Q. What went into WR Britain Covey now returning kicks regularly, too? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: [WR] Britain [Covey] has done a good job during practices and everything, and given the conditions with the weather, just getting straight downhill with it, and everyone is going to keep getting better. We’ve got really good options between him, [WR] Quez [Watkins], [RB] Kenny [Gainwell] in terms of that. But with the weather conditions we wanted to get downhill as fast as possible. Never want to go sideways when it’s slippery like that, so I thought he did a pretty good job in terms of that. He bounced it out to the left side right there, got to the 30 [yard line], got to the 29 [yard line], so it helps a little bit on the field position, helped the offense out.
Q. Michael, I saw P Arryn Siposs trying to kick field goals or extra points. Can he do that if – I say if – K Jake Elliott has a little bit of an injury on Sunday? (Howard Eskin)
MICHAEL CLAY: We always have some sort of a protection plan for everything, regardless if it’s a punter going down, if it’s an offensive lineman on a field goal going down. We work that behind the scenes just to make sure, just in case, because you never know what’s going to happen. You never would have thought [K] Jake [Elliott] would have hurt his foot in the game right there. But we always have a protection plan or a backup plan for anything that happens in those situations.
We talk about it a lot, and [Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni] does a great job with it in terms of those type of situations, getting this team ready for it.
Q. Are you proceeding as if you will have K Jake Elliott Sunday? (Les Bowen)
MICHAEL CLAY: Like Coach said, everybody has got a possibility to play on Sunday. We’re still only Tuesday right here, so we’re looking forward to another good work week in terms of practice and everything, and we’ll see how everything goes as the week progresses.
Q. When the kicker is injured on the sideline and you’re trying to figure out what his range might be, what is that process like and how quickly do you have to figure it out? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: Communication between everything. We communicate — overemphasizing communication is just going to help us out regardless of the situation right there between myself, Coach Sirianni, Jake, just communicating, ‘Hey, what do you feel comfortable with?’ and everything like that. I thought the communication — it happened so quickly. You never know when it’s going to pop up, when it’s going to arise right there, just to communicate between myself, Jake and Coach Sirianni on different situations.
Q. What was it like for him to kick that 28-yard field goal, not only with the hurt leg but also in the conditions and everything like that? (Martin Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: Jake is one of the toughest people I’ve ever met regardless of the position that he plays. Everyone sees a kicker and they think something differently, but he’s tough out there, and him to go back out there, he drilled that — the first field goal, drilled it, to come back, hit another wet ball in a tighter location right there still takes a lot of guts right there, and he did. He trotted out there, and he puts a lot on himself that he’s going to get the job done regardless of the situation, regardless of the condition out there.
I thought he did a heck of a job. Very proud of him to go out there and still put three points on the board, a big three points to make it a two-score game right there.
Q. I take it was harder to kick in that end than it was the 42-yarder before? (Martin Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: That whole day the wind, the conditions were tough right there. Again, the communication from the beginning of the game, like, ‘Hey, what side do you want to kick with?’ in terms of all of that. The offense did a good job to make it a shorter field right there, and you can control it just a little bit better once it’s a shorter field goal right there. But he got up, the operation was good right there between [LS] Rick [Lovato], the offensive linemen, [P] Arryn [Siposs] right there, then really it was cool; the people behind the scenes, the equipment guys and the field crew, it wasn’t super slippery out there. Everybody had the right equipment. He was able to put his plant foot in there and kick that 28-yard field goal. Just an all-around effort from everybody, even the people you really don’t see around the building.
Q. It was kind of interesting to see DT Jordan Davis out on the wing position on field goal block. What made you think about putting him out there? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: You know, you just try to make the edges a little bit longer. I had Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in San Francisco right there at the edges and when you have a guy that’s 6’7″, 6’8″, it just makes it a little bit more difficult for guys to rush and really bend the corner right there, and Jacksonville No. 32 he had a nice couple rushes, but [DT] Jordan’s [Davis] length right there kind of makes it a lot harder.
Everyone is willing in this league — it’s tough to win in this league, and everyone is willing to do whatever they can to help this team, and Jordan is one of those selfless guys. He goes — I talked to him, like, ‘Yeah, whatever, I’m ready to do it.’ All he asked was a hug from Jake after he hits a field goal.
Q. As a kicker can you wait much longer in knowing whether he can play versus any other position? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: That’s a good question. I don’t know if I have a true answer to that because you never know what happens in the day. Some days it could feel good, some days it could feel bad. But the communication again, we’ve still got plenty of time until Sunday to figure it out, but [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman], Nick, they do a great job of having it covered as we move forward.
