SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim Tomsula’s Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“The injury list, we’re going through the injuries right now. [TE] Vernon [Davis] got a strain on his knee, doesn’t seem to be too bad, but we will keep getting it checked. [LB] NaVorro Bowman had a little tweak last night with his leg and went back in to play and felt good coming off of it. And, [S] Eric Reid, I just saw, who’s, I think he got a couple stitches, it looked like. But, he got cut on his face yesterday and I said, he’s fine and didn’t even, was heading over to the weight room, so there wasn’t a lot of talk. But, he said he’s doing well. So, that’s what we have right now. We still have guys coming in, coming through, but that’s where we are. Obviously, this is two weeks in a row I’m coming here to stand in front of you and we have not performed near to the way that we need, or expect to. Obviously, Arizona Cardinals played very well and we played poorly. With that, go ahead.”
Why is QB Colin Kaepernick still your starting quarterback?
“I believe in Colin Kaepernick. And, I think he’s got the tools to be a darn good quarterback in this football league, in this league.”
Is he currently a good quarterback?
“Yesterday, we weren’t a good team. No, yesterday, none of us were very good.”
When you say Colin is your quarterback, which you did say yesterday, does that mean no matter what? He’s your starting quarterback no matter what happens?
“Well, I mean, and [San Jose Mercury News columnist] Tim, here’s where I am with that. I mean, yes, he’s our starting quarterback. But, we’re in a game of football. I mean, infinity and statements to that term at any position, but I’ve had no thoughts of him not being our quarterback. He’s our quarterback.”
A couple Arizona players, S Tyrann Mathieu specifically said that your passing game has been simplified so much that they could read your routes and it wasn’t hard to defend you. Is there a concern on your part that that might be true?
“Yeah, everything is concerning us at this point. What we are doing last night and this morning, making sure that we think our way through this and not emotionally react to this. We have to think our way through this and that starts with me, through the coaching staff and then on to our players. But, I don’t want to, a big thing from me right now is to make sure we think our way through this.”
I know offensive coordinator Geep Chryst has talked about it being simplified. I mean, was this dramatically simplified?
“Well, no, I wouldn’t say that, Tim. I mean, and I don’t, simplified, I didn’t go into the area of, quite, just quite frankly, quite honestly, when I met with the coordinators at the beginning of all this, my point to everybody was let’s look at the skill levels and what all of our players do well and then let’s develop a system that fits the guys that we have. And then from there, I wanted to stay in a core philosophy on who we are and then as we go from there build, continue to build. And then I wanted to also adjust from within that, whether it be formationally, whether it be a shift or motion, but the core principles is something I believe in. Quite frankly with that question is the individual aspect of it. When it starts in an individual period, the techniques and the fundamentals that we are asking you to do, stay consistent to those as we scheme.”
Just generally, when you looked at the quarterback then, I’ve never been clear on this exactly. Was it that Colin should run more or was it that Colin should run less?
“From our perspective, again we’ve never made a comment on, I’ve never made a comment on whether he should run more or less. He is a, he does have a unique skillset when it comes to the read game. And, quite frankly, we want the defense to have to protect the read game. If they are protecting that guy carrying out his play fake, then that’s somebody less that’s down in there when we hand the ball off. And if they are not, then we need to be able to pull it and keep them in that way. That’s how I see that read game. I hope that answers your question. That’s as honest as I can say it.”
Where do you think his development is as a pocket passer?
“His development in a pocket passer, in terms of Colin reading and looking at things and studying, I think he’s doing a nice job there working at it. In terms of us as a team and as a whole offense, our drop-back pass game, we need to be better at and we need to improve on. But, that goes from the snap to the blocking, to the routes that we’re running, to throwing the football. So, I think as a whole, we need to improve there.”
ME: Last week in Pittsburgh, you patted the players on their backs while you accepted virtually all the responsibility for the blowout loss. What was your game-week message that you delivered to the team prior to last game and where do you go from here?
“Well, the one thing I will tell you is patting the players on the back and letting them know that I appreciate them, this is my 34th season of football. I’ve done that every football game I’ve coached. Whether I was a D-Line coach, a defensive coordinator or a head coach because I do appreciate the work and the grind that these guys go through through the week, but then during the game. So, now in terms of accepting responsibility, quite frankly, everything on that field goes past my desk. It really does. I let us go in the Q-pistol on the two-yard line. That’s my fault. I knew that play went in. Wish I could have had it back. That was my fault. That’s a two point safety and that’s my fault. I should have had the quarterback under center and I should have handed the ball off and we should have grinded it up in there for three yards. So, those things, that’s, I mean it all, nothing is happening on that field that doesn’t go across my desk.”
ME: I asked, what was the game-week message you delivered to the team prior to yesterday’s game and where do you go from here?
