SANTA CLARA –
I participated in a group interview with third-year backup tackle Alex Boone.
He starts with praise for Aldon Smith, and then he talks about his own role on the team this year.
I included almost the entire 10-minute interview because Boone had some great lines. He’s a funny guy.
Q: What’s it like to go against Aldon Smith in practice?
BOONE: What’s it like to go against a future Pro Bowler soon? I think he’s great. Great player, tough. We kind of got into it a little bit yesterday, but we have some things we’ve got to work out, but he’s fast, he’s quick, he can bull you. He’s got all the things that you look for in a defensive end. He’s great to practice against because he really does help you sit back and be square. If you give him an inch he’ll talk a mile from you. That’s the kind of guy he is and I love practicing against him. He brings a fierceness to the game. He’s ferocious, he’s a violent player, and he’s going to be good.
Q: You seem to do a pretty good job handling him though. Is it your length?
BOONE: I think one of the things is a lot of guys want to go fast against him. They see him speeding up the field and they want to get back fast then all of a sudden you’re out of bounds. One of the things you have to do against a guy like that is you have to go slow. Take him on slow, he’s just like anybody else. Put your hands on him, and once you get your hands on him you’ve got to be violent about it. That and my good looks have helped me out.
Q: You and Aldon got into it yesterday?
BOONE: We got into it a little bit, my hands might have been too high. But like I said, we’re not playing hop scotch out here. It’s a violent game the last time I checked, so I’ve got to make a conscious effort to keep my hands lower and out of his face, but both our helmets came off, words were said, and that was it. My rule is I don’t fight my teammates. Other team, I’ll fight anybody.
Q: Did you have to talk to him about it and clear the air?
BOONE: No. It’s football. What’s out on the field is out on the field. If you bring that into the locker room, we’ve got more problems. I said, “Hey, look, my bad. I didn’t mean to put my hands in your face, I’ll try not to do it again.” And we’ll leave it at that.”
Q: You have to feel pretty good now that this team wants to give you a more extensive role.
BOONE: I do. I think it feels great to be out here getting some reps in. I feel like it’s a different atmosphere this year too. There’s a lot more confidence in this team, and the offensive line especially. Bringing Mike Solari back was a great thing for us. Being out there with him is really starting to help me out.
Q: Do you feel like the third tackle job is yours to lose?
BOONE: I do. That’s one thing that Coach Solari and I have talked about. He straight up said, look, this is how it is. Barry (Sims) is not going to be here this year. So either you man up, or go somewhere else. I’m trying to take that in stride and do what I can with it.
Q: You’ve never been in a position where if one guy goes down you need to step in. Does that change your mindset?
BOONE: Absolutely, you’ve got to be ready. Last year I was ready to go. Coach told me all I needed was an opportunity. This year, this is the opportunity. Now I need to take advantage of it.
Q: How are you fit right now?
BOONE: I feel great. I weigh 300 (lbs.) or under. I’m trying to stay as lean as I can while still being powerful. I feel like the NFL is trending towards a leaner offensive line. Guys that can play longer and move faster. The old school, bigger, bulkier guys are drifting out. You feel so much better too when you’re lean.
Q: Was that part of your exit interviews with the team. Did they say you guys needed to drop some weight?
BOONE: Listen here fatties, you need to lose some weight (laughs). No, like I said I started a revolution. No, I think the one thing that we talked about as an O-Line is we need to be ready to go. We need to be healthy. It’s hard to be healthy because you’re getting banged up every day, but if you eat proper foods and you’re taking care of your body it recovers so much faster. So I think guys really noticed that and took full advantage of it.
Q: What kind of commitment or change is lifestyle did that take from you?
BOONE: I was drinking and swinging and doing all sorts of bad things. But I think Singletary was a good thing for me because he gave me the low down on it and he was very tough on me. But other than that, I had to change a lot of things. I’m happy with the changes I’ve made and the steps I’ve taken the direction I’m going and I hope it continues.
Follow me on twitter @grantcohn.