SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
I think you guys added a wide receiver yesterday. What did you see from him at the workouts and how does he fit in?
“I think, you know he’s got a history with Houston and New England and he’s not only a receiver, he’s also a returner. I know one year, I don’t know if it was ’13,’12 or ‘13, he had close to 900 return yards. So, it gives us another receiver slash returner with [WR Jeremy] Kerley and just adds some depth. We had had five wideouts, now we’ve got six wideouts. We had always intended to kind of carry six wideouts if we could.”
With him, would you say he’s a big-play kind of guy more so than Kerley maybe?
“No, I’m just saying he gives us more depth. Like right now our backup returner has been [WR] Torrey [Smith]. We wanted to get another guy in here besides Torrey so that we’ve got at least three back there because you never know what happens in a game. Obviously, Torrey got injured towards the end of the Seattle game. He’s fine, but if you lose another guy then you really don’t have a guy that’s ever done it in a game. He gives us depth at the receiver spot, which we wanted to get. The fact that he does have return ability I think is a bonus to that aspect.”
With your tight ends banged up and you guys not adding a tight end, are you confident that TE Vance McDonald and TE Garrett Celek will play on Sunday?
“Yeah, we’ll see how the week goes along. I don’t think it’s anything that’s a long-term deal, so it’s not a three or four week deal. We’ll see how the week goes along. I can’t predict whether they’ll be available to play on Sunday, but we’ll see how that goes.”
Would you rather not have your top wideout right now, Kerley, also doing punt returns?
“It just depends on who you’ve got. There’s not a, you’d rather have one guy that just is a returner and is the best in the league and you can handle that, but that’s just not the case. You want to have a guy back there that gives you a chance. You don’t want a guy back there that’s just going to fair catch it all the time because you’d like to try to not only turn, they obviously got a positive situation because the defense got a stop, now let’s see can we even add to the field position aspect of things and Jeremy is really good at that. So, we’ll go with whoever’s the best in those situations.”
Will you have him in the slot the way that Kerley does?
“We’ll see. We’ll get him out there and get him acclimated and see where he best fits whether it’s inside or outside.”
How much did you guys look at Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott in the draft process and what are your impressions of what you’ve seen from him in the first couple of weeks?
“We looked at him just like all quarterbacks in the draft and we were really impressed with him and thought that he was someone that could really play in this league. Where it fell in terms of what we were taking, he was kind of slotted around where he got taken. That’s kind of where we thought he was going to go. But, I’ve been very impressed with him. I think not only his athletic ability, but his poise and kind of sense of calm that he has about him in terms of playing the game. It doesn’t seem like it’s happening too fast for him and he’s done a great job in the first three games.”
Did you have much contact with him before the draft?
“That’s a question for the personnel department.”
You didn’t meet with him at the Combine?
“I didn’t, no. But, I’m sure our personnel department did.”
When you were evaluating defensive personnel after you took over and looking at last year’s stuff to evaluate them, did you find any rhyme or reason as to why, it played out the first week too this year, the team is so much better defensively at home than it is on the road?
“No, and I didn’t look at film that way of home versus away. When we got here, you’re just looking at athletic ability, ability to get in and out of breaks, how do they bend, how do they do that? I think one of the misconceptions when guys evaluate film, you don’t know what they were asked to do. You can say, ‘I don’t understand why that corner dropped that guy,’ but he may have been taught in that coverage to drop that guy and jump the flat route. So, a lot of times when you’re evaluating without knowing what the play call was, what he was asked to do, what the coaching points were on that play, you’re really just looking at movement patterns, skills, strength, change of direction, toughness, tackling, all of those things that you can see off of tape, but to try to figure out that aspect, we, I never looked at that aspect.”
Do you script the first drive at all? How many plays?
“We script situations. I don’t think you can script drives because you don’t know what you’re going to be in. I mean, you can get three first downs in a row, so you’re on your first down call. So, to say, ‘We’re going to run this play,’ your third play may be if you script, and I don’t think anybody does it that way, if your third play is a bomb and it’s third and an inch, maybe you’re not going to that. You’re going to your third down play. So, we script all of our situations and go off of situations that occur in the game.”
