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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

What Kyle Shanahan, Trey Lance, others said after 49ers-Texans

Jan 2, 2022 at 6:43 PM

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, quarterback Trey Lance, and others spoke with reporters after Sunday's game against the Houston Texans. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Opening comments:

"Injuries, [LB] Marcell Harris got evaluated for a stinger, he did return though. [T] Trent Williams had an elbow sprain, he returned also. Go ahead."

What about CB Josh Norman? Did he get shaken up at all?

"No, we just went with [CB] Dontae [Johnson] after that P.I."

How would you evaluate the way QB Trey Lance played?

"I think he did some real good things, besides the bad interception, I thought he protected the ball real well. That was a big thing going into this game and he did a good job on all those except for one play. I think he was very efficient, just looking at his numbers. That big play at the end was huge. For the most part, he made some pretty good decisions running the ball."

Did you open up the playbook for him in this game as opposed to the Arizona game?

"I get the question, but that's just not really how we look at it. There's a gameplan, so it's a one-week playbook. Our gameplan going into the Arizona game was pretty opened up too. I know we ran it more, but we also had a lot of shots down the field that sometimes weren't there. This one was pretty similar, it was eerie, some of those early ones not getting those the third-and-two and the fourth-and-one, and then the next fourth-and-one. But I didn't see it totally different."

The drive at the end of the first half, when you guys were push down field for the last 30 seconds or whatever you had, what went into the decision to sort of push it and how important was that?

"We wanted to score before the end of the half, we knew we were getting it to start the third. It's the situation we always talk about. It's how we always want it to be, where you try to lap someone and score twice. Once we got it back, we got close enough and it got a little dicey there at the end. We were trying to get it five yards closer and we were willing to throw it out of bounds just for the field goal, but we had the false start and then that close to pick that [WR Brandon] Aiyuk did a hell of a job catching that. It was great to finish it with a field goal."

Did you take a look just now at the end of the New Orleans game, were you kind of paying attention to, if you guys could have clinched and what do you think going forward?

"I can't lie, I did just watch the last 30 seconds. It wasn't real fun to watch, so it's pretty simple for us, I think our playoffs, I kind of thought going into this game, that they started today. Because I had a feeling that that was going to go like that, and it did. I'm just glad we took care of business, so we got our second playoff game next week."

Trey seemed much more efficient at the end of the first half and in the second half. Did you feel him settling into it a little bit more, was he kind of amped up at the beginning?

"I think everyone is, not just for Trey, but all quarterbacks are like that. I thought his first pass, we missed the protection, so he wasn't able to do that and got out of the pocket pretty good on it. We were just a little off on offense, it took us a while to get going and it wasn't just one guy in particular, everyone had their turn. The fourth down calls I don't think were good plays. There wasn't much there for the guys on it. It kind of felt like that all day, but I was surprised just looking at the final stats, you get seven yards of play, you're doing some good things, but it just took a while to feel that way. I thought the defense and special teams played really well. Holding them to three yards per play on defense, special teams, we've been down here over this last month and this at least felt like that was one of our better games in a while. Which I think that allowed us to be more comfortable on offense, start to get into a rhythm and not really press and just let it happen naturally."

Did QB Jimmy Garoppolo end up throwing yesterday or today? How close was he to playing in this game and what's the plan moving forward?

"I don't know if he threw today. I didn't even ask, just talking to him yesterday I had a pretty good idea that we weren't going to even push it today. I think he'll be able to do it this week. Still, that's just me giving you guys an honest guess. Hopefully I'll have a better idea by Wednesday."

So he did throw yesterday?

"No, he ended up not throwing yesterday."

You don't have to announce anything until the game, but given what you have seen from Trey, does he have a chance be the starter next week, regardless of Jimmy's situation?

"If Jimmy's a hundred percent healthy and could do everything, like perfect, then I would definitely go with Jimmy. I'm not just going to throw a guy in after one game like this, when Jimmy's been doing it for us all year. I think it's going to be hard for Jimmy to be a hundred percent, which is how most people are right now at this time of year. But Trey did a good job, if Jimmy can't go, we won't hesitate at all. But if we feel Jimmy can go and play confident, then Jimmy will be out there."

So does Jimmy need to be a hundred percent for you to feel comfortable playing him?

"Nope. Yeah, no one on our roster really needs to be a hundred percent."

Was the touchdown to WR Deebo Samuel the same play from the preseason as the one to WR Trent Sherfield, but on the other side?

