Whether a game is won or lost, most players and coaches around the NFL talk about moving on from one game to the next fairly quickly. It's a necessary thing to do when there are games every week.
But with Thursday Night Football, that process must go even faster than usual. As head coach Sean McVay put it following Sunday's loss to Washington, "we don't have much time to feel sorry for ourselves about this game."
"I'm not going to speak for everybody after every game, but I think you should take at least one or two minutes to sit in your locker and think about it — well, that's what I do — and put it behind you because the game is over," outside linebacker Robert Quinn said. "I mean, yes, this week we have to transition faster onto a new opponent, but I guess the good thing is we're sort of familiar with them. But at the end of the day, we still have a short week and have to get a whole lot of game planning in."
With what Quinn was saying regarding reflection, there are some valuable takeaways from Sunday's game, particularly offensively. Quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley both pointed to how even after a slow start, the offense was able find a rhythm and tie the game in the fourth quarter.
"Last year would have been a lot different — it would have been 27-3 instead of us as an offense being able to put points on the board and keep our defense [on the sideline]," Gurley said. "But at the end of the day, we didn't get what we wanted today so we just have to get a lot of things fixed."
"I think we saw that we can fight back," Goff said. "We were down 13-nothing pretty early and couldn't get much going offensively. Then, we were able to get some big plays and come all the way back – and get a chance to take the lead there and ultimately tied it with the field goal. Then still had a chance to win it at the end of the game.
"We've got the weapons out there to make the plays — to make big plays and we get ourselves back in the game," Goff added. "I think it's drastically improved. We now know that we're never out of the fight and continue to keep going. As long as we execute and take care of the ball – good things will happen."
After a physically demanding game against Washington, McVay kept Monday's schedule light of for the players, in part to make sure the coaches had an entire methodical gameplan arranged before implementing it.
"We got some stuff cleaned up from the tape yesterday, and then we also got them in here for a lift," McVay said Monday evening. "Tomorrow, we'll have a couple walk-thrus to kind of get caught up to speed to make up for, really, what would be equivalent to two days of preparation in a normal week."
McVay acknowledged that it is a significant challenge to plan for a team on a short week, and so the goal is to make things as easy on the players as possible.
"It's also important for us to be aware of that so that you don't put too much on your players — figure out what they're comfortable with," McVay said. "But also, what are some things that attack the offensive or defensive scheme and some of the things that we'll do special teams wise. It's a balance that we have to do a good job of as coaches and try to help our players so that Thursday is as seamless as possible, on a short week, knowing all the factors that are involved."
That's particularly for veteran players, who may be accustomed to having a day of rest during a normal practice week. On Wednesday of Week 2, for example, McVay gave left tackle Andrew Whitworth and outside linebacker Connor Barwin a practice off for rest.
"It is a lot tougher," McVay said. "I think the big thing too is, is that these guys know how to take care of their bodies. The thing that you do feel fortunate is at least this is Week 3, not Week 13 where you're having to do that. So, from that standpoint, it does make it a little bit easier only knowing that you have really two full games of that pounding on their bodies. But It is a tough challenge. But it's something that everybody in this league has to do, and for us it's this week."
Adding to the challenge is the lack of information L.A. has about its opponent. The 49ers have a new coaching staff, new schemes, and a lot of new personnel under head coach Kyle Shanahan. And there's only two regular-season games of tape to study to formulate the week's gameplan.
"I think it does make it a little bit more difficult just because like you mentioned you don't have the amount information you're typically accustomed to when you get ready for a normal opponent," McVay said. "But, it was a very similar type of deal for getting ready for Washington defensively last week. Those are things that we have to be ready to adjust to.
"I think when you look at their offense we've got some people that are familiar with some of the things that Kyle has had a lot of success with over the course of his career," McVay continued. "And then I think [49ers defensive coordinator] Robert Saleh has done an excellent job these first couple weeks of putting their defense in a lot of good situations."