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Transcript: Mike Smith Monday News Conference

Opening statement:

"Obviously, yesterday we didn't get the outcome that we wanted. It was a hotly contested football games against two good teams. Unfortunately, we didn't make enough plays to win the ballgame. As I said yesterday, congratulations to the 49ers who are representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. I know that our players right now are disappointed, but they're not discouraged because we did some very good things even though the finality of that game is a tough one to swallow, they'll bounce back. They're going to take some time to unplug, six to eight weeks. We just finished our last meeting. Our offseason program will start the week of April 24th. We'll start this process all over again."

On the tone of the last meeting and how it was received by the players:

"That's not a fun meeting. There is only one team that is going to be happy at the end of the season. I think the guys understand that it's a game of five or six plays that we talk about all the time. You just don't know when those five or six plays are going to occur. It's always a tough meeting because that's a group of guys that we put together back in April of last year and we know that that won't be the same group that will start in April this year. That's just a fact of the NFL. There will be changes. That will be the last time that that group of guys met together."

On QB Matt Ryan's shoulder:

"I can give you the information that I have. Matt has a sprained left shoulder. If we had had the outcome that we wanted last night, he would've participated in the game in New Orleans and he will not be playing in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii this week."

On it being a separated shoulder:

"I can't comment on that. I know it was a sprained left AC joint which is the shoulder. No surgical procedure. He will be rehabbing here over the next couple of weeks and he'll get on to his offseason. He will be here over the next couple of weeks."

On being ready to play April 24th for the offseason program:

"He will be ready to go. They feel like it's a three or four week recovery. Again, he would've played in two weeks."

On the effectiveness of DE John Abraham:

"John did everything in his power to get back. We didn't have the production that he would like to have and we would like to have. I think in hindsight, it did hamper him. He was not 100 percent, but at this time of year no body is 100 percent."

On Abraham's injury causing himself to second guess his week 16 decision:

"In terms of game 16, no. You can't second guess yourself as a coach. You evaluate at the end of the season, you evaluate at the end of every game, you can't look back."

On the coordinators both being back next year:

"I believe there are no head coaching jobs open right now, so I'm anticipating both of those guys being back. They've done an outstanding job for us this year. They were a great addition to our staff. They meshed well with the guys and it was a very collaborative effort throughout the season."

On running a 3-4 next year:

"Whatever we were going to do I wouldn't tell you. We like the flexibility of the defensive scheme that we have. It gives us a lot of flexibility. It allows us to be a four-man front and a three-man front. We'll delve into that in the offseason in terms of our evaluation, and as we put our roster together. I think that will also determine if we will be basing out of the 3-4 or a 4-3."

On getting his first playoff victory:

"It was not our goal this year just to win a playoff game. Our expectations are a lot higher than that. Where we were going in the process in the road we were going down that was one of the milestones that we had to reach. I think it was a very good learning experience this entire season for us as a football team, as a coaching staff. It allows us to take some of the good and some of the bad that took place this season, work on it in the offseason, and prepare ourselves for another season in 2013."

On WR Julio not being as involved in the offense in the second half:

"The targets are going to be based on how people are defending us. I am quite confident that Coach Fangio at halftime said, 'We're going to make sure that we give more resources to stop number 11 in the second half.' He didn't have as many targets. We're not as efficient with the two turnovers in two of our drives both on the plus side of the 50. It kind of changed a little bit in terms of the number of snaps. We had complete control in the first half of time of possession. In the second half, that was not the case."

On what TE Tony Gonzalez has meant to this team:

"Tony Gonzalez without a doubt in my mind is the greatest tight end to ever play the game. I think his numbers speak for themselves. He probably revolutionized that position. There are many players that have the same skillset now playing that position, but he was really the first athletic tight end that had a basketball background. In terms of what he's done for our football team and our organization, it's immeasurable. Not just at the tight end position and his position. It's what he brings when he comes to the building. It's instant credibility. It gives us as a coaching staff and me as a coach to tell a young guy, 'Hey, you see him over there. Just mimic everything he does and you're going to be a better player by doing that.' We've got lots of guys that do that in terms of what he's brought out on the practice field and how the guys work when quote they're not working. It's amazing to watch these guys catching balls because Tony Gonzalez was out their catching extra balls."

