Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Head Coach Mike Martz

(On making the transition to the regular season)

“There’s just no similarity. [During training camp] you’re looking at personnel, it’s time to scrimmage, you’re looking at plays. You’re trying to find out who you have that’s new to the team that can help. Now you’re starting to run, so it’s totally different.”

(On preparing for a team with as many new players and coaches as San Francisco)

“Anytime you play a team that is new like this with new coordinators, they’re new on both sides of the ball, there’s a little bit of trepidation. You need to go back and do your homework on it. Obviously, you have a number of things ready, just in case, so to speak. So I think we’ve done our homework and we’re prepared for those kinds of things, and we’ll adjust as need be, but it does give you a little more problem.”

(On how early he started thinking about the San Francisco game)

“I guess, as soon as they were on our schedule. At first when the schedule came out, but we do that each year, especially with the fact that it is a division game and we’re opening up with them out there. So we’ve been thinking about this for some time.”

(On whether this game being opening day and against the ***** makes it special)

“I’m more concerned about the Rams, really, to be honest with you. That’s what we talked about. We concern ourselves about the Rams and our uniforms and all that stuff. I’m not being disrespectful to them at all, that’s not the point. We can’t control anything about the *****. It’s a great rivalry. There’s a lot of tradition behind it. We pay our due respect to that. They are well coached. They are a good team. We understand all of those things, but that is as far as that goes.”

(On whether there is a noticeable difference having T Orlando Pace participating all preseason)

“Yeah, there’s just a remarkable difference. The fact that he’s been here, where he is in the offense, allows us to insert things that this time last year we couldn’t do because we had to wait for him to get in and get him up to speed. One guy can keep the entire offense under wraps until the season starts, and that’s what happened the last two years. With him here now we have been able to move on.”

(On whether the rivalry has the same meaning as when the Rams were in Los Angeles)

“It does. I think that Isaac [Bruce] and myself, we are the only two that are left that were coaching or playing at the time in L.A. that made the transfer here…this goes way back. Even growing up in San Diego watching this rivalry for many years, you have a real respect for the competitive nature of this matchup.”

(On whether he takes pride in his record against San Francisco)

“Nothing that happened yesterday has any bearing on what is going to happen today. Not really. When I retire, I’ll look back and look at those things, but it has no meaning on this game this weekend. Honestly, I just don’t think about those things. This is a whole new year, it’s a whole new look.”

(On the differences in the offense between when TE Jeff Robinson left and when he came back)

“Yeah, once he left we could get complicated. No, we’ve moved on to kind of match…you have to keep changing in the NFL. You just do. You just have to give your guys the best opportunity, and by changing and doing different things, you give them the best opportunity. If you continue to do the same stuff, year in and year out, you’re doing them a disservice. You don’t put them in a very good light.”

(On how playing a 3-4 complicated the offensive blocking schemes)
“If you’ve seen it already, then it is not an issue. Fortunately, we saw it against San Diego and we were able to practice some things. They’re used to it. We have spent a great deal of time on it in practice, but it does make you spend extra time dealing with it. Once you have spent that time though, you can go back to it.”

(On why more teams are going to the 3-4 defense)

“I think it’s a personnel issue more than it is anything else. It’s hard to get defensive linemen. I think it’s probably easier for some people to fit what they want to do defensively to adjust to things offensively, and what not.”

(On whether the linebackers are the strength of San Francisco’s defense)

“There is no question about it. I still say that that middle backer 50 [Derek Smith], he is pretty terrific. Somehow he just finds ways to make plays. He’s a terrific player.”

(On what he sees in WR Jeremy Carter to keep him on the practice squad)

“He showed enough for us to take a second look at him. That’s probably the best way to put that, and we’ll just see where he goes from there.”

(On the opportunity of starting on the road with two division games)

“Let’s start with one, but it would be a good step.”

QB Marc Bulger

(On coach Martz’s attitude toward the ***** game)

“Yeah, there are a couple of games that he gets pretty fired up for, and this is certainly one of them. I think this goes way back with him and Isaac [Bruce], and guys like that who have been here 10-plus years understand that. Obviously Arizona, with them leaving the franchise here is another one, but this is up there.”

(On his comfort level with the offense)

“Early in the year, there is still going to be a little bit of rust. You hope it gets eliminated, but we have a lot of stuff in, a lot more than we did at this point last year, which is nice. Hopefully we’ve all retained the information and will make some plays from it. It’s always stupid mistakes early, and we’re trying to avoid as many as we can.”

(On how he played in the preseason)

“It’s preseason, so I take it with a grain of salt. I don’t get too upset if I play bad, and I don’t get too excited if I play good. I pretty much get through it. You want to improve your skills mostly in practice and try to do it in the game, but I don’t get too hung up on that. We’ll see.”

LB Dexter Coakley

(On what the Rams’ defense can do if it plays well)

“We just want to go out there and take care of our assignments. Obviously, we want to be fundamentally sound. Defensively we want to go out there, and we want to execute the game plan. Let the offense control what they can control, and defensively we want to do what we can do. We don’t look at it as if we go out there and stop them the offense is going to blow someone out. We just want to take care of our individual assignments and hopefully it will work out for the best in the end.”

