Coach Tom Coughlin
Good afternoon. One announcement: Geoff Schwartz will be activated this afternoon. There will be information forthcoming for you on that. He will be activated. After looking at the tape, I pretty much said yesterday that I was pleased with the way the defense played and how hard they played and the fact that they bounced back. They still gave up 148 yards rushing, I do understand that. We did an outstanding job in the red zone. We made the stops when we had to. We showed resiliency when the defense was forced on the field with a sudden change at the 29-yard line and held the opponent to a field goal. Overall I was pleased with the way they bounced back. I was pleased with the special teams. I thought that we gave ourselves some opportunities. We had a very good kickoff return that actually was to the 42-yard line. We stumbled over the kicker at that point. We had a good punt return. We had a chance for a little bit more in regards to that. We recovered our own onside kick. I thought we gave ourselves chances with regards to our special teams play as well. Our offense did not play as well; however, we still had a chance to win the football game. That says something with as many turnovers as we had. We didn't run the ball well. We've talked about that. We definitely had some issues in pass protection. Too much pressure, too many hits on the quarterback. Understandably, it is pro football, you are going to have pressure, but I thought there was a little too much of that. The point that I made with our team today was that a week ago our defense was upset and embarrassed. They hadn't played well. They really focused well and practiced well. [They] put their nose to the grindstone. Their pride was on the line and they played better. I am hoping that the offense will respond in the exact same way this week and I am hoping that the defense will continue to improve and that special teams will improve and that our offense will get themselves back on track where we can have all three groups contributing to – I'm sure San Francisco doesn't feel this way – but I felt it was an opportunity for us to win a game yesterday.
Q: What is the plan with Geoff Schwartz going forward?
A: We will determine that.
Q: Do you have a preference on which side with him?
A: No, I do not have a preference yet. I don't have any preference yet, except to get him going.
Q: Was it worthwhile to bring up any other goals for your team other than just winning a game?
A: Not really. It is the most important thing. We try to keep it to that all year long where it is one game at a time. The next game is the most important game on the schedule and we will continue to do that.
Q: You mentioned [Justin] Pugh was able to practice last week… Was he limited in practice last week? **
A: He had a strain prior to the game in Seattle. I was worried at that point in time that he would not be able to play. He played the whole game. When he reported the next day to the training room, the idea they thought was that it could be managed because of the fact that he played the game and wasn't any worse for wear. He was treated so on and so forth. He got a few reps off from normal, but I wouldn't say it was any drastic reduction. Then to have him injured at that point and time in the game, before the game really seemed to get started, was, 'Whoa.' We will deal with it the best we can. I have no information today for you on Justin.
Q: How do you think [Charles] Brown played in place of Pugh?
A: Not very well.
Q: What was the problem with the twists that the [49ers] were running?
A: That was the problem. We had worked against it all week long. We had talked about it. I think I shared with you that they were a team that pressured about 25 percent of time and the rest of the time they were very good at T-E's and E-T's and some three-ways as well. We didn't initially stop the first rusher in order that we could then switch it off. We had too much penetration. Too much penetration ends up – the guard stays on if it is a T-E – doesn't get a chance to come off on the end. That was an issue. It did happen a few times in the game.
Q: [The guards] are supposed to be passing it off and if that is the case, how much of it was lack of communication between those two guys?
A: The lack of communication is not the word there. It is recognizing it and shutting the first phase of it down so that you can get to both parties on the same level and then switch it off. Didn't happen much that way.
Q: Justin is a young player… Is it his responsibility to speak up last week?
A: You are trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The trainers were in conjunction with him. We didn't think going forward that it was a major issue, that it was controllable and it ended up being an issue in the game.
Q: The four plays from the four-yard line… Did Eli [Manning] change any of those at the line?
