From the locker room

What the 49ers and Chargers were saying after San Diego's 48-19 victory Sunday at Monster Park.

49ERS COACH MIKE NOLAN

On the game: "It was certainly a difficult loss, disappointing as well. Our weaknesses, in particular on defense, are that we continue to have on third down and then the pass defense. I was pleased at times, certainly in the first half and a few times in the second half, with our offense. Alex (Smith) had over 200 yards and we ran for 6.6-yard average but we had to get away from the running game, unfortunately, but there are some bright things that continued to go well for us. Being without a couple linemen on the offensive line, those guys continued to do a pretty good job for us as far as that goes. The bright spot on the defense is that we just can't stop the run but the other things seem to give us trouble. Outside of that, a big disappointment in the game we continued to give up points. We need to get people in punting situations and make them punt, and we failed to do that."

On the difference of not having cornerback Walt Harris: ""I don't know. And I know you all have to ask the questions but in my mind right now until I look at the film its all a bunch of excuses that makes it OK to lose, and its not."

On if the Chargers are the best team the 49ers will play this season: "No, I think it works together. We've got two weeks. We have the bye week coming up. Naturally, we've got some things we need to work on. We have some very winnable games coming up the rest of the season. We've got ten more games. We are obviously we are 2-4, not where you want to be, but I really believe we've got some winnable games. I think San Diego is one of the better teams we will play this year, but then again, the season changes as you go along. Chicago, our next opponent, is a good opponent. We played pretty well against them last year at their place. We will see how we feel this year but we are looking forward to that contest."

On defensive restructuring of the 49ers: "That's a good way to put it. All I can say is maybe, yeah. We will see. The guys are busting their tales. They are working hard. As much as I know some of our shortcomings going into it, I know that when you play well as a unit you can play better than we have a couple times, and that's the disappointing thing. When you play together, you don't have to be that poor, and in particular, whether it's a pass rush or pass defense. We have shown it a couple times this year that we are very capable and confident. I think they have a good line, San Diego, but it's not better in my opinion than the Rams, who we had good pass rush, and any of the other teams we have played. So we should be able to get more rush than we did."

49ERS QUARTERBACK ALEX SMITH

On the impact the interception at the end of the first half had on the outcome of the game: "Quite a bit, to turn the ball over and let them get that score before half-time really changed the momentum. If we could have at least put some first downs together on that possession, the game would have been different."

On if it was gratifying to move the ball against San Diego's top-ranked defense: "I think it is a verification for us when we know our assignments and execute them. When we do that, we can play with any defense. They are a good group on the other side of the ball and we definitely gave them a run for it for awhile. But we just need to do better in the second half."

On the second half: "It is tough when you get down by that much. All of a sudden, you don't see the same defenses as you saw in the first half. You see a lot of coverage because they are not going to give up the big play. They make you dink and dunk and they mix up the pressure on you. It is a tough situation, much different from a normal game."

On the 49ers' good offensive start:"We did start fast today. We scored on our first two drives and I think I matched them in that first half. We did start fast, which is an improvement and we need to keep that up."

On if he's looking forward to getting guard Larry Allen and tackle Jonas Jennings back: "Obviously, if we can get two guys of their caliber back, it would be a big help no matter what. The guys I had up front today played hard. We have a lot of depth up front and those guys have been preparing well."

49ERS CORNERBACK SAMMY DAVIS

On playing against his old teammates: "It was fun. I felt comfortable out there just knowing the players and what they were going to give to me. It was just fun knowing the guys out there."

On if it was an advantage knowing some of the tendencies of the Chargers' wide receivers: "It probably wasn't an advantage because their offensive coordinator is so smart and when you think they're playing something, they're probably playing something else. I wouldn't call it an advantage, but more so me just being familiar with the players."

On playing pass defense while trying to contain running back LaDainian Tomlinson: "It's tough because when you go against such a well-balanced offense like they have, with a running back like LaDainian and a quarterback like Phillip (Rivers), whose progressing in every game, it's going to be tough. Each player just has to do their part."

On what the 49ers can take away from this game: "We have to get better and get off the field on third downs. That's the main thing I'm going to take away from it. I think they may have punted the ball only two or three times, so we have to get off the field on third downs."

