HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY
"Just wanted to congratulate Andre (Johnson) on being a Hall of Fame finalist. Obviously, I've watched him throughout his career having coached wide receivers a bunch and watching his career even at the University of Miami and here with the Texans. Well deserving and hopefully he gets in. He is well deserving."
What's your plan with wide receiver with WR Danny Amendola being added to the COVID list? What about the rest of the team?
"We're just going to go like we went last week with our receiver group. Same group that will be up that played last week. As far as the COVID guys coming back, we do have a bunch of guys coming back this week that are active, that are back in the building. Whether they play or not depending on the conditioning and what not. Justin Britt is back. Brandin Cooks is back. Ka'imi (Fairbairn) is back. Jonathan Greenard is back. (Kamu) Grugier-Hill, Neville Hewitt, Jordan Jenkins, Jaleel Johnson, (Roy) Lopez), Eric Murray, Derek Rivers, Lane Taylor and Eric Wilson are all back in the building and all are eligible to play on Sunday."
DL Maliek Collins has practiced a little this week. Do you think he will be ready to play on Sunday?
"Not really sure yet just because of the conditioning factor, right now."
Now that some of the regular offensive line man are coming back, what do you expect from the offensive line this week?
"The same thing. Those guys obviously had some continuity there and with the other guys that are coming back, those guys have all played with each other all year long. I think the big thing with those guys is we are at the point in the year where we are starting to execute better. We feel comfortable with what we are doing, and I expect those guys that are back and did not play last week to carry on the same thing that those guys did last week."
Is it unlikely that OL Laremy Tunsil and DL Vincent Taylor will play again this season?
What does R.C. Slocum mean to you and your career?
"My career actually took off when I came to Texas A&M as a wide receiver coach. When I came there, it's really ironic how I was at UTEP at the time as the offensive coordinator and there was a couple of guys on that staff that R.C. had that kind of knew me, and they knew our defensive coordinator Charlie Bailey at the time. They made a phone call and asked if I would be interested in coming down there to talk. Obviously, the reason I did, I left there as a coordinator to be a position coach at A&M was simply because of the university and R.C. Slocum. It was one of the top ten programs in the country at that time. When I went down there, the thing about R.C. was is that there were a bunch of guys on that staff -- Gary Kubiak – that became head coaches. Mike Sherman, John Pearce, who used to coach here in Willow Ridge. A bunch of guys on that staff that ended up going on and coaching in the NFL as head coaches and assistant coaches. The one thing that he told me when I came there was, part of my job was being the pro liaison with all the scouts that came in. Obviously, I got a lot of interaction with all the NFL scouts that came in. He just said, 'Someday, your next move should be in the NFL, and if it happens, I'd do everything possible to help you get there.' He actually did that for me and actually had a lot to do with me getting in the NFL, being a part of his program and being a part of what he was all about."
How has this past year been for you?
"I have loved being the head coach of this football team. Now, the thing about it, there's been a lot of ups and downs, more downs than ups, but it has been everything I thought it would be. I wish we would've had a few more wins, but we came here with a process and we're staying with the process. We're going to stay the course. I feel like at this point that with where we're are, the fact that we've stayed the course and we're following the process, there are things that are starting to get better for us and we're starting to see some positive things happening with the franchise right now and this team."
What do you think about the timing of getting guys back on the defensive line as you get ready to play a rookie quarterback in Trey Lance?
"The thing about it is they're going to run the football. Having our guys back again that weren't here last (week), that gives us back more depth. That's the deepest position we have on our football team is our defensive line. We know this team is going to try to run the football, that's what they are. It's good to have those guys back to be able to have those guys fresh to be able to go out there to play for us."
What do you think about your run game going into this game knowing how well the 49ers play defense?
"They're very well. Again, obviously, they've got a guy on defense that's a game wrecker in (Nick) Bosa. We're going to continue to do what we did. I think the most important thing that we've done the last two ballgames, obviously last week we ran the ball very well. The week before that, we were just ok ay. But I think the attempts are the most important thing. I think as long as the attempts are up and we're running the football, I think that will help us. As long as we continue to do that, I think good things will happen."
Can you talk about the adversity your team has gone through the last couple of weeks, especially with COVID-19?
"Everybody's going through it. We've gone through this a little bit last year, not quite as significant that it's been with the numbers of players that it's happening to right now. But again, it's a day to day deal. I go back to that next man up mentality that we've had, and our guys that have not been positive for COVID that have been able to come and play and hadn't played very much that stepped in, I expect them to do that, and they've done a great job of doing that. Now that we get these guys back that have been here before, I think that makes us fresher and should hopefully make us better. But everybody's dealing with it. We've had a whole year of having to kind of deal with this a little bit, so it's just business as usual for us. Each day you come in and they say, 'Okay, this guy's positive.' Okay, he's positive, he's not going to play, next guy up. And we've kind of had that mentality all year long and continue to do that."
