"We'll give credit to San Francisco. I thought they played a really good game, in terms of the toughness and the effort. Hard fought both sides. I'll get right to the start of it, the sequencing at the end of the game, the fourth down play, I chose to kick it there. Thought we were getting the stops defensively, we'd get the kick, get stops, use our timeouts and then go attack on offense. We're a really good two minute team on offense. So, that was the reasoning for it. We didn't stop them on the third down, they converted. Really that's where the game took place, so I wanted to make sure I explained our thinking going into that one. And, I was pleased to see the turn over from the defense. That part was encouraging for sure. Something we've been preaching in a big way. Now, I'll open it up to the questions regarding the game."
Given that rationale on the road, we've seen folks go for the win there. Was there any thought to running a play there and try to score a touchdown?
"Yeah, I think, I'm always prepared for them. The way I chose to do it in that one was to, 'Let's kick it, get the stop.' I felt like we were stopping defensively and we'd go stop it again and go win it that way. Looking back, yeah, it's always a chance to second guess. You have two ways to go win it, go try and get it right there, kick, get another stop and then go down. So, could have went either way. I chose to go the way to kick it and get a stop and go win it in two minute. I just have such belief in our guys both offensively and defensively. That's just the way I chose and that didn't work out for us today."
Did you have a belief too that Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman could pick up the yardage that you need in that situation?
"I totally do, and it just happened to be for me, I believed in the defense that we were going to get the stops as well. So, it was really both sides it was just, 'OK, which way do we want to go with this one?' Looking back, of course, I'd love to give it to him and end it there. That's not how it went. Thought we'd kick it, get the stop. Third down stop, first down play, second down play, use our timeouts, and make them punt, and then go attack again. If we had to kick a field goal to win it, we would do that. That's where the thoughts were going."
What about what you guys were doing defensively led you to believe you would get the call back? Because, obviously they had made plays.
"Yeah, I think just the fact that we were playing better on third down that they hadn't scored in the second half. Those were the kind of thoughts going in. I just felt confident we would get the stops to do it. I thought in the four minute situation we would get the runs, or get a pass, or keep it on third down. So, for us not to do that, that was where the game came down, to us not getting a stop on third down."
The other thought about this game is that you're even in that position against a team that obviously was reeling. You guys played a poor game last week. Some people would say you had an embarrassing loss at home to a mediocre team. How do you come back and have a performance like this against another team that's reeling?
"It's a really disappointing anytime to have back to back losses. For us to be at our best, our whole team working together, getting turnovers, not turning the ball over, attacking like we'd like to. So, when we're not playing our best it makes it hard on us. Both losses, any of them are difficult, and certainly this one was, because we thought we had a chance to win it there at the end and we didn't."
What did you see on the replay, on the challenge that you did on the fourth down that cost you your third timeout?
"It did, and we really felt like we had the stop. So, that was the total rationale, to say, 'Alright, let's go take a shot at it,' and see if that could be the one to knock it back. So, it was just a gut feeling, and one we went with to say, 'Alright, let's move it back, and have a punt, and go from there."
Recently, offensively it's usually been the case of you guys stopping yourselves with the turnovers and you're having some problems. That really wasn't the case today. You guys didn't turn the ball over. What is the problem?
"I'll go back for us to look and see for us to be at our best, in the throw game, in the pass game. What are the issues that came up today? And, that's when we'll go back and look at it on tape. In all phases of the stuff, third down stuff, red zone information, and we'll get a better feel after we look at the tape."
I know this has been asked many times, almost every week, but what's the deal with Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White? It seems like rarely, if ever, is he a primary receiver on a play. Seldom does he even seem like the secondary target on a play. I don't think he was targeted until late in the third quarter in this game.
"Yeah, he had a big third down catch for sure. It depends on the package that we're in and where the reads take us. So, that's really where it goes to. It's not a matter of going to him, or not going to him. It's really where the reads of the coverage that we're playing. Where does it go? If we have it go to one guy and it's man-to-man, or you know middle field is open, we'll go outside. If not, you know some of the reads take us inside."
I know you expressed confidence in your defense, but you also gave up a couple touchdowns to a tight end, and there's been some issues with the tight end. How do you tighten that up?
"Yeah, for sure it's a problem. It's technique is what it comes down to. One was a corner and we can play our top shoulder better. So, it wasn't a function of can we not match up on tight end, we were in a zone coverage. We didn't play the technique as good as we're capable of. So, those are things we have to improve on for sure. It wasn't specific to a tight end necessarily as it was playing a play. Does that make sense?"
