This is the transcript of Blaine Gabbert’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
What’s the first thing when you get back to work this week that you look at to maybe tighten up or improve going forward?
“Just watching the film. Being a little more consistent. Like we said kind of last week, we knew it was going to be a battle. Last week, being that consistent throughout the game versus maybe that shell coverage and it tested us. But the thing that we took out of that film was we kept fighting throughout the game regardless of the situations that we put ourselves in and came out with the victory.”
After you scored the touchdown on the run, all the teammates mobbed you. Obviously, you did the same with WR Torrey Smith. What’s it mean to you to have your teammates support? When’s the last time you felt that joy among teammates?
“Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I think when we won the game in overtime, the whole team was down there in the end zone. That was a lot of fun. That was a special moment and hopefully we can have a lot more of those here. But, it was just something that we enjoyed. We had a great time in the locker room after the win. It’s always good having a happy flight home.”
Is it a lot easier to be a leader at 26 than a 20-year old at quarterback?
“I would say it’s the same. I would say I’m a better leader now from the experiences that I’ve had the last five years being in the NFL. But, like I said all along, being a quarterback, you’re in a position of leadership and it’s what you do with it. I think we’re handling my leadership well as a football team right now and we just got to keep moving forward with it.”
What lessons did you learn that taught you to be a better leader and a better player?
“I think just fighting through the ups and downs. You got to be the same guy everyday at work. Come in with the same mindset, the same work ethic, the same attitude so your teammates see that on a consistent basis. That’s what I’ve tried to do the last four weeks being the starting quarterback and hopefully I’ll continue to do that.”
When you look back at this, you mentioned the shell coverage they played. When you look at it, do you think you guys managed it right from a standpoint of taking what the defense gave you or could you have taken more shots?
“I think we handled it the right way. I would have liked to see myself personally get to the backs a little bit more, a little bit quicker. But, for the most part, we did take what they were giving us for the majority of the game and when we needed a big play, we got one. They were just kind of a polar opposite defense then we played Arizona the week before. We had a lot of explosive plays that week but that’s what they were giving us. And our guys did a good job that week breaking tackles in man coverage and this week, it was more of a dink and dunk, sit in the zone, stay in second and third-and-manageable.”
With that being said, what is Cleveland trying to do? What are they trying to force the offense–?
“They attack the box. They try and stop the run with seven, eight, nine guys. So, the ball’s going to be in my hand a lot and our guys are going to have to go out there and make plays and I’m going to have to deliver the ball.”
You mentioned the running backs and it just seems like you had a near instantaneous chemistry with RB Shaun Draughn. Is that the case? Have you guys really worked on third downs and outlet passes and things like that over the last couple of weeks?
“Yeah. It’s something that we’ve worked on daily. You guys see us during the individual period throwing routes to the running backs and that’s something that you have to build over time. With him coming in four weeks ago now, it wasn’t there overnight. It was something that we’ve had to work diligently at and I say we’re getting better at it on a daily basis.”
How good is he as a target? He seems like he makes himself known to you.
“Yeah, he is. He’s awesome at catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s made some tough catches in some tight windows. What really stands out is what he can do after the catch. Breaking tackles, making guys miss, turning five-yard gains into 15, 20-yard gains. And when you can do that out of the backfield, that’s just another dimension that we have on this offense.”
I kind of imagine quarterbacks in the NFL are a tight fraternity anyways. What do you think when you look over and see kind of the trials and tribulations of what Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel has gone through early in his career?
“It’s kind of the deal. Those experiences, you learn from. You grow up as you’re in the NFL. He’s kind of in that maturation process right now. Every quarterback goes through it. Every player goes through it.”
Do you see any of yourself in him as far as being a young guy kind of thrust into it or–?
“I think everybody’s a different person. Everybody has their own personality. So, I would go that far at all.”
What do you see in him as a playmaker though, as a playmaking quarterback?
“He does a lot of good things on offense. Runs around, makes plays but recently he’s been delivering the ball from the pocket and was doing a good job while he was the starter.”
You obviously had some rough seasons in Jacksonville. At 4-8, is the vibe on this team any different from what you’ve experienced before?
“I think we’re just looking at it as a four game season. That’s kind of how you’ve got to focus. It’s each and every week is kind of a mini-season and that’s the only way you’re going to improve and stay focused at the end of the year. We’re worried about the Cleveland Browns right now. We’re really worried about having a good practice today.”
Do you believe that success at the end of one year can translate to the next or is there so much different and change in an offseason that–?
“I think it’s just about being consistent in your routine. Having success one year doesn’t mean you’re going to have success the next year. Not having a good year has no effect on if you’re going to go out and play well the next year. So, there’s some things that you want to build on in the offseason, but I think being consistent in your routine year in and year out is what really sets you up for your long term goals.”
What’s it like playing with a receiver like Torrey Smith? He doesn’t get the ball that much, but when he does, it seems like he can change a game.
“Yeah, and he changed the game last week, of course, with the game winning catch. Being a wide receiver, it’s just about having patience, taking what the defense gives you. Everybody wants to have to five, 10 catches for 200 yards every week, but in this business that’s not going to happen because the defense gets paid too. And they take speed guys away. They take certain guys away on certain coverages, certain down and distances but when his opportunity came in the game, he definitely capitalized on it. I think we can use that as a stepping stone moving forward and grow from that.”
You mentioned earlier about how the Browns like to stack the box. What does Cleveland Browns S Donte Whitner to as part of that? Is he a guy that you have to kind of look at and see where he is?
“He’s a hard hitting safety. Likes to stick his nose in there in the run game. You have to be cognizant of where he’s at on the football field. But, at the same time, we’re just going to go out there and focus on the things that we can control. Go out there and execute at a high level.”
You mentioned taking what the defense was giving you and I think you only had a couple throws, completions that went longer than 10 yards. Is that the next step for you in absorbing this offense and being able to be more aggressive on those throws?
“It’s all game to game. Like I said, the Arizona game, we had eight completions over 25 yards. Last week, we maybe had a couple. It’s so week-to-week in the NFL, predicated on what that defense is giving us that week. So, you can’t try and make something more than what it is. They were dropping eight guys in coverage, playing a high shell. So, they were putting me in a position to take underneath throws, where like I said, Arizona was a man coverage, blitz you, cover zero and gave us the opportunity to get big plays after the catch.”
How much has quarterbacks coach Steve Logan meant in your development and what you’ve done so far this year?
“He’s great, especially on game day. Kind of when he came here, he said his personality will never change on game day. It’s just another opportunity for him to go out and teach. He’s stayed true to his word week in and week out. He’s been a great sounding board for the quarterbacks when we come off of the field. He kind of asks us what we see, so we can all just diagnose it together when we’re looking at the pictures.”