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Niners @ Saints: Scouting Report

As usual, here is a collection of quotes and links from behind enemy lines. Let's take a look and see what Niner Nation is saying and thinking about Who Dat Nation.

Transcript of Mike Nolan Press Conference

Q: Can you discuss the progress of J.T. O’Sullivan?

Mike Nolan: It started back when we signed him in the spring. We signed him to compete as the third quarterback, but it turned out we gave him a couple of days in minicamp and he did real well and we backed off of him again, because we felt that Alex (Smith) and Shaun (Hill) needed to take the majority of the reps. In the OTA’s we gave him a couple of days again and he figured well again. During training camp, we were going to give most of the reps to Alex and Shaun because they needed a lot of work to catch up to speed with the offense. The first five days, J.T. got zero reps. He didn’t do anything but the individual. I gave him some reps, he did well and we decided to change the rotation. After that, he continued to compete well and obviously he won the job, so since the season began, he’s done a good job obviously, we’ve won a couple games and it looks to be getting better each week.

Q: How do you explain him doing this after receiving such limited opportunity in his first several years in the league?

Mike Nolan: There are quarterbacks in this league who were late round draft picks or were not drafted at all. I think there are about 13 current NFL quarterbacks who were late picks or free agents. Tony Romo, obviously the guy in New England, there’s a lot of guys. I think it’s a case where a guy needs a little bit more maturing. He went to UC Davis. I’m sure they ran a good offense, but any offense in college won’t compare with what’s ahead and in store with a guy in professional ball. He’s been with six teams. I know that he was in New Orleans. I think the experience of being with different teams has helped him mature. He certainly didn’t get the job by default. He basically took it, earned it and did a good job since.

Q: With the Saints being so banged up, is it almost a no brainer that you need to key in on Reggie Bush?

Mike Nolan: I wouldn’t say that. We played Seattle when they were talking about how banged up they were too. They have an outstanding coaching staff down there. Sean Payton does a great job with the offense. He’s always been an exceptional coach, so we have our work cut out for us for this game. You have the two key elements, a hell of a quarterback and a hell of a running back. The wide receivers aren’t shabby either. It’s not as if, we’ll walk into a wounded deal. They have plenty of ammunition. The loss of (Jeremy) Shockey hurts, but in the NFL everybody gets banged up early in the season and hopefully you get your guys back. They beat us 34-10 and 31-10 the last two years. We don’t have any reason to think otherwise.

Q: Is Reggie someone you are going to have to look after?

Mike Nolan: No question. Like I said, everything starts with the guy behind center and I have a lot of respect for Drew Brees. Anyone in the league would like both of those players on their football team. They’re good players.

Q: It’s a different season for you guys; can you talk about the difference from last year to this year for your team?

Mike Nolan: The most noticeable difference is that a year ago from the preseason through the entire season we were trying to get the offense going. With the addition of guys like J.T. O’Sullivan, an Issac Bruce to name a couple, Bryant Johnson, those guys has helped. The difference with our football team right now seems to be that our offense has helped us, but we had a complete game against Detroit. Every phase contributed to the win. In order to be good in this league, all three phases have to get you wins. You can’t really on one phase. You might get to the end, but it’s tough to be in the playoffs being one dimensional. I believe that’s very far away. We just take it one at a time. This is a good team. It’s a different year though. They beat us the last two, not just last year.

Q: How does the Saints defense compare to a defense like the Lions defense in terms of how you can take advantage of them?

Mike Nolan: They run different fronts and different coverages than Detroit runs. They’re very well coached and they’re disciplined. They have some very good players. They’re banged up a little bit, but there are some guys in that front seven. Will Smith’s a hell of a player and there are some other guys out there that have given us fits in the past. We need to do a better job of than we did in past years. From a scheme standpoint they are different than the last team we played, very different from all three we have. It presents a challenge for a player, because he has to identify new fronts and new coverages as well as the players. That’s the same every week for most teams.

Q: What do you think of Drew Brees so far?

Mike Nolan: So far, I have a lot of respect for him. He’s had everything to do with their two victories against us the last two years. We have a lot of respect for him. I always respected him even when he was in San Diego. His first year, he struggled a little bit, as almost every young player does. He figured it out and he’s a very good player and a very good quarterback. He’s one of the top guys in the league. That’s not just the 49ers opinion. That’s the opinion of everyone in the National Football League.

Nolan's Notebook

RE: How did Allen Rossum do as Reggie Bush? What kind of look did he get?
"Well, he wasn't the only one. We had several guys do it, obviously, because we want to keep our guys’ legs fresh and all, but he did a good job."

RE: Any of those guys who are injured who you expect to be game-time decisions or are you confident that they will all be able to play?
"I’m hopeful they will all be able to play. Game-time decisions will be [Dashon] Goldson, [Michael] Lewis, [Donald] Strickland, Bryant Johnson and Keith Lewis. All five of those guys will be game-time decisions."

RE: Both Lewis’?
[Nolan nods]

RE: Bryant Johnson, is it the same hamstring that he was having trouble with in the preseason?
"I don’t know. I’ll find that out for them and let them know."

RE: As far as Josh Morgan, is he back up to weight after his staph infection?

RE: Josh Morgan:
"Is Josh Morgan? That was written and I don’t even know if it’s accurate to be honest with you. That’s all speculation with weight loss and this and that. That’s hearsay information. It didn’t come from [Jim Ferguson] did it?"

