He said it: Mike Nolan after loss to Rams

Coach Mike Nolan gives his takes on the game Sunday after the 49ers' 13-6 loss to the St. Louis Rams - San Francisco's eighth consecutive loss - and discusses in detail the thinking behind his strategy at the end of the game.

Q: How much is this driving you crazy, especially when you had a chance there at the end of the game?
Nolan:
Obviously it stinks to come up here eight weeks in a row with a loss. I'm pleased with certain things. I thought the special teams continue to do an outstanding job and the defense did a very good job, in the second half in particular. They did a good job in the first half but not good enough. We missed several opportunities for turnovers. I thought the ball security on offense was OK. But again, we missed opportunities; that seems to be the reoccurring theme. There's a lot of frustrating things. We missed about four opportunities to get some turnovers, which would have made a difference in the game. But outside of that, I thought they played their hearts out, and they'll continue to do that. They've got great leadership on that side of the ball. I think that the guys do a good job, and they'll continue to do that. I think they'll fight to the end. On the other side of the ball, I thought that Trent did a good job stepping in there. I did. I was pleased with his performance. We have to do a better job of running the ball. We've got to stay on our blocks and we have make it happen. When we get opportunities like that, we have to be able to run the ball better than that. That's not one of the more stout run defense teams and we've got to come up with the yards when we're called to. We can't come out away with 32 yards rushing in the game. But outside of that, I thought Trent had a decent game passing the ball and leading us and it gave us an opportunity to win the game at the end, and that's more than I can say for a few of the last several weeks.

Q: Why kick the field goal in the final minutes when still needed a touchdown down 13-6?
Nolan:
Well, simply for this reason: We three timeouts, and because it was fourth-and-10 … Had it been a fourth-and-5, something like that where we can get it, but on fourth-and-10 they're going to bring the house, and we don't seem to respond that well to it. I also felt that we'd be right back in the same situation later because we did have three timeouts. And instead of just trying to throw for an overtime game, I wanted to throw for a victory. As things worked out, I'm very pleased with the way that it came out, because that last play was exactly like the one prior, and it was for the victory rather than for an overtime game. Obviously, we took the three points, made it 13-9 … We kicked off, and the other thing was, we've been very successful on onside kicks, so I thought we'd get the ball back. So I thought I'd take the three and make it a four-point game, come back with the ball on the onside, and if we weren't going to get the ball, I was confident that our defense would stop them, which is exactly what they did, and actually knocked them out of field-goal range. So, everything, from my standpoint, was at that time like you'd like it to work out. If you're going to have one shot to win the game or go to overtime, I'd think I'll take the victory. And that's exactly the way the game worked out, so that was my thinking on taking the field goal. I knew with three timeouts, I'd get the ball back and then we'd be playing for a win rather than overtime. We had not been effective (offensively), so if I could go for a win rather than overtime, I'd do it. As far as not accomplishing the win, I'm not pleased at all. We got exactly what we had at that time, but it would have been a victory, more than likely, in overtime.

Q: With your success with onside kicks, does that figure into it as well?
Nolan:
Yes it does. We knew right then that it was exactly what we were going to do when we kicked it. Like I said, we had three timeouts. I knew what they would do, by philosophy. They're going to run it and put it back on their defense, and our defense went out there and dropped them for 6 or 7 yard loss. My fear was that they might get close enough to kick a field goal, and then it's back to playing for an overtime game, but I was willing to take that chance. As it was, we stopped them, got the ball back. I would have liked to seen a little better field position, but then again I took that risk. It came down to the end with the exact same situation as before; throwing for a win, instead of trying to throw for an overtime which there's no guarantee of.

Q: Was there more of attempt to throw down the field today and give your receivers opportunities to make plays?
Nolan:
I think it's something that we need to continue to do. No question, you've got to challenge people vertically. If you don't, they get to have everybody up there and they'll just sit on your routes. The thing that was disappointing is a couple of those balls down the field, we didn't hang onto the ball. I know there's three of them I can think off the top of my head, and there might have been more. We've got to hang on to those. When we have opportunities, we have to strike. We're not good enough to say we're not good enough to say we're going to have a ton of opportunities at this point. So when we get them, we have to make something happen. That's … I don't want to use the word. I'm disappointed.

Q: The Rams shredded the Saints last week, but did you feel you held their offense pretty well in check today?
Nolan:
They only had 207 yards, and that surprised me, because in the first half they had (169). So the defense did come out in the second half and did an outstanding job. We just have to keep plugging along. We're going to fight our asses off, we're going to continue to work hard, we're going to continue to come in and look for solutions and how to get better. But there's certain areas that are going to continue to get better but they don't have as far to go. We've got an area or two that needs to really start to pull their weight. Stay with us. We'll keep busting ass. We'll get there.


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