The way QB Jimmy Garoppolo stands in there and takes hits – is that something that you saw in your analysis of him before you all made this trade?
“Yeah, definitely. If you don’t as an NFL quarterback, you can’t be successful. You’ve got to have guys who are fearless, who hang in there, keep their eyes down the field. He does that very, very well. But, he also has the foot quickness and the agility to get out of there too and extend some plays, which could get some off schedules going for us.”
What settled the quarterback down?
“Just staying on the field a little bit longer. We missed a few explosives early in that first quarter. Everyone kind of had their turn missing them. I was proud of our guys because usually when you miss some ops (opportunities) like that – we knew we would have them, we came up a little short, guys kind of get down. But no one hesitated in the second quarter. You know Jimmy (Garoppolo) made some big plays. Juice (Kyle Juszczyk) made a huge play. (Garrett) Celek made a huge play. Marquise (Goodwin) made a number of them. Those guys rebound and come back. We knew it was kind of feast or famine versus this defense because they are a very physical defense. They do a lot of stuff. But sometimes you’ll get your opportunities, and we were fortunate enough to come down with them.”
You talked a few weeks ago about how you’ve never been blitzed this much, and you had to make teams pay. There was the pass to RB Carlos Hyde that was the right throw, but just a little bit incomplete. There was one to FB Kyle Juszczyk. Is that what you are talking about when they are in those situations and you have those opportunities?
“Yeah, definitely. You have to show people you have the ammunition, for lack of a better word whatever it is. You’ve got to show people you have the ability to attack them where the weaknesses are. If people are blitzing you a bunch, you’ve got to scare them some way. If they are playing off a lot, you’ve got to be able to run the ball. It’s the type of offense we hope to have and we try to have. You study the defense you’re going against and you attack wherever their weaknesses are, and you just keep hammering until they adjust.”
Throughout the season, you’ve mentioned learning how to win. You’ve gotten two on the road. Do you feel like that’s a sign of progress?
“I do. We haven’t won a lot this year, and to win these last two – I believe that’s three of the last four, I think – it’s definitely exciting. You can feel it in our building. Guys are gaining that confidence. Versus Chicago, by no means did everything go perfect, and by no means did it today. But that’s what you like, guys that aren’t affected by how things go early. They are on to the next play. They play every single play the same. And I do believe, especially these last two weeks, we’ve done a much better job of doing that. It’s led to good things when the clock’s ended.”
Does any part of you think that if QB Jimmy Garoppolo had been here earlier the season would have been different?
“Yeah, I don’t really think that way. You go through an off season and stuff, you prepare them a lot more for the year, and who knows. That’s not stuff I would think about very much.”
Earlier this week, someone said one of the most exciting things about QB Jimmy Garoppolo was that he elevates the play of those around him. Did you see that again from him today?
“You never know exactly why. You can ask those guys who made those plays, but I think we’ve made in the pass game, whether it’s our fullback, our receivers, or our tight ends, especially today but even so last week, I think our guys made some plays that we haven’t made early in the year. You’d have to ask them why that is, but I thought we’ve done a good job with some of those throws, especially the one to Juice (Kyle Juszczyk). I promise I didn’t call it for that exact coverage, but he gave him a chance, and Juice showed him that it was the right read. Then we got Marquise (Goodwin) on a number two, and (Garrett) Celek to get another 60-yarder. It was pretty impressive. The guys have played better. I think they have done better as the year has gone. They’ve done great these last two weeks. I think when you’ve got a guy like Jimmy (Garoppolo) who has been making some impressive throws, who’s been doing it on the practice field and he’s carried it to the game, I think guys always know they’ve got a chance, and they lived up to it.”
How was the defense able to turn it around in the fourth quarter?
“I think we switched up some coverages a little bit. Adjusted some personnel there too. We had a rough first drive coming out in the third quarter. They went down and got that touchdown right away. And then they kept them out the rest of the game. (DeAndre) Hopkins is a very good player. We knew he was going to have his. I thought we did a good job for the most part. I know we gave up that big, it looked like a seven-cut, to him there at the end, which we shouldn’t have in that coverage. But T.J. (Yates) made a good throw, and he dropped it in to him. Just thought we played them better the rest of the game. We didn’t let them get by us. Caught a few things in front of us. If you can bend but don’t break against him, then you’re usually doing a good job.”
Do you have an update on CB Ahkello Witherspoon?
