This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
How did you feel about how practice went yesterday and what you guys were able to accomplish?
“I thought there were ups and downs. There were some positives that you can build on in certain situations and there were some other things that we had to clean up. So, you hope that day two is better than day one.”
We were told yesterday that QB Colin Kaepernick might do a little bit more with his arm today. Is that still the plan?
“Yeah, that’s the plan. We have a plan for him going forward, just they’re easing him back into throwing right now. Talking to him, he says he feels really good about it. But, we don’t want to throw him back out there and then have a setback right now. So, as we said before, from what we understand it’s not a long-term thing, it’s about just getting him back into it. So, he’ll throw a little bit more today and what [quarterbacks coach] Ryan [Day] will do with him in drills and see how he feels and continue to progress him and hopefully we can get him back full next week.”
Will you do any easing him into seven-on-seven or anything like that?
“Today? No. He’s just going to be throwing with the quarterbacks and the receivers. He won’t be doing anything against Denver.”
Obviously not playing Saturday, do you think he’ll maybe play the following week?
“That’s the plan is to see if we can get him ready so that he’s full-go.””
Will QB Christian Ponder play in the game?
“I think so. You know, it was interesting. When we got Christian, he came into the tail end of training on Tuesday and then we jumped on a plane and every time the threes were up, he jumped in there. So, him learning the new terminology. As I’ve said before, everybody runs the same things. It’s just kind of how you call it. I thought for the first time out there, I told him, it’s kind of like riding a bike. For him, he’s got to knock the rust off a little bit. But, for the first time out there, he did a good job. Obviously, if we get him in on Saturday in the game, it will be limited in terms of what do you feel real comfortable throwing, what do you feel real comfortable running. But, for the first day, I was kind of impressed how much he picked up.”
Just to clarify with Colin, are you guys just being really cautious with him, like could he practice if you wanted him to?
“No, I think it’s a plan with the medical staff and us put together a plan for him. So, I don’t think it’s he can go and we’re holding him back. I’m sure he may feel that way. We want to, what’s the best thing for him in terms of making sure that he’s 100-percent and ready to go.”
When you talk to him about that, is he fully on board?
“Yeah. He was good. He’s involved in every discussion. It’s not like we’re telling him what to do because he’s the one who ultimately knows how he feels. But, it’s like a lot of times when you have a muscle injury, all of a sudden, ‘Hey, I feel great,’ and then all of a sudden you hear the guy re-injures it because they pushed themselves a little bit too far. So, we want to err on the side of caution and make sure that he’s 100-percent as we get rolling here.”
And is this considered a muscle injury?
“You can call it whatever you want.”
I’m not a doctor.
“I’m not a doctor either. That’s why you can call it whatever you want.”
You’ve been consulting with doctors though.
“You can go to Web M.D. I think. See what that says (laughing).”
I’m not sure they’re up on Colin Kaepernick’s–.
“Just see what words they can use. Fatigue. Whatever you want to call it. I’m good with that”
I’ll talk to vice president of football operations Jeff Ferguson afterwards.
“Ferg’s good. I’m not sure what Ferg calls it. We can go hockey and go upper arm injury.”
“Upper extremity? Is that what it is?”
“Upper body? Just upper body? Wow. That’s awesome. That ranges a lot of things. His spleen could be hanging out on the ground, but it’s upper extremity. I’m good with that.”
Did you look at Christian Ponder last year when you were with the Eagles?
Was it to the extent of a tryout?
“No. We were trying to bring him in, but he ended up going back to Oakland. [Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator] Bill Musgrave, who was the quarterback coach for me in Philadelphia, was his offensive coordinator when he was with the Vikings. So, I don’t know whether it was staying on the west coach or a familiarity with Bill, but we had talked about bringing him in when I was in Philly last year.”
You’ve talked about the benefits of practicing with another team. But, practicing with the defending World Champions, a team that’s been there, done that, when you have a young team like this, is there any additional benefit to that?
