Obviously, you were leaning on the run game early. Just wondering your initial impressions of how the offensive line blocked, especially in those key situations that you’d been talking about a lot the last couple of weeks?
‘Yeah, I thought the O-Line had a hell of a game. Always wait to see the film, but I thought they cleared a bunch of good lanes for our backs. I thought they protected very well versus a very good front and the results, I think, speak for themselves. So, they did a hell of a job.”
You talked last week about needing your best players to play at their best. Do you feel like that happened in a lot of areas?
“Yeah, I’ll see when I look on the tape, but I thought our whole team played pretty well. That was a real good team win, I thought. Our defense played their ass off, obviously. Our goal was to get more runs than the other team. I knew both teams were trying to run the ball and I think just the whole team, for us to get 37 runs there when you’re not just killing them with run average, says a lot about how everybody played.”
On that fourth down touchdown to TE George Kittle, was that a fourth down call all the way? You always want to get the first down on third down, but do you almost pull the third down play to get yourself almost to that play?
“Yes, you’re right there in that fringe area. I think we were out of field goal range and knew we had two downs on it, but anytime you call a run, I think it was third and six or third and five, if you call a run there and you lose some yards, then you’ll end up punting. I thought at least we’d get half of it and I think we got to fourth and two and felt good about that pass call. I think they zeroed us on it. That’s why we had a pretty good look and then Kittle beat the man coverage and it was a good throw, good protection and it was awesome to get the house call on it.”
Can you describe the flip pass to WR Deebo Samuel? Obviously, it worked on the touchdown, worked on that third down conversion and just how much you guys have worked on that in practice and how pivotal it was tonight?
“It was huge for us tonight. Starting out the game, I think it was the second play of the game and then I think he scored on that same drive down there in the endzone. It was just the same run play we’ve been doing for a while, but it’s always nice to get Deebo involved on it. When you do it, the difference with it is our halfbacks kind of become the fullback on the play, so I thought they did a good job too running that. That last run that Deebo had was as impressive of a run as I’ve ever seen. I thought we blocked it for about seven yards and then three guys just try to bring it on Deebo and he just stayed up and finished the play and got three more and allowed us to go out there and take a knee. So, he was very impressive all day on that and especially the way he finished, I thought it was his best one.”
The first four throws QB Jimmy Garoppolo had we’re all pretty short, guideline, scrimmage stuff. Was that a concerted effort on your part to just kind of get him established, get him in a rhythm and how do you think he fared after he got rolling there?
“Those were the run plays that we liked. So, mainly did that for that reason and just has to do a lot with what they played defensively. It’s nice when you do that, you’ve got guys like Deebo and I think we threw one out to, I think it was [WR Brandon] Aiyuk on one of the others. Yeah, that always helps the quarterback, too, when you’re able to move down the field and have some run plays that count as pass plays. Gets you in a little bit of a rhythm and I think it helped.”
A couple of running back questions. Do you know what Raheem’s prognosis is with that ankle? Then the second is, you guys leaned very heavily on RB JaMycal Hasty in the last quarter there and he seemed to step up. Were you hesitant at all about giving a rookie that kind of workload, that crucial time of the game and how do you think he did?
“I thought he did a real good job when he came in. No, we don’t know yet on Raheem. I’m sure we’ll find out tomorrow. I know he tried to come back. I think he did at the end of the second quarter. He tried to come back in, I think he did one play in the third quarter and then he couldn’t go. I thought [RB Jerick McKinnon] Jet did a good job running hard, doing what he’s done for us every week, but Hasty was up for the challenge. Got some fresh legs in there and I thought he gave us some juice a little bit. We found out we didn’t have [RB] Jeff [Wilson Jr.]. We found out later in the week with a tight calf and Hasty got his opportunity and from what I saw, I thought he really helped us.”
Jimmy talked about there being a unique sense of urgency during the practice this week. Did this feel like a typical October game for you? I know they’re all really important, but was there a heightened sense of urgency in your mind going into this game?
“I think we always have a pretty big sense of urgency, but I think when you get embarrassed like we did last week, and when you get embarrassed like that, you can find out a lot about your team. We came in Monday and it was a hard day, but usually when stuff like that happens, guys either give in because it gets too hard and they try to hide and point fingers a little bit and just go through the motions or guys try to step it up and get better. Thought we had some good meetings on Monday, but you really don’t know until you see guys on the field on Wednesday. I was very impressed with the character of our team and just how the players carried themselves and the way they came out to practice on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and really the way they responded to all of us get embarrassed. They tried to get better this week and not worry about anything else. Usually when you do that and you can put together those types of practices, usually the results are better and I’m glad that they were because I thought they really earned it throughout the week and today.”
A couple of questions about the defense. Why do you think they were so effective today and how important has CB Jason Verrett been to what you guys have been able to do?
“Oh, Jason’s been great. You guys could see him in his coverages today. The play he made down in the redzone, the play he almost picked. He almost had his hand on a few of them. I know he got that one, but he almost had a number of them. And not just how he covers, but Jason’s a man out there. The way he carries himself, the way he likes to mix it up. He loves playing football. He loves the physicality of the game and he’s a great talent in terms of covering. I’m so pumped to have him on our team and I’m just happy for him that he’s been able to get out there again. It was awesome getting [CB Emmanuel Moseley] E-Man back and kind of just having a little bit more of our crew there in the secondary. I think the guys fed off it. We went against a very good offense, a very good team. I know we bent a little bit in some of the run game, but the way we played down in the redzone, keeping them out of there and stuff and would love to have us not have given that touchdown on that real deep play, but besides that, I thought the guys were pretty flawless.”
How much does not having Raheem Mostert change what you can do in the offense in the second half? It was consecutive punts over and over again.
“I think Raheem’s shown this league, starting last year, how special of a back he is. So, anytime you lose a special guy like that, there definitely is a change, but I’ve also got a lot of confidence in our other guys, too. Couldn’t catch them at a surprise as much as some of the stuff we were doing. Guys kind of settled down in the second half and that makes it a little tougher with creating the holes and stuff and some of the stuff we offset it with in the first half with getting the receivers going and things like that. So, the looks do get tougher in the second half, usually always, but it always hurts when you lose a good one like Raheem.”
Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald was probably the NFL defensive MVP over the first five weeks. What did you guys do to limit him so much in this game?
“It’s a huge challenge. He’s as good of a player as you just said, everyone knows that. I thought our O-Line did a very good job. You try to avoid him as much as possible and I think we were able to do that for the most part today. Rarely does that happen, but I thought our guys were up for the challenge. They knew what was ahead of them and they came out and did as good as they could in that area.”
Given how well that you and Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay know each other, how do you go about getting an edge over him and how much of a chess match does it become?
“Not much. I think that game was pretty simple from, I mean that was two teams playing sound defense on both sides and it was two teams really trying to run the ball. It was both of our players out there just getting after each other and thought it was a physical game. Two really good teams and I don’t think that game had much at all to do with Sean and I.”
There was a lot of talk this week about the team needing to find its identity. Is there a feeling in the locker room that tonight you played closer to the identity that you guys expect?
“Yeah, I believe so. I’m not sure how the whole year, but I think we got our most run carries today, which isn’t just an offensive goal. That’s a team goal. That’s what I think we did a better job of last year. I haven’t been able to find that this year. So, in order for us to do that offensively, you’ve got to do what you saw all around. Even then when we struggled on offense, we were able to keep sticking with it and things like that, which slowed the game down and I think the defense does feed off that. I think our special teams played very well, too. It’s something to build off of.”