Q. How much thought and discussion have you had about the hypothetical decision that you would have if an overtime comes up? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, we’ve talked about it quite a bit. Obviously won’t get into the decisions of what we get into, but we think about everything. That’s the fun part of this job is just putting yourself through scenarios that you might not ever get to. That’s how game planning goes, too.
We’ve thought a lot about it, had a lot of discussions about it, been able to talk to some other coaches about it, and obviously talked to our own staff through it. We have a plan in the event that happens.
Q. What about the opening toss, you’ve been 100 percent defer, right, every time? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Is that right? That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s always what our thought process is, depending on if they win and they decide that they are taking the ball, you don’t really know what we are going to do at that point.
But we talk about that as well. We have philosophies for that and what we want to do. It doesn’t mean that it’s the same every game depending on who you play, depending on the weather. There’s a lot of things that go into it, but yeah, that’s always discussed as well.
Q. What has your primary messaging to the players been this week? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: We’ve talked a lot. I’m going to keep a lot of that in-house this week, but we’ve talked a lot through last week was, hey, this is what we do well, let’s continue to do these things well. That’s what the bye week was for. That’s what you do when you’re winning, when you’ve won the 14 games and then get into the playoffs. You don’t just start fresh. So, there’s a little bit of that, of like, hey, here is our routine, here is what we do, here is our process and we are going to continue doing that.
But obviously, too, like some other things, this is going to be a physical game. We know how physical they are. We know how physical we are. It’s going to be a physical game on both fronts.
Q. What do you look for from your guys to know that they are locked in and that they are ready and that they are having a good week? What kind of signs? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: You look for how practice is going, how walk through is going, all those different things like that, the execution that’s happening. We had a good practice yesterday and we had a good walk through the day before, and now the goal is to go out there obviously and have a good walk through and then a good practice today. So you’re just looking for execution. Execution fuels emotion and excitement So, that’s what you’re looking for and then being locked in on meetings, just the same thing you look for through all the weeks that we’ve been going through this.
Q. A veteran player like T Lane Johnson playing through the serious injury he is, do you see that permeate the mentality with the other guys on the team, the line and everybody else? (John Clark)
NICK SIRIANNI: We know this is a physically and mentally tough team. We have shown that. These guys have shown that for their entire careers. In my two years here, I’ve seen that with our guys of how physically and mentally tough they are. I say physically because you see that. You see them block well. You see them tackle well. You see them get off blocks well. You see them come after the football or protect the football with physicality and with toughness. So we know we’re physically tough because they just keep showing it. It’s not just something that we say we are. We see our guys do it over and over and over again with those particular things that we mentioned, and that’s obviously always important in football.
Shoot, that’s important in every sport. I know that’s the first thing I say to my kids is, hey, have fun, play hard, be physical. That’s what I say to them before any sporting event that they play in because I know any sport the play physical part is very important. And then the mental toughness. The grind of what you go through in the season, and just sticking true to the process over and over again no matter how many weeks into this you are, how short you are into it, how long you’re into it, just that mental grind, and I know all of our players have been through different things in their lives that have prepared them not only for life ahead but also football games, and through some of the things that we have all been through.
So, I know this team is mentally tough and I know this team is physically tough. And I know the team that we are about to play is definitely those same things, so we know it’s going to be a challenge and a big-time game because of that.
Q. You guys have a team that’s very similar to the 49ers, from the staff to the rosters, even the GMs are kind of similar. Do you see that these two teams might be in the situation for several years to come? We saw that with the Cowboys and 49ers in the mid-90s. It seems like when you look at the rest of the league and you look at the way that these two teams are built with young players under contract, young coaches, dynamic GMs, it’s kind of a mirror image and we’ve seen success from both of them. (Marcus Hayes)
NICK SIRIANNI: One thing I can say is I know how good their O-line is and I know how good our O-line is. And the same thing with the D-lines, both really good D-lines.
Obviously, I think very in the present and I think about this game and this day, and not think about what could happen down the road. But I know that both teams are built the right way as far as their O-line, D-line, so I let you guys be the decider if this is something that could be going on for years. I know the 49ers, this is their third out of four years that they have made it to this game. That’s pretty darn impressive in my opinion and so that’s a great streak to have. Sure, we’d love to have that, but all we’re really focusing on is this game at this time and knowing that we are playing a good football team and that we’re a good football team.
Q. What is it about cover three that a lot of defensive coordinators like, and does it have anything to do with the fact that a lot of times it looks like man pre-snap? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, you’re always trying to mesh things together and there’s no doubt. But I think what sometimes it’s having the guy in the middle of the field to protect against the deep ball and they are pretty good against that. Sometimes it’s also to get an extra guy in the run game. So, there’s many different reasons why a team would play cover three. Sometimes it’s that when you go install a high school offense or you go install the basis of what younger kids play, it’s cover three.
So, you get guys to fly around and make plays out there as a defense because they are used to, there’s different rules obviously, but they are used to playing cover three, so you want that familiarity with that coverage. There’s a lot of different reasons why a guy, why a coordinator, why a defense might do cover three more but those are the ones that stick out in my mind.
