SANTA CLARA — Here’s a transcript of Chip Kelly’s Friday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
You had everybody pass your conditioning test initially. Are you impressed with the way this team came in conditioning-wise?
“Yeah I was, and they knew when they were leaving what we were supposed to do. Again, [49ers director of human performance] Mark [Uyeyama] and the weight room, his guys do an outstanding job with those guys. Really impressed with the overall group and what they came back in. I think they understand what we demand out of a training session and what we’re trying to get accomplished. They came in here and ready to go and they’ve been really good so far.”
Have you had any muscle things?
“There were a couple of guys, [WR] Torrey [Smith] was a little tight yesterday, he’ll go today. The only one thing that I will announce is [WR] Eric Rogers had an MRI last night and tore his ACL, so he will be out for the season. Real big blow for him. He was doing a great job for us. Really feel for him. Had transitioned from the CFL, had a great spring for us, and was really pushing here during camp, but he’ll be out for the season. Besides him, everybody else, I think [WR] Bruce [Ellington] had a finger yesterday, but he’s back. Everybody else will be back running around today.”
Did that happen yesterday during practice?
“Yeah, I don’t know if you guys saw him when he went down.”
It was during special teams?
“Yeah, it was a non-contact.”
QB Blaine Gabbert is in his sixth system in six years. How does that strain a quarterback, I guess, as he’s trying to adjust?
“I’m a positive guy. I look at it as a positive. He’s been exposed to a lot of different systems, so he’s got a wealth of knowledge. When you sit and talk football with Blaine, you can tell he’s been through a few different terminologies. Everybody really does very similar things. The biggest hurdle, so to speak, is just terminology. It was called this in this system, it’s called this in this system. But, he’s done a really good job of bridging the gaps in terms of those situations.”
I know you said the exhibitions are going to be the big thing for the quarterback job. What do you get from them in a practice? What do you look for in either one of those two guys specifically in a practice?
“You look at precision. How well are they operating? What’s their decision-making process? Are they hanging too long on a read? Are they quick to move on if in their progression, one or two are covered, how quickly do they get to three? Do they get stuck? Do they get caught in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 holding the ball too long? You know, part of it is getting the ball out on time. It’s a timing-based offense in terms of getting the ball out. So, those are things that you can observe. How they’ve picked things up from a mental standpoint? Are they dialed in in terms of what we’re doing? The only difference between a training session and a game is that they’re not going to get hit. We’re not going to allow them to get hit in practice. At times you’ve seen guys that would break when it comes to a training session, but then all of a sudden they get into a game and they’re a different guy because they got hit a couple times. So, what are they like when there’s the physical contact, so that’s where you have to be able to have both to make an accurate decision in terms of where they are.”
What have you see from them so far? Can you just, generally, what you think of those two guys?
“Well, impressed because [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap was not here and didn’t have those reps in the spring. He was here from the mental standpoint, was great in the meeting room, was great mirroring the quarterbacks, but really didn’t do anything except for seven-on-seven in the spring time. So, for him to come in and step in for his first couple of days and done what he’s done, that’s been very impressive to us. We’ve been really high on Blaine since the spring just because he was the one guy that was getting the predominate amount of reps with the ones. So, I think it’s a real healthy competition and as I’ve said before, it’s a good situation. I believe you need to have at least two quarterbacks in this league, just because of the physicality that goes on at that position. So, you better have some depth because very rarely does one guy make it through an entire season.”
I know you’ve got practice, but any sense of who is going to start that first exhibition games?
“We haven’t talked about that and one of the reasons is you have no idea. We could have a sit down today and say, ‘It’s going to be this, this, and this,’ and then one guy rolls an ankle next Friday and then you’ve got to reload and go do it all over again. So, we’ll wait until we get to after, we’ll practice one day next Friday with Houston and then after that practice we’ll sit down, who’s available for the game and then let’s talk about how we’re going to divvy up the reps in terms of who’s who and what’s what.”
What are you seeing as far as just the competition out there? It looked like the defensive backs got their hands on a lot of balls yesterday.
Do you feel like the defense at this point, the pass defense is ahead of the pass offense?
