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The Coughlin Corner: Sunday Night matchup vs. 49ers


Q: After the first two games your approach with the players was designed to keep their confidence up. How does that change now that you've won two in a row and you're playing better?

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Coughlin: "You're trying to raise the entire level of what you're doing in terms of your preparation, your effort. The games come along, your execution has to be much better than it was a couple weeks ago. It has to continue to grow and develop. So the approach is obvious. If you think about the phrase we've been using – 'So what? Now what?' - it applies to whatever last week was, it's over. Now the idea is to keep going, to continue, to develop, to embrace any challenge that comes your way. And they're all very specific, but they're all very different."

Q: After the game in Buffalo, you talked about the team's grit and you said it was the team you expected. This may not be your most talented team, but in terms of effort and attentiveness and work ethic, is this a good team?

Coughlin: "We're trying to identify who we are. I think those attributes that you saw last weekend are very much what you'd like them to be. A team that's well-prepared, that's very physical, that has the ability to go on the road into a hostile environment with great electricity and remain focused on why we're there. To go out right away in a game of that stature and compete, to not be slow to get started or slow to get underway, but to go and compete and play and be physical - and actually address the game the way it was built up and we talked about how the game would go, and to have it that way. Those were all good signs. But it's week-to-week. We'll see how that goes. We're not very far into this thing. A quarter of the way through, let's see what happens here."

Q: I read a stat this week that 962 penalties have been accepted this season, the highest total through four weeks since 1970. There were 28 penalties in your game last week – most of them Buffalo's – the most ever in a game you coached. Do you have to tell the players this is the way they're calling games now, and that they must be mindful of that?

Coughlin: "Yes. We're trying to be abreast of everything. For example, today I went over the four or five rules that affected last week's game for us, and one rule that's affected the whole league following the Seattle-Detroit game. We talked about the downfield version of screens, we talked about the press position at the line of scrimmage. So we're very mindful of that. You have to keep going, keep hammering the rules. Hammer the rules as you know them, as they are written."

Q: During pregame warmups, you always meet with the referee and a couple of other officials. Is that just to say hello, or does the referee say to you, "Is there something you want me to watch?"

Coughlin: "In the locker room you, that's when the officials come to you, whether you're away or home. You're on the road, you get the head linesman. So they come in, and you talk to them and you give them all the information, the captains and all that stuff - who's got the (challenge) flag, who's in charge of the sideline, all of that stuff. Then they ask you a few questions. 'Do you have unbalanced formations? Do you go no-huddle? Do you have any gadget plays? Do you have an onside kick in mind right away?' And then when that's done, you start to tell them what you see. I gather information through the course of the week, but I'll reaffirm it on Saturday night. 'Special teams, do you have anything for the officials? Defense, offense?' And then I give it to them."

Q: So what does happen in that on-field meeting with the referee?

Coughlin: "The referee comes over and he does say 'Hello,' and 'Nice to see you,' and all that business. You might mention something, and he'll say, 'We'll watch for that. I'll come to you on the sideline with anything I need. I'll look to you for the kicking violation. If there's msomething I think we need to discuss, I'll wait until the proper timeout, I'll come over to you. If you need to come down to me down there when the ball is in the green zone or down on the goal line, come down. Do you have anything else?' I tell them, 'I just spent the last half hour giving everything to the guys that were inside.' And they laugh. That's it."

Q: Last week was really your first different experience with the new extra point distance (Josh Brown missed a 38-yard try after a false start penalty). There have been more extra points missed this season than all of last year. You preferred to keep it at the old distance. Have you changed your opinion at all?

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Coughlin: "Not yet. I'll wait and see the weather change, then I'll change. I will say that until we made the two-point play (in the fourth quarter), don't think I wasn't nervous about the differential."

Q: Is Kerry Wynn a much-improved player over last year?

Coughlin: "He's a good football player and he works very, very hard at his game. He's there all the time. There's a lot to be said for that at this level."

Q: He's an undrafted player from Richmond. Is Wynn another example that you just never know where you're going to find players?

Coughlin: "You never know. You never know what shape or form they're in. I'm telling you, it's the guys after you take your last draft pick that are there. If you really know a lot about them, many times you don't, you know size and the scouts might know them, but they're real important, they really are. Those college free agents that you bring in, if they compete for a job, you're so far ahead, honest to God. You've added more guys who can compete. And Kerry Wynn is a great example of that."

Q: Brad Wing leads the NFL with 12 punts inside the 20 without a touchback. Is that the kind of production you were looking for when you acquired him?

Coughlin: "Thank you very much. Not only does he lead the NFL, we lead the NFL. We've only had four starts inside our 20. Our opponents have had 18. That's a big difference, a big field position impact."

Q: Are you ever going to win a coin toss and take the ball again?

Coughlin: "Probably not. Probably not, although you have to understand that everything in this game is so calculated. When you defer, what you really want to have happen is score at the end of the first half, score at the beginning of the third quarter. That's incredible how important that is."

Q: So you go in knowing you are going to defer if you win the coin toss, but weather or something else could change your mind?

Coughlin: "Oh, it might. I didn't have to worry about that last week. Doesn't look like I'll worry about it on Sunday. Now they defer, too, everybody's doing it now."

Q: You played the 49ers 11 months ago, and except for Colin Kaepernick and a few other players, it's a much different team.

Coughlin: "They have a lot of new names, definitely."

Q: What do you see in this version of the 49ers?

Coughlin: "The way they want to play, they want to run the ball, they want to play action pass, they want to put the quarterback on the perimeter. They want to do all those kinds of things. I thought the Arizona and the Green Bay games were really interesting games to watch, because both of those teams dominated time of possession, 36.5 minutes to 23.5, 50 snaps is all San Francisco had. That's a great way to play. San Francisco's special teams are really good. Cover teams are outstanding. Seventh and 11th in the league in coverage teams. The kid that they drafted (Bradley Pinion) kicks off and punts, he puts the ball out of the end zone 85 percent of the time. He's the touchback leader in the league, 85 percent of his kickoffs are not returned."

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