QB Nick Mullens
Can you take us through that long pass to WR Dante Pettis in the fourth quarter that was right on the money?
“Yeah, it was man coverage. It’s a play that we like against man coverage. As long as I just held the safety, then I like Dante on the matchup. He did a great job of giving me space to throw it and made a great catch with a wet ball. So, it was a great play.”
Among the positive things CB Richard Sherman just had to say about you, he said he felt like you really established yourself and you’re a guy that he hopes is a big part of the future plans here. Do you feel like you’ve proved that, not only to yourself, but to the league?
“I think I can play in the league, that’s for sure. I believe that. But, as far as the extra stuff goes, I don’t really worry too much about it. You know, today I was focused on the game one play at a time and really just trying to end the streak against the Seahawks. It’s pretty cool that we got to do that as a team today.”
How has your confidence grown in the last few weeks? How confident do you feel now?
“You can’t play if you’re not confident. So, I always take the field as a confident player. I’m confident in my teammates, as well. Everybody worked together really well today. I’ve said it to you guys so many times, but when everybody is focusing on their specific assignment, working together, that’s when we’re best. That makes me most confident. So, that’s how it felt today. Confidence; the more you play, the more you do it, the better you feel. Always confident, that’s for sure.”
On the same topic, how much do you think the success you guys had in the second half against the Seahawks a couple weeks ago, how big was that coming in today knowing that you could do it against that defense?
“I think the previous game against Seattle helped us a lot. I really felt like there were places we could attack them. Even in the first game, we just didn’t do a very good job of it. So, we were excited coming in. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. We knew they were confident. We were confident. Obviously, the rivalry and things like that. Those are the games you get pumped up to play in. Like coach said last night, I don’t even have to tell you all anything. If you’re not pumped up for this, then something’s wrong with you. So, that’s kind of how I felt going into the game and how we felt. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. I was just so proud that we found a way to win. Might not have been the prettiest. Everybody worked well together. When we were passing the ball, that was cool. But when we didn’t do good passing the ball, we ran the ball well. Then, when we didn’t convert on offense, the defense stepped up and then the special teams touchdown. So, if you want to look at a textbook, collective team win, I believe that was it.”
The last two drives of regulation didn’t go well. But as you said, you guys somehow scrapped together, found a way to move in overtime. What was the conversation like in between regulation and overtime to get that to work?
“We worked great as a team. Everybody had each other’s back. Offense didn’t do well; the defense did great when they needed to. That’s how you play winning football. If somebody is not doing good, the next guy steps up and does something. It was cool.”
Was there an offensive adjustment you guys made from regulation to overtime to get that to work?
“Nothing too specific. Obviously, we had good field position in overtime. It was really cool to see us run the ball to win the game. I don’t know how well we ran the ball previously. [RB] Jeff [Wilson Jr.] with the fumble, for him to step up and get two or three really important carries. There’s a lot of cool stories about overcoming adversity in this game. So, for us to be able to run the ball to win the game, I think the O-Line and myself take a lot of pride in that. That was really cool to see.”
Speaking of Jeff, considering that he did fumble earlier in the game and he’s fumbled three times over his last three games, how much confidence do you guys have in him, giving him the ball? I know RB Matt Breida was out.
“We believe in Jeff. He came in undrafted and has done everything to earn his opportunity. He’s doing a great job of taking advantage of that opportunity. Had some tough moments today, but the fact that he could fight back, be resilient and get those two great carries to seal the game, that’s awesome. It shows what type of player he is and the type of team we are. We’re never going to back down and he definitely didn’t today.”
Where does this win rank among your all-time achievements in your life?
“Mine? That’s a great question. I really don’t know. I’m pumped for the fans, as far as what is it? It’s been a while. But, for us to beat the Seahawks is a pretty big deal I feel like. So, I hope the fans are pumped up, as happy as we are. It’s a big-time rival, a big-time win. Had a great time playing with my brothers out there, man. That’s the biggest thing. Offense, defense, special teams worked hand-in-hand. Everybody played with great energy, jumping around, celebrating. That’s how you’re supposed to play the game. We did that today.”
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan said he feels like every week he sees you getting better. Do you feel that? If so, how?
