"First off, disappointing loss to Green Bay. Watching the tape, we thought we identified some things that we've gotten better on in yesterday's practice because we have to get better. That's the bottom line."
Where do you see, you have the birds-eye view, just kind of how guys are meshing together? You know, there's a lot of frustration--?
"Sure. So, we use this term timing all the time, right? Timing in the pass game. And yet it is true. When you watch the tape, let's take the missed opportunities that we saw on tape. You can see it on TV, you can see it live at the game. We felt like after the [WR] Quinton Patton reception that got us down in the red zone, we had a chance and we took a sack on a first down play from the five. But, timing-wise, we felt like we had an opportunity to throw to an open receiver. Like anything else in a game, there was a collision between [WR] Anquan [Boldin] and the defender that was defending [WR] Bruce [Ellington]. So, that kind of canceled each other out. But, from a timing perspective, we called that play expecting a certain look. We got the certain look. I think everyone was onboard and excited for it. It ends up being a sack. So, you would love to have seven. It would be a 7-7 game. Even towards the end of the first half, you look up at the board and it's a 7-3 game. You're trying to see where you are and it's relatively an even-steven game. You're in the hunt, as opposed to the last two weeks. The other opportunity, which was obvious, was at the end when we're throwing the ball to [RB] Reggie [Bush]. And again, the term timing. What do we mean by that specifically? We got the expected look. We got the play that we had repped during the week in practice. Reggie knew that he'd have [Green Bay Packers LB] Clay Matthews on him and he gave him that extra move that really pried the route open. But, what happened with [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap was, earlier in the game, we'd thrown that on the first third down and it didn't, the timing was such that Reggie just took the route. So, Kap, like maybe a baseball hitter that can't solve the changeup, he got ahead of himself trying to deliver the accurate ball. Here's what we see though. We see a ball on the ground going toward an open receiver, and that's the bottom line. And those two opportunities in the red zone, in the pass game, materially affect the outcome of the game and that's what we're working on correcting and we feel like we've put in a little extra work on that and we feel like, even though it was yesterday in practice, we've made some strides."
Are you saying that Reggie ran that route differently both times just because the circumstance was different?
"If you're running a route on zone, you're trying to find that void area. If you're running on man, you're trying to beat the man. Timing-wise, if you take a young receiver, a lot of times they quicken their route in a game. Their adrenaline is high. You work it in practice to get to a certain depth. Traditionally, younger receivers have a tendency to rush the routes, not get as deep. Veteran guys, they probably recognize the situation, like Reggie did, knew that it was him and Matthews and put that extra move on, which really pried the route open. But, for whatever reason, Kap didn't execute the play and we had hit it before. We had hit it in practice, but in that moment when we needed it, we didn't execute. And that's the disappointing part, there's no doubt about it. And I think that's where commentary flows from because you see the ball hit the ground. He had the ball hit the ground on another throw, again, to Anquan, who he's been on the same page with. That was early in the game. And those are the things that over the course of the time that I've been with Kap both in practice and in games, you just don't see. And I think that that's what he's working through right now. But, he's got a good mindset. What's the mindset? You've got to go back and acknowledge what's on tape, acknowledge what happened in the game and then make steps to correct it."
You are fond of making baseball references. A lot of, I mean you said you don't, stuff you don't see from Kaepernick, a lot of people, I don't know if this resonates with you, but talking about former MLB players Steve Blass and Rick Ankiel, guys that just kind of lost their fastball.
"Sure. It puts a lot of pressure on these games, right? It puts a lot of pressure on a Sunday night game. Traditionally, Kap has played well in the spotlight. Not perfect, but on the Monday night, I think his record's 5-0, including his first start against the Bears. He played well at the Patriots. There's other games, the following week we went to Seattle it wasn't so good. But, you're playing this out in front of everybody, literally, in front of everybody. The Niners fans, your coaches and your teammates, and people are going to weigh in on. So, we have a Sunday night game, and I think that's where Kap will make comments such as, emotion doesn't have anything do to with it, because he can't get emotional about it. He's got to go back under the hood and correct and improve so that when he goes back out there, he can look like the Colin who has gone out on a Monday night and performed well, who has gone out on a Sunday night, who has gone out in a playoff game and performed well. But yes, there's not doubt that we have to take where Kap is. And Kap's at a different spot performing the last two games than he did the first two games. This is the ebb and flow, but we have to correct that and that's what we've been working on through the course of the week."
