Q: How would you characterize the frustration level that you guys have gone through this season?
Bruce: Personally, I'm not really frustrated. As a team, I think we've been hit with a lot of unfortunate injuries. Guys who normally would not see that much action, have been forced into starting roles now. It's the nature of the business.
Q: How have you managed to not get frustrated?
Bruce: It wasn't too long ago that I was in this same position…looking at 4-12 and those type seasons. Since then, we added players and became a better team. As I look around, we still have the same talent. We have to keep this nucleus together and get ready for next year.
Q: Other than the injuries, what has happened this year?
Bruce: When you say other than the injuries…that is one of the hugest parts of it. If you take away all of those, then I think we are probably where we need to be, as far as heading into the playoffs and preparing for postseason play. It's hard to take them away. I don't know what else you want me to point towards.
Q: Do you think all is well with the future of the Rams. Do you think you could be back to where you were in the past next year if you avoid the injuries?
Bruce: Of course. I think entering into the offseason, there is a lot of questions that need to be answered. We have the draft to look forward to. We've got probably some free agency to look forward to. We just need players on this team, especially younger players, to step up and produce.
Q: How difficult is it to prepare for this Monday Night Game when you guys are so used to playing for something late in the season?
Bruce: It's rough, but you have to realize that we are professionals. We get paid to play 16 games. This is our 16th game. We're here getting mentally prepared right now. Guys are in the weight room and in meetings watching film. We are doing what professionals are supposed to do.
Q: Considering this game is against the 49ers, does it help you get up for this last game?
Bruce: In a way it does, especially for me. In all my time here at St. Louis, I've never split between the 49ers, in terms of 1-1 during the season. This is a goal that I can achieve. That is the way I'm looking at it. I'm going to go out and play hard and give all I can. Hopefully, we'll get the same percentage effort from every player that dresses for us.
Q: Can you guys make a statement in this game with the 49ers…looking ahead to next year that you guys might be going to the playoffs this year, but even though we're banged up, we can still beat you at home?
Bruce: I don't know how much statement can be made. The biggest statement, if any, would be that we won another game. We could win another division game. I don't think any team wants to go into the playoffs after a loss. I feel that the 49ers are going to come in and give us all they have. They definitely aren't going to make it easy for us. I'm sure some of the guys won't play as much, but at the same time, you don't want to lose before the playoffs. That could be some blood in the water for a team you may be facing. You can see some things that they could probably use against you.
Q: The 49ers have little to play for in this game. Players have mentioned that with a win, they could have a mental edge on you guys next season. Is that correct?
Bruce: That sounds quite right. In this business and in this league, you are always trying to send a message, either to the next team you play, or to the next season. That is pretty much where we were when we faced the 49ers a couple years ago. We wanted to leave that bad taste in their mouth. I'm sure they are going to do all they can to come out and try to win this game, as we are. It's going to be a good game. I think we'll give them all we have and the unfortunate part is that we don't have a postseason to look forward to after this game.
Q: Looking at this new NFC West, do you think it's going to be you and the 49ers in the foreseeable future sort of battling it out?
Bruce: Who knows? This league is full of parity. For me to say something like that would be definitely something the Cardinals and Seahawks would try to grab and run with it. As it is right now, the 49ers are the cream of the crop in this division.
Q: How have the young guys dealt with the frustration of the season? Have you tried to help them out with what they have experienced so far this year?
Bruce: I've tried. They've taken their bumps and they have taken their bruises. They can see and understand now that this could be a roller coaster season. I look back to a couple years ago when some of the 49er players were so young. They didn't have a clue what was going on. As it is right now, there are guys who are playing and jelling. They have experience. I'm sure some of the younger guys I'm playing with right now will see the same effect start to occur here in St. Louis.
Q: Are you concerned that Kurt Warner next year could be the Kurt Warner of old?
Bruce: That is an issue he has to deal with. I could only speak on my time in this league when I was down with the hamstring injuries and being able to come back. I was focused on getting healthy and after that, everything was geared towards me to become a better player in this league. I think that is one of the things he has to do. He needs to get healthy and start throwing balls and working on his accuracy. Everything that he does in the offseason, can allow him to be the MVP that he was.
Q: Does it make a difference if it is Marc Bulger or Warner leading you guys next year?
Bruce: Not really. We've proved that we could play with a lot of different guys. The bottom line is we've never won a championship without Kurt Warner. We would like to keep that nucleus together and move forward.
Q: How do you think your coach has reacted to this year?
Bruce: It hurts. It may be frustrating for him because he is the leader of our team. At times, I don't think we played up to our potential. Once you make this St. Louis team, you are not considered a back up. You are considered a guy, if we need you to step in, who can make plays and keep the bus rolling. I don't think in every game of this season that we have performed up to that level we need to.
Q: You guys have been known to have a swagger the last few years. Is that swagger still there or does it disappear with the losses?
Bruce: It's still there, but has definitely taken a beating this year. I think in some games, where the game was probably out of reach, we were still game planning and felt like we could come back. In a couple games, we did. Like I said, we'll get guys healthy next year. They'll be healthy for a long time, especially the guys on our offensive line because everything starts and finishes with them. We'll be back to where we were.