“I’m not grading it that way or looking at what’s up today or down. It’s kind of like the stock market, you get really excited one day and the next day it drops. You can’t really predict it. Some of it depends on the situation. It may be a lot of, you covered a lot of third-and-longs, well obviously the defense should have the upper hand on third-and-long as opposed to the defense. But, the day you go to third-and-short, you hope the offense has an upper hand on the defense. There’s an ebb and flow. It’s really, we’re trying to simulate as much of the game as possible. We did a lot of second-and-long work yesterday, which is probably skewed a little bit more towards the defense. If it was a different situation, it may have been skewed a little bit towards the offense. So, I don’t really put stock in who won the practice in terms of the offense or the defense. As you said, we are really pleased with how they are competing and I do think our DBs have been around the ball a lot, which is good from a defensive standpoint.”
Is the offense, are the receivers fighting as much as the corners seem to be?
“Yeah, well part of that too is we need officials here, because sometimes I think some of our young DBs are fighting over five yards, which is not legal. There’s a five-yard contact area, which you want to be real aggressive there and disrupt the timing of the routes and the precision of the passing game and after that you have to go hands off. So, some of our younger guys that are doing a really good job competing out there, are also, I think if some officials were here it would be called a little bit differently. I don’t think it would be as close in coverage. We’ll have a couple days next week where we’ll have the officials in here to practice and that will really kind of help us out and we’ll get a better understanding and a better feel at that point in time.”
One of those young defensive backs, CB Rashard Robinson, can you just talk about your impressions of him on the field and obviously, this is a guy who was kicked off the team at LSU and there were questions about him as a person coming in. What have been your impressions of him off the field?
“I think on the field he’s been extremely competitive and that’s the one thing that really kind of jumps out at you. It doesn’t matter who he’s lined up against. I think he relishes the opportunity to play against, whether it’s Torrey or Bruce or [WR] Quinton [Patton] or whomever he’s lined up against, he kind of gets excited about that. He’s a highly competitive player. He’s got a really good skillset. He’s got some physicality at the line of scrimmage, but he’s got speed and some savvy to match routes once he gets locked up with a receiver. And then to the other part of the question, he’s been great since he’s been here. Our slate when he walked in is, I think [general manager] Trent [Baalke] and his guys in the personnel department did their due diligence in terms of what they were trying to get and what we were looking for and felt comfortable in the situation. He’s been great since we’ve been here. So, he’s been all about football. Just wants to compete and wants to play and wants to earn a spot on this team.”
S Eric Reid was saying that when he put the pads on, he noticed he got tired a lot earlier. Did you notice anything different inTuesday’s practice and then maybe how they bounced back coming off the day off yesterday?
“Well, yeah, we expected that. You are putting pads on for the first time. When you look at the CBA, we’re not allowed to have pads on. So, last time these guys had pads on was last December. So, it’s a different deal when you get the shoulder pads on, you get the thigh pads on, the knee pads on. You feel different. You’re not running around in shorts and t-shirts, but that’s how the game is played. That was expected from our standpoint and that’s why we have to practice in pads, so those guys get used to that feeling and get an understanding of what it’s going to be like when we get ready to go play these games.”
Is there a position group you’re particularly happy with so far? I’ve seen a lot about the D-Line maybe or any group you can single and say ‘That group has excelled?’
“They have done a really good job. I’m pleased with them. But, I think our running backs have done a really good job and I’ve been impressed with that group with [RB] Carlos [Hyde] and [RB] Shaun Draughn and [RB] DuJuan [Harris] and [RB] Mike [Davis] and then [RB] Kelvin Taylor in that group has done a really nice job. I think our DBs have done a nice job. So, there’s a few. I think our outside linebackers, you know, [LB] Aaron Lynch and [LB Ahmad] Brooks and [DT] Tank Carradine have done a really nice job of setting the edge, [LB] Eli Harold. So, there’s a few that kind of have stood out. And sometimes it’s on a daily basis. This group popped today, but then the next day, everybody kind of catches back up to them but I that’s how I think camp goes.”
What are you seeing from QB Jeff Driskel? It seems he’s had a couple good practices in a row.
