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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


Kyle Shanahan, Brock Purdy, other 49ers react to 19-12 playoff win vs. Cowboys

Jan 22, 2023 at 10:39 PM--


San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, quarterback Brock Purdy, and others spoke with reporters after Sunday's 19-12 playoff win against the Dallas Cowboys. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan


Opening Comments:

"Injuries from the game. We just had [DL] Charles Omenihu, oblique, he ended up returning."

When you think about this game, what stands out? I'm sure it wasn't as clean and crisp as you wanted it on offense, but how do you feel after this one?

"I feel great. We had a feeling it was going to be like that. We kind of prepared that way. We had a lot of respect for that team. All three of their phases, but we knew how good their defense was too and we felt we really had to run the ball just to negate their pass rush because how of special of a pass rush they have. And for us to end up getting over 30 carries when you're only averaging like 3.5, it just shows how good the team was doing. The defense getting those turnovers. The offense being able to make some third downs. I don't think in the first half we had one first down running the ball. I think they were all throwing the ball and I think that changed big in the second half, so we still got it going a little bit wore them down a little bit and winning the turnover battle was everything after that."

The catch down the middle of the field, the kind of juggling catch, how did that kind of maybe jumpstart? Did you feel that in that moment?

"Oh yeah, explosives can jumpstart you better than anything and he definitely wasn't the primary on that and they defended the play very well and [QB] Brock [Purdy] came back to the inside and [TE George] Kittle just saw an opening and went down there and Brock let it rip and hell of a job seeing him in that spot and then Kittle made a hell of a catch, just like his first one of the game too."

The defense only gave up 12 points, the one touchdown drive early. LB Fred Warner seemed like he had a really good game. You'd have to look at the film first, but what jumped out at you about the way you played defense?

"We stopped the run, which I think was huge. It allowed us to be pretty sound in our coverages. I know we gave up that big one when we were backed up, but I just think we made them work for everything and when you take away the run game and you don't have to be too risky in your coverages, it makes it hard to get explosives and our guys just kept doing it all game and we were able to contain them and keep them out of the end zone except for that drive. They played their ass off today."

How big of a moment with after the WR Ray-Ray McCloud fumble was the defense only giving up a field goal. Did you feel that little momentum there?

"Yeah, that was huge. For us to get the turnovers in the first half and to come out like that and I don't, if it was a three and out or not, but for us to stop them like we did and force a punt, it was such a huge change with that fumble. Ray-Ray's been unbelievable all year. It looked like number one got it and just stripped him, knocked the ball out, but for them to be down there and so quickly for a defense to hold them to three, it tied the game up and we were able to weather that storm right there because that was a big play."

You had your play sheet in front of you when Purdy got the call out with one second left before halftime, could you tell us a little bit about what you were talking to him about?

"That's why I had my play sheet over my face [smiling]. It just got a little close for us with the time, so just wanted him to throw it away a hair earlier."

Were you yelling at him today?

"No, I never yell [laughing]."

The back-to-back scoring drives in the second half there. There was a lot of running in there, kind of grinded them down, how did you think Purdy played when he had to make a play?

"He made a number of plays today, by no means was anything perfect for the whole offense and for the whole team, but it seemed like playoff football in that game. We were going against the team and just watching them all week, we had a feeling it was going to be this type of game and that's why we were stressing the run game on both sides and stressing to protect the ball and try to get turnovers and we accomplished both of those things. And when you do that stuff, you still have to make a number of plays and you saw how many George made today and it was awesome. It's tough to do those without the quarterback, so he made some big time plays too."

We all saw how good Philadelphia looked yesterday. I know you're preparing for this, but did you watch that game and do you have to take it a level up to beat the Eagles?

"I don't think you take anything a level up. You do as good as you can every single week and I think we got a pretty good team. We have a very talented team, also a team that plays well together. I know they do, they've been as good as anyone since the beginning of this year and all the way to right now. If you looked at the beginning of the year, you thought Philly would be the last team right here and that's the way it's ended up, so we're going down there, hopefully we'll have a good week of practice, and looking forward to the challenge."

What's the difference with the running game, particularly on those two long drives in the second half versus the first half when it seemed like you guys struggled to get any momentum there?

"We didn't change much up. We just kept mixing runs up and broke a couple, got a couple lanes. I don't know I think we had like eight runs or something the first half, I forget but we didn't get a ton of opportunities with it. Just play calls and when you run the ball and you don't get any first downs running the ball, that's usually what happens. In the second half, especially that long drive, it was like 13 plays or something, we got a number of first downs running the ball on first and second and when you do that, it's easier to stay with it. Then when you do that, it's easier to wear them down. That's a real good D-line and they move around so much that they're tough to block, but if you can wear them down a little bit, then you got a chance and it took us all game to do that."

Obviously, you have a couple more steps to go until you reach your ultimate goal, but with how hard it is to reach three NFC Championships in four seasons, how much are you able to pause a little bit and appreciate just this moment?

"Not at all, yet. I wish we did. You work so hard to get to these points, to these situations and all we could think about was winning that game and once we did, it's fun for a little bit, but it's more once you get in the locker room you're just, 'alright, now let's move on to the next one,' because we know what moment we're in and our lives right here, our whole team and we've been here before and it's very hard to get here, so we're not really reflecting on anything yet. We have a big game this week and that's not our ultimate goal either, so in order to do that, we have to make sure we take care of business."

