What are the challenges this week knowing that you’re going to have to do some different things without your fullback?
“Yeah, it’ll be different. But, you know, the coaches, they’ve been working hard getting the game plan ready. We’ve got to go out there and execute it, so whatever it is, it is.”
Is it a different variation of what you guys have already sort of installed just throughout the offseason and over these last couple of years or are you guys sort of remaking a lot of what you do on the fly?
“We don’t have all of it in yet, so we’ve only got what we put in so far. I think we’ll try and do what we do at the end of the day and we’ve got to make adjustments as we go. It’s football, the guys are going to get hurt, next man up and we’ll play after that.”
How integral was he to the success on the ground in the first four games?
“[FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice does so much for this offense, he just, the versatility, he does things that most fullbacks can’t do. He’s catching passes out of the backfield, diving for catches while also cutting a D-End on the backside. It’s little things like that. It’ll be important for us to get that just with other people.”
How quick do you turn your attention to the Rams on a short week like this?
“As quickly as you can. You go home, look at the film from the game and everything and then it’s onto the Rams. This week will happen fast, coming off the long Bye Week and the Monday night game, so it’ll be a little different for us.”
So, you went home Monday night and watched the film pretty immediately?
“Yeah, of this game, of this past game and then the next day onto the Rams.”
TE George Kittle came in here as a blocker and then rounded into a receiver. I imagine that’s better than the opposite, right How difficult would it be to learn how to block in the NFL?
“I’ve never had to do it, thankfully. But, I imagine it would be pretty tough. It’s a lot of technique, but at the end of the day, it comes down to strength, effort, man-on-man, who’s going to win? Thankfully, I’ve never had to do that, but yeah, George is great at both of them.”
Have you seen some things that have impressed you in terms of his blocking?
“Oh, every day. For a guy who just broke the tight end record last year for most yards and everything and then to come in and block the way he blocks, you just don’t see that every day in the NFL. You’ve got to tip your hat to him, and happy birthday shout out to him, too.”
You said you haven’t been a blocker, but it looked like you kind of tried the other night. What--?
“Thanks for pointing that out.”
Sorry to phrase it that way.
What was your reaction to what Cleveland Browns DE Olivier Vernon did?
“Well, I slipped trying to come back for him. That was the first bad part about it. And then yeah, he gave me a shot to the face, but shouldn’t have slipped in the first place. That’s what I think of it.”
Did you take exception to the shot in the face?
“If I don’t slip, I don’t get hit in the face, so just don’t slip, I guess.”
From the standpoint of being a quarterback, I’m sure you want to be throwing for 300 yards, especially on a national television audience game. How do you kind of work through your viewpoint on being the quarterback on a team that rushes for nearly 300 yards?
“I want to win. At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. Just whatever it takes. There are different ways to win in this league. Every game’s going to be different depending on what the defense does, what their offense does even and how it affects us. At the end of the day, it’s did you win or did you lose? That’s all I care about.”
So, do you kind of look at there will be games that the guys will have to jump on your shoulders and there will be games where you’ll have to be kind of the game-manager type?
“Yeah, you don’t really go into the game thinking that way, but as the game develops, you kind of get a feel for it as it’s going. I mean, first play of the game, we rush for, whatever, 83-yards whatever it was. I don’t know, that was kind of a tone setter for the rest of the game. I think up front we just dominated them and the backs took care of the rest.”
Do you think it’s good for the league to have L.A. and San Francisco, two relevant good teams, a rivalry develop there because that was part of the deal with the Rams coming back to L.A., was to reestablish that?
“It can’t hurt, it definitely can’t hurt. Being in the position that we’re in, it’ll be an exciting game this Sunday. Good opportunity for both teams.”
What have you seen from the Rams so far this season?
“They are very stout up front, very impressive defensive line, linebackers, DBs run and cover the field very quickly, get sideline to sideline and they are going to put stress on your offensively and make you march the ball.”
Outside of the offensive line protecting you so well, what’s gone into you only getting sacked four times? How’s your mobility going with your knee? Do you notice any improvement week-to-week?
“It feels great. It’s felt great this whole season. It’s not really improvement, it’s staying the same, which is all I can ask for. But, I think it starts with those guys up front, the mindset that they have coming into the game, being physical, getting off the ball quick, all that stuff. Then when the run game is going like that it always helps with the pass game. I think the complementary football that we are paying on offense with the run game and pass game tied together, it’s really helping us.”
There was one time I think Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett was bearing down on you and you got rid of the ball, is that just being cognizant of that more?
“Yeah, kind of you just feel the pocket whether it’s closing in on you or someone gets beat, whatever it is, sometimes that’s the best play you can make.”
You haven’t been completing a ton of passes to the wide receivers. Does that matter if the team is winning and you have these other weapons? Will it matter at some point?
