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Niners @ Saints: Who Dat Say!?

This is always much more fun to do and to read after a win. I hope you guys enjoy basking in the glow of this weeks victory. Make the jump for your quotage! 


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."

Eric Davis' Wrap Up: Don't Panic    

The 49ers didn't lose to the Saints because there is a lack of talent on this squad. They lost because talented players got their butts handed to them. The 49ers record is 2-2, and that's EXACTLY what they are - a .500 ball club. Until they figure out that being successful in the NFL is not about being "good" but about being "consistent," the players are going to come up short. I know that they are working hard, and of course it matters to them all. However, a standard of play has to be set by the PLAYERS and met by them each and every game day. The 49ers lost to the Saints because the players didn't play at their highest level.  

-Eric Davis 

X's and O's with Nolan: Post Saints

Q: Coach, can you tell me why Vernon Davis got only one pass thrown to him against the Saints? I've noticed that sometimes he runs wrong routes. Is that why he doesn't get more balls thrown his way? -Ed Garcia, Santa Clara.

A: First of all, Vernon is a complete tight end. His value to winning comes in three different ways. He adds value through receiving, but just as important is the value he adds to the pass blocking and run blocking.

Vernon has the work ethic and the desire to be the best. He stays after practice every day working to get better. We missed him on a couple of throws and those things are real close. We just need to keep hammering and we'll make them eventually.     

Q: Hey coach, what were your thoughts on the Saints kicking a field goal at the end of the game. It seemed like poor sportsmanship? Michael Villias

A: I had no problem with it. The Saints were playing to win. The field goal pretty much sealed the victory. After we scored to make it 28-17, there was still time on the clock. If we converted the on-side kick, we had a chance. They recovered the ball and were basically in field goal position from the start of the drive. 

Q: Hey Coach, I know that the tough questions usually get edited or don't get answered, but I am going to give it a try anyway: Coach we are only four games into the season and the season is still very young, but why is it that we struggle so much in the red zone with committing turnovers and being unable to score touchdowns? -Thanks for answering Coach.
SGT Bates United States Army/Noxapater/Tupelo, MS

A: We are tied for ninth in the NFL with 14 trips into the red zone. I wish we scored touchdowns every time we were in the red zone. But, entering the Saints game we were perfect in at least getting points on our 12 trips in the red zone. We had six field goals and six touchdowns. Obviously, in the Saints game we were hurt by the two interceptions. We don't dismiss any mistakes we make. We will study the play calls we had in those two situations and analysis what works and what does not work and make the corrections that are necessary.     

Lost in New Orleans

"We didn't play well in any of the three areas," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "I'm disappointed in how poorly we played."    

-Mike Nolan

"He didn't play well," Nolan said of O'Sullivan. "But he didn't stand alone."

-Mike Nolan   

"There was not a deep pass in which there shouldn't have been two guys on it,"

-Mike Nolan   

"They get the ball to Reggie Bush," Willis said. "That's the thing people talked about, and that's what we expected. But we also got to watch all 11 guys."

-Patrick Willis   

 "It wasn't so much him. We were going into the game focusing on what they were going to do. We just had a lot of breakdowns that bit us in the butt."

-Nate Clements   

"I felt like we were prepared for what they were going to do, but we didn't execute as well as we needed to,"

-J.T. O'Sullivan   

"I thought early on we had a good plan. We drove down, we didn't get seven, we got three instead. It was a good game for a quarter-and-a-half."

-Mike Nolan   

"He played a good game," Sims said. "Especially in the second half, he gave me some problems. We just didn't give him (O'Sullivan) enough time. We all had our breakdowns."

-Barry Sims, on Charles Grant   

Reality Check: Niners take a step back in New Orleans

"There's no excuses," linebacker Patrick Willis said. "We didn't play the way we're capable of. We have better football ahead of us, better football inside of us. We'll watch film tomorrow and put closure on it. We can't hang our heads over this because we know we're capable of better."

-Patrick Willis   

"I felt I threw it over the guy's head," O'Sullivan said. "Obviously, I didn't."

-J.T. O'Sullivan, on his first interception   

"It's tough to go all the way down the field and then have the drive stall," Battle said. "If we had scored some touchdowns in the red zone, we would have made it a game."

-Arnaz Battle   

"It was miscommunication," Clements said, a startling admission considering he and Harris have a combined 19 years' experience in the NFL. "I didn't play my leverage on the miscommunications, or technique. I guess it was surprising because normally we should have been able to shine the most. Today they pretty much outplayed us."

-Nate Clements   

"We didn't pay attention to details. They adjusted to what we were doing. That's a good job by them. They capitalized on it. It opens your eyes. We're not quite where we want to be yet."

-Dashon Goldson   

Saints Liked to Hug O'Sullivan

"We need to execute better," guard Tony Wragge said. "(With) the scheme that we had, we were very confident we'd get the job done. We felt that all the way through four quarters."    

-Tony Wragge

Emotions got the better of tight end Davis

"He's very emotional," Nolan said. "He was excited at the time. I don't know what transpired at the time. But he was right in front of me. ... I told him to go sit down and calm down."  

-Mike Nolan 

"The explosive plays that occurred are inexcusable," he said.

On all four plays, he said, there was supposed to be a safety as well as the cornerback covering the receiver. Whoever was to blame, the 49ers made former practice-squad player Lance Moore (seven catches, 101 yards, two touchdowns) look like Lance Alworth.

-Mike Nolan

O'Sullivan's inexperience shows    

"I think I did a good job of seeing where the pressure was coming from and getting the ball out fast," said O'Sullivan, who completed 18 of 36 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown. "A lot of those fast throws you see at the line of scrimmage are adjustments to pressure."    

-J.T. O'Sullivan

49ers Notes: Deuce too swift    

"We anticipated (McAllister) to play, yes," Nolan said. " … Yes, you don't want to have a guy get first downs, but that's going to happen time to time. But the big pass plays that went for first downs or got close for first downs – those things were the game-changing plays."

-Mike Nolan

"We just didn't play well as a unit," said Sims, who is filling in for an injured Jonas Jennings. "Up front, we all had our breakdowns. When your (quarterback) is taking hits constantly, it tends to get you out of rhythm."

-Barry Sims

"They kind of cheated a little bit. We started to make adjustments, but we were still behind the gun a little."

-Bryant Johnson

One quarter through the 2008 season, NFL continues to surprise   

Offensive Player of the Quarter: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans. You can't play quarterback better than Brees is. I don't know how a quarterback two inches taller than Doug Flutie is playing every week like Dan Fouts, but he is. Brees has put up 343, 216, 421 and 363 passing yards in New Orleans' four games, and he's completing 72 percent of his throws. You're mad I'm giving this to a pilot of a 2-2 team? Well, Brees wasn't on the field when Cutler and Jason Campbell shredded his D.    

-Peter King

Here is some audio. The first four is Sean Payton's press conference and the last one is Scott Fujita on WWL's Sports Talk with Bobby Hebert.