In particular, when RB Carlos Hyde didn’t know what the first play was against Seattle, because he couldn’t hear it. Was that drive scripted though and then QB Blaine Gabbert has–?
“No, that was called on the sideline. It was just a miscommunication in terms of where he was.”
Should Blaine have realized that Carlos wasn’t there?
“I think they both should have realized that.”
Regarding, just back to WR Keshawn Martin, given your relationship with Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, do you talk to those guys? I don’t know how this works in the NFL.
Regarding Keshawn Martin, given the fact that he played with Houston and New England, does it work like that in the NFL where you call–?
“Yeah, you talk to your friends in the league about, I mean we talk a lot, but a lot of times it’s not about football either.”
In regards to him as a player–?
“Yeah, they’re always asking me about our players if they have an opportunity to, if they’re going to work out someone that was on our roster at some point in time and if we’re going to work out somebody that was on their roster. I always get feedback from people that I know in the league. That’s common place.”
On Monday, you talked about QB Colin Kaepernick’s health and–?
“I was asked about Colin’s health. I didn’t talk about Colin’s health.”
Well, you were asked and then you talked about him. Once he’s at a spot strength-wise, weight-wise that you believe that he’s ready for full-go–?
“Those are hypotheticals and I don’t really deal with hypotheticals. So, we are where we are and that’s where he is and he’s the first one to tell you that he’s not where he was when he was in 2013 when he was 225-pounds and that’s the only point I’m trying to make up. It’s not an indication on Colin. It’s not a knock on Colin. I think what people don’t realize is he can’t be at 225 because he had three surgeries. So, he really couldn’t lift. He couldn’t, sometimes when you have an upper body injury, you could still lift with your legs or if you have a lower body injury, you could still lift with your upper body. He had an upper body injury and a lower body injury. So, therefore, he wasn’t allowed to do from a rehab standpoint because of the injuries where he was. So, what his state is now is not his fault, it’s because he was injured. Has he been cleared to play medically? Yeah, he can go play in a game right now. But, is he the same Colin Kaepernick that he was in 2013? I think he said yesterday that he’s not that right now. So, that’s the only point I’m making. It’s got no indication of first-team, second-team, how could he be cleared to play this? He was cleared to play when he got back and he’s played in games for us, but he’s not the same guy right now that he was in 2013. That’s the only point I’m trying to make.”
So, you feel like in order for him to compete with Blaine–?
“No. I’m not saying that either.”
He has to be 100-percent?
“No. I don’t say that either.”
“Right now, he’s our second quarterback and Blaine’s our first quarterback. So, that’s what I’m saying.”
Does he have a chance to be the starter unless–?
“He has a chance every single day. Everybody has a chance every single day. But, if you ask me where he is, he’s not where he was in 2013. That’s the only thing I’m pointing out. So, he’s not 100-percent back from the recovery standpoint. He’s 100-percent healed from those injuries. So, that allows him to play in the game, but is he the same player that he was when he was running 4.5 and throwing the ball all over the place? He’s not that guy right now because he’s not where he was physically. You can just look at him physically. He’s not the same guy right now. That doesn’t mean he can’t be the same guy and he’s working as hard as anybody I’ve ever been around to get back to be that right now.”
ME: He has to be 225 pounds to play quarterback for you?
“No. That’s not what I said either. I’m just telling you where he is right now. So, if you want to know what his state is right now, that’s his state right now. There’s no weight limit that I’ve put on him that he has to be this to play this.”
ME: Do you ask him what percentage he is in terms of recovery in being back to full strength? Do you ask him that?
“We talk to him and I think he knows he’s not where he’s been in the past. I mean, I think he said that the other day, he’s not where he is where he’s been in the past.”
