What is there to glean from what you saw on film after last night's game?
"I think the course of the game, the point that I talked to the team about, there were too many explosive plays on the defensive side of the ball. And then offensively, we had the ball three times in the red zone and came away with zero points. We fumbled on the one. We had a fumbled on the 10 and then we had a fourth-and-one that we didn't convert. And against a team like New Orleans that you know is going to score, you almost have to kind of match them and our ability not to stay with them, I think, really hurt us at that point in time."
It seems like for much of the season it's kind of been the same stuff, the mistakes on offense, your guy's turnovers, giving up the big play. How do you change up the message to stay fresh with the players?
"I don't think the message changes. It is what it is, so you can't say it's something different. You can't fumble the ball on the one-yard line and the 10-yard line and then try to talk about something different. The turnover battle in this league, in college, in high school, or whatever, if you lose the turnover battle it's about 85-percent that you're going to lose the football game and that's where you have to emphasize ball security. We work on it, but we have to continue to understand that as a player that when I'm entrusted with the football I need to make sure at the end of the play I still have the ball. But, those are the plays that when you're playing a good team, and obviously with [New Orleans Saints QB] Drew Brees as good a quarterback as he is directing that offense, that we can't go down there three times and not come away with any points at all. If that happens, we don't have a real good shot at winning that football game."
49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil talks about being a relentless defense. Your run defense is not relentless. Why is that?
"I don't think overall the entire group is playing good as a group. There's too many big plays that are occurring on the defensive side of the ball in terms of allowing big runs and we've got to do a better job of that."
On the big run that you guys allowed, the 75-yarder, what went wrong?
"We had a blitz coming from the left and not everybody slanted. It was coming from the right actually and not everybody slanted to the left. We had a guy go in the wrong direction up front, so we had an open gap that we shouldn't have had an open gap in."
Eight games into this. Just generally, can you point out areas where you think your team has improved through this season?
"I think in certain aspects. I thought if you look at yesterday's game, I thought our kickoff return did a really good job. Getting [CB] JaCorey Shepard back there I think we averaged, in the three that we returned, we averaged over 30-yards a return in that aspect. Some of the positives from yesterday, I think the big plays on the offensive side of the ball showed up. Things that we need to do to stay in football games. [WR] Quinton Patton I thought had a good game. He had six catches for over 100 yards. [RB] DuJuan Harris in terms of getting his reps and getting in there, I thought really showed up positively. We've been really trying to look for that other running back with [RB] Carlos [Hyde] and I think looking at DuJuan's play yesterday, did a nice job in terms of not only the run, but the pass, had a real good game catching the ball coming out of the backfield, but also did a really nice job I thought running the football and keeping us productive, so we weren't just a one-dimensional football team. So, I think there's some positives from those aspects."
Now that your team is not going to make the playoffs, what are your goals for the rest of the season?
"Our goals are just, it's a weekly deal. So, we're looking to, it's us against Arizona and our matchup with the Arizona Cardinals and trying to win a game this Sunday down there in Arizona. That's what we talk to them about. We don't talk about really long-term goals because that stuff will take care of itself. What you need to really take care of is on the weekly basis; who you're playing against, who you're matched up with, your preparation in terms of what you're getting ready to do. It'll be our second time facing Arizona. They are slightly different. They've got a couple guys that are banged up. We have a couple guys that are banged up. So, it'll be a little bit different game than it was the last time. You expect to see [Arizona Cardinals QB Carson] Palmer instead of [Arizona Cardinals QB Drew] Stanton. So, there'll be a little bit different attack I think from their standpoint maybe throw the ball a little bit more. Our goal right now is just the Arizona Cardinal game and that's kind of how we'll approach this week."
After the Bye Week, DL Arik Armstead had some time to rest. He still wasn't able to contribute yesterday. Have you thought about putting him on IR so that he can be prepared for next season?
"There's no thought. Arik has gone to the doctors today. I meet every Monday with our trainers at 1:30 as I've done since the season started. So, we'll sit down and go over everybody that got injured in the game yesterday and talk about what went on with them and then what is the diagnosis of what they have and what's the prognosis and how we're going to handle that."
Sorry, he's going to get--?
"They do that every day. I meet with our trainers at 1:30 every Monday after every game or every Friday if we play a Thursday game or on Tuesday if we play a Monday game."
So, nothing out of the ordinary for him? He's not getting an MRI or anything--?
"Well, he got hurt. I have no idea what it is. I meet with the trainer at 1:30 and they tell me what went on. But, I know he didn't finish the game, so he'll be in for treatment today. Anybody that didn't, that got hurt in the game the day before always comes in for treatment and then [49ers vice president of football operations Jeff Ferguson] Ferg updates us on the status of everybody at that point in time."
WR Torrey Smith has been dealing with a back injury over the past couple of weeks. Do you see that manifesting itself in his play?
"Yeah, I think yesterday Torrey was hobbled a little bit and we actually kind of got [WR] Aaron Burbridge and [WR Rod] Streator in there for him, but I think you could tell he was hobbled and couldn't go. He does have a back and it hasn't been for a couple weeks. Really this is the first time it's shown up for us in a game and it did affect him in his play yesterday. That kind of hurt us a little bit losing him as a weapon. It was good that QP and [TE] Vance [McDonald] could step up a little bit in the pass game to kind of offset that loss of Torrey. But, not having Torrey at 100-percent changes things a little bit out there."
