The San Francisco 49ers offense has struggled to get much going this season, but we have seen it show some signs of life. They clawed back against the Los Angeles Rams and almost finished it off. They then rebounded from a slow start to take the Indianapolis Colts to overtime.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer recognizes what has been going on, and discussed how they play when there is more of a sense of urgency. He was asked if the offense performs better when there is a sense of urgency. He said he does not think that, but rather that game situations dictate how the team is playing.
“When there’s eight minutes to go and you’re down two touchdowns, you know you need to score. Maybe you’re more prone to take a shot to [WR] Marquise [Goodwin] and basically give him a chance to make an opportunity, which he did. That got us down there really quick. Kind of similar to when we were playing the Rams and we hit a big one to [WR] Pierre [Garçon] to get it going. I think sometimes that can spark something in the offense and just kind of get the energy going a little bit. If anything, if we have to tell ourselves from the first play, we’re down 21-nothing. We have to do something that we can to be able to do that from the get-go.”
What can the 49ers do to get their offense going this year? Sure, more offensive line help and skill position players, and a better quarterback would help, but that won’t happen for much of this season. What do they do instead?
Here is the rest of Hoyer’s Wednesday press conference transcript.
Do you look at the last game, especially the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter as something to build on?
“Yeah. Like we talked about after the game, just have to execute more. It might be one play that might be the difference. It might be the first play of the game. It could be in the second quarter, could be in the third quarter. Obviously, the last eight minutes that was just the situation we were in. We had to score and we had to score fast. Hopefully build on that and then execute more especially when it gets to the red area. Instead of settling for so many field goals.”
Does the offense function better when there’s that sense of urgency, kind of a nothing to lose type of mentality that you have to go out there with when you’re down 14?
“No, I don’t think so. I think the game always dictates how you’re playing. I believe that. When there’s eight minutes to go and you’re down two touchdowns, you know you need to score. Maybe you’re more prone to take a shot to [WR] Marquise [Goodwin] and basically give him a chance to make an opportunity, which he did. That got us down there really quick. Kind of similar to when we were playing the Rams and we hit a big one to [WR] Pierre [Garçon] to get it going. I think sometimes that can spark something in the offense and just kind of get the energy going a little bit. If anything, if we have to tell ourselves from the first play, we’re down 21-nothing. We have to do something that we can to be able to do that from the get-go.”
Can you take those shots? I know you want to, it’s got to be a calculated risk, but can you take those shots in the first quarter?
“If they’re there, for sure. You want to take them if they’re there. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you turn the ball over early on when the game’s not really dictating itself like that. We always have them in the game plan. Sometimes they present themselves. Sometimes they don’t. It’s just a matter of what the defense plays on a certain play and what we have called.”
Where would you put the talent of this team? Are you kind of still discovering how good you are?
“I talked about it the other day, it’s frustrating because we’re losing such close games. I know our record’s 0-5, but I don’t think we see ourselves as that type of team. We know how close we are. It’s just about going out and executing on all three phases of the ball, especially us. I can only really speak for the offense, but I know that our opportunities are there. At some point we just have to take the bull by the horns and execute and take it on our own accord and just go out and do it. I don’t think we look at it like, ‘Where do we rank talent-wise?’ I don’t look at it that way. I just think, I know what our record says it is and that’s all that matters, but I know how we feel as far as what we’re capable of doing.”
You guys were rolling in the fourth quarter. Did they change something from the fourth quarter and your offensive possession in overtime?
“I don’t think so. In that fourth quarter, like we talked about, you’re kind of in you’ve got to score fast mode. Then all of a sudden now it’s overtime and it’s more like playing a normal game. Obviously the penalty didn’t help us at all. You get the ball at midfield and you have a second-and-20. I know I mentioned it after the game, but we go to empty and they bring a simulated pressure that we had to throw hot. We didn’t have it picked up. Now you’re in third-and-15. It’s not a situation you want to be in. It’s just one series, and unfortunately it didn’t work out when we needed it to.”
By staying close in all these games is it at least saving your guys’ moral too so you don’t have to worry about it?
“We know that we’re so close. I think someone mentioned we’re the first team to lose on the last play of the game since the ’94 Oilers. Four games in a row. You can look at it as a positive or a negative. Obviously the negative, you look at, you look at our record. It’s frustrating and it’s disappointing, but I think you also look at it, ‘God we’re just this close. It’s one play here, one play there and it could be a different story.’ You just keep trying to trust the process, keep getting better. Eventually, like I said, one of these days it’s going to go our way. We’re going to make that one play. We’re going to get that one stop. Whatever it might be, whoever it is. Someone’s going to make that one play and it’s going to turn the fortunes for the whole team.”
