Q: What do you take from this for your team?
JH: Great victory. I really liked how our team sucked it up so many times. We didn’t make all of the plays, but we made a lot of plays. Didn’t make most of the plays; they made plays too, but we made more. It will be a happy flight home.
Q: How challenging is it to face
JH: It’s a huge task. It’s a huge challenge. This environment in December, not a lot of teams have been successful. Really, only in the last 11 or 12 years only one team has been successful. I’m mostly proud of our team for that.
Q: What did you tell the guys when they tied the game at 31, because the next thing you knew LaMichael James was scoring?
JH: Great return by LaMichael and I think that was our second run play, touchdown drive of the game. LaMichael makes the big run after [the] catch, which he has done for us all year long. Just a tremendous effort by him, nice job by Colin [Kaepernick]… not where he was supposed to go with the ball – it wasn’t the intent of the play – but he saw what he saw, kicked it out to LaMichael and then LaMichael made a huge play.
Q: Can you talk about the momentum swing with LaMichael’s kickoff return?
JH: He did a great job staying inbounds – it looked like, from my perspective. Tremendous run. Huge play in the game.
Q: Talk about Colin Kaepernick’s game.
JH: Another over 100 passer rating in a real tough environment. There was rain the entire game, but he did a nice job powering the ball through the elements and through the defense at times. Didn’t make every play, but that’s a good football team.
Q: Where you impressed with how he Kaepernick played during this game?
JH: No question. You saw how hard it was for both teams; wasn’t perfect for either team. There was a stretch there that looked pretty darn good for New England in the way they were operating. But, like I said, as far as Colin’s play, the deep-ball throws early in the game, touchdown passes, those were really nice throws.
Q: What was going on with the center-quarterback exchanges?
JH: We were having some difficulties there. Just kept working on it, talking about it. The ball was hitting and squirting off his hand…moved his guide hand, this left hand about a third to the right, and his top hand, a third to the right, and that helped.
Q: What impression did Tom Brady make in that second half?
JH: It was really good. Tom Brady-like. Nobody else to compare it to.
Q: Was there a little passiveness with your defense when they were up 31-3?
JH: I don’t think so. They did a great job hitting the intermediate routes. Had they not hit those passes, and scored those points, we wouldn’t have won the game. So, I feel good that we won the game.
Q: How important of a victory was this for you as a coach? Was this your biggest win in two years as a coach?
JH: They all feel like…as a coach and a player you love all these wins. This is a great win. Our team now feels good that they did a lot of big-time pressure games. They’ve overcome adversities, shown they can do that. It’s like, I like used to live next to a train station in Chicago. It’s like the more you hear the train, the less you hear it. I feel that way with our team in terms of pressure in big games. The more you hear it, the less you hear. The more you feel it, the less you feel it. So, I feel good about that. I feel good about our team in those big game situations.
Q: What does it say for your team that you gave up a 28-point lead and then you rebounded?
JH: They came back. There was some adversity [and] our guys dealt with it. They handled it. I feel great. It says a lot about your team.
Q: Did you address the fact that you clenched a playoff berth with this win?
JH: We talked about it earlier today before the game.
Q: Is it a step for Kaepernick to get through this game with some stumbles and adversity?
JH: It was a tough game to play quarterback. You saw both quarterbacks at times – you’re not going to hit every pass. You’re not going to make every throw. There’re going to be fumbles. You saw turnovers on both sides. It was a heck of a football game. I think Kaepernick definitely [acclimating] himself well. He’s got poise that’s beyond his years.
Q: That touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree – how many quarterbacks in the NFL can make that throw?
JH: I don’t know exactly, but [I was] very impressed especially after you throw an interception. There’s a lot of times…I just feel this in my bones, after you throw an interception, it’s very hard to lead a touchdown drive the next possession. Basically step back in there, throw a ball right down the middle, which he had done in a previous possession, and had it intercepted. It takes some guts and talent, of course. I think it says a lot.
Q: Any word on Justin Smith?
JH: No word yet.
Q: On Aldon Smith?
