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Coach's Notebook: Dec. 29



On the injury report:**"[LB Patrick] Willis will be out with a hand, [LB Takeo] Spikes is playing, [LB Keaton] Kristick is out, you've got [G David] Baas, he's day-to-day, ribs looking good. [CB Phillip] Adams is out. [T Joe] Staley is out, [TE Nate] Byham is day-to-day."     

On whether Willis is out for practice or the game:"Willis is out for the game. Yeah, he's out."

On why Willis will not play:"His hand. He had to have – that hand was fixed again."

On when Willis' hand was fixed:"Yesterday. Was it yesterday? I'm not sure the day. The other day. I'm not sure of the day. I'm sorry, I don't know. He had that – I don't think it was major, I just think they had to go in and – I don't want to go in, I don't know details."

On whether it is fair to say that Willis had a second surgical procedure:"Yeah, I think that's fair. I don't know, I think it's fair."

On whether Willis would play if they had won Sunday and were playing for a playoff spot:"No, that was irrelevant. I was told that was irrelevant. That had nothing to do with it. No matter what anything is, that's the way that was. This whole –the whole [injury update] sheet is that way."

On who will be the starting quarterback:"Alex Smith's the starting quarterback."

On what contributed to that decision:"Experience."

On whether he thought about starting QB David Carr in order to evaluate his potential:"No, it didn't come up."   

On whether he thinks of this game as a way to determine who will be brought back for the next season and whether he has talked to the players about that:"Well in that kind of a thought process, that's every week in the National Football League. And again, in that area, and that thought process, there really isn't one here with these guys. They play, they're going out, preparing and playing. You know, I don't even think that anything goes into that."

On whether he had talked to QB Alex Smith and how it went:"Yeah, actually, I sat down with him yesterday. Terrific."

On his thoughts on Smith:"I'll tell you, with Alex, in my dealings with Alex Smith, is Alex Smith's the kind of guy you'd want your daughter to marry. I've got two daughters. He's a nice guy." 

On whether he has evaluated Smith's level of confidence after being benched last week and whether that will effect him for the coming game:"Oh, no, no. And again, up until Monday, the only evaluation I have is on defensive lineman, front seven, defensive play, OK? And I'm a guy that through the course of my coaching career, I've held different positions, and I keep my spoon in my soup. I don't taste your soup. I go in and do my job, and do what I'm asked to do, and I try to do it to the best of my abilities."

On whether he gave the starting quarterback decision to offensive coordinator Mike Johnson:"Oh yeah, well I mean we obviously talked about it, I led the conversation in the area that I wanted it to go."

On whether he plans to stick with Smith throughout the game:"Yeah. Obviously, everybody here – look, there's 53 guys on the field, 53 guys and then the practice squad guys, but out of those 53 guys, there's still always at the end of the week, with special teams, and some of the things that we need there, there will be guys evaluated all through the week, to see who's on that 45. But out of those 53 guys, you've got 53 guys that have to prepare like they're going to start and they're going to play. So everybody does it. Now things happen during the course of a game, and decisions have to be made, and that's when those decisions happen. But everybody prepares like they're going to start, like they're a starter, like they're going to play. And if they're not doing that, they're probably not in the NFL long."

On whether LB NaVorro Bowman will start:"Yeah, NaVorro will start."

On whether he intends to do more evaluation on young guys like S Taylor Mays:"No, I mean, again, the one thing I want to make clear, our preparations are to win. We're preparing to win a game. The evaluation process is ongoing, always. Yeah, I understand all of the other things with where we're at, our record, all of those kind of things. What we're preparing – we're preparing for a game to go in and compete to win."

On his reaction to DT Justin Smith's Pro Bowl selection:"Right on. I get to work with that guy, and there's a lot of guys here that in my opinion, when you take everything into account, the way they work at it, the way they maximize their talents, the mental work, the physical work, all those kind of things, the kind of people they are, that are Pro Bowl guys to me. Obviously there's voting, and that's always the nice thing, whenever you vote for anything, right? We can always have the other side of it, that's why we keep the college bowl system going too, right? So you're never favorites, and talk about who's this, who's that. We've got good conversation."

