Better with Bates?
Q: How is it for your team to be in San Francisco all week before Sunday's game? Bates: We just felt like before the season this was the thing to do and not make the cross-country trip back and forth, which is a long flight. Our guys had the day off yesterday. Some went to Alcatraz and some went to the wine country and some rode up and down the coast so it's been good for our guys to see a different part of the country. Q: Had you requested to the NFL that both trips were back-to-back? Bates: I was of course the defensive coordinator and I don't know how that all worked out that we played back to back. Q: What's your schedule tomorrow for Thanksgiving? Bates: We're going to go through a full Thursday routine and shorten the meeting times a little bit. But it will be a normal Thursday practice and then they will have a Thursday Thanksgiving meal together at the hotel. I think that there are a couple guys that have family members here and we will excuse them to go and enjoy their family. Q: What are you feelings about spending an entire week away from you own facility? Bates: For everybody in the different departments it is a big deal. It's like moving your whole facility across country. Everybody has done an excellent job. Everything was set up here and it's really been as clean an operation as you can expect. Q: Was it worth it? Bates: I think if this every came up again, the only hard thing is that everyone is away from their families. They were welcome to come out and stay with players and the coaches. I think we have a few of the wives out here. That's the biggest inconvenience. Looking at it and over the year's coming out to the West Coast, I think it's an excellent thing to do. It's like having camp and our players are allowed to be around each other all week and it's been well done and our players have enjoyed it so far. Q: How are your facilities in San Francisco? Bates: They are excellent. I mean, it's spacious and we can get everything done that we need to get done as far as the meetings. We have the whole floor so there is no disruption. Q: What's the biggest challenge of coming in as a head coach in mid-season? Bates: Well, the biggest is the routine change and the responsibility change. We had to delegate as far me being the defensive coordinator and we had to delegate. We have a very good defensive staff that has been together for years and years. I get involved in the game plan but it isn't like I'm hands-on every single meeting. The media responsibilities of being a head coach and getting familiar with the offense. That took me the open week to be able to watch the offensive tape and watch the special teams and get a feel for the team and then make a personal touch with the players who I know but don't have as much contact with as I did the defensive players. So the adjustment of the routine, and I'm a routine person, almost every coach in this league he knows what he's going to be doing every hour of the day, every minute of the day. And my routine has changed and I just have to adjust. Q: Do you still make the defensive calls? Bates: The game plan goes through me. I OK if there are any new tweaks. Because there were certain things that I did totally. But I do not call the game. I check with a couple coaches that I am real good friends with and they have been through it. I just felt like as a head coach not having all the defensive responsibility was the way to go. It worked well the first game. Q: What about calling the offensive plays? Bates: I go through the game plan. I've only coached offense once in my career. But I've made some suggestions. The offensive coaches have taken some of them. Mainly I just oversee and if there is any change needed we discuss the change that's needed. I was involved mainly this past Sunday if we needed to make any momentum changes. I did have some influence in a couple of different areas. Q: How has your defense been playing? Bates: We've played well. We've lost a lot of people. We've had guys step up and overall we've played well. We haven't been near as good as we've been in the past in the run game. That's a combination of everybody as far as stopping the run. We did a little bit of a better job against Seattle and played excellent against the run in the second half. Overall we've done a good job defensively. We've always been able to keep the point total down and this year, other than one game, we've kept it under 17 points for the most part every game. Q: How have you dealt with your team's losing this year? Bates: I've been with a few college teams that didn't have good records, but never in pro football have I ever experienced the season that we have. Q: How do you keep your guys motivated? Bates: We have excellent character on this team. When we meet with the people and get ready for a ball game there is no problem with team morale with this group. There has been no pointing of fingers. Our job is to improve this football team. There is a lot of pride and a lot of players used to winning. But we have tremendous character and tremendous leadership and I have no doubt that we will put it out there every Sunday. Q: What are your feelings about the Ricky Williams situation? How would he be accepted if he were to return to the team? Bates: We can't address Ricky Williams at all. It's totally a league matter and so we can't even get in to that at this time. Q: What will you be doing next season? Bates: I don't know. When I had the first press conference, I'm not a young man who is in their 40s or their early 50s, who have the responsibility, I'm sure that would be a concern. My main focus is to coach these six games as hard as I can coach. Our coaching staff will coach as hard as they can coach and the future will take care of itself. This isn't about me, it's about our football team and us improving and winning some games down the stretch. Q: Are your players improving? Bates: Yes, definitely. We've seen it on the special teams. We've seen guys have to jump in there on defense and haven't missed a beat. Offensively we are making strides. We are sort of having the problems that San Fran is. We have a lot of newness on this football team and we just have to stay focused. Q: How was A.J. Feeley at quarterback last week? Bates: He showed tremendous heart. Most people wouldn't have been able to finish the game. A.J. was a real battler and it's just a shame that the way we played in the second half and the way A.J. Feeley executed and made some excellent throws and then the way the game ended, when we had all the momentum in the world. That was the disappointing thing. Q: What are your concerns about playing the 49ers this week? Bates: They are getting good execution offensively. The coaches do a great job with game plan and, of course, Barlow is a good running back. We have all the respect in the world. And we've seen Tim Rattay do an excellent job in throwing and moving the club. He's a competitor sort of what we had with Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feeley last week. He stands in there tough like our quarterbacks have but he gets in rhythm and he can play this game. The receivers are all doing a good job. They are very talented and of course Eric Johnson is having a great year.
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