Linebacker Patrick Willis called the Texans' Owen Daniels "one of the better tight ends" in the league.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, a Houston native, and inside linebacker Patrick Willis spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday. Following is a transcript of his interview.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary
(on coming to his hometown for the first time as a head coach) "I just think it's a tremendous opportunity to get on the road and come to Houston and see a lot of family and friends, but the most important thing for us is preparing for a football game against a good football team."
(on how many family members and friends are coming to the game) "I don't know. That's one of those things that I let my wife handle and I'm just going to keep that in my peripheral, but I don't know at this time."
(on if it's a big deal to his family that he'll be in Houston) "I think the most important part is the summers—it's just like I talk to our guys, when you have the offseason, that's the time that you be with your family and you spend time with them, and I do that. So I get to Houston and make sure that I spend my family time with my family and enjoy that time. They understand as well as I do that right now, this is football season and I'm a coach and trying to get our team ready to play a football game and hopefully they get a chance to come out and watch, but other than that, that's really all it is. It is a business trip for us."
(on if as a young man he ever pictured himself coming back to Houston as a head coach) "Depends on how young you're talking about. I did think that at some point in time, after I retired, I felt that it could be a possibility if the right situation came along, and I'm very thankful that the Lord just kind of worked out circumstances and they worked themselves out."
(on what he wanted to be when he grew up) "I wanted to be the best linebacker ever."
(on what his goals are as a coach) "Same thing."
(on the idea that it's harder for great players to become coaches because they don't have as much patience) "I don't know, I can't answer that because I never considered myself a great player. I never considered myself a great athlete. I think when they make that statement, they're talking about guys that are tremendous athletes and don't understand the work ethic that you have to get in order to really take it to the next level. Michael Jordan may be the only exception, or one of the few exceptions that I know of, maybe Jerry Rice is another, somebody that has ability, great athletic ability, and at the same time they work as if they don't. And for me, I had just enough ability to be a good football player and I wanted to be a great football player, and that desire in me to work my tail off and make that happen was the other part. I think I'm able to identify with the great athlete because of some of the accolades that I have obtained, but I also think I'm able to identify with that guy that's running down on special teams and that's the only thing he might ever do, because that's what everybody told me about my ability, that that's what I would do."
(on if he's saying that he doesn't cut slack for players that aren't willing to work hard) "Absolutely. And I think that's where the rubber hits the road. It's been very important to me—I've talked to a lot of players and I told them, don't tell me what you can't do, tell me what you won't do. Because I believe that anyone can do anything that they put their minds to."
(on what he thinks about two former high school football stars from Houston coaching against each other) "Well, it is Texas, and you love your football in Texas, and I think it's just one of those things that, we're very fortunate – I was very fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life that taught me a lot about football and life, and so it's pretty interesting that the roads would lead to this."
(on what he learned from former Baylor head coach Grant Teaff that's helped him as a head coach) "I learned that as a coach, it is just as important to let the players know you as a man, and I think Coach Teaff taught daily lessons not so much in what he talked about but as how he lived. And I think Coach Teaff is one of the greatest men that I know, and he's a guy that I continue to talk to to this day and seek counsel and wisdom because he really is like my dad."
(on if he ever envisioned eating a worm to fire up his team) "Like Coach Teaff, I think you do what you have to do within the realms of sanity. I didn't think that was too far outside the line."
(on if anything about coaching has surprised him) "The only thing in coaching is the media part of it that is a bit fascinating to me. But outside of that, I'm having a great time."
(on what he means when he says the media part of coaching is fascinating) "It's fascinating in terms of how the media is intertwined in coaching. They really know everything before the coaches do."
(on if he didn't know that as a player) "I had no idea. Never paid attention to it."
(on who, besides former Baylor head coach Grant Teaff, influenced him the most) "Probably my high school coach, Coach (Oliver) Brown, who will be at the game."
(on how long Coach Brown has been retired) "He's been retired now maybe 15 years, something like that."
(on what Coach Brown meant to him) "When my dad left when I was 12 years old, Oliver Brown was a guy I met about maybe three, four years later, and he was a strict disciplinarian in the way that he taught things. You'd have to go to the board and show him everything that he had taught you. And then he really pulled me aside and talked to me about how tough life was but at the same time, the rewards of life if you're willing to pay the price. And he was the guy that always taught me about work ethic, and work ethic to me is everything. If you're willing to work, there's very little that you can't attain in life."
(on if he can imagine where he'd be without Coach Brown's guidance) "It's a frightening thought. I just think that—the interesting thing about Coach Brown was he saw that there was something in me that I didn't even know I had and that was just a tremendous desire. And it's hard to tell when you're a young man growing up and you have something inside of you and you don't really know how to explain it and one day he pulled me aside and said, 'Son, I want to tell you something,' he said, 'There's something inside your heart and your soul that you have to learn how to get out.' And I was extremely quiet, as I am now, very quiet, but he said, 'You don't say anything until you're about to explode.' And he said, 'Mike, if that's the case, people are not going to listen to you. So when you go to college, and I want you to start now, I want you to take communication classes so that you can learn how to elaborate on the things that you're feeling and express those things because they're extremely valuable.' So that was the first step and that was just one thing of many things that he told me about life that I needed to do in order to become a better man."
San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis(on what he sees on tape with Texans' offense) "They've got an explosive offense. They've got playmakers at running back, receiver and tight end, so they have a good offense."
(on how important it will be to get QB Matt Schaub running around) "It's going to be very important. It's always important to get good pressure on the quarterback. Any time you can get the quarterback rattled, then that's a good thing, but first we have to make them one-dimensional, and that's stopping the run or that's stopping the pass, whichever one they're trying to do against us. But first, stop the run."
(on what has allowed their run defense to be so successful) "I think it's just our attention to detail and then the way we go out and we practice together. It is our third year together on defense, and like I said, after practice we go in and we do the small things. We just don't leave practice, we go in and go over our run fits, and things like that are what help us be successful.'
(on what it's like to play for coach Mike Singletary) "Coach Singletary has brought a lot of fun to this game, to this organization because of what he has done for the game and then also just the way he approaches it as a coach. We couldn't be playing for a better coach for the kind of organization that we have had in the recent years. Playing for him, it's tough, but if you love football, then it's fun. Football's a tough sport. It's one of the best sports there is to play, I believe, and just playing for him is great."
(on if he looked up to LB DeMeco Ryans while at Ole Miss) "You know what, I want to say that DeMeco Ryans, he's developing into a good middle linebacker and is making a name for himself. We both just love to play the game of football. I like the way he goes after the ball, and hopefully he likes the way that I go after it. We try to compete at a high level. I think to sum it up, that's SEC football."
(on if he and Ryans know each other at all) "No, not really. He played at Alabama and then me playing at Ole Miss, of course I knew of him, but I never really had a chance to talk to him. I talked to him a little bit at the Pro Bowl, but not like to get to know each other, just more like 'What's up.' That's about it."
(on if he ever finds himself looking at the stat sheet comparing his tackle numbers with Ryans') "Nah, man. I don't ever pay attention to the stat sheets. My stat sheet goes, as long as we're winning, then stats don't matter. And when you're losing, then it most definitely doesn't matter. So right now, it's about going out there and winning, and stats'll take care of themselves. I'll look at them after the season's over with."
(on TE Owen Daniels) "I think he's one of the better tight ends that I've seen in the league. He runs routes well, and he knows how to play football from the tight end position. I mean, he could almost be a receiver the way he catches the ball. We really have to be on our P's and Q's, and like I said, it's about getting after the quarterback and getting him moving around, getting him rattled a little bit, and then we'll just play football from there."