This is the transcript of Blaine Gabbert’s Tuesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
Any changes this week for you just with the different schedule as far as the holiday goes?
“No. I think sticking to your routine is extremely important in weeks like this, especially with the holiday on Friday. Still preparing the same way, still going about your normal routine because we still have a job to do on Sunday regardless of if it’s a holiday or not. We have to go out there and perform on Sunday in Detroit. So, sticking to my routine Monday through Saturday is what the plan is.”
Did you watch last night’s game?
“No, I did not. It’s tough to watch games on TV. You don’t really see the angles that you really need to see to evaluate a team. So, that process today is watching film and getting started on the game plan.”
After going back through Sunday’s game, what stood out to you in terms of the struggles on third down?
“I think, just like what I said after the game, we were in third-and-12, third-and-15 and the percentages of converting those are low, especially when you’re taking penalties on second down to put yourself in third-and-15. And it was just more of us shooting ourselves in the foot than anything. When we’re in third-and-seven to eight rather than third-and-15, we’re going to convert a lot higher percentage than we are right now.”
When you check down on some of those plays, are there options downfield that aren’t there, that the defense is taking away and you’re settling for those? Or could play calling perhaps be more aggressive on those throws?
“No, it’s what the defense is playing. They know what we’re trying to do on third-and-15. We’re trying to get to the sticks. So, that’s the coverage that they’re going to play. They’re going to drop everybody right there at the marker and like I said, make you throw underneath so then they can rally and make a tackle. So, my job on third-and-long is to find some type of completion. Whether it be past the sticks or underneath the sticks, just get the ball in our guys’ hands and let them make a play.”
Once you’re on the sideline and as these third-and-long situations keep coming up, do you leave that up to the coaches to remind your teammates not to get in those positions or do you get involved?
“I think everybody realizes it. We just have to do a better job on focusing on second down and not taking penalties there, especially versus a defense like we faced last week. They were giving us a bunch of exotic looks, so we had to use a double count. It just ends up being on the players. We got to focus at a higher level and execute at a higher level on first and second down so we’re in third-and-manageable.”
I think you’re leaning toward those third down plays, you don’t want to force it because the likelihood of making a dramatic error is so much greater. Is that what you’re saying?
“Yeah. It’s all predicated on what the defense does. We’re not hitting check downs because we want to. It’s what they’re dictating us to do. When they have eight guys at the sticks taking away our throws, it’s not good football to force it, especially in the first and second quarter. Third and fourth quarter, you may have to get a little more sporty with your throw and give your guys a shot. But, especially early on in the game, you want to find completions, you want to get everybody in the rhythm, in the flow of the game. So, you’ve seen guys hit check downs that go for 25-yards. I love using the example when [Baltimore Ravens QB] Joe Flacco hit [RB] Ray Rice, I think it was fourth-and-25 in the playoffs and he got 26-yards and they go on to win the Super Bowl. So, our guys have the ability to do that. It’s just my job to give them the football.”
In the fourth quarter, the pass you made, would that have been a throw that you would of made in the first and second quarter?
“I just wanted to give [WR] Jerome [Simpson] a chance. It’s a one-on-one shot. We call it 50-50 balls and the ball just wasn’t bouncing our way. But, those are shots that I’m willing to take. We needed a big play there. We needed a touchdown in that situation and that’s a throw that I’m content with. It didn’t turn out our way but at the end of day, we gave our guy a shot and just didn’t bounce our way.”
The offensive line has come under a lot of scrutiny all year. I’m just curious, today’s the Pro Bowl stuff and T Joe Staley’s gone to the last four. So, whether he makes it or not, I’m just curious what you see and how well he’s played at left tackle?
“Joe’s done a tremendous job and he’s been a tremendous player for the last, I think this is his ninth year. The consistency that he brings day in and day out, the work ethic that he brings to the practice field is second-to-none. So, when you have a guy leading like that on the offensive line and it shows the young guys how to approach daily work. He’s done a great job. Our entire offensive line had a tough task last week and they played tremendous. Those guys fought their tails off and gave me plenty of time to do my job.”
There was a play in the Browns game where you and Jerome weren’t on the same page. In this last game, it looked like there were a couple plays where WR Torrey Smith kind of cut his route short. What goes on on those plays? Are those option routes and how much communication do you have–?
“Yeah, it’s just communication, especially in a two-minute drill, that I’m calling the plays out. We just got to do a better job communicating the plays and everybody’s got to be on it. Eleven guys have to be on the same page for any play to work and like I said, that just goes into playing consistent football throughout the entire game. There’s always going to be plays like that in a game but we’re just doing out best to minimize those and eliminate them from the game.”
Question about another tackle, OL Trent Brown. Have you ever had a larger teammate than him?
“No. Trent’s a big guy. And he came in and did a tremendous job last week when he was forced in there in the fourth quarter. I think that’s something that he can build on moving forward, coming in, playing against two top tier defensive ends and holding his own.”
He has, obviously, mammoth arms as far as length. He’s got pretty good feet it seems like. I know you don’t want to go too crazy about him because he’s just kind of getting his feet wet, but do you see some tools there that he could be a legitimate starter?
“No question. He has all the physical attributes and being a young guy in the NFL, it’s kind of that maturation process that the young guys go through. He’s getting better on a daily basis and that’s what you look for. He came in and stepped right up and didn’t miss a beat when he was in the game last week. Gave us a little juice up there and definitely think that’s something he can build off moving forward.”
When he comes in, given his inexperience, do you say anything to him?
“No. I think I just said, ‘Trent, let’s go have some fun.’ I cracked a little smile and went about his business as usual. But, no, it was good to have him in there and good to get his feet wet a little bit.”
You and RB Shaun Draughn came in the starting lineup at the same time and he’s been one of your most targeted guys. If he can’t go Sunday or the remainder of the year, how big of a loss would that be for you, just considering the chemistry you guys have?
“Yeah, Shaun’s done a tremendous job but like I’ve always said, injuries are a part of the game. You never want them to happen to a friend and a teammate but at the same time, it’s the next man up mentality. So, the running backs in that room are eager to step up and fill that void if he can’t go, but I hope he heals quickly and we have him back out there.