“I think any time you get to go against great competition, then you look out there and you see [Denver Broncos LB] Von Miller and [Denver Broncos S] T.J. Ward and [Denver Broncos CB] Aqib Talib, that can speak volumes in terms of how you can gauge yourself. It’s a great test because those guys, when you finally see them in person and I had an opportunity to coach T.J. so I know how good T.J. is in college. But, to see the strides he’s made in the National Football League in the six years that he’s been in the league, and then you get to see a guy like Von Miller in person and really his ability to rush the passer, his ability just to disrupt because he’s just such a disruptive player. You’ve got to be able to gain positives out of that. It was tough for us last week just because playing Houston, we were hoping that [Houston Texans DE J.J.] Watt and [Houston Texans LB Jadeveon] Clowney were there, but again [Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien] Billy’s erring on the side of caution making sure those guys are ready for the season. But, any time you get a chance to go against great players like those guys are, it’s a positive. And I think it’s the same thing for our corners, getting to go against [Denver Broncos WR Demaryius] Thomas and [Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel] Sanders is a big test for them too. So, it’s good work and that’s why we do these things.”
Was that maybe, in some ways, a bit of a wakeup call? You guys got rolling pretty good in that preseason game, but if anyone on offense wondered if we’re there yet, I mean that would have provided an answer yesterday?
“I don’t look at it as a wakeup call because I don’t think anybody, you know, we weren’t passing out any trophies after the first half of the preseason game. So, we didn’t go in at halftime against Houston and say, ‘Alright, we’ve got this thing down.’ We all know we have a lot of work to do. It is a process in terms of preparing to play this season. It’s about stacking good days on top of good days. You just can’t rest and say, ‘Hey, you were good yesterday,’ and then take it easy the next day. You’ve got to continue to get better every day and you’re going to get challenged every day. Just like in this league every week, you can have a huge win one week and then you better get your mind right within 24 hours because the next week you’ve got another opponent that’s coming in ready to take your head off. So, I think that’s the lesson, but I don’t think anybody by any stretch of the imagination our guys were patting themselves on the back after our performance in the first half of the first preseason game.”
In terms of stacking good days on top of good days, have you started to see that from any of your young receivers. I’m not talking about the guys who are running with the first string, but any of the first or second year guys on the roster?
“Well, I think one of the things with the receivers is we’ve kind of been up and down with guys in and out. [WR] Bruce [Ellington], who I thought was doing a really nice job, sprains his ankle a little bit against Houston and hasn’t gone full here yet. [WR DeAndre Smelter] Smelt’s been out for about a week now with a hamstring. So, kind of seeing who those guys are, who those ones and twos are has been a little bit difficult just because of the injury thing. And for those young guys, I think that’s a great question. What we do need to see is consistency. We haven’t really seen a ton of that right now. We’ve seen them flash, which is awesome because you know what they can do, but it’s being consistent not only on a daily basis but really, on a play-to-play basis, that you can count of them. He makes a big play here and then all of a sudden you’re gone. You know, it’s really trying to find out who those guys are. No one I can say off the top of my head has just jumped off of it, but I think we’ve got confidence in the group that we have. It’s just can they put it all together on a consistent basis.”
You addressed this a little bit earlier, but I’m not sure I heard it. Is Colin not going to play this week?
“Yeah. Colin will not play in the game this week.”
Everybody talks so much about the positives of joint practices. Are there any obstacles that are almost, not on the negative side but that you have to overcome when you’re with another team?
