He said it: Mike Nolan after loss to Steelers

Coach Mike Nolan gives his takes on the game Sunday afternoon after the Pittsburgh Steelers scored on five consecutive possessions at the end of the game to hand the 49ers their first defeat of the season, 37-16 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Q: There were so many times when it looked like you were ready to get a surge going to get you right back in this game and maybe even take control of it, but you just couldn't make it happen. Why not?
Nolan:
Well, we felt the same. There were times like that. You can kind of feel it on the sidelines sometimes when that is going to happen, and I thought it did a few times. In fact, when Alex took us down for a score early in the fourth quarter, I thought they were going to turn pretty quickly. But as was evidenced, they came back and put points on the board and kind of nullified that touchdown we had. But it was that kind of game for three quarters. But in the fourth quarter, with the exception of that (sequence) I just spoke about, I thought it kind of got out of hand for us.

Q: There seemed to be some calls that really hurt going against you - the Vernon Davis catch ruled and incompletion especially. But your team continued to fight back. Your thoughts?
Nolan:
It's difficult for me to go there (about the bad calls). We have no excuses, really. We didn't play the kind of game that we need to play to win. I believe, as long as I've been in it, a lot of times when you're playing well, you get those calls, and when you're not doing well, you don't get them. It was a disappointment. But at the same time, we do control our destiny as far as the game goes. And those plays didn't make all the difference in the game. We could have done some other things. You know, we dropped some balls for first downs a couple of times. In order for us to get better, we have to put this on the shelf. I can't improve the officials. That's not my job. We can get better than this as a football team, and I'm looking forward to that. We'll learn a lot from this game.

Q: How much did Allen Rossum's 98-yard kickoff return turn things in Pittsburgh's favor after you'd just scored the game's first points?
Nolan:
Yeah, that was a disappointment. Our coverage units had been outstanding these first two games, and even all through preseason. Al Everest does an outstanding job coaching those guys. The players on those coverage units have been outstanding. They've been playing with so much passion and heart and doing well. And basically, they rebounded from that the rest of the game. But that was a disappointment, it really was. We went down and got three points, and then all of a sudden, they come back with that quick score. The rest of that first half, until that last drive where they got a touchdown, our defense was playing lights out. But again, it's a 60-minute game, and we all know that. And we have to play that way. We can't be so sporadic.

Q: Alex Smith seemed to get it going in the passing game today. How did you feel about the way he played?
Nolan:
He did a nice job today. And I thought that Jim (offensive coordinator Jim Hostler) did a good job with the plan. We moved the pocket around a little bit as well as kept him in there some. We had some nice mixtures of formations and some personnel groupings that I thought did a good job. We just need to be more consistent, and when a ball comes to you, you have to catch it. If we're going to move the chains … We all have to do it. When your turn comes and they call your number, you've got to perform. The quarterback is only as good as the guys he throws to. And vice versa, they're only as good as the guy throwing to them. And everything works together. So, Alex did a pretty good job, but we still have to perform better as an offense, and as a team in order to win a big game against a good team like Pittsburgh.

Q: Why weren't you able to get Frank Gore going in the run game?
Nolan:
If we had played our kind of game, I'm confident we would have had 100 yards (rushing). But by the end of the third quarter, the game kind of went their way and they got up a little bit, and naturally you have to go a little bit more to the pass. And then you've eliminated an entire quarter for Frank. And as everyone recalls, Frank has been outstanding in all quarters of the game, but the fourth quarter has also been an area that he's been an outstanding back. I don't want to take credit away from what they did. Pittsburgh played a very good game and they won the game. But hopefully, maybe we'll get a chance later in the end to maybe play them again down the road.

Q: The good news is, you're still in first place in the NFC West and can take full control of the division next week when you host Seattle. Isn't that reason to come out of this game feeling positive?
Nolan:
Yeah, but we'll learn from this though. We won't dismiss this loss. We've got to learn tomorrow when we watch this film. But when tomorrow comes, we'll move on, we'll get on to Seattle, and hopefully get back on the winning track.


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