Sean Desai

Q. How important was pre-snap communication in this past game, in particular in the secondary with CB Darius Slay sometimes following Bills WR Stefon Diggs and sometimes not? (Jeff McLane)

COACH DESAI: It was critical. [Defensive Backs] Coach [D.K.] McDonald, [Nikels] Coach [Ronell] Williams and [Assistant Defensive Backs] Coach [Taver] Johnson did a great job preparing those guys for those situations. And from the middle of the defense all the way out, the players did a really good job executing and trying to get everybody lined up and get us into some of the packages and calls we had.

Q. A lot of guys played career high snap counts in that game. S Reed Blankenship played 95 snaps on defense and 21 on special teams. How does a guy do that? What enables him to do that and still play at a high level late in the game? (Reuben Frank)

COACH DESAI: I think it just shows you the kind of character and grit of him and really all of our guys, the way they prepare their minds and their bodies for a game like that. And that rep count is an anomaly. And we obviously don’t want to ever be up there with those reps. And we have to do a better job getting off the field in some of those situations.

But it’s really a credit to our guys and our support staff, the strength staff for preparing our guys and having them conditioned to be in a game like that. And it was great to come out of that game with a victory like that.

Q. You said physical and mental. What’s the mental aspect of playing that many reps? (Reuben Frank)

COACH DESAI: I think it’s just fatigue. These games are wearing. They’re three-plus hours and the guys put their bodies on the line, and they do it at such a high level and they’re playing such a physical brand of football, which is what we want them to do.

And for them to be able to stay locked into the tendencies and formations and stay locked into our calls is really an accomplishment of those guys and their preparation for it, our players.

Q. Along those lines, DT Jalen Carter and DT Jordan Davis both shattered their career highs in snaps. Davis obviously made that big play in overtime and everything. But about those two guys and how they kind of have got through that game. (Martin Frank)

COACH DESAI: I think it was a function, again, [Defensive Line] Coach [Tracy] Rocker preparing those guys and being ready for that moment. The way that game went, we had some guys go down in that game. And so they took on the reins and they took on the ownership, they knew they would have to play a little more because the rotation got a bit jammed up of it.

They did that. They took ownership of it. And they went out and did the best they could to help us win that game.

Q. Seems like the fifth time this year we asked you about the deploying of Slay on a particular wide receiver, but whether it’s Justin Jefferson the first half, the second half against Cooper Kupp you changed it, against CeeDee Lamb you had an approach, obviously this past week. What dictates on a week-to-week basis how you’re going to deploy him? (Zach Berman)

COACH DESAI: It’s really our staff. We get together, talk about our game plan and our matchups and figure out what calls we have and what we feel puts our players in the best position to make plays and execute, not compromising what we want to do, not compromising our brand of football and the style we want to play. And then try to really integrate that each week.

And then finding all the matchups, with Slay, J.B. [CB James Bradberry] , whoever is on the field, trying to find where we think we can be optimizing those high-leverage situations.

Q. How much of a challenge are the 49ers to match up against with how versatile their offense is? (EJ Smith)

COACH DESAI: They’re very challenging. They’ve got a lot of great skill players there. I think [49ers Head] Coach [Kyle] Shanahan does a tremendous job with the scheme and putting those guys in position to make plays. They’ll present a really good challenge for us, and I think our guys, the staff and players, we’re looking forward to that challenge.

Q. What were some of the issues on third down, especially third and longs? (Dave Zangaro)

COACH DESAI: Comes down to a lot of things. Always starts with me trying to put them in different calls and get our guys in better positions to make some plays. And give credit to them. They did a good job. The quarterback did a good job of extending some plays and making some courageous throws in some tight windows, and even converting a couple with his feet.

And so, I think it’s a function of everything. It’s a function of me putting our guys in better positions and our guys executing and straining a little bit longer when you play a quarterback like that.

It was a good experience because that’s what will help mitigate some of our rep counts, too, getting off the field in those critical situations.

