“Injuries from the game; [RB Matt] Breida, ankle sprain, same ankle, different sprain. He’ll be out this week. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, stinger, same shoulder, he’ll be out this week. [DB Tarvarius] More had a jaw sprain, he got back in the game. [OL Laken] Tomlinson, hip contusion, he’ll b day-to-day. [LB] Dekoda Watson, torn calf, we’ll put him on IR later today or tomorrow. [RB] Jeff Wilson [Jr.], foot inflammation, he’ll be day-to-day. Guys who missed the game; [DB] D.J. Reed [Jr.], expect to get him back this week and we’ll re-check [WR] Pierre Garçon and [G Joshua] Garnett on Wednesday to see where they’re at.”
WR Marquise Goodwin?
“Goodwin was here today at the meetings and stuff, so I’m sure he’ll address you guys later in the week, but expect to have him back.”
Just looking at the film, what jumped out at you that was probably the most frustrating or most alarming?
“The way we started out was tough. I thought it took our offense about a quarter before we settled down. I didn’t feel we really settled down until one play in particular, I think it was the beginning of the second quarter. Blocked the play up pretty well. Jeff Wilson got through there and ran over their middle-third safety and I felt that kind of loosened everyone up a little bit. Went right down after that and we ended up getting that fumble on the three-yard line which I definitely don’t think was a fumble but we kind of lost the momentum right there. It was tough getting a little bit of a late start which was a little bit frustrating, but a lot of times, expected in that building. It’s happened to me before on teams I’ve been on and it’s just the way the score got. Coming out in the second half, we had the fumble that they got. Our defense, for some reason, they didn’t start on the three, they got it at the 14. But, our defense did stop them and punted, went three-and-out. But the next punt, I thought we had a chance to turn it around. It was 13-0 at the time. We fumbled that punt and they went down and made it 20-0 right before the half. Fortunately, we were able to get three to make it 20-3, but then the way we started the third quarter, just the kick return that was 84 yards and scoring on the next run, I thought we had a chance to be in a 13-10 type of game and it’s about three plays difference and it’s 27-3.”
Jeff Wilson obviously had a big jump in snaps from last week to this week. What did you see towards the end of the game from him? Did he look like he was still playing well?
“Jeff played very well. He earned that last week how he played, but it got stronger, especially with what happened with Breida in pregame warmups. We were going to give Jeff a lot anyways, but we knew Breida struggled in pregame. Then it got worse as the game went. Jeff also got hurt in the game too. He had to leave and go to the locker room for a little bit. But, it was good to see him. We all know he played well, but it was good to see him bounce back and play through some stuff that was bothering him also.”
Will that slow him down this week at all, his foot strain?
“I hope not. We’ll see. I know he was sore today and I know he’s listed as day-to-day. I expect to have him, but we’ll see how his body reacts on Wednesday.”
What are his strengths as a running back?
“He hits the hole and runs hard. I think he’s a very good zone runner. He doesn’t mess around. He sets his track and when he sees an open gap, he puts his foot down and goes north and south.”
What did he need to prove to you this year? You guys were light on running back at various points, but never called his number until recently. What was missing in his game that you needed to see from him?
“It just takes time, just the inconsistency. It happens a lot with rookies. You see it in practice all the time. You can see it a little bit when we put him in the preseason games, but that was a little bit ago. It’s just everything. You never know if it’s going to be a run play or a pass play. Not as much go into the run plays, but a lot goes into the pass plays, which is your responsibilities and things like that. So, it does take time. Then what you can do on special teams also. If you’re not getting up as the first guy, you’ve got to have a role on special teams. He’s been working to do that, but it’s taken him time to get ready for that. We were hoping he was there a few weeks ago when [RB] Raheem [Mostert] went down and he wasn’t quite ready, but I think his urgency changed a lot after that week. He came back after that Bye week, the urgency went way up and the results showed in practice and it carried over to the game.”
Is he a guy that running backs coach Bobby Turner Jr. found before the draft?
“I don’t remember who specifically identified him. But, I know we all watched him. Whether it was the personnel department who found him, they usually give us a big list of people and then Bobby always goes through them, so does [run game coordinator] Mike McDaniel, so does everyone in our personnel department and then myself and [general manager] John [Lynch] included. So, I don’t remember who found him, but we liked him.”