JH: There were a lot of guys that had some bumps and bruises that gutted it out and played their way through it today. I think you’ll find that when you go over to the locker room.
QUARTERBACK COLIN KAEPERNICK
Q: The touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree – Coach [Jim] Harbaugh said he wasn’t the first option. What lead you to go to him?
CK: Which one?
Q: The winning touchdown.
CK: That was just another option in the play. I saw him one-on-one with the matchup. I liked it, he’s a great player and makes a lot of great plays and he did on that play.
Q: You guys came out really aggressive at the start of the game, it was similar to what you guys did against the Bears; were you guys looking to strike fast and early?
CK: We knew we were going to have to put up points. Tom Brady and that offense are very potent; they can put up a lot of points, so we knew we were going to have to match that today.
Q: That is an all out blitz coming on that game winning touchdown pass. Can you go through what is going through your head as you are seeing what they are doing?
CK: That was a quick answer. I like that matchup. [Crabtree] made a great play.
Q: Talk about the play of the offensive line tonight. Do you think they really stepped it up?
CK: Our offensive line did an amazing job. They’ve been doing that for weeks now. They always come out ready to play.
Q: What was the deal with the fumbles?
CK: [It] was just a wet ball mishandling it. [It was] a hundred percent my fault.
Q: Did you put on a glove after the first few? Did it help?
Q: Did it help? What was the reason for it?
CK: I was just trying to make sure my hands didn't slip.
Q: Jim Harbaugh said that last touchdown wasn’t designed to go to Michael [Crabtree]. Why did it go to Michael?
CK: Once again, I liked the matchup.
Q: Did you communicate that with him before that this could be coming your way?
CK: No. All of our receivers know that on every play they could get the ball.
Q: Was he reading an all-out blitz on that one or was he supposed to run something different?
CK: That was the route he was supposed to run.
Q: Crabtree is consistently your most targeted receiver. Is there a reason for that?
CK: He’s open.
Q: How does it feel to lead your teammates to the playoffs on a stage like this against Tom Brady and in their stadium?
CK: It feels great to get this win and help us move forward to us getting to where we want to be for the playoffs.
Q: Talk about tests, one test after the other. Monday Night Football, a game in a dome with a lot of noise and then this game. Do you see it that way that you are being tested every time or just another week, another game?
CK: I mean, it is a big stage to come out here and play tonight, but at the same time, you have to approach it like another game. Try to get this win, so we can get where we want to be for the playoffs.
Q: When you are seeing that lead go from 28 points to a tie game, what kind of emotions are you experiencing on the sidelines?
CK: We were just trying to stay calm about it. I kept talking to our offense, saying we have to keep putting up points, we’re going to have to score at some point, especially the way they were putting up points.
Q: What did LaMichael James’ return do for that?
CK: That was a huge part of it; that set up Crabtree’s touchdown.
Q: Do you ever just stop and pinch yourself like, ‘This is crazy?’
CK: It is a little bit crazy, a little bit surreal, but I’m just trying to keep my head down and trying to keep it going as long as I can.
Q: I mean, it is 6:33 left in the game and they have scored 28 unanswered points. You have started five games in your career and Tom Brady is going into the Hall of Fame starting on the other side…that is sort of the ultimate in surreal and you throw that touchdown pass. It’s that simple, that is the play you saw?
CK: This is my 17th year of football. I’ve been playing since I was eight years old. So, to me, I am going to go out there and I’m going to throw to the guy who is open and you try to keep football simple so your mind can be clear when you are on the field.
Q: Did you say anything else in that huddle before that touchdown pass to Crabtree besides the play call?
CK: Just that we needed to score this drive.
NaVorro Bowman, Linebacker
(On the game in the second half)
“They just started doing something that they are good at, like throwing the ball out quick, slowing it down and recognizing what we (the 49ers defense) were trying to do. I mean, Tom (Brady) is a good quarterback and we knew some adversity was going to come and they were going to make plays sooner or later. We just had to answer the bell and I think we did that tonight.”
