SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Chip Kelly’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
How does LB Aaron Lynch look to you? I know that he hasn’t practiced, but he’s on a side field.
“I haven’t watched Aaron do anything because he’s not with us during practice. I know talking to our strength and conditioning coach, he’s working extremely hard off the field. After we get after game four then we’ll get him back, but I haven’t had a real chance to observe anything Aaron is doing just because of the nature of what the deal is. He’s not allowed to practice with us or train with us. Everything he’s doing is with our strength and conditioning coaches on the side. I know he’s kind of over there, but we’re on the field so I haven’t had a chance to really take a look at him or watch him.”
Is his weight where it should have been in the summer when he was practicing with you guys?
“I don’t recall what his weight was back then so I can’t specifically say where he is. I know talking to [49ers director of human performance Mark Uyeyama] Uye he’s doing a heck-of-a job working and working extremely hard. So, we’re anxious to get him back here, but we’ll see where he is after game four.”
Does having a Thursday night game change this week in terms of your team schedule?
“This week? No. It drastically changes next week, but it doesn’t change this week. We still have to prepare to play Dallas at 1:00 or 1:25 on Sunday and then it kicks right in very quickly into Arizona for all of us. But, it doesn’t affect this week.”
With four of the next five here at home, do you emphasis to the team that now is the time you need to kind of make a move other than obviously a lot of importance one game at a time, but you have a home stand here to kind of–?
“No. And we don’t talk about that. We literally talk about one game that week. I don’t think, and I haven’t been around any coach that’s ever talked about beyond that because if you don’t take care of business at hand, then really it’s down to, for us, we’re not even talking about Sunday. We’re talking about having a really good Thursday in terms of our preparation. But, I have not talked to them nor have I ever talked to any team I talked to about is, ‘Hey, this is how the schedule is laid out we need to make a run here.’ We need to be able to do it on a weekly basis and it’s one game and that’s it. So, the entire week we look at a week, a week is a season for us. Everything in our focus, 100-percent of our focus is on the Dallas game. We do some long-term logistical planning. You obviously have to do that, but in terms of our approach with our players and what we’re doing, whether we’re home or we’re away, it’s just what is that focus this week. Our goal really simply is to be 1-0 on Sunday. If we’re 1-0 on Sunday night then we’ve done a good job. We need to get ready for whoever the next opponent is after that.”
ME: You mentioned yesterday you didn’t meet with Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott before the draft. Why didn’t you?
“Why didn’t I? I mean, our quarterback coach did. I didn’t personally meet with him. We’re only limited to the amount of guys that, I think there’s a certain number in the draft. Our personnel scouts did and our quarterbacks coach [49ers quarterbacks coach] Ryan Day met with every single quarterback at the draft. So, that’s kind of how that process works.”
ME: Did you meet personally with any quarterbacks before the draft? If so, which ones?
“[Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson] Wentz, [Los Angeles Rams QB Jared] Goff, I’m trying to think of who was on that list. You get 60 interviews or something at the Combine, so whoever was invited to that room. With Dak though, I think we’ve got a great understanding of Dak. Dak was coached by [Mississippi State University head football coach] Danny Mullen who is from my hometown. I’ve known Danny for 25 years, so sometimes when you’re meeting with someone it’s because you don’t have enough information on them. And actually Ryan Day, our quarterbacks coach who is actually from my hometown also, GA’d for Danny. So, he had a great relationship with him. A lot of times when you’re dealing with a prospect in the draft it’s do you have enough information on him. I’ve never, we never interviewed a kid in any of the draft meetings from Oregon because I already knew them. So, that’s a waste of time to bring in. ‘Hey, do you have to go meet with this guy?’ Well, no I don’t need to meet with that guy. I know him, recruited him, know his family background. I know all of those other things from him. I think sometimes when you look at that did you meet with somebody, that doesn’t really give an indication. There’s a great story if you look it up about [Seattle Seahawks general manager] John Schneider and [Seattle Seahawks QB] Russell Wilson, they never talked to him once and when Russell Wilson got the phone call, he was surprised as heck. Seattle said they didn’t want to tip their hand to anything, were hoping he was going to be there in whatever round they got him, I don’t know if they got him in two or three, but they never talked to him again. They saw him. John Schneider said he fell in love with him and then told everybody, ‘We’re never going to talk to the guy again,’ and then drafted him on draft day. So, who people speak to before the draft, that whole deal, I think that’s a little bit, I think people kind of look at that a little bit too much.”