“I try to. I try to get better every week. That’s definitely the goal. What you do in the past doesn’t matter. It’s all about what you do today and the next day and the future. It’s definitely a goal of mine to get better every single day. Feel more comfortable out there. Obviously, experience helps. You could say the experience helps and I feel more comfortable. I’m just enjoying playing.”
DL Arik Armstead
How has the bond been with San Francisco 49ers DL DeForest Buckner? You guys have played together every year except for one since you went to Oregon.
“We’ve been playing together for seven years. Seven of the last eight. It’s been great. It’s a unique situation to have to be playing with somebody for so long and kind of grow together and always be there through the ups and downs. It’s been a pretty cool experience.”
How do you push each other? Is there an off-field or on-field competition?
“It’s encouragement and helping each other. Teaching each other things we’ve learned and passing it along. Having good communication out there from playing together so long. Definitely encouraging each other is the main thing.”
What does this mean to you guys to win two straight games and the resiliency of this team?
“It’s huge. That’s the number one thing about our team. Even though the season is not going the way that we want, we’re still fighting and still trying to win. We’re still trying to go out there and get a victory. It’s a big win for me. I’ve never beaten Seattle in my career, so it’s my first time beating them. To get that monkey off of our back is a great win for us.”
How important is it to put one in the win column?
“It’s great when you’re able to finish. Winning cures a lot. Especially with the way our season is going, it brings a lot of joy to our fans. It brings a lot of joy to our team. It’s been great these past couple of weeks to win and experience that.”
That’s two wins against teams that were battling for playoff positioning. In the world of building momentum, that has to help this team in the overall picture.
“Anytime you step on the football field, you have to treat it like it’s your last opportunity. We haven’t given up on this season. We’re still trying to go out there and fight, compete and win games.”
How much did this win mean for San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman?
“He came in the locker room extremely excited. We were happy for him to beat his old team. He spent his whole career up there. It was a big win for him and a big win for us.”
DL DeForest Buckner
How satisfying is the win? Seattle has had your number for a while.
“Yeah. Shoot, it’s a great feeling, man. This organization hasn’t won against Seattle since 2013. It was definitely a much-needed win. I’m proud of everybody. I’m proud of all of my teammates. We went out there, we knew it was going to be a physical game and everybody fought from start to finish.”
What do you think it says about this team that after getting beat pretty soundly a couple weeks ago by the Seattle Seahawks, to come back just a couple weeks later and pull it off?
“We took it personally. They flat-out embarrassed us two weeks ago. Everybody from top-to-bottom wasn’t happy about it. We knew it was going to be a dog fight coming in this week. We just played them two weeks ago. It was a long two weeks for sure. Everybody wanted to get out there and redeem themselves. Like I said, from start to finish, everybody gave it just a little more. When it got to overtime, it was about who wanted it more. Like I said before, I’m proud of every single one of the guys on the team.”
Does getting to double digit sacks mean something to you?
“Yeah, on a personal level, for sure. Getting to double digits, I knew I was capable of it and to see my hard work get paid off, it’s definitely gratifying. I knew I could do it and I worked my tail off in the offseason to get there. I’d like to thank most of my teammates. It’s not one guy, it’s the whole unit up front rushing as a team. Eventually if you rush as a team, someone will get rewarded.”
TE Garrett Celek
The game started kind of like another 49ers – Seahawk game. They scored quickly, it was 6-0. Was there a feeling of, ‘Here we go again against this team--?
“No, no. If you could’ve been in this locker room before the game, we were so juiced up before this game that nothing could’ve fazed us, and it showed.”
People would say you’re a 3-10 team, why such excitement about this game?
“Whenever you get any win it’s exciting, especially when you’ve had as many losses. Just to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’re like, ‘We need to get something going.’ It was kind of like how last year went at the very end of the season. Things haven’t gone our way this year, but there’s still fight in us, a lot of fight in us. We’ll never give up, we’ll never lay down. I don’t think most teams are like that. I think that’s the type of character that we have on this team. The kind of guys that [49ers GM] John [Lynch] and [49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] brought in. We will never give up.”
