SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Week-11 Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
After you look at the tape, obviously the offense showed some signs after that slow start. What did you like about what you saw after that series?
“I thought [WR] Jeremy Kerley, specifically, caught the ball really well in traffic, did a nice job all day long, had some big catches for us in certain situations. We kind of got the ball distributed a little bit. I think our guys have an understanding and a feeling of how we’re moving forward offensively and starting to kind of understand how things work off of things. If they’re going to take this away then we need to be able to go to that. They’re being able to answer some of the questions that are being presented to them. They kind of get a feel for where we are. So, we’re still a ways away, 20 points a game isn’t enough in this league. We still need to score more than that and we need to capitalize. And then I think the biggest thing for us offensively is really that one drive after the [S] Eric Reid interception that I think killed us. On that drive, we talk about we had a drop and then we had two penalties. So, we had the ball on the 28, certainly in field goal range. So, when you really kind of dissect it after a game those are some of those, I really think that drive right there was one that we needed. We needed to come away with points in that situation.”
How do you coach QB Colin Kaepernick in terms of balancing how often he runs versus how long he sticks on his reads?
“I think it’s him really going through his reads. So, a lot of times if everybody is covered then one of your better options is him running and obviously that’s a weapon that he has. Heck, you look at [Arizona Cardinals QB] Carson [Palmer] yesterday, I think he had the longest run of his career yesterday on a 16-yard run. When everybody is latched in coverage and has done a good job of taking away your options, then that has to become an option for you. We’re not going to coach that out of him and tell him he can’t run because we believe there’s some real big plays to be had when he does do that. So, if everybody is going to run out of there and stay in coverage and sometimes double guys and take people away from you, then the quarterback has to be able to run. I think when people do try to defend him then now they’re not doubling people and guys are in single coverage and it kind of opens people up more.”
There were a few plays where the play clock had gotten down just about to zero by the time he snapped. Have you stressed wanting to be a more patient team at all?
“I don’t think we’ve stressed that. I just think there were certain packages that we were running on Sunday that we were trying to see what they were in defensively and then make the appropriate checks. Just trying to put us, put the team in the best situation where we can execute and snap it and if that’s using the whole play clock then that’s using the whole play clock.”
Are you’re happy with that aspect though, that they did do that?
“Yeah, that was part of the package. So, if we’re up there, we need to get a look, we need to kind of see where they are, see how the defense is deployed and then we have to make the appropriate check. If you’re going to do that, that’s going to take some time. We were clean. We didn’t have any penalties in that situation, so they did a good job with what we gave them from a check with me at the line of scrimmage situation.”
What was the difference with your run defense yesterday?
“First and foremost, I think we tackled better. That was the least amount of missed tackles that we had on the season in that game. Our guys did a really good job of negating the yards after contact just because of the amount of missed tackles that we had. I thought our guys had a good understanding of what the game plan was going in. Really the interesting thing is we didn’t do anything different from a front standpoint or a coverage standpoint. It was just our guys going out and executing what they had to do. I thought our outside linebackers in the matchup with their tight ends did a really good job. I thought [LB] Ahmad Brooks and [LB] Eli Harold specifically did a good job of setting the edges for us and then when we set the edges, the ball has to bounce and when the ball bounces the secondary has to make tackles. I thought they did a good job from that standpoint.”
Do you think it illustrated at all the need on the roster for a real, going forward, a real play making wide receiver? A guy that can make a catch off a bad throw? Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd had one or two, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald had one or two. It doesn’t seem like you guys have that on your roster. How important is that to a team?
“Well, I think Jeremy Kerley made some really big plays yesterday. You look at the catch on our sideline, outstretch catch on our sideline, has done that on the year for us. Again, anybody, when you look at, again I’m not taking anything away from them, I thought Floyd and Fitzy played unbelievable. You’re talking about a Hall of Fame wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald. So, if you say would we like a Hall of Fame wide receiver? I think anybody would like a Hall of Fame wide receiver. I think that’s just the nature of it. But, that’s not what we think about right now. We think about what is the best way for us to go out and execute to beat Arizona. We don’t worry about, ‘I wish I had this guy, I wish I had that guy.’ It doesn’t work that way. It works how do we eliminate the two penalties and drop on that one drive that could have been the difference in the football game.”
As a coach, do you look at, ‘OK, we made progress in these areas. That’s good?’ Or is it just the result, ‘we lost the game?’
“No, I look at both. I think there’s certain things, you have to build off of certain things and then you have to obviously correct certain things. But, I don’t think anybody is patting themselves on the back for being close with Arizona. That’s not what this deal is all about. It’s about winning. At the end of the day we didn’t make enough plays. We probably made one less play than they did and they ended up winning the game on the last play of the game. That’s what it’s all about. In any game whether you’re victorious or you lose you still have to address what went on in the game and make the proper corrections. I’ve been in games where we’ve won but we haven’t played very well at all. So, to say, ‘We got it,’ isn’t the right mentality either. It’s kind of a very systematic approach to what did we do well? We need to continue to build upon that. What didn’t we do well and what’s our plan moving forward to correct that?”
How do you diagnose the inconsistencies with your running game with RB Carlos Hyde and RB DuJuan Harris?
