On the benefits of using both linebacker Emmanuel Acho and linebacker Casey Matthews at the inside linebacker spot: "Just think both of those guys bring a little bit of a different skill set, but I think we just felt that sharing time with those guys, you're keeping them fresh, so the other guy in there with [LB] DeMeco Ryans, you're keeping him fresh."
On the impact of a new center on running tempo offense: "Yeah, but I think because [C] David [Molk] has been here, he understands he's done a good job of it. He did a really good job of it in preseason, so we feel comfortable that he can do everything within our scheme. But whenever you make a change in a position there is a question of how they acclimate to it, I think, because of how we train and what we do every day from a mechanics standpoint in practice, I think he can handle it. He's shown that he can handle it. So that's always a concern when you do make an adjustment, especially at those two key possessions, quarterback and center, who is handling the ball every play."
On whether any mechanics in the run game change because of Molk starting at center: "No, because we've had him in the games. We've had a chance to play with him in the preseason. He's got a pretty good feel for it. David's really smart. He picks things up really quickly. He picked our offense up really quickly. He actually did some in college because when he was at Michigan, Rich Rodriguez was there, so he's got some experience in a tempo type system."
On whether he uses sacks as an indicator of the pass rush's success: "No. I mean, I do, yes. It's not just clear cut. I don't think you can just look at sacks. You look at hurries. You look at hits. You look at a lot of different things besides that. There is more involved in it, just like when you look at the rushing attack, you don't just say, "Ok, the running back is a really good player." There are a lot of different components that go into it."
On whether LB Marcus Smith II will stay at inside linebacker: "Marcus will stay there at least while [LB] Mychal [Kendricks] is down because we've got to have four inside linebackers from a depth standpoint. If we sustain an injury there, we've got to use him. They used him a little bit in nickel last week because sometimes we rush our inside linebacker. He's got some cover skills and that kind of fits into his wheelhouse in terms of where he is. So he'll stay there, and then we'll make an evaluation when Mychal is back. What do we do then? Do we bring him back to outside linebacker or leave him in there? We haven't gotten to that point yet, but right now we consider ourselves a man down at inside linebacker without Mychal."
On G/T Matt Tobin: "He did a good job. Today's a big test for him, but he responded from Tuesday and Wednesday, and we'll go do everything again today, and we'll get a chance to really get a good conversation with him tomorrow about how he feels. The one thing about Matt, he's been great with [offensive line coach Jeff] Coach Stoutland in terms of being really honest. He wasn't ready to go last week. We're hopeful, if he can continue, that he'll be ready to go this week."
On why the team is clicking in the second half: "I don't know. I mean, it's the same thing. Why are things not clicking in the first half sometimes? I just think there are two different teams and very rarely does the game go, quote unquote, as people thought it should have been scripted out. It's going to be this. You know, you're playing games that are supposed to be high scoring games and they end up 10 7. Then you play a game that's supposed to be a defensive struggle and it ends up 38 37. That's why you play the games. We just concentrate on what we need to do. We always evaluate ourselves against ourselves in terms of how do we get better and how do we constantly improve? That's kind of how we approach it. But for us to kind of look at it and say, "Why are we doing this and why are we doing that?" We're really kind of single-minded. Is it red zone, is it two minute offense, is it four minute offense, is it third down? That's how we're looking at things, especially on a weekly basis."
On whether he's found a common thread with the team's slow starts: "No, we look for it, but I don't see a common thread. Indianapolis did a really good job of running the ball against us, the Washington Redskins did a good job of throwing the ball and controlling the clock against us and [they were] two entirely different approaches. You come out of the Indianapolis game, I thought we did a good job of defending Andrew Luck, but they ran the ball on us. From a defensive perspective, you come out of the Redskins game and say, "We did a really good job against [Washington RB] Alfred Morris and the run game, but we didn't do a very good job in the passing game." There is a difference right there. In Jacksonville, we put them on a short field in terms of turning the ball over offensively. So they didn't have to go very far to get up and get in the lead. We really weren't successful offensively in the Jacksonville game early. [In the second half] we were better. I thought we moved the ball. In the Colts game we stalled in the red zone offensively. In the Redskins game we just didn't have the ball very much. They scored, and then we returned a kickoff for a touchdown, so we're still sitting on the sidelines. I think we had the ball for only seven minutes in the first half, but you're up 21 20. So, every game is kind of different. Every game takes on a life of its own."
On San Francisco's defense: "I think they create a lot of turnovers, and they do not allow big plays. I think that's kind of been a hallmark since they've been there. They're stout. They don't have to manufacture things in terms of, "Hey, let's all-out blitz because we've got to get pressure on the quarterback." I think they have guys that can rush the quarterback and they've got really good players at each position – [LB] Ahmad Brooks outside, [DT] Justin Smith inside, [LB] Patrick Willis at inside linebacker. It's a real solid scheme. They're not a big risk taking operation, nor do they have to be, because they can kind of set it and line up in it and say, "Bring it to us," and see how you can affect them. But they've got some really good players and I think because they create turnovers, that is a positive for them, and because they don't allow big plays, that is another big positive for them."
