Q: What do you think is the biggest reason for the lack of touchdowns so far?
HALEY: “Biggest reason? Red Zone efficiency. I’ll say first and foremost I think the more trips into the Red Zone the better, in my opinion. I think the more times you can get it in there, however that is – whether it’s a turnover on defense, a big return or moving the football down the field, in a systematic approach or after a big play, get in there as many times as you can, it gives you more opportunities and more practice at it and then once you’re in there you’ve got to be efficient, which means be productive on first down, put yourself in manageable situations and finish those drives off, whether they’re short or long drives.”
Q: What are the biggest reasons you’re 2-0 then, even though the offense has struggled?
HALEY: “Well, I would say that the biggest reason we are 2-0, that we’ve been able to win our first two games, is number one we played better than our opponent each week, which is what you have to do and sometimes that will take different levels of play depending upon how your opponent is playing and then the reason we were able to play better than our opponent each one of those games was very simple in my mind; we did not turn the ball over in the first game and we were opportunistic and capitalized on some situations, whether it was special teams or turnovers by the defense and we did a pretty good job of stopping the run for the most part, in that game. In the second game I think, despite the fact of turning the ball over twice on offense, the defense was able to get both of them back. We were able to stop the run and we were able to run the ball. I think in this league if you can consistently stop the run and run the football, which we have done through two games then you’re going to have chances to win games. I think that’s something that us as coaches, at least that this coaching staff believes in 100 percent. I know that’s pretty simple, but again, I don’t know what we are right now, we’re averaging 130-some (yards) a game and we’re holding them to significantly less than that, that means you can control the clock most of the time, although that first game, that was not the case because of a punt return which is a lost possession, a three-play touchdown drive by the offense and another three-play touchdown drive. I think that’s what really, any time you have a team coming back and you’re in a little more bend-don’t-break, I think offenses are going to tend to be a little more productive. I think that’s the key – stop the run, run the football, don’t turn it over and turn it over on defense.”
Q: After the Cleveland game you said something to the effect of, ‘it gets tougher now.’ What did you mean by that?
HALEY: “Bigger. It’s a bigger game. I think that goes back to what I touched on that when you’re winning games consistently, you realize real quick that no matter how big the previous game was, the next one is bigger, some way somehow, even though before you played that game before that one you thought there’s no way that the next one could be bigger; this is the biggest. I think that happens only when you’re consistently winning football games. When you’re not winning football games consistently, which was obviously the case here, the year before, the year before that, I think you tend to not learn that internal feeling of what that feels like and I think you tend to just look at it like here’s the next game. That’s the best way I can explain it.”
Q: Has the defense been playing better in the second half of games this year? Seems like the defense is more consistent in the second half this season?
HALEY: “If that’s your opinion, I think that’s not a bad sign. You talked about last year, last year, as I’ve said, is an important part of the foundation we’re laying here. Other than that, last year is last year and I’m worried about this year. What I do know is it’s important to have a well-conditioned team. We work hard at that, the guys have worked hard at that, they’ve bought into understanding that’s an important factor and I think has an effect in a lot of different areas. I’ve been generally pleased with the way the defense has played from start to finish in these games, other than a couple plays that we’ve got to figure out a way to stop from happening which we’re working hard at. It would be hard for me to say one way or the other, I think you’ve got to play better than your opponent and that can’t just happen at the end – you’ve got to throughout the course of the game, outplay the team you’re playing, for the most part, to win.”
Q: What do you need to do offensively to win Sunday and get to 3-0?
HALEY: “I think the number one I would be trying to do to give us the best chance to have a chance to win this game against a very good, tough, physical team that I think their record misrepresents them just a little bit, and that can be a problem. I think number one in my mind, we’re going to have to run the football pretty efficiently. We’re not going to be able to turn the ball over, I don’t think, and have a real chance. Those would be the first two keys for me. We go through those as the week goes on and have our keys and our goals, and again from a competitive standpoint, I think I’d keep those to the team and myself.”
Q: San Francisco TE Vernon Davis said yesterday that they ‘Will win this game.’ Do you use that as motivation, do you take anything away from that?
