Quarterback Nick Mullens
Can you just take us through the last play, what you saw and what are you going through?
“Yeah, it was fourth-and-four. I mean, I’ve just got to handle the situation better. I should have ran. I didn’t run. In the heat of battle, a lot of things are happening fast, split-second decisions. Saw [WR Marquise Goodwin] ‘Quise down the field. Tried to give him a chance, instead of making the simple play. I didn’t make the simple play.”
You said it was fourth-and-four. You should have known that before the snap. Did you lose track of the--?
“No, no. I definitely knew it was fourth down. But, in the heat of the battle, you’re just trying to make the big play. It wasn’t a smart decision.”
Nick, when you say that, at what point after did you realize ‘I should’ve just taken the first down?’
“The second I threw it. If you look at the film or whatever, I mean I stood there for 30 seconds just understanding what I’ve just did, and how big of a mistake it was.”
What exactly stopped you from running? Were you just trying to make the big play?
“Yeah, just trying to make a play at that point. You see Marquise down the field, I just wanted to give him a chance for a big play.”
How long do these linger with you, when you have a play like this? I can’t imagine it’s happened very often.
“Yeah, no. I think the biggest thing is you know that you had opportunities to win the game. You had opportunities to step up, make the big play and we didn’t do that today. I think that’s a thing that hurts worse in these types of losses, is there were things there. There were opportunities there. We didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. We feel like we definitely could have.”
One of those opportunities, the interception there in the red zone. What did you see there?
“We had an out route, a shallow route. I thought ‘Quise outran the backer. I just left it too far out in front of him. Just an execution error that can’t happen at a crucial point in the game.”
You seemed really animated and upset on the sideline there. Were you upset with the throw that you made? What was the frustration?
“Yeah, yeah. I feel like it’s just a stupid turnover. It’s not ‘Quise’s fault. I didn’t feel like it was my fault. The way the ball tipped, it went into the guy’s hands. It’s a frustrating turnover. It’s definitely a preventable one. Just can’t let those things happen. We’re moving the ball, got a lot of momentum. Really, just going to look to take the lead in the late fourth quarter. Moments of truth, you want to execute. You want to go out there, you feel like there’s a certain time to take control of the game. Just one inaccurate throw and it changes the course of the game.”
When you talked Wednesday, you talked and said you were pretty excited about the game plan and the plan of attack against this defense. What was it that you guys had planned that had you so excited?
“I think just the opportunities that we had. We knew they were a good defense. But, I feel like if we just stayed balanced, went out and executed and did our jobs, we felt like we had a great chance in this ball game. It ended up being the exact type of game we thought. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We knew it was going to be tough. But, we knew we’d also have opportunities. So, it was exactly what we wanted. We just didn’t take advantage and finish.”
You moved the ball at times. But, we didn’t see the big plays from the offense that we had seen the previous couple weeks. What does that defense do to limit big plays?
“Yeah, I mean that’s why they’re so good. They do, they limit big plays. They have great corners. They have a great front seven. Their safeties are pretty good, too. They have very talented players and a great scheme. The way they were switching up personnel and things like that was another challenge. The game within the game, the guys they have on the field, what plays are against good against those personnel’s. They were playing like a blanket out there, I guess you could say. We knew we weren’t going to get too many home-run balls I guess you could say. They were keeping everything in front. You have to be very disciplined as an offense when you play a defense like that. I thought at times we were, and at times we weren’t. Just came up short.”
You obviously weren’t on the field, but what goes through your mind when you see CB Richard Sherman run into the fracas and have his teammates back like that?
“Yeah, it’s awesome. You definitely don’t want penalties. But, the fact that he’s fighting for our team, standing up, that’s what we take pride in. We know the brotherhood we have here. We know the bond that we have, no matter who’s out on the field. That’s why I’m almost most proud of the team this year. Look at the things we’ve gone through. We have a great group of guys. It’s a pretty darn good football team we just played and look how we fought. There’s no moral victories. But, we know the type of people that we have in the room. That’s what matters.”
The final play of the game when you make the wrong decision in that situation, is that the kind of play that you replay in your mind over and over again, or do you let it go and move on?
“No, I’ve been replaying it this whole time we’ve been talking. Like, since I walked off the field. I know exactly what I did. I know exactly what I should’ve done. I know exactly how that game could’ve ended up if we would’ve just made the plays we were supposed to make.”
