Q: Last week you won a game with three offensive starters sidelined, including your leading rusher and receiver. Is that a testament to your depth or your resolve?
Coughlin: "Both. The guys who we've asked to come in have played very well. Kevin Boothe has done an outstanding job whenever he's been asked to play. It really is a real testament to that young man and the way he prepares himself. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you can ask him to play any spot and he can go in there and do it. And that's an amazing thing for anybody. So when you have an individual who is as unselfish as he is, it's a great thing for your entire team. And to be honest with you, the good thing about it was he got a chance to practice all week at that position. It wasn't like Friday morning we came to him and said, 'I think the other guy is out' – No, that wasn't the situation. Of course, Ramses Barden coming in here and hadn't been on the field in a year and he made two outstanding plays in the game. And really what I was most impressed about him was he just went out there and played. He didn't have any of that starry-eyed look or anything like that, and I think that's a big factor, a big change in him."
Q: You have won three games in a row in which you trailed or were tied at halftime. When you win so many close games, do you think that boosts a team's confidence?
Coughlin: "I think it does, but I also think it boosts confidence in your belief that it's a 60-minute game. And we believe that if we have a chance – if there is time permitting – that we are going to be able to take the ball down and win. That's the kind of confidence you're talking about. People play together, they work their butts off, it goes back and forth, it isn't all good, it certainly isn't all bad, and then all of a sudden there's 1:36 left and you've got the ball. For two weeks prior to that, it had been our defense that had gone back out there at the end of the game. So that is a very positive sign, too, that you have your defense come through, your offense comes through, your special teams came through the other day with a big fumble recovery. As long as you prepare – and we call it the 20-mile march – as long as you prepare every day to the best of your ability so that you can create the kind of peace of mind that you need at the end of the week to believe you've done everything in your power to prepare yourself to win. As long as you play hard, you come and you give great effort, those are the things that teams are remembered for. Sustaining that kind of approach from last week's game throughout the remainder of the season would make a great statement about this group of young men."
Q: In that game-winning drive, Eli Manning looked so calm. It's a tense time in the game. What are you feeling on the sideline? Is your stomach churning? Are you calm?
Coughlin: "It's like anything else. You make a play to start to get the ball off your end of the field, all of a sudden instead of saying 'Yeah, we're going to do this,' you are doing it. This is what I always tell our team, how great it is for you as individuals, as men, to spend a week preparing, to go into a game doing what you prepared for and putting yourself in position against a very, very good opponent to win the game. What more reinforcement do you need for why you have to spend your time? There are 24 hours in a day. That's one of the fairest things that any of us have, it's equal. What are you doing with those 24 hours? When you come to work in the morning, are you coming to work in anticipation of having a great day? I do. I see more of that. I hope we keep doing it."
Q: You like to be consistent in your approach with the team. The players are feeling good about themselves after three wins in a row. Do you take a different approach this week than you would if you had lost?
Coughlin: "It's all about taking the opponent, taking the current situation that your team is in, projecting ahead to what's necessary in order to put yourself in the right frame of mind as you go forward throughout the week preparing. So it's all by the sense of where you are."
Q: After the game against the Patriots, Eli said they did some things defensively they hadn't shown before, and you had to call plays you hadn't practiced in a while. Does it happen relatively often, and how do they succeed if you haven't practiced those plays?
Coughlin: "Because it's always cumulative. You really do carry a lot of stuff. Normally, we stay well within the boundaries of what we prepared. I can remember the first time I ever heard what Don Shula used to tell his team – 'Look, you have to understand that we have a game plan but we also have a playbook, and anything that has been installed, anything that we teach you, is available.' So you've got to know what you're doing. You need something to win. You're not going to be afraid to implement it."
Q: Does that happen regularly?
Coughlin: "It doesn't happen a lot. If you need it, you call upon it, and you've got to make sure everyone is on the same page. You don't really go to anything that you haven't at one point in time at least worked. That's not the point. But he did sometimes do something a little different and you have to make some kind of adjustment."