Coming out, there were questions about ball security with him. How do you weigh, when you’re evaluating somebody like that, how do you weigh those ball security issues with everything else he brings to the table?
“It’s a big deal. No matter how good of a back you are, if you keep fumbling, you’re not going to play. It’s the same as people who touch the ball. No matter what, if you turn the ball over too much, you can’t do it. So, it’s always a concern. I know he battled some injuries his last year too. That’s also stuff you see where you can get guys, where guys are going to be available. We liked Breida a lot the year before, we thought he was a draftable guy. But, you look at some of his numbers and size and thought maybe other people wouldn’t see him that way. So, you think you can get him as a free agent. If there’s a guy you’re not sure about, that happened with us with [RB] Alfred Morris in Washington. I think his team was 1-11. The team he was on didn’t get much hype or anything so we thought he might go around that seventh, sixth round. But, then you wait to see do you want to wait for the undrafted and get someone else or you’re afraid you’re going to lose him so you use that pick. So, there’s a lot to balance there in the end, but you always have your targets and if you could get everyone in free agency, you’d much rather do that. But, it’s always a gamble.”
With Garçon, usually if a guy can play, he does play or he goes on IR. Why is his situation unique?
“Last week, we lost Marquise, he wasn’t out there. So, we had four receivers out there, dressing and things like that. Pierre’s in a situation where he’s ready to play on game day. He’ll do the things necessary to get out there and play and stuff like that and tough it out for us. But, I don’t want to do that at the expense of someone else. We would put him on IR just to move forward, but didn’t know Marquise’s status the last couple of weeks. You have someone like [WR] Dante [Pettis] out there who’s one snap away from getting hurt. I hope Pierre is still available. So, we’ll see where he is this week, see where the rest of our receivers are at and try to make a decision. Similar things like Alfred. Alfred hasn’t dressed the last couple of weeks. People might say, ‘Why don’t you bring someone else on the roster,’ or something like that. Well, we almost lost two backs yesterday so things change a lot and you need those options because they’re hard to find at this time.”
Does Pierre want to play?
“Yeah, he does.”
Dante can play the X position. If both he and Goodwin are back, is he yet available to play Z? Is he well versed enough to step in there?
“Yeah, he has done it some games. Dante has done all three this year and we’ve had to change him around each week. That’s why this was the first week where all guys got to stay at the same spots. But, Dante has the skill set to do all three of them. Quise, we prefer him outside the numbers, but he can go inside too. He knows the offense well enough that if Quise gets back this week we have some options with him too.”
Dante was saying after the game that part of the reason he’s done so well the last couple of games was talks with you that you challenged him. Is that something that you did during games, in meetings, one-on-one chats, texts?
“Everything except texts. Team meetings, one-on-one meetings, everything. Dante has got a lot of talent. You guys just asked about Jeff Wilson, what took so long. These guys are straight out of college and they’ve had a lot of success their whole lives. Sometimes they take some time to be ready for the NFL. I thought Dante came out pretty ready. I always want them further along than they are. But, when he had that injury, I thought he got set back a lot. Dante works hard, but sometimes guys have got to learn how urgent the NFL is. It’s not a lack of him not knowing, it’s just a lack of experience and that’s something a lot of rookies go through. Usually they learn it and if they’re talented enough and work hard, they have a good career. Some of those guys who don’t learn and never have that urgency, they miss their window and people move on. So, I’ve been definitely riding the heck out of Dante because we believe in him a lot, we know he has a lot of ability and I’ve told him the last couple of weeks, he’s taken a huge step forward, but don’t get that confused with you’ve arrived. It’s just a couple of steps forward.”
In that same range, Tarvarius Moore, he only had a few snaps on defense, he played more special teams. What are you waiting to see from him to get him more defensive snaps?
“I would like to right now, but there’s only two corners out there so we’d have to sit down one of the other two and we don’t think that’s been right here the last few weeks. We’ve had a couple of packages to get him out there, some dime packages, which he’s done. He ended up missing some of that because he went out for a while during the game with his jaw situation. But, he came back in and got a couple of plays. He’s really stepped it up on special teams this year. He’s got to work through some stuff out there, at corner, I’d like to get him that opportunity to work through it, just like [DB] Marcell [Harris] got his opportunity yesterday. I think Tarvarius will. I feel pretty strongly that he will, but we’ve got to see how these next four games play out.”
