SANTA CLARA — Here’s the transcript of Joe Staley’s locker room Q&A from this morning.
Q: What did you make of the handshake incident?
STALEY: I think it’s just two competitive guys. Obviously emotions were running high at the end of the game, the way we finished the game and the way it came down to the final drive. High emotions and two really competitive guys. Things kind of carried away a little bit, but it was fun.
Q: Did the skirmish overshadow the win?
STALEY: It’s something you don’t see every game. As a player, I was kind of pumped up about it.
Q: Were you anywhere near the bout?
STALEY: I was talking to Shaun Hill with Alex. We were talking to him for a long time. No, no chest bumps or anything like that.
Q: Does the team feed off Harbaugh’s energy?
STALEY: His whole demeanor just kind of rubs off on the players. You can see first-hand how competitive he is, how much emotion he shows. I think that’s really something positive for this team.
Q: How important is this Bye week?
STALEY: This week is huge, it’s a great opportunity to self-scout and find out individually as players what we did well the first six games and what we need to improve on going forward — what’s working, what’s not. This will be a big week for us to really improve. If you watch the film, there’s a lot we can improve on offensively. As linemen, we can work on our technique … this is a great opportunity, positive things can come from this week.
Q: When did you notice the coaches clash?
STALEY: I didn’t even realize what happened until we got in the locker room. I was on the other side of the field, and I just kind of noticed a buzz going on over there. I didn’t really know what was happening. And then I walked up the tunnel and everyone was like, “Dude, there was a fight!”
LC: You’re smiling. Do you find this amusing?
STALEY: Kinda, yeah … they weren’t fighting, they were just getting after it. It’s an intense game and football is an intense sport with high emotions. It’s just something that happened at the end of the game. Obviously you don’t want to see a fight happen, but there was some yelling and stuff. I wasn’t part of it, so I can’t really speak firsthand about the atmosphere.
Q: Did you guys talk about it on the plane?
STALEY: Yeah. We talked about it — it was something that happened.
LC: What are the odds your coach could have won that fight?
STALEY: I never bet against Harbaugh.
Q: Could last year’s team have come from behind like this year’s team?
STALEY: It’s a really different team. I don’t know what we would have done last year, but the demeanor and attitude we have in this locker room is something I’ve never experienced in the NFL. I feel very, very confident, and everyone feels that way. We never feel like we’re out of a game, no matter the deficit. We kind of proved that against Philly, being down 20 points. I just think everybody has that confidence in each other — the defense has the confidence in the offense, maybe things aren’t going right at the beginning but we’re going to get it done. And we have so much confidence in our defense, to really keep us in those games. I can’t talk enough about how great our defense did yesterday to keep us in that game. The red zone defense, keeping them to 3 points, it was just awesome.
Q: How much did yesterday solidify your faith in the defense?
STALEY: We’ve known for a long time that our defense is one of the best in the whole NFL. It was just a complete team win. Our defense kept us in the game, and then we were able to come away with that nice drive, our special teams gave us great field position. Our special teams have been great this whole season.
Q: Is there a link between the new confidence and the over-the-top Harbaugh enthusiasm?
STALEY: I think it’s the whole entire coaching staff. It’s not just about the enthusiasm he shows, it’s about the details, the way we practice, the way the meetings are run. Everyone knows exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. It’s the confidence in going out there and performing every single day, just having that mindset and having faith in the coaches and the coaches having faith in the players. We have a great buzz going on right now.
Q: Did you imagine this team would be this good this soon?
STALEY: I always envision us having success. At the time when I went to the press conference, I didn’t know him as a coach — I’d just seen him as an outsider, what he was able to do with Stanford and San Diego. He’s been everything as advertised, he’s been a great head coach for us and we have to continue with this momentum and keep playing good football.
Q: What does the offense need to do to get better?
STALEY: We need to execute better, be more consistent, not have stretches where we go 3-and-out for two or three drives in a row. We need to have more consistency in our performance. That’s the main thing.