I realize this question is 180 degrees from the questions you were asked last week about QB Nick Mullens, but do you have any reason or thought about changing the rotation of quarterbacks or the depth chart at quarterbacks? Is Nick still ahead of QB C.J. Beathard or is that something that you’re going to work through this week?
“That’s something we’ll work through this week. I’m still not sure about Jimmy. Just finished with the players about 30 minutes ago, so I don’t really know what we’ll do on Wednesday. I’ll have a plan by then, but haven’t talked it over with the coaches yet, so I’m not sure.”
What have you seen from your run game so far, just in terms of trying to maybe find that consistency? How do you think it can be better?
“We’ve missed the big plays since the Jets game, which is when you lose those explosives, you’ve got to be a lot more consistent. Our consistency just has not been good. Last night, I think it was pretty obvious. Had a few chances and you’ve just got one guy whiff and it ends up being a negative play. We’re pretty aggressive in our run game by what we do, the way we try to attack people and when you do that, if you’re not on it, you lose yards. So, you can get a lot simpler and make it easier to where you’re trying to block it for one to two yards and just see what happens. Hopefully you can wear guys down over the game, but we’ve always been pretty aggressive. When you do that and you’ve got one guy off here and there, you get some negative runs. When you don’t have an explosive to counteract that, that’s really how the results have gone the last two weeks.”
Piggybacking off that, the play action numbers haven’t been great for you guys either, from a production standpoint. I know there’s a debate in the analytics community, I guess, about whether or not there’s a correlation between the effectiveness of play action and how productive you are in the running game. Do you believe that? Do you think that the effectiveness of your play action is tied to what you do with running backs and the running game?
“Yeah. I don’t know what the analytics say, but I know what my history and experience says. Everything’s tied together. When you run the ball real well, play action is a lot easier. When you run the ball real well, dropping back is a lot easier. We ran the ball extremely well last year, and I think that’s why it’s hard to find a category in football that we weren’t in the top five last year. I usually think it always starts with the run game. So, when that’s not going as well, I think everything goes down a little bit. Sometimes if you’re not running the ball, it looks like you’re throwing the ball better, but sometimes that’s patting your stats at the end of a game and things like that. When you’re not running the ball well, I think it’s very hard to be successful. I don’t think we’re running it horribly, but we’re not close to what our standard is right now and that’s got to improve for us to get better everywhere else.”
With T Trent Williams, I think through training camp and the first three games, it was kind of like, well, you don’t have to worry about him. But, obviously he had a few unfortunate plays. Gave up two sacks, a couple of penalties, a couple misses in the run game. Anyway, do you just chalk it up to that was a good player having a bad game or was there something else going on?
“No, I mean, yeah, he didn’t have his best night. There’s a number of good players he had to go against and a good scheme. That D-Line’s just like ours. They tee off and they’re very aggressive on people and we ask our O-Line to do the same thing. So, when you do that and you’re off just a little bit, it’s not the safest way to play because when you’re off, they can make you look bad. Trent was a little bit off, along with everyone else out there, and that’s the result when that happens. Trent’s as good and as talented of a guy as I’ve been around. He had a rough night. I’m not worried about that going forward. It’s going to happen at times, but Trent’s in here working his butt off, doing the right things. He’ll get it corrected and we’ll help him do it around him too.”
It was an overall challenging night for your offensive line, all together. Can you put your finger on what exactly went wrong or were there just different things?
“I knew it would be going into the game. You’ve just got to turn on the tape and watch how their D-Line plays. If you can’t stay balanced and be in good situations, that D-Line is going to tee off. I think we had a number of plays, a number of runs that we did miss. We got into a first and 20 after missing a run, then we got the holding call to make it worse. When you get in those situations behind the chains, whether you’re running or passing and they’re teeing off, licking their chops, it’s a very tough situation. You’ve got to offset them with some play action, some keepers and stuff. And when we did do that, we didn’t make them pay. When you don’t make them pay in the run game, usually those keepers and play actions aren’t there either. So, they kind of go hand in hand. The times when we did have a chance, we just missed it. Then that kind of led into the game that you guys saw. We had to answer early with that stuff and if we did make them pay on a couple things, you make them think about a few other things and they’ve got to cover a lot more, but we missed those. Didn’t make them worry about much and they teed off. When that D-Line tees off, from what I see with them, that’s usually the result.”
What was the thought process behind going for an onside kick there just before the two-minute warning and why not go for a touchback on that kickoff?
“I totally planned on going for the touchback when we scored with 2:09. We were sitting there, I called the play that we were going to go for two on and I was sitting there saying, ‘All right, I’m going to kick it off. It’s 2:09. So, we’ll get the two minute and we have our time outs, so we should get it back with good field position.’ But, when they reviewed it and they took the touchdown away and then we scored and it was at 2:02. Then I was worried about it and I changed my mind because I thought the only way of getting it past the two minute warning would be to kick it out the end zone. I thought if we would have kicked it in the end zone, regardless, I know what I would’ve told them. They’d better run it out because if they run it out, they didn’t have to worry about the two-minute warning. Then we lost all that and then we ended up maybe losing a chance. So, once it went to 2:02, that kind of thought process was off. I was still shocked that we were able to kick an onside kick and get it to stop at 2:01, which was nice, but yeah, I was totally doing that before when it was at 2:09 and then changed my mind when it went to 2:02.”
