"First and foremost, it's been a great offseason, in my mind, from start to finish. The OTAs, the minicamps, all of those things have been great, and I think the thing that we set out to do was to make sure that we had an identity, that we developed an identity and worked that identity and it became ours – and I think we've done that. I think we've gotten exactly what we wanted to accomplish out of the training camp and the entire offseason. I think the coaches have done a great job continuing to push the guys. All the detailed things on the offensive side of the ball, I think the offensive coaches did a great job. Coming in, Jimmy Raye's new offense and implementing that and having a progression where the quarterbacks can get on board early and develop some confidence and continuity. Tom Rathman has been a great addition. All of that has been great.
Of course, we come to the last preseason game tomorrow. After that game, we have the 53 that we select. As far as the 53 guys, some of the questions may come up: Is that going to be hard, or is that going to be difficult? The answer is: First of all, it's a tremendous group of guys, but at the beginning of training camp, the one thing that I told them was the identity that we're trying to develop. It makes it a lot easier for me to have a point of reference in terms of who those 53 guys are. So, I have a very good idea as to who the 53 are, and I've told the guys there are a few slots there, competition-wise. Young guys here and there that need to go out and play as best they can and make sure that when other people look at that film, that that's their resume. And, they're ready to go forward with that.
I feel like the biggest thing for us in terms of yesterday after practice, when I had them after practice, just making sure the thing that I don't want to do, ever, is to come out here and not get better. I think yesterday, I don't think we took a step backwards, but we certainly didn't get better. I know a lot of guys are thinking about different things right now in terms of, 'Where am I going to live? Am I going to make the team,' or this or that. It's coming to the end, but we have to stay focused. We have to stay focused on what we're trying to achieve – focused on the goal at hand and let everything else take care of itself.
Tomorrow on offense, the starting group will play maybe a couple of series – 10 plays, 12 plays, something to that effect. [QB] Shaun [Hill] will play. [RB] Frank [Gore] will not play. [WR] Bruce, Isaac Bruce will not play. Everybody else will play about 10-12 plays, give and take here and there. A couple of guys who are normally in the starting group may play a few extra plays, whether it be [G David] Baas, whether it be [T Adam] Snyder, whether it be the fullback [Moran Norris] – guys who may have not taken as many snaps this offseason. Outside of that, in terms of guys that won't play, I think you have a pretty good idea who they are. [QB] Alex Smith will not play. [WR] Arnaz Battle will not play. [C] Cody [Wallace] will not play. Of course [LB Ahmad] Brooks is out. [SS] Lewis, Michael Lewis will not play. Of course [WR] Brandon Jones will not play. [LB] Jay Moore, leaning more towards him not playing. I don't think that will change, but he doesn't know that yet. Other than that, that's about it."
On how many plays the defensive starters will get:
"They'll play, but it depends on – I guess there are certain guys, a few guys, that may not play as much. We'll designate that once the game gets started."
On C Cody Wallace's reason for not playing:
"Viral (Meningitis). It's the good kind, if that makes sense."
On whether QB Shaun Hill will play:
"Shaun Hill will play."
On whether QB Nate Davis will finish the game:
On whether Davis will see three quarters:
"Nate will play – a lot."
On the timing of releasing QB Damon Huard:
"I think there are a couple of things. I think No. 1: We felt that Nate was going to be the guy. We felt that he's done a good job and we felt comfortable making that move. We could have kept Damon Huard, but really wanted to give him a chance to look around for what he's done for us and for what he's done for our quarterback development. I think we wanted to – if we could if it made sense, if it worked out, and it did – that we could let him look elsewhere."
On whether Huard would be first on the list if the 49ers needed a body later on:
"It's very possible if he doesn't get picked up. Hopefully, that's not the case."
On whether there are any roster spots up for competition:
"Yes. There may be one or two. Yes, in this particular game, there may be one or two. Whether it's competition or being on the 53, there are a couple of guys who we're not quite sure of, and they'll certainly get a chance to play tomorrow to help us make that decision."
On whether RB Kory Sheets will get a lot of playing time:
"Sheets is going to play, yes. He'll get a lot of playing time."
On whether the team has a will to win that has been absent in recent years:
"Let's talk about it again in about three or four weeks."
On whether he feels there's a will to win with this team:
"Oh yes, but I'd like to talk about that in maybe three to four weeks."
On whether the offensive line and pass rush has improved over the offseason:
"The only thing I'll say to that is, I think if you look at the running game as a whole, I think the running game has gotten better. We're going to have to be able to run the ball in order for us to be successful. I think we were able to accomplish that. I think, the other thing, as far as the passing game is concerned, I've said all along, I have total confidence in our ability to get after the quarterback. But, it's more than meets the eye. I think it's the total 11 guys on defense playing together at one time. The other thing that we have not done this offseason, and I wanted the coaches to do, is I wanted our coordinators to focus on what we do, focus on us getting better, not game-planning the team we're playing this preseason. The only team I want to game-plan for is the team we're playing, and that's Arizona next week. So, I didn't really want to take the time doing all of that other stuff. I really wanted to figure out, let's find out how well we play just doing what we do – without all the other extra stuff. And, that's what we did, and I think, given that scenario, I think I'm very pleased with what came out of that."
On whether he's confident he can improve the pass rush with the players currently on the roster:
"I'm going to tell you the same response that I gave the gentleman here: Let's revisit that in a few weeks, and then ask me again and I think I'll have a better answer for you. But, I don't want to go into speculating and this and that and all that other stuff. I have my reasons. In a few weeks, let's revisit that."
On whether he believes anything will happen soon with WR Michael Crabtree:
"At this point, and ever since the very beginning, my response has not changed. These guys out here have been busting their tails and doing their job. It is the same scenario. If it happens, fine. If it doesn't, we are going to keep moving forward. I'm not looking back."
On whether Crabtree will be less effective if he doesn't by a certain point:
"Once again, whatever happens with Michael Crabtree, it happens. I am very comfortable with the guys we have. They start to get better each day. Hopefully as we get into the season, they will make more strides. As far as Crabtree is concerned, I said it all along; he has to do what he has to do. We're not sitting here contemplating, waiting or anything. We're not blinking. We're not flinching. We are just doing what we have to do. We will let that take care of itself."
On QB Alex Smith's injury:
"He is doing fine. It is a day-to-day thing. He is throwing the ball out here, and that is kind of what we anticipated. He is moving in the right direction."
On whether Smith would be healthy enough to play in a regular season game tomorrow:
"The way he is throwing right now, he could play."