San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly spoke to the media following the very lopsided performance against their divisional rival. Kelly complimented their opponent for their performance on both sides of the ball, and offered reasons why he made certain calls like opting for a field goal instead of going for it on a 4th and 4 early in the game. Here’s the full transcript: (Yes, there are a few run on sentences. I simply transcribed what I heard.)
What are your thoughts on the game?
Well, I think especially in the first half, if you look at it, third downs were not good either way. I think we were were 0 for 6 on third down, they were 6 for 8 on third down. We did not do a good enough job of getting them off the field when they got in third down situations. We didn’t do a good enough job offensively of staying on the field when we got into third down situations. We knew when playing a defense like that, that was the key, trying to convert on third down against them. They are so good coverage wise with that group of guys they have got, you need to make some plays on third down and we didn’t make enough plays, especially in the first half.
Why did Blaine consistently throw short of the sticks on third down?
Well, we’re running man routes, he is trying to throw to the guy that’s open in those situations. A lot of times it comes down to what’s open and what their scheme is. They will let you throw the ball down and then rally to it. You’re hoping in a lot of situations that it’s catch and run situations where you can catch the ball and knife up the field. We had one to Torrey on a 3rd and 15 where we gained 14. They are going to give up the underneath throw and now you gotta convert. We just didn’t convert sometimes when we had the ball down. We have to get the ball to a guy who is going to get the throw short of the sticks and take that ball and get it past the sticks because they are not going to let you throw the ball past the sticks.
Was there any thought about putting Kaepernick in the game?
No, there wasn’t.
Why were there so many defensive breakdowns early in the game?
Yes, early. That’s part of it. That’s something that we need to look at on film and make corrections off of it. There are times when we are are there to make the play but we don’t tackle and we don’t get the ball carrier down. We will look at everything we have to do to fix it. I told those guys in the locker room we all have to be a part of the solution against a good football team like that and a good quarterback like that. We can’t give extra chances or give him extra time because he is going to take his shots down the field which he did. We knew that going in. When we get the quarterback in the back field, we have to get him down. We can’t let him run around like he did. That’s why he is so dangerous. But you’re right, we do have to tackle better as a group.
Are you surprised your offense did not play better today?
I wouldn’t say surprised. I don’t look at it as going into it one or way or the other. We just knew playing against that defense, it was going to be a tough task. They have very good players at every level with (Cliff) Avril and (Michael) Bennett on the defensive line, (Bobby) Wagner and K.J. Wright at linebacker and then those three guys in the secondary. So we knew we were going against this talented group defensively, that we were going to face, and it was our job, specifically, to convert on third down and we didn’t do that. If the ball is thrown short, as we had the question earlier, if the ball is thrown short of the sticks, we have to get the ball up the field past the sticks and we just didn’t do that.
You said earlier this week maybe you need to throw more on first down. Do you think you did that more?
No, that’s just a general statement. I think against these guys you’re trying to get positive yards on the first downs so consciously, trying to run the ball a little bit more. So when we get to 2nd and 8, or 2nd and 6, then maybe get a little bit even easier third down to convert so you’re not playing behind the sticks. You go 1st and 10 to 2nd and 10 and now you’re playing behind. We’re trying to play a little ahead, see if we could get it from that standpoint. Really the key was, I think it was brought up earlier, we had some very convertible numbers on 3rd downs, 3rd and 4s, 3rd and 3s, where we just didn't convert. Very rarely were we back behind it. We had that one 3rd and 15 but we weren’t in tough third down situations so you gotta give them credit. They did a good job on getting after us on 3rd and medium and 3rd and short.
How do you think Gabbert played?
He played ok.
On the very first play of the game it was a broken play...
It was just a communication. We were supposed to be in a one back set. I don’t know what, you know, that’s a question I gotta get with Carlos on that, but you know that’s on me. I call the play on the sideline so if we’re not set up right, we gotta make sure we’re set up right.
When you opted for the 53 yard field goal attempt, what were your thoughts?
I talked to Phil (Dawson) and saw what he was kicking in the pregame. He was kicking pretty good in that situation. I thought, against this team, any point you can get, you’re going to take. It was early in the game, so I thought we had an opportunity to get it and we hadn’t converted on third down. Kind of that trying to get a conversion. Are you going to get the conversion, you’re trying to play the percentages in your head. We hadn’t converted a third down yet, so to think we’re going to convert a fourth and four, and again Phil had kicked well in pregame and thought he could hit it from there. I talk to Phil all the time and he’ll tell me where he feels comfortable. He’s such a professional, where he feels comfortable and he felt comfortable in that situation and we just came up short.
Do you have a sense of the severity of Jimmie Ward’s injury?
No, I know it was a non contact. I saw in front of our bench and he was running and went down. From the preliminary indications they think it’s a muscle so it’s not a time when you see an ACL or something like that. That doesn't mean we can’t, something else could come up after that. They’ll obviously do everything they can medically to make sure that they look at him. The early indications were that it was a muscle so we’ll see where it is, but I did see him go down in front of me so I was kind of caught off guard by it too.
The Seahawks game has been used as a barometer to measure where the 49ers are for several years. Where do you think the game puts you?
I don’t have a barometer. I haven’t really thought of it that way. I know why people do that because of how talented they are. They were in the Super Bowl just a short time ago. They have been one of the premier teams in the west the last couple of years, so I can see how people look at them. Like I told our players, they were better than us today. That’s how I look at it.
Is it fair to say that you’re a long ways away from them?
I don’t look at it as a long way away from anything. I just know today they were a better football team.
Despite the score, what did you see out there that encourages you about this team?
I think they fought and they will compete. I think that is a positive and you can continue build on that. We have to clean up the mistakes and cannot start from such a hole. The first rule of a hole is if you find yourself in them, stop digging. I think we kept digging a few times in the first half. We gotta, as a group, coaches, players and everybody, stop it and put ourselves in the situation where it’s a competitive ball game and we get a chance to go out there and compete.
The team got down pretty quickly. Would you say that the team wasn’t mentally ready?
You write whatever you want or say whatever you want but when you give up 17 points at the start of the game I don’t think it’s a mentally ready thing. I think we miss fit in the gap and we weren’t where we were supposed to be on the run if you want to talk about that specifically. We’ve got to do a better job, we gotta coach it better, we gotta play it better. It’s up to us and the guys in that locker room to find a solution. Doesn't get any easier, you got Dallas coming in next week. We gotta regroup, get back on the field on Tuesday and move forward.