I think Kyle Shanahan talked about the fact that you had lost ten straight games to the Seattle Seahawks during the week. Nothing something he was hiding, obviously. Was his message, ‘Let’s not extend this for another year so we don’t have to keep talking about that’?
“Yeah, I mean our focus wasn’t completely on that. We don’t focus on, ‘Hey, we haven’t beat it.’ This is a game. We have to win. We have to do whatever we can to win. That’s the attitude we all carry into every game, no matter who the team is.”
As a group, collectively the tight ends seem to be playing really well right now. How do you assess how much you guys have grown within this scheme and gotten more comfortable?
“In our room, we hold ourselves very accountable. A very high level. We try to play to the best of our ability in practice and our [San Francisco 49ers assistant head coach tight ends] coach [Jon Embree] gets after us. He’s an amazing coach, tight ends coach. We’ve proved over the past year that tight ends can perform in this offense, and now that we’ve been doing well, Kyle’s continued to call plays to help get the tight ends involved more.”
K Robbie Gould
You get the Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee award in pregame, you cross 1,500 points for your career and then hit the winner in overtime. How much does this day mean to you?
“It’s been a crazy couple of days since I got the nomination. Obviously, it’s an honor. I’m really humbled. I know what that award means not only to this organization, there’s been a lot of guys who have been in the running for it, but also what it means to the National Football League. Coming from Chicago and knowing the Payton family and understanding what he did on and off the field, and having a good understanding of what he symbolized is something I try to model myself after, especially playing there. Today, getting the award is pretty unique. The organization takes such pride in giving back in the area. Today was probably the hardest conditions I’ve had in two years here to kick. I know how much this means for [San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman] Sherm. I know how much this means for our fans. We hadn’t won against Seattle since 2013. For us to get a win and have some positivity going towards the end of the season with a lot of young guys will help us for next year.”
How do you adjust on the fly when field conditions change dramatically?
“The field crew has done an awesome job ever since I’ve been here. [Head groundskeeper Matthew] Greiner and his staff have been unbelievable. The field held up great today and played well the whole game. As far as field conditions, it wasn’t a conversation. As far as the wind, it changed pretty much the entire time. I thought the coaches did a great job managing the entire game from start to finish.”
How do you track the wind? Is it just the flags?
“This place is difficult. Sometimes the flags will go one way but you feel something different. We had a 33-yard field goal on the right hash that was supposed to go right to left. The flags were going that way. I played it right center and it just stayed there. I wasn’t too happy about that. Thank God it was 33 yards and I snuck in the upright.”
On a game-winning field goal attempt in overtime, is it mentally the same approach as any other field goal?
“Yeah. I’ve had a lot of success against the Seahawks, surprisingly. My rookie year, the kick that put me on the map was a 49-yard field goal in the playoffs against [former Seattle Seahawks head coach] Mike Holmgren. Those guys were playing really well with [former Seattle Seahawks QB] Matt Hasselbeck and [former Seattle Seahawks RB] Shaun Alexander. We had [Seattle Seahawks head coach] Pete Carroll come in a few years later. At home in Chicago, I hit the game winner against them. I enjoy playing the Seahawks. This one feels pretty good for us because I know they’re in playoff contention and I enjoy playing spoiler.”
WR Richie James Jr.
I’m surprised you even stopped running. What was that touchdown return like for you?
“I couldn’t stop running. I don’t know. I just felt like I wanted to keep running. I wanted to go to the other end zone where I was just at. I don’t know, I couldn’t even tell you the feeling. Those guys blocked really well and I just had to hit the hole.”
At what point in that run did you sense you were going to go all the way?
“When I saw the kicker on the left and I was like, ‘I’ve got to make him miss and then I’m going to keep running.’”
Talk about this big win over the Seattle Seahawks. You weren’t here on December 8th, 2013, but what does this mean for the team?
“We’ve been hearing it. Five years and not beating Seattle. We’re tired of hearing it. [49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan]’s tired of hearing it. We needed it and we got it done.”
San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman, a former Seahawk, really wanted this win, didn’t he?
“Oh yeah. We’ve been talking about it. We needed it for him. We did it for him. We did it for the team, but we did it for him, for sure. He contributes so much to this team and helps us out. Especially with most of us being younger, he contributes so much and helps us out.”
