Holmgren: 'A little extra in it for us'

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren talks Seahawks and 49ers and discusses several topics regarding the two teams and Sunday's first-place battle between the two NFC West rivals at Monster Park in San Francisco.

Q: Is this game bigger than a usual division opponent?
Holmgren:
They are all big. San Francisco got us twice last year. They are really coming along under Mike Nolan, so I would say there is a little extra in it for us. But division games are big anyway.

Q: You were quoted as saying you guarantee San Francisco wouldn't beat the Seahawks twice like last year. Is that accurate?
Holmgren:
Does that sound like something I would say? The reference was made about them beating us a couple of times, and I said that can't happen again, which is the direct quote. Not I guarantee it won't happen again.

Q: Why do you think the 49ers were able to beat you twice last year?
Holmgren:
You start with Frank Gore. Anytime you give up 356 yards rushing to one player in two games, you're probably not going to have a good outcome. Offensively we were very careless against them as far as turnovers and penalties. You put those two things together and you get what you get.

Q: Have you seen in your film studies, teams loading up in the box to stop Frank Gore?
Holmgren:
I think they start there, yeah. Frank had such a phenomenal year last year. I don't know if people underestimated him or weren't sure. They knew he was good, but they didn't know he was special. Then he went out and proved to everyone that he was special. When you play against a player who is special, you have to kind of game plan around him and make sure he doesn't beat you by himself. I think teams now realize, if they didn't before that he is really good.

Q: How important is this game in terms of setting the tone for the season?
Holmgren:
I think it's an important football game, but it's still early in the season. After we play this game, we'll have had played four games and we play 16. A lot of things can happen down the road, not the least of which is injury, which affected us last year certainly. So it is important, but it's not the last game we will play this season.

Q: Did you guys do stuff in the offseason with the intent on getting personnel that could stop Frank Gore?
Holmgren:
No. We don't approach building our team that way to go against a player or even a team. We're just trying to make our team better.

Q: Did you guys do something to make your defense more stout against the run?
Holmgren:
I hope so. What we did was try to improve our defense. We added two people at the safety position because I didn't think we tackled very well last year. We gave up a lot of big plays, not just to San Francisco, but to other teams as well. So we added two players there that are starting for us actually. We got another safety back who was hurt all of last year in Michael Green who is playing for us now, Patrick Kerney who is a defensive end, and a nose tackle from Cal, who is a rookie, who is playing for us now. There are some new faces in our defense. We knew that was an area we had to improve on, so we set out to do that.

Q: What do you see in Alex Smith when you see him on tape?
Holmgren:
I was asked that question a little while ago by my guys. I really don't watch the offensive game film to study it. I am working on the other side of the ball. I will say this though. Against us, Alex has played really well. As far as how much he has improved and his progress, I am the worst guy to ask on that. I know he's a good player. I know the quarterback on any team is very important to that team, so we are well aware of his skill level.

Q: Why is Darrell Jackson a member of the 49ers this year?
Holmgren:
Darrell has been here for a while and played very well for us. He felt there was a problem with management and his contract and he felt that way for the last couple years. By mutual agreement he is no longer here. I'm not really that tickled that he's in San Francisco to be honest. As far as Darrell, you can never get me to say anything bad about him. He was one of my guys. He was a big reason we had success here in Seattle. I am a Darrell Jackson fan and root for him except for when he's playing us now.

Q: Why was Darrell traded to a division opponent?
Holmgren:
No organization sets out to trade a player to a divisional opponent if they can help it. It's my understanding there wasn't a lot of activity or action. When that happens, you go to plan B. and if plan B happens to be someone in your division and you feel it's worthwhile, you do the deal.

Q: What did you guys get in bringing former 49ers defensive coordinator Jim Mora onto the staff?
Holmgren:
He coaches our secondary. He's a high energy, bright young coach who is an excellent communicator with his guys. He and I have talked several teams. It's quite different from when he became a head coach. Now he is back rolling up his sleeves, coaching his guys, which I think he really loves to do. I believe he's having a lot of fun with. He will have another chance to be a head coach, there's no doubt in my mind. He's an excellent football coach. But for right now, he's coaching our secondary and is doing a heck of a job.

Q: Has Mora told you how glad he is not being in Atlanta with all the stuff going on over there?
Holmgren:
Other than early on in Michael Vick's trials and tribulations, I think I asked him once if he talked to Michael. We talked a little bit about that. I really try to stay away from that topic with him. That's none of my business. I want him to be happy here and enjoy coaching here. That's really what we talk about.

Q: Is it going to be strange coming back here without Bill Walsh?
Holmgren:
It is a little bit of course with my time there. Just about every time we played there, Bill and I were able to spend some time together. I was glad I was able to go to his memorial service and catch up with some of the old guys and his family. It is going to be a little different. I kind of always looked for him when I came out on to the field, and he would see me and we would have a nice chat. So he'll be looking from a little different vantage point.


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