Nolan’s talks about loss to Saints

I was on a 7:45 a.m. flight out of New Orleans this morning, so I was unable to get back in time for coach Mike Nolan’s press conference.

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Here are my articles for today’s Press Democrat: “Lost in New Orleans” and “Deuce gets loose.”

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I was on a 7:45 a.m. flight out of New Orleans this morning, so I was unable to get back in time for coach Mike Nolan’s press conference.

* * *

Here are my articles for today’s Press Democrat: “Lost in New Orleans” and “Deuce gets loose.”

* * *

Here is a transcript of what I missed at Nolan’s press conference (supplied by the 49ers’ PR department):

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Q: When you look back at some of the big plays that you seemed unable to unleash, was there a consistent theme to them?

Nolan: “The passes you’re speaking of. Yeah, I think it was just mental errors, whether it be technique or obviously every defense has weaknesses, but they’re always underneath. They’re never vertical and so basically that’s it – mental errors. Keeping the receivers in front of you.”

Q: Is this offense too much of a high-risk offense, puts too many people out in pass patterns? Or were you confident that your offensive schemes were good enough to make sure to hold off that pass rush?

Nolan: “The offense is designed to use several different protections. I will say this: Sean Payton, one of the things he’s done with his offense is try to make it very much like Mike Martz’s in that he uses a lot of protections as well. I know Sean personally and he, in the past, has even said that’s something that he tries to picture his offense about – the change of protections where you get players out. It’s evident that New Orleans does the same thing. And at that point, obviously what it gets down to is doing your job. Protecting, and doing the right techniques and everybody being on the same page as far as the responsibilities go. Because everybody’s got to be accounted for. Obviously, the running backs, as well as the offensive line, wide receivers, everybody has something to do with it. The quarterback has something to do with it. So it’s not always on one position. I do believe that our offensive line can play better. But I also believe that as a total offense, more importantly, can do a better job as far as that goes. We turned the ball over a couple of times, which in our two losses has been a little bit of our m.o. But the beauty of the offense is it does put a lot of stress on a defense. As is evident, again, of the New Orleans Saints’ offense. Our offense is very similar. Now they’ve been doing theirs longer than our guys have been doing ours, but at the same time you can see very often, as we’ve seen in the first month of football, that our offense has the ability to be pretty explosive. So in some cases you do take the good with the bad, but it’s all philosophical as far as what you want to do. Do you want to just protect and stand in there a long time or do you want to get the ball out of there? As you noticed J.T. [O’Sullivan] throws a lot of balls very quickly as well to those slant routes and things like that that we get a lot of yardage out of. He could change the protection and sit in there for a very long time if he’d like and try to get one of the other routes. Or he could take advantage of what the defense is doing. Me being a defensive coach – they both create different problems. So it’s just a matter of philosophical…what you want.”

Q: When you had that confrontation with Vernon Davis, can you talk a little bit about what that was?

Nolan: “I have not spoken with Vernon since yesterday and I’d look for him to…”

Q: Did you talk to him on the sideline?

Nolan: “I did not talk to him on the sideline with the game going on. He’s very emotional. He was excited at the time. I really don’t know what transpired at the time, but he was right there in front of me and was really excited about whatever was going on so I pulled him aside. Because any player that’s in that kind of mode, I don’t think is best to stay on the field. At that time, I just called him off. Obviously I grabbed him. I said, ‘Look, sit down. Sit down and calm down.’ I turned my attention back to the game because we were on the field. But I have not had words with him since. But I will.”

Q: Do you plan to?

Nolan: “Oh yeah. But I haven’t gotten…I just want to see what…To be honest with you, I don’t understand why he was so excited at the time. He just caught the ball. He had gotten up. I don’t know if it was a play prior to that one, but I just know that he had a lot of emotion going on. He is an emotional player. I know that Pete Hoener has always spoken with him. Mike Martz spoke with him on the sideline. Like I said, it was more emotion than anything else.”

Q: Did he get back in the game?

Nolan: “Yeah, he got back in the game. He did, but he didn’t do anything. At the time I pulled him, it was about emotion, it wasn’t about, he had said something or done something. Why I grabbed him, he was emotional.”

Q: Do you sense a growing level of frustration with him?

Nolan: “I don’t know if I’d call it frustration. He’s a very emotional player. When he gets the ball, obviously every time he gets up, whether it’s the first quarter or the fourth quarter, he’s very excited and shows himself, but when you are losing I think anybody gets frustrated. When the game is like it was, I don’t care what position you play. It was a little bit of frustration because you want to have leverage in a game. We didn’t have leverage.”

Q: How was his blocking, Vernon’s blocking?

Nolan: “His pass protection was good. His run blocking a couple times, they slipped him. So is the case.”

Q: Did you have to keep him in at some point because of the protection problems

Nolan: “Like I said, we mix up our protections quite a bit. So whether it’s a six man protection or seven man protection without getting real technical with that, he’s stays in on some of those and some of those he’s out. It’s just a matter of mixing up protections for the play. If you have a play-action pass, a lot of times you don’t have a lot of receivers out on a play-action pass. Again, it’s just a matter of mixing.”

Q: So you’re not contemplating any changes?

Nolan: “We’ve talked about some different things, but kind of what you said, we’re kind of limited in what you can.”

Q: Is Chilo [Rachal], for instance ready to step in?

Nolan: “Not today, but he’s getting better and these last couple of games where he’s been active for the game. He’s gotten additional work in practice because of that, but at this point to put him in there because he’s been a guard more for us than he is a tackle, so we’re not in a spot to make any moves inside or outside because right now we’ve been pretty solid inside. Again there aren’t a lot of options.”

Q: How much did [Kentwan] Balmer play?