On him possibly changing his mind:

"I'm going to stay with my standard line. I'm hoping for the five percent. Tony handled this very well all season long. He spoke at the beginning of the season and said this is where my head is, and I don't think he's deviated from that."

On lobbying for him to come back:

"Tony and I will have a conversation over the next couple of weeks. This is a tough day and in the next couple of days it's tough. With the finality, I don't think we need to be discussing anything like that."

On feeling like this defense was good enough to win a championship:

"I think this defense wasn't at the level of the defense that I coached on the championship team in 2000. I don't think there ever was a team. That team gave up 165 points throughout a season. That was an NFL record. I thought that our guys, Mike Nolan, and his staff, did a very good job."

On needing more playmakers on defense going forward:

"I think we need more playmakers across the board. I think that's the goal each and every year to add players. The way that the system is in place you can't do it all the way across the board. There is a draft that allows you to draft X amount of players depending on compensatory picks and such. We're always trying to add and put the best possible combination together and I think that Thomas (Dimitroff) and his staff have done an outstanding job in providing us with players. This year's emphasis will be different than last year's, obviously."

On deciding who will come back on this team for next year that are eligible for free agency and when will you watch the tape from yesterday's game:

"We watched the video this morning and went through the normal process of evaluation and the grading of the film talking about our players. The timetable for that is basically dictated by the collective bargaining agreement in terms of when free agency begins. I don't think it's really appropriate to talk about that at this point in time. We know there are going to be decisions that need to be made. Thomas and his staff have been working on that all season long. They are always evaluating the League, and they are so far ahead in terms of the college draft eligible players. We will be taking a couple of days off as a coaching staff and we will be turning the page and flipping it very quickly. I'll be at the Senior Bowl tomorrow morning and get my first opportunity to look at the college players."

On the highs and the lows of the game yesterday:

"There were a lot of ebbs and flows in that ballgame yesterday. When two teams that are equally matched, and I think the score indicated it yesterday that those were two equally matched teams. You could flip the coin and say the same thing to the San Francisco 49ers. That was a hard fought game and in the end they made more plays than we did for the totality of the ballgame."

On being aware that Ryan had a hurt shoulder and think about taking a timeout:

"I was aware and no not at all. In terms of if we didn't we wanted to be able to get the ball back. Unfortunately, we had to burn a timeout earlier in the half. If we had not burned that timeout we would've had another 40 seconds and we would've gotten the ball at 50 yard line with 46 seconds to go instead of six seconds. Guys, we can go through and nitpick the majority of the plays and say that that could've been the play that sealed the outcome. We don't know that. That's why we go out and play it."

On being one position away from getting to the Super Bowl:

"I'm not going to speak about our roster and our team building. That will go through the normal time frame that we do with free agency coming up. That's probably the first thing, and then you have to deal with talking about the players on your team signing them back first. Those will be the first discussions that we'll have."

On this being a lost opportunity:

"When you start the season you have your goals and your expectations and I'll say our goals and our expectations were much higher than just playing in this game yesterday as a team. You never know when you're going to have that opportunity to have that situation arise again. The only thing you can do is try and take advantage of it. We didn't take advantage of it yesterday, so now we have to regroup and talk about moving forward. Moving forward for us and our football team is getting prepared for the 2013 season."

On watching the film the second time around:

"It's a little more emotional the second time around simply because when you watch one play early, you know that there is something that is going to take place later on because you've already seen it once. You've seen this show. The other thing is you have the ability to look at the plus plays and the minus plays altogether. There are different ways that we look at it. You don't necessarily always watch it in the sequence that it took place in the game."