On whether he's seen a common thread in the 49ers' poor second halves: "No, I don't. I guess the best way for me to say it is, we don't look at what quarter or what half or whatever. We look at red zone, we look at third down. Part of some of the things that happened to them – and [49ers head coach] Jim [Harbaugh] will say the same thing are more self inflicted wounds. They've got eight or nine first downs that people have converted against them in critical situations because of penalties. You know, it's been kind of just tough. They've got them off the field and got them in a situation, but all of a sudden, they get a stop on third down, but then there's a flag. There was an illegal contact once in the Dallas game that was hard to see, where you could even see where it was on film, but that extends the drive, and it's another first down, so they're on the field. So, I think some of the things are self-inflicted in terms of what they're doing from a penalty standpoint. That is the one thing that kind of stands out when you look at it. But we don't say, "Hey, let's just look at what's going on in the third and fourth quarter with those guys," because we're still [asking], "What's going on in the red zone, what's going on on third down, what are they doing in short-yardage situations, what are they doing on the goal line?" That is kind of how we approach our game, not change our game plan [with] one game plan for the first half and a different game plan for the second half."
On whether 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick's improved completion percentage makes him more dangerous: "Yeah, but we don't just look at a completion percentage and say he's dangerous. You know he's dangerous in everything that he can do. He's got a very, very, very strong arm. I think it's evident when you watch him and just see the ball come off his hand. Obviously the added threat that he has more than anybody else we've faced in terms of being a runner. I said it the other day. They have more designed quarterback runs where it's snap it to him and that is the play. It's not [that] the play broke down, it's not a zone-read play where he's got an option on what to do. They're just direct snapping it to him and running quarterback sweep, or they're going to get into empty and direct snap it to him and run quarterback inside zone. I think because of his ability to throw, and he can make all the throws because of his arm strength, but also that ability to run really is kind of what sets him apart from a lot of people."
On expectations for T Lane Johnson upon his return from suspension: "No, there is nothing. I don't know until I see him. I wish he could come in here and play center or play guard or play – I mean, I don't have any expectations of anything just because we haven't had any contact since the day he left the building. We'll see what he's like when he gets here and we'll evaluate him from that standpoint."
On how smaller center compensate against bigger defensive linemen: "I think they use their quickness and their explosive ability to kind of try to get into the guy. They have to be a great technician in terms of how they use their hands and to be able to strike inside the framework of the body. Maybe see if the defender has his hands outside because you have to win leverage not only with your hands on the inside, but also being able to be underneath the man they're playing. So a lot of it is their ability to get off the ball and use their athleticism to their advantage and get to their man before they get to you."
On the difference between a tight end who is a downfield threat and a wide receiver who is a downfield threat: "Yeah, I think it's different. Speed is relative towards positions. Zach's a fast tight end, but he'd probably be a slow receiver. You're not looking at Zach when you split him out wide and saying, "That's just like putting Mac [WR Jeremy Maclin] out there." It's different, but you get different matchups because corners don't cover the tight ends. You look at what happened [on] Sunday when we flexed Zach out and they put a linebacker on him. That's a favorable matchup. If you have a corner on him, he has a size matchup, but he doesn't have a speed matchup. Speed at the tight end spot is relative towards that position because of who is going to cover you."
On whether he's comfortable that the slow first halves are just execution-specific: "I'm not comfortable with anything if we don't start very well. We don't ever sit there and say, "Hey, we won the game so let's not address what's going on." But I also think sometimes you have to give credit to the other team. It's not like you can go out there and say, "Our idea is that we need to be up 35 0 at the half, we're going to shut them down in everything they do and score on every possession we have." It just doesn't happen that way. I think ideally that's kind of what you hope for and when you're daydreaming, it would be great to be up 35 0 at the half. Not in this league, you're not going to be up on anybody 35 0 at the half. So it's going to be a battle and you have to figure out how they are going to attack you, then what counter punch you have to make when you realize that, "Hey, we thought we were going to get more man, [but] we're getting more zone," or, "Hey, we thought we were going to get more zone, [but] we're getting more man." There's always a chess match that goes on within the game."
On whether he's received clarification from the league about the legality of Chris Baker's hit on Nick Foles: "No. What ends up happening and the protocol in the league is that we get an officiating video from [NFL vice president of officiating] Dean Blandino's office either Thursday or Friday, and usually things that occur from the week before that they have to clarify, they do it then. We haven't received the tape yet. Usually when we get the tape, it's from everything. It could be a defensive hold, it could be someone grabbing somebody on a punt team in one of the other games. So they kind of compile everything that seemed to be a question and put it on that tape. So we haven't got the tape yet. When we see the tape, we'll get it. But to clarify that, I'm not concerned with who got fined or any of that stuff. I just want to know for the future, for our team, how are we going to coach our guys if there is a change of possession and make sure that we get the rule clarified."