It has been a long time since the San Francisco 49ers have experienced the joy of winning. It was like a dam of water had burst on the sidelines after Rashard Robinson ultimately closed out the game with his late fourth quarter interception. I’m sure it felt just as good for head coach Chip Kelly, on the inside.
Kelly complimented his players on their attitude, professionalism and continued will to win after such a rough season. After being in the locker room for a few seasons, I can tell you that the attitude in the locker room is by far better than it was last season, even though their record was better.
Kelly also discussed how excited the players were during their comeback after being down 21-7 in the fourth quarter and their desire to go for two and the win. Kelly, however said the decision really was based on how much time was left in the game, trusting the defense after how they were playing today, even without the help of Glenn Dorsey.
Here is the full transcript:
How good does it feel to get the win today?
“I’m just really happy for our guys. They competed, and they’ve competed for a while. I think they’ve done a great job of just focusing on the task at hand. That’s what we’ve asked them to do, to concentrate on what they can control – they control their attitude, they control their efforts. They had a really good week of training this week, and I’m just happy for them that they had a chance to win the football game.”
Were you always planning on going for two?
“Depending on how much time was left on the clock. That drive started with a while (left), so if we had scored with two minutes (left), we would have probably thought about maybe kicking it, because our defense played really, really well all day long. Their three scoring drives all occurred when we turned the ball over inside our 50 yard-line and then that’s when they scored. I was confident in our defense if they had to go back out on the field, just like when they did after we went for two and they came up with a big play. So, really just watching the clock and seeing how much time was left. When it got down inside of 45 (seconds) then we thought about it because they’ve got to drive the field to kick a field goal. We had an unfortunate…with the penalty there, so we couldn’t get a chance to pin them deep, but our defense still came up with something big there.”
What can you say about QB Colin Kaepernick’s ability to improvise there on the goal line?
“It was a designed rollout. That’s what we were trying to do with him – try to get him on the edge. He had a run-pass option: if they cover everybody, he’s going to run it. If they came up, then he was going to throw it, so it was a designed play for him.”
How good did he play throughout that fourth quarter in the comeback?
“I thought he did a good job. He had a whole new group up front. There were some growing pains for some of the young guys as they’re getting their first snaps in there. When (49ers G Joshua) Garnett when down, (49ers OL) Alex Balducci got his first snaps in there. We knew that going in that we were going to be a little bit of a work in progress with that offensive line group, but they competed and they battled. They gave everything they had. I think as the game wore on and they kind of got a little bit more settled, they gained a little bit of confidence, but I thought that Kap did a nice job.”
Through that stretch with all of the punts, did you ever consider switching to 49ers QB Christian Ponder?
“No, not at all.”
After 13 losses, that reaction on the sidelines, does that show you their spirit isn’t broken?
“No. I’m around them every day and I’ve said all along what I think about these guys in terms of their approach and it’s been great. What you saw today is what we see every day. There’s an energy and a spirit to them in terms of how they practice and how they train. They’ve not come up on the right side of things, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to let that affect them. They’ll come back to work. I’ve asked them every week, when we’re in the locker room when we have post-game, that you’ve got to come back, you’ve got to bring the energy, you’ve got to bring the juice, and they did it again this week. Hopefully we’ve got one more in us because we have an opportunity to play at home.”
Why did you decide to put Trent Brown on the left side instead of the right?
“Just because of the matchups. We thought that it was a little bit better to have him over there than John Theus. We wanted to get John the first snaps on the right side. That’s where John practices mostly.”
Is there a preliminary diagnosis on 49ers RB Carlos Hyde’s?
“I’ve got nothing on Carlos. I didn’t see it, to be honest with you. I was trying to see if we were going to hit the over route. That’s what I thought when I first saw the coverage, ‘Were we going to get a chance to hit the over route behind it?’ Then, all of a sudden, I think (QB Colin Kaepernick) got pressured. That’s what I was asking our guys, ‘Did he get pressured?’ because he dumped it down to his pressure outlet, which was Carlos. I really didn’t see it, to be honest with you.”
What’s your emotion after 13 straight losses?
“I’m just really excited for our players, and I think they’ve done everything that, as a coaching staff, we’ve asked them to do. They deserve it. They’ve worked for it and they earned it, so I’m really just happy for those guys.”
After all of the turnovers and punts, did something magically change with the offense?
“No., nothing magically changed. We just executed and made plays when we had to.”
Who was Kaepernick’s target on the run-pass option?
“He had (49ers WR Rod) Streater first and then he had the other two receivers coming, so we had (49ers WR Jeremy) Kerley and then I don’t know if it was ‘Harp’ (49ers WR Chris Harper) in the game or ‘Burb’ (49ers WR Aaron Burbridge) in the game at that point – or (49ers WR DeAndre) Smelter in the game. It was one of those guys. So he had three options: he had a quick one to Streater, because he was the guy who went in motion, and then he had the other two guys.”
Were your players encouraging you to go for the two-point conversion?
“They were excited. We have a great group. It’s a great group to be around. They were excited. You can tell with their energy and enthusiasm. They were fired up.”
How has Chris Jones come in and been so effective so quickly?
“We’ve picked up a lot of players this season because of injuries, but ‘Jonesy’ is one of those guys that has really stood out right from the jump, and I think shored us up. We didn’t have ‘Dors’ (DL Glenn Dorsey) today, so he’s really helped us. The games when ‘Q-Dial’ (DT Quinton Dial) hasn’t been able to play, I think Jonesy’s really stepped up for us. He’s a strong, physical player. He had a really good background coming in. I think he had been with the Patriots, he had been with the Dolphins, so he kind of understood what we were trying to get done defensively. Almost from the get-go…two days in, we were like, ‘Hey, we’re going to get some valuable reps out of him and I think he could be a good player for us.’ I’m really happy with where he is right now.”
WR DeAndre Smelter wasn’t targeted at all in his first game with the team. Was that a result of the matchup?
“No. He was all over the place, so it wasn’t the matchup. It was just the quarterback taking what they gave us.”
Did you have a good view of Robinson’s interception?
“Yeah, it was right in front of me. He did a nice job of cutting the receiver off and caught the ball, got both feet in bounds, and stayed right there.”