On the read-option being figured out this offseason:

"I'm not sure I can answer that question because we really don't know that answer. There are trends that take place in the game of football. I do know this, there will be a lot of defensive coordinators that will be vetted by their head coach to really spend a lot of time because some of the most successful teams this year ran that style offense. It's going to be very important for teams that want to be successful to figure out a way to defend it. More and more from the college ranks you are seeing those types of quarterbacks. I don't think that trend is going to stop and I think it's important for the defensive coaches to really spend a whole lot of time this offseason on trying to get a very good understanding of that offense. I think that we do. We know the strengths and weaknesses of it. It's very multi-faceted. It's not your typical option run type of offense. They still have the ability to throw the football and when you have the ability to throw the football and when you're spending resources on accounting for the quarterback, it changes the math across the board on defense. It is much different. If you're trying to stop one thing, you're going to have less resources for another. It is a dilemma for a defensive coach right now."

On putting all the resources to the run leading to the tight end being open:

"I'm not going to talk about our strategy yesterday. The last two weeks, the tight end was the position that had the most production. We've got a plan. We go in with a plan saying that we have to make these things happen and when you do you create a situation where you may not have as much emphasis on something else."

On not ruling out having a 3-4 defense:

"I'm not ruling out anything. I think the thing that you do as a coach is that you always evaluate your roster first and you want to put them in a position to be successful whether it's a 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 6-1. Whatever it takes for us to be successful and I think that's what the offseason is all about. We get out of this weekly cycle that we've been living in and it changes for a coach. We have to now do some personnel work, but we also get to do some evaluating of schemes of what other people are doing. We get to look at what other teams are doing."

On Ryan taking a tangible stride this year:

"Without a doubt, I thought Matt had an outstanding season. I think the numbers speak for themselves. I've said this many times, we changed and we were very transparent about it. We weren't going to be a team that had a running back that carried the ball 300 times. When you make that statement, obviously it means you're going to be throwing it. We did a good job in that transition. It starts with Matt when you want to be able to throw the football and we have a lot of resources for him to work with. I thought Julio took a gigantic step in his maturation process right along with Matt. I thought both of those guys did a really nice job for us this year."

On any problems defensively getting the plays in with the crowd noise:

"There were some issues and work off of hand signals as well, but there were some issues. The crowd noise was outstanding. Someone told me late last night that the Fox network had to tune it out it was so loud. That's a great thing. It was a loud building for their broadcasting that they had to tune some of the crowd noise out. When we're at home we've got to do a very good job of communicating and when you can't do it verbally you have to do it with hand signals. There were a couple of times that we were out of position."

On any other players that surprised him this year in their development:

"LB Sean Weatherspoon took a big step this year. He has become the leader of our defense. As a linebacker, he has a lot on his plate and  I thought he handled it extremely well running the defense. In Mike's (Nolan) system there is a lot of audibles at the line of scrimmage on the defensive side. I thought he did a real nice job. I thought there were some guys at the end of the season on the defensive side of the ball that had more playing time and did a pretty good job. I thought that DE Cliff Matthews did a very good job. On the offensive side of the ball, I thought OG Peter Konz who came into the lineup because of an injury did an outstanding job. He played very well down the stretch as a rookie offensive lineman. He drew some tough draws and he did a very good job."

On the roll out on the third down at the end of the game:

"We put plays in the incubator. They might be practiced for four or five weeks and they'll be brought out in certain times. Unfortunately, the ball was batted down. In those crucial plays, those are plays that most of the time had in our incubator for a number of weeks."

On it being hard to come into work this morning:

"It's not fun to come to work after the outcome that we had yesterday because of the finality of knowing that we're not going to go out on the practice field with this group. It is tough. One of the things that you have to do is there is a period that you feel down and you understand that the game is the last game that you're going to play this year. You will move on and you have to move on quickly. For me personally, getting to Mobile and switching gears and start looking at the potential players that we may be able to add to our roster will get it out of my mind as quickly as possible."

On QB Matt Ryan having the reins to the offense going forward with Gonzalez probably retiring:

"We kind of gave the reins to Matt this year in terms of what we're trying to get done offensively. It's always changing. I don't want to speculate. I'm holding out for the five percent on Tony Gonzalez. Matt, in my mind, is an elite quarterback in the National Football League. The number of games that he's won in his first five years says that. The way he plays, the way he operates the offense, the way he distributes the ball, his understanding of the game, he is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL."

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