Who’s your quarterback on Sunday?
“[QB] Colin [Kaepernick]. Colin will be our quarterback against Tampa Bay. I think there are some things he did on Sunday that you can build upon. For his first extended playing time since last year, I thought there were some real positives there that we need to continue to kind of try to build with him and get him going. Gives us the best chance against Tampa Bay this week.”
What do you like best about what he did and that performance?
“I think he kept a lot of plays alive and he’s looking not only to, sometimes the protection broke down, but he kept some plays alive from that standpoint. Did a good job keeping the ball out of harm’s way. Didn’t throw any interceptions. It didn’t seem like, there were no balls where you were like, ‘Oh geeze, that was a close one.’ Sometimes you can have a game where you didn’t throw any interceptions, but you should have, the defense just dropped them. I thought he did a good job protecting the football for us on the offensive side of the ball. And again, I think he had what was it 88 yards rushing? He gave us, 66 or 88, double-digit number, whatever it was. Gave us some opportunities there in the run game. So, going forward kind of try to build upon what he did this past week.”
How do you explain the disparity between his first half performance and his second half performance?
“Well, you look at the second half was kind of limited especially there in the third quarter. But, we had a couple drives there we had some drops. I think he put the ball on there. The first drive the second half we have a big run on first down, miss a hitch on the outside, his ball was probably a little bit outside but we still should have caught it. Then we get a third, we’re still third-and-three, but then they jump offsides but we react late to it so we get called for an illegal procedure now we’re back to third-and-nine and we get a ball behind [WR Jeremy] Kerley on that with the pretty good coverage on their part. Next drive, I think he does a really good job. We start way backed up on our end, gets us out of there. Makes a great play coming out of the end zone. We get a first down, we’re moving and then we have a third-and-manageable that we can make and then we throw a slant route and it gets dropped. So, that was kind of, the next drive I think we drove down and actually scored points. No, the next drive we drove, didn’t convert on the fourth-and-one, had a drive of about 50-60 yards. Again, I thought he did a good job in terms of what he was asked to do in the third quarter.”
Why does your team consistently get outplayed in the second half and why do you seem to get outcoached in the second half?
“I think for us as a group we need to do a better job of playing a complete football game. If there’s one thing you can point it at and, ‘Hey it’s this, let’s just make a change and do that,’ but I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. Like I just mentioned earlier to the earlier question, we had a couple drops there in the third quarter that would have kept us on the field for certain drives and we didn’t stay on the field for certain drives. Obviously, some of those drives on the defensive side of the ball we’re doing a good job, but we’ve got some missed tackles that are involved in there. It’s coaching and players. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Do you make adjustments in the second half?
“Yeah, we make adjustments in the second half.”
Obviously this running defense issue has been continuous pretty much this season. Have there been changes in the scheme leading up to this?
“Yeah, I think we changed a little bit going into this game. We kind of simplified the plan going into this game against Buffalo because you’re playing against a multiple look team, a team that ran a lot of Wildcat, a team that ran a lot of unbalanced, a team that ran a lot of very different things that you don’t see normally from other teams in the NFL and do it very well. So, we did simplify the game plan kind of going into this game to give our guys more of an opportunity. Just kind of get your cleats in the ground. Let’s get set. Not a lot of responsibilities, let’s play football. That was our conscious effort kind of going into this game and we’ve just got to sustain it. I think there’s a couple positions we don’t have a ton of depth at and they are probably playing too much. At our inside linebacker spot, we need to rotate more at the linebacker spot. After losing [LB] NaVorro [Bowman] and after losing [LB] Ray-Ray [Armstrong] there with just [LB Nick] Bellore and [LB Michael] Wilhoite and [LB Gerald Hodges] Hodgy out there, I think we need to rotate and play a little bit more guys at the inside linebacker spot to free the [inaudible]. That could be a factor in terms of some of the missed tackles and some of that. I think we need to get a little bit better rotation going at a couple positions on the defensive side of the ball.”
Are you going to look at LB Shayne Skov?
