SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Week 15 Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“It came down a little bit, but we got it in.”
Did you rearrange the schedule because of that?
“Yeah, there’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to get bad from what we were told. We were also told it wasn’t going to rain in the Patriots game.”
How’d that work out?
“It didn’t work out. So, just do what they’re told. We just pushed some things up a little bit. Made the adjustment, hopefully we beat it.”
Why start first with G Joshua Garnett and then C Marcus Martin over G Andrew Tiller?
“I’m lost on that question.”
I’m just wondering why Tiller doesn’t play more.
“Josh obviously earned his starting position. He came here, Josh was just a little bit behind because he missed the spring with us obviously because he wasn’t available for OTAs. But, we got through training camp and knew we thought we had a pretty good one. As he got going during the season, he just passed Andrew by and then obviously Marcus is playing center. Andrew Tiller is not a center. So, when [C] Daniel Kilgore went down, Marcus went in at center.”
Right, right, but I know when you started that game you started Marcus Martin instead of–?
Last game. The Jets.
“The Jets game. Yeah, alright, I’m with you, because Marcus was better than Tiller. That was that decision.”
The reason I ask is if you look at the statistics, Tiller seems to be better?
Quarterback hurries, sacks–?
“Where does that come from?
Pro Football Focus.
“OK. Stick with that.”
Do you not put much stock in that?
“No, I mean I’ve said it all along, how can they grade an offensive lineman when they don’t know what the play is? I’ve had it before, our left tackle gave up a sack. He didn’t give up a sack because the guy slanted in the ‘B’ gap. The guard had ‘B’ gap and that’s not the left tackle’s responsibility, but it’s written down as a sack on the left tackle because you don’t know what play was called. We called slide protection. We didn’t call man protection. If someone can look at a film and figure out what we call for a play and know what our scheme is and then give a guy a grade on it, I think there’s a lot of players and coaches that feel the same way. I don’t know. You can do whatever you want with it. It’s like me going into a bank and grading a teller because they gave me a lollipop. I gave them a 94.3.”
I’d go 100-percent.
“I mean, it depends on what lollipop. It was purple and I wanted red, but they did give you a lollipop. But, I didn’t know they weren’t allowed to give purple out that day. So, if I did know that I probably would have given them a higher grade, but I didn’t know the information going in.”
Speaking of your left tackle, you moved G Zane Beadles over. He hadn’t played in the NFL at left tackle before. Why?
“He played right tackle. He hadn’t played left tackle, yeah. He felt more comfortable on the left side. [T] Trent Brown felt more comfortable on the right side.”
What about him, how has he performed since he’s come out and what gave you the confidence–?
“Well, it was just one game and I thought he did a nice job against the Jets.”
I’m talking as a whole. How has he performed at guard and then what–?
“I think Zane’s done a nice job all year long for us. We’re real happy with getting a veteran like him. I think he’s seen a lot of things. He’s an emergency center for us. He can play all three positions across the offensive line. He’s been asked to play two so far. He’s played guard and played tackle. So, I thought he did a good job in the Jets game. Obviously, we’ve got another big challenge this week going up against the front that we’re going to face in the Falcons. But, I was happy with where Zane was last week.”
What was your assessment of Tiller’s performance on Sunday?
“I thought he did a nice job. I think that whole group, to be put together the way they were, obviously you lose Danny and you lose [T] Joe [Staley], you could argue that they were our two best consistently throughout the year. But, I thought we ran the ball fairly well and were productive there against the Jets. We were decent in protection. There was some pressure. There was a couple communications on one of the times [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap got flushed, we just didn’t communicate and handle it right. We should have picked it up. But, I thought by in large, they did a decent job.”
We’ll keep the theme of offensive line going here. OL Alex Balducci, you elevated him. What have you seen from him and do you expect him to be up on Sunday?
“We’ll see. Obviously, we’ve got another day of training Friday and Saturday and then we’ll make an assessment in terms of where we are with everything. But, he’s a guy that made the transition. He was a defensive lineman in college, but we felt like he could make the transition to offensive line. I think he’s worked extremely hard at it, has picked it up. He’s got natural strength, bends well for a real big guy and I think he’s at his position. In the National Football League, he’s an offensive lineman. I think the only thing that kind of puts him behind some of those guys is just the experience just because his four years in college was on the other side of the ball. But, I think he has all the tools to be a lineman in this league.”
What tools specifically? When you look at him and you saw how he played as a defensive lineman, what tools stuck out that made you think–?
“His ability to bend. His size. He’s 6-4, he’s 310 pounds. His ability to bend. His flexibility. He’s a tough, physical guy. Real hardnosed football player. One of those down and dirty, gritty guys. So, kind of the toughness factor and his athletic ability combined with his size made him we feel was a natural candidate. And I think a lot of other teams, when he worked out on his pro day, he worked out as both a defensive lineman and an offensive lineman. So, there were other teams that were interested in Alex as an offensive lineman also.”
Do you expect a little bit more pressure? I know the Jets brought some, particularly when–?
“Some? A lot.”
Particularly when Kilgore when out.
“I don’t know if that’s because Danny went out. That’s just the Jets M.O. That’s what [New York Jets head coach] Todd [Bowles] does. That’s what Todd did when he was in Arizona. That’s what Todd has done since he’s been with the Jets. It’s a heavy blitz package in terms of what they do. Going into this game, Atlanta doesn’t blitz as much as the Jets, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. They have the ability to do everything. And we prepare, we have blitz periods every day. We work on the blitzes that they have in and the blitzes that we’ve seen on film from them. Their percentages aren’t as high as the Jets, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t change going into our game.”