Bill, your unit was on the field for 35 minutes in the Washington game and 42-and-a-half on Sunday. How do you feel like they held up with the conditioning aspect of it, and just having to be out there that long, the mental aspect. What challenge is that to your group?**
COACH DAVIS: I tell you what, I thought they held up outstanding. When you watch the fourth quarter of that game and we just got done watching the clip as a group, you couldn't tell if it was the third play or the 77th play as far as playing the run and not getting knocked back and effort to the ball and finish.
There was a clip of [LB] Trent Cole running across the field to get [49ers QB Colin] Kaepernick out of bounds, I think it was the 71st play. I think the 75th play was [DE] Cedric [Thornton] busting through a double team and making the tackle for loss.
So us being on the field is a product it's the defense on the field with opposing offense and we have to get ourselves off the field. If we go a bunch of three and outs, it's not a long day, it's not that many reps. When we get drives extended through mistakes of our own or penalties, we are on the field longer.
So the defense on the field and the conditioning we are in, I still believe it's elite conditioning, when I watched the fourth quarter and the way we played and finished, that's there. What we have to do is break down and get rid of the mistakes, get rid of the penalties that extend downs and that's where us getting us off the field lies.
The pass rush we saw on Sunday, obviously it was more sacks gained, you had Kaepernick moving around a lot in the pocket. Is that ideally what you want to see out of a 3 4 pass rush with the linebackers, it would seem like the runs that were generating pressure. What were the d linemen doing in terms of freeing up those guys?
COACH DAVIS: I tell you what, I think both. I saw a lot of d-linemen flushing them, too. Depends, if you're talking about the third down it was a lot of the outside backers but they are rushing better as a group.
Every week that aspect of it, understanding there's a four man rush, what all four are responsible for, how they fit with the other rushers, I think as a group we really rushed better. He still got out and made his plays. We put a spy on him almost every third down in every instance we could. A couple of times, I don't want to just spy every play, want to get a little more rush, so you rush a little more and a couple of those that I didn't spy him, he got out on us.
When you face a quarterback like that, the pass rush is a very delicate thing. Do you slow down the rush and keep him in the pocket or do you let him rip and get him out of the pocket but then you give him an opportunity to make plays. I thought our guys are doing a better and better job of rushing as a group. I think there were six sacks out there, five or six and one or two got called back on penalties.
Did LB Connor Barwin get sent more than he usually does?
COACH DAVIS: It was actually the opposite. I actually spied him more and I was looking for more of the four or five man rush but a lot of times I actually spied him and he still had production.
That's one of the reasons why Connor Barwin is such a selfless guy. I don't know how many times I call a spy, that's one less rush he gets and he does it without thought and makes other guys get free. He fakes it like he's coming so well that other guys get one on one and he's off into the spy, so it's actually the opposite in that game.
Can you take us through the 49ers RB Frank Gore touchdown? Eagles head coach Chip Kelly seemed to suggest that LB Marcus Smith II didn't plaster himself to Gore.
COACH DAVIS: When we say plaster, plaster is when you're in a zone coverage and everybody has a zone on the field, and a quarterback gets out of the pocket and extends the play. So everybody has their coverage responsibility, and then the quarterback extends the play, and now we say plaster a man, and that zone turns into man, find the nearest guy to you, deep to short, and own them for the rest of the down. So our zone turned into man when they scrambled.
And all that happened, again we put on outside backer at the inside backer role and the eyes are the last thing as soon as you can get the eyes to get trained. Marcus started the down fine, the scramble happened and he left and took off running to where he thought the quarterback was running. We had nobody to cover Frank and he just leaked out of the coverage. He blocked and then leaked out and then our whole defense was on one half of the field and nobody but Frank Gore is on the other.
So everybody had to pursue. We had [S] Earl Wolff coming over there, would have liked to see him get that tackle down, let us play again at the 20. He missed it and it got in for a touchdown.