Do you watch Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?
“Only if there’s crossover, you what I mean? So, I think the game I watched him this year was LA. They played the Rams. It’s usually like that, as far as the league goes. If you’re having a lot of crossover you might see someone play the same guy a lot of times or whatever it might be. But, that’s really it. There’s so much time-consuming in this business that you’re not going to watch someone unless it’s for your own purpose.”
What does he do well that you’ve seen?
“Just knowing Kirk, he’s very meticulous. He was always that way in college. You can see it play out in his game now. He has a good feel for what he does and the game plan. Obviously, he can throw the ball really well. He’s always been able to do that, and he’s been able to take advantage of his opportunities and he is where he is now.”
How would you describe his presence at the line of scrimmage?
“To be honest, I wasn’t there when he played. I wouldn’t really know.”
How important was it to have TE George Kittle have a big game? Especially on that last drive, I think five catches on that last drive, fought to get across the goal line on that touchdown.
“I think we talked about it before. We’ve got a lot of young guys, but they earn their jobs here. They’re here for a reason. Especially the young guys have gotten better each and every week. For George to have some big catches, the touchdown to basically tie the game up and give us a chance in overtime. It was big. It’s good for him, it’s good to build confidence. I think everyone else around sees it and just says, ‘Let’s just keep working.’ That’s all we can do. We’re not going to sit here and say, ‘Oh we’re 0-5, let’s camp for the rest of the year.’ We have a lot of pride in this room, a lot of guys who are willing to play until the end of every game. When you have that, good things are going to come.”
What does he do well, compared to some of the other guys you’ve played with?
“The thing about George that surprised me, you hear about a tight end from Iowa you’re thinking about this big, blocking tight end. Then he comes in and he has a lot of shiftiness to him. Some good skill set. I think that was surprising. And then, his football IQ and his awareness. You can see it. It’s there all the time. He knows when he has to break a certain way, or maybe sit a little bit longer, whatever it might be. I’ve been impressed from the day he got here. For him to have a game like that on Sunday, come up with some big plays, I think it’s huge for not only him but for our entire offense.”
On that first drive of the game you two couldn’t connect in the end zone. Did you put that ball where you wanted to put it?
“It’s tough. You know what it is? It’s a route built in for an all-out blitz. So, I’ve got to throw it before he breaks and he’s got to break for it. Talk about how close we are, that might be a microcosm of our season. It’s this much. That’s something that you just keep working on and next time we get it hopefully we hit it. It’s kind of one of those things that you keep building. You just keep using the process. That’s probably the first time we’ve ever had that in a live situation. So, next time we’ve got to hit it.”
You watched Kirk closely in college, I would presume. He ended up being a fourth-round pick. Did you ever envision watching him in school that he would eventually become a high-level starter in the NFL?
“I just know the one thing with Kirk was he was very focused and intense in what he was doing. We spent two years together. The first year there he was redshirting. [Philadelphia Eagles QB] Nick Foles was my backup that year. After that, Nick decided to transfer and Kirk was my backup. You could just see the football IQ, how passionate he was about it. So, it doesn’t surprise me at all. I know just from talking to him over the years, having the stuff that he had to deal with in Washington, when I was in Houston the one year, we went up and practiced against the Redskins and [former NFL QB] Robert [Griffin III] was still the starter, I remember talking to Kirk, ‘Hang in there man. You’re going to get your shot. You’ve already had a few chances.’ That was the year I think they ended up making him a starter and the rest is history. Obviously really happy for him. He’s a great guy. Great person first and foremost. That’s the one thing I’ll always remember about him from our time at Michigan State. Very religious. Very humble guy and always fun to be around.”
On Sunday, LB Ray-Ray Armstrong had the interception, then there was the pass interference and it looked like you were going to kick a field goal and win the game. You can point to the other three games and there’s similar moments. You were kind of in control and for various reasons it didn’t work out. I realize you always have to move on to the next week, but that’s agonizing. How much do you replay some of those drives?
“Well you do, then you have to move on. That’s the nature of the league. You think about it for that whole night, a long flight back. The next day you go over it with your coaches. Then, for me, once I go over the film with [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and the coaches, you’ve got to move on. I’m already looking to the next week. You take a 24-hour rule. You kind of take it in, try to correct the mistakes that you can and then move on to the next week. You’ve got to start watching the next team’s defense. That’s just the way it goes. You can’t linger. Even if it’s a win, same thing. You can’t sit there and say, ‘I played great yesterday, we won the game.’ Same thing happens when you lose. You learn from the mistakes and move on. That’s the way I’ve always been able to do it and that’s how you have to in order to be able to stay on pace.”