Josh Freeman had tons of praise for the 49ers defense this morning on a conference call with Bay Area reporters, but towards the end of the interview he may have dropped a little piece of bulletin-board material. You be the judge.
Here’s the transcript.
Q: What are your thoughts on the 49ers?
FREEMAN: They’re an all-around solid defense. Their front seven is the best we’re going to see all year. It starts in the middle with Patrick Willis. He’s a beast. Obviously, Justin Smith. Stud. He gave us issues last year. They’re a very physical defense. On the back end their defensive backs are extremely talented. All around they’re studs. We feel like we’re going to have to go out and execute to the best of our abilities if we want to hang on the field with those guys.
Q: What did the win on Monday night do for your guys’ psyche?
FREEMAN: I can’t say it did a whole lot. Obviously we want to win games. In the grand scheme of things at the time it was the most important game on our schedule. Moving on, it’s just a W on our standings. It’s just another win. I can’t really value some wins more than others because that will set you up for a letdown. Success breeds complacency. A lot of teams fall into that trap. They go out and play well one week and then they get too high on themselves and they go out and lay an egg the next week, so we’re trying to stay as even keel as possible. Continue to prepare and understand that it’s hard work and preparation that’s allowing us to compete and win these games.
Q: What did last year’s win in Candlestick do for you guys?
FREEMAN: It was a great win. We went on the road against a very good San Francisco team and our defense played lights out. Offensively we had a lot of things that we learned from that game. Defensively our defense came out and played a good game, and we were able to get some things done on offense.
Q: You said their front seven is the best you’re going to play all year. How are they different this year than last year? Are they doing things differently scheme wise?
FREEMAN: No, it’s pretty similar. Scheme wise it’s about the same. Talking about the game we played last year, how stout and physical they were up front. It was tough for us to get anything going early. And then you add the talent on the back end of things. Schematically they’re about the same. They don’t really pressure a whole lot, but they still have enough in there that keeps you on your toes. They have a bunch of good football players.
Q: Has Bowman jumped out to you at all?
FREEMAN: As a rookie we didn’t really see a whole lot of him – it was more Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes. From what I’ve seen this year on him, he’s playing good football. He’s big. He moves extremely well. He’s not afraid to go out there and hit somebody. Takeo Spikes is a damn good linebacker but I think Bowman is doing a great job of filling his shoes.
Q: Do you see it as a big challenge this week to establish the run against the Niners front seven?
FREEMAN: Every week we want to go out and have success in our running game, but you don’t really know what the game’s going to hold. We just know that it will be an uphill battle playing against a very talented 49ers defense.
Q: They’ve gone 26 straight games holding opposing rushers to under 100 yards. Has that stat come up in your locker room at all this week?
FREEMAN: Nope. Our coach I think says it the best: “Stats are for losers.” We’re about results. We’re about going out and finding ways to win games. 26 games holding running backs under 100 yards, that’s phenomenal. It really is. We know exactly how talented and how good this defense is. I’ve never heard that, but I think that’s tremendous. Shows a lot about who those guys are.
Q: So it’s not up on a blackboard anywhere in the locker room?
Q: All four games this year have been decided by seven points or less. Is that your comfort zone?
FREEMAN: We just do whatever we can to win. Obviously we’ve had some come from behind wins, but that’s the NFL. Look around the league. Most games are decided by seven points or less. San Francisco’s games have been pretty tight as well. That’s the league that we play in. Everybody’s talented. Everybody has good teams. It comes down to execution in the fourth quarter.
Q: Is QB Josh Johnson ready to be an NFL starter in your estimation?
FREEMAN: Yeah, in my eyes Josh Johnson’s great. I know he could go to a number of places and be a starter right now. He’s just such a great athlete and he has such a mind for the game. I really have to give a lot of the credit of my development early on my rookie year and into my second year, not only to Alex Van Pelt and Greg Olson, but also to Josh Johnson. He understands the game. He sees the field extremely well. Watching film, the different nuances, the ins and outs of the defenses. It’s really been a pleasure. It’s been great for my development and great for me having him on my team.