Having coached a lot of wide receivers in your career, what was it about Andre Johnson that made him special? Is there a specific moment in his career that gave you that 'wow' factor?
"He's had a bunch of 'wow' factors during his career. He was big, he was strong, he was the total package. I'm talking about tough, everything you would want in a (wide receiver). He was the prototype wide receiver in this league, coming through that time he did. His consistency from the start to the end, he was just as productive at the end as he was at the start. He is what you would actually want if you wanted to draw up one, this is the kind of guy you'd want to draw up to play wide receiver for you. Plus, he was a tremendous person, too, off the field. I just remember him in college, we knew he was going to be special, and he's been special. He's been special enough to be nominated for the Hall of Fame and (is) well deserving."
OL JUSTIN BRITT
What's it like for you to be back out on the field with the guys? How are you feeling? I saw your Instagram post about your gameday outfit you were going to wear last week.
"Well, I felt pretty good this week. The first day getting my lungs back was a little gruesome. But I feel fine, fresh, ready to go. I did not have a lot of fun in quarantine and having to stay home. That outfit was custom, so I had to wear it. If I didn't wear it at home, I was going to wear it to this game and it just didn't feel right wearing it this game. Just went ahead and worse it and we will draw something up for this weekend."
Did you watch any good television when you were quarantining?
"No, I played a lot of War Zone though. Got tired of Call of Duty pretty quick. I don't have cable, so I don't watch a ton of TV."
Compared to the last time QB Davis Mills was starting to now, how would you rate his progress in terms of pre snap adjustments and setting the protection?
"I feel like his growth has been exponential and how he goes about it is about as good as pro can do. Full confidence going forward. Full confidence in the game plan knowing that he is going to step in there and be consistent and be who he is, and we don't have to worry about that. We just have to do our job and protect him and give him a chance to throw the ball."
Do you think the league was consistent with the postponements? How do you think the game unfolded?
"I don't want to get deep into that because that's kind of above my pay grade. As much as I would have loved to play in this last game and for them to postpone it for me to get a chance to, I feel like Jimmy (Morrissey) and Cole (Toner) and Max (Scharping) and everyone who stepped in did a wonderful job and played a very physical game and kind of made a name for themselves. I was sitting in here with Justin Reid talking about how at the beginning of the year a bunch of guys got a lot of valuable reps who haven't played a lot of football and last week was another scenario like that where Cole, who hasn't gotten a lot of playing time this year, got a chance to get in there and do his thing and play football. Jimmy, who has kind of commanded the thing whenever I've been out, got in there and did another exceptional job. It was fun to see Rex (Burkhead) stay hot and get loose. The guys up front last week did a tremendous job and were super physical, so the bar is set high for us coming back and we look to kind of picking up where they left off."
What's it going to take to keep the run game continuity there?
"We've worked together, and I feel like whenever we went down to Jacksonville, we kind of got it going. So, we just have to harness that and build off what they did last week. We just have to come in with the mindset that we are going to run the ball. We don't want to sit there and be pass protecting this group for 60 minutes, so we want to be the ones applying the pressure somewhat and we don't want it the other way the whole game. It's a mindset. We just have to get our mind right."
What is the impact of having a good run game on QB Davis Mills? How beneficial is that for him?
"I think every good pass game has a complimentary run game. For us to be able to run the ball consistently and gaining yards definitely takes the pressure off him of having to be the playmaker and be precise and have to make these throw every play just to get us down the field. He can rely on us up front to get the ball going and he doesn't have to go 100 yards every time."
What are your thoughts on the 49ers defense?
"I think they are very talented. I'm used to playing them twice a year, so they continue to somehow get these players that play super hard and are technically sound and they are coached really well. It's going to be a very physical game. This defense that we are going to be might be the best defense that I've seen on film this year as far as finishing a play. They keep going through the whistle. We got to be ready. We have to be sharp and the good thing about us up front in this group is we love to work, we love to finish and so, it will be a fun matchup for sure."
DB JUSTIN REID
What's it going to be like to go back to the Bay Area? Will you have some friends at the game?
"Oh, yeah. I hit some of the guys I know over on their team. I gave them 12 tickets for them, make sure they get some good seats. But it's going to be an exciting game for me. I spent my college career out there, so I know a whole bunch of people, familiar with the area. I sat in those stands for three years watching my brother play, so I feel familiar with San Francisco's team, their offensive and defensive philosophy and just the stadium in general. It's going to be exciting for me to go back and see a couple old friends and play some good ball."