"Yeah, similar. Yep. Same type of concept."

And the interception was similar, maybe?

"No, that was a different play. It was a different play. But he went to it verses the wrong coverage. We had to check it down to the back or throw it away out of bounce to the back, he tried to force it in there to [TE George] Kittle, which might have had a chance if it was a perfect ball. But it wasn't and just one he wanted to pull back."

What did you say Lance at halftime?

"Nothing. I just talked to the team and asked the offense if they were ready to play yet, because it wasn't that we weren't trying, we just felt like we hadn't got going yet. We were pumped that we were going to start with the ball and we were really happy that there was still another half to play."

RB Elijah Mitchell set a record today for rookie rushing yards. What difference does he make to your offense?

"It's huge. I love all our backs, but Elijah has played at another level this year. When he is in there, we're very efficient. We always get at least what it's blocked for and you guys see how good he reads those gaps. When it seems crowded, he seems to find a way to get through there. And it was a hell of an accomplishment today. They just told me right before we broke the team down that he set that record. I messed with him that it would've been a lot easier if he was here the last month. He's battled through some tough injuries this year and for a rookie and the spots he's in. In play three of this year he had to replace our [starting back], his first run for us was I think, like play 30 versus the Raiders in the last preseason game, and by play three versus Detroit, he had to replace our captain and our starting running back. He's done a hell of a job throughout the whole year of that."

Have you seen the growth that Lance has made from his first career start to now? I know you've talked about how he's done it in practice, but did you see it today?

"Yeah, but I thought he was alright then too. This was the second game, so when you look at two games, there's a lot of good in it and a lot of bad too. That's stuff that you evaluate and coach and that's how it is for every quarterback. But when you only have two games to go off, you talk about those a lot more, which is good for us to have that. We can coach him a lot more off these two games, but it was also fun having him as the guy for the whole week too."

I don't have an injury question for you.

"Congrats (laughing)."

There were back-to-back calls, I don't know if they were charitable or how would you describe them, but Marcell's interception and non-fumble and then the pass interference. Did you view those as excellent calls?

"Those were two of the best calls I've seen this year (laughing). No, I felt Marcell made a hell of a play and then I did feel we were very fortunate that, that kept going. I think that was the one, but I made it back for them. I went for it on fourth-and-one, so we never scored. So that was one that I wish I didn't and kicked the field goal there."

Do you need to make a decision about your quarterback situation internally by Tuesday or Wednesday? Whenever you're installing the gameplan, even if you don't let us know, or is it something that you could let linger as the week goes on?

"You don't have to do anything. If Jimmy's feeling a hundred percent and you know that right away on a Monday, then it makes it very simple. You can dedicate all of that to it, but even when he is like that every other week, we still have plans on what if he does get hurt in the week? What happens? Packages we've always had for Trey situationally. I don't think that's going to be the case. We have to see how he plays throughout the week and we have to be ready for both. Similar to how we were this week."

Does the fact that Trey got hurt after that first game with the knee sprain and he ran the ball a lot, did that play into how you wanted to use him this time around?

"No, I'm definitely not trying to ever get anyone hurt, but that happens on drop back plays and pass plays a lot. It's just how this game went."

As a play caller, how does it impact your rhythm when you have a new quarterback and especially one with a different style?

"I enjoy, but I think it's not just for the individual, it's for the whole team. So you're always trying to call plays to win a game. You do that with lots of thoughts in mind, like how the other team's offense is, how our defense is doing. What's the rhythm of the game, also how to help your quarterback, how to get the ball to people like Kittle or Deebo, how to stick with the run. There's so much stuff that goes into it and that's why whenever you have different players, it's not just me, it takes everyone a little bit of a rhythm and feel how are we moving together? That's why it's always an adjustment. That's why when you can string together weeks of guys staying healthy and playing with the same group, that's when I feel like players take off, when coaches take off, but it's football, so that stuff rarely does happen. And having a different quarterback in there is different, but I think everyone does get used to it as it goes. Especially me too."

You guys always talk about the way Jimmy bounces from an interception, like the way he handles himself and always comes back. Did you look at Trey? Did you get a measure of Trey after the interception? And what'd you see?

"Yeah, the two games with Trey, where he is played, started and finished the games and in the seven days of having him in that spot, going through the whole week, nothing's too big for him. He's a competitor. He enjoys playing football, he enjoys working at it. I think he really enjoys the moments. I think it's been hard for him not playing a ton this year and when he is out there you know we got a guy who the guys can follow. Now it's up to Trey and us just to keep working with him and pushing him each week here. When the offseason starts, continuing to go even harder with it."

