Marvin Lewis News Conference
December 16, 2015
Paul Brown Stadium
"Looking forward to getting ready for the 49ers this week. It's been five weeks since they've made the change at quarterback, when (Colin) Kaepernick went to IR and (Blaine) Gabbert became the starter. Since then he's really done a great job for them. He's found himself and thrown the football very well, with their offensive group putting pressure on defenses. He's been quick in avoiding the rush at times, and getting out and running. We have to understand that, and it's a big part of the football game; our ability to contain him.
"They've had some injuries, but their guys now have stepped up and have settled in. With (Anquan) Boldin on the outside and Torrey Smith, who we've played against a bunch, they have some vertical threats that we have to be conscious of in the pass game. Defensively, they've done a good job trying to settle in. They had a lot of change in the offseason, but with where they are now, we have to do a good job. I'm sure they weren't happy with their performance last week, so we'll get great effort and energy from them. They've played well at home, I think 3-3, and they've done a nice job giving up less than 20 points a game at home. It's going to be a dogfight, and we have to put our head down and go to work."
Is it challenging to develop chemistry between the receivers and AJ McCarron in only a week?
"We won't have to change much of what we do. AJ will get the reps Andy (Dalton) normally got. It will just change that way."
So you aren't doing anything extra?
What do you see in NaVorro Bowman this year that makes him so effective?
"He's come back from the bad injury and really has been the heart and soul of that group. He plays very hard and physical and sets a physical tone. He's always been impressive to watch. He's moving better and getting around the way he used to."
What does it mean to watch linebackers like that?
"Certain linebackers have a feel; a feel to attack, play the gap, or shed and separate and go make the play. He has a great ability to go and do that."
Joe Staley and Alex Boone are playing at a high level this season …
"They have. They've done a good job over there on the left side of the line for a long time. Its been impressive. They have very good run blockers that are so athletic. Their scheme is put together that way to use the athleticism they have up front."
Is it reassuring to hear AJ (McCarron) talk about working with his receivers to get on the same page?
"The difference is AJ is talking about it. (Laughs.) Say less, do more. Its none of anyone else's business what we do around here. (Laughs.)"
How can you fill the leadership void with the injuries?
"A lot of guys have to step up and do that. The quarterback (Dalton) will be with us, still be there to help lead and mentor and bring forward. The other guys most importantly, have to play better and raise their level of play around AJ McCarron. That's important we do that on offense, defense, and special teams to a man. Its important that we do that."
Will most hands be on deck as far as injuries?
How do you go about policing social media?
"That's our business."
Will the team celebrate a playoff berth if they win this week?
"I don't think so. I think our guys understand we have bigger goals."
Isn't this the first objective of many?
"I think the most important thing is winning the football game, and whatever happens that way, so be it. We have to go to work and play error-free football. We saw last week that if you commit errors and turnovers, you're going to get beat. We have to do a great job on third downs this game, take care of the football on offense, and take advantage of opportunities on defense."
San Francisco only has 11 giveaways on the year …
"Yes, their quarterbacks have not thrown the ball around a lot. They've lived to play another down. Gabbert has avoided the rush in order to do that. Its an aberration last week, the sack number, because sometimes he had the opportunity to throw the ball away and he didn't. He was on the move a lot, and that's what he's done. He tied the Bears game up with a 44-yard run (on Dec. 6), and he comes back and makes a great throw in OT to win the game. He's playing very confidently right now."
What was the thought process behind staying in-house with your backup QB, rather than bringing in someone from outside?
"Keith (Wenning, signed today from the practice squad) has had an opportunity to be here all through training camp and the season and understand the system. At this point it was a good opportunity to not take snaps away from AJ in practice and continue to move forward."
Why change the good support system at all, was that the thinking?
"Correct. The opportunity for practice time. If we made the decision to bring in a guy off the street, what is he really going to get done in a week?"