What did head coach Kyle Shanahan say to you after that? Did he give you words of advice?
“Not much yet. We’ll go back and watch the tape. I’ll understand, like I already do, that it was a mistake. Just got to learn from it and handle the situation better.”
You said coming in you wanted to be balanced. You took 38 pass attempts. Is that what you were expecting?
“Every game has a different flow. I don’t have a number pre-game of what I expect to throw. It’s kind of how the game shook up.”
Wide Receiver Kendrick Bourne
You came up short in today’s game. You made a couple of great catches. How do you summarize how this offense did while losing San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida and San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis?
“Overall I thought we played hard. We played with a lot of effort. I felt we left plays out there. I felt there were plays I could have executed better. Overall, I thought we played good, except the plays we needed to make, we didn’t make. We have to get that resolved, when you have those results.”
How would you describe how the defense played today? They gave you that final turnover to at least give you guys a chance.
“They just played hard. You see all the balls coming out. We like to see that kind of stuff. Eventually it happened on the last play when we needed it to happen. Just seeing the ball coming out just motivates the guys to keep going after it. [San Francisco 49ers DB Tarvarius Moore] T. Mo, Kudos to him for keep fighting and chasing [Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson II] the dude down. The dude could have easily gone down. T. Mo, he didn’t give up. He practices like that. For him to get the ball out, it made our defense satisfied for all those other turnover chances we didn’t get. We got two fumbles though. That was cool.”
The record says one thing about this team but it feels like you guys have gotten better and become more confident as the season has gone on. What has contributed to that?
“Just practice. Everything has been going good in practice. We have been stacking these practices up. Two back-to-back wins. That has been boosting us a little bit. I wish we go this one today. Just everybody believing still. We know who we are going to be in a few years, or what we can get to. It is just about believing. Like you said, the record doesn’t really matter. Our jobs are on the line. If you are coming out here to get stuff done, make plays and help this team, then we don’t really need you.”
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner
Do you feel that there is a momentum about where this team is?
“Yes with the confidence going into these games for everybody. I am just proud of all of these guys. The fight that they have from start to finish, it doesn’t matter, it’s said we don’t have anything to fight for, but we play for each other. It doesn’t matter what the record is, everyone goes out there and gives it their all.”
The Chicago Bears are obviously a playoff team and a good playoff team. Do you feel that you went toe-to-toe with them?
“Yes, for sure. It is unfortunate on how it ended up where we had a shot. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to, but we definitely gave them a run for their money.”
Does this tell you a little about what might happen next season, when you have everybody back?
“Yes. It is definitely exciting seeing the guys fight like this towards the end of the season and going into next year for sure. We are going to have a lot of momentum.”
Safety Marcell Harris
Were you trying to hold up from sliding into Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky?
“Definitely. I wasn’t going out for him. I knew what comes with penalties, and I wasn’t trying to give my team a big penalty in that moment of the game. Obviously you can see what happened. I felt like I laid up on him.”
Something happened today that hasn’t happened since October 28th with you getting a turnover. Talk about this defense evolving and going after the rock.
“That’s what we do. All gas and no brakes. Sometimes the ball is not in our favor, but today one of the biggest things was getting turnovers. We went for the ball, ripping it out and trying to get picks. We had a lot of balls that were actually on the ground and a lot of balls that were on our hands that we could have changed the game on, but obviously we came out and did a great job as a defense.”
How do you think you guys responded despite the fact that all the talk was about the Chicago Bears defense?
“When you look at it, I don’t see a drop-off from our defense to theirs. We have great players in our room and great players in our organization on our defensive side and offensive side. The things that we did today with the defensive line to the linebackers to the DB’s, I think we played a great game.”
Tight end George Kittle
Firstly, going up against this defense, did they do anything different on you that you hadn’t seen before?
“They did a really good job of using two edge guys to try to jam me every single route. If I wasn’t standing up, or if I was, they still tried to get hands on, which definitely messed with the timing of the play. Kind of gets in the way. They just did a really good job of not letting me get off the ball clean. That just messes up plays.”
What did you see on that play in the back of the end zone, the would-be touchdown from QB Nick Mullens?
It looked like you were tackled a little early.
“I got to make a play on the ball. Nick gave me a chance. The defender is right there, but it’s the NFL. You’re supposed to make plays.”