Do you know the child that came up to you on the sideline?

"That scared the hell out of me. It threw me off so bad. I didn't know what was going on. Now I feel bad, I wish I pounded the kid because respect. I don't know how he got down there, but I was just looking at my call sheet and I hear a soft voice in front of me saying, 'holy cow, Kyle Shanahan,' and I didn't know if it was my son at first or what, but it startled me a little bit and then I realized it was a kid. I've never seen a kid run on the field, so then I said, 'wow, man, how'd you get down here?' Then security got him. I wish I was able to give him something."

49ers QB Trey Lance

It looked like you got more comfortable as the game went on. Did it feel that way to you?

"Yeah, I think I got into a better rhythm. Probably settled in after that two minute drive, I think that is when I started talking to [quarterbacks coach] Rich [Scangarello] and [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and kind of let them know that I felt settled, honestly. But yeah, hopefully can get started faster, whenever that next time is."

How did that play unfold, your touchdown pass to WR Deebo Samuel?

"Yeah, it was real similar concept that we ran against the Chiefs in the preseason to [WR] Trent [Sherfield]. I threw it just in the opposite direction. But Deebo was there. The safety's eyes were on me. Deebo made a great play, obviously. He's a tough guy to tackle as you can see."

What was it about that last minute drive of the second quarter that kind of got you in that rhythm? Also is that a scenario that you spend a lot of time talking to the coaches on how they want you to handle that situation?

"Two-minute isn't a thing that we spend and unnecessary amount of time on, I'd say. I feel like we got into a rhythm offensively, the whole offense, so it felt good. And being able to make some throws, complete some throws, and guys making plays, I think made everything easier."

Did you feel a lot of pressure this morning before the start just knowing that you guys have to win this game?

"No. Nothing out of the ordinary for starting in the game. My second start. So I was excited. I felt prepared same as my last start in Arizona."

What did you see on the interception? What's kind of your process for bouncing back after?

"Yeah, it was cover two. So not necessarily where I'm told to go with the ball, but if I make a better throw, I think that everyone's happy in that situation. Just left it short and short armed it. Yeah, I mean, bouncing back, just turning the page, throw picks in practice, whatever it is, it's kind of the only option to turn the page. There's no point in sitting and being upset about it."

What kind of help did QB Jimmy Garoppolo give you all on the sidelines other than graduating you after touchdown pass or when you ran a scramble into him on the sideline?

"Yeah, I've said a million times, Jimmy is one of the best teammates and leaders I've ever been around. So for me to have him, I know he's got my back on the sideline, whether good player or bad. He's the first one that is talking to me and making sure that we're seeing things the same way. So it's a huge help to me. Huge confidence booster, just that I know that he's another guy that's got my back."

You and Jimmy are really efficient on the two-minute drive. What is it about that that helps you be so much more efficient?

"I think we just get into a rhythm. I think guys know what they're doing. Guys are able to play fast. I think that's probably a big part of it."

When did you know, I guess for sure, for sure that you were going to start this game?

"Really not until probably yesterday, for sure, for sure. But you know, I obviously am with Jimmy every day asking him how he's feeling and everything like that. And he was making good progress, I know, at the end of the week, so I know he was frustrated that he wasn't able to go. It's kind of a thing where I'm always ready to go. That's my job. So if Jimmy's healthy, he'll be the guy. And if not, I'm going to do whatever I can to kind of fill my role."

What did you see on the fourth down roll out? The one where you tried to hit WR Brandon Aiyuk deep?

"Yeah, it was actually, I kind of threw it to Deebo really. But they were both in the same spot and they both kind of thought the other person was going to catch it. It was a keeper. I have to go back and watch the tape, but from what I felt, and after watching the replay on the field, I didn't think I could have ran. George was my number one. And then Deebo is my number two. And BA on a high corner is my number three. And they kind of ended up in the same spot. It was fourth-and-one, they both tried to make a play and it's a tough one."

How different did today feel versus your first career of start in Arizona?

"It was good to be at home. A lot quieter when we're on offense. That helps. But it was good to have George back also and [RB] Elijah [Mitchell], obviously. I think, us being at full strength, obviously without Jimmy, helps me out a lot. Gives me a lot of confidence. But I don't think I felt a whole lot different coming into it. I felt just as prepared. Obviously, I feel like I'm farther along and I'm continuing to get better with every practice, every rep I take. But yeah, I don't think mentally or mindset-wise was any think different."