You kind of alluded to it earlier, the challenge Philly presents. How about just going on the road for the first playoff game in a rookie quarterback's career? Do you have a message for Purdy or anything?

"It's like every other game, you won't be able to hear as well, so don't make it anything more than that. You won't be able to hear as well, so we'll work silent cadence, which he's done well at that. When he has gone on the road, I think he's been on the road for Seattle. He was for Vegas. Going against a good team in a tough environment and sometimes it's fun to go on the road."

At the end of the first half there, you let 26 seconds go on third-and-short. Did you think maybe you had a first down or what was the delay there?

"No, that's a tough thing for me to do. I know it's tough for our fans to watch, but when it's third-and-one and I think there was like 50 seconds, they have two timeouts. I would hate to not get that first down to show you guys why I did it. That's kind of something we believe in, we don't want to give the ball back to them. We liked where the score was at. We still think we have time to score, but when you get to a third-and-one and we had one time out and they had two, we weren't about to not get that third down. Punt it to them, where if we threw it, they'd still have two timeouts and 45 seconds and now they're ending with points in the half if they score, similar to how Seattle did at the end of the half, but the difference is they were also starting with the ball in the third quarter. Now once you get the first down, yeah, then I wished that we went faster, but you don't know if you're going to get that first down or not, so you want to play it the smart way and I thought we did do that. I thought we made some big plays. I wanted [WR] Jauan [Jennings], the protection to wait for Jauan, but to still get a field goal out of it was huge though."

You mentioned the fans, do you have a sense in that moment that people are like, 'ah, what are you doing?'

"Yeah, not just because I can hear, but just because I'm a fan too and I would be very annoyed. But I'm pretty confident with what we did there. I think that's one of the reasons when you play a good team like that you hold them to 12 points. I think that stuff has to do with it. I think playing the game that way and the situation who you're going against, the momentum of the game. I think that stuff is important."

49ers QB Brock Purdy


Earlier this week you said you expect this to be one of the toughest challenges you've had in terms of opposing defense. How tough was it out there?

"Yeah, credit to Dallas, they did a great job just playing physical, stopping the run, making us throw more than we anticipated. But it just sort of came down to executing once we got into the red zone and things like that. So, I think we've got to be a little bit better there. I have to be a little bit better down there, but overall, it was a great challenge for us."

What did it do for you and the offense on the play to TE George Kittle down the middle there, the juggling catch?

"Yeah, I mean, it was that time or that part of the game, we needed something, we needed a spark, get the ball rolling and for Kittle to make a play like that, you just feel it in the whole stadium. Like, man, that felt good, to get a big gain like that and get us going. So you know, props to Kittle, he was one of our like, last options in that play, but he kept the play alive by feeling space and I got my eyes back and he was there, so it was awesome."

Did you see the defensive holding on him on that other play before the touchdown? When you got sacked? Did you know that he had been held there?

"I was trying to go there, yes. And then obviously he got held. I felt pressure, got sacked. But yeah, I mean, we're glad that that happened, but the ball was trying to get there."

You guys were able to move the ball a little bit on those fourth quarter drives that helped kill the time, but did it seem like they were taking forever and just how hard it is to win a game?

"Yeah, at that point in the game, we're up and we wanted to take time off the clock and everything like that, but we wanted also to solidify us being up and put points up on the board. So, for us to be able to chew the clock, convert some third downs and things like that, and then get a field goal in with [K] Robbie [Gould] at the end, it felt good with our lead and then giving our defense the shot to close out the game. So, that's what we wanted."

Obviously during the week you're preparing to win a football game, but now that the game's over, can you take a moment to realize like, man, I just participated in a Niners-Cowboys playoff game, and how do you think you might reflect on that down road?

"Yeah, I mean I'm just so, right now I'm still focused in a sense with just the game and what we could have done to be better. But yeah, it's pretty cool to see the clock at zero and then you see like the Niners over the Cowboys, that's pretty sweet in the playoffs. So definitely, credit to the coaching staff in getting us right all week. Defense, offense, special teams, everyone just playing, it takes everybody, not just one person or a couple guys, it literally takes everybody. So, I'm just so proud of the team and playoff football is not easy, so to go and pull off a win like that against a great team like Dallas and now going to the NFC Championship, it means a lot to us and for myself, yeah, when I take a step back, it's pretty cool. Very thankful."

You guys are tied going in right at the end of the half and you guys are deliberate. How much time do you spend talking to head coach Kyle Shanahan or how much does he kind of coach you up on this is my thought process and how difficult is it when you're on the field to be so deliberate and until you get that first first down?

"All throughout the week we have what we're trying to do, what their defense does, what our scheme is. But then also like our thought process of, dude, these are our playmakers. If we get the ball to this person or that person, chew some clock, let the defense play ball then we'll have a chance at setting ourselves up for success and to win the game. So, he always goes over little situational football throughout the week. And then even before the 15 seconds hit, he'll say some stuff in the headset like, 'hey, this is the situation, if it's not here, throw it away, we're in field goal range,' whatever. So, he's always done a great job with communicating and keeping things clear for me, and I appreciate that about him."

