What seemed to turn it for you guys, was CB K’Waun Williams getting the interception and scoring after that.
“Yeah, that was huge. We felt so good at the beginning how we came out in all three phases and then it was, the end of the second half was, for us to go down there, we were about to score, we ended up getting an interception. They go down and score. In my mind, that’s a 14- point swing. Then they come out and get a field goal to start, so that’s a 17-point swing. It’s tough to overcome against that kind of team. When K’Waun made that play I feel like it got the momentum back in us and everyone fed off each other. It was a good win.”
How much can you attribute that to what QB Jimmy Garoppolo brought to the offense?
“That’s huge, definitely. Jimmy has played great. Continued to do it today. I think the guys gained confidence. I think everyone around him was playing better too. Today, getting that many points, we don’t do that without the defense either. Those guys got us the turnovers. I think we had three. I think it was three-to-one and to do that against that team. They scored for us on one and to get us in scoring position twice, it was huge for them.”
That may have been Jimmy’s first bad interception. Did you talk to him after or consult him after that interception?
“Not much. He made the right read. He was throwing to an open guy. He just got hit as he was throwing it and that’s what happens. That’s the story of everyone verse that defense. If you get caught in a bunch of passing situations, it’s a matter of time before that D-Line with four gets to the quarterback. We waited on a route to develop, which is a high-risk, high-reward. You get a touchdown if it does, but the risk is trying to hold up. I’m not sure which guy it was, but it came from the right side and he got to him. That didn’t bother me with Jimmy. That’s part of football. If I don’t want that to happen, I’ve got to call a quicker pass.”
What do you think about the synergy between the offense and the defense? I mean your cornerbacks had three picks today and I think they only had two all year.
“I think you can see it through the whole team. I think everything started off pretty perfect in that game and I think our guys were going. Then we faced some bad adversity coming into the locker room. I think it was 16-16 at half time and we felt like we should have probably been up by a lot more than that and to do that and them start out with a field goal. To be able to overcome that and our guys not change, that’s what I was most proud of with our team. I don’t think our guys have been affected by the highs and lows of games. I think we have a tight group who believe in each other and they feed off each other. I always feel having a tighter group is a huge advantage in this league. You’ve got to execute. You’ve got to be talented. You’ve got to make plays, but when you have guys who believe in each other, it helps overcome adversity.”
Last week you said K Robbie Gould was playing as good as any player you’ve ever coached, is the same true for Jimmy Garoppolo?
“I don’t know about that. This is my first time as a head coach, so this is the first-time I can throw in a kicker. I could never do that before. I’ve coached some good quarterbacks, guys who’ve had some good games, some good years. But, Jimmy is playing at a very high level right now.”
Could you talk about the call on RB Matt Breida’s touchdown? Why you liked that call, the execution of it?
“Yeah, it worked out great. The guys made their blocks and we had a strong feeling they’d be in man coverage and playing the run and daring us to throw, which you know you need to get a first down there because I believe they still had one timeout, so you can’t run the clock out. But, you definitely want to make them use their last time out just in case you don’t get the first. You’ve got to always make that debate, whether to throw it there or run it. We felt good about the run, hoping they would be blitzing and be in man coverage and fake the jet sweep to [WR Marquise Goodwin] ‘Quise and the guys, I think it was [WR] Trent [Taylor] on the edge who did a good job blocking on that D-End, the outside receiver, and we pulled [T Joe] Staley around everyone and Breida did a good job hitting it. Then staying in bounds going for the score.”
With their pass rush and their pass defense, how important was it to get out to that early lead? I know obviously, you want to score every time, but was the mindset going into this game that we have to score first?
“Not really. You don’t ever want to say that because then if you don’t. You’ve got to play as good as you can every situation. Like I was answering earlier, if you become one-dimensional versus that team, their pass rush and the seven guys behind them are too good. They’ll eventually get after you. When you get up to a lead early, it’s a lot better than having to play catch up. If you have to play catch up versus that team and you have to throw it, I don’t picture anyone doing very well. Getting that lead and then tying it up, I think being real good on third down today is really what helped us the most on offense. That’s what allowed us to get those runs called and stay out there quite a bit.”
What impressed you most about Jimmy’s performance today?
“Just that he was consistent. I thought he played very similar in this game that he has the last few games. He made the right reads for the most part, made the right throws. I’m sure there’s a couple he’d want to have back, just like any game. It was that he’s been very consistent.”
That throw that he made to Taylor when he was rolling to his left and across his body. That has to be as difficult as a throw as there is for a quarterback.
“Yeah, I showed him how to do it in practice. No, his body is different, the way he can throw. I think everyone can see that. He can make unusual throws from unusual angles and he can change that arm everywhere. I joke with him and say he’s like a jugs machine, he’s just sitting there ready to throw. It doesn’t matter how his body is, he’s just ready to throw at any time. That definitely helps, especially when you get him in some off-schedule situations and you’re going the wrong way and not a lot of people believe you can make that and he found a way to do it and Trent did a hell of a job pulling it in.”
You’ve won four in a row. You just beat the number one defense. I know what your overall record is, but right now are you almost like a playoff team?
“That’s hard to say. I know we played one today and I know today it seemed like we were the better team. Today, I thought we played at a high level versus a very good team. I think we’ve gotten better each week. I know we’ve won a number in a row, but I think what’s been the coolest thing about it, I think we’ve gotten better in each game since Chicago. From Chicago to Houston to Tennessee to this. I feel like all three phases have gotten better. I want us to finish strong next week and really counting on that to lead us into next year.”