“We’re going to have to MRI it tomorrow. I know it’s possibly part of his knee. I don’t know enough information, so we’ll see tomorrow.”
CB Dontae Johnson had a rough day with DeAndre Hopkins and Greg Mabin came in, what did you see from him?
“From what I saw, I thought (Greg) Mabin came in and answered it very well. I know Dontae (Johnson) had a rough drive opening up that third quarter. It’s tough. He started out with an early PI on him. Once you get a PI on him, then you want to stay off him a little bit. Then you just get a little bit out of whack. We got (Greg) Mabin in there to give him a chance. From what I saw live, he did a good job. I’ll see it when I get on the plane. But regardless, Dontae’s (Johnson) done some good things for us this year. I was excited (Greg) Mabin was able to come in and get some experience. That’ll help him. He helped us today and that’ll help him going forward. We’ll get on the plane and we’ll find out exactly what happened tomorrow.”
Is a win like this more special because of your history with this team?
“No, not at all. When you coach. It’s – I moved around a lot when I was a kid. I moved a lot being the son of a coach. I’ve done it throughout here. There’ so much turnover in this league. I think there’s only one player on the team here, in (Brian) Cushing, that is still here when I was last time. I got to coach T.J. (Yates) when I was in Houston for the offseason. But no, it’s not much different.”
Do you feel that the last few games have validated the hard work?
“That’s the biggest thing. I’ve kind of said it all year. I do believe our players have fought very hard all year. There’s been a couple games where, I look back to the Indy (Indianapolis) game, maybe the second half of the Seattle game, the third quarter of the Dallas game, there’s a few times I was a little disappointed that we just weren’t going as hard as we could. But I thought for the most part our team has really competed this year and done everything I’ve asked them to do. Guys do that for a long time, and you want them to be rewarded. They’ve gotten that three out of the last four weeks. You can tell the guys really enjoy it. It makes it a lot more fun coming to work. I think it will lead us into really looking forward to next year too.”
Do you see your defense get excited when they get a two possession lead?
“Yeah, definitely. I mean, momentum works both sides. When they get a turnover or they get a big hit or a big sack, a three and out, the sideline feels different. I think when we get explosive plays, and we can get in the end zone, and we can get touchdowns and not field goals, I think they get juiced up too. In football, there’s a lot of highs and lows to the game, and people feed off each other on your team. It’s not just offense and defense, it’s special teams too. I thought all three phases did a good job feeding off of each other today.”
On the 51-yard play, was TE Garrett Celek the number one option?
“He was number one. It was designed to get a first down, and he got a lot more than that, so he made a hell of a play. I think they got a little bit screwed up in coverage with a slight motion. I think three guys ended up guarding the back, when we scattered them out of the backfield. They left Celek free, then he did what he’s been doing lately and had a lot of yards after the catch. Did a hell of a job making a big play for us at a huge time in the game.”
How did your tackle do today?
“From what we won and from the fact that we won and able to move the ball like we did, I’ll still get on the plane and watch the tape harder, but I know how big of a challenge (Jadeveon) Clowney is. They got a lot of other good personnel out there too. Especially Zane (Beadles) stepping in. He’s been great for us all year. He’s backed up really every position. I had to use him at tackle today and that is not an ideal spot to put him in. He’s definitely much more of an inside player. Zane doesn’t hesitate. He loves the challenge. He will go out there and battle anyone. That’s why he’s a guy we love going to war with because you know you’re going to get your best and he’s someone you can count on. I know all the players believe in him.”
Did you know that OL Trent Brown wouldn’t be able to go last night?
“I kind of had a feeling last night just watching walk through, but didn’t know for sure until today when he came in and let us know today.”
Is it a larger issue than a week to week injury?
“It’s been a week to week the last three weeks. I know Seattle he didn’t, Chicago he did, today he didn’t. We’ll take a look at it tomorrow. So, hopefully we’ll have a plan for next week and see if he’s got a chance to go. If it continues for him not to then obviously we’ll end up having to shut him down.”
Did you think about the Super Bowl game at all today as that was your last game in this stadium?
“I didn’t until I walked in. Us coaches don’t think about much. I remember me and Bobby Turner were walking in when we got off the bus and walked across the field and that’s when I remembered. I didn’t get to come on the field during the Super Bowl. I was up in the box. But we came over and walked around in the pregame stuff. I got some feelings of that. Had some real good feelings in that game, not towards the end. Feelings today were definitely much better at the end.”