I think for your final snap on that drive, there was seven seconds left. Was he telling you to get rid of the ball quickly?

"Yeah. I looked left, I didn't see, our read was covered. So, I thought I had a little bit more time than I had in terms of looking back right to [WR] Deebo [Samuel]. And obviously it was a pretty close call, so I've just got to be better with, if it's not there, throw the ball away. So, he coached me up on and got on me, rightfully so."

What did he say?

"He said you just got to be better. I told you if it's not there, throw it away. So, I thought I had a little bit more time and looked left, looked right, and just made it close."

Normally you're even keeled like you are now. What, I mean is there something, you talked about you got to be better, got to be better in the red zone, I mean, are you mildly annoyed by today at all or not?

"Yeah, for myself, there's times in the game where it's like, man, I want to be better. I want to capitalize on third downs and finish when we get in the red zone. So, I mean, that's always something that's been in me in terms of wanting to get better. But at the same time, man, it's the NFL, it's not easy to do everything on your own. And so, for me it's like, man, I've got to do my part in this team, for this team and everyone else is going to do their part. That's where trust comes into play, and we trust everyone that everyone's going to do their thing and we'll just let everything fall into place from there. So, I have faith in that. I have faith in the guys, all in the locker room, coaches, and we just go out and play and let everything fall into place."

In the second half, you guys seemed to have more success running the ball in between the tackles and throwing the ball across the middle of the field. Was that something that opened up or was just something maybe you were setting up for the first half as much as you guys are working together?

"Yeah, I mean, we wanted to run the ball well in the first half. They did a good job with scheming us up, making us throw more in the first half. So yeah, in the second half we just went to some other of our plays that we had drawn up and lined up throughout the week. And that's something that Kyle thought would work. And we thought it did. And then obviously, the plays and the quick game across the middle helped out too. I think they complemented each other very well in the second half. So that was something that we adjusted at halftime, and I thought we had a lot of success with it."

Kyle said that Kittle was not the first read on that deep throw. Who was the first read on the throw down?

"[WR Brandon Aiyuk] B.A. was coming across the field. I was trying to see if there'd be a window that opened up late, and then I think it was the corner that undercut it. And so, I got my eyes back down, I think it was [fullback Kyle Juszczyk] Juice or another tight end, and then Kittle. He wasn't supposed to run down the field like that, but he felt space, and that's what I love about him."

So, you see him moving?

"Yeah, I just got to lead him and hit him."

You want to take care of the ball every game, but a game like this, you know it might be a defensive kind of struggle a little bit. How much of an emphasis is it to kind of come out of this with zeros in the turnover column for you guys?

"I mean, it's huge. You know, playoff football, you can't, I mean any game really in the NFL, you can't afford to be throwing the ball up or fumbling or anything like that, obviously. But when so much is on the line and you know everyone's going to be playing their best football, every drive and every moment matters. So, [quarterbacks coach Brian] Griese and Kyle have done a great job with telling me that with my decisions and everything. And I know that we've got one of the best defenses, if not the best defense in the league. So, I've just got to do my part. If we don't, if we have to punt, it's okay. Our defense will get a stop. We got trust and faith in them and we will pick up and go put points up on the board after that. But yeah, it's playoff football. We can't afford big mistakes."

Did you see Kittle catch that ball or were you obscured, your vision?

"Yeah, no, I saw him catch it. I mean, it seemed like it was 10 seconds of bobbling. I was like, dude, come on. So, he came down with it and we were pumped."

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk


Another NFC Championship Game. What are you looking forward to the most on that?

"It's just another opportunity to go out and play with these guys. Hit the road. We've been at home the past two weeks."

How impressed have you been with QB Brock Purdy? What's he been able to do? There were a lot of naysayers for this game saying that he hasn't faced a pass rush defense like the Cowboys, but he handled his own today.

"They've been saying that since he took over. When we played Miami and then the week after that when we played Tampa Bay and the week after that. For him to keep showing up, playing football and leading us, he's doing a great job."

That catch by 49ers TE George Kittle. What did you think when you saw it?

"I was standing right there. It was like moving in slow motion. It's just concentration, you have to be super locked in and completely catch the ball like that. So you just see where his mind was coming into this game."

What was so tough about this game?

"Dallas came in and wanted to stop the run. We came in and we wanted to run the ball. They have a great front. They play hard and were ready for this game. They felt like we took something from them last year, so they came in and wanted it back and they came out and played hard."

49ers DL Arik Armstead


What's it like? Back-to-back NFC Championship games, what's the difference this year going into this game?

"It's a different year, different team, and different season. We went through different things this year, last year we got hot at the end. We were on the road for the whole playoffs, so it was a little different feel. This year we did a great job during the regular season and got home for the fans. We've been here, now we got go on the road now for Philly [Philadelphia Eagles]. We're definitely looking forward to that."

What did you think about catch by TE George Kittle?

"Oh, it was crazy. You know, I've seen George make some crazy plays through his career, but that was probably one of his craziest, or that one versus the [Las Vegas] Raiders. So it was definitely a crazy play. Super proud of him and that definitely got us going."

How much does playing a mobile threat like Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott today come set you up for doing it again next week against Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hertz?

