The view from the top

New York coach Tom Coughlin - whose NFC East-leading team is being called the best team in the conference now by some - talks Giants and 49ers, Sunday's game and other issue between the teams.

RE: When you get ready to play a team line San Francisco, and you show your team the most recent tape when they beat a 5-1 team, is that a coach's dream?

"The fact of the matter is that they are 2-2 at home and they played extremely well at home. You can build a case for them to be 3-1 at home, if you like. And even the Indianapolis game was deep into the third quarter at 14-3. They play very well at home. They are very physical. They are a big team. They run well. They just played the number one rush defense in the league last weekend and they rushed for 158 yards. And flipped it over on the other side and Tampa had 43 yards rushing. So, they did everything they had to do in order to win. They punted nine times and kicked five field goals and finished the game with their third quarterback, Pickett, eating up the remainder of the clock. So, they have an outstanding kicking game, they have an excellent running game in the tandum of the two backs – Barlow and Gore. They have an excellent receiver in Lloyd. Defensively, Bryant Young is having an outstanding year. Peterson and Carter on the outside, Smith on the inside – they have got really good solid fronts and they are playing well."

RE: Do you get a sense from being among your players that they have the sense of something that is growing here and the confidence is building and that something special may be happening here?

"I think that you have the sense that with success comes confidence, especially when it has been a timely process through difficulty, with new hurdles to have to maneuver pretty much on a weekly basis, which is the National Football League. So I think that from my assessment this morning and being part of the walk thru and conducting the meetings this morning, they are in a good frame of mind. The one thing that you have to do is, Wednesday all of a sudden is rush day and you don't want to look backwards much, you want to go forward. So we are trying as best we can to go forward. We finished up some unfinished business about the game on Sunday and then we moved forward into the 49ers. So hopefully it will be a good day at practice."

RE: In your mind, although you are 5-2 like you were last year, is it a totally different feeling about his team?

"I think each team is different. Each situation is different. Each year is different. It is not the same team, it is not the same. The record might be the same, but hopefully we are in better position. What more can I say? We have a long way to go and a long road ahead and many, many tough games in front of us."

RE: Does the start of this season feel different from the start of last season?

"I think in every way it did. We certainly have a better understanding of each other, the players with what I wanted. Our training camp was better, our preseason was better and the start of our regular season was better."

RE: Is the atmosphere in the building better?

"Every team is a different team. Every situation is a different situation. I do feel that we are a better football tea, and I do feel that we have some reinforcement for what we're trying to do. We know that we have many hurdles to climb and overcome. Every time that you line up it's a new test and it presents new problems. You have to be able to go out, perform and win.

RE: Are you glad that the 49ers won last week?

"I looked at that situation and it simply reinforced the fact that they play extremely well at home. You can make an argument for whether or not they had a chance to beat Dallas or not. They certainly played extremely well in the opener against the Rams. They had Indy 14-3 later toward the third quarter. There are plenty of arguments about how extremely well that they played. The league recognizes the tremendous turnaround that they made from a team that gets beat 52-17, to taking the number one rush defense in the league and putting 158 yards on them. They held the Tampa team to 43 yards rushing. I think that they played extremely well. They overcame yet another quarterback injury and still won."

RE: When your team is struggling is it tough to get injured players back?

"I don't know. In the Jacksonville situation it was totally different, because it was an expansion team. We had people from all different walks of life that we're trying to learn about a new situation. I don't remember that as being the case at that point in time."

RE: Do you do anything in particular to try and prevent injuries?/p> "Everything that each of us in this league does is all about that now. This is a brand new era and a lot of luck us involved in treating injuries. There also starts about how you go about your business in training camp. There is a very fine line, because if you come out of camp with out a tough team you're going to end up being the loser."

RE: How difficult was it for you to maintain patience with Eli last season as the rookie quarterback?

"I knew for a while what that experience would bring. I talked openly about it. It was a priceless experience that did not come without great pain. That is exactly what happens for a young player. Every team loads up and tries to make it difficult on a young quarterback. All the pressure patterns and the schemes are all complex to the point where he spends an awful lot of his time just in identification and not in execution. That is the name of the game for a young quarterback."

RE: Did you have to make a conscious decision of sacrificing how good you could've been as far as wins to let Eli play?

"No, I don't think that was the case at all. At the time when I made the move I felt like it was in the best interest of our team."

RE: Now a year later when did you see the light go off for Eli?

"The last three games of the last year he played very well. We were excited about that. We had some very close games with Pittsburgh here. We won our last game and we were excited going into the off season, because of the hope that it created." RE: Is he playing almost better than you envisioned him to play? "I expected him to play well. He's done all the responsibilities from a stand point of preparation. He's played and performed well in his role as leader and quarterback."

RE: How much of his performance is depended on the skill players around him?

"Every player in this league is depending on every one else. You could be the greatest player in the world, but if you don't have the protection scheme that keeps you from getting hit then you have trouble."

RE: When you look at the NFC do you think its wide open for the Giants?

"I don't look that far right now. I look at each opponent and that is basically where I'm at. We're in the second phase of our season. We have the San Francisco 49ers coming up. This is a huge game for us, a big game for them and that is as far as I go."

RE: Has Eli been taking strides since the beginning of the season?

"Each game he learns. He makes improvements in his game and he learns from errors, from studying other people and being aware of other situation and circumstances that occur in the league. We try to funnel information how does things are handled for him. I don't care how long you've been in the league that is what your attitude has to be. It's a constant state of learning."

RE: When you look at the 49ers what are the areas that you have to emphasize to your team?

"I look at the way in which they played defense last week. I looked at how physical they were and how well they played Tampa. We certainly know Dallas very well and we looked hard to understand that game. We looked hard at the Ram game and we have a sense of the Colts. We're constantly looking at their kicking game. We are aware of how well that they rush the ball, their offensive line played and at their lead blockers. We're very real and practical on the means that the 49ers won that game last week."

RE: In the games that they won or have been competitive how much does the kicking game contribute to that? "It's huge. You're not going to win without field position. Joe Nedney has done an outstanding job and the punters have done very well. They have been able to take advantage of their return game on more than one occasion. We've been looking at Hicks and the physical nature of their cover teams."

RE: What stood out to you about the play of the San Francisco 49ers offensive line against Tampa Bay?

"The fact that they were very physical, persistent, they opened holes, they finished blocks and they just did a lot of good things."

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