49ERS FULLBACK MORAN NORRIS

On scoring his first touchdown as a 49er: "I just went out into the flats and tried to stay as low as possible. Everyone did a good job on the play. It was a perfect throw. I didn't know what to expect, but he gunned it in there. He threw a nice ball, and I was able to catch it."

49ERS CORNERBACK SHAWNTAE SPENCER

On the game: "Our offense did enough for us to win we just have to do a little bit more on defense. (Philip Rivers) threw the ball like an NFL quarterback. He had a great game and my hat goes off to him. They did a great job. They executed their offense. They did what they had to do and we didn't. It's as simple as that. We knew coming in that they were a very explosive offense. They have a lot of weapons, so we knew coming in that we had our work cut out for us. We knew that we had to execute. We'll just take it one game at a time. Tomorrow, we'll come in and watch the film, make the corrections we need to make, and get back at it."

On if the defense has made progress from last year: "It's hard to tell right now. I think our front seven are playing very well, which is the strong point of our defense. I think we have to hold up more on the back end."

On the loss of Walt Harris: "Things happen like that. We knew Walt may not play because it was an injury that happened on Thursday. He didn't practice on Friday so we had time to prepare. It's not like he got hurt today doing warm ups. I don't want to say it hurt us because Sammy Davis played great."

49ERS RUNNING BACK FRANK GORE

On where it all went wrong for the 49ers: "We got out fast. It was going back and forth, and then we made a couple of mistakes. The game went right how we wanted it to. Just, the game got out of hand and we had to bounce back and score points. We'll be all right. We've got to work hard this week and then get ready for Chicago."

On if he ever gets frustrated at the defense: "No, I can't say that. This is a team sport. If we get together and play as one, we'll be all right."

On how he feels about moving the ball against the NFL's top defense: "We can move the ball against anybody. We've got Alex (Smith), good receivers, a good offensive line, and a running game. We just fell behind."

CHARGERS COACH MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER

On the game: "We struggled a bit to control the offense in the first half, but didn't give up any points in the second half. All in all, we met our objective to come up here, play a pretty good football team and win. In our business it's not always, ‘what have you done for me lately,' it's, ‘what are you going to do for me next?'" We have a good football team and we just have to keep grinding away at what we're doing, because, as I told them before the game, there's no ‘re-do's' in this business. You get the opportunity to go out there and play, you've got to do your best!"

On Alex Smith: "We came in here and knew the 49ers were a pretty good offense. This young man Alex Smith is great. It's one thing to watch him on tape and it's another to watch him live, he was very impressive."

On LaDainian Tomlinson: "Highest vertical leap I've seen a guy take. I'm anxious to see if there's some way to measure it because it had to be a 48 inch vertical jump. From where I was standing, I saw him leave the ground and it was almost like he cleared everybody in front of me."

CHARGERS QUARTERBACK PHILIP RIVERS

On spearheading an offensive onslaught: "I was seeing things well today. Our wide receivers got good separation and our offensive line blocked particularly well. Put that all together and you saw the results."

On the impact of the top-rated Chargers defense: "You can look at it two different ways. It gives the offense incentive to put up impressive numbers like our defense does. Another factor is that you don't have to squeeze one in on third and six. You know your defense can go out there and hold them, so there's less pressure on us as an offense. The defense had a heck of a game, especially in the second half."

On Tomlinson setting the team record for touchdowns scored: "That's just one more accomplishment for the man that I believe is the greatest player in the league today. He'll probably look back on it after the season but knowing him, the most important thing today was the "W". His teammates like to see him score. They know he's the consummate professional. He practices just as hard as he plays. He gives you the same effort in practice as you saw out there in the game today. That's why his teammates admire him so much."

On having his first 300-yard game: "That's all well and good. I'll probably look back upon it after the season comes to an end. What I saw today is I still have room to improve. Things I can still work on. It's nice to throw for all those yards, but there's more to this game than that. I'm going to keep working on improving my game."