Is that a challenge for Smith II because most of his college career, his goal was to get the quarterback and it's not instinctual?
COACH DAVIS: Even if he was an outside linebacker and had the same flat responsibility or curl responsibility, he would have had the same thing. So the fact that we moved him inside just took his eyes into a different place and he'll be fine.
You spoke about penalties taking away sacks. One key one was on the Trent Cole sack where CB Cary Williams was called with the hold on 49ers WR Stevie Johnson did he really grab him?
COACH DAVIS: You know that was a close one. Penalties, that one, you can go either way with. But really there were some other plays, calls that went our way that could go either way with, too.
Really when I look at penalties and even ones that happened and really hurt late in the game, I know at the end of the season, it all evens out. Sometimes they don't even out in the game, but it does even out the officials are trying to get it right and sometimes it doesn't go your way. It still doesn't take away from the fact that we've got to make the rest of the plays happen.
So whether we agree or not, I think it can go either way. There are a couple they called against them and I thought, well, we got one there.
One call against them was the offensive pass interference where you had the choice to take the fourth-and-3 and you instead opted for the third-and-13. Are you part of the decision-making process?
COACH DAVIS: I was. Absolutely. They have got a great kicker, they already kicked a long one, right, and they were in a field goal range that he could make.
So, okay, if you take the penalty, we have to replay third down. It's an aggressive move but we backed him up down to the 35 where it's a longer one now and it's iffy and I chose to go with the blitz to try to get a sack, a quick throw or an incomplete to either make it out of field goal range where they don't even get their three or we make it still that long field goal.
When I went with the blitz, he had a better call than I did. I really will put that on myself. He did the quarterback sweep outside of the blitz, they cracked down, collapsed the side and we had one guy to make the tackle, he didn't make it and they got the first down. Aggressive move on our part but that's the way we're going to play this season out and we really did think we could make it not even a three point, take the field goal away.
Now, it ended up being a shorter field goal, we held them from the touchdown, and so whether we declined the penalty and they got their three there, or we played a couple more downs and they got the other three, the thought process was, let's go after this thing, keep it a three point game and go for it, and we came up short on that third down. It still was in my mind a move we would make again. It's an aggressive, attacking move that we collectively decided to do and we are fine with it.
How do you think you did in terms of setting the edge?
COACH DAVIS: That was our problem. That was our problem. The run game did not get us down the middle. The inside run game was not an issue. It was forced, crack, crack, replace. The edge of our defense, we gave up six big plays again this week. We have got to eliminate that.
Our six big plays, 20 [yards] or more, plus the four penalties that gave them first downs are what we have to eliminate. Consistency is our main issue defensively right now. We are so far ahead of where we were a year ago but these big plays were not hitting us as much. We have to make sure, and we talked about the details and we corrected and thoroughly went over everything, and if we can get these big plays off of us and be more disciplined with the penalties, the defense will grow the way we want it to grow.
The third-and-13, Kaepernick swept the left edge, what happened there?
COACH DAVIS: We had an all out blitz, so I really was blitzing the middle, and I had contain but they cracked the outside guys and got outside of it. It was a play where they leave you one guy and actually had a blocker for him. It was a better call than I had. I really don't have a player to say, 'Boy, I wish he would have played this part better.' Trent Cole damn near got it, he went way upfield, but Kaepernick got outside him and they had a better play than he had.
Chip says he has no concern about time of possession but your defense has been on the field longer than anybody. Do you at any point have a conversation with Chip about, 'Hey, we have to find a way to get my guys off the field,' because in the long haul it's going to wear on you?
COACH DAVIS: Never had that conversation. Because again, their offense is on the field with our defense. Nobody can help our defense get off the field but us. So long, extended drives are nobody's fault but ours. If we put a bunch of three and outs up there, we are not on the field for that many snaps.
The penalties and the other things we are talking about, the missed assignments or the plays that go big, that's us getting us off the field. We can be a better defense by being a more consistent defense but play time, again, there's not an offensive player or nobody else but us are responsible for getting us off the field and we are very well aware of the number of snaps we have so far and we have got to make sure we do a better job of getting that down.