There weren't a ton of off-schedule plays, but do you feel like when that happens, you have a better sense of your tendencies for your receivers than you did at the start of the year?

"Yeah, I think every rep we get, we get better and better and guys get a feel. I know I missed Deebo on a long one off-schedule that I would've liked to have back for sure. But those guys are doing a great job and I think our receivers room and tight ends room, running back room, all across the board has a really good feel for the game. And I think that's what it's all about. And I'd say [WR] Mohammad [Sanu] is probably one of the biggest guys that has a really good feel for the game that's helping those guys out."

Looked like the running game back game got going successfully in the second half. Would you agree with that?

"Yeah, for sure. I'm mean Elijah now being the leading rusher for a rookie in 49ers history, I mean, that's really big. And obviously his work every single day attributes to that."

Do you think the two-minute drill also helps you not to overthink things, just because you have to get it out where you need to?

"I don't know if I want to say that, but I mean, I just feel like I said, guys are able to play fast. We know what we're doing and we were able to get into a rhythm."

49ers DL Nick Bosa

You were fairly confident when you were held on that deep throw to Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks. Were you confident you were going to get the flag?

"No. I thought it was pretty obvious and yeah, he threw it. That was a big one."

The Texans seemed to have given you similar type of attention that the Tennessee Titans gave you. Is that how you would describe it?

"Similar? Yeah."

How would you just describe overall how the defense played and kind of stepped up to help manage to win?

"I think it was huge. We knew it was [San Francisco 49ers QB] Trey's [Lance] second start and we had to play a really good game to help him out. I think we did that."

Do you like having that kind of responsibility on your shoulders?

"Yes. I think our defense has been through a lot and we definitely take pride in that."

How do you think Trey played? Did you see growth from his first start?

"I think so. I think he was more comfortable back there. He was looking down field more instead of just trying to scramble and get out. So yeah, it was good."

Are you approaching next week's game as a playoff game?

"Yeah, I mean, we have to win. So every game's a playoff game."

49ers LB Marcell Harris

That was a rollercoaster ride on that interception--?

"Yeah, I knew I caught it but you got to hold on to that thing."

What do you think CB Dontae Johnson did when he came in at the end?

"Dontae has been playing well for us all year, we expect that out of him. He's one of the older guys that we all look up to, so him coming in and making a couple plays is expected."

Did you have any doubt about whether you fumbled or not?

"No, for the most part I thought I was down. I heard the whistle as I was being held up and God was behind me and we got the ball back with a chance for the offense to score. I can't ask for nothing more."

DL Nick Bosa said that there was a responsibility of the defense with QB Trey Lance making just his second career start. Is that something you verbalized and talked about as a defense?

"No, it is understood from the whole team. We got each other's backs and for him to get that start, get a win under his belt, that's nothing but love for him. As a defense, as a whole, we played great, phenomenal, I think. Kudos to Trey for the win."

49ers TE George Kittle

The series after QB Trey Lance threw the interception, you stood next to him, I think when he was warming up, did you try to communicate something to him there?

"He's a professional football player. He's here for a reason. We drafted him third overall for a reason, he's a good player. Just go out there and play football. There's stress, there's pressure, but if you have fun, it's a lot easier. He did a good job. He flushed it and he came back and I thought he played a really good game."

Your catch over the middle, you reach up with one hand, was that coming at pretty good velocity. What was that pass like?

"Perfect ball, gave me an opportunity on it. It was an and-one, I'll take that. I was just glad Trey threw it, it was the right read. Split safeties, right down the middle, he made the right read and I'm confident in that. I'm happy that Trey took steps forward. And I think he got better throughout the game and the fact that he could read that, I think he knew where he was going from the start, I did too. And so just having that confidence in each other allowed me to make the play."

You didn't in his earlier start, but that play that you just described, was that a play that, I don't want to say he wasn't able to make on October 10, but do you--?

"No, he could make it. We don't get a lot of reps together. The whole season he's been running the scout team, but for him to be able to step in. He made that he made that exact same throw to [TE] Charlie [Woerner] this week in practice on a rep. And so the fact that he could make it there and then could see it again in the game, that's taking steps forward."

49ers RB Elijah Mitchell

Was there any rust at all today?

