Nick Sirianni

Q. I wanted to ask you about WR Quez Watkins. The last, I don’t know, five or so times that you’ve gone deep to him, he had the two balls in Dallas that were intercepted, the fumble against Washington, the drop in the Super Bowl, and then the play the other night. What gives you the confidence to keep dialing him up in high-leverage situations? (Reuben Frank)

NICK SIRIANNI: Well, understand this with Quez. His speed changes the game, and not just because it’s going to him. It’s going to open up the rest of the field, and you can’t always predict where the ball is going to go. The defense obviously — there are things that happen where the defense dictates where the ball is going to go.

So, in that particular case, that was one of them. Quez was on a clear-out route. The defense did something a little different than what we anticipated, and the ball went to him. I still have confidence in Quez, but sometimes he’s in there also to clear the field and to show his speed because his speed is legit, legit.

I’m confident still in Quez. I still have confidence in him, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes with where the ball is going because he has to be accounted for on each play because of his speed, and it opens guys up underneath because of his speed.

Q. So if I can just follow up real quick, you’re not planning to change WR Quez Watkins’ playing time or his snap count or anything like that? (Reuben Frank)

NICK SIRIANNI: We’ll see. Again, we’re confident in him as a player, as a teammate. [WR] Julio [Jones] has done a good job. O.Z. [WR Olamide Zaccheaus] has done a good job. We have three guys that rotate in between being the No. 3 receiver.

We’ll see where the reps continue to go. Each game plan is a little bit different of what you’re asking the players to do and the roles, so we’ll see.

Q. You mentioned about Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai’s role now with the defense. Why is it that he has retained his title as defensive coordinator, and is there a pathway back this season or the next where he goes back to calling defensive plays, and how would you describe that? (Brooks Kubena)

NICK SIRIANNI: Again, like I said, they’ve switched responsibilities, and Sean did a really good job helping out in the game on Monday both in the locker room at halftime and on the headsets.

I know [Senior Defensive Assistant] Matt [Patricia] valued his opinion and his vision and was really — I really admire how Sean went about his business last week. I think any of us that have been in a situation where things didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, you can go two ways with that.

It really speaks volumes of the person and the coach that Sean is and the character that Sean has that he did everything he could do to help the football team. That’s why Sean is here, and we know he can help us continue moving forward and really excited to have him continuing to have a role on this team and on this staff.

Q. Was there something you communicated to him that he can show behind the scenes in this new role that can… (Brooks Kubena)

NICK SIRIANNI: I’ll keep all our conversations private.

Q. You mentioned accountability is one of your main tenets that you have with your core philosophies there. How are you keeping the players accountable during this losing streak? Do you think that they’re responding to that accountability, and what are some of the methods that you do to hold them accountable? (Chris Franklin)

NICK SIRIANNI: Same methods I use when we’re winning. It’s the exact same.

When you change who you are and change your core values based off of wins and losses, that’s when you’re going to lose the team. So, it’s the exact same accountability regardless of the outcome. That’s the only way you are going to end up getting better.

We’re in a little bit of a skid right now that I’m very confident that we’ll be able to get out of because of the people that we have in this building and the accountability not only that I hold the standard to for the team and myself, but also what they hold the standard to.

So that hasn’t changed. That hasn’t changed in the slightest because when your core values are deep within you and deep within the roots of this football team because we live them and preach them every single day that we’re in this building.

It goes back to you continuing to double-down on the things you know to be true. You continue to grow under the surface, even when you’re not growing out in public. You hold the guys accountable, and they hold themselves accountable the exact same way because this is your habits, your daily habits, and that’s your core values.

Q. How do you feel QB Jalen Hurts has played the last three games? (Jeff McLane)

NICK SIRIANNI: I would say offensively we haven’t played or coached up to our standard the last three games. Overall, as you look at our offense overall, I think there’s lot of similarities with our offense last year statistically and the way we played and this year, except for two major categories, and that has been our explosive plays and our turnover differential.

But if you look at all other statistical categories, you can see it was very similar, it was very similar. These last three games have not been up to our standard, and Jalen and myself and [Offensive Coordinator] Brian [Johnson] are always going to be looked at first. We know that. We accept that based off of our position.

If we’re not playing good enough offense, it’s probably because all three of us aren’t doing our best job. But Jalen, I thought he did a lot of good things in this game last game. I thought he did a lot of good things in the game against Dallas, and then we had some unfortunate turnovers.

My mind is a little bit off three weeks ago from San Francisco. I don’t remember much about what happened there unless I watch the tape again. Like any of us, Jalen is going to want some plays back. We’re going to want some calls back. Everybody out there is going to want some plays back. We just have to get it back on track.

