Jim Johnson press conference: 9-15-05

On whether he was encouraged with the way the defense played the last three quarters: "It's hard to get over a loss and we are disappointed, but we liked the effort. There is no question about it; there was good effort. We had a lot of guys making great plays. You go against a good football team that is a championship team just like we are; it comes down to a couple of plays.

In the first quarter we gave up a long pass and we gave up a play where [Falcons QB] Michael Vick got outside on a blitz. Those were two of the key plays in the first quarter. After that I thought we did a good job in terms of the passing game. I thought we did a good job of containing Michael Vick, except for one time in the fourth quarter. It was disappointing, but then again guys did play hard."

On how different it is preparing for 49ers QB Tim Rattay than it was preparing for Michael Vick:

"It's night and day. Mike Vick is a special guy and we know that. Tim Rattay is more of a drop back type quarterback. He has a little bit of football savvy. He had a pretty good preseason, he really did. He's more of a pocket passer who does a good job of reading coverages. It's really a different ballgame. Plus, this team still will want to run the ball and pound the ball too. Their whole scheme makes it a little different."

On the 49ers problems running the ball last week:

"Yeah, they did. I thought the Rams did a good job. They gambled a little bit with some stunts in there, but the 49ers did struggle a little bit last week. I think they are going to try to improve that, there is no question about it, because running the football with [RB Kevin] Barlow, [RB Frank] Gore and [RB Maurice] Hicks is still going to be their bread and butter."

On whether putting LB Jeremiah Trotter in there will help sure up the run defense:

"Well, you hope so. You know that is a stat we look at. Michael Vick accounts for about 60 yards of that. I thought our run defense had two or three really bad plays with Dunn up the middle and hopefully Trotter will be a difference. Other guys have to contribute too. We had a couple of guys get out of their gaps. Things happen, that was a good running team and if this team gets 200 yards rushing this week, we are in trouble."

On whether he would like to see more out of DE Jevon Kearse this week:

"It was a tough game for Jevon because he could not really let loose. It was the same for [DE] N.D. [Kalu], because of Michael Vick. They had a little more of a controlled rush and they didn't test him as much. It was a running game, so I'm sure he was a little disappointed, but we expect better things out of him this week. It was a little more of a disciplined thing for the ends last week as far as the run game and Michael Vick."

On what he has seen from 49ers tackle Kwame Harris in the preseason:

"Well, the problem with preseason games, they didn't have a lot of plays last week, is that you don't get to see guys enough to evaluate them. He has looked okay. As the time goes on you will know more about some of these guys here, because they are shifting guys in and out. The strength of this team is running the football and play action pass down field with those two outside receivers making plays. This team is still developing what they want to be."

On whether FS Brian Dawkins is the best safety he has ever coached:

"He's exceptional; there is no question about it. Tim McDonald to me was one of the ultimate safeties with the 49ers and Cardinals, but I think that Dawk, as far as his quickness and tenacity, probably makes him one of the top ones I have been around."

On whether DT Mike Patterson got more snaps than was planned for:

"Not really, we knew we were going to play him and rotate him in the first and second down package. We were going to start him in the nickel defense. So, what happened was that in the last two minutes you are going to get a lot more plays in the nickel situations. He played maybe a few more, but we knew he was going to play a lot."

On Patterson playing both defensive tackle spots:

"Yeah, most of those guys are going to have to do it depending on how the rotation goes. He does play well on the right, but has played some left too, so it does not seem to matter to him what side he plays on."

On getting the defensive line's rotation worked out:

"The only thing we didn't do a good enough job was with the defensive ends. Jevon and N.D. played a lot of plays and were tired. We need to get [DE] Trent Cole in there a little more. He's a rookie and makes a rookie mistake when he lets Mike Vick outside. So, we were a bit concerned, but we have to force ourselves to give him more time. We got to get more rest for Jevon and N.D. The tackles worked out like we thought it would. They all got plenty of plays. The main thing is with the defensive ends, we need to get those guys some more rest."

On whether DT Sam Rayburn is all the way back from his injury:

"Yeah, I'm not saying he's all the way back, I think he's a factor. I think he is still feeling his way around. But health wise, he looks like he is fine."

On whether DE Juqua Thomas is in the rotation:

"Yeah, not quite as much as Trent, but he is still going to be in the rotation. We still would like to see him play 5-10 plays. We would like to see Trent Cole get up to 20-30 plays if we can."

On how he thought MLB Mike Labinjo played:

"In fairness to Mike, we only usually practice the first group during the week of the game, so for not getting a lot of reps he did okay, he really did. He had some bad plays, he guessed a couple of times on a couple of runs. For the most part, for not practicing all week, he made some good plays too. There is no question we missed Trotter, because the guy knew the scheme. He knew the defense and he practiced against it all week, where Labinjo really just watched."

On two rookies making impacts on the defense:

"The thing about Mike Patterson is that he has not made very many mental mistakes. That is what you like about him. We knew he was a good football player, in terms of quickness. He's a good run player and a very productive guy. The thing is that he has really handled the mental part of the game. Trent on the other hand, has a lot of ability, but he is struggling a bit because he missed all minicamp. He came in late and all of the sudden he is injured in preseason. He is still in training camp. That is the difference between those two guys. Both guys are good athletes, have good quickness and they are going to help us this year, but Trent is probably a little further behind."

On how he instructs the defense to limit big play receivers:

"Well, it is nothing different from what we faced last year with big play receivers like [Raiders WR] Randy Moss when we went against Minnesota. It's the same old thing. We are always going to have help for the cornerbacks. Just like the big play the other night against Dawkins. He kind of misjudged that, but we are always going to have some sort of safety help so we don't give up big plays. That is our philosophy and our corners know that. They know where their help is going to be, whether it is going to be inside help or outside help. You have to be disciplined to stay with it."

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