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Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo, other 49ers react to 22-16 win vs. Chargers

Nov 13, 2022 at 11:58 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and others spoke with reporters after Sunday night's 22-16 win against the Los Angeles Chargers. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Opening Comments:

"Alright. Injuries, none in the game that I have yet. [WR] Danny Gray rolled his ankle in pregame warmups, but that's it. Go ahead."

Defense shut them out in the second half. What impressed you most with the D?

"Just them getting off the field. They had a couple mistakes in the first half, got them going a little bit, but the second half, just like two weeks ago in our last game, the defense hunkered down, it didn't seem like they made any mistakes and especially there at the end, the way to finish it, their last two drives were great."

41 rushes on the night, some of that was quarterback sneaks, but did you have a number of carries you wanted in this game?

"We wanted to run the ball a lot, we didn't think we'd be able to get that many. Just how good they are in their short-yardage and some of their run situations. Their offense is pretty good at holding the clock, so we weren't expecting to get that much. I think the way our defense went in the second half, we got it back a bunch of times and some of our longer drives converting some of those shorter yardages allowed us to get it, but anytime you get that much, I don't know if we were four yards per carrier or I think we went gone down with the kneels at the end, but we had some big ones, which you can get, but that's a tough team. How they mix it up and they have a good way of getting you off the field and that's why we struggled, I thought down there in the red zone, just being 2-of-5 there, which kind of plays into their hand. It was similar to how it was last week watching their Atlanta game, but for the defense, those last two drives came up big for us to be able to keep sticking with it, I was real proud of our team."

You converted a handful of third-and-longs in this game, you've had success doing that this year. Why are you so successful in those situations?

"I think [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] made some big plays on third-and-long, from what I remember. I don't know how many we got, but I know the one that he hit [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud] on down the side, that was an off-schedule play, did a great job finding him. And then the one to [TE] George [Kittle] over the middle was a really good job, a great throw by him. Progressing to number two, coming across and a good play by George, but some of those long ones kept us going and he's always doing a hell of a job with those sneaks."

Were you expecting to use RB Elijah Mitchell as much as you did in this game or was it something you saw during the week or did after his first few carries did you think, oh we're just going to keep using him?

"No, we were hoping that the carries could come out about even. That kind of was our goal before the game started, was to have a goal to have about even carries, but you never know how the game goes. And then at the end there when we were just trying to hammer it down we were just feeling him, so we kept him out there."

How do you assess the offense's performance as a whole?

"Some good things, but not good enough. I thought we had some opportunities. I thought we came out real good. Got all the way down to the two, didn't put it in. The next drive, had an explosive, fumbled on the first play. Then we had two three-n-outs there. I believe the third quarter was just like the beginning of the first quarter, I think we went all the way down and got a field goal again. Got a score there. That's the kind of the challenge with this team. They're a team that does bend. You can move the ball on them, but they're tough in those situations and we have to be better."

The fans, media, even some of your players we're all talking about all this offensive firepower that you finally have. Is it going to take, obviously you are happy with the performance, but 13 points in the first 52 minutes or whatever, is it going to take a little while just to figure everything out and everyone to kind of gel, work together?

"I think that could have happened today. I don't get too caught up in it. We had 400 yards of offense. We were 2-for-5 in the red zone. I think we would have got a lot more points if we can score a touchdown on those plays instead of field goals. I didn't feel like it wasn't that we could not move the ball or do stuff like that. I felt like guys made a lot of plays. I don't know how much we averaged per play, but I know we were moving it. We were the better offense today. We just have to score more touchdowns and that's about certain plays and trying to get it in there."

What did they tell you on the LB Dre Greenlaw play and do you feel like he should have been ejected?

"No, I didn't think so at all. It kind of actually blew my mind. I understand the penalty. I totally get that right at the third down marker. He was lowering his shoulder, but I have to learn what that is. I get how it is with the penalties, because I think he did hit his helmet. I haven't seen a replay. We'll see when I get home tonight and watch it again, but I thought there had to be intent and something unnecessary and that was a big play right there and for us to lose Greenlaw for the whole game off that, that really shocked me. So hopefully they can teach us that so we can understand why we lost one of our players."

