I realize you haven’t seen the injury report, but have you had any interaction with WR Torrey Smith and how’s he doing?
“No, I haven’t today. I know he’s in the concussion protocol. Last I saw Torrey was on the field. But, I haven’t had a chance to visit with him today. Again, I meet with [vice president of football operations Jeff Ferguson] Ferg this afternoon at 1:30. So, I haven’t gotten anything on that.”
Did he lose consciousness when he--?
“I don’t know. I can’t give you the specifics. But, I know he was concussed when I was out on the field.”
Was it only a concussion or did he possibly suffer a shoulder injury too?
“I didn’t get anything from that. I thought it was just a concussion. But, I’ll get further information for you guys this afternoon. So, I didn’t think the way they were talking to him when I was out there that there was a shoulder part of that.”
Did any of the injuries suffered yesterday appear to be season-enders?
“I don’t know. We’ve got to find out about [C Daniel] Kilgore and [TE] Vance [McDonald] today. Those would be the two that would be the most pressing to find out if they’ll be able to go here. So, those are the ones I’m most concerned about. And again, I meet with Jeff at 1:30 today.”
Was the initial diagnosis on Kilgore a muscle pull or strain?
“They just said it was a knee. So, I don’t know.”
You had T Joe Staley obviously missed going into the game with a hamstring. With a hamstring, usually a couple weeks, is there a chance he might be done for the season with that--?
“Again, what they said to me was, we didn’t think he was going to be able to go this week. But, it’s day-to-day and we’ll just see how he progresses.”
Just a clarification on Kilgore, knee or leg with him?
“Knee, they said to me.”
How do you, after yesterday’s game, pick up the pieces? What kind of message do you have to give your team to keep them out of this rut that seems to be just building and building?
“I think you just have to stand up and fight again. I think that’s the one thing, when you look at the tape, these guys play with great effort. They give you everything that they have. So, that part’s not, that’s the one thing that I think they can control in what they bring to it and that’s what they did. I thought they did play hard and I thought they did give good effort. We’ve got to find a way to make another play. But, I think from an effort standpoint and their approach to it, I think they’ve been really good from that standpoint.”
You said yesterday you thought that the defense had become worn down by the end of the game. I think that they lead the league in snaps. Is there any sense that they’re wearing down at the end of the season as well, just the accumulation of all--?
“I don’t think that. I think it’s by game. And again, we didn’t stay on the field offensively and that’s the biggest thing. We need to convert and keep drives alive and keep our defense off the field. Kind of that first half was a little bit different than the Chicago first half. In the Chicago first half, I think we had the ball twice as much as Chicago did and they didn’t really do anything until the last two-minute drive. And then this one, even though we were up, we didn’t have the ball very long in the first half, even when we scored. Obviously, it was a short field for the first drive. The second drive was a bang-bang. So, you’re in, it’s 14-0. We had a couple more drives where we went down and missed the field goals, but we weren’t on the field very long. And the biggest thing is just third down conversions. I think we need to put ourselves in situations where we convert on third down.”
This was an issue obviously when you were hired and we talked a lot about time of possession. Have you kind of rethought your position on that--?
“We’re not snapping the ball very fast. So, you still have to make plays though. So, if you look at us, most of the time we’re into single digits on the play clock. There’s a lot of times where we’re working it down, making sure we’re in the right play and the right protection. So, it’s not like we’re playing fast football right now. It’s just we’re not converting when we need to convert and that’s the biggest thing. So, it doesn’t matter how fast you break the huddle or how fast you line up on the ball. If you’re not going to convert on third down then you’re not going to stay on the field. So, it’s a matter of making plays when we have to make plays because we aren’t playing fast. We’re not snapping the ball very fast. We’re not running any tempo. We’re just calling plays on the line of scrimmage, making sure we’re in the right situations. You see [QB] Colin [Kaepernick] go through a lot of checks up there and most of the time we’re snapping the ball, again, under 10. But, we still have to convert when we do that also.”
Did you consider taking a timeout before the fourth down call?
“Did I consider taking a timeout?”
“Because we knew what play we were going to run. So, we were just going to line up and run it. I didn’t want to give them an opportunity to change personnel or anything like that. We liked the grouping that was on the field for them. So, give ourselves an opportunity to run a play that we had been very successful earlier in the game on.”
What did you see from G Zane Beadles, G Andrew Tiller and C Marcus Martin on the offensive line?
“I thought Zane did a nice job, obviously playing a new position for the first time and then that whole group was new for us. So, Tiller at left guard, he had played at right guard earlier in the year for us and then Marcus played center. There were a little bit of communication issues at times just because Danny has such a command in terms of what we do. But, overall, I thought those guys for the amount of time that they had to practice there did a good job.”
Are you coming up with any solutions for the 49ers vanishing offense?
“I think offensively we were productive in the first half. In the second half, we needed to stay on the field. The first drive, we have a drop. The second drive, we have a drop and then we had two penalties on the next two drives after that. So, we’ve got to keep ourselves out of negative situations. Obviously, we weren’t very penalized on the day, but those two penalties at critical times right at the beginning of the fourth quarter and then the next drive in the fourth quarter put us in long distances and trying to convert. That’s difficult for us right now to convert real third and longs. So, I think the penalty thing, even though there weren’t a lot, that’s the biggest thing we need to kind of harp on from a fourth quarter standpoint was that and then we had two drops in the third quarter that really kind of killed drives for us at the point in time.”
With Vance’s extension, what have you seen from him that makes you want to keep him around for the long-term? How much of that is kind of projecting what he can become in this offense rather than what he’s done?
