Desperate in the desert
Q: Coming off your bye week, how do you attempt to recover from your slow start? McGinnis: You're being kind by saying that we have had a slow start. We've lost three in a row. We are sitting here at 1-5 and basically we've murdered ourselves in the five losses by turning the football over. It's well documented. We are minus-14 in the turnover ratio and that is something that we have to get cleared up really quickly if we are going to have any chance in winning a football game. Of course, that is number one. We worked very hard in our open date because we've got a very young football team. We went back to the training camp mentality for a couple of practices to work on techniques. Plus, we have to quit turning the ball over. The thing that the bye did allow us to do is some guys that had been injured at the receiver position, offensive line and defensive line, we are getting some of those guys back. That helped a little bit. I'll tell you what, the only time a bye week is ever enjoyable is if you win the game preceding the bye week or you have got a great record going into the bye week. Going into a bye week off of a loss, especially the third loss in a row, it leaves a taste in your mouth and feeling in your stomach that doesn't go away until you get back out, go to work and do something good. Q: What went right for you in your victory over the Packers? McGinnis: We didn't turn the ball over. That is the only game that we have been plus in the turnover ratio in a game. It sounds pretty simple, but it also very true. I've been in this league for 18 years and I've never ever seen a football team in those 18 years that are -14 in turnover ratio through six games that are going to be on the plus side on the win column. We have not only turned the ball over, but we have turned the ball over for touchdowns. When you do that in this league, you are committing suicide. We have to quit doing that. Q: How has having a new quarterback, running back and No. 1 receiver affected the team? McGinnis: It affects you. It affects your continuity. If we could have kept the same group together that we came out of training camp with, that would have helped. But, our receiving situation has really been up in the air since the first game. I purposely kept six receivers because of what happened to us in the San Francisco game last year. We went there at 4-2 and we were playing pretty well, but we lost two receivers in that game and we proceeded to lose every receiver that we had on the team from that week to the end of the season. I kept six on the active roster this year just because of that. Then, we lost three in the first ball game. We have not started the same set of receivers two weeks in a row yet this season. The only one that has been there every game is Anquan Boldin, who is a rookie that is doing a great job for us, but he is a rookie and he is brand new. Plus, he is having to play different positions now because of those injuries. So, I would be less than honest if I said that it didn't effect us, but it is still no excuse for not being able to get it done with who we have. That is what we have to do. Q: How distressing is it to see less than 25,000 fans coming to your home games? McGinnis: You know what, that is really up to us. That is part of my responsibility as a head coach to win games to get people in the stands. That is something that will come. I've been here when the stands have been full of people all dressed in red when we played San Diego to get into the playoffs. So, the people will be there if we are winning football games. If we are winning football games and that is my primary function, the people will be there. The people that are there are great. They are behind us and they are as loyal as people as I have ever been around. I admire them and love them for being there. To get more there, we have to win games. Q: Why has it been so hard to build a winner there? McGinnis: I can just speak for the last three years. The first year, we cleaned the cap out. We've been the youngest team in the league for three years in a row here. We cleaned the cap situation out the first year that I took this over. We went into the last ball game of the season at 7-8 and a chance to play at 8-8. We started out the next year at 4-2 and then we lost more people than I have ever been around in my 18 years in this league. Injuries in that second year completely killed us. This year, we had a very productive offseason and we had a tremendous preseason, then we come out of the box and right now the only thing that we are leading the league in is turnovers. That is why we are losing right now. I can speak to the last three years and I know each one of them is a separate case. For this football team right now, I just want to see us play a football game and be on the plus side of the turnover margin and then see how we stack up week-to-week. Q: When will you get running back Emmitt Smith back? McGinnis: He'll be back. I can't give you a time frame on it. He has a fractured scapula and an AC joint that was damaged. He's been out since that hit Roy Williams put on him at Dallas. I can't put a time frame on it, but he is here. He is a huge part of this football team. He is a huge part of the psyche and motivation of this football team. He is very much into trying to help this young football team get through some very hard times. I can't give you a time frame of when Emmitt will be back. Q: What are your impressions of Niners linebacker Julian Peterson? McGinnis: I love Julian Peterson. Of course, being a linebacker coach by trade, I appreciate good linebackers. I really liked him when I saw him down at the senior bowl when he was playing down there. One thing you could tell immediately is that he has a lot of range, he was athletic and he could run. I think he has emerged into one of the better playmakers, as far as at the linebacker position in this league. He, along with the rest of those guys that Jim Mora has got playing defense, can all run and they have speed. I have coached some very good linebackers in my years in this league. When I watch Julian Peterson play, if I wasn't having to get ready to play him, I could really enjoy watching him because he does a lot of good things. The guy is fast, he has range and he is a playmaker. He plays his ass off every snap and I love that. Q: What about the progression of the 49ers' cornerbacks? McGinnis: Well, I don't study them every week to watch what their progression is. I do know this; what they have going on up front is giving them a great chance to make some plays because they are doing such a good job at bringing heat on people. That always benefits your corners. That always has and always will. A cornerback's best friend in this world is the pass-rush and the 49ers are doing a great job at putting pressure on passers. Q: Will you putting pressure on the Niners with your blitzing strategy? McGinnis: I know this, Garcia is a guy that gives me an upset stomach every time I play him because he is a guy that can avoid and move around. If you are asking if we are going to blitz to stop the run, the thing you got to be sure of is that when you do blitz on your run downs, they do a great job of finding it. They are doing a good job of coaching people of getting a hat on a hat. Whether that hat is coming from a second level on a standard defense or whether that hat is coming from a blitz or somebody filling the gap, they are doing a good job of putting a hat on a hat. Those backs are breaking a lot of tackles. If you ask me my philosophy, yeah, we are going to blitz them some because we are going to have to. But when you do with a team like that, you better be ready to be able to get your hands, arms and everything else around that ball carrier because both of those ball carriers can run through arm tackles. Q: Do you have to prepare for Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow any differently? McGinnis: Well, they have different styles and they have specific plays that they run for each back. But, we still have to be able to defeat their blocks and get off their blocks. When we are there, we are going to have to get shoulder pad to shoulder pad. As I said, last Sunday you can run this thing back and watch it, those backs were splitting people. A lot of times there was somebody standing there, but they were splitting them and running through them. Both of those backs are very productive players. They are productive players because their motors are going so hard all of the time. It is going to take a hell of an effort from us to get those guys slowed down.
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