How much of what's going on is mental with him?
"That's a hard one for me to answer. I try to stay in the coaching realm, but there's no doubt that, again, going back to some baseball analogies, is a pitcher getting shelled? Is a batter in a slump? You know, we can't worry about that because we feel like we can identify things that you work on on the football field. But, there's no doubt that there's a component to your mindset. You turn the ball over four times in a game, two are returned for touchdowns. What's the natural pendulum swing? The swing is back to, whatever I do, it may be ugly, but I want to give this team a chance to win at the end. And that's where it's disappointing when you don't hit those opportunities in the red zone because you've also learned the lesson that not doing something sometimes causes problem as opposed to trying too hard to do something. So, we've got to find that and all that we can go on is what the tape said and how we've been practicing this week."
Does it help that you're playing a Giants defense that just faced the Bills and QB Tyrod Taylor's somewhat similar skill sets to Colin?
"Sure. And you recognize some of the calls, right, with [Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman] G-Ro being there. And yet, the Giants also are working through a new defensive coordinator in [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] Spags who's been around and has a nice scheme. That's where each game in the NFL has it's own narrative. And it's important that we establish, not that our opponent happens to be the Giants or that last week it was the Packers, it's more about us right now and getting on the same page from again the term timing or within the run game, blocking at the point of attack, these simple principles that help you win football games. And we're excited about going out there and playing. That's the first thing that you want to be mentally is not shy away from it and that's the last thing that Colin ever does is shy away from these. So, that's where we're at mentally, physically and we've got a couple more days. We need these practices so that it builds some confidence up as well."
Do you do anything differently during the week to--?
"Yeah, we made some major changes, but I can't go, I shouldn't say major. We made some changes, some adjustments that we feel good about going into this game. But, it would be disingenuous for me to elaborate on it and then you go up to the game and it's a clunker. We feel like we've made some adjustments moving forward, but I'd rather tell you next week what we did do then forecast what may or may not happen. It's just the nature of what, the schemes, the game plan and all these things that coaches want to be protective of. But, you have to go under the hood and correct things, tweak the engine so that it runs a little more smoothly. And we've built some confidence off of yesterday's practice and we continue to build on that today."
Would it be too revealing to assume that these changes are done to boost Kaepernick's confidence, get him into a rhythm?
"You do everything, like I said, you do it to boost his game, what all that entails in a game. So, we're happy with those. And we're, quite honestly, we're excited to go out there and test it under game conditions. And again, that's usually what the challenge is every week. Take what you're doing in practice, when it's a controlled environment and stick it into a game and have it work."
You've mentioned timing, but the basis to establish timing is having time to throw and being able to get to your point?
"Sure. Again, if all 11 are needed to run the ball, all 11 are needed to throw the ball. And that's part of it as well. And so, that element as teammates, we can help each other. And the jobs that each, if you take the component of each of the 11 members on the team, there's some tough, we had one lineman grabbed and pulled as part of a scheme to pull the guy through for a rush. It's a sack. It wasn't called. That's a hard, that's a tough job for a guy who's trying to fight in a one-on-one battle to get yanked and pulled like that. That happens across the board for all 11. And as an offense, I think we're doing a good job of appreciating how hard it is for the other guy's job. And that's where together, we've got to improve. And if it's the timing, we have to improve the timing and sync up. We'll say that we're not that far off, but the proof is in the pudding when you go out on game day. We have to prove it on game day."
When you talk about the timing, there seems to be few instances where Kap's getting the ball out quickly. Whether it's hot or design and even when he does have time, it seems like he just holds it too long. What's going on there?