“I think we need to get a look at some other people, especially at inside linebacker. I think Nick played 80 snaps. He was our leading guy there. We do rotate on the D-Line, but I think at inside linebacker we need to get a little bit better rotation going there.”
As the losses pile up, how do you avoid sort of a team mindset of, ‘Man, we just don’t have enough talent to compete?’
“Well, we’ve got to go play and when you’re a competitor you’ve got to go play. I don’t think anybody on our team, which I do like about our group, is looking to make excuses. They’re looking to try to find out what the solution is and what we’ve got to do to go get a victory this week and that’s what kind of our mindset is. That’s what’s good about this group. It’s not one of those defeatist attitudes. There’s 10 games left in this season and if you have an opportunity to go compete, you’re playing football at the highest level. It should be a privilege to play in this league and not say ‘woes me.’ And, that’s not the attitude that those guys have right now. That’s not anything that I’ve seen from them and I think that same group that I just talked about will be back here tomorrow morning and competitive and get ready to go and play against a Tampa Bay team.”
You go back basically to take, fourth quarter 24-16 take them back to there. This is where it all went wrong after that?
“No question. And I think look at some of those long runs at the end there, there’s just a lot of missed tackles and we’ve got to do a better job. But, some of that has to be us. I think in some of those situations we need to get some other guys in the game and keep those guys a little bit fresher as we get going into the fourth quarter of those games.”
It seemed like that fourth-and-one play and then them going down to score, it was a four-point game and then they scored. When you look at the film, do you wish you might have called something different?
“Well, you always do when you look at the film and say, ‘Geeze, if I knew they were going to run a slant twist inside we would run this.’ But, you don’t know what they’re going to do. The numbers were favorable in the run game. They had a four-two box. They had six guys. We had six guys to block six guys. They did a good job in their twist pattern. They ran an inside twist with their two inside linebackers. One of them crossed the center’s face. The center went back. Our right guard didn’t come as far as he should have on that play. They did a good job, but when you look at number-wise it was a six-man box versus six blockers. We should do a better job in that situation.”
How did G Joshua Garnett play?
“I thought Josh was OK in extended playing time. I think he played 20 snaps against Arizona, got a chance to play almost the whole game or did play the whole game this game. Like any rookie, I think there were some ups where he did some really good things, but there were some downs also. So, hopefully for him he can build upon that in terms of what he’s got. He’s got a little bit more experience going in here as we get going against Tampa Bay.”
Was playing him the whole game the plan going in or did he earn it?
“We talked about it. He did have a good week of training. It was one of those deals going into it where we said, ‘Let’s just see how this week plays itself out,’ and I thought going through Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, into Friday, we felt comfortable with Josh. I think he felt comfortable. So, we were just going to see how long he could go and what he could do. So, there really wasn’t a set number of how we’re going to play him. You’d like to keep kind of the same guys in there if you can from a continuity standpoint. So, we felt like he did a good job when he was out there so let’s continue to grow with him. You know he’s a rookie. There are going to be mistakes that are going to be made. Everybody makes mistakes during the course of a game. But, there was nothing that he was just overwhelmed or getting outplayed so that we’ve got to get him out. It’s just, let’s keep growing him and let’s keep building him here.”
You said before the season started that RB Shaun Draughn was clearly your number two running back. What changed? Did he suffer an injury in that game or--?
“No, he didn’t suffer an injury. I think [RB] Mike [Davis] has just done a nice job and I think Shaun had some opportunities in the Arizona game, but now Mike has done some things in practice. And the other guy is [RB] DuJuan [Harris] that we’ve talked about do we get him up on game day also because he’s another guy that’s shown some things from a practice standpoint to try to really find out who that number two guy is behind [RB] Carlos [Hyde]? So, we’ll see as it goes forward. What we do have to evaluate on is what we do in practice this week in terms of moving forward with who’s going to be really that guy behind Carlos.”
Did you get clarity on Carlos’ injury at that point in the game and--?