“I think a lot of it depends, it’s everybody on the offensive side of the ball. So, how are we blocking on the perimeter? How are we blocking up front? How are the backs hitting the hole? What’s the timing of the play? It’s all. It’s not all on the backs. It’s not all on the line. It’s on the whole group. It’s the ability for the quarterback to affect them in the run game because if the quarterback keeps the ball, now people have to honor him on the backside in terms of what he does. So, I think overall, as a group, we knew going in they’ve got a very good defense against the run, going in that was going to be a challenge for us. But, we have to do a better job. We can’t just be a one-dimensional team and relying on the pass in games. We need to be a balanced football team and part of that is doing a better job in the run game.”
Are there times where you would rather just have Carlos just try to get a yard or two rather than, I know on certain plays he’s coached to be patient, but there are some times where–?
“Yeah. There are some times where the best option is just kind of, let’s get us back to the line of scrimmage and play the next snap instead of being in a negative yardage situation. So, I think you’d rather have 2nd-and-9 than 2nd-and-13, you know, when you’re trying to make a play. However, with Carlos at times, there’s times where he has bounced it and done that and then it’s turned into a big play. So, you don’t want to coach the intuitive nature of Carlos out of him, but you’ve got to understand the situation. It’s no different than a punt returner saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to get all the way outside of this and if I do, I have a big play.’ Well, if we give up yards to get there, sometimes the best decision is stick your foot in the ground and get forward. Let’s always be moving the ball forward. Finish with our shoulders going towards the end zone and nine times out of 10, that’s going to work for you. So, there are times when I think we need to just hit it up in there and give ourselves a little bit more manageable next down than it is playing from behind the sticks in that situation.”
As much as you learn and maybe as much progress as you guys made yesterday, how much of a challenge, what will you learn this week to play a team like the Patriots?
“It doesn’t get any easier. I think when you’re playing against a team, they obviously had a big game last night against Seattle and they lost on the last series of the game down on the one, two-yard line. We were flying back. So, we didn’t get a chance to see the whole thing and we’re watching, going through the games right now, but you’re going against one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game in [New England Patriots QB] Tom Brady, a really good set of receivers, two outstanding tight ends. They can run the football. They’re very balanced in terms of how they can attack you from an offensive standpoint and then [New England head coach] Bill’s [Belichick] defenses are always going to be well coached and solid. So, it’s a huge task and a huge challenge for us this week. Our guys were talking about it yesterday. It obviously has their attention in terms of what we have to do. We’ve got to have a great week of preparation. You’re probably talking about playing one of the best teams in football right now coming in on this Sunday.”
How do have hope going into a game like that?
“I think you always have hope. I don’t think anybody just says, ‘Let’s take the week off because we can’t win.’ But, we played this team last year when I was with Philadelphia and had a big victory up in Foxborough. It’s an entirely different situation, but we’ve played them before and I understand the challenge of it. I think if you’re a competitor you get excited about playing in games like this. You don’t think of it as, ‘Oh my god, we don’t have any hope.’ You get a chance to play against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. If that doesn’t get your blood boiling, then you’re in the wrong sport.”
ME: On third-and-long on the Cardinals final drive, why not cover Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson with a defensive back instead of LB Nick Bellore who had already given up a touchdown catch to him?
“They had 11 personnel in the game on that situation and it wasn’t third-and-long, it was actually a manageable situation (Editor’s note: Actually, it was third-and-8). They had run the ball before that. So, they were in field goal range. So, part of the thought process was, if they run the ball again here, you’ve got to be able to stop the run because actually I think the ball was on the 35-yard line, which is in their field goal kicker’s range. So, you’re in that catch-22 of what they’re going to do. Give [Arizona Cardinals head coach] Bruce [Arians] credit. He called roll out, called a sprint out, the first sprint out they had run with [Arizona Cardinals QB] Carson [Palmer]. They had not shown sprint out yet. They were in an empty protection. But, when you’re in 11 personnel, we’ve got to have our linebacker in the game. If you put a DB in there and then they decide to run it, that run may crease for 20 or 30. So, I think anybody in hindsight can say, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this?’ But, in the heat of the moment with a run before it, certainly understand the play call on our side and then tip my hat to them running sprint out in that situation out of an empty formation, which they hadn’t shown, is a good job by them.”
You talked about Colin running. It seemed like he was his explosive old self in many ways yesterday, just the burst of acceleration. How much do you see sort of that acceleration maybe that he used to have?
“I wasn’t here. So, I couldn’t tell you what he used to have. I’ve never had a question of Colin running the football since I’ve been here. I think he’s always been able to kind of pick them up and put them down. So, I don’t think it’s something that’s new to be honest with you. Every time I’ve been around him, he’s been able to kind of take off and go. I think he’s making some good decisions in taking off and going now. So I think, again, that’s a very difficult thing for defenses to defend. It’s an added dimension. So, hopefully that gives them some problems and allows us to free up some receivers.”
How is DL Glenn Dorsey feeling in terms of his knee and what led to him getting that start at nose tackle?
“Well, I think as you’ve seen him progress as the season’s gone along, I think he’s gotten healthier. I thought he played well the week before. He made some big plays for us and I think he’s just building upon that. So, I think, and it’s maybe a better question for him, but I think he’s getting closer to where I think he used to be. But, I think we need him and obviously we’ve always looked at Glenn as a starter. It was just a matter of can we get him back, get him healthy and get him acclimated and kind of get some snaps on that leg where he feels real comfortable going. But, I think what we’re seeing right now is what we kind of expected from him. So, hopefully he can build upon what he’s done the last couple of weeks because I think he’s put two good weeks together.”