On whether he needs to pay attention to potential psychological damage after being 0-4:**"No. I don't – psychological damage control is not an issue. Just playing better football, just playing better, mistake-free football. That's our focus right now. But that's where we are."
On assessing QB Alex Smith, particularly the interceptions, after watching tape:"When I look at Alex's play, I thought he did a pretty decent job. That's what I thought. Particularly the interception, there were a number of things that could have went better on that play, but I thought overall Alex was pretty decent in the game."
On whether Smith is playing tense and pressing:"I think in the one play that he made where he threw the ball and it was high to (RB) Frank (Gore), that's just a situation where he didn't want to take himself out of field goal range. But he just has to do a better job in terms of where to place the ball. Sometimes you have to eat it. Sometimes you have to try to get rid of it, so in those instances, yes, he was pressing it a bit. But I thought many of his other throws went well."
On his mindset and whether he thinks about the problems, the schedule softening, and where to go:"The first thing, I don't ever say that the schedule is softening, because the minute you say something like that you set yourself up for failure, because every week you have to play. But what I do say is, when I turn on the film - and once again, when I'm looking at the film, I'm very encouraged by the play of our guys – I think when I look at the defense, and that's what I have really looked at so far, just gone back over the defense, I thought we did a very good job on the road playing a good offensive team. I thought we did a very good job against them. I look at the offensive side of the ball, and obviously there are some things that we have to do better, but overall the biggest thing for me is that guys were playing, they were playing hard, and we just have to eliminate the mistakes. And when we do that I think we give ourselves a better chance of being successful. So, when I wake up in the morning, that's what I look at."
On whether he is concerned about the defense at the end of games:"We just have to do a better job. I think there were a couple of things that happened in the drive. In critical situations, we needed to be a little deeper, and the play – we have a better chance of defending the play, we did not. So we have to do better. We have to do better in those areas. And we will."
On his assessment of the play-calling with Offensive Coordinator Mike Johnson:"I thought we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish in his first game. I thought he called the game well, I thought that he moved the ball around, I think he got the ball into the hands of the play-makers, I think the chemistry between (QB) Alex (Smith) and (WR Michael) Crabtree was much better. I thought we were able to utilize (RB) Frank (Gore) in some other ways, and I just thought there was more flexibility, the ball got around to different receivers, and I thought he kept them guessing. We were outside, we were inside, we were screening, we did a number of things, and I thought he did a nice job doing that."
On whether he would like to see more deep plays or whether playing short is the way the offense is going to be:"No, I wouldn't say that's the way the offense is going be, I just think that in terms of going deep, the thought process is sometimes you throw short and you run deep with the ball. And I think in the West Coast philosophy, for many years around here, that's what it was. When you have guys like (TE) Vernon (Davis) and (WR Michael) Crabtree and (WR) Josh (Morgan), they can do that. But there will be more balls going down field."
On his assessment of what he can do better as a coach mid-week and on the sidelines to improve:"On the sidelines during the game, not a whole lot. During the week, I can continue, as well as the entire coaching staff, continue to impress upon our guys that mistake-free football helps us be a better football team. And that's the thing – you know on Sunday, there's very little you can do other than trying to put your team in position to win. As a coaching staff, the work should be done, now it's just basically executing what you've done that week, so the hardest – my hardest – work comes during the week. So that's what I can do a better job of during the week."
On whether QB Alex Smith checks the ball down too early at times:"Well, I think it depends on his read. I think maybe sometimes it looks like he is, but I think there are some plays that you just want to get the ball out. You know where you want to go with it, you know what you see, you've read the defense, and so you know where the hole is going to be and you try to get it there. And obviously there are some other times you can take a little bit longer. But I think overall yesterday I thought he did a pretty decent job with executing the offense."
On whether he could have done a better job to bring in someone to compete with Smith for the starting QB job:"Well, I guess looking back on it I would say this. I knew what I was doing when I – the thought process was I wanted to bring someone in that in the event something happened to Alex, could come in and play. But the thing that I wanted to accomplish this year, and it's still a work in progress – I wanted Alex Smith to focus on executing the offense. For the first time, you had a coordinator, you had a system that was in place, you've had five or six coordinators. He's played a little less than three years with those changes that, there's no consistency anywhere. So the thing that I wanted to do was make sure he had some consistency without trying to compete with somebody else. Let's give him the opportunity to get out there and play football, work through some of the stuff that he's had to work through, whether it's this coordinator said you have to read this, this coordinator said you have to read that, this coordinator said you have to throw this way, this coordinator said you need to look there first – so getting all of that crap out and just having a system that he can run. And I think the only person that Alex Smith needed to really compete with this year is himself. And get rid of some of the ghosts that he already has. That's the competition that I felt was the most important thing for him to get rid of. And I think he's working through that. I think he's doing a good job of working through that."
