Q: Why are you the best man for this job?
A: Why am I the best man...tough question. I don't know if I'm the best man, but I know the 49ers have a process they are going through and I am one of the many guys that they have narrowed it down to. I'm just thankful that I survived the survivor series and I'm in pretty good shape. I'm one of the guys, near the end, that they are talking to.
Q: If you do get the job, what do you bring as a head coach?
A: One thing I know that I can bring is the ability to get the players to play hard and play together. Wherever I've gone and coached, that is one thing that players have been able to do. I think that is one of my strong suits that I have.
Q: How has this process differed from your other interviews?
A: I think this one has been very genuine. I had spoke to some guys before and I'm going to make this point very clear also. If a team talks to you doesn't mean it is an interview. I've had seven talk to me and four of them have been, what I call, legitimate interviews and three of them have been bull-crap sessions. Excuse my language about that, but that is how I feel about it. Three of those teams had just talked to me and there was no way I was a serious candidate and they had a thought in their mind of hiring me. I was just in there to probably fill in a time slot and make them look good. Four have been legitimate and three have been not worth a darn.
Q: What are the legitimate ones?
A: I'm not going to name any, but this is one of the four that is legit.
Q: What came across in your meeting with Dr. York today?
A: Today we just talked about our backgrounds and he was telling me a little bit about himself. We didn't talk any football. We just talked about our backgrounds and getting to know each other right now. We're going to go to dinner and talk a little more and probably some tomorrow morning.
Q: Can you talk about your defensive approach? The Jets struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season and then improved. How did you pull the defense together?
A: Our first part of the season was well documented by some of the people back there and the fans knew we were not too good. They used a couple of terms to describe us, but I can't say exactly what they were, but one of the words starts with S and ends with S. We were in bad shape there. We had six new starters on defense. Those new faces were hard to blend in. We made a mistake in that we overestimated what we could do and what we could not do early in the year. During our bye week, we took some time to do a lot of self-scouting and evaluations. We looked at what we were doing, what the players were doing, what we asked them to do, what they could do, and what they could not do. I made some decisions and we came up with some things. We decided this is what we are going to do. We are going to focus on these things and we are going to stick to this plan. Things turned around and we played much better the last ten games. I think the last ten games we were one of the top defenses in the league in five different categories. I think we were in the top two in five different categories. So, it was a dramatic turnaround in the evaluation process, what we could do and what we could not do, what the players were doing well, what they were doing wrong, and what we asked them to do. Things turned around and the results were a pretty good defense at the end of the year. That is what happened.
Q: Have you evaluated the 49ers defensively?
A: No, we haven't talked about that yet. I am familiar with some of the players, but I have not done an in depth study of the team yet.
Q: Some of the high profile players have criticized the pool of potential coaches. How are you going to deal with player discontent?
A: You deal with player discontent a lot of times during the year. If you lose a game, you have some discontent. A lot of players go by what they read sometimes too, without really, like anyone, taking their time and evaluate what is happening here. This is a team that has really gone out of their way to try to do a good job with their interview process. Let it run its course. They are going to come up with the best candidate that they feel can lead this team. They have a plan. At least they have a plan and they are sticking to it. So, player discontent would be addressed. I don't think there is going to be a lot of discontent or something that could not be handled. I think the players are just voicing their opinions. At least this team is doing what they are supposed to do and they are doing a great job. I feel they will come up with the best possible coach that they feel will lead this team to victory.
Q: What's the foundation of your defensive philosophy?
A: "I just tell them to play like hell. That's it. Just play hard and play like hell. Try to be a very aggressive defense. Back there (in New York), I have a couple writers who say 'Why don't you blitz more?' I go 'whoa, wait a minute, let me explain to you what a blitz is.' A blitz is when there's no free safety in the middle of the field - that's not a good deal all of the time because if someone falls, you give up a big play. A lot of zone dogging, five-man rush, six-man rush. It's an aggressive, attacking defense and you can see over the years, people have bought into it and the guys following the team think 'Oh yeah, he's pretty aggressive.' But you have to look at the defense itself. We get after people and it's going to be hard pursuing, tackling defense. The aggressiveness is going to be there."