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter reported over the weekend that your representatives are telling any college teams that might be reaching out to you that you're staying in the NFL, you're an NFL, you'll stick it out here. Is that accurate?
"It's always been accurate. And I don't have any representatives that are telling anybody anything. I haven't talked to a college since I've been in the NFL and that's not my goal. My goal is to be the head coach of the 49ers and that's what I want to do. So, I don't know why that's a new, it surprises me that that continues to be a new story. It's been the same story since I left four years ago. So, I'm not looking to go back and that's what I've always said. So, I don't know why it's still a story."
When you were out briefly this last offseason, was that a decision you made in your head that, 'I want to be an NFL guy. That's it.'?
"No. I didn't have any opportunities at any other level. This is what I looked at when I was out, but there was nothing at that time either. I think when you get done in the NFL season, when we get done in late January, there's really not any jobs open at the college level. So, I would have taken anything. I would have loved to take a job at a newspaper or media or anything."
We don't pay that well though.
"I wasn't in it for the money. I don't think you guys are in it for the money. It's for the love of the profession and the passion that you have for. It would be the same thing for me."
But, is the NFL where you, that's the level--?
"Yeah. That's my job and that's what I'm here to do and that's all I've ever tried to do. Whatever job I have is that's the job I want and that's the job I'm going to do. So, that's the way I've always been. I just don't know why, I'm surprised it keeps coming up. I don't know why it keeps coming up."
Why did you invite Nike chairman and CEO Phil Knight to the game recently?
"Phil's come to my games in Philly and it wasn't a story. Phil's a great friend of mine. So, the fact that a friend of mine came to watch one of my games, when we played the San Francisco 49ers with the Philadelphia Eagles, he came to the game here. That wasn't a story when I was coaching in Philadelphia. So, I don't know. I have a lot of friends that come to games, but no one writes stories about them."
I want to follow up on my question because I don't think you answered it. Why is the energy in particular lacking on the run defense?
"Yeah, I don't believe the energy is lacking on the defense. I guess maybe I didn't understand the question, but I don't believe the energy is lacking on the defense."
Then, what is lacking?
"I think execution is lacking on the defensive side of the ball in terms of being able to shut opponents down. We've got to do a better job tackling. We've got to do a better job when we have a blitz on or we have a slant on, that everybody's getting to where they're supposed to be and taking care of their responsibilities."
This is the middle of the season. Isn't the job of the coaching staff to by the time have instilled those basics? I mean, I've been around football and I know that part of defense is desire, is wanting to do it, and I'm curious at why at about the middle point that desire doesn't seem to be expressing itself.
"Well, I don't think it's a desire. That's maybe where we differ on your view of it or my view of it. So, I don't think it's a desire aspect of it."
So, is it teaching?
"Is what teaching?"
Is the problem that your coaches are not teaching the players well enough?
"Yeah. I think, obviously our job as coaches is to put our players in positions to make plays and we're not doing a good enough job of that right now. I've said that since anybody's asked me that question."
Jim O'Neil was up in the booth this week. Did that work well? Do you think that's going to continue?
"I think he liked it. We visited, I watched film with the defensive staff this morning, but we haven't broken down everything. We'll continue to meet a little bit this afternoon, but that was his decision. He felt that he could see the game a little bit better from up there. So, I agreed with him. I think he felt like he could see the game a little bit better from up there. So, we'll talk a little bit more during this week to see if that's how he wants to continue moving forward."
This team is on pace to allow the second-most yards and second-most points in NFL history. So, when you say, in speaking about the defense, it's got to be coached better, it's easy to read that as an indictment of the leader of that defense, Jim O'Neil. What would you say, I guess, in support or as a vote of confidence--?
"Well, I think everybody, there's not one person that's in charge. So, it's not like Jimmy comes around and says, 'We're doing this, this, this and this.' We're all involved in it. Every coach we have is involved in it. I'm involved in it. Our D-Line coach, our linebacker coach, our secondary coach, Jimmy, our outside linebacker coach, we're all involved in what goes on on the defensive side of the ball. So, I don't look at it that way that there's one person."
Would you say he's doing a good job?
"I don't think any of us are doing a good job on the defensive side of the ball."
Do you have a theory, do you have a thought about firing assistants midseason? You haven't done that heretofore in your career. Is there a reason why? Do you think that it just wouldn't make a difference?
"Yeah, because again, I don't think there's one person responsible for what has transpired on the defensive side of the ball. I think there's all of us have contributed to that."
Do you anticipate adding CB Will Redmond to the roster tomorrow?
"I have no idea. I'll meet with [general manager] Trent [Baalke] later on today and we'll figure out where we are. Again, a lot of it depends on spots available, to who got injured in the game yesterday, what goes on with those guys. So, there's a lot of moving parts to what goes on in terms of can you add guys to the 53 or not add guys to the 53."
Coach O'Neil and players have talked increasingly that just the game plan's becoming simplified and pared down and those things. Have you had a voice in that? Have you suggested that, 'Hey, let's simplify'--?
"Again, it's the entire staff. There's not one suggestion that comes from one person or another person. It's all of us together trying to put together a plan that will let our players go out there and execute so that they understand what their assignments are and then they go out and they execute their assignments."
* Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers