They said it: 49ers after big win over Rams

Coach Mike Singletary and several of his players give their takes on the game after the 49ers' 35-0 rout of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Candlestick Park.


Opening Statement:
"First of all, very thankful for the win. Thank God again for our coaches and our players. For us, when you look at the game, it's a game that in the first half we really got off to a slow start and that had a lot to do with the Rams. I think they came out prepared to play, ready to play a physical football game and they did that. We were fortunate enough to get a play on special teams, and that really began to turn the game around a bit, just getting something on the board. Once we did that, we continued to play good defense most of the day. I think Shaun Hill, for what he could get on the offensive side of the ball, spreading the ball around to different receivers and continuing to get better. The running game, our offensive line right now, we're just out of sync a bit. In order for us to get where we need to go, our offensive line is going to have to do a better job and they will. I've got every bit of trust in them that they will do that. They have a great coach, and they're a good group of guys. It's just a matter of continuing to work together. You look back and we had a couple of guys, Joe Staley and [David] Baas, really didn't practice this week, most of it. They got in on Friday, a little bit Thursday. It's just one of those things as an offensive line, we just have to continue. We're young, we're excited, and that also makes us a little vulnerable. We have to continue to get better and we will do that. Our offensive line, that's going to be a huge key to what we need to do and they're going to have to respond. I'm excited because I feel good about every one of them. Going forward, that's pretty much it."

On whether Shaun Hill took to many hits today: "Well I think overall… I happen to believe when it's all said and done our offensive line will be one of the best offensive lines in the league. I think sometimes we just cheat ourselves out of what we can be. We just have to take it to the next level and I know they will. So we just have to keep working on it. But yes, I think anytime Shaun goes down, I don't want him to go down. I want them to take care of him. I want to be able to run the football and that's on their shoulders. If we're going to have success offensively, they're going to have to lead the way."

On his approach when talking to the team at halftime: "At halftime it was just a matter of reminding them what was at stake. We knew we were playing a dangerous football team, a team that's fighting. They've got a good head coach, they have a good staff. They've got some talent on that team and they were fighting all day, we knew that. When you turn the film on, that's what you see. I just wanted our guys to remind ourselves that this is our house. We want to set the tempo. We don't want any team coming in here and setting the tempo. We want to set the tempo and we were not doing that. I felt that they were taking a fight to us. Anytime that happens, that's not good and that's basically it for halftime."

On whether this game was a turning point for the 49ers: "I will say this, it's a good sign that we can generate points somewhere else. But, at the same time, it's just one of those things that you look at and you say, ‘okay, once our offense gets set, we're really going to make some strides,' and we just have to keep working at that. But when I look at a win like today, I feel very fortunate to be on this side of it because I think that some good things happened and I think they happened because guys were busting their tails trying to make plays and flying around on defense and flying around on special teams, and fighting on offense, we're just not executing on offense. We were playing hard, just not executing."

On how he will know the 49ers offense is set: "The only thing I can say to that is this: I think when you take a step back and you look at our offense, I think it's just one of those things you'll know. I won't be talking about what we could have done. I won't be talking about once we get there. I think I'll be talking about something different in here. And I think that's when we'll know."

On whether it is clear that the 49ers are the team to beat in the NFC West: "That is our first goal, is to win the division, but that's not our only goal. When you look at the NFC West, a lot of people think this is a weak division. I don't think that's the case. But as we go forward, the most important thing for us right now is to win the division. But as we go forward, we want to be one of the best teams in the NFL. That's where we want to go. Obviously, we've got a lot of work to do, but that's where our sights are, far sight. Near sight is winning the division."

On where the defense stands right now: "I think our defense right now, we're making plays. We're heading in the right direction, but I want to make sure that our guys understand that we still need to improve on the field. Did they do a good job today? Yes, they did. Can we get much better? Absolutely. I'm excited about the young talent that we have on defense. Guys like Patrick Willis, who had a great day today. Pat is still just scratching the surface. Manny Lawson. Manny Lawson is still just scratching the surface. We've got a guy on the sideline, Ahmad Brooks. Ahmad Brooks can't get a chance to scratch the surface, he's on the sideline, but he's coming. Parys [Haralson]… We've got players and playmakers and it's just a matter of the guys continuing to work and continuing to learn the defense and just play that much faster. I don't know how good we can be, but it's exciting to kind of sit back and think about."

On what LB Patrick Willis will do once he scratches the surface: "Wow. Just wow would be the only thing I can say, wow, because he has so much talent. He just has to tie his talent and knowledge together and that's where he's going to take it to the next level."