The high ball, was that above your hands?
“Yeah, I probably could’ve jumped a little bit higher. Just bad timing. But, another ball that I feel like I should’ve gone up and got, but didn’t.”
Right now, this team is building for next year. Do you like the momentum carrying over and things like that?
“Yes, I feel like this team, we’ve got a lot of good building blocks. We’ve got a lot of guys in the right places. You see a group of guys out there that, we don’t care that the Bears are a playoff team, that we’re 4-10 coming into the game. We’re going to do everything we can to win every single game we play in. You’ve got to love that, 12, 13-year vet in [T] Joe Staley out there, playing his butt off every single game. You’ve got rookies out there. You’ve got second-year guys. Everyone is just playing as hard as they possibly can. We’re missing a lot of guys, and there’s a lot of guys stepping up. You’ve just got to respect it.”
49ers DL Cassius Marsh
What did you see from San Francisco 49ers DL Solomon Thomas playing on the inside a little more?
“Solomon is great. He’s got a ton of potential. I think he’s taking strides forward every game. The kid can do a lot. I know it hasn’t shown on the stat sheet, but I believe in Solomon. I think he has a ton of upside. He was the third overall pick for a reason. I think he had a great game today.”
He had the two holding calls against him last game and that kind of stuff doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. How do you see him keeping his mind right because I’m sure stats are part of what motivates you.
“It’s tough. I went through some stuff like that when I was a rookie. I was playing on a defensive line that was stacked with great rushers. The numbers weren’t always there, but the plays were there. You just have to take everything with a grain of salt and try to make sure that every play that you’re out there you’re winning and getting better each game. I think that Solly has done that. We’ll watch the film today, but Solly is getting better and better. I think he’ll be a great player in this league one day.”
Is this one of those things where you have to keep your own stats in your head as opposed to what’s on paper?
“Paper stats mean something, but there are guys in the league right now who are great pass rushers that might not have the numbers, but they have a lot of hits, they have a lot of hurries, have caused havoc, are causing the quarterback to get rid of the ball and throw picks. All that stuff you don’t see on the stat sheet, and the media doesn’t recognize it most of the time. That’s just the way of the league sometimes. Sometimes the sacks come to you and sometimes they don’t.”
What do you attribute this defenses uptick the last few weeks to?
“I think communication. Some young guys are coming along and doing their job much better. Everybody’s just trusting the man next to them. Everybody is just getting better. That’s all it’s about every season is just game-by-game trying to get better as a defense and trying to get better as a team. I would definitely attribute it to some of our young DBs coming in and stepping up. [San Francisco 49ers S] Marcell Harris, [San Francisco 49ers DB] D.J. Reed Jr. and all of those guys have been big time.”
Cornerback Tarvarius Moore
Were you surprised that Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson II didn’t go down after he had crossed the first down?
“I was very surprised. So, I knew he didn’t see me behind him, so I went and tried to secure the tackle and punch it out, and everything else was history and it worked out for us.”
Is that something you guys have been emphasizing lately, getting more takeaways?
“Definitely, one of our six points of emphasis every week is to get the ball. Something we haven’t done a lot this year. We are just progressing and training and trying to make it a culture of getting the ball out on defense.”
How would you evaluate the defense’s performance as a whole today? Do you feel you made more strides forward?
“I feel like we definitely made more strides. We got the ball a lot more today, which is something we have been practicing hard on. We had some busts that kind of cost us. Overall we had a good day. We could have definitely done a lot better.”
What do you think has been the key for this defense clicking over the last couple of weeks?
“Just chemistry. Just coming together, creating a bond and getting closer with each other. I definitely think those are the things that have helped us out getting better in the defense.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman
What did you see on the interception by CB K’Waun Williams that was called back on the penalty on LB Fred Warner?