(On if he feels he has to impress people who will be seeing him for the first time)

“I’m going into my ninth year and I don’t feel like I need to press anything. If they don’t know what I can do by now, obviously they haven’t been watching. I just want to play in the scheme of the defense and go out there and make plays and help the defense win ballgames. If we can help this team win games, that’s what it’s all about.”

(On how he’s adjusting to the defense)

“It’s really not an adjustment. We’ve already made all the adjustments we had to make. We’ve had four preseason games to get ready for this game, come Sunday. So, we want to go out there and we want to play fast. Obviously, everyone knows what’s expected of them, so it’s not going to be a guessing game. We’re going to go out there, execute the game plan and just play football.”

T Orlando Pace

(On how he’s feeling heading into the regular season)

“I’m fine. I’m actually pretty healthy. I’ve had a few nicks and bruises and those types of things, but right now I think I’m pretty healthy. My legs feel pretty good and Coach Martz has done a good job of keeping us fresh and we’ll be ready to fly around on Sunday.”

(On G Tom Nutten)

“We’ve had a revolving door kind of left guard, but Tom’s there and I’ve played next to him for a number of years. So, it feels good to have him there.”

(On whether the offense has a chance to be one of the best)

“Our offensive line is playing very well, we’ve got receivers and Marc [Bulger] is playing great. I think everybody will be fine. Steven [Jackson], we hand the ball off to that guy, and he’s going to be a real positive player for us this year. He’s going to help us a lot.”

SF Head Coach Mike Nolan

(On his excitement for the opening of the regular season)

“There is a lot of anticipation and a lot of wondering what your football team will look like, I guess you could say. We’re in the process of building something here, and I’m excited about that. Win, lose or draw we’ll learn a lot about our football team, but I think we’ll perform well, and I think we have a good group of guys.”

(On the ***** improvement since the preseason)

“Well, we have a very young football team and 10 of our 11 draft choices are still on the squad. I believe this is a very energetic group, which is a good thing, but in order to be successful they need to bring that energy into one unit. So, that is kind of what our biggest focus is, going forward, is continuing to prepare well and play as a team. It’s not an individual game, and I’m looking forward to that part. We’ve made a lot of strides in the preseason in that respect.”

(On the quarterback situation with the *****)

“When we drafted Alex [Smith], or, should I say, in preparation for drafting a quarterback, we had a plan set forth all the way up until who would be number one going into preseason. It was important for us to find out everything we could about Alex Smith. Although it slowed some of the, I don’t want to say development because Tim Rattay has played quarterback in this league, he’s going into his fifth season, we had to do that. Anyhow, after that second preseason game we wanted to utilize the last two preseason games to get the quarterback ready that we were going to use. Alex had his opportunity the first two weeks to show what he could do. It was a great lesson for him to be in that first seat. It’s a lot easier seat to sit in, in that back up roll, and then get the opportunity to come in because there is very little pressure on you to perform. Plus, you’re not playing with the very best of the opponents in the preseason unless you go with the first group. Anyhow, Alex did a good job, but Tim’s experience puts him above Alex, so we made that change. Since then, and even prior to that, Tim has done a very good job of not only improving the offense, but also of bringing the troops together, so to speak, offensively.”

(On QB Tim Rattay)

“He’s a very heady player, probably not quite as talented as Alex [Smith]. But that talent certainly isn’t what I think makes a great quarterback. The ability to bring the guys together and move the ball down the field does. At this time, Tim’s experience gives that better ability to our football team than does Alex.”

(On how QB Alex Smith can improve)

“The truth is he has to work on everything, which all of us do. When you talk about experience, that’s the thing that Alex will gain as we go forward and that’s what I would say he just needs to do. The more and more he plays, this entire game will come together. Alex is a very good athlete, very mobile, very intelligent, very competitive and extremely hard working. He has all the right qualities, it’s just a matter of the more you play, the better you get. Rather than be specific to one skill or one talent, in his case it’s just a matter of the more he plays, I think he’s just going to get better and better. I believe that Alex is going to be a very good quarterback in this league, but at this time I believe the experience is in Tim’s favor.

(On the team’s moving on since OL Thomas Herrion’s death)

“When it started out, it had a team effect, I guess you could say. Everyone was in that locker room and saw it. The difference with this is that everyone saw it. It wasn’t like they found out a friend had passed away or it happened someplace outside. This was a locker room incident where the guys witnessed. So, at first, we dealt with it as a team and we’ve dealt with it on an individual basis. Some guys come to a position that they deal with it better than others. Some guys were closer to Thomas than other people. But I believe, in the long run, that it will strengthen our football team, it has already. It has brought our players together. I believe they have trust in the structure we have in place here that if it were them, it would be done properly for their family and for the people around them. It was important to us to make sure we identified Thomas’ family as well as our own family here at the *****. I think as we go forward, and even already it shows now that it has brought this team together, and it will continue to do that.”

(On if the latest medical report can bring closure to the case of Herrion’s death)

“Closure is a tough one for me to go with, but I think, to some degree, it puts some players who may have been worried about it. As you know, or have to understand, is that young people who saw this think ‘that could be me,’ because they don’t understand what is actually happening. I think with the coroner’s office giving some explanation to what did happen, some of them say ‘that’s not going to be me, because I don’t have those same issues,’ whereas others might just get it checked out. When you put reason to something, it helps people understand if there is a possibility that it is going to be them or not. What came out yesterday from the coroner’s office, I think, has given some explanation and has put some people at rest as far as the possibilities of it being them or not.”

(On what he learned about coaching from his father)

“I would say the number one thing is that it’s a people business and he was certainly right about that. It’s a people business as an assistant, but there are a lot of task jobs as an assistant coach. As a head coach, there are still some tasks involved, but I’m not the offensive or the defensive coordinator the way I’ve stressed to my staff, I’m the head coach. Maybe it’s just been the job, here in San Francisco that we’ve had to do in order to rectify a lot of things. But, if anything, his advice that it’s a people business and don’t lose sight of that. I’d say he was right on the money as far as the job goes.”

(On the Rams-***** rivalry)

“Rivalry, as far as I understand, is an issue of respect. You don’t have a rivalry when two teams don’t respect one another, and I think in this case you have respect between two teams. I believe that’s why the rivalry exists and as long as there’s respect, you’ll have exactly that.”

San Francisco QB Tim Rattay

(On how the *****’ attitude has changed from last year to this year)

“I think there is a really big difference. I think the team can feel it. Coach [Mike] Nolan came in here and is trying to get things his way in terms of everything done with this organization, meals, practice, just everything. I think the atmosphere, the energy around here is a lot better and obviously we need to translate that into wins, but it’s been a lot better.”

(On how he is the starting quarterback over rookie QB Alex Smith)

“That’s what Coach [Mike] Nolan sat down and told me, that it was going to be a competition. Obviously, Alex got a lot of reps early in camp, but I trusted Coach Nolan that it was a competition and that if I went out, played hard and competed that he would give the job to the one that won it and that’s what happened. So, I respect that he was honest with me. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun to compete and go through that, and it worked out.”

(On what he did during the off season)

“I had surgery on my right forearm to correct some stuff in there that was bothering me all year with my arm. I had a torn foot, actually against the Rams last year. That was the last game I played. I tore my foot the first series. I had to let that rest until mid-April, but after that I was really able to get my body ready and get working out pretty hard. I worked out in Arizona for a while and just kind of got my body ready which I wasn’t able to do last year. I just had to get the needed strength and everything to withstand a whole season. I feel good, I feel really healthy right now, I feel strong and hopefully that will just kind of carry me through the season.”

(On whether the quarterback position is glamorous)

“I think that’s true. You really need to get your body ready. It’s a long season and you get pounded a lot. So, you’ve got to keep up on the strength and the weights and that kind of stuff.”

(On how OL Thomas Herrion’s death affected the *****)

“Obviously it was a very, very tough thing to go through. That’s something you don’t really get over, to see something like that right in front of you. So that situation was hard, that was tough on this team. I think it brought us closer together in terms of rallying. We needed to; we needed to rally around the team because we were all involved in it. It wasn’t something that happened to half the team, it wasn’t something that happened to a couple guys, we were all there. It was the whole team. It’s just been a really tough thing that, like I said, has brought us closer and obviously, we’re doing everything we can to help Thomas’ family and feel for his family. It has brought us together and I think we need to keep Thomas in our thoughts as we go out for this season.”

(On what Coach Mike Nolan told the team following Herrion’s death)

“Early on he was just talking about the situation and stuff, but, obviously, we all know you have to move on, and you have to keep going out there and being competitive and keep working and stuff. So, he talked to us about that and we just have to keep going, keep being competitive and keep working and make sure our bodies are in shape and we’re doing what we can.”

(On if the team has accepted Coach Mike Nolan’s positive attitude)

“His first message and his first deal is that he wanted to win the [NFC] west. That’s our goal, to win the west and that’s why it’s good to start the first game against a west opponent. So, it’s kind of exciting because that’s our goal, to win the west. We’ve all bought into it; we all have that energy going. We have some new people in here, some new players and new coaches. It’s a new team. We have all forgotten about last year, it’s over, done with, we don’t look at that. It’s a new deal and we’re all excited to get this thing going and, obviously, reach our goal, which is to win the west.”

(On if he looks at the Rams as the team to beat)

“Obviously we know that the Rams are a good football team, and for the last, well, six or seven years, since I’ve been in the league, the Rams have been good every year. I’m not really sure the amount of times they have won the west, but I know they have been good every year. We’ve had a lot of good battles with them throughout the years. So, they are a team, obviously, that we need to go out and play well against. They have a lot of good players, offensively and defensively, and we know it’s going to be a good test for us.”

(On how he was affected by Hurricane Katrina)

“I have some friends that work down in New Orleans, but they got out before all that stuff happened. My school was in Shreveport, we’re kind of far away, about six hours. So, I’ve been to New Orleans a lot. I know a lot of people down there and a lot of people still in the state. It’s a devastating thing for the whole state of Louisiana, obviously, and for New Orleans and for that area.”