On whether the 49ers were determined to run no matter even if the Rams were stacking the line of scrimmage: "I think that right now in the early going of our offense, I continue to say this, we're going to have to run the ball early on. As time goes on, we're just going to continue to open it up as Shaun Hill can open it up and feels confident to do that. We don't want to go out there right now… The aim is to be half and half. Be able to come out and pass the ball, come out and run the ball. But right now, until everybody gets on the same page, we've got to run a little bit more than we have to pass. We know teams are going to come in and try and stack the line of scrimmage. That mental toughness that I'm talking about with our offensive line, I don't want teams to dictate what we do. Even though you've got a seven-man box, and around the NFL you know you've got a seven-man box, you run the ball, you've got an eight-man box, we're going to throw the ball. Well, you know what, I don't really like that math. I think that if we have a seven-man box, we're going to run the ball. If we've got an eight-man box, we're going to run the ball. We're not going to be stupid, but at the same time we're just trying to get to the place where we can open it up a bit. But right now that's where we are."

On whether he ever had a game like this in his career as a player: "Not an interception returned for a touchdown. Those didn't come very often for me, hands like rocks."

On whether this was the form he was looking for on defense: "You know what, I really want you to understand… Don't misunderstand me. I'm excited about our defense, but because I know them and I see them, and I know what they're capable of, I just don't want our guys to go, ‘hey,' you know, ‘we're there.' We're going in the right direction, but there's so much more that we can do and they know that. So we just have to keep working. We just have to keep going forward and Greg Manusky and the staff, [Vance Joseph] and [Jim] Tomsula, Vantz [Singletary]. They're doing a great job and the guys are understanding the defense more and more from the defensive line to the linebackers to the defensive backs. So it's only going to get better."

On how he evaluates RB Glen Coffee: "You know, the only thing right now, he's running hard, but he's still earning. Sometimes it gets a little big for him. But that pass out on the flat, he'll catch that 100 times and it's like, ‘okay, alright.' But it's just a matter of knowing that he is a mentally tough kid I'm very excited to have him and he's just going to get better. But right now, it's learning. It's different than preseason. In preseason, it's great. But now, the real bullets are flying and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming at times."

On how he assesses the first quarter of the season: "Obviously, I'm going to say that the first quarter of the season went well. We just have to continue to focus on the goal at hand knowing that as we go forward, it's only going to get tougher. It's only going to get rougher and we have to make sure mentally we rise to that occasion, because it's going to be that way. Thank you very much."


On the offense picking up speed in the second half:
"We wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page. Sometimes it doesn't happen the way you designed it or wanted it to go, but in the end it turned out the right way."

On his overall feelings going up against his former team: "I think that I lost the newness of it last season I played them. Today was just me playing against the Rams. I only know a couple of guys on the team, so it's good to go against this team and be three [games] up in the division."


On whether he feels as if the 49ers are the team to beat after today's win:
"Most definitely. This was a great win for the team. We went to the half wanting to come out and make a statement, finish out the game strong and we did that, so I definitely feel that we are a force to be reckoned with."

On what he's doing to prepare to take on the responsibilities at the running back position with RB Frank Gore out of the lineup: "I'm doing the same things I did when Frank was in there. I prepare the same, keep my routine the same, and just be able to compete and help the team win."

On how he assesses his performance today in his first NFL start: "It was alright, there are a lot of areas that I need to refine and get better, but it was alright. The biggest thing was that we got the victory."

On what his expectations were going into his first NFL start: "To just do what I was coached and not try to do too much. To just do my job as the 11th man in the offense – be coachable, be assignment-sound to blitz pick up. I wanted to work on my blocking, just basically do my job."

On whether he feels he met his own expectations: "I think that I did my job. I want to build on that now and make plays. Do more than just my job, but the extra [things] as well. That's what I want to work on."


On whether or not the team feels as if they can continue winning after beating all three teams in the NFC West:
"I think that we will continue to beat teams. We just have to keep on plugging. Just like coach Singletary says ‘don't be satisfied with just this win, at the end of the night, let put it behind us and just get ready.' I believe that we have the [Atlanta] Falcons coming up, let's put it behind and let's get ready for the Falcons, and keep it moving one game at a time."

On his perception of QB Shaun Hill's performance against the Rams: "I think that he did a great job today. I think that each week he continues to build and he can't do anything but get better."

On what was told to him on his touchdown reception: "Vernon, just run. Just run and look up for the ball. That's something that Shaun and I have been working on. I keep telling Shaun that if I have a play where I'm vertical and you see that safety outside of me, and there's nothing in the middle but linebackers – just throw it."