With Harris, aside from some missed tackles, how do you think he played?
“I think he played like it was one of his first full games starting. He showed some potential and things like that, but he hadn’t been in that situation where he’s had to make that many tackles in a game for over a year. He didn’t get to play his last year at Florida. So, I thought he was a little bit rusty, but it was definitely expected. The game wasn’t too big for him. He didn’t turn it down. He didn’t try to pull himself out. He kept going and kept shooting his guns. Connected on some, but also missed on others. He has the ability to be a good tackler. He’ll get better from playing. You’ve just got to take some of the good with the bad as he works through that stuff, just kind of like we have with Dante the last couple weeks too.”
You’re three-quarters of the way through the season. Your record is 2-10 and suffered back-to-back blowout losses. How do you assess the job you’ve done so far this season?
“I think you do that the best. I don’t like to totally grade myself. I do as good as I can. I work as hard as I can. I take this situation that we have and I try to get the most out of our players. When you look at our record, and we’re all extremely disappointed in that, always feel like we should win more games than we have. But, I’m going to sit and come to work every single day and be the same person I am when we have a bad record as the one when we have a very good record. I think you could ask your players that, ask people that work with us and you guys can decide. I don’t really change. I do as good as I can every single day and as long as I know that, I can live with myself.”
With the last two weeks and the way it’s gone, some people look at the scores and say well things are kind of getting away and they’re playing out this string. Do you sense any of that and how do you guard against that happening?
“I don’t sense that. I sense that we didn’t play our best. I think when you go to a place like Seattle, you don’t play as good as you can, you turn the ball over three times, they don’t turn it over at all, they average six yards a carry, we average three, that’s probably what I’d guess the score is. I watch people’s effort and things like that probably as hard as anyone else in the world, when it comes to our own team. I watch every individual and I look for that stuff harder than anybody. I’ll come in every Monday and if there’s someone who is shutting it down and not working, I have a responsibility to the other 10 guys on the field and the other 52 guys on our roster to not put him out there. That’s something we look for hard. I didn’t see that with our guys. I saw guys play hard. Does that mean I’m happy with how we played? Not at all. But, I don’t see guys just turning it down and quitting. I see guys fighting, competing and we didn’t play good enough, we didn’t coach good enough. I think when you play a team like that, especially where we did, the number one stat of all time is turnovers and that was three to zero. The next thing you can look at is rushing stats. One thing that we’ve done good offensively this year is run the ball. They stopped our run game. We were able to get the pass game going a little bit, but a little bit too late.”
On the 52-yard touchdown pass to Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett, is the linebacker’s responsibility to cover him all the way? What is the assignment? Was there supposed to be safety help coming to help him out?
“There is if the quarterback’s looking that way. The safety in the middle of the field has got to cover a couple things. But, that’s the same question we got in Atlanta every time that would happen, the same question they get in Seattle every time that happens, the same one they get in Dallas, San Diego. The three-deep principles, there’s a number of ways to run three-deep, four-under. How do you stop four verticals? Some people will carry it with a safety, cheat the others. Everyone in this system, you carry it with the weakside hook player, which sometimes puts a linebacker in a tough situation. That does happen a couple times a year and you’ve seen it. You hope to get a pass rush on it, which makes it a lot harder, and you hope the quarterback’s bad with his eyes where he isn’t alone. But, just like in any zone-dog, a defensive end can have to cover a tight end. If that ball doesn’t get out, you’ll see him one-on-one way down the field. That’s cover three.”
On the defensive offsides where LB Elijah Lee was coming in from the other side, was that they set the ball and you didn’t have time to sub?
“No. [LB] Fred Warner lost his shoe. So, he was going to pick it up and when he went to pick it up, [Seattle Seahawks QB] Russell [Wilson] grabbed it and threw it. So, he had to go about eight more yards to pick it up. As he was doing that, they went hurry-up offense, so we had a guy 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage trying to get his shoe that was thrown out of the way. They were at the line, Fred was going to be offsides because he was picking up his shoe that was thrown. When he saw that, Elijah tried to help him out and run on the field so he could get off. That’s why we got the penalty.”
