SANTA CLARA – Patrick Willis was interviewed next to his locker Thursday afternoon. Here’s a transcript
Q: Vic Fangio said the pass rush and run defense was not good against the Cowboys. What was your take?
WILLIS: I totally agree with him. Even after the game, any time you get a W that’s the most important thing and W’s are hard to get in the NFL so we’ll take that. But at the same time too, it was nowhere near satisfying, nowhere near where we’re capable of being and the type of complete defense we want to play.
Q: What was the reason for the poor run defense besides Murray running well?
WILLIS: We take nothing away from Murray. He ran the ball hard. We knew that he was going to. For us, it was more just us playing better together. No excuses, but that was the first time all of us have been out there live playing an all-out game. In the preseason we played a little bit, but give or take you had some injuries there and then you don’t play as much. That was kind of like a warm-up game for us in the sense of it being our first real live action.
Q: Is Matt Forte a different challenge that Murray?
WILLIS: Forte is one of the best all-purpose backs there is in the NFL. We most definitely will have to make sure that we know where he is at all times, whether it’s him coming out of the backfield on checkdowns or them making routes for him or whatever it may be. As always, we just have to make sure that we get the call and we execute.
Q: Are you surprised at how much the Bears use Forte as a receiver?
WILLIS: No. That’s the way of the NFL these days. It’s not what it used to be where you had a running back that’s 240 pounds, 230 pounds. Now they’re more elusive, they’re more part of the offense and the passing game. That’s the NFL now. You’ve got to adapt to it.
Q: How is the transition to Mike linebacker going for you?
WILLIS: It’s one of those things Coach Levitt talked to us about, whether it was me coming over and playing the Mike position or whether it was someone else playing it, he was saying we have to play it an All Pro level. To have NaVorro on the sideline, there are some things I’m not used to seeing as much and playing as much, but having him on the sideline, there wasn’t a series that I didn’t come off the sideline where he was there to help me on a play or critique me or get me better. And I’m all about positive help. And if I’m doing wrong then help me too. Just good to have him on the sideline being those eyes for me.
Q: Jason Witten didn’t do much against you guys. How do you feel about how you covered him and going into this game against Bennett?
WILLIS: I feel like we did a decent job. As I always say, I always feel like we can better, I always feel like I can be better. I feel like there were some times I could have played a little bit tighter or just whatever it may be when you go back and watch the film.
Q: Did you have any wise words for Dontae Johnson when he went into the game at cornerback?
WILLIS: No, I didn’t. It kind of caught me off guard, too. I wasn’t sure because we have different packages. When I saw P. Cox come in at certain times I was kind of confused for a second. And then I saw the youngster out there and I was like, “What’s going on?” And then I realized both of our starting corners were down. Those guys stepped up and did a great job. We’re going to have to count on them again this week just to do just as good. But we have confidence in them in whoever comes in, whoever’s out there. We just have to play team defense.