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Nolan's Notebook, August 17


RE: Any new decisions as far as the quarterback situation?"No there's been no decision. As soon as we do, I'll offer it, but right now we don't. As soon as we watch the film, grade it, and our guys are getting more involved in Chicago and we'll go from there. No decisions. Nothing to announce."

RE: You said the reason you're giving J.T. O'Sullivan more playing time with the first team is that you already know what Alex Smith and Shaun Hill can do and you need to find out what J.T. can do. After looking at the film of last night, can you assess his play? Do you have a pretty good feel yet of what he can do?"I have a better feel, obviously, with the two games that I had before this, those games in preseason. As I've said all along, I think all three of them are capable of doing it. I think he continues to do a good job. He had a couple of opportunities where he could've tried to make something out of nothing, and he chose to – and a time or two he did, and it was good play. It was – the other times, whether he scrambled, just threw it away, or whatever he did, but I thought his decision-making was very good on it. With every game, obviously, you get a better feel for somebody. I thought he played well."

RE: Was decision-making something you or offensive coordinator Mike Martz talked to him about that after the Oakland game?"Yeah, and just to clarify, the decision I'm talking about is just when somebody – when you're competitive, you want to win every down, and that's a good thing. But some downs you have a better chance than others. So the decision I'm talking about is just when you, as we already know, a week ago he forced the ball, and then made an acrobatic play on another one. He didn't do any of those yesterday. He's the kind of guy who corrects himself. He does a very good job. He does what he does - right and wrong in the game. It's seldom that you offer information to him, and he kind of goes 'Oh, I didn't know that.' I've never seen that look on his face. He knows before Mike [Martz] corrects him what it was. Or even last week in the case of the game, he and I spoke a little bit. He knows what's going on."

RE: How much better can he (J.T. O'Sullivan) be with playing time?"Well, I think anyone gets better with playing time. I think that's fair to say. I would like to believe whoever we name quarterback, that that person – you know you obviously want to get better when the season goes along. I think that all of them can get better."

RE: Do you think you're getting a fair reading on Alex Smith and Shaun Hill at this point? O'Sullivan certainly looked good last night, but if he had been lifted after just a quarter last night, he wouldn't have looked so good. I'm just wondering if you think a quarter is enough to get a good perspective on the other two?"I feel good about what we're doing so far from a repetition stand point and time as well. Practice counts as well. So I feel good about the time."

RE: We have talked about the naming of a starter for the regular season. Have you gone down that path yet of what you want to accomplish Thursday night in Chicago?"Not quite yet, no. Because I'm just getting to looking at film on them. We're just putting closure to the game from yesterday. But, going forward, we'll do more work tonight and tomorrow. Again, Mondays – today's not a Monday, as you well know – but Monday's schedule, typically, you're putting closure to the prior game, and that's about where we are."

RE: Given Bryant Johnson's injury situation, what's the possibility of Josh Morgan starting the first regular season game?A: It's too premature to say. I want to get … I don't know when … We've only played two … we're just halfway through preseason. We've only played two preseason games. Obviously we play four preseason games and we've only played two. So, there's still a lot of time left for us to make that assessment of whether we want him to start or not. He's done a very good job, and I don't want to take anything away from the way he's playing, but there's nothing to report on that."

RE: Obviously, you're looking at this from an expert's eye. How would you assess his overall play last night?"I thought he did a very good job last night again. Played well against the Raiders, played well last night. The quarterback's confidence in him is good. That's a real key. He is where he's supposed to be. That chemistry between quarterback and receiver is good. As you noticed, Alex went to him as well. We wanted to get Alex in there with him, which we did, and I think he threw to him. I think two of Alex's throws, were two to him. I know one of them was a completion. Really was a nice play by Alex and Josh, where they timed up well, and Alex stepped up and threw it before Josh was even out of his break, which is what you're supposed to do. Usually guys, until they trust one another, they don't do it. And, that was good. There was another play, but I can't remember what happened on it. But, anyhow, he's getting work with both guys, and we'll see where that leads him."

RE: How would you assess Josh Morgan's blocking at this point?"Good question. I can't even answer it, to be honest with you. I haven't looked at it. He's fully capable. I know in practice he does a good job. I don't see a weakness in that area, but I can't say how he did in the game."

RE: Is Tony Wragge's play putting him in contention for the starting spot at the beginning of the season?"Well, he's done a good job. When the other guy comes back, the better player is going to play. So, we'll see. David [Baas] started half the season last year at right guard. Tony has played in the past for us and done a good job. If nothing else, you have to feel good a little bit about the depth inside at guard. Kind of like at the receiver position, with some of these young guys getting some opportunities to play. It helps our depth."

RE: Do you have to evaluate David Baas on what he did last year? Because you won't have enough time to evaluate him on what he did this year..."We'll see when he gets back. The timetable for when he gets back -- I think he's a little ahead of schedule. We'll know that for sure the day he gets back. And if that happens, maybe he'll get some opportunities. If he comes out and shines right away, then there might be something to it. But otherwise, like I said, I think it's a good problem to have if you have two guys competing who can play when the season begins."

