He said it: Mike Nolan after loss to Falcons

Coach Mike Nolan gives his takes on the game Sunday afternoon after the 49ers' sixth consecutive loss - a deflating 20-16 defeat to the Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Q: How tough a deal was it from the start not to have Frank Gore at running back?
Nolan:
Well, it's certainly a disappointment when we went out there and didn't have Frank. But at the same time, I felt very good about our chances to win the game. I have a lot of confidence in both Mo Hicks and Michael Robinson. I thought they showed today what they are capable of doing. But we did not win the game. When we get down to those critical situations, we just didn't seem to make it happen.

Q: One of those critical situations was Robinson getting stuffed for a loss on third-and-goal midway through the fourth quarter that made you have to settle for a field goal. What happened there?
Nolan:
I called timeout right before that, as a matter of fact, as we wanted to discuss the possibilities of both the third- and fourth-down play we would run, because if we didn't get it on third down, we were going to go for it on the fourth. That was saying if we stayed right there at the 1-yard line. So I called the timeout, and when they got penetration on that play it took us back there (at the 4-yard line), that's when we decided just to kick the field goal, just go for a one-point game. But it was unfortunate, certainly not what we prepared for.

Q: Despite being put in some precarious positions by turnovers, did you feel your defense ended up doing a pretty good job?
Nolan:
I think (Atlanta) got six points of three turnovers, so that was a good thing. But at the same time, we have to do whatever it takes to win as a football team, whether it's to hold them to zero, or whatever. I was pleased there at the end that we did hold them to the three. Our offense went out there with a minute, 10 (seconds) and I was hopeful that we'd get down that field. But we failed to do that.

Q: Quarterback Alex Smith was ostensibly healthy this time, no shoulder or arm problems, and he had reasonably good protection. But he had four turnovers and overthrew some open receivers. That's a pretty rough day isn't it?
Nolan:
Whenever we talk about turnovers, it gets rough. In the first half, I thought we played much cleaner in that respect. I thought the defense in the first half struggled a little bit. But in the second half, we kind of swapped roles. The offense had a couple of turnovers but the defense stiffened up, which was good. But we've got to do better than that, as we all know. It's a disappointment to the players, coaches and the fans as well. We'll continue to work hard. I know this: The season's not a loss. Our guys will keep working hard, busting their tail, and we'll fight our way out of it. But it hasn't been easy thus far for anyone.

Q: On the bright side, it certainly looks like tight end Vernon Davis is coming on after recording his career high in receptions for the second consecutive week. How did you feel about the way he played?
Nolan:
I was pleased with Vernon, not only on the field but off the field. There was a little tussle that happened off the field, not with him involved, but he did go over and kind of get our player out of there and did a great job. Last week, when he scored a touchdown, he brought the ball to the sideline. I thought he grew up a lot today, I really do. I thought he did some things that were very good both on and off the field. He was encouraging his teammates, he was making plays. He was doing the things that I believe, in the long run, are really going to make a difference for Vernon Davis. I was very pleased with the maturity that he showed throughout the entire football game.

Q: You went right down the wire to deciding whether to play Gore today; do you think that issue will be resolved by next week?
Nolan:
I hope so. That was part of the thinking of why he didn't play today, because I just thought we just don't need to keep setting him back and back and then before you know it, he'll be out for a longer length of time. So, hopefully, he will be back (next) week. That's our hope, and that's a little bit of why we did what we did with him today. Hopefully we get all our injured guys back for the Seattle game and get back on track. It's just the midpoint of the season, not where we want to be, but it is the midpoint. So there's a lot of football left.


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