On whether the play that he scored his touchdown was a similar play from early before: "It was the same exact play. It was a similar play as the one [touchdown reception] against Minnesota. Vernon, just run."


On how the offense viewed the work of the special teams and defense:
"Obviously that helps. We had a tough time getting it going there for a while, and special teams came up with a big play to get us a touchdown. Then we came out in the second half and were able to get one, and the defense added two in the second half as well. That was huge."

On whether he feels like the offense needs to contribute more: "There are some thing that we're going to have to correct, without a doubt, look at the film and address those things. We feel like, as an offense, we're leaving plays out there every week, plays we need to make, opportunities for us to either move the chains or score points. So, those things, we definintely need to address and get better on."

On whether he took too many hits today: "I don't know. We'll have to see when we watch the film."

On how he feels physically: "I feel like I played an NFL football game."

On how RB Glen Coffee performed in RB Frank Gore's absence: "I thought Glen did a good job for us. Obviously, Frank, he's our guy on offense. There's no mistaking that. Everybody knows that, but Glen did a great job for us stepping in. Ran the ball hard, did some great things in protection — things that most people won't recognize. That last touchdown pass, he did a great job on that one. He did a great job of stepping in and making some plays for us."

On whether TE Vernon Davis is becoming a key player on offense: "Yes. To see the work that he's put in this offseason, preseason — even going into the season — and the work he continues to put it, I'm glad to see it's paying off for him. He's making plays for us. Any opportunity he has to make a play, he's making it. He's becoming a huge weapon for us."

On whether the trust he has with Davis helped on his touchdown catch: "Yes. It depends on where the defensive guys are too. So, it's not just that. Any opportunity I have given him to make a play down there in the end zone, he's made it — especially in the past couple of weeks. That's huge. He can be a huge weapon for us."

On what a 35-point victory says about the team: "It's a total team win, without a doubt. The defense stepped up and got points. Special teams, if I'm not mistaken, made it 7-0. That's huge. Every unit is pitching in, even though offensively we didn't do as good as we would have liked to have done. The team came away with a 35-0 win, and that's all that matters."

On whether he told WR Josh Morgan to keep his head up and to know that Hill would go back to him after he dropped a potentially long pass: "Yes. That's exactly what I said. I went over and saw he was doing OK. He knew that he missed an opportunity, but he was holding his head up. So, I just told him that exactly. I said, ‘Hey, we're going to come back to you. Don't worry about that. Let it go.'"

On whether the offense functions best when the run-to-pass ratio is 50-50: "I don't know, to be honest with you. I don't even know what our ratio is this game or what it's been the whole season. To be honest with you, I have no idea."

On whether the team emphasized a more wide-open passing attack: "Some of it was play call, some of it was what the defense was showing us. There are a lot of variables that go into it. But, that's something that we're going to have to be able to do. We're going to have to be able to stretch the field vertically. It's something we've continued to work on and will continue to do so."

On what it was like watching LB Patrick Willis: "I'm glad he's on my team. That guy, he's awesome flying around making plays. That whole defense, the way they're playing is unbelievable. I love watching them play."

On whether the offense rallied around the play of the defense in the second half: "No question. Anytime you see your teammates out there doing great things, I think it feeds the whole team, the crowd, the fans. It was kind of a little quiet out there and a little bit, kind of a lull there in the first half, and then finally we got it going, stuck with it. The crowd got into it. We got into it and started putting up some points and turning the game in our favor."

On what head coach Mike Singletary said to the team at halftime: "He didn't exactly say a whole lot. Some players on different units stepped up and said some things. I think he felt like that what was said was sufficient and left it at that."

On whether the team is playing with more confidence: "I think with wins comes confidence. We've put in more work and harder work than any team I've ever been a part of, so we knew coming into the season that we had that to fall back on, that we had paid the price. And, then to see it culminate in victories really helps us out, helps us gain confidence. I think you're starting to see that."

On what he said to the team at halftime: "There were a few (things). I'll just leave it at that. It was, more than anything, trying to get a point the identity that Coach Singletary has asked us to grasp and to become. That was the main gist of it."

On whether that referred to being physical: "That's part of it. There are more things that go into it, but yes, that's part of it."

On where the team is one quarter of the way through the season: "We'd like to be 4-0. As it is, we're 3-1. We're moving forward. We're on top of the division. I think that's right where we need to be right now at the quarter mark of the season. By no means are we done. By no means are we where we need to be. Each and every team in the NFL improves every week, and we need to do the same. We've got a lot of tough opponents ahead. We'll just keep grinding and continue to work our tails off like we've been doing, and I think those things will happen."