TE George Kittle
How satisfying was this win for you?
“It was really fun. I feel great.”
Do you have a sense of what breaking this losing streak to Seattle means for the locker room and organization?
“It hasn’t kind of hit me still. I know that it means a lot for Sherm [San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman] and especially guys like [San Francisco 49ers T] Joe Staley, [San Francisco 49ers TE Garrett] Celek, guys that have been here. It means a lot to them. The fact that we can get that win for Joe and Celek, it was pretty fun.”
How excited were you to get a little Celek Time?
“I have been waiting all year. Celek Time is infectious. It is so much fun because the whole sideline, the whole stadium just loves it. He definitely gets the people going.”
It is pretty remarkable that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan can use both you and Celek in his scheme. Can you talk about how he is able to do that?
“They were looking at me a lot, so Celek definitely ran free a little bit. I am going to take credit for that a little bit. That is coach Shanahan. His game plan was that we are definitely going to give Celek some shots because they won’t be looking at him the way that they are looking at the other side of the field. The catch and run afterwards was awesome. I am pretty sure the safety took a creative angle to tackle him. It was just Celek Time. That corner route that he also had was a huge play for us. Everything that you wanted from Celek, he gave it today.”
OT Mike McGlinchey
Capping the losing streak that you weren’t apart of, what do you think that means?
“It is huge for us. We talk about it all of the time. Seattle is number one for us in terms of the rivalry. We hadn’t beaten them in a while. We have a lot of guys in this locker room that this game means a lot to, Sherm, [San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman] [San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert] Saleh, all of the guys that played there, have coached there. It is huge for us to get over this hump and build on this for the next two weeks and obviously next season, as well.”
At what point do you just need W’s to validate all that is being said?
“Everything feels better with wins. Obviously, we made mistakes in this game offensively. We have to close that out in the second half, myself included. I had a chance to end that game there on that third-and-four when we kicked that field goal and I missed the block, and things like that. You feel better about it after you win. It certainly helps validate what we do every single day when results happen on the weekend.”
You have been able to close out games two weeks in a row now against teams that had something to play for as far as the playoffs. Is that growth again for this team?
“Huge for us. Yes, absolute growth for us. I think it is a huge step in the right direction, our defense stepped up in a huge way when we didn’t on offense get the ball in the end zone. It was a complete team effort for all us from all three phases. [San Francisco 49ers WR] Richie James [Jr.], that touchdown that he had, unbelievable effort by our whole kick return team. It was just a huge team win.”
The opposition had the ball late two weeks in a row and the defense got key stops--?
“Right. Again, huge step in the right direction. There was a lot of growth happening there. We got a lot of young guys playing on that side of the ball. It definitely feels great for those guys. I am so happy and proud of those guys for getting it done after all that they have been challenged with and been through this year and the way that they finished in the fourth quarter is just absolutely huge.”
WR Dante Pettis
How would you rank that deep throw off the right side that San Francisco 49ers QB Nick Mullens made to you?
“That was a dime. He dropped it right past the defender. I was just happy that I held on to it. It was a great throw.”
There was another one, where I don’t think he saw the completion because he got hit right as he threw the pass in the first half. Again that says something about him.
“Yes. He is not afraid to take a hit. He knows that is a part of playing quarterback and sometimes you are going to have to take a hit to make a good throw or get a big play.”
To have the validation of wins, what does that say about the future?
“It is good. We have been right there so many times and to finally grind one out like this against a team like that means a lot.”
On the other side of the ball, two teams that are fighting for playoff spots had the opportunity but the defense held them. What does that say about the defense?
“They have grown too. Everybody on this team is getting better. I think that you can tell by the way that we have turned around definitely the last two games. We are going to try to keep building on that going into next year.”
CB Richard Sherman
What does this one mean to you?