T Mike McGlinchey in particular seems to be struggling through the first quarter of the season, not playing up to the standard he set the first couple of years in the league. What are his issues right now?
“I think Mike had as good of a camp as he’s had here in his third year. I was real excited, Mike, going into the season. I don’t think that he is playing as bad as advertised. I think when he has had some bad plays, it has looked bad and those stick out all the time with an O-Lineman. He’s had too many of those in a game. You take away those, I do think he’s done a lot of things better. Mike’s played at a high level here for two years. And I think there’s a lot of parts of Mike’s game that he’s a lot better at this year than he has been in the past. You get towards the end of the game there and the two-minute situations and he had some bad looking plays, which stick out. That’s part of being an O-Lineman, but by no means do I think he’s had a step back. We just have to clean up some stuff. He’s got to be a little more efficient throughout the game because he has gotten better, but that doesn’t matter when you have a few bad ones. It’s the same with the quarterback, too. You can play a hell of a game and you throw a few picks and that’s what sticks out and that’s what Mike’s got to clean up right now.”
What were your thoughts on the defensive line’s play? Not just yesterday, but just in general. Since DL Nick Bosa and DL Dee Ford have gone out and now with Ziggy gone, are you going to be looking to fill that spot with another veteran or do you think that you have enough in house?
“You keep trying and see how you can upgrade your team. Every time you lose a guy, that’s what we do. Guys are looking at what the options are at all times. It’s not the easiest to just continue to find pass rushers and D-Linemen at this time of the year. So, that is always a challenge, but since we’ve lost all those guys, I think our D-Line has really stepped up to the challenge. I thought they played two good games in New York. I thought yesterday they played very hard. I thought they wore down a little bit and we made a couple mistakes on third down, letting [Philadelphia Eagles QB] Carson [Wentz] get out of the pocket. I think we had three third downs that he was able to scramble on. One he came up a yard short, but he should not have been in that position at all. We should have had the sack. Just lost containment on it, which led him to a fourth and one, but I think our D-Line’s battling. I think they’re giving us a chance. I think we just made a few silly mistakes that kept a couple of drives going.”
How did TE George Kittle come out after his 15-catch workload and did you guys have any fun reviewing the WR Brandon Aiyuk touchdown?
“We were all impressed with Aiyuk’s touchdown. Reviewing the film wasn’t that much fun today. Everyone’s a little frustrated and down. We were upset by losing that game, but no, Aiyuk’s touchdown was extremely impressive. Everyone said [TE] Jordan Reed looked like M.J. [Michael Jordan] when he scored and Aiyuk almost one-upped him on his. So, it was a very cool play. Kittle played his butt off. Didn’t realize that out there that he had that many catches and stuff, but when I think back to it, it makes sense. He got open every time we went to him and did a hell of a job in the game.”
When RB Tevin Coleman comes back, assuming you’re still expecting him back later in the year, you’d have five running backs on the roster. What’s your plan there and your expectation?
“Oh, I have no plan right now. It changes every week. So, we’ll see what our whole roster is. There are teams in this league who do have five running backs and there’s some teams who have two. So, it all depends on where the rest of our roster is. Where it is right now might be completely different in four days from right now. It’s extremely fluid with us. You can see it’s pretty fluid with everyone in the league and I know we’re trying to crack down on bringing in free agents and stuff and all the workouts and everything because of the COVID issues. So, it’s a different deal here in 2020. It will continue to be throughout this year and we’ve just got to be ready to adapt. There’s no point in planning when you don’t know the issue yet, but you better be ready when it comes up.”
You mentioned probably IR, short term IR for K’Waun. What’s your understanding of how severe that knee sprain is and what’s your confidence level in CB Jamar Taylor?
“I’m concerned. K’Waun’s been battling through his hip, then you got the knee. I can’t tell you how much respect I have for K’Waun. The fact that he’s been out there every week for us, the fact when he was getting hurt throughout that game, he kept trying to come in because he knew how down we were. Jamar Taylor, getting here on Friday, just trying to learn on the fly, him going in that game. His first play in was when K’Waun went out and we have a blitz called shark, which is named after K’Waun because he is a shark. Then Jamar came in and got the shark blitz and he got the sack. So, it was a hell of a job by him being ready, but I’ve earned a lot of respect for all our guys here these last two weeks playing. K’Waun, what he went through, just battling through it. He did as much as he could and we’ve got to shut him down now, give him a chance to recover. [CB] Dontae Johnson, what he did in that game. He hurt his groin during the game, but we didn’t have enough guys up.