On whether he has anyone in his family who he has been lost to breast cancer: "No, I have not. I've been very fortunate with that. It was great seeing a lot of the breast cancer survivors over there on the sidelines before the game. Usually, I'm between the stripes. I don't notice anything like that. It just gave me chills with them over there. I could hear them talking about my shoes and how much it meant to them, some of the things that they were saying. It was touching. I went over there and tried to shake a couple hands before the game. Usually, those are things that are totally out of character for me. I just felt very grateful that they were there — obviously, the strength and courage that they have shown. I think it's a great thing that the NFL did with all this. Hopefully, we were able to raise a lot of money to go towards breast cancer awareness. I'm just glad to help anyway I can. Just wearing shoes, that's not asking a whole lot of me, without a doubt, but I was happy to do it."

On how he became one of the guys to wear pink cleats: "I don't know. They asked me if I would. I said yes. They sent the shoes, and I said, ‘Wait a minute,' because I thought they would be black and pink. But, that was it. We were ready to go after that."

On where the pink shoes will end up: "One pair gets sent to – I'm not sure where. They had a basket in our locker room."

On whether it was for an auction: "Yes. And the other pair is going to this foundation that I'm getting going in my hometown, and it's going to the cancer society in my hometown for them to auction off as well. It's more of a local thing, and we have the one out here as well. I'm very happy that Nike and the NFL stepped up in order to do something like this so some money can be raised."


On his first sack of the season:
"It feels good to have one, but once you get one, you get hungry for more. Thinking back now, in the game, I think I left a couple out there that I could have had, but it's good to have one, but I just have to keep it going."

On the mindset in the locker room after starting off 3-0 in the division: "I think right now, like you said, we are 3-0 in the west. You just have to keep on going and that's a playoff spot right there."

On how the defense played today with the shutout: "We made some mistakes, but there was some big plays out there that we capitalized on. We scored two times and we pride ourselves on that, shut down the run game, shut down the pass. We just have to stop those explosive plays that teams get."


On his touchdown:
"It was a great play. I can't remember who it was on the reverse, but somebody hit the receiver and he fumbled, and it was like a dream. I almost can't believe I scored a touchdown."

On the play of the defense: "It was great. It showed that all our hard work is paying off. It was great week of preparation, we know what they were going to do coming into the game. We just executed today, and that is the main thing you need to focus on."

On the pressure the defense applied on St. Louis QB Kyle Boller:"First of all, there were some great calls by the coach. They got us in the right places and guys executed. Like I said before, the preparation the whole week, we knew what we were going to see. So we got out there and just executed."


On starting off 3-0 in the NFC West:
"It's important. The division games are the most important from what the veterans tell me. The division games are almost like two games, so I think it's very important to start off 3-0 in the division, but like my buddy [LB} Jeff [Ulbrich] tells me it's not how you start, it's how you finish."

On his first touchdown on the punt recovery: "Right place, right time, but protection covered, it bounced off of one of their gunners and I jumped on the ball, with a little help from Jeff Ulbrich in the pile, but it was an important way to start off. In the past couple weeks we haven't been performing as well on special teams as we'd like to, so that was one of the things that myself and my fellow special teamers took upon ourselves to perform a little bit better."

On what he is going to do with the ball: "I don't know. It will be a good keepsake when I get older. Off the top of my head, I have no idea."


On his touchdown reception:
"[QB] Shaun [Hill] made a good throw and put it in there. I just had to go catch it for a touchdown."

On what he tells his teammates after a win like this: "Good job. Let's keep it going. That's what we get paid for. That's what we are here for. We are trying to be a great team, trying to be a Super Bowl team, a championship team, and I think we are working towards that. When you execute like that out there, you just say good job and keep on going. You're never satisfied. We just want to keep it going."

On the play of QB Shaun Hill: "The way he is playing, I saw that last year. He is a fighter. He's not going to put you in a situation to lose. He is just going to keep fighting. He's a leader. He came in there and leads us down the field to score. No matter what, we are going to have some bad stuff come our way, but no matter what, he is going to lead us the right way so we can come out on top."


On the progression of the team:
"We are playing great. We are learning more about ourselves and each other and we are growing as a football team. I think that is the key with any team you look at. The main objective is to win games and to keep getting better as the season goes on."

On the hits QB Shaun Hill took: "Anytime he gets touched we take it personally. The days that he is flawless are hard to come by, but those are the days we work for. Not that he is flawless, but that we are flawless and he doesn't get touched."