"There definitely was some rust in the first drive. I started clicking and it was good after that."

Was there a play in particular where you felt you had your groove on?

"Not that I could remember. By the time the second quarter came, I started to just click again."

You broke a rookie rushing record today that's been standing for the 49ers for about 50 years. Are you aware of that and what does it mean to you?

"Yes some of my teammates told me on the sideline. I wouldn't be able to do that without my offensive linemen. All 11 blocking their butts off for me."

When did you hurt your knee initially, before you came back this week? Was that the Seattle game? When did you start feeling right again?

"Yeah, that was Seattle game. I started feeling right about the third week we played Tennessee. I started feeling really better."

You said your teammates told you on the sideline about the record. Going into the game did you know you could break that record?

"No, I totally forgot about it being off for three weeks. So it was a surprise. I was surprised."

How was San Francisco 49ers QB Trey Lance in the huddle?

"He did good. He was talking to us. He was calling the plays fast and I'm proud of what he did today."

49ers WR Deebo Samuel

What was the mindset at halftime after the offense had been struggling a while? What was kind of the coaching points or what do you believe that you guys had to do in the second half?

"We just had to get back to the offense that we normally run. We were kind of slacking in the running game and you see that picked up well, and we were able to get the play action going on. And we came out with a good win."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan called this a playoff game. Did it feel that way, knowing that you really had to win?

"Of course. From here on out, we are in playoff mode. We knew that we needed to win this game and now we've got this one behind us. We're just focusing on next week and know what is at stake next week."

Did you notice QB Trey Lance getting more comfortable?

"I know what it feel like. He had a good week of practice. First half we kind of started off slow. And as you see, second half, he played outstanding. He was able to hit a good, a couple balls. And, you know, once you see a couple guys make plays for you, it give you the confidence to keep doing. And that's what he went out there."

I'm sure you had confidence in him coming into this game, but if he has to start next week, does that give you more confidence that you can win a game like that?

"Yeah, I think so because he got this one under this belt. Just building into a new week and if we've got to roll with Trey, I feel pretty confident in it."

49ers LB Fred Warner

San Francisco 49ers DL Nick Bosa mentioned, we built a responsibility as a defense, just being San Francisco 49ers QB Trey Lance's second start, to make sure he was adequately supported. Is that something you guys actually discussed?

"Yeah, for sure. We said the key to victory, we always have three keys to victory for our defense, [San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator] DeMeco [Ryans] does, and this week we had one. It was that we had to have our most dominant performance of the year, and that that's just in general. Obviously, we knew that Trey was going to be the starter, but we need to do that for the team. Was it our most dominant? I don't know, got to go back and watch, but I was really happy for [San Francisco 49ers LB] Marcell [Harris] getting his first interception. We needed it big time in the game. That was huge, and I think that's what kind of helped flip the game and get us that momentum to ultimately lead us to the win."

We heard about your challenge to Trey, the scout team and how to cut it loose. Did you see him cutting it loose in this game?

"Yeah, I try to watch and follow along, but it looked like he did a great job. I saw a stat line that looked pretty good too. So, I think just protecting the football for the most part and when we have [San Francisco 49ers RB] Elijah [Mitchell] towing the rock, that run game, [San Francisco 49ers WR] Deebo [Samuel] being Deebo, and same as 85 [San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle] over there, that's winning football."

How important was it for you guys to respond after the back-to-back PI penalties, but then you still shut it down in the second half and rallied? What did that show you about your defense?

"We pride ourselves on if something bad happens, we've just got to put it behind us and onto the next. That's something that I preach to the guys while I'm out there, is just to be in the moment. No matter what's going on, we've got to stand tall. They're not in the end zone until they're in there, and stuff down the field's going to happen and it is what it is. We've just got to make sure that we respond, try to get the ball back for the offense or just get them off the field."

Texans Head Coach David Culley

All season long you've been talking about penalties and not protecting the ball. You had an interception that set up a touchdown, but you were still in it going into the fourth quarter. Why do you think you reverted back to the things that plagued you most of the season?

"I'm not really sure. Obviously, we had a holding penalty that set us back. We had penalties last week too. I just need to look at it and keep harping on it. Guys just have to understand that you can't have bad penalties. They're critical penalties that are always having an issue with us continuing drives on offense and stopping drives on defense."

You guys have been committed to the run a lot all year. Second half it looked like y'all were spreading it out more on third and shorts. What went into that adjustment and why wasn't there much success there in the second half?