Q. Jordan Davis is a great inside guy, but it was surprising to see him get to the sideline that fast. Did that amaze you? (Merrill Reese)

COACH DESAI: I don’t know if I would say it amazed me because we’ve seen him do it in practice. And through training camp and everything we’ve seen him go cut it loose and try to run, and there’s a certain way we like to practice. And it’s with speed and it’s with physicality.

When we get our opportunities to do it on a practice field, we try to emphasize it for everybody and he’s a part of that.

Coach Rocker has done a tremendous job setting the tempo and the vets did a tremendous job starting with [DT] Fletcher Cox and the way he practices and B.G. [DE Brandon Graham], those guys practice at that tempo. There’s a certain standard we want to uphold there.

Q. From a general standpoint, getting back to the reps, I know it was an anomaly, as you said — there’s rotational positions, nonrotational positions — you no longer have Derek Barnett at edge. Do you want to get that fourth guy involved just from a general perspective? (John McMullen)

COACH DESAI: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. That’s something we talk about every week in terms of how and what we’ll do. We do want to continue to rotate guys and keep our guys fresh through the end of the half and through the end of a game and really this latter part of the season here. We want to try to do that as best we can. And we’ll have a good plan of that going forward.

Q. Given what happened in the game last year, do you spend much time looking at the 49ers tape from that game because of how weird the game got after two quarterbacks went out? (Bob Brookover)

COACH DESAI: We look at everything. And that’s our job as coaches to make sure we’re prepared for everything and try to do our research and digging and trying to find everything. They still have to play some offense and they’re still trying to go win that game. We do, we look at everything.

Q. The injuries you’ve had at linebacker how do you assess that group? How did you feel LB Christian Elliss played? And what are the conversations you had with Head Coach Nick Sirianni and others in the organization about what you can do with that position? (Brooks Kubena)

COACH DESAI: I think we feel good about the guys we have. I think the guys that we have, we’ve trained at a high level. I know Nick and [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman], they always collaborate. And they’re always kind of looking all the time.

But with the guys we have we feel good about it. Those guys did a good job going into the game. Christian Elliss did a good job helping us close out that game and [LB] Nick [Morrow] did a great job, obviously had to play some multiple spots in that game for us with [LB] Zach [Cunningham] going down. He did a great job and continues to do a great job as a communicator and getting our guys set there.

Q. What are the things about 49ers QB Brock Purdy that concern you, that keep you up at night? (Jeff McLane)

COACH DESAI: Brock’s playing at a high level. Really efficient with the ball. Getting the ball out with rhythm and timing to his receivers. I think they do a good job mixing the run and pass. And Brock really runs that offense really well. And he’s feeling really comfortable doing that.

He’s slippery. He’s a little bit quick and can be evasive in the pocket. And he keeps his eyes up field and is able to target some explosives downfield that way too.

We will have to have a good plan corralling him and getting tight to some of these routes so we can contest some of the throws that they throw.

Q. Your experience elsewhere in the league, how unique is the way you guys handle your Wednesday practices, in particular your walk-throughs? And how does that factor into the increased snap count you might see on Sunday? (Zach Berman)

COACH DESAI: How unique is it? I think every head coach I’ve been a part of has a way they manage their Wednesdays and Thursdays differently. I think here we do it tremendously. I think it’s been proven how we’ve done it. And it’s been a certain model that we abide by.

And I think it’s really good because it helps prepare our players, helps keep our players fresh for Sunday. We still have a high-demanding walkthrough where it’s still mentally taxing. We want to challenge these guys and get a certain level of speed up until the snap that we want to be able to play with. I think our guys, players and coaches, do a great job buying into that.

Q. What other steps are you taking this week to account for that high number of play volume last week? (Tim McManus)

COACH DESAI: We talk with the strength staff and head coach and everybody and we’ll get on the same page of what we want to do to manage our guys. We usually have a great plan about doing that with all of our players.

And it’s really individually focused on who needs what. And I think we do a great job in this organization communicating that.

Q. When you look at LB Ben VanSumeren, he’s been elevated three times, hasn’t really played any snaps on defense, how close is he, like, if you guys were to obviously add him to the roster and need him, how close will he be to contributing at linebacker? (Martin Frank)

COACH DESAI: He’s done a good job. He’s stayed really engaged. He’s really mastered his role and his craft and defense and staying on top of it.