RE: It came from Josh Morgan:
"Did it?"

RE: I guess the questions is, is he back to:
"He’s doing a good job in practice."

RE: If Bryant Johnson couldn’t play, I’m saying would Josh Morgan be able to step in:
"I don’t want to divulge any game plan things. We do know this, we’ll more than likely have, hopefully we’ll have four wide receivers, unless Bryant Johnson’s not, then all those guys will share the duties. Allen [Rossum] plays in the picture sometimes as the fifth guy or the sixth guy if we have five up."

RE: When you were evaluating your kick return game in the offseason and you were trying to decide whether Mike Lewis was the guy or to go out and get somebody else, what was it about Allen Rossum that was:
"Mike Lewis, yeah we let him go right after the season. We just wanted to add…I can’t remember distinctly, the conversation I had with Scot [McCloughan], I know we just had to add a returner. I can’t remember what was talked about at the time. There were some comparisons made because there was a size and a speed factor that are similar. They are both a little bit undersized, but at the same time they both can really run. How much each of them have left in their tanks, so to speak, was a conversation we had. I can’t remember all the specifics. I think most importantly, I would say since Allen’s been here, I’ve been pleased and I’m glad he’s on the team."

 Mutual Respect Between 49ers, Saints

"They've lost two in a row but are very explosive," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "We're well aware that they beat us the last two years, so we've got our work cut out for us."

-Mike Nolan

Saints Thin at Receiver, S.F. In Secondary

The New Orleans Saints' dearth of pass receivers might be balanced Sunday by the 49ers' shortage of defensive backs.

Six members of the 49ers' secondary either were out or limited during practice Wednesday. The most serious injuries appear to be to strong safety Michael Lewis, who suffered an elbow injury Sunday, and his backup, Keith Lewis, who hyperextended his knee in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks and aggravated it against the Detroit Lions.

 The 49ers and team partners will donate $35,000 to Warren Easton High School in New Orleans and take part in a locker-painting ceremony at the school Saturday.

Be the Best, Beat the Best

"We know they are ranked number one so the secondary has our work cut out for us this week," said safety Dashon Goldson. "You have to beat the best to be the best and that’s our goal – to be the best secondary in the NFL. We come out here every day and work hard to get there so that no matter who we face, we can dominate." 

-Dashon Goldson 

 "I think at this point in Drew’s career, he’s studied the game, he’s been around a lot," said Harris. "He’s a very poised quarterback and definitely understands the system that Sean Payton has put him under."

-Walt Harris

 "He’s a very potent type of running back. He brings a lot to the table. He’s the kind of guy, who can run in the backfield, line up at the wide receiver spot and catch some balls," said Harris. "I think he’s a very elusive type of running back. He also has great hands and I think he really understands the position as far as running routes."

-Walt Harris, on Reggie Bush

 "The one thing about their head coach Sean Payton, he’s going to run his offense no matter who is in there," said Clements. "We have to still be prepared and be ready to play consistent defense because they still have Robert Meachem, David Patten, Lance Moore, and Devery Henderson. Henderson is probably their most serious deep threat, but Patten still has wheels and can get down the field. Those guys can definitely take us deep and stretch the defense."

-Nate Clements

 "We look at our first two games last year that we did win; we could have easily lost them," said Harris of the 49ers last second wins over Arizona and St. Louis. "I think this year we have some games under our belt that we feel like we deserved those wins more convincingly than last year. Like I said, we’re a lot more of a polished group, very confident and I think we’re a little better than last year at taking each game at a time."

-Walt Harris

 "Being around each other a lot and being in the game for awhile and practicing with each other for awhile, you kind of understand guys’ strengths and weaknesses," said Harris of the 49ers tight knit secondary. "And we kind of play off each other a lot. It’s kind of like a quarterback and a wide receiver being together for a long time, you kind of know what each other is going to do and where everyone is going to be at."

-Walt Harris

 Offense Helping Defense

"It's a beautiful thing. It's wonderful," free safety Mark Roman said. "We're getting fewer plays than last year. It means we're fresh. We're not having quick turnarounds, no three-and-outs. (The offense) is putting drives together. Even playing field position keeps us fresh and builds up our confidence."

-Mark Roman

"Everyone knows how important that is for a defense, having the confidence in your offense to score points and keep us off the field," cornerback Walt Harris said. "Keeping us fresh is important."

-Walt Harris

 Davis, O'Sullivan are Hoping to Connect

Davis clapped his hands in frustration. And as he turned to head back to the huddle, there was a smattering of boos from the home crowd.

He has yet to emerge into the kind of explosive playmaker the 49ers envisioned when they selected Davis with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 draft.

"We know it’s critical we get on the same page," Davis said. "He knows how I’m going to run. I’ve talked to him and told him, ‘J.T., this is how I’m going to run it in a game.’ I told him, ‘Just put it up there and let me do the rest.’"

-Vernon Davis

“I’ve got to throw an accurate ball (to him) just like everybody else,” O’Sullivan said. “He’s definitely a fast guy, I can’t deny that. But I don’t think of it any differently whether he’s running a route of anybody else. Anybody we’re going to throw the ball down the field to is going to be a fast guy. I just got to put a perfect ball on him.”

-J.T. O'Sullivan

 Points of the Game: Saints

Clements Coverage: Saints - 49er Nate Clements gives his own personal scouting report.

Scouting the Saints

Shoulders and Knees - Notes from 49ers Wednesday practice.