Struggling to the finish in Arizona

"You are talking about a football team that has clinched its division, that has a playoff spot secured, and that is coming off of a great season last year. I have a hard time seeing anything sputtering or not working well. ... I think the bottom line is that San Francisco and Steve and his coaches have done a tremendous job of putting themselves in position to get in the playoffs. Once you get in the tournament, everything starts brand new. I have a hard time seeing them as struggling."

Q: How do you approach this game?

McGinnis: I'm not in the same position as Steve (Mariucci) is. They've done a great job of locking up the division with two games to go. I've been in that position before when I was with Chicago and I know what their mindset is. What we've got here is basically a different football team than when we played the 49ers in the seventh week of the season. I've really had about three football teams here, as far as with the injuries that we've had and the new people that we've brought in. So, I'm still trying to build and assimilate this thing. We've got to approach this thing no differently than we have any other. We've got to approach it full boar and we've got to get enough healthy people together. We need to go out there and spill it all out there like we did last Sunday night and try to get a win.

Q: Do you find yourself trying to take different approaches to make sure that the words you say and things you are teaching just don't kind of ring empty to these guys?

McGinnis: Not really. This is the youngest football team in the league. Most of these guys that I've brought into here now are brand new and are trying to establish themselves. They are trying to earn or keep a job for next year. The core of guys that have stayed healthy have been staying the course all year. One thing that I've never had to question all year is the total effort that I'm getting out of these guys from their meetings all the way through practices to the ball games. We have five wins, which is not enough at this time of year. That is all we are ever judged on, but I know the circumstances that we are in and that really has never been a problem. If it was, I would tell you.

Q: What are you rallying around and what are you building around for the next few years?

McGinnis: We've got to be healthy. I think we had a very good young core. I think we started the season as the second youngest team in the league, but we had made a salary cap cleaning the year before and I think we had established a good offensive line. We had four very good receivers that we could build around. We felt like we had some parts in place on offense. We still thought we needed to go to work on our defense, but after the sixth week of the season, we started losing at least two guys a week to injuries, in which they never came back from. This football team has progressively been depleted. We've got a pretty good football team right now sitting on IR and sitting on the inactive list. I think in the last 3 weeks, out of the twenty-one in-actives that I've had a choice to make of, nineteen of them have been made for me because they've been injured. So, I've got a pretty good football team that is not able to suit up right now. I think the guys that are still playing unhealthy, they know that and can see that we got some things going on here, but it's just right now at this point that we are battling through those things and the year is running out on us.

Q: Was there ever any thought, with Jake's contract situation and what direction you might headed next year, to play Josh McCown to see what he has to offer?

McGinnis: The only football game that we've really been out of in the weeks we've played has been the Kansas City football game. We were down 35-0 at halftime and we put Josh McCown in the football game. But other than that, we've been in football games and Josh McCown has been getting an extreme amount of work in practice. That is basically why we kept him here as our second-string quarterback. To just wholesale say that it is completely over, it never really has been, as far as the ball games as well as the mindset of this football team. To answer your question, no. If the two remaining ball games go either way, as far as if we are out of it or way ahead, then Josh will get some work. But the situation hasn't presented itself as clearly as anybody might think.

Q: If the 49ers don't play Terrell Owens this week, how does that change what they do?

McGinnis: Well, Terrell Owens is a premier player. I'm not giving anybody revelations on that. They clearly started using their tight end more last week. The offense that San Francisco runs and has run so well for so many years…it can use everybody within that offense. They'll have plenty of other people that they can spin that ball to down the field. It just so happens that Terrell Owens, just as David Boston was when he was healthy here, is a premier player in this league and premier players usually make big plays most of the time that they are in there. When they are not, as we've experienced here with the loss of all four of our top four receivers, then you got to find somebody else to spin it to. But they've got plenty of weapons to work with.

Q: There is a lot of talk here about how the 49ers offense is somewhat struggling. Do you see it that way? Do you see them as not firing on all cylinders?

McGinnis: You are talking about a football team that has clinched its division, that has a playoff spot secured, and that is coming off of a great season last year. I have a hard time seeing anything sputtering or not working well. Just like what is going on in Oakland…they win four then lose four. This year has been a very cyclical year for a lot of people and a lot of it has to do with injuries and a lot of it has to do with lack of depth from week to week. I think the bottom line is that San Francisco and Steve and his coaches have done a tremendous job of putting themselves in position to get in the playoffs. Once you get in the tournament, everything starts brand new. I have a hard time seeing them as struggling.

Q: For so many years, the 49ers have dominated the old NFC West and now in the new NFC West they clinched with three or four games left. How difficult do you think it will be for a team to sustain that sort of level through the years now with the realignment?

McGinnis: Historically, as you have pointed out, San Francisco has had a wonderful organization. They built and geared everything towards being the very best at what they do. They continue to do that because I think they have a very good organizational structure in place. To me, if you can get good players and have a good plan and keep your players healthy, you will always have a chance. They've proven through the years especially recently that they know how to do that.

 


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