Did you not get an explanation?

"No, that comes from New York."

The Chargers kind of rolled down the field on that first drive. What changed with the defense? Was it something strategic or did they just sort of get it right?

"No, they had a couple of big passes and then we had a zone dog pressure and we ended up not carrying the corner, so they got a big explosive there. We weren't perfect the rest of the game, but we made a couple big mistakes on that first drive when they had the right play on and that's what happens."

How important was WR Jauan Jennings in the fourth quarter?

"Oh, huge. I think that was one of the big third downs. I forget it was like third-and-seven or something. We had, I believe it was Kittle over the middle and then [WR Brandon] Aiyuk deep and they just sunk under everyone and Jauan just to catch that and move the chains, I believe earlier in the game too he had a good one over the middle where he carried the guy to move the chains, so Jauan, he's been great for us, did an awesome job last year and it was good to get him back in this game."

Talanoa Hufanga seems that at the end of these games, he keeps intercepting balls to end the game, how have you seen his development?

"I think Huf came out playing real well this year to start. I think he's had some ups and downs as he goes, like they all do, but the more Huf plays the more, I know he had a couple setbacks and I want to say after Atlanta just getting a little banged up, missing a lot of the practices the next two weeks, but Huf, it seemed like he played well and I know he'd love to have that touchdown back on the first drive with that one zone dog, but to come out and finish it with the pick. We definitely didn't want to watch [Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin] Herbert do many more downs than that."

It feels different and there was a BYE Week in between, but two straight wins, do you feel like this team has momentum? Do you want them to feel like they have momentum?

"Yeah, I want them to feel like that. I thought just overall we played our best team game and cleanest game versus the Rams a couple weeks ago, so that was a great momentum that we felt. I thought it was the first time we had done that consistently in all three phases. I really wanted to pick up off that this week. I thought we had our opportunities to, just started out giving up those big plays on the opening drive and we have to answer right away with a touchdown, but we ended up getting to fourth-and-goal I think on the two. I was proud of our team today, I want to play better, I want to blow people out, I want to score every time we go, but those are the types of games that that team is really good at winning. The Chargers, I think they've had I think four out of their five wins, they've been behind by two scores. You watch Atlanta last week and how they went up and down the field and moved the ball a lot, but those guys are tough to get in the end zone against and they did that to us today, but we still found a way to win, which was so imperative to still hold them in the second half so we could keep playing that way. And just really some of the big third downs our guys made were the reasons we were able to get all those runs in and kind of control the clock and eliminate our turnovers there in the second half."

A lot of players after coming back from some time off, take some time to get back and get the rust off, but Elijah seemed to hit the ground running. What was it about him that he was able to do that?

"When Elijah is healthy, he can run the ball. It doesn't take him long. We always want to see it for ourselves when he comes out in practice, but just seeing him Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, he looked ready to go and that was what we're hoping. We have a real good back and Elijah, we know we just brought in a real good one with [RB] Christian [McCaffrey] and it's nice to kind of make those guys a one-two punch and keep [WR] Deebo [Samuel] as the bonus, but I feel both of those guys need another guy to help them and it's good that it doesn't always have to be a receiver."

What does it mean to you to see your team rally this game and also against the Rams? Does it show that you have that comeback ability?

"I love seeing that. I know our numbers were bad on that, so that's cool that they did that. It didn't feel like a huge comeback win. It just felt like the whole game was kind of the same. I get when you score field goals and they get a touchdown, then that score isn't like that, but I almost treated it like a zero-to-zero game all the way there to the end and it kind of was, it was always a one-score game."

You guys only allowed 51 yards on the ground, how much did that sort of set the tone for your defense to not let them get any momentum, any rhythm on the ground?

"It was big. They don't always run the ball a lot, so that's not always how they win. They mix it up a lot, but we knew [Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin] Eckler was the guy, whether you're handing it off to him or hitting him on check downs, it's almost the same thing. And he's a really good player. When it's second-and-long, they don't need to run it because Herbert's going to make you defend everyone deep and then they got him right underneath and he's very good at getting up in there and getting yards and very similar to what we try to get with our players too, so it was a challenge throughout the whole game. You never get comfortable with them, but we were able to pull it off at the end."

