Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt spoke to Bay Area reporters Wednesday morning. Here is a transcript of the conference call.
Q: How difficult has this second half of the season been for you guys?
WHISENHUNT: It’s been tough. This business is about winning games. When you don’t do that, it makes everything more difficult.
Q: Is there anything you can point to – the hot start, and then going downhill from there?
WHISENHUNT: There are probably a lot of things. We’ve been banged up, a lot of different injuries to a lot of different players. We haven’t had consistency from our quarterback position. A number of areas that we’ve struggled in, so it’s been unfortunate. It’s been close in a couple of games and we haven’t been able to win them like we did the first four. There are a lot of things when you go through a season that you have to experience and you have to overcome them, and we haven’t been able to overcome them.
Q: How does the 49ers defense look different without Justin Smith on the field? How did the Patriots and the Seahawks attack the 49ers differently without him?
WHISENHUNT: I haven’t noticed anything different from the attack. I think the 49ers still look good defensively. When you’re a good football team like they are, the next guy steps up and plays well. I think that we’re certainly very aware of what Justin Smith is, but they still play very well even without him.
Q: What were your thoughts on the 49ers quarterback switch?
WHISENHUNT: I certainly can’t comment much, because we’ve had our share of making moves at quarterback during the year. Smith played well against us and he’s played well for them – I have a lot of respect for that, but they’ve done a good job all year. Kaepernick’s gone in and played well also. There is not a lot to complain about when they have the record that they have. They have a chance to win the division.
Q: Were you surprised by the score of the Seahawks-49ers game Sunday night?
WHISENHUNT: Seattle’s a tough place to play. They had some stuff go their way early. We certainly didn’t fair very well in there a couple of weeks before. That can happen. That’s the reason that you get to play at home and you get to play on the road. You’d like for it to be more difficult when you play at home. Sometimes games go that way. Turnovers can make a difference. I’m certain the blocked field goal made a huge impact in that game. That’s the way it goes. You can see both teams played hard. They’re very good football teams.
Q: Who’s your quarterback going to be on Sunday?
WHISENHUNT: We haven’t even practiced yet today, so we’ll settle on it and I’m sure we’ll have an announcement later today.
Q: You’re not going to spill the beans to us?
Q: The 49ers need this win to win the division at the least, and at the most get a Bye in the playoffs. What do you guys have to play for on Sunday?
WHISENHUNT: It’s a division game. It’s the 49ers. I think that’s an opportunity for us to finish well against a good football team.
Q: Does it make it easier to get up for it because it is the 49ers?
WHISENHUNT: I’m sure that doesn’t hurt. I know that we have a lot of respect for that football team. They’ve been very good the last two seasons. But you also want to win. It’s important for us to play well, and I think our team will be motivated to come in there and give it its best shot.
Q: How much has your offensive line’s play contributed to the way your season has unfolded?
WHISENHUNT: Whenever you have the number of injuries we’ve had to the offensive line – we started three or four centers, we’ve got two rookie tackles, we’ve had different guys playing different positions all year – it’s not easy, but that’s the NFL. You have to try to adjust. Adam Snyder has started at guard for us. Now he’s playing center for us, so he’s had to bounce to different positions. Whenever that happens, you lose one of the most important things you have with an offensive line, and that’s continuity. The communication between those five guys, how they work together, that’s important. It’s hurt us a few times in both the run and pass games when you talk about pass protection and run block schemes. They’re working hard to try to get better, and that’s all you can do.
Q: How much of your offseason is going to be devoted to making sure the quarterback position is shored up?
WHISENHUNT: That’s something that we’ll have to determine in the offseason. If you look at teams in the NFL, the ones that have stability at that position and consistency of play, it’s an important component. Like I said before, we haven’t gotten the consistency out of that position that we’ve needed. That’s something that you always look to try to attain.
Q: Do you anticipate Beanie Wells playing?
WHISENHUNT: Yeah. That’s a position that we’ve also had our share of turnover and injuries, so Beanie will have to be ready to play as he does every week.