeks you're getting a lot more run and you're a bigger part of the game plan.
Yeah, I like to see that. We try to give them different looks and mix up the personnel. Today my number was called a little bit more. I just want to play well and contribute.
Both teams were 1-4. Did you feel a sense of urgency?
I did, yes. There was some desperation in there. That was a tough football game. We knew it was going to be and we both needed wins. We were able to tough it out.
What does Boldin mean to this team as a leader and player?
You can't even measure what he means to our football team. Like you said, the leadership and the way he plays on that football field, you just have the utmost respect for the way he carries himself. We're glad to have him.
On the two early receptions:
On the two I caught early, they were quick throws, three step drops, where I was available and Colin was able to find me. Never the primary read, he just got through there and found the open guy.
On the 52 yard play?
I was the number one.