The San Francisco 49ers are set to face the Arizona Cardinals as they look for their 10th-straight win. Here's what both teams had to say ahead of the Week 18 matchup:
Head coach Kyle Shanahan on Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt:
"He's one of the best players I've ever gone against. When you talk about MVP type players, he was definitely one of the guys. We talked about that with Nick Bosa a couple weeks ago... I've always looked at J.J. that way. Different from the position he is at, it was always so hard to block him. It was so hard to game plan him just on how to help out with the five technique, with what you do with the tight end and you put your halfback on big three-four backers and he was just such a hard guy, whether it's run or pass game, to take out of the game because of where they could position him and how big and strong he was and how smart he played and that's why he is one of the best players I've seen."
Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans on if there are any wrinkles in the Cardinals offense:
"There's no wrinkles at all for us. We have so much to clean up for ourselves that I'm really not even focused on the Cardinals. I'm truly focused on our guys and cleaning up what we need to clean up defensively, because it really doesn't matter who you play, if your eyes aren't right, if you aren't rushing with proper awareness, it doesn't matter who you play, you'll get embarrassed, so all of our guys understand we have to play better. It doesn't matter who we play against. We have to do our jobs better."
Ryans on not underestimating his opponents:
"You never underestimate anyone. There's no room to underestimate anyone. There's just room to go out and just play your best. It doesn't matter who you line up against, if you're doing your best, it really doesn't matter who you're going against. There is no letdown in this league. There is no week off. When you suit up, it's time to go out and play and be your absolute best and it does not matter who's across from you. If you're not your best, then you can get embarrassed each and every week, no matter what the team's record, no matter who's on the other side, that's what this league is about. You're going to each and every Sunday, each and every time you go out, you have to be at your absolute best."
Ryans on if Watt's final game will lift the Cardinals in Week 18:
"He's just such a great guy and if that lifts them, whatever they need to help them play, that's cool. But for us, again, it goes back to being about us. I'm always expecting other teams to play at their absolute best. Whatever motivates them, whatever they need to get up for the game, bring it on because we're motivated and we're ready to go each and every week."
Offensive line coach and run game coordinator Chris Foerster on accounting for Watt:
"Last time we (scouted Watt), we had Daniel Brunskill do it because he'd played against him the most... This week, we gave it to Spencer Burford since he'll be starting exclusively on the right side now. We'll hear what his takeaway is, review it later in the week and make sure we solidify a plan for the guy. We watch the tape during the week and J.J. is just a great, impactful player. He makes big plays at critical times in the games – he has through his whole career."
Quarterback Brock Purdy on his mentality for the regular season finale:
"I have to go in and just do my job, do what the coach is asking of me. I'm not trying to think of anything outside of that or make it more than what it is."
Purdy on playing against his home state team:
"I think it's really cool. I went to a number of games growing up. They're my home state team and to be able to go up against them is pretty cool. A lot of our family and friends from where we're from are all Cardinal fans, so it is pretty cool, surreal, but at the same time... it's another team that I have to go up against. I'm not trying to make it more than what it is, so I'm definitely thankful to be where I'm at, but it is another game."
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury on quarterback David Blough against the 49ers defense:
"Anytime you're in his position and you get a chance to go in real games and show what you can do, it's huge. Particularly against the best team in the NFC and the best defense in the league. It's gonna be a great challenge. But, I'm excited for him and to see how he handles that. It's a tall task, that's for sure."
Kingsbury on what his mindset is for the Week 18 matchup:
"I want to play our best game of the season. We've got some guys who have an opportunity to play a lot of time against the best team in the NFC. You can't ask for anything more than to play the hottest team in the NFC in the last game of the year on the road and see where you're at. Our guys are excited. It's tough task but I'm excited to watch them play."
Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph on Purdy:
"Brock is a starter, he's no longer a backup, he's played enough ball. He's got enough snaps where you can see him as a starter and he's playing really good football. He's taking care of the football, making plays and playing at a high level for a young guy. Obviously, the issue is the quarterback. But the issue is also Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk... There's a lot of weapons to account for and that's my job to get them all covered... But the quarterback is doing his job. He's playing very well within the system and he's no longer a backup in my mind. He's playing as a high level starter and they can win a lot of games with him."
Joseph on the 49ers offense:
"This week is gonna be different challenges for us. Getting Deebo covered in a slot and in the backfield, getting Kittle covered, getting CMC covered... But no one can match up with those guys as far as all five rows at one time, so it's my job to figure out what's best for us, to call it at the right time, hopefully get some pressure on the quarterback and win some downs. I think they only had eight third downs last week in an overtime game, so that speaks to their first and second down success."
Cardinals quarterback David Blough on the 49ers defense:
"You look across and you see a great defensive team. We've got our hands full, they're a great challenge... They're as good as anybody in the league. I haven't had much crossover with them in the past few years being in the NFC North. But watching the tape, you're like, 'Man, they're legit. They're good.' All the numbers and everything backs it up. Coach Ryans has done an awesome job calling their defense and we've got our hands full. We're going to have to get help on the defensive linemen, get the ball out quick, win matchups when we get them and unlike last week, we need to score in the red zone when we get down there. Those are some keys that I think are big for us and they do a good job at negating all of that. That's why they're one of the best defenses in the league."