"Again, you know, you want to play the game that you remember as kid. You also are cognizant of the outcomes of the game and that outcomes matter. Outcomes matter for your win-loss record. Outcomes matter for your statistics. But at a fundamental level, you've got to get back to playing the game of football and doing all that's required to help yourself win. And that's really taking it play by play. But, there's no doubt that when you're out of sync, out of rhythm, your timing's off, it doesn't look pretty, you know, and you're punting the ball. And that in and of itself, to have an incomplete pass or a negative yard rush, as long as you can go back out there, and there were throws that Colin did make. I think we had over 100 yards after catch, which was a positive thing but that wasn't enough. We had an awful lot on the Quinton Patton one which was like a screen pass, basically, where there's a lot of yardage there. But, there were some other shallow crosses and some other throws that he made, but you need to see that on a consistent basis. If it was an 0-for, if we went 0-for-19 throwing, then there'd be changes made. But, you see, OK that looks like what it should look like. And then here are these clunkers right in the middle of it. Again, going back to the baseball, although you cant throw a 0-2 pitch right down the middle because the result of that at-bat might be a homerun, even though, hey, I was ahead in the count. It doesn't matter. What you have to do is execute the play to get to the next play and ultimately, you've got to put points on the board. The defense did a great job of holding the score down and we failed to capitalize, specifically, on those red zone opportunities."
On that Patton play, was that supposed to be a handoff or was it supposed to be a shovel? Was the distance right on that?
"What you're trying to find is just, you don't want him to lose speed. If he slows down to take the handoff, it's still a forward handoff. The oxymoron, it would be a forward lateral. But, what you see is that it's easier to pop the ball up and have him, because they're receivers, they're used to catching objects. You can make an argument, just like in the college game a sack goes against rushing yardage. Well, you can make an argument that that's off of the passing yardage. You can't worry about the stats. It was what it was. It was a play that we felt like we could out-flank the defense. But, even taking that away, we got some yards after the catch on some of these shallow crosses. You hope that maybe a tackle or two is broken along the way, which we broke some. But, there were some one-on-one tackles in the open field. Specifically I remember Anquan on a third down. They blitzed, he got tackled, he almost got through. [TE] Garrett Celek had a shallow cross that he caught, he almost got through a [Green Bay Packers S] Micah Hyde tackle. All those are gifts from above when you can break a tackle and get into the open, because no one's behind them. So, yes. You want to have a variety. You want to have some quick game. You want to have some shots. You want to have some play-actions. That's all part of what an offense is required to win in a National Football League game."
RB Carlos Hyde had eight carries for 20 yards.
And now you're facing statistically the best run defense in the NFL. How do you get him going and that established in this game?
"Sure. Again, you go back to the game plan and the vision of what you want to do for each game, which is different from week to week. And then, how you start the game off and if you can get some rhythm going within the run game as well. So, Carlos is a good football player and we need him to help us win Sunday night against the Giants."
Head coach Jim Tomsula yesterday talked about, kind of inferred starting from the ground up with some of the stuff in the offense as far as alignments and spacing. It might strike some people as like, ‘Hey, it's Week 5. Why are we doing that?'
Obviously, it's not an ideal situation, but can you speak to what he was referencing?
"Yeah. Let's just take something that you operate in practice, in a practice environment. You're going to give a certain look, the scout team rushes and you throw a pass. And then you take what you feel good about maybe in a practice environment and put it into a game environment and the timing becomes off because as we said earlier, it's game day. The rush is different on game day than it is during a practice. So, the way I see it is that we've been successful in practice. We've strung good plays together. We've completed consecutive passes in a row. But, for whatever reason, when we get to the timing on the field on game day, we don't see that same level of production. And you can't just sit there and say, well, we're not going to do anything to adjust. So, you're constantly adjusting. People might talk about, right, halftime adjustments. But, really, you have to adjust series to series and then it's the job of a coach to also adjust from game to game. Adjusting the game plan, for example, or adjusting who's in and that's just the nature of the ebb and flow of a season. Guys are in, they're healthy. Guys are out, they're not healthy. But, the fundamental thing in terms of the ABC's, to me, are what are you practicing and can you bring what you're practicing to the game field."