The run attack was shut down. Devonta 12 yards, 12 carries today. What did they do to take that part of the offense away from you?
"Yeah, for sure. We usually have good success on our outside wide zone plays, and I think some of the TFLs were really what took us and made us into some long yardage, second down scenarios for us today. So, you know the edge set did a good job. The pressure that came with it and some of the runs. We'll go back and look at it, and find the ways to go correct it and go attack again."
How much is this a learning experience for you, to be in this kind of situation, a tough decision you had to make and everything like that? Probably, one of the first one's that you've had.
"There's been a number of them. And, for us to go on the fourth down plays, or not to go for them, that's part of the job that goes with me. I kind of had a sequence of how this would go to win the game, and it didn't work out that way today. I thought we would get the kick, get the stop, go kick it again if we had to to go get the win. That's kind of how I envisioned it going in, and it didn't happen for us in that way today. So, that was my goal for how it went down, and it didn't execute it like we thought."
Did you have a sense during the week, after the way you guys played last week, that you would respond better this week?
"I did. When we went back to it, we did a good job in practice. We had a big emphasis in terms of taking the ball away, and taking care of it, and we responded in that way like I hoped we would. So, for us to have the turnovers, and not give it up, and not have the results we want, that made it real hard for us today. Usually, in terms of taking care of the ball, and going after it, and getting turnovers, you know theformula for us usually equals win, and that didn't happen today. We'll go back and look, and find where are the areas we can certainly improve on."
Did you feel things were going to change in your way when Atlanta Falcons OLB Vic Beasley Jr. got the interception?
"I certainly did. It was a big play for us. I thought it was good pressure that was called. It was one we've done a few times this year, but for him to go catch it just kind of shows the athletic ability that he has. That was a really big play in the game."
I know coming into this season a lot of people wondered what your pass rush would be like. Obviously, you guys are banged up in the secondary now and you've got a few guys out, but offensively would you agree you guys aren't performing given what you guys have on the field? "Offensively, or defensively?"
Offensively. Defensively, I think some people expected problems, is what I'm saying and you're banged up right now. Offensively, do you think you guys are underperforming given what you do have on the field?
"Well, I know for us, in terms of performing today, we're not at our best. When you look at it for us overall in terms of third downs and moving, that part we're doing good. We took care of the ball better today. I can't wait to go back and look and find how those points can convert. Those are the ones for us that's going to be a big factor. Although, we didn't run the ball well today like we have every game up until today. Throwing the ball we didn't have time. I can't wait to go back and look to see how we can specifically get better. The Bye is going to be a good time for us to take a look at the things we have to improve on, each player, scheme, all the things that we go into when we go into the Bye. Then come out the other end and experience these are the things we're doing well."
What's closer to your team? The first four games or the last four games?
"Certainly the first four games. For us, we're at our best when we're attacking and flying. The effort, the toughness, the finish, so that's when we're at our best. It's disappointing for us to have back to back losses. For us to be at our best and have that kind of performance, it's disappointing."
When you think those first four games are closer to reality of what you guys are?
"I absolutely do, and knowing the style we can play and the playmakers on both sides, I absolutely do."
Were you surprised by the number of blitzes?
"I think anytime you go against a team how do you want to choose the feature to play. They hadn't had as many the last couple of games, but earlier in the season they had a few games they did. So, it just depends on which opponent they were playing."
Before the game there was a transaction on moving up Atlanta Falcons CB Akeem King and releasing Atlanta Falcons CB Dezmen Southward. What was the rationale behind the decision?
"It really came down to the competition and we felt Akeem has developed exactly as we would hope to. So, we thought this opportunity would present itself and it certainly did with the injuries to [Atlanta Falcons CB] Robert [Alford]. This was the time that we choose to do that."
Did you want to go for it on fourth down there at the end?
"No, I trusted in [Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan] Q [Quinn] and I thought he made the decision that he was confident our defense would get the stop. I felt like we were going to have a chance to go down the field and get the field goal to win. That's part of the game but everyone in this organization and in that locker room has Q's back. We believed in the decision at the time and we thought our defense was going to get it done. But from an offensive perspective we had three opportunities to punch it in before that. That's where we've got to get it done."
Did your recent woes inside the five help lead to that decision?
"No, I thought Q made the decision that he thought was going to lead us to get a win."
Falcons RB Devonta Freeman doesn't touch the ball on that drive inside the 10. I'm not questioning the play calling but could you explain that?