(On the team)
“We are strong, we are really strong. We overcome a lot of adversity. Especially on the defensive side. Everybody on this defense stays together and we never get out of our box or out of our character and that is really what carries us as a team. Once we go out there and play our game and settle down and the offense can see we are settled and we are not wild or anything. We were just able to stay calm tonight and realize we were never really down.”
Carlos Rogers, Cornerback
(On the interception)
“I thought it was too far for me and I just started running and caught it. I tried to get in there but someone got to my back. I tried to make a move on him and he tripped me up. I was just glad to get the pick and give the ball to our offense.”
(On the game)
“They kept moving the ball and we knew they were going to make their plays. That is the top leading offense in the league and to shut them down in the first half like we did, we knew they were going to come out in the second half and make some plays. We wanted to make one more play than them and that is what we did.”
(On winning the game)
“It is real big and it says a lot about this team to travel across the country, and play a late game, and in their environment with cold and rain. I am pretty sure everybody picked us to lose. It just seems every time we get on Thursday night, Sunday night, or Monday night, we show up and that is what we did. We stuck with our plan and we knew it was going to be tough coming in. We just had stay poised, stay fighting and play physical…Offense put up the points and we got the win.”
Vernon Davis, Tight End
(On the offensive play calling)
“Everything we do is by design, according to what the offensive coordinator put in. So when he dialed it up we have to make the plays.”
(On New England’s poor pass defense as a liability)
“Yeah, what our coaches are always talking about is taking advantage of their weaknesses.”
(On the wet conditions)
“I don’t think the weather did anything to me. My own challenges were keeping up with Colin Kaepernick, because Alex Smith has always been around, I guess we got to get used to one another.”
(On feeling confident with Kaepernick as Quarterback)
“I feel very confident with Colin being Quarterback, and I’m sure everyone else is as well.”
(On Michael Crabtree being the go to guy)
“It doesn’t bother me because I’m a team guy and I try to be a leader around here. I get excited about other guys’ success. That’s what it is about being excited for the other guys as well.”
Frank Gore, Running Back
(On the play of Colin Kaepernick)
“Kap did a great job. He’s a tough quarterback; he kept his poise. He’s a football player. He played great.”
(On this being a possible preview of the Super Bowl)
“We’re just going to keep working as a team and take one game at a time. We’ve got another one next, a big game against Seattle, a great team who are playing great.”
(On this being a game they had to win)
“Yeah, we had to, we had to. We put ourselves in a situation where we had to win out and we knew that it was going to be tough coming down here and getting a win against a great team, especially a team that had a great game last week.”
(On the play of the offensive line)
“Just watching film and knowing what type of defense they would play. They have a great defense and we told ourselves that if we had success on the ground we would win. We had success on the ground and we won.”
Joe Staley, Tackle
(On the game)
“That was a big win. This is a hard place to play, especially in December. It is a hard place to get a victory. This is a huge win for us. With Seattle winning, we had to win this game. It felt like a playoff game.”
(On the Patriots coming back from 31-3)
“That was unbelievable but that is what you get when you play Tom Brady. That offense can score points in bunches. They can score points quick. Give credit to them because they played hard the whole game and didn’t give up.”
(On the difference in the game)
“LaMichael had that huge return for us and then Kaepernick and Crabtree got it done. They had all the momentum but LaMichael gave us a bump in momentum and great field position.”
Dashon Goldson, Safety
(On the fake punt)
“They showed us that side of the football field and the coach put it in my hands and made the call. I just took advantage of it. We ran it some in practice and I took a look and saw the look that I had seen in practice and took it and it worked. I was hoping they would show us that look so we could run it and they did. When we called it then it came out successful.” LaMichael James, Running Back
(On the 4th quarter kickoff return)
“Ask Delanie (Walker), he can tell you better than me because he was the one that was blocking. They kicked me the ball and I followed Delanie. I trust Delanie, he always gets his block and he took me to the promised land. I did as much as I could to help the team win and that is pretty much it. One play doesn’t win a game though, but I think it put us in good position to get the score. It was a game changing play and it helped us win. We have to go back out to work and stay motivated and stay humble.”