How do you think the corners played this past week?
COACH DAVIS: At times they played real well and like the whole team, we are just inconsistent right now and we have to get consistency at all positions. I can't say one position, corner, safety, inside, outside, d-line played a complete game and I can't say anybody played poorly or outstanding. Just the consistency is what we need to get.
At one point in the base, you had CB Bradley Fletcher on the sideline and CB Nolan Carroll II on the field. Is that a direction where is that something you'll be doing more?
COACH DAVIS: We were getting a rotation going and the next guy was for Cary but then Nolan and [CB Brandon] Boykin got hurt. We were in a situation early in that game where we had a rotation that was going like we planned from day one. We have not gotten to it every game, they take on their own life, but we were going to do that move and Nolan went down and Boykin went down so. Now our nickel and dime were in jeopardy, those packages.
So we said okay leave the corners back in, let the guys get to their injuries and let's just play ball as is. You will see a rotation going, like we have planned the whole time. It's just, 'When can I activate it; when can I get it going?' Like I said early on, every safety, corner, inside backer, outside backer, d line, we have a rotation planned. Some get activated quicker than others and some games you'll see a lot of it. We almost had it this game. Cary was ready on the sideline for Nolan to go in and take that series but Nolan is down and Cary is back in and we go from there.
S Malcolm Jenkins has had interceptions in each of the last three games. Has he been better than what you expected?
COACH DAVIS: He's been, I'll say yes to that. We were expecting a lot from him. We really liked what we saw on tape. He wasn't everyone's pick but he definitely was our No. 1 guy that we were going after for what he fit and how he fit us, and he's lived up and beyond our expectations.
How does he fit so well?
COACH DAVIS: Well, he's a quarterback of our defense, a highly intelligent football player and a willing tackler. He can cover a slot receiver man to man. He went down and played the nickel when Boykin was hurt and did a great job of it.
What do you see when you look at the Rams offense?
COACH DAVIS: It's a highly efficient offense. [QB Austin] Davis, the quarterback that has been in and [QB] Shaun Hill, who I was with earlier in my career, they are very decisive with where they want to go with the ball. They are very accurate, both of them. But Davis is getting better and better as he goes, the films I've watched to this point.
But it's a quick, rhythmic, accurate, timing passing game that they are moving the sticks with, and they have got some running backs that hit the hole hard and right up they are downhill runners, they are quick. They take exactly what you give them. They don't get greedy. It's really a high, efficient offense.
Have they had to change their offense without QB Sam Bradford?
COACH DAVIS: I haven't studied them in a while. Bradford has been in and out. I think it's [offensive coordinator Brian] Schottenheimer's offense that runs and I think Bradford would run a similar one if he were in.
Do you prepare for both Hill and Davis this week?
COACH DAVIS: Yes but luckily they are identical players. One is a little younger, one is a little older, one has more experience, one has less. But when you look at their skill set, they are very similar quarterback skill sets.
What did you see from the DT Beau Allen and DE Cedric Thornton, who both appeared active on Sunday?
COACH DAVIS: They both had very good games. They were technique sound and were strong in there. That's a big, physical offensive line. I like when you watch every snap of that tape, I love the way our defensive line held up to their big physical offensive line.
Like I said, it was not inside runs that were getting us. It was quarterback runs and outside runs that we have to get fixed. I was excited about the d line and the interior against a real physical offensive line.
The downhill running and quick hit offense of the Rams, is that similar to a scheme of the Redskins?
COACH DAVIS: It is similar so it will be probably the film that they will watch the most and a film that we will have to make sure that we have the issues that we had in the Redskins, high-efficiency passing game fixed and I think we do. I think we did as that game went on. It was a matter of, again, back to the Redskins, it was a bunch of thir-and-2s, third –and-3s, but we have to be ready for that.