"Just the way they played us. Obviously we had play calls designed to use Devonta. But the way they played us in those situations dictated the ball goes to another spot. That's just part of the deal when you get into the red zone and they pressure. You have to use your pressure options and we did that. We just didn't find a way to get it in the end zone."
In various situations they seemed like they knew what was coming. Do you think you guys have become a little too predictable in what you're running and that you should change it up a bit?
"I think anytime you don't play up to your standards, we're all going to evaluate what we need to do differently. But from a play calling standpoint, I thought [Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] called a good game. From a player's perspective, we've got to make it work and that's always the mindset that I have. I don't think from a player's perspective we did enough to get it done."
Falcons WR Roddy White keeps saying "we're going to play faster," when is it going to get done? When will you make that turn to get back to where you were at the start of the season?
"I think it gets done during this Bye Week. We have the opportunity to be critical and self-evaluate and find out what we're doing well because I think there are a lot of things we've done well. It's been nine weeks. We also need to find out what we're not doing as well and either change what you're doing or just trying to get better at those things. I think it'll be a good opportunity for us without having a game plan to take a look at what we do and try and improve."
Did you expect something better than last week after losing to Tampa Bay?
"I think you always expect something better after you play poorly. We didn't do it today though. We didn't play up to the way that we're capable and I think San Francisco did a nice job, they played well defensively. You certainly always expect that you're going to come out and rebound and play better than you have and we just didn't do that today."
Would you like to see Falcons WR Roddy White more involved in the offense?
"That's one of the things that happen through the course of the game as a quarterback. Just thinking about coverage and where to dictate that ball. Obviously you'd love all your guys to be involved and making plays and everyone playing great. The ball hasn't found him as much early in the season. It's a long season and I really feel like he's going to make a lot of plays and be a big part of what we do moving forward."
At what percentage of time do you change the plays that are coming in?
"I don't know. I may have to go back and chart to find out the percentages but we do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage based on the checks. I don't know the percentage though."
What did they do to shut down your rushing attack?
"I thought they did a great job kind of setting the edge on us. Their outside linebackers did a great job on spilling it to their inside linebackers. I think [LB] NaVorro Bowman is one of the premiere linebackers in this league and I thought he played really well today."
RB Devonta Freeman:
The running game didn't get going today for really the first time this season. What do you think was happening out there?
"Much credit goes out to that defense man. They have some great players over there. They have nice schemes, stop the run, and they just did their job. They did a hell-of-a job actually. It still comes down to us making plays, create opportunities, taking advantage of the small opportunities. There were times when I could have made a better cut. On one play on third and short I got a first down but it could have been a bigger play if I would have kept my balance a little more. We have to take this 'L' learn from it and get better. This defense was really good and much credit goes to them."
It looked like they were really focused on setting the edge and not letting you outside. Was that their focus?
"I was talking to [LB NaVorro] Bowman at the end of the game he was like coming into practice 'we watched a lot of film on you'. He was like they know I am going to slash you if I get to the edge, it was going to be a long night for them. He said they just watched a lot of film and they set the edges on us and wasn't going to let me go outside and I respect that."
You got it down there at fourth down at the two. Did you guys lobby to go for it to get a chance to punch in a touchdown at the end?
"It was one of those things when coach thought we were going to get the ball back. We believe in him. I believe in him. It is just not happening like that. That time we learn from it, we don't go for it or whatever the decision the coach makes we are going to live with it. Whatever happens, happens."
WR Julio Jones:
Going into the BYE Week how can you guys get back to the team that you were at the beginning of the season?
"We just have to practice faster and it will carry over to the game. I feel like we are doing all of the right things time and time again. Our mindset going in was not turning the ball over and today we didn't turn the ball over. Now we just have to continue to keep getting things fixed and play faster. Hopefully we will be back to where we need to be."
Can you talk about the performance of the team today?
"We just have to play faster. We are doing all of the right things, we just have to play a little faster as far as getting in and out of the huddle."
LB O'Brien Schofield:
It was a close game that didn't go your way. What are your thoughts as you go into the bye week?
"It's a little disappointing that we didn't come out with a win. But the focus is to take care of our bodies, get healthy and come back ready to take over and play better ball. In the second half of our season, we just have to understand what's in front of us, take it one play at a time, one game at a time and do it together."
How important is it for you guys to keep that perspective? You are 6-3 and still have a long way to go?
"We have such high expectations for ourselves. We're not looking at the 6-3. We're looking at games we allow to slip away from us because we weren't executing as well as we can. This bye week is coming at a good time because we can refocus, come back with some good energy and be ready to go."
Is it challenging for you to prepare for two quarterbacks?
