This is the transcript of Blaine Gabbert’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
When you just start studying for the Bears, what kind of leaps out at you about their style of defense?
“They’re a sound defense. Schematically, they’re on it. They don’t make a lot of errors. Their guys are in the right spots. So, it puts it on the quarterback and the guys on offense to execute and be consistent in sustaining drives.”
They’re not a team that has a lot of sacks or a lot of interceptions. What do they do particularly well in pass defense?
“I think just playing sound defense. They make you execute 10, 11, 12 play drives and that’s tough because as a quarterback sometimes you get greedy, but you just have to be content taking what they give you, utilizing the stuff underneath and just being consistent for 10, 11, 12, 13 plays at a time.”
Do you recognize some of that play from what you practiced against last year with Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as the coordinator?
“Yeah. I mean, he runs the same scheme. He’s a 3-4 guy but he’s doing what their personnel allows him to. They’re not too exotic. They do have some exotic blitzes but they just play what they’re going to play and make you execute against it.”
Do you talk to defenders to get hints on certain looks, coverages, disguises, things like that?
“The tape never lies. That’s why we spend so much time throughout the week watching the games, watching their tendencies, watching their plays versus certain formations, shifts, motions. So, you can get a beat when you go into the game you kind of have an idea of where you’re going to go with the football.”
Some of the taking what the defense gives you has led you to TE Vance McDonald the last couple of games. Can you talk about him and the type of receiver he’s been and it seems like you guys have a nice rapport going?
“Yeah. He’s doing a tremendous job and he’s winning. He’s beating guys in man coverage. He’s finding the zones when they’re in a zone coverage. He’s playing great right now. Run blocking, pass blocking, catching the ball and making big plays as well.”
How happy are you for a guy like RB Shaun Draughn who’s spent so many moves and all kind of changes to finally find a spot where he can—?
“Yeah, we’re fortunate to have him. For him to step in and start pretty much from day one going into a game, having only been here for four weeks and starting the last three weeks. From being on a protection standpoint, knowing the run game, the pass game, catching the ball out of the backfield, it’s been a tremendous asset to this offense and this team.”
This team is a team in some ways in transition and everything and they’ll be making some decisions and all that stuff. Do you see the rest of the season for you as an opportunity to kind of show what you can do?
“Like I’ve always said, it is just one week at a time. Not getting ahead of myself by any means. I’m focused on we’ve got practice this afternoon. So, it’s one week at a time and that’s kind of how I’m approaching the end of this season.”
ME: The offense didn’t convert any third downs on Sunday. It seemed you were getting the ball out of your hands real fast. Were you executing the plays that were called or, looking back, do you feel you could have been aggressive?
“I think we were executing. On our scoring drives, we were efficient on first and second down, so we weren’t in a lot of third downs in those drives. And then of course when we weren’t scoring, we weren’t efficient on first and second downs. So, we were in third and longs. Being in third and seven to 10, 10-plus versus that kind of defense is tough. They force you to get the ball out of your hands quickly because of the pressures that they do bring. But, at the same time, there were some positives on our scoring drives, staying out of the third down. But, yeah, we do have to convert more third downs and be better, more efficient on them.”
I think though when it comes to third downs in the past three games, the team has only converted one third down on a run play, and that was when you ran for five yards against Atlanta. How do you get that run game more involved against the Bears?
“I think just executing. Staying efficient. Getting positive gains, run or pass, on first and second down. So, you’re in the third-and-medium, third-and-short category because when you’re in third and, like I said, long in the National Football League, it’s tough to convert. Defenses are good and fast and don’t give you the deeper throws you need to convert. They make you pass it underneath, run it underneath and they’ll come up and rally and make a tackle.”
When you guys have a December game in Chicago, as a quarterback do you look at the weather reports?
“Supposed to be 49 (degrees) and sunny.”
Is that right? So you’ve looked?
“Yeah. So, we’ve looked and we’re on top of it.”
What’s it going to be in Cleveland?
“I couldn’t tell you. I’m worried about Chicago this week.”
Is that kind of, do you, early in the week, do you check that out?
“You have to be cognizant of it because when you get into the cold weather cities, snow storms, rainy weather, high winds can pop up. That’s something you have to be aware of but at the same time, you can’t worry about it.”
Have you ever been to Soldier Field?
You’ve been up to Chicago though before–?
Checked out Wrigley and all that.
“They call it the Windy City, I guess.”
Quarterbacks coach Steve Logan said in the offseason that he asked you to take some velocity off of your passes and see whether that would have an effect on accuracy and what not. Have you done that and are you continuing to do that in games and do you see an effect?
“Yeah, I think so. You’re more accurate with the football staying smooth, having a smooth delivery because when you try and overthrow a football, you’re not really gaining that much more velocity on a football. But, you tend to be more erratic with it. So, the thing that we’ve kind of focused on throughout the summer and throughout camp is just staying smooth with your delivery, trusting your eyes and delivering the ball on time. That way, you don’t have to rush throws.”
Is that hard for you to do? I mean, somebody with a big arm, probably was taught to throw it as hard as you can. Is it hard to make that adjustment?
“No, not at all. And like I said, staying smooth, you’re not losing velocity on the football. The ball’s coming out at the same pace, but you’re not overgripping it, overthrowing it and losing the accuracy.”