SANTA CLARA – Here’s the transcript of today’s Q&A with Ricky Jean Francois from the 49ers locker room.
Q: How was the Bye week for you guys?
JEAN FRANCOIS: A lot of guys stayed here and enjoyed the California weather. But there were two earthquakes out here, so I was good to dodge that one. It was good to go back home. It was good to see my family, hang out, talk to my friends. I went to two high school games. One was mine, the other was New Orleans versus Jackson and that didn’t go to well for Jackson. It was just good to be home. I went back to my personal trainer. Let him work the kinks out of my body, massage here and there. Just got a chance to chill for a few minutes. Went back to the beach. I ain’t do no running this time. I was just relaxing and getting away from everything for a second.
GC: Have you ever experienced a California earthquake before?
JEAN FRANCOIS: One time. My rookie season, the season was over, then the day I was finally moving out – tremor. It sounded like Clydesdales coming down the block. It was me and my friend sitting in a room and we heard something and I told him to stop talking for a minute, and all we started seeing was the shades start swinging. I didn’t know what it was, but when I walked closer the whole building swayed. I had to get out of there. We were on the eighth floor and I got down to the first floor not by elevator, but by jumping staircases.
GC: You missed a couple big ones this weekend.
JEAN FRANCOIS: I seen everyone on twitter writing about it and they were like, “It wasn’t nothing. It was just a 4.2.” I was like, “Seeing the ground shake ain’t nothing?” I said, “I’ll take a hurricane before an earthquake. At least I know when it’s coming, what category it is and I got time to put stuff up on my windows, get my groceries and everything. But seeing the ground shake, I can’t really stand that. See, the first one would have had me like, “Okay, ain’t no more.” The second one? It’s time go home. Coach Harbaugh would have to talk to me, get my mind right. I’d have to talk to a psychologist because feeling the ground shake, that’s not going to work too well for me.
Q: Harbaugh called this improvement week. What did you improve on this week?
JEAN FRANCOIS: We went over everything from week 1 to that week. All the mistakes – we weren’t looking at none of the good parts. Just the mistakes that we did, what we need to improve on. We didn’t want to look ahead of schedule, but we were just telling everybody, “Once you go home, become a fan this week. Look at all the other NFL games. See how all the other teams are doing. And a lot of the guys that I heard stayed here stayed in the film room a little longer. Got in, lifted weights, got their massages, but got into the film room a little bit more to get a head start on the Cleveland Browns. And that was a plus for us.
GC: You don’t consider yourself a football fan?
JEAN FRANCOIS: I’m a fan of college football. A lot of older guys are past that, besides Carlos Rogers, especially when Auburn’s playing, but I’m still a college fan.
GC: You say the older players outgrow that?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Somebody like Justin Smith? Yes.
Q: What do you think about a potential Stanford vs. LSU matchup for the National Championship?
JEAN FRANCOIS: That will never happen. If it happens, Luck’s draft stock will fall. If he plays an SEC team, his stock will fall. I ain’t got nothing against him. He’s a Pac-12 guy. I’m not a Pac 12 fan at all, I’m an SEC guy. But if he ever plays against an SEC school, Alabama, LSU, that draft stock is going to fall. That will be one game they just don’t show the scouts.
Q: So you’re saying he will not get drafted No. 1 if he has to play the SEC?
JEAN FRANCOIS: He won’t. I can say that hands down. I can say that from past experience seeing Brady Quinn when he played us in the Sugar Bowl. He was a Heisman Trophy candidate and possibly the No. 1 pick. You seen that change real quick. JaMarcus actually became the No. 1 pick and his (Quinn’s) draft stock dropped to…I can’t even remember. Andrew Luck – good quarterback. Good guy in the Pac 12. But playing against an SEC school – that won’t work too well for him.
Q: Have you shared your thoughts with your head coach?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Coach might not talk to me about that one. That’s the one subject he might get touchy on. That’s his team, that’s his school that he coached for, but I’m really strong about SEC schools. You’ve got three SEC schools in the top 10 and you’ve got two in the top 5, so if we get to something like that, hands down he’s going to lose. And if he did lose hopefully he loses to LSU. I’ve got a T-shirt right here waiting on him.
GC: Do you keep in touch with JaMarcus Russell?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Last time I talked to him was last year. We had a spring game. Since then I haven’t heard from him.