“No, he was out at, I think he got injured right at the beginning of the third quarter there on a run, came back and played one series and then he was out on that last drive of the third quarter. He was out. So, the third-and-one, the fourth-and-one, he wasn’t available to us on those plays.”
Is QB Blaine Gabbert your number two for sure this week and are he and QB Christian Ponder competing for that spot?
“No. Blaine will probably be the number two this week unless injury or something like that occurs. We’ll see how that goes.”
Is Ponder getting any snaps?
“Yeah. Ponder gets some snaps in there. I think he’s done a really nice job on our scout squad and continues to take some random snaps here. The difficulty is just the number of snaps you have overall. Your one’s got to get X amount of snaps to get ready. Your two’s got to get X amount of snaps to get ready. So, Christian gets sprinkled in there a little bit. We try to get him some reps in terms of where we are. There just aren’t enough reps to go around to get three quarterbacks ready to play and then obviously you’re only going to dress two on game day. So, right now, it’s Kap is one and Blaine is two.”
You mentioned the need to rotate linebackers. Any other changes given the fact that the run defense has been a problem ongoing?
“I think the other positions we are rotating players. So, any defensive lineman that’s available for us on game day has been playing. So, we’ve got a rotation going on in there. We were a little limited in our rotations in the secondary because [DB] Jimmie Ward and [S] Jaquiski [Tartt] did not play because of injury. So, we were kind of set there. I think if those guys come back this week, then we’ve got a little bit more flexibility in the secondary in terms of what we do and how do we deploy who’s back. But, I think that’s the one position, at inside linebacker, where we didn’t rotate with Hodges and Skov at inside linebacker, when we probably need to get those guys involved a little bit more.”
Obviously, players such as DL DeForest Buckner and DL Arik Armstead are prototypes, tall, exactly what you want when you look in the draft. But, sometimes against the run, is that a disadvantage to them if they’re tall and linemen can get leverage and get inside of them?
“Yeah. That’s not happening though. I understand your question. It can if you’re, if just philosophically, if you have a tall guy that can’t bend and is getting beat with leverage, then yeah that can be an issue. With those two players in particular, that’s not an issue though. They’re not losing the leverage battle because of their height.”
A lot of talk because we asked you about Colin’s physical, his weight, his strength, whatever. Could you make any judgment on that by--?
“No, and I think he’s back. I addressed that earlier. We had talked about, that question originally came up in camp in August but that was six, seven weeks ago. And as I said, one thing about Colin that everybody here admires is his work ethic and he’s worked extremely hard at getting more physical, getting stronger, getting faster and you continue to see that. So, I see a different Colin out there now than I do seven weeks ago when we were in camp trying to make the final decision on where we were going to be from a quarterback standpoint. So, I see a little bit difference. I think he’s up closer to 220 now, not that the weight is a number that has to be a certain thing that he has to get to, but I think he’s gotten stronger and he’s gotten a little bit faster since we last had this conversation.”
Why was TE Blake Bell inactive?
“[TE] Je’Ron’s [Hamm] done a really good job on some of the things we were doing special teams-wise. We were trying to get Je’Ron in there. Je’Ron’s done a really good job covering kicks for us and in kick return. But, that position is always going to be up and down depending on who we’re playing and what [special teams coordinator Derius Swinton II] Swint’s trying to do special teams-wise. So, Blake could be back up this week. Je’Ron could be down. Really that’s kind of an up and down deal.”
Is there a lot of rust in Colin’s game right now just from not playing in a year?
“I don’t think there’s a lot of rust. I think there’s some things, he’s not a guy that’s played seven straight games and is seeing things just like that. But, that’s understandable. Really, his last extensive playing time was in the San Diego game. But, there’s room there where I think he can grow and I’m sure as he watches the tape with us tomorrow and we get a chance to sit down and visit with him and go through everything, he’ll see some things and get a chance to get a little bit better and that’s the thing that we’re encourage by because he did a lot of really good things and I think we just need to try to build upon that as we move forward.”
How’s his arm strength?
“His arm strength’s good.”