“I don’t think there’s obstacles. I just think there’s just the people who have the yeoman-type work of these things are the logistics people. Being able to get everything orchestrated in terms of where you are and how things are going to operate and that’s kind of the behind the scenes things that nobody sees. The people that, the travel people that have to coordinate everything. I think a lot of times as coaches, we don’t really think like, ‘Hey, we want to go with the Broncos,’ and then the next day, ‘Make it an extra day.’ We think that’s an easy thing to do and it’s definitely not an easy thing to do. So, the obstacles are really the logistics aspect of it. But, I think teams are comfortable. San Francisco and Denver have done this before. [Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak] Kub has done it before. We’ve done it with other teams. So, I think from a coaching staff standpoint and trying to get the practice put together, that’s not a difficult thing. The difficult thing, if its anything, is just the logistics aspect of it and our guys do an unbelievable job of that.”
Were there any reminders last night about the chippiness and not engaging in any kind of physical stuff out there?
“No. Our guys know how we want to train and how we want things to do and I don’t think you have to reiterate it to them every day.”
Would you like to get QB Blaine Gabbert more work this week or do you have to kind of balance that with Colin’s situation?
“We’ll balance that with, again, with what we have and we don’t do any decision in terms of what our reps are for the games until after this last practice so we know what’s available. Not only for Blaine, but who’s with him in that group. So, all of a sudden if you lose two offensive linemen and you’re going to have to play two rookies in a game, how long would we keep Blaine in there in those situations. Those are all what-ifs that you really don’t know about until we’re done this training session today and then we’ll sit down tomorrow and kind of hash out how many reps we want for everybody. Whether it’s [T] Joe Staley or Blaine or [LB] NaVorro [Bowman] or whoever we’re talking about getting work against Denveron Saturday.”
You went deep with us on your relationship with Bill O’Brien. Do you have a similar connection with coach Kubiak?
“I would not say we’re kindred spirits, but that’s just because we don’t know each other long enough. Hopefully at some point in time we will get that. I just know Kub from league meetings and watch what a great job he did with this team last year. To take this team to the Super Bowl kind of just tells you what type of coach he is and I have a ton of respect for him. Not only in his ability to coach, but how he does it. I think he’s a class act. So, when we got a chance, when I got to San Francisco and they said we’re going to have a practice situation in Denver, I was excited because I know what type of guy he is and not only him, when you take someone, one of the classiest guys in this league is [Denver Broncos defensive coordinator] Wade Phillips, who is their defensive coordinator. So, you knew you were going to get good quality work out of it.”
Have you had a chance to see former 49ers LB Charles Haley work with some of the defensive linemen guys and is he just here for training camp–?
“Charles can do whatever he wants. I’m serious because I’m not telling him he’s got to leave. I think he’s really been an invaluable tool for us just because of the experience he has. He has a unique way of presenting it where he’s kind of funny, but I think when he gets really serious about pass rush there’s some tremendous amount of knowledge in what he has in his success in this league, his ability, that everybody recognizes, which is why he’s in the Hall of Fame. If he can impart some of that on some of our young guys, we want to have him around as long as Charles wants to be around.”
What have you seen from S Jered Bell since he’s joined you guys?
“Jered’s done a really nice job. I think learning what we do defensively, the safety has to be the captain back there, kind of the play-caller, the quarterback of the defense. The one thing that stuck out with him was just how smart he was from day one and picked things up. You could notice him even in the rookie minicamp at getting other guys aligned. You were like, ‘That’s pretty impressive, not only does he know what he does, but he’s getting outside linebackers lined up when they’re not in the proper leverage.’ It’s what stuck out when you talked to the coaches at Colorado, what an intelligent football player he is. That’s what he’s shown since we’ve had him.”
Was going up against him in the Pac-12 at all part of you bringing him in here?
“No, because the last time I coached in the Pac-12 was the ’12 season, so I don’t know if he played and if he did he was a true freshman. And when we were playing them I wasn’t scouting for the NFL saying, ‘Hey, that freshman over there is a guy I’d like when I get into the league three years from now and I hope I can sign him.’ I wasn’t that clairvoyant.”
Was it still the Pac-10 at that point?
“No, it was still the Pac-12 at that point.”