I would say prior to — I know we’re zeroing in on those three games, to your question, but prior to that, Jalen Hurts is an MVP consideration, MVP top candidate. So, it’s the body of work for the year. We know and we’re confident that we all can get back to that body of work that we put in prior to this three-game stretch.

Has this three-game stretch been our standard? No, and we’re working like crazy, and we’re determined to get back to where we were prior to this.

Q. If I could just follow up real quick. I understand that you don’t have to voice all your criticisms of QB Jalen Hurts when he does something wrong publicly, but is it being told to him in the meeting room that when… (Jeff McLane)

NICK SIRIANNI: Like I said, I’m going to keep my conversations with the players between me and the players. Accountability is our number three core value, and its only number three because it came in that order: Connect, compete, accountability. They’re not in any order.

So, accountability, again, when Chris [Franklin] asked me that question, accountability, I didn’t say something to Chris that I’m not saying to you right now. Accountability is one of the main core values we have, and we live by those every single day.

Q. I think you probably would agree that the standard hasn’t been met on either side. (Dave Zangaro)

NICK SIRIANNI: I just said that two seconds ago. Go ahead.

Q. Sure. I’m just prefacing the question. I think you would agree with that. When you look at the differences and the struggles offensively and defensively, what led you to make a coaching staff change on defense but not offense? (Dave Zangaro)

NICK SIRIANNI: So, like I said, offensively the last three games have not been consistently up to our standard, but if you look at our offense throughout, it still is in the top ten category in a lot of the statistical categories we look at except for the turnovers and the explosive plays, and we have to do a better job on both of those things.

We have to put the players in more positions to create explosive plays. But make no mistake about it, this offense is being run the exact same way the offense was run last year and the year before that. This offense is my offense; right? This is my offense.

So, the criticism on the offense I think unfairly goes to Brian. Brian calls the plays. Brian calls the plays. It unfairly goes to Brian. The criticism on this offense should come at me because this is my offense.

I was hired to do a job here and got hired because I was successful as an offensive coordinator with our schemes and the different things that we did to coach players and help players win. I’m committed to that.

Like I said, the criticism should come at me, and I think it unfairly goes at Brian a lot of the times because he’s calling the plays.

But make no mistake about it, this offense has been consistently similar throughout the three years. Yes, there are different things you do based off your personnel and different things you do based off the teams that you are playing and what’s working for you, but again, it all starts there with me.

So I guess I’m not thinking that a change needs to be made there for multiple reasons, and that’s one big one.

Q. On that second interception was WR A.J. Brown the primary read? Why take a shot downfield in that situation where a shorter completion could have gotten you into field goal range? (Tim McManus)

NICK SIRIANNI: At times there we’ve seen you can get a pass interference there. It was what it was on that particular play, but if you get a pass interference call there and if a team is giving you a one-on-one shot for very similar to what happened on the other side of the ball, they ended up getting a one-on-one shot that had some different things there, and we’ve seen it.

We had a one-on-one shot against the Rams, and you can get a pass interference, and now you’re in position to kick it.

So, we have some of the best receivers in the NFL outside. So, there are times where you’re going to do that. We felt like in that situation we had an opportunity to. Hey, it didn’t work out that particular time.

But we’ve done it at other times in two-minute drills, and it’s worked. In that particular time, it didn’t work, so we understand the criticism, but not only could you get a pass interference, but also A.J. has a tremendous ability to come down with the football in one-on-one situations.

In this particular case it didn’t work out, but we’re comfortable with what was called and what we did in that scenario, and we’ll be better next time because of it.

Q. What’s your personal background in Senior Defensive Assistant Matt Patricia’s case with Matt Patricia and his defensive philosophy, his defensive scheme? How comparable is it to what you installed and have been running the first 13 weeks? (Zach Berman)

NICK SIRIANNI: There are obviously differences. I think that’s a really good question too. There’s obviously differences.

Why is Matt Patricia here in the first place is because I have had so much respect for him as a coach in this league going against defenses that he’s had for as long as I’ve been in the NFL. That’s why he’s here in the first place, knowing he could help me in situations as a head coach and with the defense.

So as far as the schemes being similar, there’s definitely differences. So, you’re not necessarily going to see complete wholesale changes at this point of the year, but you’ll see some different things here and there, and the offenses will see some different things here and there.

Obviously for competitive advantages I’m not going to get into all the different things or pretty much any of the different things that you’re going to see, but there will be differences. But, again, we’re going to stick with some of the core things that we’ve done, and we’ve done well through the first 14 weeks of the season.