“It means a ton. It means more that the guys showed up the way they did. Honestly, it means a lot beating Seattle for me, but it’s just the way the guys showed up and kept battling throughout the game. This was a tough game. Those guys played their hearts out. We’re out there with an incredibly young team. I would guess we’re putting out the youngest guys in the league at this point. We have three rookies in the secondary. We have basically three rookie receivers. [TE George] Kittle is in his second year. Rookie running back. Second year quarterback. They’re young guys, but they stepped up to the moment. They stepped up to the moment. [QB] Nick Mullens stepped up to the moment week in and week out. He’s shown he can play in this league. I hope we can keep him because teams need a quarterback. This guy’s not just playing conservative football, oh man, get the ball in the right places. He’s making the right decisions, he’s making good throws under pressure. I’d say he’s playing like a top half quarterback in this league. You have guys that are out there right now that are not playing better football than Nick Mullens. He could be a starter for a lot of teams in this football league and we appreciate that we have him and he’s playing his tail off for us.”
How much did the game in Seattle weigh on you personally and the rest of the team through the week and going into today?
“Oh, it’s frustrating. I think the moment and the environment was a little bit much for young guys. We’re a young team right now. When you get [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] back, you get [RB Jerick McKinnon] Jet back, you get the guys that we lost back, then I don’t know if the environment will be as much of a factor. But, for young guys, [S] Marcell Harris, it was his first start. You have guys out there who haven’t played as much football as I have and they’ve never played in that environment, that energy, the noise. So, I think it might have gotten to them a little bit. But this time, guys were ready, guys were prepared. It wasn’t Marcell’s first game anymore. He played his tail off. [DB] Tarvarius Moore came out there, was ready for his moment. I think sometimes you run into situations where a young guy gets thrown out there and he hasn’t played substantially throughout any part of a season. For [CB Ahkello Witherspoon] Spoon to get hurt and for him to go out there, he’s only practiced left corner, and to go out at right corner and be ready for his moment and step up and make those plays for us, I can’t say enough about the job he did. I can’t say enough about the job that [TE Garrett Celek] Celek-time did. Nick Mullens, the offensive line, the defensive line, stopping their run game, guys came to play.”
You had such an impact on why this rivalry has been so lopsided. Do you think there’s any chance the Seahawks, especially after what happened two weeks ago, overlooked you?
“I highly doubt it because just like I’m pretty inflammatory on the other side, I’m pretty inflammatory on both sides. My truth isn’t always everybody’s truth. Sometimes my comments are used as, I highly doubt [Seahawks head coach] Pete [Carroll] is overlooking any game that I’m playing and [Seahawks QB] Russell [Wilson] as well. Those guys played hard. They played their game, they brought it. It wasn’t like they just played a lackadaisical game and just gave away things. They played hard, they battled. Our guys just executed down the stretch. We played our tails off, we strained.”
OT Joe Staley
Out of all these guys in the locker room you and San Francisco 49ers TE Garret Celek were the only the ones that were on this team when you last beat the Seahawks. Five years of losing to them, how does this feel?
“It feels good but it stinks that we have to go through a streak like that. I just wish we had more to play for this year. It is pretty disappointing about the season, but we will take this win. It was a hard fought battle. Everybody had a hand in it today. It was fun out there.”
Last game against the Seahawks was 43-16, what was different about this game this time around?
“It is always hard to play in their stadium. Their energy and crowd noise makes it difficult for offenses to operate. We had the big play from [San Francisco 49ers KOR] Richie [James Jr] obviously, the kick return. I thought we were able to move the ball. [San Francisco 49ers QB] Nick [Mullens] did a good job of moving the chains in the passing game. I wish we were able to get a little more running game going. The defense played terrific. It was a full team effort.”
The defense has really been stepping up after blowing some fourth quarter leads in games earlier this season. Talk about how the defense has developed?
“They have been playing really well. I don’t know exactly, I don’t sit in their meetings as far as schematics and all of that stuff goes. They are finding their way. They are doing really well. There are some young guys in the secondary that are really starting to get a hang of the schemes. They are playing really well, so I am excited for our development of a football team.”
I know Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has talked about cutting this streak off now so it doesn’t carry over next year. Was that kind of the rallying cry this week?
“I just don’t like them. I don’t like Seattle. I don’t think there is a rallying cry we need to get fired up for this game. We just are fired up to play against them. This locker room is always going to continue to play hard no matter what the circumstances are. It was a fun game, a team win today.”