"It's a different animal. We'll lock in, get on some film and start preparing, but it's a different team, and a different animal. They're different players and they've got a different offensive scheme. So now that we've got past this, we can take a look at them and prepare."

49ers DL Nick Bosa


What impressed you most about the Cowboys?

"Mostly their defense swarming, really athletic guys on the back end who can make plays. Overall, the pass rush is great for them too, so it's definitely one of the top teams."

When you have a close game like this today, was it kind of maybe be a good test for you guys for next week in Philly?

"Definitely, playoff football is always going to be like that and I think we're all going to be better after this one."

What was your reaction when you saw them bring out the punt team when you guys were up with about two minutes left or just over two minutes left?

"Well they were backed up and they had three timeouts. Their defense was playing solid, so I'm sure they had confidence in them. I just knew they were going to have to go out one more time, so I was trying to keep everybody even keeled."

49ers LB Dre Greenlaw


Do you and your teammates have a rallying talk at all? Just to get motivated to keep it going?

"Not really. That was just the energy and the vibe for the whole game. Everybody was just ready to go. Everybody was already motivated enough. We were just ready to go."

This is now three or four years, since you've come to the league, where you've been on a team that's made the NFC Championship. Is there anything about this team in particular that stands out to you compared to last year or 2019?

"Yes, just the fact that there are a lot of new guys on this team, but they are new guys that are hungry and they came in and bought into the system. You get a lot of guys from different places. You don't know how they're going to react to the 49ers way of doing things. So everybody just bought in. I think in 2019 we had a lot of older guys here already, but the younger guys stepped up. The rest of the guys coming in do a good job of showing the ropes. That's really the difference. Everybody just bought in and everybody is holding their ground."

Were you surprised when Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott threw that ball and were you sort of waiting back to try to get him to throw the ball?

"I was trying to wait it out a little because I was watching him. Normally they go with the first read to the outside guy, so I was trying to wait it out. When I ran to the ball I was thinking I don't want to overrun it. So I just was kind of second guessing but not really. I saw it, I felt it and then I went and made the play."

49ers S Talanoa Hufanga


San Francisco 49ers LB Fred Warner was telling me on Wednesday that San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, to hype you guys up, may have said that the Cowboys defense was playing better than you guys right now. Did you take that to heart for this one?

"Yeah, we went out there and from the very first snap, the energy was on 10 and so that was kind of our mantra today. A lot of people always tell us like the veterans, our defense has to beat their defense, and that's when those things happen and great teams can win. So when we look at it like that, you hold a great offense to just under 17 points, under 15 points, you try to hold those goose eggs, that's when great defense is happening. It's just a complimentary football team."

Did you expect going in that there were going to be some opportunities to get turnovers?

"Definitely. You see it on film and at the end of the day, they brought a good run game, good pass game, [Dallas Cowboys WR] CeeDee [Lamb], and [Dallas Cowboys QB] Dak [Prescott] kind of that connection too as well. But for us, we just want to go out there and when we are on the details, great things go our way."

Do you feel like San Francisco 49ers DB Deommodore Lenoir's interception kind of set the tone for you guys today and how you play?

"Definitely. Talking with him during the week and his preparation has been outstanding. He has really been locked into watching the film and making sure he's on top of everything. When plays like that happen and he reads them, and he goes out there and just shoots like a gun, just fires and he's in front of all these receivers and making plays. When things like that happen, it's just awesome to see."

49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk


Can you talk about the importance of San Francisco 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell when San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey does get tired or when whatever he is doing is not working?

"Elijah gives us a different look. It's huge. Elijah is a true X factor. When he can come in fresh and relieve Christian like that and bring that power and tenacity, he never hesitates. It's one of my favorite attributes about him is he just goes out there and he hits it. And that one-two punch is deadly. It really is."

What do you have to say about the catch the San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle bobbled and finally caught?

"That was a crazy catch. I had probably the best view out of anybody on the field. I mean. I was probably 10 yards away from him when it happened and it was incredible. I'm not surprised. He's had a lot of incredible catches, but that one, that one was big for us. We needed that. I think it was 9-9 at that point. We were backed up. We needed a big play and he went out there and did it."

You scored 19 points. How good of a reminder is a game like this when your kicker provides 13 of those points?

"It's huge. [San Francisco 49ers K] Robbie Gould's consistency in his six years here has been everything. When we get to that 35-yard line, I don't even think twice. It just feels like we're going to get three points and I'll tell you what, it relieves a lot of stress."

You mentioned the 35-yard line but beyond Robbie making all these field goals does it affect play calling and strategy?

"It affects it one hundred percent. I feel like you saw it on their sideline. I'm sure there were some instances there that they went for it on fourth down and typically they wouldn't. That can change a game."

49ers TE George Kittle


Walk us through the general catch over the middle, what you were thinking is that was helpful.

"It was a bootleg. Me and Juice [FB Kyle Juszczyk] are on the backside selling the outside zone away to get the defensive man across our face. Juice is the hot guy. We're trying to get the ball to either, I think it was [San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon] Aiyuk or [San Francisco 49ers WR] Deebo [Samuel], Juice is the hot guy and I'm literally not even in the read. I just saw kind of a space and he hadn't thrown it yet, so I was just going up the field and he gave me a catchable ball and I was just trying to be dramatic, just for tv, man."