“Well, I wasn’t here in the past. So, I’ve only had Vance since April and I think he’s fit in very nicely in terms of what we’re trying to do. I think he’s a mismatch in the pass game for some people. If you try to match him with a linebacker, obviously his speed is probably better than any linebacker that’s going to cover him. He has a size matchup when you want to put a defensive back on him. So, we’ve exploited some teams with those matchups for us. I don’t know the number of plays over 60, but he’s had a few of those long catch and runs in mismatch situations where we found him. The speed that he has at the tight end spot is kind of rare and unique for him. So, obviously, I think he was a guy that when you look at the market for tight ends, kind of where he fits, you’re hoping you can keep your own guys home and that was the decision there.”
Were you involved in that as far as did they ask you for the OK to go ahead and start negotiating this deal?
“No. I mean, I don’t negotiate contracts, but they asked me if I wanted Vance back and I said yes.”
Yesterday, obviously RB Carlos Hyde had a really good game. He played 30 snaps and RB Shaun Draughn played 27. Was there a conditioning aspect of it with Carlos? Was he winded?
“Yeah. I mean, there were a couple times after the long runs where he took himself out. But, you understand because of the long runs. So, I don’t think it was one of those, [running backs coach Tom Rathman] Rath wasn’t trying to get an even-steven deal. It was just trying to keep him fresh. But, when you rip off some of the runs he had, I think he had seven for one-and-change in the first half. But, after those long runs, he’s not going to be able to go the next one. Shaun’s first touchdown was a byproduct of, I think Carlos had a 40-some-odd yard run. So, Shaun went in for the next play and we punched it in from the four on that run. Some other things on third down, that’s when we’re trying to get Shaun involved as our third down back and our blitz pickup guy and our back coming out of the backfield, which he’s done a really nice job of.”
At the start of the season, Shaun was the number two guy and then we saw RB Mike Davis, we saw RB DuJuan Harris. Now, Shaun is back to being the number two guy.
“Yeah. He’s worked really hard to get back to it. I think he missed some things early in some blitz pickups but has worked really hard with coach Rathman on that. A guy that we’ve got total confidence in in being back there on third down and he’s done a nice job with it.”
You had six guys on defense in there for all 84 snaps. Was there thought to rotate them a little bit more and they--?
“Yeah, there is. But, in some of those positions we didn’t really have anybody else. So, it’s making sure that there’s a fine line between, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get him out of the game,’ but also, who are we playing with in that situation? So, there’s a couple of those guys that really are kind of invaluable for us. So, it’s really tough to get them off the field.”
It’s unique that an interior lineman like DL DeForest Buckner plays as much. How’s he benefiting from just the amount of time he’s been--?
“I think he played his best game yesterday. He had nine-plus tackles, two sacks, was all over the field and I think you see him, the more he plays the more he understands what we’re trying to get accomplished over there. He plays with such great effort and such a great motor and just loves playing football. So, I don’t see that effect especially that you have in a rookie that sometimes later in the year they wear down because the season’s a little bit longer. But, I think he’s been trained for this. I know the background that he came from. I think he’s trained to play with great effort. I thought he was trained to understand what it takes. So, I think that’s a benefit of getting a kid from where we got him from.”
Dating to last year your teams have lost 21 of the last 28 games. Just as a head coach, does it make you question your philosophy, the way you do things or has that had any effect on you as far as looking at your overall--?
“Certainly, I don’t look at last year compared to this year because it’s two entirely different operations and what you’re dealing with and how things are being done. So, I don’t look back to last year and then compare anything from last year to this year because I think it’s entirely different, what’s gone on here compared to what we did there. So, I think we always look at everything on a weekly basis trying to see how we can improve. You look at the game yesterday; it’s about making one more play than the other team. It’s not like we’re getting taken to the woodshed and don’t have an opportunity to compete and play. I think our guys are playing with great effort. I think our guys are competing. We’ve just got to find a way to get over the top.”
Double back to Buckner. You said the benefit of getting him from where he’s from. What are you referring to?
“I know how he was trained, where he played college ball. So, I know what they asked their defensive linemen to do there. I know how he learned how to strain when he was at Oregon. I think from [University of Oregon head strength and conditioning coach] Jimmy Radcliffe and their strength and conditioning coaches to [former University of Oregon head coach] Mark Helfrich and the coaching staff that they had there, I know what they asked their players to do. So, what Buck is doing now from a conditioning standpoint isn’t surprising to me. That’s what I meant.”
You go into halftime again with a lead. What are some of the things you discussed with the team at halftime?
“That we just have to finish. We were up. How do we finish this? That was a big point for all our coaches when they met with their individual players and we went over what we needed to go over and then we broke and just talked about finishing in the second half and coming in with a victory.”
Going back to that question, I understand you can’t compare seasons and everything. The common thing is there’s a losing record. So, does that, if you’re not winning, do you say, ‘Hey, why is this?’
“Yeah. I think you say that every day though. I don’t think that has anything do with where we were before or where we came from and that was my point. How we do things here is different than how we did things in Philadelphia. That was my point.”
What are some differences?
“Strength and conditioning is different here, how that works. A lot of different things in terms of how we look at things. So, I think [director of human performance Mark Uyeyama] Uye and those guys do a fantastic job here in terms of taking care of our guys. So, I think it’s very different from that standpoint.”
You’ve never been through this kind of losing. What kind of a toll is it taking on you personally?
“I think we’re all frustrated and we’re all trying to figure out what the solution is. That’s what you have to do.”