Your first drive, did you think about going for it? You had a pretty methodical drive all the way down the field?

"Yeah, I definitely thought about going for it, but I think we lost yards on the third down. Yeah, we called it on third-and-goal from the two, because we were planning on going for it, but I think we lost some yards and I wanted to make sure we got points and it was the same thing there at the end. We ran it on third-and-two at the end and I was hoping we could get inside the one and then we're going to go for the touchdown to try to end it, but we lost a yard right there also."

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo

How do you feel about a game like this where the offense, I'm sure you guys didn't get in the end zone as much as you want, but you did enough good things in the second half to pull out the victory?

"Yeah. There's different ways to win in this league. We definitely made it hard on ourselves. That's for sure. But you know, a lot of resilient guys, a lot of mature guys. That was a big thing on the sideline and at halftime, just the maturity of our team, especially offensively, just how we stuck together. It wasn't pretty early on, and they were doing some things that gave us trouble, but we stuck with it and got the W."

Was this one of those games where even when you were ahead, you still kind of felt like you were behind?

"Sort of. That's how they want to play. They want to make it a slow-paced game like that, one possession at the end, and then let the quarterbacks go at it. So, it was kind of scary there for a minute, but our defense was playing great in that second half. You could just feel it. And I think that gave us a lot of momentum as an offense too. They kept getting stop after stop. And we answered, finally."

You said they did some things that made it tough for you, what were they doing?

"That's kind of how their scheme is. They keep you guessing with the personnel coming in and out. A lot of people switching, [Los Angeles Chargers S] Derwin [James] playing a lot of different positions, but we knew that going into the game, that's their style of football and we knew that it was going to be a tough game today."

You're an offense that usually is at its best when you're on schedule. Third-and-medium, third-and-short. But you had a number of third-and-longs tonight that were big. What went into that?

"Well, we ran the ball a lot tonight. I think we had 40 runs, someone said. So, I think that a couple penalties put us in those long down and distance. I had a stupid sack that I just can't have. It's not going to be perfect. When we get in those tough situations, it's how can we overcome it? I thought we did that a couple times night, especially in big situations. [WR] Jauan [Jennings] making a couple big plays, [WR Brandon Aiyuk] B.A. at the end making a couple big snags. It was those type of plays that made the difference, I thought."

It was third-and-13 to TE George Kittle, that was huge.

"Yeah, that gave us all the momentum I think too. We really weren't doing much before that. We had the one field goal drive before that, but up until that point we didn't do much and George gave us that spark that we needed. And that's kind of how we are. It takes one play to spark us and get the momentum going and we usually start to roll then."

What do you think about the fact that you guys were able to shut down the Chargers from scoring at all in the second half?

"Yeah. Defense was playing awesome. You could feel it too on the sideline. The stop after stop, we kept getting the ball back and more opportunities and we fed off that."

You made a couple of big time throws in the fourth quarter towards the sidelines, one to TE George Kittle, one to WR Jauan Jennings. Do you feel that defenses try to take away the middle of the field against you and that those throws are available if you want them?

"Yeah, I think we have guys that can make plays out there. We've just got to get the right play call at the right time, there's certain things like that, but yeah. I thought guys stepped up, especially in those big moments like you're talking about, that's the difference maker. There's maybe five, six plays a game that make a difference like that, and those were two of them right there."

Before you hit TE George Kittle, you hit WR Ray-Ray McCloud III down the sideline. Can you walk us through what you saw on that play?

"Yeah, it was kind of a broken play. Got off the first and second read, just started to scramble and Ray-Ray just became a football player, man. It's kind of what we've been talking about in our skill meetings. Just being a football player, making plays like that. Ray-Ray is as cool as anybody. He just turned it up the sideline, made it look easy. It was a big one. We needed that."

With that Kittle play and that Ray-Ray play, that was part of five straight passes where it seemed that you guys really started clicking. How important was that stretch in the context of the pass to set up the run, run to set up the pass in this game plan?

