Gary Kubiak spoke on a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday morning. Here is a transcript.
Q: Can you talk about the challenge that faces your staff and your team after such a disappointing loss on Sunday?
KUBIAK: Yeah, that makes it tough. When you go out and play pretty darn well and you don’t finish the product at the end of the day, that’s pretty hard to swallow. But that is part of this league. There are a lot of good teams in this league and a lot of close football games. But you’ve got to be able to get over the ones that you win and move on to the next week, and when things don’t go well you’ve got to be tough enough to move on and be ready to play the next week. Facing you guys, obviously a great football team. Better re-focus real fast to get ready to play.
Q: How has Matt Schaub been in the aftermath of that game?
KUBIAK: It’s tough. That’s part of what we do for a living. If you play the position it comes with the highs and lows of what you do during your career. He’s OK. We’re back at it here today. We spent a lot of time with him Monday and Tuesday. We’re focusing on the next game and trying to eliminate some mistakes and keep our chin up and keep battling. It’s part of this league.
Q: From the reports you would think you guys are worse than 2-2. Is it just high expectations?
KUBIAK: That goes with success. That goes with the territory. Every year people have opinions about teams and what to expect, but one thing you find out each and every year in the NFL, it gets down to how you play. We’ve found a way to win two miracle-type football games with great character. We gave one up the other day. That just reminds you just how difficult this league is. Regardless of how you ended last year, that doesn’t do anything for you. It’s all going to be about how you play this year, how you handle situations, how you handle injuries. We’re going through a tough stretch right now. We’ve got to regroup and keep battling. There is a long, long way to go.
Q: What strikes you about the 49ers’ defense and how them compensated without Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith last week?
KUBIAK: They’re very physical. I think their scheme is tremendous. I think Vic does a wonderful job and always has just scheme-wise and protecting the edges, keeping everything inside, keeping everything in front of them. I think they play extremely hard. Just very impressed with their physical nature of play. The whole team is built that way. When you line up against them, you’re in for a very physical contest. We understand that. We know how gifted and talented they are and how well they’re coached.
Q: How did you prepare your defense this offseason for the read-option offenses?
KUBIAK: We tried to install things for training camp. Obviously we’re not a read-option football team, but it was part of our installation offensively so we could help our defense prepare for the season and work on it throughout the course of camp. You can study it all you want, but I think you’ve got to go on the field and really work on it. That’s what we tried to do as a football team. It is a little bit different, we are catching two of those schemes back-to-back, quarterbacks that run a lot and do those types of things. It’s a big, big challenge. Colin is a hell of a player, got a big, big arm, capable of making plays down the field.
Q: Do you think facing the Seahawks last Sunday helped you prepare for the 49ers this Sunday?
KUBIAK: Yeah, I think there are some differences though in how they go about doing it. Obviously there is some scheme, some zone-read scheme that is similar that you’re trying to prepare for, but you’ve got to do with a lot of interesting personnel – two tights, three tights. I think it’s a totally new challenge.
Q: Kaepernick hasn’t had many designed runs but do you just have to prepare that that could be an element they bring out this week?
KUBIAK: Yeah, well, it’s always got to be part of your preparation because obviously there were a bunch of them last year. But he’s throwing the ball well. Opening day, what did he throw for? 400 yards or something like that? And we faced it last week – drop back, guys are doing a good job of covering and then he runs all over the place and makes plays on you. We saw firsthand what that can do to you last week, especially in the second half. It will be much the same challenge this week.
Q: What is the key defensively when quarterbacks start to scramble? Is there anything you can tell your players to do?
KUBIAK: You have to stay disciplined in coverage. As long as the guy is behind the line of scrimmage, you’ve got to be careful breaking the discipline of your coverage. You’ve got to have rules that you follow when a guy starts to move. It’s things you work on all the time, not just this week. But the best thing that can happen is our guys up front stay disciplined in their pass rush lanes, not losing them in your lanes and keeping them somewhat tied up in the pocket the best you can.
Q: How are offenses playing J.J. Watt? Is there anything they can do besides double and triple-team the guy?
KUBIAK: I think we saw some different stuff Week 1 when Antonio was out. We lost him to a suspension. But since Antonio has come back, we’re pretty balanced in what we’re doing. We do play J.J. a little bit everywhere. He’s very smart in our scheme. We’ve started bounce him around in a lot of places whether it’s base, nickel, those types of things. The longer those two work together I think you’ll see them in more spots, but he’s played extremely well for us. He’s an effort-player and he’s playing extremely well.
Q: Are there any similarities between him and Justin Smith?
KUBIAK: Yeah, I think effort. I’ve watched Justin. I’ve always admired his effort, how hard he plays the game and how physical he plays the game. There are some of those guys where everything looks the same every play and Justin is one of those guys. I think J.J. has been one of those guys his short time in this league. They’re both talented but there is no substitute for your fire to play the game, your effort each and every down.
Q: Did you anticipate Watt performing at this level?
KUBIAK: I don’t know if right coming out we thought it would happen that fast, that quick. But what we did believe is we thought we were getting a play maker from the get-go. When you go back and study him from college, it seemed like every time there was a big play needed, this guy was making it – blocking kicks, knocking down balls, he just has a knack for always making big plays. And I think he’s only getting better athletically. He was a tight end and he moved to defense. The uphill climb is just amazing. And then you add his passion to play football and his drive to be successful. That’s the one thing you always try to measure when players come out. One thing about this kid, he’s as driven as anyone I’ve ever been around.
Q: Having a veteran like Andre Johnson, how his game evolved?
KUBIAK: He’s amazing. I’ve been fortunate to have been around some good ones – I was with Jerry for a short period of time, had Rod Smith in Denver who I thought was a great player. Andre is in Year 11 and he just continues to improve. I think he really takes care of himself. He’s a two-day-a-week practice guy. We’ve got a regimen to keep him fresh. And getting our young guy in the draft (DeAndre Hopkins) has helped us balance the field a little bit. Andre isn’t getting the double attention on a consistent basis, he’s obviously still getting is quite a bit. Andre is very smart. We’re able to play him a lot of places. He doesn’t panic. He can handle a lot of football.
Q: You brought up your time in San Francisco. This is the last year in Candlestick. Can you go back to that 1994 season or any other special memories of Candlestick that you have?
KUBIAK: I’ve been coaching a long time and the bulk of my career has been in Denver and Houston. I had one stop in San Francisco and we won a championship. That was a lot of fun. The thing I do remember was it wasn’t easy. I remember how difficult it was and how we got rolling and overcame it and just played extremely well. A lot of great players. A lot of great people. George was a wonderful person to work for. Mr. DeBartolo was a wonderful, wonderful man to get to know and great to my family. That crowd in San Francisco is just tremendous. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was a one-year stop but it was an enjoyable one. I can tell you that.