CHARGERS DEFENSIVE END LUIS CASTILLO

On his interception: "It all happened so fast. After I caught the ball, all I could think of was, ‘Just hold on.' I couldn't even tell you who tackled me. I've been playing this game for twelve years and that's my first pick. I think that as things turned out, that play changed the entire tempo of the game. I was very fortunate on that play. The tipped ball came right to me."

On the sack that ended the last 49ers drive: "That was a fitting way for our defense to end the game - with a sack. Early on, they were able to take advantage of our aggressiveness with screens and plays like that. But in the second half, we were able to make some adjustments and shut them down. All in all, it was a pretty good game for our defense even though we gave up some points. You got to tip your hat to the 49ers, they have a good offense. They're going to get better as they gain more experience together."

CHARGERS LINEBACKER SHAWNE MERRIMAN

On the team's overall performance: "I thought we played pretty good. We didn't start the way we wanted to, but we finished the way we wanted to. When you get a "W" that's all you can ask for, but we definitely need to start out a lot faster. I think we played pretty good on defense, but in the second half we played even better. In the first quarter, they came out and fired back at us with a lot of things. We just needed to stay strong, especially since they are at home."

CHARGERS TIGHT END ANTONIO GATES

On his touchdown reception: "Philip (Rivers) felt like I had a better match-up. Philip does a great job of picking and choosing what match-ups he likes. Fortunately, I made the catch, broke a few tackles and took it to the house. We felt like they were heavy in the box and gave up on the pass."

On LaDainian Tomlinson's performance: "LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) is going into the Hall of Fame as the best back ever. To be honest, I'm just glad I'm able to be around a guy like that. You don't run into those kind of players in an entire lifetime. One day, when I get old, I'll get to say I played with LT. He takes the pressure off of the whole organization. He's the wheels on our tank. Without the wheels we aren't going anywhere. Playing with him is an honor. Some of the things he does now, I'm so used too, that I view it in a different light from everyone else. He jumped over a pile on the goal line and I'm like, ‘You couldn't jump any higher than that?' It's like Kobe Bryant in basketball. He hits 40 and you're like, ‘He only hit 40?' With LT we're like, ‘Oh, you had a four touchdown day. You're just being LT.'"

CHARGERS LINEBACKER SHAUN PHILLIPS

On the Chargers' second-half defense: "We like to think we're the best front in the league. We have the best pass rushers in the league and we go at every team. We're going to go after the quarterback. Whether we get zero sacks or 10, we're going to go after the quarterback and that's the bottom line."

CHARGERS RUNNING BACK LADAINIAN TOMLINSON

On setting a franchise record with his 87th touchdown: "Obviously I've had to have some consistency to get that record. I think it's just a tribute to everyone who's helped me for six years so far. Any record is good and records are meant to be broken. So it's nice to have a record. I have a lot of people to thank. My offensive linemen, not only this year, but from years past. My first, second, third, fourth, fifth year, all the guys contributed to this record so I thank them for that."

On going over the line and into the end zone: "I think my lineman was standing straight up, so I knew that I had to get up over him. I recall seeing Walter Payton do that a lot and even Emmitt Smith doing it, guys I look up to. I did it in college, and I've done it a few times here, but each time I do it, my wife is just killing me. ‘Stop doing that.' I'm just waiting to see what she says when I get home. Honey, I'm sorry."

On the Chargers moving to 4-1 on the season: "We're playing really well. I think the loss against Baltimore really motivated this team even more. It gave us the belief that we can take this thing all the way. Each game is different, this game was different. Obviously early on, we hadn't seen anyone move the ball on our defense like San Francisco did. But Norv Turner is a great play caller and we knew that they were going to move the ball some. So as an offensive unit, you have to continue putting points on the board when you're playing a group like that. But overall, we think the season is going just like we want it to go, we just have to continue to focus on each and every game."

On running the football: "I knew it was going to be kind of tough to run the ball, because everybody is going to be looking for us to run. The safeties are running down and filling the holes. I'm not going to lie, it's tough to run the ball right now. Of course I want to have more yards, but as long as we win and if we're throwing the ball like we are, then I'm happy because I know that eventually you've got to pick your poison. We can throw the ball right down the field for huge gains, so defenses have to be honest and keep their safety back. I think people are going to ease up some, and as the season goes on, I'm looking to start having some big games on the ground."


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