You guys have given up two sacks in three games. I think it’s tied for the best in the league. Is that a product of the offense and it’s built to get rid of the ball quickly–?
“Yeah. I think in this day and age in the NFL, almost everybody’s built to get rid of the ball quickly. You know, I think that’s a, you watch any game on TV and that’s the metric they’re talking about. How quickly is the ball out? I mean, with the type of dynamic pass rushers they have, the type of blitz patterns you’re going to see now, there’s not a lot of time you have to hold onto the football in this league because the defenses are so good. So, you know, I know New England’s great at it. I think everybody is really good at trying to get the ball out of their hands quickly just because of probably the longer you hold the ball, more bad things happen. You know? There’s a catch-22. You don’t throw the ball as far when you’re in those situations, but you can say, ‘Alright, we’re going to throw the ball down the field and really dedicate ourselves to that.’ But, you also may be giving up a lot of negative yardage plays at the same time because you’re getting sacked by holding onto the ball that long.”
Is that a tradeoff that you’re going to have, citing Blaine’s low yards per attempt average? Are you going to get that–?
“I think you’re going to get that with run after the catches and things like that. But, I mean, there’s a catch-22. Everybody can say, ‘Hey, let’s go bombs away and throw the ball down the field.’ Well, then you’re going to be in a lot of third-and-longs and second-and-longs because your quarterback’s going to get sacked a lot. Now you’re playing behind the sticks. You’re trying to play in front of the snap count, you’re trying to play in front of the downs and put yourself in manageable third downs. Being in third-and-long in this league is a real difficult thing with the type of defensive pressure that people are creating right now and there’s a lot of really good, talented guys on the defensive side. So, you know, there’s the give and take. There just can’t be one way. ‘Hey, we’re going to do this.’ You know, you’ve got to be able to make sure that, can you protect it? If you can protect it, then you can throw the ball a little bit longer. If you don’t feel like you matchup protecting, you’ve got to get the ball out a little bit quicker.”
What’s kind of stood out to you since the regular season’s begun about T Joe Staley and how he handles–?
“The one thing about Joe is just his consistency, is I think you can count on what you’re getting out of Joe each week. I think he’s played really well. We haven’t had breakdowns on the left side specifically because I think he’s the anchor over there on the left side. So, we’re fortunate to have him. He’s one of those guys that, if you don’t notice him, it’s a good thing because a lot of times you notice the left tackle because he just got beat and your quarterback’s laying on the ground and your left tackle gave up a sack. But, we haven’t had that here and we’re fortunate of that because of what a high level Joe’s playing at right now.”
Is DL Arik Armstead still dealing with that shoulder? I think he only played 28 snaps on Sunday.
“I think he missed two or three series just because he had something, but he came back in and said he was fine. So, I mean, there’s no issue. He’s not on any lists. He’s not missing anything. He going full today in practice.”
Regarding Blaine, the last two weeks he’s taken a fair amount of criticism. You’re being asked is he still going to be your quarterback, etcetera. What would you say he’s doing well?
“I think he’s running our offense well. I think our offense itself, and a lot of times if we’re not having success on offense, it’s all blamed on Blaine. But, if we need to run the ball better, that’s not Blaine’s fault we’re not running the ball better. We’ve got a power play called, the quarterback’s job on power is to hand the ball off. So, I don’t know how that’s Blaine’s fault in those situations. But, I understand the nature of the beast and that if you’re a quarterback you’re going to get on your fair share. I think he’s done a good job protecting the football. We threw an interception the other day but it went through the receiver’s hands. So, it goes down as an interception for the quarterback, but you’ve got to look at how that happened and how that went. Sometimes I think when you just look at shear statistics, you say, ‘Well, he threw a pick.’ Well, did he throw the pick or did a receiver drop the ball? I think there’s certain things you have to look at in terms of how everybody contributes to whether we’re having success on the offensive side of the ball or not having success and it’s not all just on one guy. If it was on one guy, that would be an easy fix. But, it’s not on one guy and that’s why we feel real confident with him moving forward.”