"We didn't think 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was going to play. We had a good understanding of how the offense can change with him in there. Our main purpose was stopping the run. They did a good job managing the game today."
They didn't score in the second half. What was going better for the defense?
"Tackling was a lot better. We had a lot of guys wrapping up for tackles as opposed to a lot of solo tackles."
T Ryan Schraeder:
Did they attack you guys any differently than you expected them to?
"I don't think so. I wouldn't know. I have to watch the film. I know they gave us a lot of pressure and looks. I don't know if that's what screwed us up. It's tough to tell. You have to give it to them. They figured us out and we just have to come back, take a little break and get back after it."
You're no stranger to this type of game. What do you see as the difference between the ones you win and the ones you lose?
"You can always say 'what if.' There's a couple of plays here and there and we'd be in the locker room all happy and excited for the bye week. Sometimes, the ball doesn't roll your way. You have to make your corrections and move on."
How do you keep some perspective going into the bye week? You guys are 6-3 and still have a lot to play for in the second half of the season.
"We just have to get away, take some time off and regroup. I feel like everybody we've got in this locker room will be ready to get it going again and get after it."
TE Jacob Tamme:
Another game when you guys moved the really well, is it just a matter of finishing off drives for you guys?
"We didn't move it as well today. There are a lot of things we could have done better offensively. They did a nice job on defense. They have a good defense. People look at records, that stuff doesn't mean anything in this league. They have a very stout defense. They have had a very good defense for a long time. They played well today. So you have to give them some credit. There are definitely some things we can be better at offensively."
A couple of these games here have been close. These are not games you are a stranger to. How do you assess the difference between the wins and the losses?
"It is all close in this league. You have to win close games. We have won some close ones and we have lost some close ones. Very rare do get those blow outs either way. It is little stuff here and there. Things we can get better at offensively from my standpoint there are little things all over the place where maybe we can extend a drive somewhere and get on the board. Defense held us in there. Again just like last week, everybody in the building, and everybody on our team thinks we are going to go win the game tight there. We have all the confidence in the world that we are going to do it. Whether we score there at the end, or whether we kick the field goal and stop them and get the ball back. Either way we felt that we had a chance to win the game, but you have to give them credit."
The last few games really have not gone your way, how important for you guys is it for you to keep perspective that you are still 6-3 and very much in everything as you come back?
"You hit tough stretches in every season in this league. There are very few times when you go through the course of a whole season and you don't have a little bit of a tough stretch somewhere. The key is can we get a little bit of a good streak going here? It will start when come back from the Bye. I think we need to get rested and get everybody recuperated for a little bit. Get away from it for just a second and come back refreshed and ready to go, and go make that run".
CB Desmond Trufant:
San Francisco 49ers QB Blaine Gabbert scrambled a little bit and got some yards did you guys expect that today?
"We knew that he could run. Obviously, probably not as fast as Colin Kaepernick but he still could run. He made some plays. That third down play was a big run that he made at the end. Sometimes it happens like that but overall I think that we were solid."
Going into the BYE Week, what do you guys have to fix, what do you have to work on?
"I think we just have to take advantage of opportunities. If the game is right there for us to win, we have to go and get it in all phases. We are going to be good, we play hard and we will put it together. We are 6-3 and we are still right in the thick of things."
WR Roddy White:
It was another step back for the offense today, what was the problem out there?
"I don't know. Our returner did an excellent job at getting us great field position all day long. It seemed like we were not moving the ball. I think we just have to play a little faster. We have to up-tempo the ball, get up to the line of scrimmage run plays and not let the defense dictate what we do on offense, but we dictate what they do on defense. They do a good job at holding coverages and waiting for the last minute to show things. Their safeties do a really good job of that. It confuses our quarterback because they hold stuff so late, but we just have to get up to the line of scrimmage and run plays. To make those guys line up as fast as possible, to know what they are in so we can get completions. It is a step back for us because the last couple of weeks we haven't been scoring. We thought that we would get off the slide this week and score a few touchdowns but that wasn't the case. So, we have to go back to the drawing board."
You guys didn't take many shots down the field, were they doing anything to keep you guys from going over the top?
"I just don't think that we called that many today. We had some opportunities. We have to find some other ways to get some shots to get over the top of people. To get them to open up the window, so we can catch the ball underneath."
The run game didn't get going today. Did that contribute to the problem?
"No, I think they just did a good job with setting the edge. They have some guys whom we watched on film all week that do a really good job at setting the edge and not allowing you to stretch them out. That is what they did today."