RE: On that play when Donald Lee got so wide open in the end zone, I'm assuming that Takeo Spikes bit on the play action and that's the reason he got so wide open. I'm wondering if that's correct, and, overall, how did he play?
"Takeo played eight plays. He did not have the responsibility of the tight end on that play. That was not his play at all. He might have been able to bang the guy before he when up the field, but by the formation, that was not his."

RE: Who was responsible for Lee on that play?"Well, there's like a banjo going over there - first outside, inside and vertical. And the corner and the safety both should have picked it up as far as vision goes, and the linebacker should have banged him. So we had three guys that were sort of out of position if you want to say. It was a nice fake. It was a hell of a play to be honest with you. Tight end did a great job too. When he came off the line of scrimmage, most of the time they just try to head up field and try to run their route, but he threw his eyes inside like he was going to make a crack back block and he took off for the corner of the end zone, so it kind of froze a couple of the players. They weren't sure what he as up to. Nice play. It was well designed."

RE: Were there any injuries to report?"Jonas [Jennings] had a hand, had a knuckle that got banged up. They were checking it; I don't know what the extent of it quite yet. But they had to check it out to make sure there wasn't a break or something."

RE: Do you know when that occurred in the game?"I do not. I do not, because it wasn't told to me after the game. I think it was something that he just came in this morning with."

RE: How do you think he played against Aaron Kampman?"OK. You know, just OK."

RE: How did Zak Keasey play last night? With Moran Norris' abilities on short-yardage runs, I'm wondering if Zak happens to beat Moran out for a roster spot, are you going to have enough muscle in the backfield for those types of situations?"Well, with the job at fullback, obviously both of those guys are competing pretty well, and they're both doing a good job. There's been no decision on a fullback thus far, but both guys have strengths and weaknesses."

RE: Your special teams gave up a couple of long returns, and I know these are not your regular special teams guys. But, I'm wondering, in this case, whether the breakdown is limited to a few guys, or was it a larger problem?"You know, I can't be specific because I'm not sure. I just know that we – when we watch it in the meeting, it's more of we just talk about, 'Well, the two and the three got split right here.' So we talk about it from a team standpoint, and there's a couple of players who individually are trying to make the team in that area. Two weeks in a row we've given up I think it was a punt the week before. Was that correct? The Raiders, was that a punt or a kickoff?"

RE: It was a punt:"Punt, yeah, and we had the kickoff. But that's been a strength for us in the past, but again, they bit against some of the backup guys. So, I've got to be careful how to gauge it so that we identify it properly, and we identify the right things in practice, because if it is a weakness, we need to get it fixed. Right now, I think it's, thus far, it's been more a case of us just executing and some guys who are still fighting just to get on the roster. "

RE: There have been times in training camp when the offense hasn't looked so good. Does it give you a bit more confidence to see that there are times when the offense puts it together? With the quarterback throwing for 150 yards in the first half, does that just give you more confidence that things are going in the right direction?"Yeah it does. It builds some confidence. More importantly, it builds confidence in our players. We have, as everyone does in training camp, you have good days and bad days. But this offense, as everyone in the league has witnessed, is an extremely good offense, and Mike Martz probably does as good a job as anybody in the league, if not better. So, I'm confident it's getting better all the time. But I would agree with your assessment that success breeds success. It breeds confidence. That confidence is what becomes success. So, it's a good thing. But, when you do it in a game, it's much better. Last week, as I said after the game, we did move the ball last week against the Raiders. I thought we did some real good things on offense, but we also turned the ball over, which is bad. Last night, obviously we didn't turn the ball over but the one time, and we did move the ball. Unlike a year ago, and even in the past three years, we've had a lot of flashes, whether it be in training camp or the practice against the Raiders, or even in our two preseason games, we've had a lot of, like I said, spurts and flashes of good stuff. We just – last night we just put it together more often than we had up to this point. So, I'm encouraged by that, as we all would be."

RE: Does the same go for the pass rush?"Yeah, we've done the same for two weeks. We've done it well and we've done it well in practice. We just keep building on that. We're all well aware that it's preseason. So we have to, everything we evaluate, we have to decide how we're doing it, what group we're doing it against. At no time do you want to sit back and say, 'Boy, we got that fixed.' It is preseason, so it's an ongoing process to continue to stay on top of things during the season. So, we still have a lot of work to do, but there's a lot of encouraging things that are happening. It's just we have to identify them correctly."

RE: Are there times when you would like to go back to the old system of six exhibition games?"I won't make that statement, but I do like four. I think four is important. I also liked the world league, but they shot that down pretty good. I just think it's an opportunity – players don't just come in ready-made. They have a lot of learning to do, and it takes time to not only evaluate them, but more importantly, it takes guys time to get familiar with what's expected of them. And probably the most important thing - it takes time to create chemistry among players where they can trust one another, because everything you do has to do with trusting another guy. Otherwise, it's a game of individuals, and the teams that play individually don't win any games. So, if you utilize the preseason correctly, I think you come out of it a better team. If you don't, if you just complain and gripe about, 'Well, I don't even want to do this anyway,' I don't know if you can be any good."

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