On whether there's some way to get cornerback on the field more: "Well, if there's some way you could do it, yes. Right now we're very happy with who we have out there and the situation we have, and we're very, very pleased with Boykin, what he's doing and what he brings. I can't say enough about him. It's a starting position for us. I know it isn't to you guys, but the nickel spot is a starting position that plays in every game. They dictate what personnel group is in, what we're going to match them with. I think since we've been here, Brandon has done a great job of getting better and better, and you saw at the end of the game he made two key plays for us, and we love what he's giving us and we love what he's bringing."
On whether cornerback Bradley Fletcher gave Washington receivers a lot of cushion by design: "He mixed it up. Early on we struggled a little bit there, but then we tightened it up. It has to do with splits. There's split rules, how close are you to the line of scrimmage, how wide are you, kind of dictates when you're up what's the call. There's different responsibilities in their thirds, we've got different calls that make him responsible for two guys at times, sometimes only one guy. They can press more when they're responsible for one. There's all kinds of calls that go into it that change when you can be up and back, and we try to keep that target moving so on offense you can't say hey, they're exactly in this technique and this kind of call."
On what benefit there is to having Boykin on the sideline for 66 percent of the game: "What personnel groupings are they in? It matters. If you want to start him at corner, then you say he's better than Fletch and [CB] Cary [Williams] out there, and right now we're in a place where we think that the starting corners - obviously we start who we think are the best players at those positions, and we love what he's doing at nickel, and nickel is a different animal, and we're really happy about what he's doing in there at the nickel spot, and then when we play games with more nickel, he gets more opportunities."
On whether teams are intentionally using fewer receivers to keep Boykin off the field: "No, no they're not. I think people come in with their own plan, and a lot of times we stay base personnel 1st and 2nd down, which is slowly getting them out of those things because they try to get you in nickel and dictate what you're in, and we try to say, hey, we're going to be in what we want to be in and then we'll play from there knowing what's coming at us. Is it the run game, is it the pass game? A year ago in Denver I put him out there a ton and some of the 11 and 12 and they ran at it, and you're like, why is he out there? Well, it's give and take with what they're presenting us and what we're going to match them with, and I couldn't be happier with Boykin. Love him."
On any concern about Boykin playing outside because of his height: "No, not at all. Boy, you guys are beating me up on Boyk today. I can't say this enough, I love the guy and I love what he brings and I love him in the nickel spot. There's only 11 spots on the field. If there were 12 he'd be out there. He'd be next guy in there."
On whether his drop in snaps is just a product of what teams are giving: "Exactly, and I bet it changes as the year goes on. I bet we hit two or three game stretches where he's got 50 percent or more. I really do believe it. It's just what's presenting us. A lot of teams are trying to come at us with a run. Right now it's 50/50 play calling against run and pass, and they're balanced, and that's not what you ever want, but part of that is because we start in a hole so often that we're behind that they get run or pass, and we've got to play both. When it becomes just a pass game then he'll be out there a lot more. When it's just a run game, he won't, just from the nature of our calls versus their calls."
On what Fletcher could have done better on the touchdown passes: "On the Young one he could probably just get a little bit closer. You know what happened is they shifted and we got to a check so everything was happening late, they hurried up there empty knowing that we would probably check, and when we did, we didn't get up and aligned quick enough because it was a shift, set, hike, so it was just a matter of timing. We've got to have our tempo a little bit faster, and on the other one just an inside alignment."
On whether he thinks the defense is getting enough pressure from the defensive lineman: "I do. The ball was coming out quick in that game, and I'll tell you what, [QB] Kirk Cousins played a great game. I've got to take my hat off to him and his receivers. He was making some tight throws into coverage and they were catching it and they were moving the ball. The ball was coming out extremely fast. We pressured them early in that game, and we're not getting that. There were some unblocked players that it doesn't visually - you don't see it unless you watch the tape because the ball was out of his hands so quick. I think another product of that is the 3rd downs. Nine out of the 15 were 3rd and 3 or less, which we can't have that. You're not going to have a 3rd down defense if they're 9 out of 15 or 3rd and 3 or less, they're going to win more, and that's what you were seeing. You were seeing the quick little four yard outs at 3rd and 3, and they were converting, and I think we had four 12 play drives in that first half. We've got to get ourselves off the field quicker and part of that is making 3rd and manageable for us. 3rd and short is very difficult to defend."
On any common threads he's been able to find about the first-half struggles: "No, not other than we've got to find a way to start faster and play tighter coverage early, stop the run, get that 3rd down to where it's more manageable I think in the second half. That was the difference in our 3rd downs. It was 3rd and 8, 3rd and 9, 3rd and 10, and then the 4th and 10 came up, and we played them. We got off the field on every one of those. It was the 3rd and 3 or less that got us."
On guarding against San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick: "Kaepernick has got that running quarterback skill set with a huge arm, so he can throw it vertically, he can make any throw. When he extends a down, he's probably at his best. When he's running around like the [Pittsburgh QB Ben] Roethlisbergers of the world and those guys that can get out of the pocket and find the open receiver and have the big arm to get it there. So we're back to where we have to defend him as a runner and him as a thrower, him in the pocket, him out of the pocket. It just stretches you out a little bit that you have to defend more things when you're dealing with a quarterback of his talents."
