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Jim Tomsula talks 49ers adjustments, youth, Colin Kaepernick performance

The San Francisco 49ers head coach chatted with the media on Monday after the team returned from Pittsburgh. We have a full transcript. You can also listen to audio here, and view video here.

Opening comments:

"First off, we're going through the injury stuff right now. [RB] Carlos Hyde has got a leg contusion. He got a helmet there right behind the pad on his thigh, but I think that's going to be fine. He did get hit in the head yesterday. He was cleared during the game. He went through the NFL's protocol thing, or however they do that with the onsite person. He was cleared, but I just didn't want to put him back in. [TE Vance] McDonald, he's got a, they're saying a contusion. There was no, it was X-rayed. There was no break or anything. It was below the knee, so he got hit there. [TE Blake] Bell took the, he got hit, he got tackled in the back there, came out and he went back into the game. He'll get some treatment on that. And then, [WR] Torrey Smith was another contusion. So, everything was more bangs then it was anything else."

Do you expect any of those guys to miss any significant amount of time?

"Not right now, I don't. I don't, I guess the one that was, that we've got to really look at is McDonald. But, we were glad to find out, I think it was more or less he was on the field.  So, I don't think so. But, we'll have more for you as that goes on today."

What is WR Bruce Ellington's situation?

"Ellington will continue to get treatment. We'll find out where he's at. I just didn't want to, quite frankly, I didn't want to get into the game and it be three or four or five plays and then he was done. So, he thought he could go, but we just made a decision not to push that and get into a situation where you're a guy down."

Have you see RB Reggie Bush since you came back and what's his status?

"No. I didn't talk to him, but he was in there. He's doing his treatment, but I haven't spoken to him. No, sir."

It seemed like yesterday, a number, most of those big plays came on third down.

"They came on third-and-10, third-and-five, third-and-seven, third-and-two, third-and-three, and third-and-six." 

So, is there an adjustment to be made schematically, in terms of, were you guys maybe trying to prevent first down, keep the ball in front of you and that might have allowed them to make those deep throws and those big plays?

"That's, you're on the money. You just, you get into, it was third-and-mediums, is where our biggest struggle yesterday was. Third-and-medium, and you get into that third-and-medium range, making a play, protecting the sticks, you want to show a little bit of something in the box and then get out of there. Quite frankly, one was a bad angle, but quite frankly, you saw guys at the point and we didn't, I mean, their guy made a good play and we didn't make the play. We've got to make those plays. Coaching-wise, maybe we shouldn't have them flying out of there from such a low level, but we're evaluating all that today. It's what we're doing. But, all that stuff, I knew all that stuff was there. And, again, any fingers to be pointed, they just go right here. But, hats off to them for [Pittsburgh Steelers QB] Ben [Roethlisberger] throwing the ball and, I mean, they maxed up a lot of two and three man routes and did a nice job that way. Particularly in that area, in that third-and-medium range. And, we obviously knew [Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown] 84's a really good football player, and he made some plays that we didn't make."

Just to be clear, based on what you just said, it seems like whatever the defensive call was, maybe the DBs were a step or two just behind because they were trying to get out of formation, just keep with it? Because this is a game of inches and with players like that--?

"Yeah, well we crowd, we load the box, we crowd down, we give you a disguise and you're third-and-two, you're third-and-three, you're third-and-four, are you going to throw a quick out? Are you going to run the ball? So, we show and then we get out of there and a couple of those were cover two, the end result is cover two, which is the safety over the top there. On one there was a bad angle, but other than that I thought our safeties, we got out of there and got to where we needed to be just liked we've done in practice. Guy made a nice catch and we've got to make that play."

LB NaVorro Bowman, after the game yesterday, made a reference to the defense isn't the same guys that have been here the past few years. Was youth any part of this? Was inexperience a factor at all yesterday, do you think?

