They said it: 49ers on victory over Bengals

Coach Mike Nolan and his players give their takes on the game Saturday night after the 49ers' 20-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Monster Park in San Francisco, with comments from cornerbacks Nate Clements and Donald Strickland, tight end Vernon Davis, running back Frank Gore, quarterback Shaun Hill, wide receiver Darrell Jackson, kicker Joe Nedney and defensive lineman Bryant Young.

COACH MIKE NOLAN
Opening statement:
I thought it was an outstanding team victory from start to finish. I do believe Cincinnati is an outstanding football team. They've got a lot of talent on their team. Certainly, they did not meet the goals that they had. We're well aware of their offense, and they have a defense that can turn the ball over for their offense. From a team standpoint, I thought it was outstanding. Game ball for special teams will go to Mo Hicks. He was the game captain today. On defense the game ball went to our ‘double deuce.' Nate Clements is ours. On offense, game balls went to Frank Gore, he went over 100 yards. Darrell Jackson had eight (catches) for almost 90 yards. And then, obviously, Shaun Hill, he played a very good game.
On Shaun Hill's play: As I said during the week, I think that Shaun's strengths are his instincts and his ability to make plays. He did that in the preseason he did that the second half of last week. I'd like to think, and I think Shaun would say the same thing, that sitting behind people that all helped him perform last week and it helped him perform today. He's not a young player. He's been in the league six years.
On why he didn't attempt a field goal on fourth-and-2 in the fourth quarter: I thought we had great momentum on offense. Our offense was moving the ball. As a matter of fact, the time before, it was fourth and four, and we kicked the field goal. Larry Allen came to me and said he wanted to go for it. I said, ‘Larry, it's fourth and four.' To Larry, it doesn't matter. I said, ‘If it's fourth and one, I'll go. I had confidence, since our guys were playing well.
On throwing the ball to rookie Jason Hill on that play: The quarterback has his progression. That's what Shaun did very well today. He could have forced the ball in there on the slant maybe, and cost yourself something. He went to the receiver that his read told him to go to. He just didn't make the play.
On whether he thinks that Shaun Hill maybe should have played earlier this season: You can always second guess. He didn't have any experience to this point. I thought how he played today was very good for our football team.
On what impressed him about Shaun Hill tonight: What impressed me about him, and he's always this way, is that he's such a calm, cool guy. All three of our guys are pretty calm, cool guys. But for a guy that hasn't played, like last time, when he came in on short notice and didn't take any reps during the week, he was cool. But at the same time, I will say this: he is very competitive. That's important. You can be cool and calm and be a zombie. But, he is not. He's very into the game.


CORNERBACK NATE CLEMENTS
On the keys to the victory:
We just played our style of football, simple as that. We put it together offensively, defensively and special teams.
On Shaun Hill's performance: He really stepped up tonight. When somebody goes down, somebody else has to do the job. Shaun (Hill) faced the challenge and competed. You saw the rest. No one is surprised by the way he played.
On his near interception that instead went for a first-down completion: It hurts so bad. I made a perfect break on the ball and it was right there. I was thinking six, I didn't look it (the pass) all the way in. Man it hurts.
On going head-to-head with Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson: We tried to show him different looks. One time, I'd be banging him around and another time I'd play back from him. He's (Johnson) a great player so we're not going to be able to fool him. We were just trying to get him thinking a little bit.
On Johnson's near-touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter: I saw him bobble the ball and I saw the ball on the ground, so I knew that it wasn't a catch.


TIGHT END VERNON DAVIS
On becoming more of a focal point in the offense:
In the last couple weeks, we've been smart, trying not to go as fast. Some of the problems have been that some of the guys on the team are still learning. We're still learning, including myself, just the little things. Not the big things, the little things. Things like understanding the value of catching the ball, turning and going up field to get more yards, staying onside, not getting penalties. We're starting to learn how much that can hurt us.
On his touchdown reception: "I had a route where I could pick across the field or take the middle. I saw the middle, I ran up the middle, turned around and the ball was right there, caught it and it was a touchdown. Two guys collided, but they didn't knock me down.


RUNNING BACK FRANK GORE
On the success of the running game:
The passing game was going, and we kind of went back to our old style. Our offensive line did a great job, our receivers did a great job, and we were just clicking today. We didn't make any mistakes or turnovers, and I feel like that's the type of football we played today.
On quarterback Shaun Hill: He did great. He was trying to be like Trent. Telling us, ‘OK, we have this and we have that. Watch out for this, watch out for that.' He was our leader today and he came out and played great.