On the decision on who stays on the 49ers coaching staff being in the hands of a new general manager or head coach and how he envisions the transition after this week's game:"When I say a one-week calendar, I mean, that's not something new for me. My whole life is a one-week calendar, OK? There's prior planning in the off-season, we get our ducks in a row, get lined up, but I can speak for me. When Sunday night's over, I go in and that's why I watch film on Sunday night, to close out the week, and I'm on to the next. And that next day, I'm working on day-to-day, climbing that ladder to get to game day. Game day is on the top of that ladder. So all the preparations are going into that day. I'm very singular in my focus in that way. I'm a football coach. I'm Jim Nobody from Nowhere, I've coached in different places. I don't run form that. My family is not going to starve, and if my wife has stayed with me for the last 19 years, she's not going anywhere, so I'm good."

On what he sees himself doing next week and if that includes helping with a transition:"Honestly, I have not spent a second thinking about that."   

On whether he has slept since Monday and what the last couple of days have been like:"Well I mean, when you're into coaching, and we're talking about me, there's a whole coaching staff up there. Nobody is getting a whole lot of sleep during the season. I mean, you just don't. You've got a window that's a small window every week, and you've got a certain amount of work to do. And when things come up that are out of the norm, you have to deal with those, but you still have the same amount of work to do. So that's the way you go with it. So, what do you look for? There's coaches in this building that don't sleep on Sunday nights and that do those things. That's the nature of our business. I think that's why when you get on an airplane and you take a look at where the coaches are, most of the time I think everybody is sleeping as soon as their backsides hit the seats."

On looking refreshed today:"I had a shower (laughing). [49ers director of public relations] Bob [Lange] told me to shave."

On whether he has addressed the fact that some players will not be back after this game:"Yeah. Okay, in that, yeah. What we've tried to do right here, and again, it's with anything, the players come in on Wednesday for game plans need to be set and things need to be done early in the week to move forward. So it's always, my focus is, anything out of the norm, whether it's this particular situation or whatever, anything, you want to handle it fast. You want to handle it on Monday, you want to get it done, and you want to attack it. You don't want to let it drag. You attack it, you hit it head on, and you speak honestly about it, you deal with the facts, and you put it in it's place. Now, I can put it in it's place and move forward."

On whether he has thought about filling the open roster spot with an inside linebacker:"We have - Alex Joseph is here."

On whether Joseph is a linebacker:"Yes sir."

On whether Joseph will play Sunday:"Oh yeah, he's up. Yeah. I mean obviously we're going to go through some evaluations right here, but the thought process is for him to be in here and he was meeting with the coaches last night. Great guy."

On whether Joseph would be a backup for the inside linebacker position:"Yeah, he'll be a backup there. And again, you've seen us. The way we're built, we've got guys that can multi-task. So you always have a plan, no matter what goes on, you always have a plan for any kind of situations that may happen. So, the guys are trained in that way."

On whether he will look to give game time to guys who haven't played this season like T Alex Boone or LB Thaddeus Gibson:"Yeah, well, yeah, I mean we're looking to win a game, we're looking to prepare to compete to win. But yeah, yeah. We're looking – but I mean, I'm always- I can speak as a d-line coach. [DT] Ricky Jean-Francois is my young guy. I'm always looking for opportunities to get Ricky on the field. That's my thought process, I want to get him on the field, I want to get him playing reps. And if you do it here on the practice field, you earn the right for playing downs on the practice field. And then from there, we get into the game. Yeah, I mean, you like to get guys in the game. I mean, you want to stay fresh, that's my thought process. That's where I fight with Justin Smith all the time. That guy doesn't want to come out. That guy wants to play, he doesn't care. And you know, all those guys have that, so sometimes you've got to protect them from themselves. You know, and so yeah."

On whether he intends to start young guys in the last game just to get them playing time since they are not playing for a play-off run:"No, absolutely not. That's why I tried to at the beginning of the week, it's crystal clear where our approach is here. And quite frankly, I mean, with where we're at right now, we wouldn't want to go that way. I mean I think you all can see the logic in that. That's not smart in my opinion. So I'm really happy with the way everybody is heading and everybody is going in the same direction."

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