Was that all on purpose?

"Yeah it's just for TV. I was just trying to be a little dramatic you know, get the rating up, that is all we are here for."

You changed the momentum of the game, the pride of the crowd and everything.

"I mean, I think our crowd was fantastic all day. They were loud. Our defense was playing at a high level. Our defense was incredible. The crowd made them use a couple of timeouts. I think they got a false start. I think that just got our offense going a little bit. It got our swagger going a little bit, after that I think we scored a touchdown on that drive, right? I think. Yeah, and then we went down and [49er RB] Christian [McCaffrey] finished it. So yes it definitely got the boys moving a little bit."

You guys are an even keeled team, but how excited are you for this next game against Philly? One game away from the Super Bowl?

"This is exactly where you want to be, right? At the start of the year back in OTAs, all you are doing is preparing for the Super Bowl. To be one step away from that, it's awesome. To go into Philly, which is a fantastic atmosphere. I love Levi's. I think it's a fantastic atmosphere, but if I'm not going to be biased, I mean, besides Kansas City and the Eagles, I mean, they're pretty top tier, so it's going to be wonderful. I know how much the fans love their opposing team, the opposing team and all the fans. So it's going to be really fun and it's going to be cold and violent and it's going to be a blast."

49ers DB Deommodore Lenoir


Talk about that interception. It's almost like Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott had no idea you were there. Were you a little surprised it came right to you there?

"I broke on the route and I really didn't think he was going to throw it. I thought it was about to be the scramble drill, but then when I looked back, the ball was coming and my hyena senses just kicked in and I just jumped for it."

How excited is this team right now? You guys are one game away from going to the championship next week.

"At the start of the season, we had one goal and that was to get to the Super Bowl. So we are one step closer, we are fired up."

What do you think about the defense's all around effort today?

"Oh, defense was humming. [DL Javon] Kinlaw, [DL] Nick Bosa, [DL] Samson [Ebukam], [DL] Kerry Hyder [ Jr.], the whole D line. I have to give it up to them, they played a hell of a game today."

What about the defensive backfield?

"I think Dak had 180 passing yards, so I think that's a win for us."

Was there anything that you saw on tape in Dak's game that you guys really were able to capitalize on?

"Really just being tight and being sticky in coverage. When we were sticky in coverage, he had nowhere to go with the ball. So we kind of seen that from other teams like Jacksonville, they were sticky in coverage and he didn't really know where to put the ball."

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey


How did you get through this game, health-wise?

"I was fighting but made it through great, nothing bad, all good."

What was it like going up against that defense? They seemed fast and aggressive. What kind of problems did they cause for you guys?

"Yes, it's a good defense. They play hard. They fly to the ball, they tackle well. They definitely caused some problems for us early. I was happy with the way our guys just responded and kept going one play at a time and had a couple long, really good drives there in the second half that changed the momentum of the game. But it's definitely a good defense that we played."

In the second half, why did the offense look more successful?

"We just stuck with it. I'll have to watch the tape. I don't like making a whole lot of blanket statements after games without watching the tape, but you could just feel guys sticking with it, not panicking, just taking it one play at a time."

You guys needed a big spark and the San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle catch down the middle seemed to be the jumpstart. Did you feel that kind of got you guys going?

"Yes, that was unbelievable. That was one of the best catches I've ever seen. And that's a special player doing special things and, plays like that, definitely boosts momentum."

This is your first trip to a conference championship game. Does the intensity kind of feel ramped up every week for you?

"I think with this team everything's intense, and that was true when I got here and it's true now. Obviously there's more on the line. But I think we're winning. We have to just do the same thing as we always do every week and that's to correct the mistakes that we make and capitalize on the strengths, keep rolling and play our best game come Sunday."

49ers T Mike McGlinchey


What did you think about playing against Cowboys LB Micah Parsons?

"He's as good as advertised. He's incredibly difficult to stay in front of and plays hard as hell. He's one of the guys who's one of the best defensive players in the league."

What was it like to play against the Cowboys defense?

"They definitely have a lot of ability to get up the field and turn the corner and adjust. Cowboys LB Micah Parsons can convert off a burst better than anybody I've faced. He can change direction as good as any player in the NFL. He's a dog man. It was a group effort. We kept him off the quarterback for the most part. It was a long fight but we got it done."

How did you think 49ers QB Brock Purdy handled the pressure?

"I think he did great. He didn't turn the ball over and that's obviously a huge aspect of why we won this game. Not to say that Brock had it easy so far, but we've been rolling for the last couple of weeks. Offensively, we haven't hit that wall yet. He came up and made some huge throws in the second half to keep the chains moving. I'm so proud of him because that's a tough defense. He handled the pressure awesome and made some plays we needed him to make."

49ers WR Deebo Samuel


How does this playoff run feel different from the others you've been involved in?

"I don't think it's any different. We just take it game by game. We know we have Philly coming up; we've just got to focus on them."

The challenge of the Eagles, what's that going to be like?

"One thing that we're big on, that we focus on us and we control what we can control here. We're focused on them when we get to them and we'll just play ball."

The reputation that Philly has for being a really hostile environment, does that hold up?