On his concern about players being tired over the course of the season: "Zero. Zero concern. We train in a great way. The sports science we have, the way we handle it, there's no concern. I actually think we are the strongest team in the fourth quarter, and it shows. We keep finishing the games. Where others don't have it in the tank, we have it in the tank, and it shows. Three games in a row now where we stepped up, and that last four plays that we had, to touch on that, we weren't playing well at all in that game and we gave up a lot of yards and all those things, and most teams I've been with would let those bad plays - we had five X plays. Most of the time you get in such a tank that at the end of the game when you have to defend six yards to win it, you don't have the mental toughness to do it because you're still frustrated from the bad game you're playing, and our group didn't show any signs of that. They showed such mental toughness and strength that we had to defend six yards for four downs, and they stepped up and got that done, and I think a product of that is the elite condition that we are in."
On how to balance opinions and feelings of players about the intense practice: "Of all the places I've been, we take into account each individual's feelings and thoughts and health more than any other team I've ever been with. They are questioned every day on how they feel like [head coach] Chip [Kelly] touched on yesterday. This is an elite program. I've been with 10 different organizations, and it's not even close. The way we train these guys, the way we question how they feel, the recovery process we have, I'm telling you guys, we are off the charts, and that's why you see our fourth quarter finishes are what they are, so there is zero concern in that area. It's just the opposite of that; there's complete confidence that we are the strongest team in the fourth quarter."
On whether he was surprised by CB Cary Williams's comments: "Surprised? Every guy has got his own thoughts and feelings. It was a frustrating game for us defensively, and I think Chip touched on it and Cary has touched on it. He was highly frustrated at the end of that game. You'll have to ask Cary about his own comments, like you have, and we're completely beyond it and are very confident in the way the players feel about the training, the way we as coaches feel about it, and we're happy to be carrying a 3 0 record into would we like to fix some things, absolutely. The neat part is we get to fix a lot of things with wins, and the defense isn't anywhere close to where we want it to be, but we're going to continue to grow, and hopefully at the end of this season we're in a better place than we were at the end of last season because the goal is to get better every week. You're never going to have the perfect game. I've never coached it, I've never seen it, but I just want to move in that direction, and I think that's where we are."
On how they as coaches take into account what Williams said: "We look at everything they say. Every individual player has his own opinion on where they are physically, and it changes week to week and day to day. We came off a Monday night on turf game. You're going to feel the effects of that. Every player is questioned on a daily basis, and we absolutely listen to everybody individually, and we make adjustments from there, like Chip talked about."
On Williams's concerns: "Again, you'd have to talk to Cary about those thoughts and feelings. I have no concern whatsoever. I saw a fresh legged defense at the very end. I felt like it. We made plays at the end. We made more plays probably in the second half. We've got to come out and play better technique. We really do have to play a better technique game in the passing game early. A week ago our passing defense was we were very happy with it against [Colts QB] Andrew Luck and the run game kind of struggled. This week it flipped a little bit. We knew we had to stop the run, and we did, and then the pass game they made some great throws and catches, they really did. There were some contested balls. That kid stood in there and made some good throws. We'll get that tighter. We'll get it better. But I don't think it's nowhere close to a product of any of the other issues. I think we're the strongest team at the end of every game."
On how using LB Marcus Smith II affects his development: "I think it's a benefit to him and us. He gets to go inside. It's tough to adjust your eyes. It's the biggest challenge he has. He was outside his whole career in college. You move inside, the visual part of it changes, you've got down down pullers, it's a learning curve that's a little bit different, so at first he'll be a little more hesitant, but as he gets reps and we grow him, we'll see if he has the skill set in there. He really does add another dynamic of a pressure, of a blitzer in there from the inside linebacker position, especially in our nickel package. So we'll just continue to grow him and see where he is in there. He's still an outside backer to us. We'll move him back out there in a second, but right now there's three guys playing out there. We had some injuries inside, so we thought we'd take a look."
On whether the Smith move to inside linebacker could continue: "This is let's see if he can do it and move. Let's see where he is. It'll help his understanding. At the end of the day, if it doesn't work out and he goes back outside, he's going to have a broader understanding of the defense and all the calls because he would have seen it through two different positional eyes. It does help you overall. It will make him a better outside backer if we decide to say, 'Hey, this experiment didn't work, we'll move you back outside.' But right now after one week, he did a nice job. It was about what we expected."
On whether Smith could stay there on a permanent basis: "We're open to whoever makes the most plays at the positions, and if it grows into where he's dominating in there and really looking good, then absolutely, and if not we'll go back outside with him. It's a day to day, week-to-week experiment we have right now."
On how tough it is to expand Nolan Carroll's role while trying to situate the dime role: "Yeah, it's a challenge. Right now I really like where he's growing. It's a lot like [CB Brandon] Boykin at nickel. He's really growing at dime. We're using him a lot more now that Mychal is not in. I've got to make sure that that one is right and just keep moving him in and out of corner and rotating with the guys that didn't get the rotation done last week. But the rotation is always in the plans. Every game takes on a little different flavor. Sometimes we get to the rotations early, sometimes we don't, but Nolan, we would like to have on the field more. He's a solid player, a lot like Boykin we'd like to have on the field more."
On whether he will continue to rotate LB Emmanuel Acho and LB Casey Matthews: "Yes, yes."
On whether they defense got the pressure on Washington QB Kirk Cousins that he really wanted: "Well, initially, I would have liked for him to hold on to the ball a little longer so the blitzes would have gotten there, but the ball was coming out so quick. I'll answer that with no, but it wasn't because we were lacking rush, it was the ball was out, bang, bang, and part of that is because it was 3rd and 3s and the routes were shorter and the timing was shorter. Had it been longer I bet you would have seen more pressure and he would have felt more pressure, but because we were 3rd and behind the 8 ball, 3rd and 3, it came out quick and the pressure didn't get there."