"We just didn't execute. We were running some of the same plays in the second half that we did in the first half, we just didn't execute them as well. The plan was to do exactly what we did, we just didn't do it well in the second half. We just didn't play as well. It wasn't anything they did, it was just us not executing."

Down 17-7 with 6:46 left, you all punted at the 41. What went into that decision?

"We had three timeouts and I felt like if we got them backed up, get a stop with the three timeouts, then we'd be able to get a score and get the ball back. It didn't work out that way. They ended up keeping the ball."

In the second half, you didn't have as much success also throwing the football. Do you feel like that was a byproduct of the pressure they were creating? Also with the Houston Texans OL Max Scharping substitutions, was that mostly for the run or for DL Nick Bosa?

"That was mostly for the run. We've done that all year. We just did a little bit more of it here today because we felt like it gave us an advantage and we had some good plays off of that. Basically, he was just in for the run game. That had nothing to do with Bosa."

The pass rush they created, did that contribute to the second half completions going down from Houston Texans QB Davis Mills after a solid start?

"Well, completions went down, we had the bad throw, we had the interception. We missed a couple throws that we should have made."

On Davis Mill's pick that they fumbled did you consider challenging that?

"We cannot challenge forward progress."

How disappointing is it to win two games and then come in here and play like this and lose?

"Well in the second half, we did some of the things we had been doing earlier to lose ball games. We didn't protect the ball. We weren't able to stay consistent on offense and we gave up some big plays on defense that we hadn't been giving up. Those things have been our Achilles heel all year long. I have to look at the video to make sure, but it looked like we had some missed assignments there on a couple of their big plays. Other than that, those have been the things that got us all year long."

What did you think about QB Trey Lance's performance?

"He played well enough for them to win today. He gave us a chance by giving us that one pick. The thing about him is that he's very mobile and keeps plays alive. He ended up making some throws outside the pocket that kept some drives alive. He played well today."

What was the explanation you got about not being able to challenge that forward progress?

"They came over and said you can't challenge forward progress."

Did they explain their thinking on the call?

"No, they just made the call."

What is it about some of the players they have now, WR Brandon Aiyuk and WR Deebo Samuel that made it tough to stay with those guys for the entire game?

"Well I don't think it was so much staying with them, it was making the tackles. We were right there with them on some of those plays. They call them the YAC boys. [TE George] Kittle, the receiver, and Deebo, they did it again today on us. We just didn't make the tackles."

Houston Texans DB Justin Reid did not go back in, did you hear what his injury was and is it serious?

"He had a slight ankle and knee injury that we will know more about tomorrow."

Max Scharping was a big part of your gameplan today. What was the thinking with him and did you feel like you got the success you wanted out of that?

"Yeah that was for our run game. We felt like he went in as an unbalance guy and he gave us some success. We felt like we could run it to his side with our big guys in there, so that was the reason we did that. We felt like we were successful with it for the most part."

With Mills' interception, were you surprised by that due to how well he has protected the ball recently, and how much of a swing was that in the game?

"It was a big swing, a big momentum swing. They ended up scoring off of that. When we came back we also had a sack right there which pushed us back in the field goal deal that we missed. I think that the momentum completely swung off the interception and the fact that we missed the field goal."

Was Mills' performance more about the 49ers defense, or just bad play?

"We just didn't play very well. We weren't as consistent. Other than the one interception and a couple of throws that I felt like he could have made, I thought he did a good job for us. We just can't make those plays and we need to hit on those plays that we need to hit."

Texans QB Davis Mills

I wanted to ask you about the pass rush of the San Francisco 49ers. How tough did that make it in the second half, particularly as they were getting the backfield penetrated more?

"Yeah, I mean, those guys, obviously a lot of respect for them. They did a great job just applying pressure. Overall though, I felt like we held up well. Up front, I felt like our guys stayed in front of them and gave me time to get through my progressions. Obviously, I was able to find the backs and for check downs. I was able to see enough to get through progressions and find the backs. So, they were giving me enough time to do that but a lot of respect for those guys. They played well today."

How would you describe what you guys were trying to do in terms of the game plan? What was the offensive game plan, the approach today?

"Obviously handle their pass rush, keep [San Francisco 49ers DL Nick] Bosa in front of us and then, other than that just really execute our jobs at a high level and move the football down the field. I thought their defense did a good job at keeping the ball in front of them and kind of pushing everything down. And ultimately, that kind of ended in the result of the day."