"It was huge. It was huge. We knew going into this game that they didn't have the best run defense and we were going to be able to run, but kind of became stagnant there for a little bit until we got into a little bit of rhythm there. That's all it takes, once we get into our rhythm like that, we can start rolling and making some good plays like that. We've just got to get there."

You talk about the maturity of this team. When you're looking at the box score, RB Elijah Mitchell has four more carries than RB Christian McCaffrey got. TE George Kittle has two targets. WR Deebo Samuel has six targets altogether. How do you get the team to buy in knowing that they're not going to get as many targets as they might want?

"I was kind of talking about this earlier in the week. We have a very unselfish team, and I think that's hard to find in the NFL nowadays. Everyone's about individual stats, fantasy points for all the fantasy owners out there. But we've got a team, man. I think it showed last week against the Rams, guys stepping up in different roles and it just showed again today. Guys don't care if they get 10 targets or one target, if we get a W, a W is a W, and that's all we're here for."

There was so much talk during the week about all the offensive fire power that was now assembled. What would you say to those who were little disappointed that you guys didn't score 72 points?

"Tell them we got the W tonight and that's more important than 72 points (laughter). No, that's just the style of defense these guys play though. They take away stuff like that and make it hard on you, make you do those 10,15-play drives that we had to do tonight. And it's not going to be flashy but a W is a W, and I hope the fans are happy with that."

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

This is the first time the offense has everybody healthy, how excited were you guys coming into this game?

"Yeah, we were super excited, especially not playing last week. I think a little too excited for a little bit. It took us a while to settle in but once we got going, it was good. We felt like the whole game we just didn't capitalize or finish drives. I dropped one down there that would have put us up a little earlier, instead of having to wait. Then we had a few drives with penalties. That has been the story a lot of times this season, but we were able to get a win this week. That's the sign of a good team, not having to play perfect football to come out with a win."

It looked like you guys were able to make those adjustments in the second half that were keeping you stagnant. It seemed like you were able to finish well in the second half.

"Yeah, a little bit. Like I said, we felt like we had everything that we wanted out there. It was just the little things here and there than didn't allow us to put points on the board, but overall, we felt like we did a good job."

What was your reaction to seeing WR Jauan Jennings on that third down play, pushing through for that first down?

"It was huge. He came in and made some huge plays at the end of the game. [TE] George [Kittle] made a big play too, a big play on third down. That is going to be the story of our season, can we convert on third down. I think we started off the season in the back end of the league in terms of third down, and I think we are 6th or 7th now. We are just trying to continue to build on that and hopefully be on the top of the league in third down because we know if we convert on third down our offense can keep going."

How is it to have RB Elijah Mitchell back, plus RB Christian McCaffrey. How are they as a tandem?

"It is a special backfield. CMC, Elijah, [WR] Deebo [Samuel], all getting carries. We feel like we have people everywhere. We just need to spread the ball around, keep guys fresh and just make defenses think about a lot of different things."

49ers DL Nick Bosa

Did you see the play with San Francisco 49ers LB Dre Greenlaw and what did you think about his ejection?

"It's a tough play. Stuff happens really fast out there and I know him. He's not trying to hurt anybody. He's just trying to make a play, and it is what it is."

What adjustments were you guys able to make in that second half to get more pressure on Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert?

"Not too many adjustments. I think we just stuck with it and kept going and turned out well."

What do you think the issue was in the first half, when the defense played so much better in the second half?

"I'll have to look at the tape, honestly. I think maybe there were some plays where we could have gotten more pressure, for sure. We'd let Herbert sit back there and find some guys and whenever somebody's open he's going to get it there. He is a really good player but yeah, I think we just stuck with it."

These last couple months this season, does a win like this give you even more confidence that you can pull out some these scraper victories when you need to?

"Yeah, definitely. [San Francisco 49ers Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan] said at the end it really wasn't our type of game that we were going for, it's kind of how the Chargers have won throughout the year. They kind of hang in there and then they make plays at the end, and I'm really proud of the defense for stepping up."

49ers S Talanoa Hufanga

How gratifying was it to end the game the way you ended it after the way the game started?

