He said it: Mike Nolan after win vs. Arizona

Coach Mike Nolan gives his takes late Monday night on the 49ers' improbable 20-17 comeback victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Monster Park in the season opener for both teams.

On his overview of the game: "As I've said in the past, although we won only seven games last year, we are a team that is about finishing and it obviously showed today. We play games to the very end. Last year, four out of our seven wins came when we came back after halftime being down. It was one of those types of games today, so I was pleased with that."

On the 49ers' play defensively: "Defensively, to put it in perspective, the last four times we played Arizona, they've averaged 326.8 yards per game. Today they got 100 or 102 total passing yards, so that's a compliment to our secondary. The game ball for defense went to the secondary. They did a nice job. They also did a nice job up front, but I didn't want to point them out because I thought in watching out there, I'll see the film, but I thought that Nate (Clements) did an outstanding job and Walt (Harris) as well. Obviously Walt had the interception, but both of them played well. I'm very pleased. And especially on a Monday night, the recognition for them is well-deserved."

On the 49ers' play offensively: "Offensively, we saved our best for last. That's probably the best thing I can say, which was important because it is about winning, like I said. The game ball went to Arnaz Battle. He made the nice play that got the ball down there on the three and then obviously got the touchdown right after that. Arnaz got the game ball and played well."

On the 49ers' special teams play: "Special teams I thought were outstanding today. They did a real nice job. The coverage units were very good. Our punt return, we fielded all the balls. They just played a very solid game. I gave (Special Teams Coordinator) Coach Al Everest the game ball, but after we look at the film, we'll give one of the players one. They did a real nice job."

On the 49ers' game-winning touchdown on the team's final offensive play: "Through preseason and through the year you work on a lot of plays and obviously today is the first chance that you have an opportunity to actually run them in a game. There are a lot of things, as we all talked for the last month in preseason, you always talk about how much to show, how much to not show. That was one of the plays that we worked on. It's an effective play and obviously it worked today, but it's something that's been in our offense for a few years. We just happened to call it today and it closed the deal."

On what winning this game in this fashion means to the team: "I'll tell you my thoughts going into tonight's game. I'm very confident our football team is going to get better and better as the season goes along. I don't even doubt that, barring anything we can't control. What you don't know, and we're not the only team, but it's hard to figure where your football team is going into that first game. You really don't know. Some of that had to do with your opponent. So, it means an awful lot because it certainly feels a lot better to build on a victory than on a loss, without question. That's kind of where it is. It's hard to tell where your team is. If you're a playoff team and you have a lot of continuity in your group, which is what we'll have in the future. It's easier to come back at the opener and say, alright, we've got two new starters, we know what we had last year to finish up, the players know what they had, they're confident in the guys around them, and therefore they kind of pick up where they left off. Your opponent has something to do with whether or not you lose that game, but you kind of know where you're at. We weren't one of those teams today, as far as going into the game. Without question, the way the defense played, I thought what they did tonight against a very good offense, a very explosive offense with some very good players, as we're all well aware, you just have to be pleased."

On the play of Alex Smith vs. Matt Leinart: "Certainly they didn't go head-to-head, but it's important, if you're a quarterback and your team wins. It says something and that's an important thing. Down at the stretch, where he pulled it off, went down there, that was a big deal. All I can say is our guy won and theirs didn't. Their guy is a good player, a good young player."


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