The following is a transcript of the pregame conversation between Trent Baalke and the 49ers radio broadcasters on KNBR:
Ted Robinson: On Friday, general manager Trent Baalke spent the week in Florida as well, and a part of it visiting with a very very honored old mentor.
Trent Baalke: “No, I just spent a couple of days, a day and a half with Coach Parcells just talking ball with him, watching the film talking through our roster and just getting a chance to spend some time with him.”
Robinson: Getting a view from outside the floor so to speak? is that a good thing?
Baalke: “Well, it can’t hurt to spend time with a man like that that has accomplished what he has. You know, it was a chance to sit down and view the film and get a different perspective of what we were looking at.”
Tim Ryan: Also spent some time Trent in Orlando with the team. And a 10-day road trip on a 10-game losing streak, I mean obviously it could go both ways. But the week of practice, do you see it being a benefit for the guys in the camaraderie and being together on the road, or is it I guess we’ll know at the end of the day one of those deals where guys just want to get home? Your thoughts on the week.
Baalke: “I thought it went excellent. I really did. A little apprehensive at first as all of us were. But it’s a really nice group of guys. They handled themselves with the utmost class, they worked hard, they spent a lot of time together, had very good rapport with all those guys. And it was fun to see them spend time together and get to know each other and the veteran guys taking the younger guys under their wing. This team is still very committed. They work hard, it’s important to them, they haven’t thrown in the towel. You saw that last week (in Miami) with the way they competed to the very end. They are battling. They’re giving you everything they’ve got and sometimes it’s not good enough on the scoreboard, but it’s certainly encouraging with what we’re seeing.”
Ryan: And at the end of that Miami game, Kaepernick needed six and got four, but put four quarters of football together when you look at the offense. To me, that’s the best offensive game I’ve seen this offense play in a while. Your thoughts after you watched the tape on the Miami game.
Baalke: “Good balance. We were able to run the football effectively, we were able to throw the football when we needed to, Kap did a nice job making some plays with his feet, making some plays with his arm and you know, guys stepped up. I thought the O-line…. I think as we were watching the film, we had 48, 49 pass sets and I think 45 of them were five-man protections. So they did an outstanding job against a very good defensive line.”
Ryan: And that’ll be the case today. I think you look at Chicago, and I think the strength of their defense, they’ve had so many guys hit injured reserve, 16 guys on the injury list this year. They’ve lost their two inside linebackers. They’ve got Eddie Goldman back in the lineup, the nose tackle, played well against the 49ers last year. He, Akiem Hicks, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young if he plays. That’s the strength of this defense.
Baalke: “No question. And the thing that stands out is the length they have on the outside both with Pernell and Willie Young. And the inside. The mass they have inside, both those guys are big powerful football players. They do a nice job controlling the line of scrimmage. Vic Fangio does an excellent job of putting his guys in position to make plays. So it’s not an easy task here today.”
Ryan: What you see out of the defense? In two of the last three games, no question the run defense has tightened up. Defensive line playing better at the point of attack, linebackers understanding how to read their keys and get downhill and get to the line of scrimmage. But the coverage, still an issue. And all the big plays last year. Going against Matt Barkley, who threw his first three touchdown passes last week against Tennessee all late in that game to get a comeback. Thoughts on the coverage? And is it…. I’ll say this. Guys have made a highlight reel plays in terms of catches against this 49ers defense this year. Give them credit, coverage needs to be tightened up though, one way or the other.
Baalke: “We just need to stay disciplined. We have to understand we are up against and we have to play the coverages that are called. And to put ourselves in better positions to make plays, to make plays consistently. Our guys, some of them are young mistakes, some of them are just mistakes. And you’ve got a get away from the young mistakes, and you’ve got a get away from the mistakes. Because at the end of the day, it comes down to making plays. And I’m encouraged of what were seeing, guys are getting better. As you mentioned, the run fronts have tightened up and it’s a little harder to get yards against us at this point, but but we’ve just got to put 60 minutes together.”
Ryan: What are your thoughts on Jordan Howard, the running back of Chicago, fifth rounder out of Indiana, started at UAB. This is a game where…. Who knows what the weather is going to do? Starting to snow now and by game time could still snow, could be freezing rain, it looks like it could be a run game, defense type of football game. Jordan Howard, your thoughts on him coming out.
Baalke: “We liked him. We liked him. And I thought he was built for this game right here, ground and pound. He’s a guy that’s going to move the chains. Doesn’t have great breakaway speed, but he’s certainly good enough, and very consistent on short yardage situations in college picking up first downs. Just a good solid running back.”
Ryan: I want to see his smile on your face on the plane ride home because I think a W is coming today. I think this team is ready to break out.
Baalke: “We’ve just got to play for 60 minutes. This is a good football team despite their record and it’s a well coached football team. I’ve got great respect for obviously coach Fangio and coach Fox. I think they do an excellent job, and they are kind of in a similar situation to us. So go out there and play hard for 60 minutes and see what happens.”
Robinson: “Last one Trent, you hit it. Familiarity. How big of an issue do you think that is today, because obviously, Vic Fangio on the Bears side knows Colin. Didn’t face Colin last year is going to face him this year for the first time. Is that an issue?”
Baalke: “I think….”
Ryan: Vic’s got to tackle him, but I don’t think he can.
Baalke: “(Laughing) Vic can’t get out there and put on pads but I think any time you play a divisional foe like when you play Seattle, that common knowledge of one another helps. I think it helps them and certainly we have some knowledge of what he’s going to do as well. So that may play in our favor as well. So I think it’s is going to come down to the 11 men out on the field at any given time. Who makes the most plays.”