LANDOVER, Md. — Before I post my grades, here is an all-time great postgame transcript from Braylon Edwards. He was the last player in the locker room and he lingered with a few reporters to explain why this 49ers team hasn’t come close to reaching its full potential.
EDWARDS: It didn’t have anything to do with it being DeAngelo Hall. I just assessed the situation. I tried to put a hurt on someone. I saw the safety coming over the top, so I didn’t think I was going to be able to get into the end zone. So at that time I said: “Okay I got the first down. Let me try to inflict some punishment on somebody and see what happens after that.” It wasn’t a personal vendetta against him. That was just whoever was there. I figured I’d inflict pain as opposed to him pulling me down.
Q: Were there any words exchanged after the play?
EDWARDS: He was a little upset. He gave me a little elbow flipper, but it’s part of the game, nothing over the top.
Q: It seemed like all four wide receivers each played a lot for you guys today. How’d you like that rotation?
EDWARDS: It was good. I think you’ve got guys in there doing different things, making some plays. I would like to see us be more consistent in that, but it’s something that’s new. I’m finally back – it’s only my second game back. Kyle Williams is starting to play a little bit more, coming along well for us. Ted, you’ve got Crab who’s making plays, and you can tell his foot doesn’t really bother him anymore because he’s out there making plays. If we just keep it going and get more consistent at it I think it’s something that can be special for us and we really can hurt some team with it. But right now, it’s still new.
Q: It looks like after every play there’s four or five guys on the sideline waiting to come in the game. Is that pretty much the way it is? You don’t know from play to play if you’re in or out?
EDWARDS: That’s exactly what it is. You have to pay attention to the personnel. That’s something that, as a wideout, you really have to, after every play, pay attention to the sideline and see what signal they’re going to give you, because it could be different personnels but could have something tagged to them so it’s a different player. If you go regular, that’s me and Crab. If you go regular 19 to X, now you have Ted coming in and replacing me. If you regular 19 to Z, Ted’s replacing Crab. If you go Buckeye, now you have Kyle and Crab coming in, so you really have to pay attention to the sideline, and the people coming in have to do a good job of relaying the personnel.
Q: You left a winning situation and now you’re in another one. Are there similarities and differences? And when you came here did you sense that this was something you guys could do? Because, obviously, the 49ers haven’t had this kind of success in a long time.
EDWARDS: When I came here I saw the defense’s potential, and I saw that we did have some offensive weapons. We were just young and the new coaches and staff was going to have to bring that out of us, but I did see the defense’s potential. In terms of the relevance between last year and this year, in terms of both teams of both teams starting hot – we ended up being 9-1 last year – with the Jets, we were already at our potential. We had already reached our peak. We had everything in place. We had been running offense for a couple of years that was in place and we were at our peak, and if we lost a game it would be: “Okay, we didn’t come to play that game. Or we got outplayed. Or we got outcoached.”
We’re in a situation right now where we’re 7-1 and we haven’t even yet begin to touch the surface of what we can do. Right now on offense we’re making the plays down the road to win games. We’re closing out, but we’re struggling in that middle part. We’re struggling in that third quarter. We’re struggling in the beginning of the fourth. But we’re making the necessary plays to win because of the talent level, and because of the coaches’ decisions towards the ends of games. But just pay attention when everything comes together: “Okay, now we know Braylon’s back, we got him, how are we going to work him in? Crab’s feeling good, we’re going to work him in.” Ted Ginn’s probably one of the fastest people in the NFL. How do we incorporate that with Delanie and Vernon? You have Frank going over 100 yards five games in a row. Now we have a running game. We have young Kendall Hunter who can run just as well.
So now we get consistent, we get better week to week, now you’re talking about being unstoppable because our defense pretty much is our cornerstone right now. We’re banking on the defense and we’re getting better as an offense, but when the offense puts it together and we say: “Ok, this is it. Now we believe in it. Now we’re consistent. Now we can move Braylon to Z, move Crab to F, move Crab to Y, move Delanie to Z.” Now we start doing things like that, now we confuse people and now we just really destroy teams. We’re not anywhere near where we can be, and that was difference between here and there. We were already at our peak. We haven’t come close.
Q: Does the five game divisional lead help your offense be this creative?
EDWARDS: Yes, but at the same time we’re not banking on that. When you start looking in that direction, “Okay we have a lead,” you’re setting yourself up for failure when you think like that. You say: “Okay, well we can do this and we have room to play with. Well, now we lose a game. Now we lose another game. Now we lose a close game. Now you look up it’s whoa, we only have a one game lead. Now we’re tied.” So we just have to play it from the standpoint that every game is a must-win game. Every game we have to put the best offense that we have out there in order to win.
Q: Harbaugh chose to go for it on fourth down early in the game. Would he have made that same decision earlier in the season?
EDWARDS: He’s a different character. You don’t know and that’s his character and as a team, we’re steadily learning about him. That’s just confidence. That’s something that as an offense we have to take and say “He’s giving us the confidence, now we have to continue to earn that confidence. We’ve got to show him that he can do those kinds of things and we will make him right. We will make him look good to the press or whoever wants to say it was the wrong call.” We’ve got to get that.
Q: You guys are undefeated in the Eastern time zone this season. How?
EDWARDS: One, we don’t use the time zone as an excuse. A lot of teams, that’s something that they bank on: “Well, it was a different time zone game. Our bodies weren’t used to it and adjusted.” We don’t use that and he (Harbaugh) won’t allow us to. Two, we travel two days before. A lot of teams try to come out that day before. That is hectic if you’re coming from the East to West or West to East and you only have a matter of hours to adjust your body to that schedule. Coming out that Friday, getting here, getting accustomed, going to sleep, waking up in a the time zone, having a light walk through, keeping on schedule, that helps a lot and that’s what we do. He’s very smart when it comes to allowing us the allotted time to get adjusted.
P.R. DIRECTOR: Hey guys, we’ve got to wrap this up, I’m sorry.
EDWARDS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don’t cut my interview short, I’ve been waiting for some action!
P.R. DIRECTOR: Coach just walked out. Do you want to be the last one on the plane?
EDWARDS: Okay, last question (laughs). It’s getting real.
Q: You played on Eastern teams. Did you sense that lull from West Coast teams when they traveled out to play you?
EDWARDS: I did, especially in Cleveland. Teams were struggling, and if we were a better team in Cleveland we would have been able to take advantage of that. But we allowed them to hang around and by then determination and will takes over. But I remember going out to the West Coast a couple times when I was in Cleveland. We played Oakland and we left that Saturday. The game happened and we all lethargic, kind of like off. And you lose. That year we were 10-6 and we lost to Oakland and they weren’t a very good team, but we were lethargic, we were lacking energy and by the time we said, “Okay, let’s go do it,” now it’s too late. Now it’s seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. The way he (Harbaugh) does it definitely helps and I don’t want to get left so I’ll see you guys.