GC: You don’t know if he’s trying to get back in the league or what he’s doing?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Reports are saying that he’s trying to. The Canadian League wanted him, but knowing him he probably won’t take that bite.
GC: Why wouldn’t he take the bite?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Hands down he got the talent. He has the gift. To play in the league he just has to get himself set around the right set of people. That’s it. For a guy that can bend down at the 50 yard line and hit the upright of a field goal post, he got the gift, he got the talent. He just needs the right set of people around him. His belief is his talents need to be in the NFL, but it’s got to be much more than your talents to be in this league.
GC: How tough is it for a grown man to change who he associates himself with?
JEAN FRANCOIS: It’s not tough. You see how most, all quarterbacks carry themselves in the league. They’re not around that type of people. If you have good friends and they know where you’re at, your friends won’t even want you around them due to the lifestyle they live. It’s not hard to walk away from them. If you’re going to have a successful career there are certain things you’ve got to sacrifice, certain things you’ve got to walk away from. It’s going to be hard but in the long run it’s going to benefit you. You won’t see it now. It’s going to hurt you now, but in the long run you’ll see why I had to change the set of people around me, I see why they had to push you away from them to actually succeed in this league.
GC: Since you’ve been in the NFL have you ever had to push away friends?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah. I had to push away a lot of people. Plus I had to give up, like, the nightlife, especially when it comes to before coming back here for the offseason. One, I had to give up the nightlife. Two, I separate some people away from me. But a lot of my good friends actually didn’t want me around them. They seen I had a blessing and they wanted me to go after it. They wanted me to stay at a far-away distance from them. They would call here and there, but they just wanted me to stay on track and keep going, going, going until I hit my goals.
GC: Did you see any old friends when you went home this weekend?
JEAN FRANCOIS: I seen a lot of my old friends. A lot of them were at my High School game Thursday and Friday night so I got a chance to hang with them, talk to them, see what they were up to. They were telling me what type of good job we’re doing. The biggest thing was everyone was talking about, “What’s up with your coach?”
Q: What did you tell them?
JEAN FRANCOIS: I was like, “It was a hard handshake, that’s all I can say. Our coach was happy. He felt excited. He was happy to beat one of the best teams in the NFL at that time.” It was good to go home and see everybody. I ain’t got nothing wrong with the mountains, mountains are good and beautiful, but it was time to see some ocean water, some salt water, some ocean floor where everything’s flat.
Q: The ocean’s not that far away.
JEAN FRANCOIS: I know it ain’t that far, but when you go to beach out here and you see a beach in South Florida, it’s kind of different.
Q: Vernon said everyone in D.C. was asking him if Harbaugh is crazy. They say the handshake is still the talk of the country.
JEAN FRANCOIS: It’s going to be the talk of the country for a good while. I won’t be surprised if he wins an ESPY for that handshake.
Q: Why is Vic Fangio been a good fit for this defense?
JEAN FRANCOIS: He knows how to use all his players. There’s not one guy on this defense he doesn’t know how to implement. He’s going to build a scheme for you. He’s going to make a way that you can blitz. He’s going to make a way that you can cover a person. He knows how to use everybody from me Aldon Smith to Chris Cully. Every week we play a different team you have a different player who’s going to shine in the game because Vic sees a weakness and he sees a guy that could probably be a mismatch for somebody.
Q: Could you give an example?
JEAN FRANCOIS: I would say one example is Aldon Smith. For a guy to be a rookie and to jump out and have two or three sacks already (actually he has 5.5), he’s a big, athletic guy, and most people say linemen don’t really mature until two or three years in the league, but he’s maturing now due to the guys he’s got set around him. When you’ve got an offensive tackle who doesn’t have good feet, Aldon Smith will be the guy that beats him because he’s athletic enough to get around you. Aldon Smith hands down is probably one of our most athletic linemen. We call him “Great Dane.” I’d probably say he’s one of the most athletic linemen in the league as a rookie, but he’s got many, many more years to make his skills better than they are now.
Q: Why Great Dane? Because of the way he looks?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Basically. Parys Haralson gave him the nickname.
Q: What about Vic’s scheme has helped Aldon?
JEAN FRANCOIS: He has certain blitzes and certain schemes that Aldon will fit into. I can’t really expain. Vic knows when to use it, how to use it, and when’s the perfect time to get it.