"I think you just addressed it right there. It started off rough, gave up the early touchdown and you guys saw it, it was all on me. So, I have to be better with my eyes and just continue to play the game. I flushed it and had a lot of good support behind me. A lot of great guys on the sideline just being like, hey, it's the beginning of the game, just continue to play, we have a long game ahead of us. Just being able to see it out like that, is a testament to the guys up front too. I think [DL] Charles [Omenihu] got his hands on it, so I really appreciate just the way they're playing up front and the tenacity that they got. So, very thankful for sure."

What changed in the second half and after they put together some drives and made some plays on you guys? What changed for you guys?

"We just went in and made some adjustments at half time, just continued to be physical and switched some things up. We just wanted to get after them up front and play a little bit looser coverage on the back end and continue to force them to check the ball down and just rally to it. You see a lot of guys flying around like [LB] Azeez [Al-Shaair] and [DB] Jimmie [Ward], they're just flying to the ball everywhere it can be. We were just trying to play top down. I think I just gave up that early one that kind of set the tone for us having to back up a little bit. It is just a testament to the guys that continue to play and swarm to the ball."

You guys have shut out people in the second half. How much pride as a defense do you guys take in closing games out this way?

"Well, we just have to continue to shut them out in the beginning too. The whole goal is if you can hold an offense to zero points, you have a good chance to win the game. So, everybody's flying around and I'm not going to just sit here and act like it's nothing. I gave up a touchdown today and just have to continue to play better. So, regardless, we have to win or we just have to move on. And Arizona's coming up next."

What is it about Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans, because to his point, you guys constantly are shutting people out in the second half. What impresses you the most about him? What do you think it is about him that allows you guys to play this high?

"I'd probably describe him in one word as poise. He has a lot of poise. Coming into the locker room, a lot of defensive coordinators, if you're trailing, if you're up, they're really tight and up upbeat. He's the guy that comes in there and he has a big smile on his face and we could be down 30, big smile. And he's a guy that just understands that we can go out there and we can change the game on defense any way possible. So, the poise that he holds, in the locker room, it just brings all these guys together and just builds our confidence up so we can go out there and make plays.

49ers WR Jauan Jennings

The game changing play was that third down where you're kind of a bull in a china shop. What was going through your mind on that play?

"Catch the ball, get the first down. That's the only thing in my head."

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo today on third down seemed really good. It was third and long a lot. Was he kind of on third down today?

"Yeah, it was just execution, and play calling too. [San Francisco 49ers Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan] gave us great plays to catch the ball in our hands and get yards after the catch. We just had to do the rest."

When you do have plays like that breaking a lot of tackles, do you feel the energy kind of pump in from the sideline?

"Oh yeah. Oh yeah. We feel it. I'm feeling energy all game. From defense, to our special teams play, and to how I play. I'm feeling energy everywhere around the field."

How excited did you guys feel coming into this game knowing that you guys were fully healthy and fun on the offensive side of the ball?

"It was a fun one, it was a fun one. To come back and be out there with the boys, it was just like a party man. It's like a party but just on the football field. So it was fun. I had a great time."

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey

It seems like the Los Angeles Chargers were hitting you pretty hard in the first quarter. I mean, you were taking every snap it seemed like, and as the game got going you started using the entire offense. How important is it to have the entire offense rather than just relying on one guy?

"Look, you know, football's an interesting sport. I don't call plays. I don't think I could. I just try to get in there and do my job whenever my number is called."

Did you notice the adjustments San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan made in the second half got your offense going?

"Definitely, I think he made some great adjustments. Obviously, our guys up front blocked real well. [San Francisco 49ers RB] Elijah Mitchell ran the ball really hard in the second half. A lot of guys made some huge plays on third down that just kept us moving the ball and it was a gritty win."

How big was San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo on third down in the second half toward kind of piecing together what you guys wanted to do offensively?

"It was huge. You know, third downs are something that the Los Angeles Chargers have been pretty good at as well. So, obviously Jimmy is making some awesome throws and guys making plays that helped to keeping the sticks moving."

How did it feel getting your first touchdown at Levi's as a member of the 49ers?

"It was good. It felt really good. Obviously, it's always better when you win at the end, but it definitely felt good."

49ers RB Elijah Mitchell

How excited were you guys knowing offensively you would have everybody going for the first time this season into this game?