"Nah, not really. We don't feed too much into the noise, you know. We just go out there, play by play, and let pads do all the talking."

49ers LB Fred Warner


How'd you play that interception when you saw DB Jimmie Ward almost get in front of you there?

"That was huge by Jimmie. He made a big time play in a big moment. I was kind of in one-on-one coverage with [Cowboys WR] CeeDee [Lamb] and he worked away from me. Jimmie was kind of squatting over there and broke on the ball. It popped up and he gave me the assist on that one."

Tonight the defense was pretty much up to your standard, wasn't it?

"Yeah, it sure felt like us. That one drive where they went on, I think it was a 12-play drive and scored on us, we kind of broke down in coverage a couple times. They had some third [down] and shorts that they converted, but for the most part it felt like us, man. Obviously we know that we've got to play big time football in the playoffs to have a chance to win this next game."

Eagles game coming up next. We obviously saw what they did yesterday. What's the challenge there? What's the mood about going into that game?

"The challenge is everything. Watching from afar, they had a great game yesterday and really took care of business at home. They got another home game and obviously it's two great football teams going against each other. We're going to have to watch the tape hard. I think from watching them all season, they have an amazing overall team. Offensively, they have a great offensive line, great play makers and [QB] Jalen Hurts is having an MVP-type season. I respect the way he approaches the game and his mindset. We've got a big challenge on our hands for sure."

Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy


Can you just talk about the decision to punt on the drive before the end of the game? Why not go for there? On 4th and 10.

"That's the answer. Yeah."

What were your thoughts on how the defense played overall?

"I think really as a whole today you had two teams just battling it out. We knew it was going to be a slug fest. We just didn't quite do enough. You can go through the statistics, the decisions and I thought defensively we did a really good job for the most part. Would we have liked to have a couple more stops? Yes. Did we need more third down conversions on offense? Yes. We could have used that, too, red zone production. Obviously just extremely disappointed. This has been an incredible journey, with this group of men and we just came up short tonight to a very good football team."

How backbreaking were those back-to-back plays where you lose Cowboys RB Tony Pollard and then you have the pick on the next play?

"Well, losing Tony was obviously a shot. Tony is probably clearly one of our most, if not the most, productive player. You know the way we've played all year. It's important for those guys to touch the football. So yeah, that was a big blow for us."

We've talked about Cowboys QB Dak Prescott's interceptions all year. Some of them aren't his fault, but two today in this tight scoring game, how big was that?

"Well, any turnover was big. No different than our takeaway there on the punt. But yeah, the scoring position, obviously that's potential points on the board. We knew the turnover ratio was going to be huge in today's contest. We thought we'd have some opportunities. That was the plan, and we got our hands on some balls. You can't turn the ball over. That's always a focus. And that's all I've got."

Is it hard in the moment with the season just ending to feel any sense of improvement this year over last? Do you feel like you played them better than you did a year ago? Do you walk away from this game feeling any different?

"Yeah, I don't really know. I think every year's different; every game is totally different. Factually we've taken one step closer to our goal. That's what the comparable would be from last year to this year. I think they're a different team than they were last year. I think they're a better team than they were last year. I said this earlier in the week, I thought we're a better team than we were last year. I think it's probably a reflection of having a lot of respect for their program. But I think it's also a reflection of our program. We've got the right players, we've got a good group of young players. We've got excellent veteran leadership. We didn't have enough today. And the guys laid it out there. I don't know how close you were to the field. It was an extremely physical football game. Both teams laid that out there, so, we came up short."

How difficult was it to get going offensively when you lost Tony?

"Well, Tony's an exceptional player. He's obviously part of our rotation. You spend the whole week putting the plan together and also you have touches and ball distribution focal points that you're trying to hit. Tony's one of the top or maybe the top person that you want to have the ball in his hands. You know, you wanted it in his hands. So yeah, that was definitely a shot for us."

Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs had a chance to get a pick and TE George Kittle had a bobble. Do you think Diggs should have played the ball or hit Kittle? What were you seeing there?

"Specific evaluation, we're not there right now. But yeah, we felt that we were going to be able to get our hands on the ball just because of the way we play on defense and our takeaways for the season speak for themselves. We had some chances tonight. So we came up a few plays short in the big play area."

Cowboys K Brett Maher missed that extra point earlier. How much did that impact the decision you made calling plays later in the first half? You went for it on fourth & four, so I don't know if that impacted anything.

"I went for it on fourth downs that I've gone for it on all year. I'm trying to give you an honest answer. I don't remember sitting there changing plays based off of what happened last week. That didn't happen."

He missed the one early at the start of the game.

"Yeah, definitely. But then the next time we had the opportunity, we lined him up and he kicked it through. So in the reality of it, when we got the ball back in the last series, the plan was to go down and score and go for two for the win. That was the thought process. That had more to do with that I just felt like our defense was on the field a long time and I thought we picked it up in certain areas in the second half. But like I said, we just came up short."

Do you think that Dak was forcing the ball, trying to find Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb more than he should have? It seemed like he could have gone somewhere else.

"I think you're playing a vision defense and you're trying to get the ball in the seams, getting it in the holes. But also the ability to get the ball to check downs, too. That's part of it. I thought we hit a couple of nice check downs today. But yeah, as far as forcing the ball, he goes through his progressions."