A: We had to change the first play. I spoke last night. There was a run called and we couldn't continue to keep the run on because of the number of people that were in the box with a three-wide receiver set and one back running scheme. We did leave that play. Then later there was another opportunity to go to a run, but [Manning] felt good about the matchup that he had. Let's face it, we were ranked in the top ten in the green zone all year long. It had been one of the things we had done really well. We had thrown the ball to, whether it be Larry Donnell or Rueben [Randle] or whatever, we had done that any number of times, including training camp and including preseason. We felt good about those opportunities. In fact, after looking at the tape, I think two of those balls should have been caught.
Q: How much are you providing your input as it goes along…Obviously when things are moving quickly [Offensive Coordinator] Ben [McAdoo] is the one calling the plays. How much are you able to give input on specific play calls?
A: I can do anything I want at any time, and I do. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
Q: Did you in this instance?
A: Which play?
Q: Any of them?
A: Sure. Sure, I have input on that. Not necessarily each one and not necessarily in the order that you might think. After the timeout is normally when I will have my say or in between series I will have my say.
Q: When you come out of a game like this is [four tries to score with the ball on the four yard line], is that a sequence that you are going to replay in your head a lot?
A: Sure, why wouldn't I? The ball is on the four-yard line. You have a chance to win the game. Somebody make a play. Get the ball in the end zone and you win. I will remember that one. As a matter of fact, I thought when [Odell Beckham Jr.] made that spectacular catch, I figured this is going to be great. We are going to win one of those nail biters.
Q: On the fourth and inches play, you said that you don't like to run the quarterback sneak… Is that simply a matter of wanting to protect the quarterback or is it a strategic calculation?
A: To me, it is the quarterback. I have just felt that way, always have. I don't like them sticking their neck in the pile. I think there are other ways to go about it.
Q: Is that something you have pretty much done forever?
A: I didn't do it with Doug Flutie [at Boston College].
Q: What about [former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback] [Mark] Brunell?
A: I still didn't do quarterback sneaks, but he would run the ball.
Q: When you look back on Eli's game... How much of that is he made a couple bad decisions and how much is it receivers running the wrong patterns?
A: I don't believe any of it was wrong pattern. There was pressure, sometimes to the point where he wasn't going to be able to function if he didn't release the ball when he did. One in particular, I think he was really trying to hold back on releasing the ball, and it ended up obviously not thrown in the absolute direction it needed to be in. There were different reasons. There is no one individual responsible for that. You can see the one guy because he is the guy who threw the ball, and I am not making excuses for him either. At this level, you are going to get pressure, you are going to have people in your face, you are going to have people at your feet, but you deal with it. In situations sometimes where you are about to release the ball and you feel like you have to hurry in order to do something with the ball, you make an errant throw and it becomes a turnover. We had done an outstanding job for the entire season of not letting that happen and yesterday it happened. In a one-score game, my preference is not to be throwing the ball that much, so therefore, obviously, what is the other thing? You better be able to rush it. We didn't rush it very well. We had a few runs that were pretty good, but we had a majority of them that weren't. There was no tempo or rhythm with regard to run-pass, pass-run. Our screen game accomplished nothing yesterday. We didn't do a good job getting out in front of the screen situation and being able to block the defenders. Although on one occasion, we had a whole sideline had we been able to execute it. There might have been one defender on that side of the field. A lot of frustration.
Q: What changed from that first drive when you guys were so efficient moving the ball down the field and getting it into the end zone?
A: I just think the number two defense in the league had something to do with it. On the seventh play of the game – we scored on the fifth – we had another opportunity for a score there. We had Odell running open on that play.
Q: When you looked again at the four plays, were you troubled with the amount of contact defensively?
A: Yeah, there was one for sure.
Q: The Donnell or Randle play?
A: The Donnell play. I didn't say it, you did. That is no excuse. He had the ball. Bring it down.
Q: The play you said you missed [the seventh play of the game], was that the play-action play where you threw deep to the sideline… You said there was a chance for another score?