[Linebackers] Coach [D.J.] Eliot does a great job with him in preparing him. He’s taken a lot of the reps obviously in our developmental periods and even getting some reps as we manage guys in practice, getting some reps there, too.

So, if he’s a guy that does get elevated because of, like you said, the numbers and everything, then that’s great. We’ll feel confident with anybody we’ve got on the team because all those guys prepare like they’re ready to play.

Q. With the first seven games and they’ve asked about Slay a couple times, but seemed committed as a left corner through the first seven he’s been in. The last he’s been mixed around. Having those three games there, what solutions have you found on the other aspects in coverages beyond his matchup in those plays? And what things have you learned from recent games that help you going forward? (Brooks Kubena)

COACH DESAI: I think in terms of the matchups, and obviously with Slay, it’s really we’re trying to find the best matchups for everybody. If it means moving one guy to a certain spot, it affects all the other guys in the coverage.

It’s about getting them lined up. That’s a big point as we’re scheming and game planning things is, if we do this and this guy lines up in this spot, how does it impact everybody else to get lined up and do their jobs? Do we like the matchups with everybody else?

That’s what our game-plan process goes through. And we continue that every week and we decide as a staff what’s best for that week.

We’ve seen we’ve had good success doing it both ways, a lot of different ways during the first part of the season. We’ll continue to lean on that because our guys have prepared for that. They’ve shown they can take on the roles asked of them each week and contribute at a high level to help us win games.

Q. There’s been a couple of plays the last couple of games — a drop with the Chiefs with CB Bradley Roby in pursuit to the wheel, I think it was Nick Morrow in pursuit, I think — those plays, do you find corrections with those in terms of like where Slay’s been and how you can pick up what things did those reveal? (Brooks Kubena)

COACH DESAI: Yeah, those things are just scheme things. I think we’ve got to put our guys in good positions to play. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a match thing to a certain side. Those are scheme-related things that we help our guys with, and sometimes they get you on a good call versus a not-so-good call by me.

And then putting our guys in better positions to be able to make those plays. And so I think those are things that, yes, we learn from and we keep evaluating and we keep adjusting our structure to make sure that we put all of our guys in the best position to go make plays.

Q. The preparation for the Niners, where does it start when you prep? (Zach Berman)

COACH DESAI: It kind of always starts for us, pretty standard-wise in terms of who we’re playing, what their identity is, all their players and trying to figure out where our matchups are. And then we just go through the tape and cutups and see what they want to be as an identity.

That’s how we’re going through that process yesterday and today and continue throughout the week. But really trying to figure out what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to attack us structurally, and where we can leverage our spots the best we can to help put our guys in the best position to go control the tempo of the game and go win that game.

Q. Bills QB Josh Allen got a lot of scrambling yards last week. Was that just an anomaly because of Josh being who he is, or was that something you’re trying to tighten in terms of the guys’ keys? (Jeff McLane)

COACH DESAI: It’s a function of both. You’ve got to give Josh credit. He did a good job getting out of some things where we had some bodies on him. Obviously, we want to execute better and put our guys in better positions by play call to go corral that pocket and execute and limit some of the scramble plays. Some of those happened.

We’re always looking at plays, whether it’s a scramble play, not scramble play, whatever it is, we want to make sure we impact everybody on the field in all different sorts of ways. And Josh, he did a good job of getting out of some of those where we had him corralled. And that’s learning points for us, and we’re going to grow from it. I think that’s the exciting thing is we can grow from it. And we feel really good about the plans that we put forward.

Q. What are the keys to slowing down 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey? He seems to pick up yards every time he touches the ball. (Merrill Reese)

COACH DESAI: That’s a good question. You’ve got to put bodies around him. Have to get different looks, affect his route progression from different angles and put different matchups on him because they do a great job of creating matchups there. So, we’ve got to be able to have multiple different ways and different angles at which we want to cover him and leverage them.