Did you think their running game got going a little in the end? Obviously, the defense had been out there a while and they mostly did very well.

"Yeah, I thought they were productive there, running the ball more in the fourth quarter. Like I said, I haven't seen the stats, but I would think the number of plays was probably ahead of us, probably by half a dozen or so. Time of possession was tilted towards them. Yeah. Like I said, that was part of my thinking there in the fourth quarter."

The last play – can you kind of explain the thought process there? Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot was lined up at center.

"Yeah, it didn't get going. I really don't want to get into the detail of it, but that obviously wasn't the plan. So yeah, I mean it's obviously a gadget play or whatever. It's a last play situation call that we practice."

Were you surprised when Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz got pushed back at the end, the clock keeps running and then he doesn't get a second foot down?

"Yeah, we talked about it on the sideline with officials. No one's a fan of the rule. I can't stand it. This isn't the time to talk about it, but that's not the intent of the rule. It's a hard rule to officiate, too. By the letter of the book and the emphasis, they would say that's the correct call. Yeah, I'm not a fan of the change that they made on that rule."

And then for him to not get the foot down on the next one. Is that surprising? Considering usually he does have good field awareness.

"Yeah, Dalton's a pro's pro. He just didn't get a second foot down."

Obviously, you came into the season with the message of resilience. What's your message to the team tonight? What did you tell them?

"Just told them my personal feelings about them and the journey. And just most importantly, keep loving one another and stick together."

All these games are tough. It seems you were emotional after the game, a camera guy got in your way. Just how difficult is this for you? Just talking to your team about loss.

"It's very tough. It's definitely not anything you're prepared for. I've never prepared for a talk after losing the game. You feel like you had opportunities to win and was confident going into it. So yeah, I just think it in those moments, you just have to be real and genuine. I mean, it's raw. It's raw in the locker room right now. This is not really time to pick apart. I understand that you've got a job to do, but that's not where we're at right now."

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott


Did this loss hurt more than last year? Can you talk about what happened today? Disappointed in the locker room?

"It hurts. Very disappointed we weren't able to come out. Disappointed in my play. Disappointed for the guys in the locker room. This is a special team. Guys do things the right way, prepare the right way, believe in each other and have a lot of love. It's unfortunate. Sucks."

Can you take us through both picks real quick?

"The first one I just hitched one too many times, I guess. Hitching three times, thought I was going to go on a scramble and the guy just came back to the ball and made a play. I've got to throw that one away or use my feet and get out of the pocket. On the second one, the nickel squeezed and tried to throw a load to [Cowboys WR] CeeDee Lamb. He was able to make a play on it, tip it up in the air and tip it to the Mike. Just two throws that I can't have, you can't have in the playoffs. You can't have them when you're trying to beat a team like that. You can't have it on the road. There's no excuses for that. Those two are 100 percent on me."

Take us through the emotions right now.

"Just disappointed. As I said, guys that played their asses off on defense, who gave us an opportunity to win this game and who really played hard against a really good offense and really good team. For us to only put up the points that we did, that's unacceptable. I've got to be better. There's no other way to sugarcoat it."

We've talked about the interceptions since you've said they're going to stop and they never did. Does that baffle you that they continued the way they did this year?

"Yeah, it's very frustrating. It's something I've got to get to in the offseason, take a look at all of them and as I said before, they all have their own story, but two tonight as I said is unacceptable. I can't put the ball in jeopardy like that. Whether they're tipped up in tight throws or whether I'm late on a stop route. It just can't happen and the number that it's gotten to is ridiculous. I can promise that the number will never be like this again. I can promise that."

Did you think that even with three minutes to go you still had a chance?

"A thousand percent. A thousand percent. When you prepare the way you do and you put in all the work that we have and the time that we have, especially for those situations, up until even the last play, you've got hope."

This is the third time you've been to this round and unable to advance. What has to happen for you guys to take that next step and get to the championship and go on further?

"I've got to play better than I did tonight. Simple as that. They're all independent. You can't take one from the other or think about that. But all I can think about right now is this game and how disappointed I am in my play at this point. I'm also disappointed for the guys in the locker room who played their asses off and we weren't able to get it done."

Losing RB Tony Pollard, one of your most explosive players. He was in on a lot of opportunities in this game. How devastating was that?

"Yeah, that hurts. He's a guy who brings so much to our offense, so much to our team. His energy on the sideline, in the huddle and the way he gets guys going. He's a special teammate, a special player. Obviously, that one hurt us. We weren't able to create as many explosive plays as we planned. I'm sure he would've been a big part of some of those had he not got hurt."

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said he thinks that you give this team the edge, that nothing about the turnovers has changed that and he wants to be back in this position with you. What goes through your mind when you hear that? Confidence?

"There's no doubt we'll be back in this position. It's just about winning, no doubt at all. What we've done as an organization and taken a step and it all sucks right now, don't get me wrong. There's no doubt when you talk to the guys in the locker room, you talk to the men that have put in this time, the pillars of this team. We have to get some guys back. But there's no doubt we'll be back. That gives me confidence, and gives everybody in that locker room confidence, I hope."