So, he came back in the game just trying to battle through it. I know that was tough for him towards the end, especially giving up that go route and everything. The guys out there, they’re just, they’re grinding. We got [CB Ken] Webster, stole him off Miami’s practice squad two weeks ago and he got to play a lot in the game. So, we’ll see how it goes this week. Hopefully we’ll get a guy back, but all those guys have earned my respect a lot.”
Have you guys made arrangements to bring any edge rushers in that are on the street or is that something you’re looking at or players at other positions and if so, who will be coming in or who’s already there?
“That’s something [general manager] John [Lynch] and his group upstairs discuss all the time. I haven’t been able to talk much about it today. It is kind of hard to bring guys in and there’s not a ton out there right now. We’ve done it, I feel, as well as we can so far. When you do bring guys in with all the COVID testing rules and stuff, I think the earliest we could get them is by Friday. If they’re not here today, I think it’s Saturday. So, I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that this week. I doubt it. We’ll go with what we’ve got and we’ll see who’s ready to go.”
I know you mentioned Raheem as a possibility for Wednesday. How optimistic are you about him for this week? We see the explosive plays and the speed he has obviously, but how much does he impact you from a play calling perspective, having him available?
“Raheem has done an unbelievable job, so he affects everything. When he’s out there, just the way- his explosiveness, I don’t think there’s anyone in the league that you can compare to him right now. That’s shown in both of the weeks that he got to play in. I think our backs have done a great job since he’s been out. I thought [RB Jerick] Jet McKinnon has been running his tail off, running very physical. He’s created a lot of stuff when some stuff hasn’t been there, but we can’t wait to get Raheem back. We’ll see on Wednesday. I’m not real optimistic, but I know he does have a chance Wednesday and it’ll get more and more each day that goes in the week. We’ve got to wait to see how he comes in then.”
As far as the status of Sherman, what is your confidence level that he can practice Wednesday, play Sunday?
“Probably about the same as Raheem’s. Not real high on either, but I know they do have a chance. Initially I was told Sherm would be about three to four weeks and I think we’re coming up on three and it was most likely supposed to be four. So, I’m kind of expecting for him, hoping for him next week, but it’d be a good surprise to get him this week. Talking to Sherm, there’s always a chance, but we’re going to have to wait and see how he is on Wednesday.”
When reviewing the film today and just generally, what is the mood right now of the team and in the locker room?
“I think we’re a little pissed off and frustrated. Nothing to take away from Philly and stuff, but I think we had every opportunity to win that game, especially early in the game and then even late in the game. So, I think our team felt that way in the locker room. I think we all felt that way probably sitting in our beds last night, replaying the game throughout our own heads. Then I think we feel even stronger that way when you sit and watch the tape. You can’t have those games back. It goes on your record that way and that’s always frustrating. You’ve got to deal with it today. It’ll probably be on our minds tomorrow, but when they come in Wednesday, the only way to fix that is to do a better the next week. We’ve got a team who’s coming in on Wednesday, who’s playing good football. They’ve been getting better each week. I know they’re coming in fired up, ready to go, and we’ve got to make sure that we’re in the exact same position.”
I have a couple of secondary questions for you. If CB Emmanuel Moseley does return this week with K’Waun down, could we see him slide inside the nickel with Verrett and potentially Witherspoon staying on the outside?
“Yeah, you could see that. Moseley has inside and outside experience. He’s done a good job with that for us. I’m not sure though. He’s still in the protocol. So, we’re taking that day by day. You know how that is, so I’m not sure about that, if we’ll have him by Wednesday, but we’ve got to be ready for all our guys. Even going into that game last night, guys who don’t play nickel, you’re still talking about them playing nickel because once you lose your five corners that are up, your next option is receivers or linebackers or safeties. So, you always got a plan D and F, all the way to Z. We’ll see what we have to get to.”
My follow-up question was about DB Jimmie Ward. It seems like there’s a lot more on his plate this season compared to last. I don’t know if he’s playing slower, but it seems like it’s affecting his play in general. What’s been your takeaway from watching him this year?
“I see no difference. I don’t know what you mean by more on his plate. He’s been in man coverage a lot and he does that very good. I know he got called for a couple of calls yesterday, which it is what it is. I love how aggressive Jimmie plays. I think he’s one of the better safeties in coverage and I think he’s done a good job in the run game also.”
Is there anything schematically that needs to be adjusted when you guys play or face mobile quarterbacks going forward?
“Yes, definitely. You’ve always got to adjust to that. Adjusting it doesn’t always get the results done. We got that ran at us twice before I thought we executed it correctly. The third time we did it right and we were right there. I think it was in the third quarter. Wentz ended up making us miss a little bit, but at least we had two guys there to make the tackle. So, you’ve always got to make those adjustments and be ready for it. I was just a little disappointed we didn’t hit it the first time. Something we’re trying to execute and work on throughout the week and we’ve got to make sure we do a better job of coaching it throughout the week and getting it out of our player, so when it happens the first time, we shut it down and don’t need to wait for the next time.”