HALEY: “No, I think what I’m excited about our team is we are really focused on our task at hand, which is getting a little better each and every day and that’s what I feel like we’re doing. I think that will ultimately give us the chance to become a good team here hopefully sooner rather than later. Right now we’re in the process of continuing to try to do that. So I would say no. That being said, Vernon Davis, as I said yesterday, is a heck of a player and a heck of a competitor. I would expect that to be his belief and viewpoint, absolutely. That made me flash to that sport science thing I saw over the summer where he yanked the guy off the ground and the guy flew 10 yards and burned his elbows up.”
Q: Would you like it if one of your guys was that confident and said that?
HALEY: “Like I said we are truly focused on trying to be a little better each day and that’s just where we are and what I’m trying as the head coach to continue to keep guys, their focus, and that’s part of my job.”
Q: You said that San Francisco’s record misrepresents them. Do you feel like you have trouble getting through to your players because the 49ers are 0-2, they haven’t had a lot of success recently and they haven’t been to the playoffs recently?
HALEY: “You’d have to ask our guys how they feel about that. I believe pretty firmly that I’ve seen enough of this team, really the core of this team, because obviously there are some changes since we played them four times in two years, I only had to put on a few clips – now I watched all those games just for my own good and I know a bunch of our coaches did, there are some things that go on on that tape, like I said yesterday, that are hard to ignore. It is hard to win in the NFL, that is part of that phenomenon of the next week getting bigger when you are consistently winning, it is hard to win. Most everybody that I’ve talked to, teams that have won 12, 13, 14 games in a year, and when I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of teams that have been able to do that, each week you feel ‘how the heck are we going to beat these guys,’ because the NFL is for real now and these players are for real and it’s hard to win. When you’re looking at a team, you don’t have to put much tape on to realize this is a very good team that has done some things that has cost them games and we know the same things. They’ll cost our team no different. That’s really all I meant. It’s a good team and you can go to the 2008 San Francisco at Arizona game, click ahead to overtime and you’ll see a play there by number 52 that’s one of the all-time plays ever.”
Q: You talked about getting some guys back from injuries. Were you talking about S
HALEY: “When’s that coming out? Is that now officially out? It’ll be out and you’ll see all those names.”
Q: The offensive line has done pretty well in the first two games and you’ve done that with new starters at center, right guard and right tackle. How has that been able to come together so fast?
HALEY: “I don’t know that it is completely together. I would say that our offensive line play has definitely been a part of us having some success in these first two games in different areas. I do know that like everywhere else, this is an 11-man game on each side of the ball and ultimately a 45-man game for us, as I’ve said. You’re saying new, you’re not saying young. We have a couple there that are pretty impressive people and players, what they’ve been able to accomplish and it appears they still really like to do this and play the game and that’s a good thing. Then we have some young guys that are developing and we’ve just got to continue that process. We need everything getting a little better each day and that’s really what we’re trying to focus on and do and I know those guys up front are doing the same thing.”
Q: In watching these two games, the guy that seems to have made a lot of progress is G
HALEY: “You probably have to ask him, but I agree with you. I think he got beat up; there wasn’t great timing to that even though early on he had a couple issues. I think he must be feeling pretty good. What I’m overall most impressed with with Brian is the condition that he’s taken pride in keeping himself in. I think that all veteran players, something that the ones that are able to continue and extend their careers beyond maybe what people thought, not putting him in that group because I would not put a ceiling on what Brian Waters is capable of, but I think all veteran players that get to a certain point in their careers, the ones that realize that each year they’ve got to be in a little better shape are the ones that are able to sustain. I know that is and will be a real important factor for Brian from the standpoint of right now, where he is physically, is really pretty impressive from where he came from. He’s taken pride in that. I know, without speaking for him, I think he understands that will help him be his best.”
Q: Is it positive that you haven’t received any question in here about T
HALEY: “I think Branden is a young developing player that has done nothing but make progress. That is a really good thing. He is playing a position and has been playing a position where he sees some of the best of the best and we have seen that here and we are going to see it again. It just so happens this year, so far at least until we get to the other side of the bye week, they have been linebacker on a first and second-down basis. They are going to start becoming different guys but he sees the best of the bests each and every week and it is a good sign that he is continuing to make progress.”