Q: What is the mood of the team after those two wrenching losses?
Schottenheimer: I think the mood is quite good. We're disappointed in both of the outcomes of those games, but we're tied for first place. The National Football League is a marathon and the season is going to go to the team that can stand in there and keep slugging it out the longest.
Q: Is there any dejavu from last year?
Schottenheimer: Not at all.
Q: Is there anything you spotted in those losses that you are looking to correct?
Schottenheimer: We're always involved in the process ... developing the squad and various units. They were two totally different games. We played so poorly against the Jets and of course the Jets played extremely well. Last ball game we gave ourselves an opportunity to win at the end, but to the Rams credit, they made several big plays when they had to and the end result is that we ended up on the short side of it.
Q: The 49ers just came off a game where they did well against Priest Holmes and by and large they have been successful against the top running backs. What do you see in their defense that has enabled them to have this type of success?
Schottenheimer: I think they really have excellent speed across the board. Both the defensive ends are outstanding athletes. Then inside, you have one of the finest defensive linemen to ever play the game, Bryant Young. Of course, he's an anchor in there with Dana, who I've known since he was at Kansas. Peterson has great speed, Plummer has great speed. I think the quality that is most evident is the great speed that the defense has.
Q: How well have you guys done when teams are stacking the box to stop LaDainian?
Schottenheimer: We see a lot of 7 and 8 men in the box and he's leading the National Football League in rushing. So we're doing a reasonably good job I suppose.
Q: Speaking of Tomlinson, he was critical of questioning the team's mental state or heart after the game. How did they respond after that, knowing that he is still a young guy and he's still evolving as a leader?
Schottenheimer: I think what took place there was the words that he chose and the frustration of the moment weren't exactly what he meant. LaDainian is a great competitor and he is an outstanding person. I think he spoke with the idea in mind that…hey, I'm disappointed and I'm going to talk about it. That doesn't make him any different than the head coach. If I'm disappointed, I'm going to talk about it.
Q: How did the other guys respond about it?
Schottenheimer: There was no issue here at all.
Q: Could you relate to some of the things he was pointing out?
Schottenheimer: I've been doing this for 25 years and the one thing, when you find yourself during the post-game, I've said things that I didn't really make the best choice of words. Like most of us, who are competitive and passionate, we say what we feel. There is no issue whatsoever regarding the Rams game or any aspect of it.
Q: When you took over the team, you had to deal with making some changes and there was some grumbling. How have the guys responded to your type of football and practices?
Schottenheimer: To the contrary, there was not grumbling whatsoever. This group, led by Junior (Seau) and Rodney Harrison, wanted to find a way to win. They gave us the benefit of the doubt. There was never any grumbling whatsoever. This group, before I got here, was a group that always worked very hard. The transition was very smooth.
Q: What has made Tomlinson so successful? What are some of the attributes you see in him to get where he is?
Schottenheimer: He's a very talented young man. He has tremendous vision. He is a powerful runner, very much like the two backs that are in San Francisco. Not withstanding the fact that he is not really tall, he goes at about 224 or something like that. Then he has the ability in one step to be running full speed. I think that those are the things that have enabled him to be so successful.
Q: What does your team need to do to spring Tomlinson for this game?
Schottenheimer: We have to continue to give him his opportunities. We have to make sure we are in a situation where we are in a close contest, where we don't turn the ball over and create a short field for the 49ers on offense. We left a couple of big runs of LaDainian's on the field last week because of penalties. Penalties really compromised us last week. We got to eliminate the turnovers and penalties.
Q: How has Drew Brees developed in his first year as a starter?
Schottenheimer: I think he is right on schedule to be honest with you. He's done a good job managing the game. We've had a couple of situations, in an overtime game and a game where we were down by six and needed a touchdown to win a game, and he produced in both of those situations for us. He actually put us in a reasonably good position last week after we fell behind late in the ball game. I'm very pleased with his progress.