What have you seen from QB Davis Mills in recent weeks? What do you think it will be like for him to go back to where he played his college ball?
"The growth that Davis has had from the beginning of the season to where we are now has been tremendous. It's what was expected. He's a very smart guy, capable of making all the throws. He's taken advantage of the opportunity to grow with all of this with the starts he's had, and he's just consistently gotten better. He's at the top of the rookie class right now over the second half of the season as far as quarterbacks go in the rookie class, so he's been doing a great job. I can see the game has slowed down for him from where we started at the beginning of the year."
What was your impression of QB Davis Mills in his first year at Stanford?
"I'd never even got to see him get on the field. When he came in, he was in the rehab room a lot. I was just there for that part of the season. As soon as the season was over, I headed out to start training for the combine. So, I remember seeing him in the locker room, had interactions with him but never got to see him be on the field. I just remember watching him play whenever I was here with the Texans and I could go and watch the guys that I still knew there at Stanford and got to see him do his thing."
What did you hear about QB Davis Mills coming into his first year at Stanford?
"He has all those intangibles that you want out of a quarterback to play in a pro-style offense as far as pocket awareness, he's a big guy, can make all the throws, great arm talent. So, I was just excited to see it. He was rehabbing most of the time so I didn't get to see it in person, but I remember seeing some of his high school highlights and he had a couple of deep balls that looked real pretty, so you can see all that starting to show up now, too, in the NFL."
How would you describe the challenges of defending the 49ers offense? What were your original impressions of it, and what are they now?
"It's a West Coast style offense kind of similar to what we actually ran at Stanford, too. It's a lot of stretch and cut. They're going to have guys pull motion on every play. They want to pull guards, track the tight end across the ball. They just want to have a little bit of misdirection. They're going to have the running back run sideways, wait for somebody to have poor eye discipline or be out of their gap, and then they're going to hit it hard. They're a physical offense, especially running behind big No. 71 (Trent Williams). They favor running to that side, obviously, because he's an All-Pro player, one of the best run-blocking offensive tackles I've ever seen. But then they're going to have the boots and play-actions off of that with Jimmy Garoppolo. He has a little bit more of a pocket presence, whereas Trey Lance, they're going to put a little bit more quarterback read in there, quarterback run, allow him to use his legs to buy himself more time and be more comfortable back there. So, that's what we're expecting out of them, to have a big run emphasis on their offensive side of the ball, boost play-actions off of that and then obviously get the ball to Deebo Samuel with some screens or putting him in the backfield."
Do you have a memory that sticks out to you from watching your brother on the 49ers?
"Yeah, the one right now that sticks out is because it was such a heartbreaker, when they played Seattle. I was at Seattle for the NFC Championship Game. I've got J.B. (Justin Britt) in the room with me, too. He was there. I remember that game. The goal line stop that the Seahawks had, I remember that the stadium was extremely loud, too. That's one of the memories that comes to mind. I also just remember some of the plays my brother has made throughout his time there, some of the interceptions, some of the big hits. Probably why I try to hit people so hard, because I've always seen him do it and I tried to be a harder hitter than he was. But it was a good experience being able to play on Saturday, and then on Sundays head over there to watch my brother play."
How do you look back at the past year for you and this team?
"I think that this year has just been about overcoming obstacles and growth and overcoming adversity. We had a good first game, and then we had, let's just call it what it is, an abysmal stretch there where we lost seven, eight games in a row. But in that time, a lot of guys who never got the chance to play on the field got a lot of invaluable experience, Davis Mills included. I think that that's just instilling building blocks. We're trying to create a foundation for the future of this team going forward. We're going to ice that off with the last two games that we have this season and really just press the gas and see how good we can really get, and then build on top of that going into the next season next year."
DL DEMARCUS WALKER
What have you seen from Trey Lance on film?
"Obviously great potential. A pretty big body. You see it on film how big of a body he has. The things he brings to the table just a willfulness, has speed and everything, pretty good arm too. So, just have to take those things into accountability."
What's it like in the defensive lineman room now that some people are back?
"It was a complete 180 from last week to this week. Me and Ross Blacklock looking at each other saying, 'Hey, we got a good one ahead of us,' to having all the fellas back. It's been pretty good. We handled it well last week and this week we got another good rotation, good system going getting some guys back, get their legs under them and be able to compete Sunday."
How do you feel about the defensive lineman group going into this week?
"As confident as before. You know this team is starting to find its identity. A lot of guys especially with this d-line, guys have been bought it and the chemistry started growing. This group is so tight, so close. I'm just happy to be around these guys."