On how Smith is doing with competing against himself:"I think he's doing a decent job."
On whether there has been any resolution to the situation with S Michael Lewis:"I think that's something that we're going to have to come to an agreement on pretty soon in terms of the move that we will make, and we'll go from there."
On whether it is disturbing to have players like Lewis say that they don't want to be a part of the team:"Well, I put it this way; there's never a time that as a staff you feel that a player's performing or he's at a place where you need to replace him, there's never a time that that player, I don't care who he is, is going to say, 'You know what? You're right, that's a great idea.' Michael is a competitor. Michael has a lot of pride and the fact that he feels that way, that's where it's at and we have to deal with it and go from there."
On whether someone in the coaching staff told Lewis last Monday there wouldn't be a personnel change:"You know, I'm not real sure exactly what the conversation was. But the fact that we were not prepared to make a decision on Monday; I did not want to make a decision on Monday. We played the game, I had some ideas about maybe making some changes, whatever, but nothing was concrete. I talked to Michael, I can't remember if it was Monday or Tuesday, but I told him that there would possibly be some changes. I did not know, I had to visit with the coaches. I watched practice and Friday I made the decision and that's basically the way it went."
On whether S Taylor Mays is now the starting safety:"Yes he is."
On whether he felt S Michael Lewis was not playing to the standard he wanted:"Well, the bottom line is, we felt that we need to make a change and that's all it was."
On whether QB Troy Smith will get worked into the backup quarterback spot:"I think right now, with some of the issues we have, we want to make sure we really focus on Alex Smith. We want to exhaust all, I guess, possibilities; anything that we can do. We just want to make sure that we get him playing at his best and I think when he plays at his best that, you know, our offense will be much better than it is. And I think our offense, in the beginning; I was very encouraged by some things that I saw yesterday. But I think that our offense will just continue to get better."
On CB Nate Clements' interception and fumble late in the game against the Falcons:"You know what? I 'm going to tell Nate when I see him this morning, just like I told him last night, you know, we're on the plane and he's sitting back there and I got back there, look at him and he puts his head down. I said, 'Hey, I thought you did a great job. I thought you did a great job in the game.' He said, 'Yeah, I know.' I mean, he knows about the fumble, I know about the fumble, everybody does. But you know what? You just got to hold it. He said, 'Hey coach, you know, I just got to hold onto the ball.' But as far as the way Nate played, I think Nate played one of the best games I've seen him play since I've been here. It's unfortunate that that play had to happen, but we'll learn from it and continue to go from there."
On how he is handling all the issues from training camp until now:"My high hopes, they haven't gone anywhere. I mean, they're still high hopes. We're 0-4 but, you know, we have a lot of football games to play. The way our team is playing, I'm very encouraged by what I see; I'm very encouraged by what I hear. Our guys talking about, and where their focus is; this is what I do. This for me right now is the time when you have to take it to the next gear. The last thing I'm doing is sitting around thinking, 'Oh man I got these problems. I got this; I got that.' I'm thankful that I have problems to deal with. I mean, if I got an issue or I got a problem, that lets me know that I got to work through something. There's an opportunity on the other side to get better. So I feel very good about this football team; very good about this football team. As a matter of fact I'm even more encouraged things that have come against this football team; things that have happened to this football team, whether they're outside of the locker room, whether they're on the football field, whatever. These guys have continued to rally and work through them in spite of that. And after yesterday, you know, we just got a little stronger. So we're going to turn that corner at sometime real soon and we're going to get where we want to go. All of the goals we had before this season started four weeks ago; we still have those goals. We're going to continue to press forward and do the things that we have to do to get there."
On whether Michael Lewis will be released this week:"We're going to meet later on today and we'll meet about it and we'll make a decision at that time."
On whether he will meet with Lewis:"No."
On whether they will meet as a staff:"Yes sir."
On the injury updates for this week:"(G) Chilo (Rachal), left knee sprain. That's a day-to-day thing. (TE) Delanie Walker, left ankle sprain. We'll reevaluate him at the end of the week. (LB) Manny Lawson, knee contusion, will be fine. (S) Reggie Smith, hamstring, will be fine."
On whether his job status at the end of the season is something that he needs to address with the front office:"No. I feel like this. It's the nature of this game. Players have responsibility and if they don't do their job, certain things happen. Coaches have responsibility, if they don't do their job, things happen. But my mind doesn't focus like that. I don't worry about, 'Well who do I need to talk to?' - 'Am I okay?' – You know what? There's 53 guys - that's my responsibility. You go out there on Sunday, you do your job. You win football games. The last thing I'm thinking about is my job security. The most important thing that I'm thinking about is where this team is going, the direction of this team. But as far as all that other stuff, there are coaches right now that are riding pretty high, and at the end of the season, their job will be in jeopardy. That's the nature of our job. And I'm thankful for that. So that's where I am with that."