Just your initial thought on the defensive problems throughout this game?
“When you’re playing against a team like that and a quarterback that’s that special just way too many big plays. You get them into situations where you feel comfortable - it’s third-and-long and then all of a sudden [New Orleans Saints QB] Drew [Brees] just keeps hitting those back shoulder throws where our guys are there but then don’t make a play on the ball. It’s unfortunate when you’re playing against somebody as talented as him, really, truly a Hall of Fame quarterback you’ve got to make plays and we didn’t. The story of the game was he had too many ‘ex’ [explosive] plays on the defensive side of the ball and three times we had an opportunity down in the red zone and we came away with zero points. We fumbled on the one. We fumbled on the 10. Then we have a fourth-and-one that we don’t convert, so against a good team like that you can’t do that. Both sides of the ball contributed to it.”
QB Colin Kaepernick seemed to have a little bit of an up and down day. He was inaccurate from the pocket, but did some good things as well. How do you assess how he did today?
“Probably the same way you just said, an up and down day. I thought there were some throws in the pocket that if we could’ve completed them then we’d have stayed on the field and kept some drives alive. But, I also thought he did some really good things, fit some balls in there. A couple of balls to [TE] Vance McDonald were big plays to us. Tried to take advantage of some of the things he did, but again I think the story for us offensively, we fumbled on the one, we fumbled on the 10, and then we didn’t convert on a fourth-and-one. That’s three series where we’re down in the red zone and we come away with zero points when you lose the game by 19.”
What do you think of RB DuJuan Harris’s day?
“Same thing, I think there’s some things DuJuan does really well for us, but I think right now we have an issue with our running backs holding onto the football. So, we have to do a better job of that because we’re not good enough on the defensive side of the ball to turn the ball over like that.”
CB JaCorey Shepherd had a nice day for you too.
“Yeah, he did. DuJuan had been back there for us, but with [RB] Carlos [Hyde] down and DuJuan getting a little bit more of the bulk of the carries on the offensive side of the ball, it was good to have a second returner step up and I thought he did a real nice job in his first action. He was really good in college, but I don’t think he’s returned a kick in the NFL and today was really kind of his baptism. But, what you want in a guy like that is a guy someone that’s going to hit it up in there and trust the blocking scheme. Not a guy who’s going to dance and I thought he was a threat back there. At least that was one positive from the special teams aspect that we can build on.”
There’s a play at the end of the first half, eight seconds left and the Saints had a shot at the end zone. All three of your defensive backs essentially held and tackled the Saints receivers. Is that a scenario that you guys have gone over in the past?
“We practice all sorts of scenarios at the end of the first half and the end of the game. So, we got flagged for a penalty there, which is a five-yard penalty and then they kicked a field goal. They were in field goal range.”
My point is it seemed to work out. They had no chance of scoring obviously and they were forced to kick the field goal. Has that kind of crossed your mind that’s what we should do in that specific scenario?
“There’s a lot of things that we practice in practice that cross our minds.”
With Colin’s inconsistency, when he goes through his stretches where he seems to be inaccurate, is that just him losing his technique? Is it concentration? How would you assess--?
“I’d have to look at the specifics of it. But, when you get into a game like that when you’re down the way that we were down, all of a sudden it turned into more throw game. So, obviously there’s going to be more opportunities. I don’t know how many attempts he had, but you get into that. When we get into a rhythm and we’re moving the ball both run and pass, I think we’re better on the offensive side of the ball. Obviously, when you’re playing from behind like we were, we did have that one stretch where we went three-and-out real quick and just weren’t real comfortable back there and those are things we need to continue to work on with him.”
Was defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil in the coaches booth today?
“Yes, he was.”
What went into that decision?
“Jimmy said he wanted to be upstairs and I said, ‘Okay”
Are you going to consider making changes to your defensive staff this week?
“On who goes up stairs?”
No, to your coaching staff?
Have you thought of DL Arik Armstead having the shoulder surgery?
“I don’t have the information in terms of what happened to him today. I know he was out and he was done. During the course of the game all they tell me is he’s out and he could come back or he’s out for the game. I was just told he was out for the game, so I haven’t had a chance to talk to the doctors.”
Was there any thought of having him take care of--?
“Again, I haven’t had any conversations about anything about his injury today. I don’t know what the injury was today.”
Just to have it taken care of for the season, because he’s been in and out.
“Again, I don’t know what the injury was today, so there hasn’t been any conversations about anything like that. So, I’m sorry. I’ll get that information for you. Hopefully I get it for you tomorrow.”
How much of the struggles on defense are Jim O’Neil’s fault? Is this team getting outcoached on defense?
“No, I think it’s everybody’s fault on the defensive side. I think we need to do a better job of putting our players in position to make plays and that’s everybody. So, that’s all of us. That’s me. It starts with the head coach. So, I don’t blame one single person for it.”
Do you plan on making any personnel changes, specifically upfront in your front seven because this defense ranks dead last against the run?
“I don’t know. We’ve got to look at who’s injured and who’s available and all those other things. To say, ‘Hey, we’re going to make a switch now,’ you’ve got to know who’s available and take a look at where we are, but we have rotated guys. We were fortunate, we felt like, to get [DL Glenn Dorsey] Dorse back today. We have rotated guys through our defensive line. There’s not a lot of options at the inside linebacker spot. We lost [LB] Ray-Ray [Armstrong] for the year. We lost [LB] NaVarro [Bowman] for the year. Aaron Lynch was unavailable today. So, a lot of the decisions that are made in terms of what personnel play on the defensive side of the ball is really what’s available to us right now. And, I think everybody that dressed played, so [LB] Tank [Carradine] rotated in with [LB Ahmad Brooks] Brooksie and [LB] Eli [Harold] at outside linebacker. [LB] Mike Wilhoite was in there at inside linebacker. We rotated the D-Line, [DT] Tony Jerod-Eddie played today. [DL] Ronald Blair played today. So, I think it’s not like guys aren’t playing defensively for us. If you’re up, you’re playing. I think just with the amount of plays we’re facing they are all getting opportunities out there to show us what they can do.”
At 41-23, it was obviously a three-score game and you went for it on fourth down. Why didn’t you opt for the field goal and make it a two scores?
“We felt like we needed a touchdown there. I didn’t think a field goal against Drew and what they were doing to us defensively was going to really make a dent into anything. So, thought we had to go for it at that point in time.”