"Oh man, we felt it. It's amazing, man. Like I say, to have everybody, that's what you want. You don't want anybody down. So it's amazing, man."

When the team brings in a back with the reputation of RB Christian McCaffrey, it would be easy to think 'how much work am I going to get?' but you got just as much work as he did. Was that something that you knew was going to happen?

"I didn't know what was going to happen. Like I said, I prepare anyways, but I knew we were going to split carries either way. It came out really good though."

What do you think the turning point was for you guys tonight? You were trailing for most of the game and obviously came back in the second half. What was the turning point?

"I'd say at the end of the third quarter and in the fourth quarter, that's when we really started running the ball and really putting it to them and we could see the defense was very tired, so we definitely felt it."

49ers DB Jimmie Ward

How did it feel to be back from the BYE week?

"It felt good, especially after the BYE week. Coming back and playing for our fans is cool. Now we are about to head to Mexico."

What adjustments did you guys make after that first drive where they picked you guys apart? It seemed like you guys kind of settled in.

"You just said it. We just had to settle in. [Defensive Coordinator] DeMeco [Ryans] made some great adjustments. I'm not going to tell you guys too much because we still have to play Arizona. We might have to make adjustments with them too. All the credit to DeMeco."

Do you have to play nickel with a different mindset than safety? You said there are a lot of differences there.

"You just have to know where your help is. I have to switch up my technique. Press, off, coverage, could be blitzing, it is different."

You guys got the takeaway at the end but this year you have been bottom seven in the NFL in turnover differential. Can you get where you want to get this season if that doesn't change and how do you change that?

"We just have to practice it more. I feel like we are, but I guess guys just have to make more plays. You know, this is my third game back. I need to get some balls, who knows. They have ben hitting me in my hands so hopefully I can catch it. I feel like everybody just has to do their part by trying to rip out the ball, rip out the ball. I don't know if I'm going to punch. I just got my hand back."

49ers LB Fred Warner

What kind of adjustments did you guys make in the second half?

"We just kept it simple. We literally just ran one call, I feel like, the entire second half. When we got to third down, we would dial it up with some pressures, but first and second down we literally just ran the same thing over and over. Just kept it real simple. First half, [Defensive Coordinator] DeMeco [Ryans] wanted to try to mix in some blitzes, some pressures, but honestly it was just perfect for us to just match everything up and play ball in the second half."

This offseason you said you wanted to work on your coverage, but it seems like this year, especially, DeMeco Ryans is using you more as a blitzer. Did you have to just put more effort into that this season? How have you improved this year as a blitzer?

"I mean, honestly, all of the credit goes to [Defensive Line Coach] Chris Kocurek and DeMeco and the way that they dial those pressures up. I work with Kocurek on the days that we're installing those blitzes on third down, just detailing it up, him giving me tips on how to run the pressures. It's not something that in the off season or in season that I worked a ton. It's just all about being relentless, working together as a group on all of those pressures. And so they've been working so far."

Was the frustration level when LB Dre Greenlaw gets ejected and how did you guys bounce back?

"Yeah. You know, anytime you lose your brother out there, that's frustrating. But, [LB] Azeez [Al-Ashaair] came in and did a great job replacing him. He's obviously been in that position before, so he did a good job out there."

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley

Do you have any updates on the several guys that were injured in that game?

"Yeah. [Chargers DL] Christian Covington has a peck injury. We'll be able to give you the nature of that tomorrow. [Chargers DL] Otito [Obgonnia] has a knee injury. It's kind of the quad area of his knee. And [Chargers TE] Gerald [Everett] has a groin injury."

Offensively in the second half, you guys stalled a bit and struggled to string anything together. Just what'd you see and what do you think was sort of behind those struggles with the offense in the second half?

"That's a good defense. I thought that they did a good job against the run in the second half. We just couldn't get anything going in the run game. And then the passing game, it was tight. The rush was coming and there wasn't a lot of air in the second and third level to take advantage of. We had a couple guys open but there was pressure. I thought our guys separated, you know, pretty decent tonight but we just weren't able to hit them because of the pressure. Those guys got into a rhythm and it was just tough in the second half."