Q: Eli showed some ability to evade the rush last week in New England (particularly when linebacker Gary Guyton broke free up the middle). Obviously, he's not a great runner, but is his ability to buy time in the pocket underrated?
Coughlin: "I don't know that it currently is, but he's not a runner. I don't want him to be a runner. But he does have to maneuver in the pocket. The thing that is so impressive (on the Guyton play) is he escaped to his left, he had the presence and knowledge of where the receiver would be, and he almost threw a catchable – it was a catchable ball, to be honest with you. It was a catchable ball. The timing of that blitz was exceptional. They timed that perfectly. So much so that had it been a little bit more delayed, Kevin Boothe would have never gotten to go back, he would have seen that guy. But he was already gone."
Q: Speaking of Boothe, you talked about him and his ability to play a lot of spots. Is Mathias Kiwanuka that guy on defense? And as you prepare each week, do you try to figure out which spots to place him in?
Coughlin: "Definitely. If you chart what we've done with him, you'd know that, you'd see that. It depends on the opponent, too. One week he was strictly a defensive end. But if there was an opportunity to utilize him in one or two spots, and we feel good about that based on how much we've got in, then we certainly do try to exploit that, exploit his talent."
Q: He was just named NFC Defensive Player of the Week as a linebacker and he's previously won the award as an end.
Coughlin: "I think his timing with the pressures was very good there, too, and he's so big and so long-armed and fast enough to cause a real issue."
Q: Jason Pierre-Paul has 9.5 sacks. Everybody talks about his physical ability, but how is he coming along mentally?
Coughlin: "Good. Good progress. There's no question the difference between this season and last."
Q: Your three leading special teams tacklers are Jacquian Williams, Tyler Sash, and Derrick Martin, players who haven't received much acclaim. Can you talk about their contribution?
Coughlin: "I thought our cover teams – our punt cover and kick cover – did an outstanding job against a good return team last week. And they were flying around, those guys you just mentioned, including (Mark) Herzlich knocking the ball out and (Spencer) Paysinger with his recovery of the fumble. Those guys were flying around. They've been the nuts and bolts of our cover team. As you look at our special teams outfit, you can identify who the special teamers are and those guys have been the nuts and bolts of it. That group, with the addition of some veteran people who know what they're doing – we have Kiwanuka on punt team. But, yes, they've done a good job."
Q: This week you play in San Francisco. The NFL has become such a passing league. Are the 49ers a throwback team that says, "We're going to run the ball, try to stop it?"
Coughlin: "They've done a good job of that. They've done a good job with their versatility. They've done a good job with formations. They create some issues for you in trying to make sure that your gaps are covered. They've done a good job of that. In so doing, they've proved that they're a physical team. They run the ball well. They come off play action. They have good personnel. They have three first-rounders in the front. The tight end runs like a receiver. The receivers are tall and lanky and very productive. Then they find a way to get (Ted) Ginn in there as the third or fourth receiver and he has a special play. They're a talented group on offense. Frank Gore has five straight 100-yard games. The changeup back (Kendall Hunter) has the speed to be a game breaker."
Q: They've also been very good on defense against the run?
Coughlin: "Seventy yards a game. They are very good up front, very technical, very good. The linebackers are very, very good. Their safeties are aggressive as heck. They're down there knocking you around. Justin Smith is outstanding. Their two linebackers – (Patrick) Willis and NaVorro Bowman – these guys are good players. Their outside guys, they bring the rookie (Aldon Smith), he leads the team in sacks. He's a big, long kid."
Q: The 49ers are also good across the board on special teams.
Coughlin: "They've got cover guys. They've certainly got a really nice group of special teamers and an exceptional, exceptional kicker, punter, returner. (David) Akers has 22 touchbacks, he is four-for-four from over 50 (on field goal attempts). Their punter (Andy Lee) leads the league in net. Ginn averages 29-something on kickoff returns, how about that."
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