Like I said, it’s a group effort by our defensive staff. Matt is just the one that’s making the main decision now. Sean still has a voice in there, and our assistant coaches still have a voice in there. We’re just trying to refine what we do well and continue to do what we do well and eliminate some of the mistakes that we’ve made.

Q. You mentioned the explosive play aspect of it, and you want to get back on the right side of that, explosive plays and turnovers, but specifically with the X plays, how difficult is it to keep that sort of tight rope when it seemed like they were playing a lot of two-high? So, when teams are trying to take that away, trying to take away the explosives, do you have to be maybe a little bit more disciplined and take what they are giving you? (John McMullen)

NICK SIRIANNI: Yes. I think starting with myself, we have to do a better job of trying to scheme some things open against some of that cover four. That doesn’t mean you’re always going to get it.

There is an art to knowing when. Then once we talk about it, once we go over it with the players, Jalen has to feel comfortable with it, and then there’s an art to Jalen’s case of, all right, here’s when they’re giving it to me, and here’s when they’re not, and take it when they give it to you, and check it down or go underneath when it’s not. That’s the tough part about playing quarterback.

But that is a good question because some of those defenses are designed to take away that, but in each and every coverage there’s opportunities in plays to attack underneath. There are opportunities in plays to attack on the outside. There are opportunities in plays to attack inside the numbers and at an intermediate level, and there’s opportunities and plays to attack the ball deep as well. Some easier than others to get that going.

I think I saw a stat that one of our quality controls did for us the other day that we’re number one in explosive plays against cover four, which is ironic because we’re not as high in explosive plays, but we are — and this was a couple of weeks ago. Y’all would have to check me on this, but we are number one in explosive plays against cover four.

So, there is an art to it, and that’s why Jalen has the hardest job in all of sports playing quarterback of knowing when its time based off the play that we’re running to throw it deep and when to check it down.

I have a lot of confidence with Jalen and the guys on this team that we can get this thing turned around. All it takes is the next game. All we’re thinking about is how we turn it around going into this next game, and we’ll take it one day and one game at a time.

Q. Obviously this is the first time you guys have gone through a three-game losing streak since early in your first year here, and I was kind of wondering, are there things you can draw from as far as being able to get the guys out of this that you are able to do two years ago? (Martin Frank)

NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, there’s differences. There’s definitely differences just based off of — your standard continues to grow as you are continuing to be around each other, so our standards are even higher now.

Does it hurt a little bit more now? Yeah, it does. Not to say it didn’t hurt any less. So, there are differences there.

There definitely are similarities of when you’re going through rough times, and I think that’s what’s great about football is that you can compare things that you have went through in your life, the tough times you’ve went through in your life and how you’ve overcame. I think that’s been a consistent message is in this game you have to be able to overcome. Not only in a three-game losing streak, but also if a couple quarters aren’t going your way.

Also, things that every one of those guys in our room have overcome different things to be sitting in the seats that they’re sitting in, myself included. So, in those times you think back about the hard times in your life that you’ve overcome to get to the spot you’re at to comfort you in the times of these areas and say, you know you have the mental toughness to get through this and get better because of it.

I know that every guy that I’ve talked to on our team because that’s something I’ve talked to a lot of guys on our team, ‘what’s a hardship you’ve been through?’ ‘What’s something you have overcome?’ That’s something you talk to guys about during the draft process to figure a little bit about their mental toughness and about who they are as a person, but that’s also something you do in forms of connecting.

I know a lot of our guys have been through a lot of crap and been through some tough times. That’s what life is, and those moments are in life. You draw back on those moments and know you have overcome, and you are better off because of it, and that’s been a consistent message there through some of these difficult times that we’re going through right now.

The other thing that’s really important during these times is that you are connected. That goes back to your core values of being connected because in times of trial, we’re going to want everyone to stay together when there’s a lot of people that are going to want to tear us apart.

It’s all that’s important is what’s in this building, sticking together, locking arms together, being together, and that’s where that connectivity really comes into play.

Connectivity is great when you are going through good times. You see us having fun on the sidelines and different things like that, but it’s even more important in times like this.

So, I’m glad that our guys have worked their butts off to be connected to each other, to lock arms, and to say, how are we going to figure this crap out together?

Q. On the Monday night broadcast there was a clip of San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey predicting quarterback draw based off of TE Jack Stoll’s alignment on that play. Do you feel like defenses are starting to catch up to some of the tendencies of the offense or that things have become a little bit predictable? (E.J. Smith)

NICK SIRIANNI: From that one play, no. I obviously know about this because [Senior Vice President of Communications] Bob [Lange] gets me ready for these questions, but good eye for Christian McCaffrey to see that, point that out.

