The line on Linehan

Coming in with Jim Haslett as his defensive coordinator, Scott Linehan has directed a complete makeover of the St. Louis Rams in his first season as a NFL head coach. Here, Linehan talks Rams and 49ers and discusses several subjects surrounding Sunday's game between the longtime NFC West rivals.

Q: To what do you attribute your team's problems in the red zone last week?
Linehan:
First, Denver did a great job against us and second we didn't execute well enough.

Q: How disappointing it is for an offensive-minded coach like yourself to not have your team score a touchdown in your debut as a NFL head coach?
Linehan:
We expect to score every drive, and every time we touch the ball. If we don't score, I'm disappointed every time. I'm extremely glad that we didn't turn the ball over, and I'm really glad that we won the game.

Q: What are your impressions of 49ers rookie tight end Vernon Davis, and what's unique about the type of threat he posseses from the tight end position?
Linehan:
He runs a 4.3 (40-yard dash), and he's 260 pounds. Other than that, all those other guys look the same. He's in a class by himself.

Q: How big of a loss is starting center Andy McCollum, who's out for the season after tearing up his knee in the season opener?
Linehan:
It's always a concern when you lose a key player off your team. We have to rally around whoever fills in for him and do the best we can.

Q: Has linebacker Will Witherspoon been everything you expected when you signed him as a free agent in the offseason?
Linehan:
He's exceeding outside expectations. We were pretty sure he was darn good when we signed him. We're one game into it, and we're pretty happy with the way the team is playing, including Will.

Q: What has Jim Haslett, your new defensive coordinator, brought to the Rams?
Linehan:
He brings great experience. He certainly knows the trade, and how to lead. He's an ex-head coach who's been a coordinator before he was a head coach. He played in the league, and he's pretty much the total package.

Q: Does Haslett have free reign to take risks?
Linehan:
We have a game plan and we go out and execute it as best we can. There are no limitations with how we execute that plan.

Q: How big a priority was it to upgrade the defense when you were hired?
Linehan:
With the first four players we signed in free agency being defensive players, (that) would be a big indication that it was important. To also hire a top defensive staff, as I felt I was lucky enough to hire, is also is another indication. It's important, and it was certainly an area that needed to be improved upon, as well as our special teams. We were able to do that with the players we brought in during free agency and the draft. The first player we drafted was a cornerback.

Q: How does your offense differ from that of Mike Martz, the head coach you replaced?
Linehan:
This is the 2006 Rams offense, so it's different. I really don't put a name with an offense. This is our version, and we're doing some of the things that were here before, and some of the concepts we had in Miami and Minnesota. It's different in a lot of ways, but it's hard for me to say because I wasn't here last year.

Q: Is running the ball more of a focus now than it was in Martz's offense?
Linehan:
I don't know. Again, I wasn't here last year, but I know we want to be balanced and run the ball. That's easier said than done because teams can stop the run. I think you have to be balanced and do both.

Q: What are some of the things that you have done to make this team in your own identity after the Rams had such a strong personality as head coach in Martz?
Linehan:
I don't know. I think we wanted it to be the Rams team and the Rams identity. We want to make it more of a team effort. It's not about a head coach, a quarterback, a defensive coordinator, or a middle linebacker. It's about how we play as a Rams team. That's what we focus on around here now.


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