QUARTERBACK SHAUN HILL
On the keys to his success tonight:
A lot has to do with the training I received. I give a lot of credit to Coach Hostler (Offensive Coordinator), Coach (Frank) Cignetti (Quarterbacks Coach) and what I learned last year from Coach (Norv) Turner. Tonight it came down to successful execution of our game plan. We haven't always been able to do that this season. So accomplishing that tonight was huge. The defense did a great job. As an offense, we've had confidence in them (the defense) all along. They continued to do that tonight, and fortunately, we were able to step up our level of performance. Having no turnovers was also important.
On his attitude about his position on the team: Nobody wants to be a third stringer. We all want to be starters. It helped that my teammates showed a lot of confidence in me.
On Darrell Jackson's performance: He did a really good job. He took advantage of his opportunity in one-on-one match-ups. It was great to see him have a game like this (8 receptions for 86-yards).
On his three-yard touchdown run on a bootleg: The key to that was the great fake that Frank Gore made. He's such a great runner that you have to respect him as a threat to carry the ball.
On Vernon Davis's 17-yard touchdown reception: We saw them in a cover-two, so I knew there would be linebackers on him. Vernon did a good job of splitting the safeties then holding on after a tough hit.
On his pending free agency: That doesn't even enter into my thought processes. We won one game tonight and we're not going to be satisfied winning just one game out of our last three. Next up is Tampa Bay and we're going to focus all of our attention on that.
On his first start in his six-year NFL career: It's one thing to visualize doing well when you're practicing but it's another to do it in an actual game. I've always felt confident that I can play in this league.
On the team's offensive rhythm: Our offense was in rhythm tonight. We just went out there and trusted each other, simple as that.
On how much he enjoyed tonight's game: It was so much fun. I really missed this for a long time. It's so much fun to go out there and win a game. It's been a long time since I've been out there and experienced that (victory).
On his ability to stay calm under pressure: I trust my training. I've been taught to stay calm back there. One of the lessons I've learned is when bad things happen, don't make things worse. (For example) On Arnaz Battle's 17-yard reception, I had a little trouble with the snap but was able to recover on the play and make the throw. And give credit to Arnaz, he made a great play because he didn't give up on the play.


WIDE RECEIVER DARRELL JACKSON
On his game tonight:
I've been waiting to have a game like this since I came here. I could get used to this. They just threw it to me more. I had a lot of fun playing ball tonight. I finally got an opportunity to get fed a little bit. I thank Shaun Hill and the coaches for calling my number a lot tonight. That's what I'm used to, it's what I've been doing this for my whole career.
On getting more passes thrown his way: I don't know. I just line up and play football and run what they call. I'm thankful for the opportunity and we had a chance to get a win. We completed some passes and scored some points. We competed today, and in previous weeks we haven't been able to compete. We had fun out there today.


KICKER JOE NEDNEY
On getting the victory:
You put in the hard week of work and to come away with something tangible. It's the way it should feel. It's easy to sit here and talk about it after a win, but there was something going on, some kind of vibe. I don't know if it was Shaun, but whatever it was, I could feel something with this game.
On not kicking the field goal on fourth-and-2 late in the fourth quarter: I'm partial because in that situation it would have put us up by two scores. Coach Nolan said on third down, if we don't go backwards then we're going to go for it on fourth down. So I knew going into it. We were setting the tone and running well. Obviously, I would have liked to put us up by two scores, but that's the way the game goes and you have to roll with the punches.


CORNERBACK DONALD STRICKLAND
On Shaun Hill's performance:
He showed a lot of poise out there tonight. He showed it in the last game and it carried over into this one.
On how the offense's success impacts the defense: They gave us a chance to get some rest. When you have a lot of three-and-outs, you don't get a chance to get a lot of oxygen. The way they (the offense) played gave us a charge. It made us all the more determined to get the ball back for them. The offense was clicking tonight.
On whether Hill's performance surprised him: Not at all. Last week you saw what he could do. He did even more tonight. He showed a lot of poise.


DEFENSIVE LINEMAN BRYANT YOUNG
On his possible retirement:
I'm not one hundred per cent sure but (next week's game against Tampa Bay) may be my last home game. The last few weeks, I've really been thinking about my future and listening to my wife. It's (career) nearing the end. My days are numbered. So if these are my last moments being a Niner, I want to enjoy them.
On tonight's victory: Yes, it was fun tonight. No doubt about it. Everybody contributed…offense, defense, special teams. They all played a role in our success tonight.



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