“Honestly, we were all covering. So, I couldn’t see. I saw K’Waun had good coverage. We covered them up pretty good. I didn’t see where the hold happened because I was guarding my mine. So, I have to go see the film. But, it was unfortunate. We were playing really good football. That would’ve been a huge play in the game. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it. We gave them a lot of plays on that drive. I think today, defensively, we played incredibly stout. We gave up a few plays here and there where they made plays, and you’ve got to give them credit. I think for the most part, we contained them. I don’t think they ran the ball very well. I think we limited the explosives. We gave them a few on scramble drills. But, that’s what [Chicago Bears QB Mitchell] Trubisky does. He gets around just like [Seattle Seahawks QB] Russell [Wilson] does. He gets to open spots and finds guys. But overall, I think we played on of our best games. We lost and they scored 14 points. We had a few turnovers, thank goodness. We were getting the ball, and we would’ve got it a few more times. But, I was proud of our effort.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan was just saying that he was impressed with what you guys did today. But, over the last few weeks as a defense, as you’ve come together, from your perspective, why do you think that is?
“I promise you, it’s just guys playing sound. [S] Marcell Harris coming in there, when you don’t know too much, then you just know enough to be lined up, get in your spots and do what you’re coached to do. Sometimes, over time, you feel like, ‘Hey man, I know where I’m supposed to be but I can help this guy. I can help this guy.’ I think we’ve gotten to the point where guys are playing comfortable, they know their assignments and they’re sticking to them. The D-Line is playing out of their mind. [DL] Cassius Marsh had two sacks today. [DL DeForest Buckner] DeFo had his 12th. They pressured him a lot more than that. I think guys are playing in spots where they’re more comfortable. I think [DL Solomon Thomas] Solly’s playing a spot where he’s more comfortable and causing a lot more disruption. [DL] Arik Armstead is causing a lot of disruption. In the back end, guys are just stepping up. Marcell Harris deserves a ton of credit. I think he’s going to be in the mix to be a starting player next year. I don’t call the depth chart, but it appears to me that he’s playing good football. These aren’t like scrub teams. These are playoff teams. This team was 10-4 and we had a chance to win this ball game. We played Denver when they were in the playoff chase. We played Seattle, they’re fighting for a playoff spot. These games, it wasn’t like these guys were laying down. These guys are playing good football. So, I’m proud of them. K’Waun played one of his best games that I’ve ever seen him play. Unfortunately, he went down late. [DB] Tarvarius [Moore], obviously, played really well and gave up the catch at the end. But, made up for it by punching the ball out. Very heady play for a young kid. Fred has been all over the place the whole time, honestly, the whole season.”
Tackle Joe Staley
Can you talk about this team’s fight and going toe-to-toe with the Chicago Bears?
“I am never happy about losing. I am happy about there is no quit in this locker room. It is very easy when you are not competing for a playoff spot, or anything, for guys in the locker room to be like just mail it in and look forward to the offseason. I think everybody feels what we are building here is going to be special. I think a lot of guys believe in what we are doing in the front office. We love coming into work every single day. We are really going to give our best effort and going down the stretch. I think we surprised the Seahawks that way last week, and I think they thought we were going to be whatever. I think that we did that same thing today. A lot of guys after the game came up to me and said, ‘You guys made that hard for us.’ Obviously, we wanted to come up with a couple more big plays and thought we were going to come away with a victory in the end. It was similar to last year’s game, having the ball and having to get a score down, but that is kind of the way it goes.”
What do you see from the young guys?
“There is a ton of guys that at the beginning of the year weren’t expected to have a feature role on this football team. I think that it is awesome the development going forward for those guys with good game experience and also play at a high level. We knew that it was going to be this kind of game with the pass and run. They have superstars all over that defense. The way that our defense played was really amazing with the turnovers until the last drive of the game. We were running the ball pretty well. I think it is one of the developments where you get right out there and get into NFL football, and you don’t have to sit back and watch.”
What does that tell you about next year? Do you really think this is going to come together next season?
“I really do. I know that is easy to say right now because that is what our hope is. It is our hope until we produce on the football field. When I just look around this locker room, I see a lot of guys that are talented, and guys that got injured this year and the people that are coming back next year. Our whole offensive line will be coming back, hopefully. We have to see what we are going to do with [San Francisco 49ers OL Mike] Person but hopefully our line comes back and we have another year of development on the roster, so I am excited about the future.”
What did you think about going up against Chicago Bears LB Khalil Mack?
“He is the real deal. We knew the challenge. He is super strong. He has a lot of moves. I was pretty happy with the way that I played today. It’s a battle anytime you go up against a guy like that. It is not one of those things where you are like, he is not going to sniff the quarterback. He is not going to get pressure. That is the goal, obviously, but he is one of the best in the world at what he does. He is really good.”