A: Yeah, I am not going to tell you which one. You will have to look it up.
Q: [In regards to officiating] has it become difficult game-to-game and play-to-play to know how much contact they are going to allow?
A: That has been stated way back when, coming out of preseason, because there was so much emphasis. No two [officiating] crews are exactly the same. By in large, we have had an issue here or there. Not many, but again, it looked as if on Larry's play, if he could have gotten himself gathered at the right time and gotten up in the air where he is best-suited for that type of play, that he probably would have been in better shape to catch the ball. It didn't look like he got up as high as he really wanted to and that was probably perhaps because of some contact.
Q: Did you find a definitive angle where it looked like Odell had the first down on that half inch?
A: My initial thought on that was that he had made the first down, but in continuing his angle to the sideline, it looked like he came back a little bit to the line of scrimmage. I mentioned to him this morning that in knowing exactly where the first down marker is, once you have achieved that, you have to stay on that line. You don't want to drift away from that and, for whatever reason, make it more difficult for the marking of forward progress.
Q: You mentioned the struggles in the run… With the inability to do that the last few weeks, does that change the way Ben McAdoo calls the game and the way you guys together game plan what you want to do?
A: We game plan the heck out of the run and we still have the nine on seven, the inside drill, on Wednesday, regardless of whether we are in pads or not. We have the drill just for the emphasis. We carry a lot of runs. We really do. I'd like to tell you that you should stay there and pound away those one yard runs, but third and eight or third and seven after two runs, you just don't have an inclination to want to be in that position. You pick your spots for the runs and then at the end of the day, there are not many of them.
Q: With the fourth and inches and you can't make that inch, does that make you shy away from it later in the game?
A: It doesn't help. It doesn't help.
Q: How much do you look at yesterday with the lack of success in the run as [the 49ers] being the number two defense or you guys lacking execution?
A: I don't know if it is execution as much as when it comes down to knocking your guy off the line of scrimmage. It is not just the exact front either. The linebacker penetration was there on the fourth and one. I thought the safety showed up. One of the first times that he really was down there like that in the run. He showed up on that play. He cuffed the ankle a little bit. When I first saw it. I thought maybe [Jennings] could have got up in the air, but when I looked at it this morning, he couldn't have gotten air born.
Q: You talked about reminding them today that the defense rebounded from what it felt was its worst performance and you are hoping the offense does the same… Was there any part of your message about morale or attitude?
A: I used the defense as an example of how they prepared, how focused they were, how concentrated they were, how well their practices went and even when they fought their way through some different things that they didn't get right away, like the number of times that you have to prepare for the unbalanced line even though you may or may not see it in a game. We did see it. Even through that, they remained and focused and hung tough when they were being corrected on things of that nature. Then I thought they played like that. I thought they showed the resiliency that we had talked about the week before when, in fact, you have a bad play and it seems like all the air went out of the sideline – I thought they responded pretty well to that. They were playing well enough to keep us in it. As I said, it wasn't totally clean, but they were doing a much better job and so I used that as an example for everyone. Of course, the idea of the way our special teams [played]. I honestly was looking for a punt return for a touchdown yesterday. I really was. I told them that. I think we are capable of doing some of that – making a big play on a punt return or maybe perhaps a kickoff return as well. It almost happened yesterday. We keep moving in that direction. Keep having good thoughts and working towards everybody performing the best they possibly can and playing as hard as they can, and we are all disappointed, but don't get discouraged. You have to come back and do it again, and you have to do it again, and you have to love Sunday afternoon or Sunday night. You have to build the week and then go and have the whole extent of working so hard is to come together with your talent and skill whenever game time is Sunday or Monday. We left them with those kinds of messages.
Q: Does the success of the offense ultimately mean getting back to that point of running effectively?
A: I think you need balance. I would tell you, yes, but obviously we have a ways to go there because we have a run here or a run there. We had a 15-yarder and a five-yarder. Just not enough of those.