Q: How did Eli look?
A: He looked good. He came back and he actually texted us last night and said he felt better. When he got to work today he had a nice breakfast and seemed to do fine. I am sure he is not quite himself but almost.
Q: How much do the defensive linemen push each other?
A: It is natural, you ought to hear the room.
Q: What do they do?
A: I can’t reveal that. It is all competitive stuff. They acknowledge one another and they also acknowledge what could be better. They encourage each other to improve and be the best they can be.
Q: How will Eli’s day yesterday affect his preparation?
A: He had done all the work prior to and came out here and actually threw and warmed up. He then started feeling it but he already had done his classroom work. What he missed was the after practice work and then he was able to come in this morning and do some of that.
Q: To what do you credit your calm demeanor?
A: I have never had that said about me before and if that is a complement, I am excited. You have to work on that because it has not always been like that for me. I have had a lot years where whatever happens comes a spontaneous response. Over the years, you learn to control that just to the point where you pick a spot where you need to interject what you want the player to understand. It is just experience probably.
Q: How has your experience with Chris Canty been over the years?
A: I would say very good, you would have to ask him.
Q: He has had a healthy stretch this year?
A: Yes, he has. He has put together a nice stretch of games of late here as well. He is more confident and he knows a lot about the system and what he is being asked to do. He has performed here very well down the stretch.
Q: How difficult has it been to defend the tight end over the years?
A: We have been able and fortunate to have one of those guys most of the time here so we had people they had to worry to defend. No question, it creates another problem for you and if you are talking about Vernon Davis, he is certainly a guy that has an awful a lot of attention spent on how you are going to defend him.
Q: Has he gotten better as a route runner?
A: He has.
Q: How important is a guy like Jacquian Williams against the tight end?
A: It is important to have a guy that can be in position to be stride for stride with him. Also, you have to try to do something about the release.
Q: How does it affect playing a team who has good field position?
A: It affects the way you set up the plan but more than that, it affects the thought process that everyone has in their mind in terms of priorities and keys you have to have a chance to win. That being the case, the players are constantly aware of it because they are hearing it. They are hearing it from me, they are hearing it from the assistant coaches, and at the end of the week when we summarize the entire week, they hear it again.
Q: What do you hope they take from it?
A: Whatever the keys are, they understand what they are. They are very much aware of it. If you just talk about it from a special teams emphasis or standpoint, you do realize that therein lays a big chunk of this field position business so the players, the punter and kicker all know how important it is against a very good return team.
Q: Is it easier to coach a guy like Canty who has played under Parcells?
A: I don’t know about that. He is a very smart guy. He is a very, very competitive guy. He wants to be a very good football player and a part of our team and that is what makes it easy. When someone is motivated to be the very best they can be, that would be the word that would lead me to say that would make it better in terms of the coach-player relationship.
Q: Is Justin Smith as good as it gets?
A: He is very good.
Q: How much easier does it make it for a guy on the outside?
A: Look at the number of sacks that the young rookie’s got. Not to take anything away from him but to play next to him and the things Smith institutes, the young end can take full advantage of it. That is pretty impressive.
Q: Are you amazed how quickly opinions can change about you? A few weeks ago there was speculation about your job security and now people are talking about the Hall of Fame.
A: You just said it. That is actually how it comes across. If you are coaching in this job, you are either one or the other.
Q: How do you live with that?
A: I just keep the blinders on and go straight ahead. I don’t have anything to do with what is being said on the outside. The priority and what I think about it, I don’t let it affect me in any way. I do believe in the John Wooden statement: We like praise, we don’t like criticism but if you let either one affect your preparation, you have a problem.
Q: In the last four or five games, the longest pass play against you is something like 34 yards. Is the lack of the big passing plays because of the pass rush or coverage?
A: A combination. Our coverage has gotten better and we are tighter. There is not as much daylight. … One feeds of the other and always has.
Q: What does it do for confidence?
A: It has done a lot for the confidence of our defensive team from believing and trusting in each other and you see it grow on a weekly basis. It is based on success. We didn’t win the big play battle the last time we played the 49ers. They had more than we did, so we have a challenge there.