Y'all had the ball, up 7-0 just before the half and not being able to get points there. How much was that a moment in the game and is that the step y'all need to kind of advance what y'all doing all offensively?

"Yeah, I mean, keeping the momentum throughout the game. I felt like we started off well in the first half, and I felt like even after they kicked that field goal at half time we had the momentum going into half time. I thought we played well and then, we've just got to be able to sustain that throughout the game and come out in the second half hot."

Y'all started to spread the ball out more on third-and-shorts in the second half. What kind of led into that and were you surprised on your interception? Could you take us through that play?

"Yeah, big thing, just mixing it up, continuing to give them different looks on third downs to keep them guessing and spread the ball around to the play makers. And then, on that interception I threw, I thought I had [Houston Texans WR] Chris [Conley]. Was able to sit down and zone adjust it, and then that guy just was a little too tight in coverage on him and I just threw it to him. I've got to make a better decision there."

In terms of the loss, what's the reaction like? I guess you guys had other losses, but you were on a two-game winning streak and now, just weren't able to keep that up the momentum you started with and lose the game.

"Yeah, I mean obviously, a loss is a lot harder to deal with than a win for the locker room, but the big thing for us is just continuing to fight. We got one more game left this season. Everyone's extremely grateful for their position they're in. I feel like we have the best jobs in the world and everyone's ready to just come out, put their head down, get another really good work week of practice, and come out and hope for a better result next week."

In some plays you're giving pre-snap judgment, how much do you feel was there for you today and did you feel like you got the looks wanted throughout the game?

"Yeah, at times I felt like we were able to attack them based on pre-snap looks. There were a couple times when we wanted to throw some more shots, some double moves, things of that sort, but we had to check out of them based on what the defense was showing. For example, we had that one slot fade that we threw to [Houston Texans WR] Brandin [Cooks]. He really keyed into the coverage and I alerted that based on the man-to-man coverage we had, and he made a really good play on that up the sideline. But other stuff like that, their defense and their pre-snap looks are always a focus for us."

You get a long pass to Cooks and then that's wiped out with penalties, there's a couple of plays like that throughout the game, how hard is it to come back from those kinds of things whenever it's tough sledding for most the game?

"Yeah, it's tough, especially when we need a big play like that. Kind of grab back some momentum, move the ball down the field and you kind of shoot yourself in the foot with penalties. We've been working on that all year, just eliminating penalties and being able to stay consistent and put together drives."

It seems like there were a number of situations that were second-and-short, third-and-short, and the call was for a straight drop pass. Are you more comfortable just dropping straight back, because some of those I was thinking, well, you'll probably roll one way or the other on that short yardage situation?

"I mean, really no preference. I'm able to get out on the edge or drop straight back. I feel like we tried to get out on the edge and I threw one out of bounds, because they were pretty tight coverage, the one to [Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks] Cookie. And then, just other drop back passes, trying to get some people open and obviously, their pass rush played a little bit of a factor in that but overall, we've just got to execute better."

You've been playing so well the last few weeks did you think you made progress today, even though the result wasn't there like they had been the last couple weeks?

"I mean, I've got to go back and watch the whole game on film before I can make a full decision on that, but I feel like I definitely got more experience today and was able to see some of their looks that maybe I started my eyes in the wrong place in a progression, and based on their defensive looks I'll be able to anticipate that next time I see a similar look from another defense."

Texans WR Brandin Cooks

Y'all had a chance to go up two scores before the half. What was the feeling going into that drive and not being able to get points there? How big do you feel that was in this game?

"I think in this type of game it's huge to be able to play complementary football. For defense to get a stop, to be able to go up two would've been huge. But we simply didn't execute and that's where we have to grow at and continue to get better at playing complementary football."

You went over a thousand yards. I know you don't play the game for the stats, but you did do that for the sixth time. What are your thoughts on the kind of season you've been able to produce with all the change and everything that's going on?

"Nothing could be done without the other 10 guys on the field and these coaches. So that's more of a credit to those guys than any individual play. So it's a blessing. I'm thankful, but it is my guys around me to help me be able to do that."

When you think about what y'all did last week, and y'all come in here to San Francisco, on the road, and it was a winnable game, what do you think about where this team is going in terms of growth and putting yourselves in this position?

