Q: What's the injury report for today?
Mike: "Well, we have a number of fellows that are nicked up today and won't practice, but I think they will tomorrow. Jerry Wunsch is doubtful. Reggie Tongue is going to do some stuff today. Hamstrings are funny, as you know, so we'll just have to see how it responds. All the rest of the guys are probable and are in varying stages of disrepair, but I think I'll have them all on Saturday."
How is Reggie's hamstring?
Mike: "Reggie practiced last week and then he tweaked his hamstring. According to him, it's the first time he's had this type of injury and he just didn't think that if he had to explode and really go he could do it. In practice he can be very controlled in certain things and test it. But just to take it and go, he didn't think he could do that. So that was last week. This week he's going to practice today on the scout team just to see how it feels and then we'll take it from there. This time of the year, as I mentioned to the team, everyone is hurting a little bit somewhere. So if you can fight through it you have to go."
Have injuries taken a toll on Matt's play in recent weeks?
Mike: "I don't think so. I think, if anything, on Sunday, and I think he would admit to this, it broke his concentration just a little bit with his shoulder being hurt. Quite honestly, as I said, those types of things happen to a lot of players any weekend in the league. And that's when you experience maturity and all those kinds of things have to really factor in because you know something's hurting and you know something's not right. But if you want to stay in the ball game you have to overcome that and continue to function. And I think Matt has done a good job of that this season, he hasn't missed many snaps."
The flu bug has been going around downstairs.
Mike: "Well, it's clearing up except for Chad Brown. We sent him home again, it's just a very nagging thing with him. I don't think we're that much different than a lot of places. I was talking to Dave McGinnis on Sunday and even though Washington is one of those places where they give one of those National Medal Alert things and they say the states that are in blue are the states that are in trouble. Well, we're one of those states, and Arizona was one of those too, so they got hit hard as well. It's a tough deal and to just function when you're sick is hard enough, but to play a football game is pretty hard. But that's the way it goes sometimes."
Q: Are there certain factors that come into play
when you go on the road?
Mike: "If you believe that those are factors. I choose not to believe that those are factors. I ' m going to stick with my guns saying that the biggest factors on the road are still factors whether you're playing in San Francisco, whether you're playing in Denver, whether you're playing on the East Coast, whatever. There's still noise, it's a negative, and not being able to use your own crowd's excitement to fire you up, to give you adrenaline. The time zone is a real thing, but that' s why we usually left a day earlier than normal when we went on the East Coast things. I really think, still, the main thing is your ability to handle the two things I mentioned."
Are you looking at the same challenges facing the 49ers as the last time?
Mike: "I think they are. They won't have, from what I understand, Terrell Owens is not going to play. I think Dennis has done a good job down there. They're an explosive team that's scored a lot of points. I think they, like us, have had troubles on the road. Now, they won against Philadelphia and that was a huge win for them. But I would agree with you, except let's say it like it is though: Terrell Owens is one of the great football players in this league and they don't have him, but the guys that subbed for him in the game did a nice job. So we're going to have to prepare for basically the same team we played up here."
You've been 9-7 twice here, would 10-6 be progress?
Mike: "Yeah, it's an improvement. It's a pretty good improvement over last season. But on one hand I'll be saying, 'OK we did improve.' On the other hand, I'll say, 'Gee whiz. I was hoping for a little more.' You get a little greedy. But that's all for discussion after this weekend."
Has the defense improved over the past two weeks?
Mike: "Well, with the Cardinals you're playing a young quarterback. It's a different thing. We go in and play the Rams in St. Louis, they're explosive on offense. Then we play a team, and I don't want to take anything away from Arizona, but you play that team, particularly with a young quarterback, you're talking about two different world. What I was pleased with, however, was that the Cardinals have a big, strong offensive line. They really do. That offensive line has shown up big for them in games, when they beat Green Bay in Arizona. They played the Rams tough in Arizona. They've had some moments this season where they've dominated the game. I was pleased with the fact that our defensive front seven was very active in the game. They looked quick to me. They look energetic. We had eight sacks or something in the game. Partly because we were going against a young guy. But I just liked how we played the game. We still have had serious problems with the jump ball-type of pass. That's really been a disappointment. But I did like the way, the energy we had on defense Sunday. I'm saying about the opponents or anything, but we played the game the way the game should be played."
It seems Trufant has been on the wrong end of some deep passes lately, including
one in the Arizona game, and that hadn't really happened earlier.
Mike: "Yeah. His technique got goofed up on that one play. He's a very good technician. I think a little bit of it is he's a bit worn down. He's a rookie and he's been out there on the firing lines all season long and he has played well for us. But he's into the last part of a second college season all in one season. And that's a real thing. As a starting corner that's a lot of pressure on him. He's performing beautifully. I just think he's a little worn down."
Q: Okeafor has been playing well over the last month.
Mike: "Yeah, the whole group. Lamar King had a wonderful sack, really a very, very good sack in the game. Chike plays the game every week the same way. He's got a lot of energy. He's an undersized defensive lineman, as you know. Whoever plays against him has a full day's work on their hands. That doesn't change much. And Randle gave us some good juice inside. That's what we need. Those guys work together. An interesting thing to me, we have talked about it in this room, too, about our pressure on the quarterback or lack thereof, and we are sixth in the league in sacks (seventh actually). Did anyone know that? I didn't. It's an amazing statistic, because we don't have a guy who scares anybody. We don't have a Michael Strahan or a Jevon Kearse or someone who people know about, people expect to get there, a Leonard Little. But there we are. We're up there. Either through blitzing or games or however they are getting it done, they are getting it done to a certain extent. Someone gave me that stat and I don't read the stats, really. I'm not a big stat guy. But that one, I thought they were kidding."
The 49ers are playing with a lot of confidence at home.
Mike: "You certainly start to develop a confident attitude. Your fans do, and then your fans carry it on. It's a total effort that way. I've read that this has been an unusual year for the NFL in terms of teams having difficulty winning on the road. A little more than normal. I wish I had a good answer for that, other than the fact that it's tough to play in some places. You have to be not only a little bit better than the other team but a lot better than the other team. Because you make mistakes, the noise causes you to do stuff that doesn't happen to you at home. And that's something we'll have a little talk about in the off season. We'll try to figure out, look at those games really hard, and try to come up with some definitive reasons that make sense. Not smoke and mirrors, but try to figure out what we did. And then fix it."