We have never run that play from that formation, so I think you’re looking at a guy who is highly — let me say what I think of Christian McCaffrey. He has high football IQ. He’s got a very high football IQ to be able to see that.

That doesn’t mean that other guys on the defense don’t, but that play was designed to put us in fourth and short or to get the first down. We accomplished the goal from that play. Got ourselves in fourth and short and ended up getting a first down from that.

I think the other thing that good offenses have, very similar to the 49ers, is they have plays that they run as staples. So, staples are a play that you have that you lean on. Every good football team, every good offense I’ve ever been on has staples, including the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles.

The 2023 Philadelphia Eagles have staples because, again, it’s about what you do well and repeating those things and giving it different looks.

Like I said, that was the first time. Have we run a similar play to what we ran in that game that Christian pointed out? Yes. Out of that look? No.

But that’s pretty common of good offenses that they’re going to have staples that they lean on. When things maybe aren’t going right and they want to get out of a rut, maybe when you’ve got everything on the line, there’s different times to use your staples. I think that’s a product of offenses that have had some success.

Q. On Senior Defensive Assistant Matt Patricia, just from not having worked with him before in the building, what are some of the things that maybe were not as expected from your vantage point on him and what were some of the things he did over the past few months that impressed you to think this guy could run the defense? (Bo Wulf)

NICK SIRIANNI: When we went against the Patriots in practice, myself and [Passing Game Coordinator/Associate Head Coach] Kevin [Patullo] and Coach Patricia did a lot just communicating back and forth of getting things ready for practice. Really, Kevin and Matt did a lot of it really at the end of the day Kevin [Patullo] does an unbelievable job of being the assistant head coach, him and [Running Backs/Assistant Head Coach] Jemal [Singleton]. We got to know him a little bit through that process. Got to know him a little bit through just being in the profession with him and the respect that we have for him.

We knew him and had a prior relationship to that. As far as even when we interviewed him or when we’re in right now, his level of football IQ is off the charts. He’s a tireless worker, much like all the guys that are on my staff. His football IQ is off the charts. His detail is off the charts.

Again, those are things that I’m always looking for when I’m filling a staff is can they put the players in positions to succeed because of their football IQ, and can they teach the players fundamentals to get the player better at accomplishing the job? I think off the charts on both of those.

Like I said, that’s what I look for in every one of our coaches is can they get the players better and can they help put the players in positions to succeed, and are they a good man because you need good people on the staff too that are going to be able to fight through tough times and stick together.

Q. Actually I have two quick ones, Nick. On the two-minute offense you said after the game the other night you weren’t happy with the way that transpired. I guess there were three chances to do that. You answered Tim’s question about the second interception, but when you looked at film, was there anything you could put your finger on as to why those three possessions didn’t go very well? (Bob Brookover)

NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I said what I said, and it wasn’t good enough in the game on Monday. We had three opportunities, and we didn’t succeed on any of them. Like I said, that’s us being able to put them in positions to succeed.

There’s different reasons for each one. There’s different reasons for each one because each two-minute situation, without nerding out about every two-minute situation and how all the different things that go into it, each one was a little bit different. One was with 26 seconds. One was with a minute whatever. All those are completely different scenarios.

Listen, we didn’t coach it well enough. We didn’t execute it well enough. As a result, we didn’t score any points. As I was kind of getting on the offense about that and getting on myself about that, because again, it starts with me, and we’re kind of having discussions of, hey, man, what didn’t go right in this game? Well, we didn’t convert on two-minute, and we’re used to converting on two-minute, and we could have had 31 points in this game if we were just how we are in two-minute.

Then Kevin and Brian showed me the stats of where we are in two-minute scoring offense, and apparently we’re second in the league on that. We weren’t in this particular game, and so we’re doing a lot of the right things. We didn’t in that particular game, and that’s why it’s always — I’m going to say it’s always going to be on me first if the guys weren’t in positions to make plays.

We have to look at ourselves as coaches first and make sure we put them in positions to make plays, but each scenario is a little bit different.

Q. What do you have to see in these last three games, and I know you’re focused – (Bob Brookover)

NICK SIRIANNI: One game at a time. I’m not worried about three games. I’m not worried about any of that. I’m worried about this next game, period, because that has been a common question. What do you have to do to win the next three games?

I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about today. I’m going to go back up and game plan right now, so I don’t have time for any more questions, but I’m worried about today and that’s it because you cannot say this is what I’m worried about the next three games. You’re not going to be successful in this league doing that. You put your head down and work and get better at today.

Q. Let me ask you just a single game, though. What do you need to see in this single game to say, hey, we’re headed in the right direction again? (Bob Brookover)

NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously just get back to our standard, and that’s what I’m going to go work on right now.