Were you okay with the play calling there in the second half? There were a lot of first down runs and I know you said that they were stopping the run. Any hope that maybe you'd get the ball in?

"We're just making sure those rushers don't tee off. You have to change pace against them because if it just becomes a drop back game that's when all the risk is in the plan against a team like that. As long as it was close we wanted to force those guys to play things straight up. We're playing with two back up tackles and that's an outstanding team that rushes the passer. So we knew that the danger was in the pass rush and we were able to stay out of it for most of the game and just weren't able to get that ball moving in the second half or third downs. And, you know, obviously in the second half we just didn't score."

Brandon, I understand you guys don't want to make excuses because of the injuries, but at what point do all of the injuries become too much to overcome?

"Our team competed tonight. You know, I don't know how you could see it any different. I think our team competed against the team coming off of bye, a team that's really good. A team that was at full strength minus [DT] Arik Armstead and that's a really good football team. And our guys laid it on the line. I liked the way that our defense showed at the end of that game, getting that goal line stand and giving us a chance. We had a bunch of backups in the game today that just played really big roles for us and gave us a chance in this football game against the good team on the road. I really loved the way our team competed. We didn't execute perfectly all the time. I think that we'll learn from that. We had some opportunities in the first half to score the ball after the takeaways, after the punt block. We're going to learn from that, but our team competed tonight and we make no excuses for anything injury wise."

How did you feel? Did you feel like the defense played well?

"I thought our team played with a lot of heart. There was a lot of things that happened with the D line. You know, we finished with three D linemen in the game. I thought that we were really tough in the run game, they're really good running the ball. I felt like our guys did a really good job. In the second half we had to play a lot of plays. There were a couple third downs in there that were tough, that we missed a tackle, were tight in coverage and they made a couple of good throws and catches. So you give credit to them, but you know, we were on them tonight. We were on them tonight and I thought our guys really fought in this game and played this game the way it needed to be played."

On their last punt where they got down inside of the one, on the telecast, they said it should have been a touchback because the guy with the ball actually stepped in. Did you question the refs on that?

"I didn't get an interpretation on that. No."

Were you aware of it until just now?

"The people upstairs did not indicate that that would be a factor."

Would you count this as a moral victory for your team?

"No, that's what I told the guys in there is that we didn't come in here to get a pat on the back for playing hard. You know, that's not what this league's about. We came here to win tonight and that's what I liked about our team is that we came here to win tonight. Now, we didn't win. But the effort and the physicality tonight, the toughness of our team, that was good enough. That was what I expect in terms of going nose to nose with a good team. Our group didn't back down tonight. Our team was the aggressor. Right. And it just didn't go down in the second half. But we need to get rested up and we've got another big one next week."

There's obviously been a lot of emphasis on concussions, particularly at the quarterback position. How comfortable or were you comfortable with the process that went down?

"Yeah, I like the process. You know, no, I didn't like the fact that he had to go out because he was okay. Both with [Chargers LB] Kenneth [Murray] and [Chargers QB] Justin [Herbert], I thought you saw a good process in play of those guys having to go in and make sure that they were okay. So hopefully, the world was able to see good process tonight and both those guys are okay."

Chargers QB Justin Herbert

Justin, just take us through the second half kind of bogging you down after moving the ball pretty well in the first half.

"Yeah, we just didn't execute. We need to be better on third down and continuing to push the ball forward and getting first downs but unfortunately, we didn't do that today."

What do you feel like was the main issue there? What changed from the first to the second half, just execution?

"We just didn't execute. Yeah, we had our opportunities. You know, I thought the defense played great all day. They got some big stops and we unfortunately fell short. We didn't execute when we needed to on third down, but there were a lot of good things from the defense today."

Just the play at the end of the first half where you went out. Can you just walk us through sort of what happened there from your perspective? And then, you know, obviously getting checked out.

"I was scrambling, got hit, stood up and the next play they told me I had to go out."

Did that come from the coaching staff, refs--?

"I'm not sure who it came from."

Did you feel normal when you stood up from that hit or did you feel any different than you otherwise would?

"I felt normal after the hit."