Scoring in the redzone hasn’t necessarily been this team’s strong suit through the season, how did it feel punching it in when you guys got down to the end of the field?
“Continuing to grind and continuing to get better in every area. I don’t think we started out great today. I want to say we were one-of-three in the first half and we finished four-of-six. We had that turnover. Everyone had their part. We scored on an off-schedule play to Trent, I believe. We ran the ball better down there and from what I remember, I don’t think we had any penalties down there, which we didn’t have to overcome any bad situations. So, we did better today. I think we’ve done better recently. Again, hopefully that’s because we’re getting better. When you get better, things improve.”
You mentioned that you thought Jimmy played kind of similar to how he has the last three games. Doing it against that defense in particular, as much as we talked about it, does that send any more of a message to you? Is there anything else you can take away from having him do it against that team?
“That was the biggest challenge for him and the biggest challenge for our offense. I think it was neat for him to get to see. We had to run more of our offense. We had to mix in a lot of keepers and things. bootlegs just to slow them down, whether we were effective or not. Their linebackers are so fast and their D-Line. You just have to keep them off balance and do some things. I thought he did a lot more stuff today that I don’t think he’s done a ton of his career. He’ll continue to do better with it as it goes, but it was pretty neat just to be able to do that stuff and him see how it all ties together and the way it helped our team throughout the game.”
Can you talk about the atmosphere today?
“The atmosphere was unbelievable. I noticed it early in the game. I noticed it before the game and I noticed it all the way up to the end. They don’t have to be so loud when we’re on offense down in the redzone. They can be a little quieter, just for a little bit, but it was cool to see them pumped up. There was no doubt that affects us and we really enjoyed playing here today. It was a good setting.”
One of the times they were so loud it was an MVP chant for Jimmy. Did you hear that?
“I did. Robbie told me it was for him. But I did hear that. It was cool. It was neat.”
LB Reuben Foster didn’t finish the game. He was out for a little bit. Did you just feel like it was better to shut him down?
“Yeah, he got another stinger in that game. He came out and went back in. He was going and stuff. I don’t know if it was Breida, when Breida got that score, but we pulled him out at the end. He could have gone. He was battling through it, but we want to make sure he’s ready for next week.”
Can you talk about the rookies and their progress up to this point? Trent Taylor scored today. TE George Kittle scored today. RB Matt Breida scored today and then CB Akhello Witherspoon got that big INT. How would you assess their progress up to this point?
“It’s been huge. That’s kind of what I mean by everyone has gotten better, especially those guys. We put a lot of pressure on those guys early in this year, playing them. Sometimes, a little bit more than they were totally ready for and we had to be patient in that aspect. But, those guys haven’t waivered. Sometimes you throw some guys in some situations where you know they can do it, but they aren’t quite ready for it. They were up and down with how good they did. When that happens, some guys kind of fold and think it’s a little too hard and they get worse and they’re just looking for someone to save them. Those guys have grinded all year and they practice every single day. They’re deliberate in everything they do and when you have people like that who work the way they do, it’s usually a matter of time before they get better. It’s been nice for them that they’ve been rewarded this way and you guys can see it and so can we.”
The silver lining is you’ve gotten to see how they would respond to adversity. How does now having success, what kind of challenges does that present? What are you looking for in your team off of this?
“Just that we don’t change. I don’t want them, when you’re 0-9, I don’t want them to think that they’re as bad as people might say and when you win five in a row, you better not think you’re as good as people might say. You’re the same person everyday and you do as good as you can. That’s all I want our guys to focus on and by no means do any of us feel we’ve arrived. We’re happy that we’re playing some better football. We know that you’re never going to stay the same. We’re going to be better next week or we’re going to be worse. It’s going to be one or the other. The only way that comes is if you work and try to get better each week. I think we’ve got the right type of people here and that’s what we’ve been kind of emphasizing all year. I think our guys have really bought into it. I think they are kind of leading the way on that now.”
Is it different for you now that you’ve had some success on the field?
“Not really. I feel the same now. I’m definitely enjoying things more right now. It’s always more nice to win, but the plans for us and the way we see the future and everything like that, nothing’s changed. This is part of the process. We’ve got one more game left, then we’ll relax for just a little bit and really looking forward to the offseason also.”
What did K’Waun show you so early that made you give him that nice contract? Obviously, he bounced around a little bit early in his career.
“Knowing who K’Waun is. I was with him for one year in Cleveland and probably said like three words to him while we were there. He doesn’t talk much at all and I don’t either when I’m on offense. But, I watched just how he went about his work every day. He’s a guy who came in in our rookie tryout camp in Cleveland and he made our team as a rookie tryout player. Ended up starting that whole year as a nickel and did a hell of a job. I saw him get after our guys in practice every day. I know [defensive backs coach Jeff] Hafley’s been with him a while. I was only there with him one year. I think Hafley was three. We were very familiar with the type of person he is and once we got him into camp, we could see quickly that he was still the same player that we remembered. When you know the player and you know the guy and what they’re made of, he’s the type of guy you want to make sure we keep around.”
You guys only gave up one sack against the best pass rushing defense in the league, what do you accredit for that?
“It’s a credit to everybody. It’s a credit to our O-Line for giving us time, especially versus that defense. It’s a credit to how we ran the ball today so we didn’t have to throw the ball too much. The plays we made on third down. It’s a credit to our defense for getting us in some good positions with the turnovers. Just the way the situation and the game went. It really allowed us to help out the O-Line and when we did call their number, they stepped up and we had good results.”