From champs to chumps

"It has been very difficult. You take all of this on yourself. The first place you look is yourself, in terms of not getting it done. That part has been very hard. The other issue that I have to tell you is that when you are on a roll and winning, it is easy to be a head coach and to run the offense. When you are struggling like we have been, the tension of being a head coach, with all of the personalities and getting involved in all of those things, has become a little more difficult."

Q: How do you approach this game as far as the quarterback situation goes?

Martz: We're going to see who is healthy. Actually, we were thinking about borrowing a quarterback from the 49ers and we'd just use cards. No, I think Jamie will be fine. He has a swollen knee. He should be alright for the game. If something should happen, Scott Covington would back him up. Then, our third quarterback would be Marshall (Faulk). He can take snaps and he throws the ball well.

Q: Have you considered the single wing at all?

Martz: Somebody just asked me that. No, but that is an idea. I don't think we have enough time to get ready.

Q: Has Marshall practiced at all as quarterback?

Martz: He'll take some snaps and do some of that. We just have to be able to have a third guy in the event. We've been there already where we've gone through two right away and then all of a sudden we were down to the third guy. We've got to be able to do that.

Q: Is there a chance we will see Marshall be playing behind center?

Martz: No. Not unless there isn't anyone else.

Q: Other than the injuries, what do you think has occurred to your team this year?

Martz: Injuries primarily, which started early with the offensive line. Earlier in the year, there were games that we should have won and didn't win. We got on the 15-yard line against the Giants in the fourth quarter, first and goal, and we fumble a snap from the center. We have a touchdown called back because the tight end flinches. Just dumb things like that is not disciplined football. You lose because of those mistakes. We had three or four of those kind of games. Momentum can go in both directions, obviously. We just couldn't seem to buy a win. Then we got on a role and won five straight, then we just got blasted with injuries. Once Marc (Bulger) went down and Kurt (Warner) was not healthy, that was a real difficult.

Q: Is there any concern that when you come back next season healthy that you won't be able to regain that standard that you have built for yourself?

Martz: I don't think so. I think that is something that we have always worked toward. I just think that we did not get our four wide receiver thing going until recently. I'm really pleased how Troy Edwards has fit in. Some of those things have just taken time to materialize. There was inconsistency because of so many quarterbacks. I think if we can stay healthy next year, we will be fine.

Q: Is this game of importance because the 49ers might think by sweeping you guys, they will maintain an edge going into next season?

Martz: I'm sure they feel that way. Obviously, we felt the same way and it's an important game from that aspect for us. More importantly, we just need to play well. We need to finish the season off strong and go into the offseason feeling good about ourselves and getting ready for next year.

Q: You do see a correlation between how this game is played and the possible carry over effect for next year?

Martz: I think so. I think every team in the league…that is how you go into the offseason. That is what you remember. Unfortunately, last year we won 16 games, but the only thing anyone remembers is that loss in the Super Bowl. It doesn't seem like anything else matters and really it doesn't. That is what you go into the offseason with. If we could come out of this game with a win then obviously you feel good about going into the offseason and building off that.

Q: Bill Walsh said, "You really learn about people during a losing season." What have you learned this year about your team?

Martz: There couldn't be a more true statement. There is no question about it. I think the character, the competitiveness, and the passion for just playing the game really shows. I think that the people that you can really count on, in all aspects, really start to show up. I think that there couldn't be a more true statement than that.

Q: Who are the players you've seen that from?

A: Jeff Zgonina, Grant Wistrom, and Marshall. You look at Marshall and who he is and his stature…anyone in his role, with the season basically without the hope of playoffs, would be done for the year if they had a high ankle sprain. Marshall's not going to do that. Big O. has a torn hamstring and he's going to play this week. Guys in that position would normally say, 'Listen, that is it for me.' Those kind of things. I think we have enough of those types of guys to really build on and feel good about.

Q: Do you guys have a huge decision, as far as, what you have to do with the quarterback situation?

Martz: I think I'm very comfortable with both of these quarterbacks. Obviously, as you look at this season, there is a real need to have two quality players here. Going into the season, it's been structured to have both players. There is no reason to think that we can't do that.

Q: With both being beset by injuries, do you go into training camp and try to see who the best guy is for the job?

Martz: That is something that I'm going to wait until the offseason to figure out how we'll deal with that. We've got to give Kurt every opportunity to return to his form. The first thing on the list is to take both players to make sure they are ready and that there are no shoulder, hand, or elbow issues. Then, I think we'll give Kurt every opportunity to return where he has been in the past.

Q: Is there any concern that Marc Bulger's injury will have any long term repercussions?

Martz: Let me tell you about his injury. The doctor said that if it wasn't for MRIs today, 20 years ago he would be playing in this game. He feels OK. He's not in any pain or anything like that. The MRI showed little spider-web type fractures that you have to look really hard to see. Obviously, he can't play. In years past, this would be a no-brainer. He would just play.

Q: What has impressed you about the 49ers this season?

Martz: Defensively, they are playing with such great confidence and they use their speed. They are playing great team defense. They are making a lot less errors than they have in the past. I think that is the biggest improvement in that football team in what they have done defensively.

Q: Are some of Kurt Warner's maladies be career threatening?

Martz: I don't think so, but we will certainly look at that hand issue. We are going to take him out completely and make sure that if there is anything that needs to be done, we are going to do it. Whether it is minor surgery or if we have to rehab him, we are just going to make sure that we know where he is with all of this. He is just too important.

Q: When you look at the new NFC West, how do you figure it playing out? Or do you think that the league is just so topsy-turvy that you never know?

Martz: I think the latter. I think a team can change dramatically each year. It is hard to say that anybody is going to be on a roll for more than two years. It is very difficult to do. I thought we were going pretty good for three years here and we felt like this season was coming, but we thought it was a year or two away. Unfortunately, with all of the injuries, it came sooner. Eventually it was going to happen. Like you said, I think anything could happen. It is a topsy-turvy league and it is hard to know who is going to be real good on a consistent basis.

Q: How has this year been, in terms of the disappointment? Have you loss more sleep than last year?

Martz: Particularly the start. I felt like if I worked longer and harder that it was going to change it. I found out that it didn't work out like that. I was told by some friends that I needed to back off a little bit and that sort of coincided with Marc playing and we got on that roll. It has been very difficult. You take all of this on yourself. The first place you look is yourself, in terms of not getting it done. That part has been very hard. The other issue that I have to tell you is that when you are on a roll and winning, it is easy to be a head coach and to run the offense. The problems just seem to disappear. When you are struggling like we have been, the tension of being a head coach, with all of the personalities and getting involved in all of those things, and then still running the game plan and calling the plays, has become a little more difficult. It was a little bit more of a struggle this year. I'm learning how to cope with that and I'm learning on the job.

 


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