Better Bulger becoming one of the best

St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger, the NFL leader in passing yards, talks Rams and 49ers:

Q: What kind of progress do you feel you've made this season?

Bulger: I definitely feel more comfortable than last year at this point just from a protection standpoint and understanding our protections and what he wants on each play call. I've gotten a lot better this year than last year.

Q: How does that show up on game day?

Bulger: It is just knowing the difference between being real aggressive and being stupid. I mean last year, I would take everything he said so literal with play calls and try to hit the home runs. This year, it's more of a game management style. If it is not going to be there, I'm willing to take a three-yard check down rather than going for the home run every time.

Q: What does understanding protection particularly mean?

Bulger: We have 30 or 40 protections in a given week. Just knowing where my hot routes are and knowing why the safeties are rolling a certain way and where they are going to blitz. What d-lineman are going to pop out. I just have a better grasp of everything, whether it is throwing a hot route or a sight adjustment or just why the guy is going to be open and when he is going to be open.

Q: What kind of security does it give you to have a left tackle like Orlando Pace?

Bulger: It's great. You go into a game every week and sometimes defenses change their schemes and move their left end over to the right end just to get away from him. So, it disturbs them a little bit and whoever is on him is usually is just and X. So, it's nice. Obviously, your backside is protected and obviously we can run the ball a little bit better on that side.

Q: What have young receivers Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis brought to your attack this season?

Bulger: They have gotten better throughout the whole year. It's just a matter of them going out and playing. They both had injuries last year and didn't get much playing time. When you have a four-receiver set a lot of teams like to play a Cover 2 and double Isaac (Bruce) and Tory (Holt) and that singles up the guys on the inside and we like those match-ups now. It's nice to get them going.

Q: Have you noticed the 49ers have been doing some different things with their defensive backs?

Bulger: They do (change) a lot. I know against Miami they pressured a lot more than usual which is kind of odd because it singles out the outside but it was effective. When they played us they played a mixture of everything. We're going to be ready for anything but we don't base our game plans on personnel. We just put in what we have and coach does a good job of figuring out what they are in throughout the game and that's how he calls his plays.

Q: The 49ers blitzed 31 times last week. Are you expecting 30 blitzes this week?

Bulger: You never know. Sometimes teams figure if they blitz you they can get pressure on you and therefore their corners don't have to cover as long but if we do protect then it leaves our guys one-on-one which we like.

Q: How has your coach, Mike Martz, been dealing with a rocky season?

Bulger: He has to do different things to motivate different guys. I think in the past we have had the same guys around here and the guys motivated themselves. This year it has been a little different. He has had to use some different strategies that he hasn't used before.

Q: Have you noticed whether or not Martz has been influenced much by outside media?

Bulger: What he did when we went to the Super Bowl is the same thing that he is doing now. He's not a guy that's going to change. He gives his players a lot of leeway and he treats us like adults and it's a shame when a couple guys take advantage of it but he's not going to change what he does.

Q: How does he give you more leeway?

Bulger: Probably indirectly. I think before I didn't give myself much leeway. I took every play so literal and that's not what he wanted. To be successful in this offense you have to be able to adapt in each play and situation. That's what makes him happiest is when you do something with a play that he didn't draw up but he meant (to have happen). (Laughs).

Q: How's your running back rotation going?

Bulger: It's going well. You know, it's one thing for Marshall (Faulk) to teach Steven (Jackson)just by telling him why he did it but when they both get to see the same defenses and then Steven is actually able to experience it and learn from Marshall. So from that respect it will do nothing but good things for Steven this year and later on in his career.

Q: What kind of challenges are there playing on Sunday after a Monday night game?

Bulger: Obviously the physical ones. You have one less day to recover but coach gave us Wednesday off of practice. These next few days are pretty tough, especially mentally, just getting the game plan in and having it a day shorter. But at this point in the season we have so much in the offense and fortunately we have seen the 49ers before so we can hopefully play catch up quicker.


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