This is the transcript of Blaine Gabbert’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
When you look back at the film of Sunday, what’d you think of how well you played?
“I think the biggest thing that stood out was we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities in the red zone. I think we were second-and-five on the five, first-and-five on the five and took a penalty. Any time you take a penalty or a negative play in the red zone it makes it tough because then you’re in second-and-goal, third-and-goal from the 10-yard line. That’s shooting yourself in the foot a little bit, but they’re things that we can correct, things that we can control and get better at. So, that was a positive, how we got down there. But, once we got down there, everybody’s got to focus and execute at a higher level.”
When you get down there, is it a different skill set? You’re dealing with a smaller field at that point. How do you go about–?
“I think that every team has their red zone concepts, their red zone plays, their red zone runs for that week and the mindset when you get in the red zone, everything does happen faster. So, everybody really has to be on top of their game because those are vital situations in the game because you need touchdowns, especially versus a good team like we faced last week.”
Everybody who watched the last two games, even offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, has said you look different than you look when you were a starter in Jacksonville. Do you see those differences and how would you describe the differences if you do see them?
“I think just knowing the game plan in and out. Not saying I didn’t when I was in Jacksonville, but like I’ve always said, the experiences of playing, now being 26, in my fifth year. I’m a more mature player. I know where I want to go with the football. You see the pre-snap looks and you can go off of knowledge that you’ve seen that look in the past and knowing where they’re vulnerable, where you’re guys are going to pop open. Just from that, just more comfortable in the system.”
But, you seem more comfortable in the pocket too, knowing where to go when there’s pressure. How do you get better at that when you haven’t been playing?
“It’s tough. You’ve got to work hard on that in practice. That’s why those scout team reps when you are the backup are so valuable because you are limited in game reps because the starter’s taking those. So, when you’re going against our defense, you have to simulate that like it’s a game. You’re not going to be seeing the same looks, the same pressures, the same coverages, but you’ve got to train yourself to get reps that way.”
Do you not feel rusty out there? Are you surprised that you’re not as rusty as you might be after two years off?
“You know, there’s going to be rust, there’s going to be ups and downs. Nobody played perfect. I definitely haven’t played perfect the last two weeks. But, I think there’s things that you can build off of. There’s going to be plays here and there where you make a bonehead mistake, but at the same time that’s also a learning experience so you don’t make that mistake down the road.”
After the Atlanta game, you said you wanted to show the guys, you know, you told your offensive line I think you were going to stand in there and take it on the chin and G/T Alex Boone said after the game you stood in there and took some pretty big licks. Did you feel that you had to prove that you were a tough guy, that you have that toughness?
“I think that’s just, it’s every scenario is different. Every play is different. If you have a free runner but a guy’s coming open down the field, you’ve got to deliver the football regardless if a guy’s kind of breathing down your neck. And so, I would say every scenario’s different. There’s sometimes where you’ve got to leave the pocket and make a play with your feet, throwing the ball on the run, but other times you have to stay in there and throw it.”
When you got named the starter, there was, former NFL WR and current ESPN analyst Cris Carter was one, just said some things about you. Do you have thick skin? Did you hear those things? What did you think when you heard that?
“I didn’t hear it. But, it’s just part of the job description. You’re always in the limelight. You’re the hero or the goat. It’s either the quarterback or the head coach, usually. You get more credit when you win. You get more fault when you lose. But, it’s just the nature of the position. I think that’s why I enjoy it so much and what makes it so challenging is it’s on the quarterback’s shoulders every game. You’re touching the football every play. And that’s why I enjoy it, because of the challenge week in and week out to perform.”
Did you take it personally?
“No. I mean, everybody’s going to have their opinion, good or bad. You’ve just got to take it with a grain of salt.”
ME: Did you make any boneheaded mistakes against the Seahawks?
“There’s a couple throws I’d like to have back, but for the most part there weren’t any critical errors, turning the football over. So, from that standpoint, no critical errors, but there were some definite throws I’d like to have better ball placement on.”
How does your mindset change now that QB Colin Kaepernick’s out for the season and what that means in terms of your approach?
“Just like I’ve always said, it’s day by day. I prepare the same way week in and week out. I trust my routine. I know my routine and the way I prepare every week gets me ready for the games. I’m going to stick that and just keep rolling with it throughout the rest of the season.”
Take us into that preparation a little bit. What’s your typical day like?
“Mondays is an off day, but it’s usually lift and film. Tuesday we have meetings, but it’s a day for the quarterbacks to catch up on film, watch games, watch tapes. We also do that Monday night. And then throughout our week we like to come in early just to get good stuff on our own, see the film from kind of an unbiased point of view. And then when we watch it with the coaches it’s kind of a second time through. So, you can pick up on little tendencies, little keys here and there and I enjoy that. It’s part of my job description, but I love that process and that’s something that I enjoy doing throughout the week is trying to get tips on a certain defense, certain coordinator, certain player and just makes that chess game a little more fun.”
How have you seen QB Dylan Thompson grow since he got here? Now he’s going to take on a bigger role, kind of helping you.
“Yeah. Dylan, he has done a tremendous job and I’ve tried to take him under my wing, just kind of show him the ropes because coming in as a rookie, I know how that went. I was fortunate to have veterans kind of show me the way. He’s done a great job preparing, week in and week out. Even when he was on the practice squad, we were watching film on a consistent basis just getting ready because you never know when your chance is going to come and I’m looking forward to working with him the rest of the year.”
Earlier in this season, Arizona Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu and I think some of the other guys talked about how predictable your offense was. Is there anything that you guys, knowing that you were going to be facing them later in the year, you guys could look at and kind of see what they saw and correct the things that they may or may not have seen?
“I think that any time you play a team the second time, you pick up on keys, pick up on coverages they like to run, pick up on coordinator tendencies. But, they’re always going to break those tendencies. They do self scout too. So, you’ve got to be prepared and ready for anything. But, as a quarterback you just throw it to the open guy. It sounds so simple, but it’s so complicated at the same time. And that’s where this film study throughout the week when you’re preparing for a complicated, really good defense like the Arizona Cardinals have, just makes it kind of a challenge and we’re up to it.”
You’ve seen it from the sidelines and the field on Sunday, why do you think this team struggles to get up for road games and what’s the difference between playing at home and on the road?
“I wouldn’t say we don’t get up for road games. We don’t have the best record on the road right now and that’s something we’re always looking to get better at. Road games are tough, having to travel, but at the same time it’s fun going into a hostile environment, a loud environment where your backs are up against the wall. But, moving forward here, I look forward to us getting better on the road.”
You mentioned there are throws where you have to stand in there and throw when some guy’s about to blast you. As I’m sure you may have heard, that was a criticism of yours in Jacksonville. It seems like that’s a tough thing to practice, but it seems like you’ve done a good job at that. I guess, A is was that a fair criticism and if so, how have you improved?
“The biggest thing about the criticisms are when you’re not having a good season or you’re 2-14 like we were in Jacksonville or 5-11, there’s going to be fingers pointed at certain things and whatever those things are, they’re out of your control. But, that’s just part of the job description as the quarterback. Every quarterback’s got to make tough throws when guys are coming free. It’s just part of that job. You enjoy it because in those situations, usually big plays happen.”