Cowboys S Jayron Kerse was holding back tears in the locker room. How emotional is this for you guys? I'm sure you had a lot of confidence that you were going to be playing next week.

"Very emotional. I'm sure he wasn't the only one. He showed you what it means to him, this team, what we thought of each other and what we thought of our opportunity to win it all. We didn't plan or prepare for this. I didn't have anywhere in my mind that I'd be doing this press conference with the loss right now. It just hurts."

Since you've been a starter, you guys have been a really good regular season team. Lots of wins. Any idea of what's preventing you guys from getting over that now?

"I promise you we will though and in my time of playing on this team and for this organization, we will. It sucks that it's 365 days away to get back to this position, but we have to take it day-by-day, step-by-step and that's what I'll do. I know that's who I am and I'll respond in the right way. When we get this team aligned, the guys we get back and the coaches, we'll do what's necessary to be right back here and win it next time."

Do you feel the burden about it all personally?

"I'm disappointed in the way that I played. Those guys in the locker room gave it all on both sides of the ball and put me in a position to win the game. I wasn't able to do that. I put it on my shoulders when you play this position and when you play for this organization. You've got to accept that. That's the reality of it. As I said, it'll make me better. It sucks that I don't get another shot at it for a long time. But when I wake up tomorrow, it'll be the first thing on my mind and it will carry through in my training throughout this offseason as we get into the start of next season. It's about finding a way to get better, mastering everything that we can to make sure we get over this hump, and give ourselves a chance at winning it all."

Why couldn't you get the other receivers besides CeeDee Lamb involved as much?

"Not real sure, honestly. I have to go back and look at the tape. CeeDee's the guy you want to get the ball to, I can tell you that. He did really good things with it. As I told you, he's a young player, just a scratch on the surface. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get those other guys the ball. We've got other playmakers other than CeeDee. It's on me to get it to them and allow them to go make plays and I just wasn't able to do that."

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot


What were you thinking when RB Tony Pollard went down and what did it do to the game plan for you guys?

"I mean, it's tough. Tough to ever see one of your guys go down. Never want to see that. TP's had such a great year. He's been so important for us this year. He went down which took all our pony plays out of there. Pony - that's when me and him are on the field on at the same time."

Obviously QB Dak Prescott will get criticized in a game like this with two interceptions. What do you want fans to know about number four?

"Man, there's no leader better than him in his league. That was my brother. We've been through every day together and every day he came in with the same mentality every day. He comes in, works harder than anyone in the league. He's the leader of this team."

What did he say afterwards?

"We haven't talked yet."

What'd Head Coach Mike McCarthy say after?

"Just how much this one hurts and how he felt bad for us because we couldn't get it done."

Cowboys S Jayron Kearse


You were very emotional when you came in the locker room.

"Lost the game to go to the NFC championship. We didn't reach our goals. I gave it everything I had, through injuries, played through it to be out there with my guys. I knew we had the team to do it. So it's tough when you fall short."

What is the most frustrating part about this?

"For me, it's just not getting it done and falling short to the same team two years in a row. When we could have won the game, it's tough."

What are they doing to close out games the last two years, that you all are not?

"You have to make the plays when you have the opportunity to make the plays. They made the plays, they won the turnover battle. So that is always big in these types of games, when you have two good squads."

Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb


How difficult is it when the finality hits at this moment? How does it feel knowing that the season is over?

"It sucks. Excuse me. It sucks. At the end of the day, you have to take it for what it is. Be better next year. Believe that. I'm tired of saying it but it is what it is."

What were the issues today, as you saw them, in terms of struggling on offense?

"I don't know. We didn't. I think they wanted to talk the turnover battle, of course, but you can't really in this type of situation. Turnovers matter but no matter how you put it, offense, defense, special teams, regardless. We didn't score enough points."

From what you could see, what happened, on the two interceptions?

"One was good defense. The second one was on me, of course. I didn't see the guy. He jumped and took the ball. As for the first one, I don't know what happened. I was running the route and I turned him around."

Your quarterback, Dak Prescott is going to hear a lot of criticism for this game. Do you think it's merited or deserved?

"I mean, he was going to get criticized regardless. No matter how he played, unless he doesn't throw an interception. Everybody's going to be on him. That's fine. Everybody is going to analyze the interceptions. But he plays for the Dallas Cowboys, he's number four. He is our starting quarterback. So that's what comes with it. I'm with my boy and he knows that. So it is what it is. We're going to work, we're going to work."

Cowboys LB Micah Parsons


Opening statement:

"To get their players out the open space. We contained [San Francisco 49ers WR] Deebo [Samuel]. We contained [San Francisco 49ers RB Christian] McCaffery for the most part. But like I said, they made more plays. We limited them, we tackled, we ran, but they made more plays."

What was Head Coach Mike McCarthy's message after the Game?

"He said how he feels for us."

How do you feel after the loss?

"There is no feeling like this. I hurt for the guys, I hurt for the fans, I hurt for myself. I wish I pushed through this to try to get this title, but it's just not enough. I really give my all every week for these guys and they give it back to me, but it just wasn't enough."

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, quarterback Brock Purdy, and others spoke with reporters after Sunday's 19-12 playoff win against the Dallas Cowboys. Here is everything they had to say.
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