Some of the guys after your unsportsmanlike conduct, they spoke about it afterwards and thought that it kind of got them a little fired up, as well, because they know you stand behind them 100-percent. Does that have any effect on what you think about--?
“I think they know that regardless, despite what I did. That was icing on the cake right there. That was the tipping point, that penalty. But, it was definitely a number of other ones from earlier that was a buildup. I don’t think I have to get a penalty or use the wrong language to earn their respect. So, it wasn’t a smart thing by me and something I can’t do.”
What can the refs do in that scenario with Fred and his shoe? Can they bump the play clock up or stop them from snapping the ball so quickly?
“That’s what I was trying to figure out, especially when another guy on the opposing team threw it. I’m not saying that he did that maliciously or anything, who knows, but it was an unusual situation and it was my tipping point.”
What did the ref re-explain to you after that? In between the quarters, you were still talking to him about it.
Did they go hurry-up at any other point in the game?
“I believe so, yeah. I believe they went hurry-up a couple times.”
Obviously, a lot of things have gone into 2-10, why you are what you are right now. But, does it give you any pause or do you lose any confidence about the big-picture plan of what you guys want to accomplish and where you’re going and how you’re doing it?
“No, I don’t. I’d love it to be a lot more obvious and a lot easier. We finished 6-10 last year and I’d love to be improving from this year. I also know it was hard work to get to 6-10, especially starting 0-9. I think we came in this year with a franchise quarterback and we lost him early in the season, which definitely makes that much harder. I think we came here knowing that it was going to take some time. I think the way we finished last year definitely excels everyone’s feeling and what they thought. But, by no means did I think we were coming into it this year and it was just going to be easy. I knew it was going to be extremely hard. The way it started off, it definitely made it a lot harder. We’ve had some close ones that I believe we should have won. That’s why I believe our record should be better than it is. But, by no means just because our record isn’t better than what it was last year does that change how I feel. We did some good things at the end of last year. We’ve had a number of setbacks this year. But, I think this is a necessary process to where we are going to go and some of the tough decisions that we have to make going into year three.”
Before the Bye, you challenged your players to come back focused and finish the season strong. After the past two games, are you disappointed in the way they’ve responded to your challenge?
“No. We didn’t play very well. So, that doesn’t go into just they didn’t respond to my challenge. You have to play very good football to win games and we haven’t done that enough consistently in all three phases throughout the year. So, magic words don’t make people different. I want people to focus and worry about things that they control. We’ve got four games left. We know we’re eliminated from the playoffs. So, is this year over? This year has everything to do with, for me, about next year. Our personnel department, stuff like that, they’ll be evaluating stuff that we’ll look at as coaches once the season ends as far as the draft, free agency, possible trades. But right now, I’m evaluating the heck out of our team, our coaching staff and we’ve got four games here that are extremely important. There’s a lot of tough decisions that we’ve got to make at the end of this year. How guys look, how guys play, how they act, I want to know who is going to be a part of helping us here and helping us turn it around. Those decisions haven’t been made yet and they’ll be very critical here over the next four weeks.”
Who delivered before the game the message to Jeff Wilson that he would have an increased role? Was that Bobby Turner? Did you speak with him?
“No, no one did. I think he knew going into the week that he was going to have an increased role just because we were repping him a lot more. We planned on going with it, and when you do that you kind of go with the hot hand as the game goes. We still did start with Breida. I’m not out at warmups. I can’t see when he was warming up how severe his ankle was. But, I got word from our medical staff that he’d be good to go and stuff. So, we definitely started with him. He did decent on his first few runs and then Jeff got in there and looked good. We kept with the hot hand. When Breida got back in there, it was one in particular on a screen that someone fell on his ankle and reinjured it in a different spot which then made it easier.”
It’s not a high ankle sprain, is it?
Did you talk to DL Cassius Marsh about the alleged incident with a fan?
“No, I didn’t talk to him about it. But, I heard about it today.”
Did QB Nick Mullens do enough to retain his starting job?