Nolan: “I didn’t bring the numbers down here with me, but Kentwan is getting better, he’s doing a good job. When we talk about him, it’s been positive. He also does a nice job in the special teams area. He does a couple things for us there in field goal protection as well as kickoff return he does well, but on defense he’s doing a good job. We do not hesitate to put him in the game.”

Q: Do you think he is going to get more action?

Nolan: “I think as he goes along, sure. I’m going to guess he had a dozen, 16, maybe 20, maybe.”

Q: The secondary had a tough time and I guess certainly that is related to the amount of time that Drew Brees had to throw. It just seemed like there were some plays, their receivers were a little bit more aggressive in getting to the ball. Do you see it that way? How did you assess your secondary’s performance?

Nolan: “Well, you can call it what you want when you lose.”

Q: Well, we are trying to kind of…

Nolan: “I know. The vertical passes are the ones that got us in trouble. They were, but if you don’t see the big plays, then obviously you keep the ball in front of you and we played a pretty solid game in the secondary. But, the explosive plays that occurred, they did occur and they are inexcusable. You want to find out why they happened and like I told you, there are some mental lapses, mental errors. It wasn’t like somebody got whipped on an all out blitz. Two weeks ago against Denver, Denver all out blitzed and [Robert] Meachem had a 70-yard gain down to the 5-yard line I think, but they have an all-out, zero, everybody’s got their own guy, no matter what, no help at all. For ours, we didn’t have that much time on those deep balls so there was a guy deep as well as the player itself should have stayed on top of the receiver. That’s not just physical, as much as it is mental, keeping yourself out of harm’s way so to speak. That’s where those big ones get attention. Anything underneath, they are going to complete some balls underneath, obviously they are a good team. I thought we did some outstanding things defensively in the game as far as [Reggie] Bush goes, all those things. I’m even embarrassed to go to the positives. But, again it’s about winning and losing so again, you ignore the positives sometimes when you lose the game. We need to address the things we did poorly, get them corrected and make sure we change the problem and still do the things we did well, well.”

Q: In the third quarter, you challenged a reception by the Saints. Why did you challenge it?

Nolan: “You know what, I took my time on that too, that challenge, because I wanted to slow the game down. Obviously, it was a challenge that was, the significance of it wasn’t a great deal. But, at the time I was thinking about burning a time out just to slow things down. So I just used a challenge instead. At the same time I looked, I thought he bobbled it, and when I looked up at the screen I saw that he didn’t have complete control when he went to the ground, so I thought I might get it back. But to me, more than anything, I just wanted to slow things down. If you have the opportunity, because I’ve frequently have seen in the first few weeks, even on third down, I’ve called a timeout maybe once a game, and it’s played to our advantage thus far this season. Where I think, ‘Look it, I just want to get this situation just right so we can get off the field.’ If there’s a preceding play that gives me an opportunity just to challenge, because I don’t lose anything, I’m going to lose a timeout either way. Something like that did it. But, otherwise, like I said, it was to gain time as much as anything. Just maybe I could win it and keep another challenge.”

Q: Do you know how many times you’ve done that? Thrown a flag partly to slow the game down?

Nolan: “I think I did it against the Denver Broncos when we won two years ago – three years ago? Two years ago. It was the one where Walt Harris picked the ball up, and it wasn’t on any of the film, and there was a fumble. They didn’t rule a fumble. They kept looking at the film longer, and longer, and longer and next thing you know there was an angle that showed Walt picked the ball up, so they gave us the ball. It wasn’t even a turnover. I mean, nobody had even thought the ball had been fumbled. As a matter of fact, they made a rule because of that, that if everyone stops playing, and they used that play as an example. If everyone stops playing, then they won’t call it a fumble either. They’ll just call it dead play. So that, that kind of caused them.”

Q: If Manny Lawson can’t play, who would play in his spot?

Nolan: “Parys Haralson is who backs him up. So, more than likely, it will be Parys. With the ability, possibly, to pull Tully [Banta-Cain] up. We’ll see how it goes. It will not only affect the defense, but it will affect the special teams. So, right now that would be the likely move.”

Q: There were times where J.T. O’Sullivan held on to the ball too long and he didn’t sense the blind-side rush. What are the things he needs to do, specifically, at this point to overcome those things?

Nolan: “Well, I think it’s clear to see when he plays, he moves the ball. You can see he’s in command of what he’s doing. He’s very coachable. He takes what Mike [Martz], Ted [Tollner] and even myself, which I don’t say that much about what he should do [on] certain things, to heart, and he listens very clearly. He tries to do it exactly like it’s supposed to be done. I think he just needs to continue experience each game as it comes. As a football team, we have to secure the ball. He had a few turnovers in the game with the fumble that he got on the sack and then the other two [interceptions]. But, he does a lot of real good things. For us to be in that game and not be playing all that well like we were at the end there, right before we threw that interception at the goal line on the 10-yard-line, which would have made it 17-21. You know, we’re right there knocking at the door. He just needs to continue playing. I’ve been encouraged by what he does. He encourages – when he’s on the field, he does some things that give, I think, give everyone from the players to the fans and the coaches alike, gives us that feeling that we have a chance to score.”

Q: Any line-up changes coming this week?

Nolan: “No, because we continue to mix everyone in. Now, somebody may appear like they’re playing more because of the personnel usage and maybe we have more snaps, but every game goes that way. Like I said, Isaac Bruce catches no balls in the first one, catches them in the second game. Game plans have things that do that and who the defense takes away.”

Q: I’m thinking more in the secondary. Will Dashon Goldson play more this week?

Nolan: “We’ll have the same thing there. That’s an experienced group. It was not – you know, what occurred at the beginning with the big plays was not a good thing. That has not been a recurring theme in the secondary, what happened.”