You've got a lot of youngsters out there you're working with. On the wide receiving front, you had three rookies start on the offensive line tonight. Just kind of assess how these guys, these young guys are coming around and giving you guys a chance to win against a really good football team?

"Yeah, like you said, that's a really good football team and I thought those guys did a great job battling and you know, I'm thankful to have those guys on my team and be able to play with them, and they've done a great job of, all year battling and dealing with adversity, and continuing to get better. It didn't go our way today. That's the unfortunate part about the NFL, but it was really good to see from those guys battling all day."

Just your third year to be looked at as a guy who is like a veteran on this club, do you embrace that, to be able to be a guy who's really kind of driving the bus for this team?

"You know, I think that's a good question, and the important thing is just to be the best quarterback and teammate and everything that I can be, and it didn't go our way today. We unfortunately fell short, but I know that tomorrow everyone's going to show up and we're going to have a good day of practice. We're going to watch the film and we're going to get better, and we're going to hopefully learn from our mistakes and to avoid things like that today."

Both of your starting tackles out, obviously Los Angeles Chargers T Rashawn Slater's been out a while now, but how much did that affect your game plan against a very good 49ers' rush?

"I thought [Los Angles Chargers OL] Jamaree [Salyer] and [Los Angeles Chargers T] Foster [Sarell] did a great job. You know, they've stepped up big time and they've been able to step into those roles, and that's a really good pass rush that they're going up against, and I felt like I had plenty of time and they did a great job of battling and dealing with all that adversity, but to be able to have those guys step up I thought it was huge for them."

You went right down the field on that first drive, why weren't you guys able to keep the momentum? What do you think was the reason for that?

"We just didn't execute. Unfortunately, we didn't convert on third down when we needed to. You know, the defense came up with some big stops and they got some turnovers when we needed them. So no, it was really good to see from the defense."

What were some of the biggest challenges from how they covered you guys, particularly on third downs?

"Yeah, they did a great job disrupting the passer and that's a really tough front seven that they're going up against, and they've got some pretty good cover guys back there too, and they're really well coached and we just didn't execute and didn't get conversions on third down when we needed them and didn't keep the drives going."

How do you guys kind of quickly put this behind you with another division matchup coming next week?

"I think that's a great thing about our team. Everyone's professionals and they understand that obviously, it was a very tough fought loss tonight, but as soon as we get back on the plane, we're going to watch the film, and we're going to turn our attention to our next opponent and they're a really good football team as well. So, it's a quick turnaround but we've got to keep getting after it."

Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley emphasized when he talked with us how pleased he was, and how hard you guys competed. Is there any kind of moral victory to take away from any of that?

"I don't know if there's too many moral victories in football. We lost and that's the unfortunate part, and it's up to us to be able to correct our mistakes, fix where we went wrong, address that at practice tomorrow and hopefully get better."

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler

You guys are down a lot of play makers after tonight's game. Not to make excuses but how does that affect you going forward?

"I'm not making excuses either. You can't and I'm not. I'm not going to let you make that that statement either because we've got guys that have to step up. I don't care who's out there. If you're on the field, you're getting paid to play. You have to step up and you have to make your plays. We got some of our guys that are down, but that doesn't matter. The opponent doesn't care. We all have to make plays. If you're on the field, that's what, what the whole team is depending on you to do. We played hard, but that's the standard. That's the standard to me. So it really it comes down to us as making plays. We have to play hard, but we also have to make plays. We can't just do the minimum. Today we weren't even able to do that especially in the second half."

In the second half the offense wasn't on the field a whole lot. Was that frustrating?

"Absolutely frustrating because we're the reason we're not out there. We're getting off the field. We're getting stopped on third downs. And it's just the little things, right? Whether it's a protection, whether it's a tipped ball, whether it's a dropped ball, yes, it's so frustrating, you know? So it comes back to trying to play as perfect a game as we can."

Chargers QB Justin Herbert went out. How concerning is that?

"Yeah, it's concerning when any of our guys go down. You know, especially like that. I just told him 'hey look, take your time brother. You know you have to take your time because I mean, there's more important things with football which is our life and our brain especially. So, I'm glad he was able to come back, was able to be all right."

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