“Part of what happened, I obviously didn’t get through to the guys. One problem can become five, and that’s what I don’t want to have happened. And that has happened to us for two weeks in a row. I think we talked about it in here last week with make a play. That’s a doubled-edged sword, in my opinion. We want people to make plays, obviously. But, we’ve got to do that within the confines of the way we’re playing with 11 guys. That’s happened to us for two weeks. It’s not a matter of blowing an assignment. It’s a matter of taking a chance, I’ve got to make a play. We can’t go there emotionally. Let’s keep one problem, one problem. Let’s get that under control and then let’s move forward. So, that was my message and I obviously didn’t get it though.”
Some would say that, getting back to Colin, that being a pocket passer and running the read option are not compatible, that you cannot develop a pocket passer if you continue to run the read option a lot in the game. Did you guys have that conversation during the offseason and if you did, what was the conclusion?
“Yeah, we did. And I guess that’s where it comes back to trying to be sensitive to what we’re asking out of our quarterback and of our offense. Maybe that’s where the scaled back thing, because I don’t know that I would term it that way. Yes, there’s less volume, but there’s a lot of concepts. It’s still a hefty amount of plays on the call sheet. But, I think that, we’re not a drop-back team. We’re not built that way. We’re not built like other teams. We’re not comparing ourselves to those teams. We’re not built to be, first and second down empty and spreading the ball around all over the place. We’re built more with our tight ends and we like the tight end group. We like where that’s at. And we like to use formation to get us some air when we need air. But, my perspective is playing to our strengths.”
I think the manner in which you guys have lost the last two weeks–?
“That’s what bugs you the most.”
Well, people are saying now this is who the Niners are, this is a lost season, let’s think about the future. What would you say to those people that are, at this point, saying you’ve just withstood too many losses in the offseason and just the talent isn’t there?
“Well, a couple of things I’d say. It would be, since we started this, again I keep going back to it, but we’re a work in progress. I’ve said that. I think we’ve all said that here. We’ve got a lot of work to do. So, we are a work in progress. As far as a lost season, no. I disagree wholeheartedly. And in terms of anybody that’s not here, we spend zero time thinking of that. That doesn’t help us get better. The thing that helps us get better is focusing on who is here and how we can help from a coaching perspective down through the players to get the results that we desire on game day.”
The last two weeks, some of your veterans have said that you have a young roster. It’s a theme that’s emerging. To me, when I hear that, it may mean that this is a rebuilding year. Do you see a young team that’s rebuilding?
“I’m not willing to go there. No, sir. I’m not willing to go there. Whatever the statistics, I don’t pay attention to the statistics of where we are age-wise. I know it’s a younger team than it’s been. I do know that when you have a young guy on the field, there are going to be some things that we have to work through. But, we’ve got some older guys too. We’re winning and losing as a team. This isn’t, it’s not because of or excuse of younger players. That’s not an excuse.”
ME: Given the success Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer and Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had against your defense the past two weeks, how do you prepare for Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers…
“Here we go with Aaron Rodgers, I got you.”
ME: …who is arguably better. Do you mix up your disguises to try to confuse him pre-snap or do you use different fire-zone blitzes to test his protection? What do you do?
“Yeah, and you obviously, you always get into the schematics of it. And I don’t mean to shake your questions, I don’t, but I don’t want to, we’re working like crazy right not to get ourselves, we’re spending a lot of time on the 49ers this morning, last night and this morning. And, Green Bay just starting, looking at all the stuff that our young guys have gotten done. But, the schematic side I’d like to stay away from. But, we obviously have to do a better job.”
Have you had any communications with 49ers CEO Jed York and/or general manager Trent Baalke since this last result? If you had, what’s been the mood of those conversations?
“Yes, I had conversations with both of them immediately after the game. They’re always there to greet us when we come in the locker room. They were, I mean, obviously, nobody’s pleased. They were very much encouraging. Quite frankly, ‘Hey, here we go. Keep your head up, keep grinding, let’s go.’ I mean, that was the gist of both of those conversations. And, ‘Is there anything we can do to help you?’”
At what point do you start considering personnel changes? Some of the guys, maybe along the offensive line, some of the guys that haven’t had an opportunity yet or in the defensive backfield?
“Well again, as we go through this, when we talk about it all, everything’s an evaluation all the time. It is. So, the evaluations never stop. And they don’t stop for any of us. We’re all being evaluated. So, that’s just part of what we do. But, looking at it every week and we stay on top of it and we are, again, that 46 that are up for the game, that’s me. I’m the guy. There’s only one guy to point a finger at. So, that’s a constant, that’s normal day-to-day. But, before anything like that would ever happen, I don’t talk about personnel in the media.”