"Well, again, we're not going to, I personally, I'm not going to go there. We were outplayed, I mean, outcoached, I mean we lost. We lost the football game and all I'm talking about is own it, fix it and move on. It's, we've got to. And again, in this thing, every week is an evaluation. Everybody is evaluated. I'm evaluated, I mean, the entire organization, you all are sitting right here evaluating all of us. Everything is an evaluation. So, whether win, lose or draw. We talked about that a week ago too. We won a football game and we were being crowned. There were a lot of people crowning us. I said it then and I'll say it again, it's a 16-week season and we don't need to get on a rollercoaster. We need to stay, keep your head focused, lock your jaw and let's get to work. Own it, fix it, move on."

How would you assess QB Colin Kaepernick overall yesterday, his game and do you temper any of that based on the fact that a lot of the numbers came after the game was out of hand?

"No. I don't. Again, it's hard to, you lose a football game and it's a game of big plays. You don't like to say anything was good. But, Colin Kaepernick played a pretty good football game. Once again, doing the things we're asking him to do. Getting us into the plays we're asking him to get into. Throwing the ball well. Seeing the field. I think we had 11 different guys targeted in the passing game yesterday, 10 of which caught a pass or more. So, obviously, reading the field. Seeing the receivers, coverages. Getting the ball where it needs to go. Obviously, did a really nice job with his feet and his arm and his brain."

Later in the game after Carlos went out, RB Mike Davis got some good game action, more so than RB Jarryd Hayne. Was it just a point to try and get the rookie some touches?

"Yeah. That was me. I mean, I wanted him playing. We think Michael Davis is a good running back. Just quite honestly, Jarryd Hayne does more on special teams and different areas for us than Michael. But, Michael had an opportunity up. We think he's a good running back, young running back. We're going to hand him the football and let's get going here."

Was Jarryd getting those first reps behind Carlos, was that a product of Jarryd being up Week 1 and maybe being a little bit more comfortable than Mike who was making his NFL debut or what went into that?

"Yeah. You're talking about when Carlos and Jarryd were rotating through?"


"That's just where we were with that, but Michael was going to play. There was no question about that. I wanted to get Michael in the game and we have a lot of confidence in Michael."

You face another quarterback with a big arm, very similar a little bit to Roethlisberger. Is there anything you learned from yesterday that you can apply to this upcoming game?

"Yeah. We've got to make sure they're not behind us. We've got to make plays. We don't want to give up the big play. I've been here for what, nine years. That's always been what we talk about, what we pride ourselves in. We stop the run and prevent the big play."

Obviously, on those big plays, a lot of the focus is on the secondary, but you guys probably didn't get the pass rush you wanted. How much does that play into those plays?

"Yeah. I mean, it's a team game. We talk about the whole thing. And they had a nice plan. They're going to max it up, it's two and three man routes. You've got to keep pushing in there and it's rough pushing. You've got to keep pushing and you've got to keep driving and you've got to cover deeper and longer. It's all team. This is completely a, we have team wins and we have team losses. This is a team loss. We're not sitting up here assessing blame."

How do you evaluate the way the offensive line played yesterday?

"Up and down. There was obviously a couple of plays there that we wished we could have protected a touch longer. But, there were also some really good things. That group there's steadily moving."

Getting back to Carlos. Have your plans to utilize him been affected at all based on yesterday and moving forward with an Arizona front seven?

"No sir. I mean, you know, we're going to, we want to be who we are and we're going to take that into account first. Obviously, we have a ton of respect for Arizona and what they do. We've got to take that into account, but we are who we are also."

Did Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney come in to meet you after the game?

"Yes, ma'am."

What did that mean to you that he came in there?

"It was obviously an honor. It was an honor."

Had you met him before?

"Yes, ma'am. I met him once before in person."

Do you mind sharing just what, because I know everyone being there, your home area, so many people excited for you? Can you share what Mr. Rooney shared with you?

"Yeah. He just wanted to come down and tell me I was a good kid. Keep working, and you're going to have good days and bad days. He kind of laughed and said, ‘We had a good day.' That was it."

How important was it for Colin to connect with WR Torrey Smith on that big play? Obviously, you've seen it on the practice field, but just to get it in a game is that going to help them going forward?

"Yeah. There were some nice routes. We did some things and every game, it's lopsided, it's a lopsided game and I'm not really into talking about all the positives, to be quite honest with you. We had some drops. So, we weren't, nothing was glowingly beautiful yesterday. It was not a good day for us and we've got to get that fixed."