Q. How did P Arryn Siposs grade out in this game? (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: Again, we don’t want any of those touchbacks right there in the plus 50. In terms of that field punt. The second one we’d like to get [Jacksonville Jaguars WR Jamal] Agnew down real quick. He gave us an opportunity inside the 10 to make a play. Agnew ran around a little bit right there. We’ve got to make the play. We had some guys down there, and if you ask the guys, they were a little upset about they let a guy run 30 yards for eight yards. Then the last punt, to flip the field right there, 44-yard punt, a heck of a play by [S] Andre [Chachere], gave him enough hang time to allow our coverage to get down there against a very dangerous returner. Jamal Agnew has six touchdowns in his career, but to be able to do that with the hang time, let those guys run down there.
We’re still striving to get better, more consistent right there, but if we can eliminate that touchback, I thought he had a pretty solid day.
Q. What goes into those kicks when he’s trying to pin — doesn’t seem like he does a lot that are in the corner. What’s the thinking behind that? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: You still want to give the gunners an opportunity right there. If it goes super deep into the corner, there’s always ifs, ands or buts about it but if you go super deep into the corner and the gunner to the other side gets thrown out of bounds, he can’t touch the ball right there, and then the returner has a little bit straighter line away from the backside gunner right there.
I think we’re just — him just letting it go and just hitting the ball I think will just allow him to do what he did last year, and he looked pretty good in the plus 50, so we’ve got to get better at that because it’s going to help our whole team out with all that, especially how the defense is humming right now to give them a long field. We’ve just got to tighten up in that plus 50 area.
Q. You spoke about K Jake Elliott’s toughness. In what ways have you seen that? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: I’m around him almost every day right there, just the toughness he has. He may be the pound for pound best athlete on this team right here, but just the toughness — let’s not talk about his mental toughness because that guy, he’s got ice water in his veins when it comes down to it, but he’s one of those guys when it comes to competitions, he’s going to chirp you, he’s going to try and beat you in everything he does, so just that sort of toughness right there, then he goes out — the guy kicks — his leg is a little tired but he’s ready to go, comes back, and a tough guy like that, it gives everyone confidence that regardless of the situation, regardless of the time of the game, he’s going to get it done.
Q. In terms of surveying the street free agents at kicker, how involved are you in that versus the personnel department handling it? (Bo Wulf)
MICHAEL CLAY: It’s a collaborative effort right there. Again, it comes down to communication. They ask me about my input, I ask them about the input, what they feel about it, and we get a short list going and we talk about it. Whoever is out there we’ll keep it in there and try to go forward from there, getting ready against the Cardinals on Sunday.
Q. When a guy like CB Zech McPhearson starts playing more snaps on defense, played a lot on special teams as well on Sunday, how is the communication between him and the defensive coaches and you to make sure he’s not playing — they didn’t play a lot of snaps on defense, so does that go into it? How does that all play out? (Reuben Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: When a guy who is a core special teams guy and has to play on defense, you try to take away a little bit of the special teams to conserve him right there. Again, [CB] Zech [McPhearson], the communication between myself, him, [Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon] JG, Coach Sirianni, [Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs coach Dennard Wilson] D-Will is always up to par right there, so you didn’t see him as much on the coverage units to try to take that off him, going straight into a defensive rep right there. But there are times you only get 46, 48 guys right there that a couple things you can’t take him off of. He’s just got to kind of suck it up, but he did a good job out there to be able to do that on kickoff return and punt return right there.
That’s why we get these guys ready, guys in the backup roles, mix and match, try to puzzle it together.
I thought the communication to help out Zech on the defensive side from the special teams was really good, and I think the guys that came in and played on special teams did a really good job because there was a lot of moving parts that happened towards the latter part of the game.
Q. When it comes to specialists like typically you only have one in the organization, so when guys are healthy, completely healthy, do you keep an eye on who’s on the street? Is that something that’s always in your mind, just it could be a play away? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: You’ve always going to be ready for the worst possible situation, so that revolving door or that list right there, you always take a look and see what happens around the league some things happen around the league where other teams are now having to try out other guys right there, and you just see that list, ‘Okay, boom, boom, boom, he was on this, he was on this tryout.’ You just kind of keep a Monday-Tuesday list and see what’s going on around the NFL.
So there’s always a revolving door or a list that we can look back on and say, ‘Okay, I’ve heard of this guy before, I’ve seen this guy kick in previous situations.’
I don’t know if I would say fortunate, but in ’19 and ’20 we went through kind of a revolving door of long snappers in San Francisco when I was there, so you just kind of keep a list of guys that you’ve heard of, seen play before, and it’s no different for punters, kickers, return specialists, anything like that.
Q. The timeout before the third quarter, you spoke a few minutes ago about the sides of the field. What does that threshold need to be to burn a timeout to make sure you have that side of the field? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: You know, depending on the whole wind condition right there, we felt like it was a little bit more of a help going into that side, so you don’t want to take off points off the board right there, and if you have a timeout at your disposal, the communication and the situational awareness from Coach Sirianni to hit it right there and help out the kicker in any way possible was outstanding.
Again, just comes down to the communication, which Coach Sirianni is awesome at. Getting Jake ready, he wants to kick that way? Sure, let’s hit a timeout with two seconds left, get these three points on, then we’ll flip the field going into the fourth quarter.