On how he felt during the game:
"I felt good. My knee felt fine. Obviously, we didn't execute like we wanted to on offense. We'll go watch film and see what we can improve on. It feels to be winning, we are 3-0 in the division and we feel good about that."

On what the offense needs to do to execute better: "I'm not really sure. I felt everybody was executing the way we need to, but we'll go back and watch the film to see what was going on. I'm not sure our personality on the field in the first half was quite what it needed to be; I thought we did pretty good in the second half. So we'll go back and watch the film and see what was going on."

On the Rams putting lots of defenders in the box: "We are going to see that every week. We are going to see eight, nine in the box. We are going to see blitzes and we are going to have to use the running back. We just have to do a better job of playing tight and executing. We have to do a better job of giving the running back some running room."


On if today was a total team effort:
"Without a shadow of doubt it was. It was a total team effort on offense, special teams and defense."

On how it felt to score a touchdown: "It felt great. That is something we talk about as a defense. Not to just go out and getting 3-0 or getting a turnover but scoring with it. The opportunity presented itself today. We had a good defensive call and it just happened."

On how good it feels to have so many sacks on defense: "Today was just a day where you just say wow. It was not just me, but it was our defense all together. It just goes back to what we talked about last night when coach Manusky, our defensive coordinator, talked about how it is not about him, it is not about what call he would call, it is not about if he makes a call and it happens, it is not about him. It is not about me and it is not about one particular person. It is about us playing together as one and that is what counts. That is when things happen and I feel like we did that today for the most part."

On if he has just scratched the surface of what he can do: "I always feel like there is room for improvement whether it is a good game or a bad game. Today was one of the better games that I have had since I have been in the league but there is still so much more to improve on. There are some plays that I wish I could take back. There are some plays that, if I would have done this just a little bit better or I could have been in on it and made it. We will go back and watch the film tomorrow and critique ourselves and get better."

On what are some things that he needs to improve on: "Just coming to work every day to get a little bit better in all aspects, there are still parts of my game that I have to improve on. Every day is a work day for me and that is what makes football so fun. You never are just great and when you are you can settle down, but you are never great until you are done playing. Hopefully for me that will not be for a long time from now so every day, until that day happens, I am going to come into work and work hard."

On the down where he scored a touchdown: "We know that they like to run screens and we kind of put it in later on in the week where we kind of have a spotter. We know that the quarterback likes to run but he also likes screens and it was just one where you just spot on him and look at him. It was good pressure by the defense, good coverage on the backend and good pressure by our d-line. He had to make a decision and he decided to throw it and there it was."

On if he is surprise by the 49ers performance today: "We made a step today and I know a lot of people are going to say it was just St. Louis but that does not matter. St. Louis is an NFL team and to me it is any given Sunday, any day you come out to play. They are a good football team and they have their situations but that is not our problem. Our problem is to come out and execute and do what we do in practice and that is execute and get better. To come out and play a 60 minute football game and that is what we did today. It makes you excited when you see it."

On how to defend St. Louis Rams RB Steven Jackson: "My game plan to stop Steven [Jackson] is the same against any running back and that is low pad leverage and get after the guy who has the ball. Steven Jackson is a good running back in the league and still one of the elite running backs in this league. Anytime you go against him you know it is going to be a work day. Him and I aren't real good friends but we text each other from time-to-time to check on each other and tell each other to continue to work and good job. I know he is going to bounce back next weekend and go again."

On the difference in the San Francisco 49ers mindset this year versus years past: "It is a trickle-down effect and it first has to start with the head man in charge and that is coach Singletary. Then it goes down from him to the staff and from the staff to us. It is one of those things where you have to believe and that is one of the things we talk about all the time. Not just thinking that you can be a good team but believing that you can be a good team. You can be a championship team and that was the mindset we took on when he took over. Going into OTA's and mini-camp is when it really started and we have been just working ever since then and believing in what we are trying to do here."

On the defense shutting out the St. Louis Rams: "Anytime you look up and see a goose egg it is a great day. We know that there is room for improvement, we know that there is some plays that we have to go back and get right. Like coach said, enjoy it for today and tomorrow we will go in there and get critiqued and get better."

On if Coach Singletary has told him that he could be better than he was as a player: "He does not come right out and say it but he sometimes tells me that if I continue to work and continue to be humble and continue to believe and do things right then I can be one of the elite linebackers to ever play. To hear that from him means a lot because he is a Hall of Fame guy, he has been there and he sees football time in and time out. He has been with LB Ray [Lewis] and some other guys and I know when he tells me that, inside I know that I have to work every day but for him to tell me that just puts fuel to the fire."

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