Again, you have the guy deep. You’ve got an extra guy in the box and then also familiarity with the defense and they can fly around and play fast because of the familiarity with the cover three.
Q. You gave us the story about the turbulence on the airplane and watching the flight attendant, and you said that was the goal for you this year. How do you think you’ve been in that regard behind the scenes? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I feel like that you’re always growing. Look, you’re always growing in things and you’re never going to just become, like I said yesterday, no man suddenly becomes different. That doesn’t mean you gradually can’t become different.
Am I perfect when the turbulence is really rocky? Am I sitting like that stewardess – I wish I knew the name of who that was – am I sitting perfectly still like this at all times? No. But I know I’m better than I was when I was looking around like that. So I’m growing, just like we want our players to grow in all areas. I’m growing, too, and I do definitely feel like I’ve made steps, and still trying to grow in that area.
Q. You mentioned the how 49ers have been to this three times in the last four years. While you guys don’t have that same type of pedigree, you have guys like QB Jalen Hurts, DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean who have won college national championships the last few years. How much do you think that helps them in preparing for this game and the kind of message you want to send to the rest of the team? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, big time. Big time. Playing in big games, that’s why you want guys like that from those types of programs because they have played in the biggest spotlight in college for the biggest prize. We’ve got a lot of guys on this team, the guys that you mentioned that have done that, [WR] DeVonta [Smith], [G] Landon [Dickerson], [QB] Jalen [Hurts], [DT] Jordan [Davis], [LB] Nakobe [Dean], [CB] Josh Jobe. I know I’m missing some – [TE] Dallas [Goedert]. Did Dallas play in the National Championship Game his senior year in the subdivision? I think they were close. I remember talking to him about that a couple of weeks ago. And then obviously all the guys that we’ve had on the Super Bowl team with the [seven] guys that were on the 2017 team. So any time you’re playing in big games like that, that’s super helpful because again, it’s not that you treat it any different, but you’ve been in that scenario before and we’ve got a lot of guys that have been in that scenario before.
Q. You see guys who thrive on those big stages. Why do you think that is? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: It’s just who they are as players and who they are as people that they don’t allow — you hear all the time, he has ice water in his veins, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, you hear that all the time. I think the cream rises to the top at the biggest moments, and so it’s the work that they put in. There’s no doubt it’s the talent that they have, the work that they put in for it, but it’s also their mentality of, hey, I’m here, but I’m not treating this game like any differently than I treated the last game. I’m treating this game with everything like I treated the last game and everything like I got treated the game before that. I’m a completely locked in the moment and I’m not thinking about anything but how to do my job and how to make plays. I’m not thinking about the magnitude of the game, the magnitude of the moment, what happened to me the play before, what’s going to happen to me after this. They are just locked in. Again, I talk about that all the time with dog mentality. Like the best players, the best teams that I’ve been around, best coaches I’ve been around can be able to lock themselves into the moment they are in and focus on the task at hand only.
- How has QB Jalen Hurts responded to what will be the first time he’s had to turn around in one week in over a month? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I don’t think he’s thinking about that at all. He’s ready to go. … Nothing there, still getting treatment, stuff like that. But he’s just ripping it like any normal week.
- Have you spoken to Panthers head coach Frank Reich? What was your reaction? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I actually did get a hold of Frank [Reich] yesterday and was happy to. I’m really excited for him obviously. Well deserved, very well deserved. They’ve got a great head coach in Carolina. I know Frank is a great head coach and I’m really happy for him. And he’ll do a great job there, there’s no doubt in my mind. I know what type of leader he is.
Q. Your crowd is known in Germany as, I don’t want to say hostile from time to time, but not being very friendly – throwing snowballs at Santa Claus or booing. How crazy is the crowd and how important is it for you? (German reporter)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think that Santa Claus snowball thing was like in ’79, all right, but I know it’s still talked about. When was it? Okay, it was ’68, 1968. (laughter)
But it’s so important to us. It’s so important to us. Our crowd inspires us. Our crowd makes it difficult for the opposing team with how much communication that has to happen in this great game. And they’re hostile, they are hostile. I knew that as being an opposing coach coming here how intimidating it can be. So they’ll make life difficult, there’s no doubt for this team that’s coming in here because of who they are as fans and it’s going to be loud. We’ll feed off that and it’s going to be energetic and it’s going to be, you know, everything that I’ve ever seen on TV as far as the NFC Championship game that happened a couple years ago here. Obviously we get to live it every week here that we’re home of how important the crowd is to us and how important our fans are to us but it will even be, you know, even though we as coaches and as players take it one game at a time and don’t treat any game differently, I know that’s not always the case with fans and they don’t have to.
They don’t have to be like a coach and they don’t have to be like a player where we take every game and treat it the exact same. They can get a little more amped up because of the stakes of this game, right and they are going to be a little more amped up and I say welcome. I welcome that, and be as loud as they possibly can be and be as energetic and it’s going to be great. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.