"You talk about the momentum from last week, guys playing for one another. I think we'll just continue to trend in the right direction. When everyone continues count us out, we always seem to be there. And that's a testament to the coaching staff and the guys that continue to fight no matter what's going on. When you have guys like that in your locker room, you're always going to have a chance to get better."

A lot of people are going to look at the stats of Houston Texans QB Davis Mills today, but can you just talk about the growth and development that you've seen from him today, as far as, not forcing the ball in, not turning it over a lot, making some of the throws down the field and things like that?

"That's huge, especially for a young guy. When you get in the game early, you tend to force things, but to see his growth over these weeks and to take what's given and not try to force things is huge. Take what the defense gives you and I think he's been doing a great job at that. We threw a pick today, but I think his response was great. It's just unfortunate we couldn't come up and make some more plays from everywhere else around him."

Texans DL Jordan Jenkins

In the second half when things started going their way, where did you start seeing the difference?

"We have to be more stout in our gaps. We have to get off blocks and make a play. There are things outside of our control, but we put ourselves in situations where we let certain factors affect the game."

Being up at halftime, what was the mood at that point and what is the mood now knowing that you were up at that point?

"The mood at halftime, we just walked around the locker room and told guys that we had to finish. We had to keep dominating, keep the same energy and not get too complacent. The mood that we have in the locker room is that we have to keep fighting. That doesn't change anything, we are still going to finish the way that we were. If you are a real man, you are going to go out there the last game with the same energy you had at the start of the season. That is what you have to do as a pro."

What sort of progress have you seen over the season, and what can be done for next season to make it better?

"I feel like throughout the season we got a good feeling about how each other plays. We got really comfortable playing off of each other. Without having to ask the guy without having to think, we already knew what each other was about to do. We could play off of each other naturally. Moving forward I feel like we have a good group of guys, and we have to put a lot of effort in this offseason and just try to take the next step."

What did you see from them on their persistence with the run game?

"Coming into this game, we knew the way that they get a lot of their stuff going, is that they send a lot of misdirection, send a lot of motions and you just have to have 11 guys dialed in at every second during the play, with an offense like that because with one misstep, it is going to go out the gate."

What did you see from San Francisco 49ers QB Trey Lance this year?

"He is a fast guy. He is a little taller and heavier than I thought when we were taking him down, but he is not afraid to take a hit. He is not afraid to fight for that extra effort. He had some good progress out there today."

Texans CB Desmond King

When you look at some of the things they were doing after the catch, how tough was it to get these guys on the ground and prevent those big plays?

"I was just doing the things that I need to do, running to the ball, just trying to get them on the ground to prevent the big play."

What did you see from 49ers QB Trey Lance today?

"In the second half he showed some resiliency coming back in the second half and taking care of the ball and making the right choices and decisions out there at quarterback. He has really great potential and just looking forward to what he has coming for the next years."

Can you take us through that interception?

"I am just playing my zone. I saw [49ers TE George] Kittle coming from the front side and it was a drawn up play, it was definitely a play that they definitely drew up and wanted to get the ball in Kittle's hands. I know he is an impact guy for their offense, so I saw him coming back from the other side and something just told me to look back once I ran with him and the ball was coming and I made the play. I told myself all week that I was going to sit in those seats if I had the opportunity. I definitely had the opportunity to do that and it felt really good."

You guys were up at halftime. What are the feeling after this kind of game? You guys won two straight where do you feel the direction the team is going now?

"We will just keep fighting. We have one game left, divisional opponent and it is going to be at home. So just to end the season off right at home going into next year with that is motivation."

In a zone heavy scheme like you guys are in, where you guys are obviously trying to read and react in coverage, how much faster can guys start to play next season if they are in the system for a second season?

"It is just simple. This defense is like a machine. Everybody has a job, everybody has what they need to do and as long as they do that and take care of it, this defense can be unstoppable. We have seen it a couple games before just shutting people out and getting turnovers and that is simply because guys are doing their jobs and being in the right place."

If you watch how they played in the second half, there were a lot of run based moves. What did you really see from them and their different type of runners like 49ers WR Deebo Samuel?

"We knew when [49ers WR] Deebo [Samuel] was in the backfield. It was drawn up to get him the ball in space and get him on the perimeter. I figured throughout the game that they would attack our perimeter edges with the run and they have different type of people that can handle the ball. 22 [San Francisco 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr], 25 [San Francisco 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell] those guys can get downhill and run between the tackles as well. Just trying to stop the run each and every down against those guys and try to keep them from attacking the perimeter."
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