“I think it just shows how versatile our offense is. It’s not going to be one guy making a play, we’re not that type of offense. It’s a guy making a play here and now we complement with a guy making a play over here and just everyone playing their role. When their number’s called, guys have been answering the bell.”
Obviously, you guys want to score on every possession, but the turnovers the defense has gotten this year has obviously increased by quite a bit. How important is it for you guys to cash in those and turn those into points and what does it do for the team confidence as a whole?
“It’s big. Those are the momentum swings, when you can make the big jumps in the game, get ahead of people and kind of put the stress on them more. When the defense is playing how they’re playing, it’s our job to go finish it.”
Do you feel like the stakes are higher now that you guys re undefeated and playing a team that is the defending conference champions? What’s the atmosphere like in the locker room now?
“The same as it’s been the first four weeks, it really is. I’ve said this before, we’ve got a great group of guys in there with a great mindset. We come into the game, this is the only game that matters to us, go 1-0 this week and we’ll move on from there. When you’ve got a group of guys like that it makes it easy.”
What was the atmosphere like on Monday night? You played in that Jaguars game in 2017, that had a good atmosphere. What was the comparison to there?
“The crowd was rocking. I’ve never heard our crowd like that. That was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard them. The Faithful was rocking, as they should be on Monday night, it was a great atmosphere, there was a lot of energy, a lot of buzz in the building. You could feel it. It makes for a great game.”
Thinking back to the last time you played the Rams in the Coliseum in 2017, just coming to San Francisco and now the trajectory of your journey here and the journey of this team. How different does it feel for you thinking back on that day and now heading to L.A. this week?
“Much different, we’ve come a long way, different players, different coaches, everything. Two years is a long time, a lot of things happen. I think we’re a better team because of those stages that we went through early on. Having to go through that grind and getting to where we’re at, I mean, we still have a long way to go, four games isn’t going to get us anything, but we’re moving in the right direction. That’s the key thing.”
I remember that being an emotional win in 2017 with WR Marquise Goodwin being knocked out, but what are your memories from that game and getting that win?
“It was a good end to that season, that little stretch we went on at the end, it was fun. It was a fun group of guys that year, a lot of different personalities all coming together. Half the team was rookies probably even more. It was a fun atmosphere. We have a different team now, but same mentality.”
You mention the mentality and the approach being the same as it was earlier in the season, but at this point now being 4-0 is there a noticeable difference just in your confidence level as a whole as a team?
“Not really, honestly. It’s a confident group. It starts from the top down, starting with the coaches trickling down to the players. Back in OTAs, training camp, we were grinding against each other, we kind of saw what we had and it’s just our job to go out there and prove it every Sunday now.”
Do you feel like where the team has come from, because you had such a challenge the last couple years, that that keeps everybody grounded now when you’re 4-0?
“It’s good to remember where you came from, I guess. You know, it’s one of those things you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourselves. We have only won four games and like I said it’s not going to get you anything in this league. So, it’s good to remember those times, but like I said we are a new team now and we’ve got a good mindset in there.”
How would you assess Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald and does he look different on tape than other guys?
“Yeah, yeah he does. He is unbelievable. Give him all the credit in the world. The guy, he does just about everything inside, power move, speed move, whatever it is he just always seems to be around the ball. And so, you have to be aware of a guy like that.”
What would it mean to beat the Rams? Will it really just be one of 16 games on the schedule?
“It would be good. It would be a good step in the right direction. Like I said, this game is the most important game for us and we have treated every game like that. So, I think if we keep that up, we will be in a good spot.”
Are you getting DL Nick Bosa mania and were you able to see any of the highlights of what he did and what were your impressions?
“Oh yeah, I saw the highlights. The guy is a maniac, he’s awesome, I love it. He brings the juice every day, practice, game day, whatever it is, his motor just never stops on the field. It’s impressive.”
What are your thoughts on how he has handled himself this year, as a rookie and all the spotlight on him?
“I think he has done great. You know, as a rookie you’ve got a ton of stuff to learn, you’re trying to meet new teammates, get acclimated to the area around you and everything. It’s a lot going on, but when it comes down to it on the field, you go perform on Sundays, you’re going to be in a good spot.”
He might not be in the category right now since you just played four games, but is there a pass rusher that you have game planned for or faced, whether a backup or whatever, where you’re just, like, holy smokes, we know we have to put two guys on him or he can just destroy our offense?
“Aaron Donald is one of those, yeah. I mean, he’s as good as they get. He’s going to bring it every play and you know that. So, it will be a good challenge for us.
So, you’re going to be double teaming Aaron Donald. Is that part of the game plan?
“Is that you trying to get the headline there (laughter)?”