Coach Sparano: "We have to play with great passion"


Opening Statement: **"Today in practice, injury-wise: Tarell Brown – he was limited today with a foot; Jonathan Dowling did not practice today with a back; Brian Leonhardt did not practice today with a concussion; Latavius Murray was full today with a concussion; Neiko Thorpe was limited today with a hand; Menelik Watson did not practice today with a foot; and Sio Moore was limited today with a hip."

Q: With Sio Moore's hip, is that something that happened out there or is it a residual effect from the game?

Coach Sparano:"No, it wasn't from the game. It's something that crept up on him here."

Q: Any concerns about Tarell Brown?

Coach Sparano:"Anytime a guy is limited, I have a little bit of a concern. But I don't think it's a major concern, no."

Q: Is there a possibility that Brian Leonhardt could be done for the year?

Coach Sparano:"I don't know that right now. I just know that he hasn't passed the tests."

Q: As far as Jonathan Dowling goes, it seems like he's been hurt for a fair bit of time. Is there any chance that he's done?

Coach Sparano:"He's been hurt for a little while, so we'll see. He's making some progress. As far as enough progress right now, no – not enough progress at this particular time. We'll have to see."

Q: If all of the running backs are healthy, which it appears they are, how are you going to decide the carries, or will it be like last week and based on feel, flow and situation?

Coach Sparano:"Yeah. Feel, flow, situation – see where we are, how the ball game's going. But I've got a pretty good idea in my head of what I want the rotation to be before Sunday as we get going right now."

Q: Do you have a certain number of carries for each guy in mind?

Coach Sparano:"I can't tell you about the number of carries. In other words, it just depends on how the game is going at that point. But when I say rotation, I'm talking about who I see in when, and then if the carries come, they come."

Q: Marquette King is on pace to break the team record for most punts in a season. I know that's not something you guys want, obviously, but he only has two touchbacks with 24 kicks inside the 20-yard line. How important has he been this year?

Coach Sparano:"He's been really important, to be honest with you. He's been a real bright spot in a lot of situations. We didn't do a lot of good things, obviously. When you lose a game the way we lost the game last week, but Marquette was a guy who really did some good things in that game. They only had [19] return yards in the football game and that was one of the best return teams in the league. He's starting to understand, as a young player, when you're telling him, 'Hey, we need you to do this and kick the ball this way for the good of the cause here.' Sometimes when you ask a player at any position to do something like that, that takes a little bit to digest that I think mentally when you're a young player. You just want to go out there. You're a young punter, you want to knock the heck out of the ball every single time and do what you've got to do. But there's some situations where that could be really bad. It's like when we played several weeks ago, he did the same thing in a ball game there where we needed him to do that. But I like what he's done right now. I think he's getting better and better. He's knocking the ball down in tight there. I realize, like anything else, he's a guy that needs to continue to get better, but he's really starting to figure the thing out."

Q: Any updates on Rod Streater? Can you see him maybe being activated? Is he getting closer?

Coach Sparano:"He's getting closer. We still have some more time here, so whether or not I see him getting there or not, you guys will have to find that out on Sunday. He's getting closer."

Q: There's no secret that you're the underdog here on Sunday. What is the formula for winning this game?

Coach Sparano:"The formula is honestly – No. 1, we have to come out there and we have to play with great passion and be ready to play a physical football game. We have to play with great passion this week. This team plays with good passion – that we're playing – and we have to match that passion, exceed that passion. I think being in our place with our fans getting energized that way, we need to be able to come out and do that. But I think more importantly, at the end of this whole thing – A: You've got to be able to eliminate one phase from them offensively, because they can do both very well. They're explosive throwing the football. They have good weapons there and if they want to turn this into one of those 'three yards and a cloud of dust' games, they have the ability to do that, too. So we have to eliminate something that way. Offensively, we have to stay on the field and we've got to create more first downs on first and second down in this ball game here and when we get our third downs, we've got to convert. We've got to stay on the field, score points in the red area, which we've been very good at. In fact, we're the best team in the league in the red area; we've just got to get down there more frequently. I think the special teams factor in this game will be really important. I do, because they have on paper a real advantage in that area going into this football game, so we have to do a good job in the special teams area. But more importantly, it's about our passion and the details. We've got to tackle better. We've got to do all those things. I think somewhere in this game, turnovers are going to have something to do with the outcome of this game and we can't turn it over. We need to force some turnovers on their end. The last couple of weeks, they've turned the ball over a little bit, too. We've got to be able to force some turnovers."

Q: What is your take on Chris Borland? He seems to have burst onto the scene recently.

Coach Sparano:"Yeah, he's definitely burst onto the scene. My take is that first of all, he's all over the field. He's a physical player. He gets downhill fast – in a hurry. Some of the collisions I've seen on film with him and fullbacks have been unbelievable collisions with him in some of that stuff. And then he's a guy that's hard because he's an inside linebacker and they have the edge rushers that they have, so you can get him matched up on a back in protection, and then he's a spinner. He's a guy that gets in there, he can go to power on you but he can also spin. He's got some pretty good moves in there, so I really think this guy is a good football player. I haven't had a chance prior to this to watch a lot of 49er film, but that guy jumps off the film when you turn it on."

Q: You've been pretty good at keeping your opponents' best pass rushers fairly under control this year. Aldon Smith has had a lot of time off to be fresh. How does he look? Pretty formidable?

Coach Sparano:"What he looks like to me is he's getting in better and better – obviously – game shape, playing shape as he's been playing along the way here, and all of a sudden starting to affect the game a lot more. That's what he's looked like to me. The guy's a really good player, just like you just said, and having that time off. But I think when I watch him right now, I don't see him – in the last ball game, I thought he played really well and I don't see anything there that would indicate anything less than we're going to get – the whole package there. They have so many other weapons there with Justin Smith over there, too, and some of those guys. That's one guy [Smith] that's a handful. He's been a handful for a long time in this league. He goes hard. He's a big, strong, powerful guy inside. Sometimes you get both of those guys on the same side and that's a tough draw. So we've got to know where they're going to be and we think we've got a good plan going in."

Q: When you took over, you said Denarius Moore had a clean slate. He was inactive last week. What's been holding Denarius back?

Coach Sparano:"I think a little bit is just the progress of some of the other players, too. I think Kenbrell [Thompkins] has come on and done some good things in flashes and has shown us some good things. I think that Vincent Brown has come on and has shown us some good things there. We feel like at that position right now, there's a couple of guys there that we've had to get a look at and we kind of like what we see there. D-Mo's working hard out there. I appreciate what he's doing out there on the field. Like anybody else, he has to be ready to go into the football game at any minute. Last week was the first week he was inactive and a large portion of that had to do with where we were roster-wise last week. It just depends. You can't have six wide receivers in a game or something to that effect. That wouldn't be the right thing. I'm sure at some point here with the next four weeks, we'll see. He may get another opportunity out there and if he does, I'm sure D-Mo's ready to make the most of that opportunity. He's practicing really much better."

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