“Yeah. I think Jeff’s really come along. He’s a guy that played in multiple systems in college. He was at Florida and then transferred to Louisiana Tech. So, he’s still learning and growing every day. I think there’s some plays where you get really excited and then there’s some other plays where you know he’s a rookie and you wish he was a little bit quicker in his decision making process. But, that’s on us as coaches to make sure he gets exposed to as much as we can get him exposed to so that he doesn’t continue to make the same mistakes. And that’s one thing about him, he’s usually a one-time guy where if he’ll make a mistake, he can correct it. But, he needs to do it first. You can talk things through all you want, but unless you put them in the situation and actually play it out, that’s when they get their real experience from it. He’s grown from that experience. It’s just a matter of how much experience we can get him at this point in time.”
So, what do you guys have planned tomorrow? Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo’s going into the Hall of Fame. Are you guys going to be able to watch any of the enshrinement here or are you guys going to be in meetings?
“I don’t know the exact time. We haven’t looked into that. We’ll still practice in the morning, like we normally do and then we’ve got meetings and whatnot in the afternoon. It just depends on what time we break and what time Mr. D is going to go on. But, I would definitely want to watch that.”
Have you ever had any interaction with him?
“I’ve talked to him a few times since I’ve gotten here. I’ve never met him person, but talked to him when I first got the job here and then obviously, when he was enshrined, I had a chance to have a conversation with him.”
Any advice he gave you?
“No, he wasn’t giving me any advice. He was just congratulating me and was excited. At the same time, the following conversation, I think it was actually a week later, was me congratulating him. He left an indelible impression on this organization. Not only did they win, but they won with class. I think it started with him. You just listen to the former players talk about him like [vice president of football affairs] Keena [Turner] and guys that are still around the building, [director of alumni relations] Guy McIntyre and [running backs coach] Tom Rathman, guys that knew him really, really well and how much reverence they have for him. So, it obviously just speaks to the type of man he is.”
LB NaVorro Bowman talked yesterday about getting the new deal, doing it the right way, not holding out and saying his teammates have approached him and were motivated by that. You entering your first year here, how much does that mean to you as a leader of the team setting a tone from that standpoint?
“Well, whether it’s his contract or on the practice field or in the weight room or in the classroom, NaVorro has displayed that leadership since we walked in here. He’s been outstanding. He’s obviously the alpha dog on that defense and sets the tone for everybody just in how he conducts himself in everything that he does. I was very excited to find out that he’s going to be here for a long time. That’s the type of person he is and that’s the type of people you want to build your defense around. That’s the type of people you want to build your organization around.”
Do you have to add another receiver? Do you want to add another receiver to the roster?
“Yeah, we will. I don’t know exactly when that will happen, but I know Trent and that group upstairs is going through what’s available. Obviously, 90 guys are on rosters right now. So, there’s not a ton of options that are available, but I think those guys will do what they can just because we do need to bring another body in here.”
DB Cleveland Wallace III, the guy you added yesterday, is that just you need someone to take reps with S Jaquiski Tartt out?
“Well, Jaquiski took his conditioning test this morning. So, we’re anticipating getting him back shortly. But, [S] L.J. [McCray] was limited and [CB] Will [Redmond] has been limited. So, we were really down three people in the secondary. All of them we feel will be back, but because they’re limited in their reps, we wanted to just get another set of legs in there just so we’re not wearing out the guys that are full-go and just trying to distribute the reps as much as we can.”
Regarding DuJuan, he’s obviously short, he’s pretty quick and there’s maybe an easy comparison to a Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles. Is that a lazy comparison or is there something there?
“I think they’re different. Darren’s special. He’s going into his 11th year. He’s one of the preeminent punt return, kick return guys in the history of the league. In terms of what he can do, he’s a tremendous third-down back. They’re built kind of different too. DuJuan’s a running back and he’s been very, very impressive and we’re really excited about where he is and in that battle with Mike Davis and Shaun and those guys to see who’s going to be behind Carlos. But, sometimes I hesitate when you’ve gotten someone that’s as talented as Darren and what he is. But, DuJuan’s got a real good shot to give us some valuable depth behind Carlos.”