You’ve obviously preparing for Dallas a lot in the past three years. Is it different or how different is it preparing for them now with your own personnel being different?
“It’s different because you’re always putting in a game plan based on what you believe your personnel can do whether it’s defending Dallas or attacking Dallas. You can say, ‘Hey, we did this here, but we were built a little bit differently where we were before than where we are here.’ So, you have a little bit of knowledge. [49ers offensive line coach Pat Flaherty] Flats has knowledge as our offensive line coach because he was with the Giants and he faced Dallas twice a year, but then our offensive line is different than the line that he had in New York. So, there’s some familiarity in terms of what they’ve done. There may be some things that they haven’t shown on film this year that we can recall from the past in blitz situations because Flats played them for 10-plus years. We played them for three-plus years. There’s just some more familiarity with what Dallas does. But, in terms of implementing game plans, it’s always based upon what we have available to either A, defend them or B, attack them.”
Obviously a new quarterback. Are they doing the same things?
“They are slightly different. They run the quarterback a little bit more. Obviously they weren’t doing that with [Dallas Cowboys QB] Tony [Romo], but I think their base pass concepts are very similar to what Dallas has done in the past and what [Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott] Linehan has done as the offensive coordinator. He’s really good at what he does in terms of attacking things. So, a lot of the things in the passing game are very similar to what Tony did. I would say the only difference between Tony and Dak is that they’ll run a little zone read with Dak just because of where he is and what he can do athletically with his legs.”
Did you talk to former 49ers OL Anthony Davis before he retired? If so, did he explain–?
“I did not talk to Anthony. He came in and talked to [49ers general manager] Trent [Baalke]. I did not see him. Trent came down and told me what transpired and then Anthony was gone, but I did not talk to him.”
Do you have an understanding of why he retired?
“Trent said that it was because of injuries. That’s all I know. But, it’s probably a good question for Trent. For me to talk specifically about a conversation someone had with someone else, that’s not, I don’t know exactly what transpired. I was just told that’s what was going on and then really the next step for us was what are we doing with the roster spot and all those other things. I’ve reached out to Anthony and gave him a call just to talk to him, but I didn’t connect with him yet.”
Do you have a preference as far as that backup, those two backup guys on game day, to have one guy who is a tackle instead of having to move G Zane Beadles out? Do you want to get OL John Theus up to speed so that he can occupy one of those spots?
“Ideally, but then the next question is, you always have to have a center. That usually, it starts from there is who can be the backup center because someone needs to snap. So, you may have to give and take with it. You’re going to always have that center guy up and available, then you’re really going with who’s the next best lineman and what’s the next best scenario to where we’re going and [G] Josh [Garnett] is really doing a really nice job too. So, at some point in time we’re going to have all those guys just because of injuries. But, right now it would be like the other day. It would still be [C] Marcus Martin. It would still be Josh.”
So, based on that, the decision at this point would be Josh or Theus, right, because Marcus–?
“Yeah. Marcus has to go because he’s our backup center.”
Does Dak’s read-option–?
Zone-read, that you can use QB Colin Kaepernick in practice this week to–?
“We do that a couple times. We did it with Seattle. Depends on what [49ers defensive coordinator] Jimmy [O’Neil] wants for a look and is it kind of with us and does it match up. So, we do some of that where Kap gets some work there, but [QB] Christian [Ponder] also can do all that stuff himself and he gets a lot of work. So, it also depends on what Ryan’s doing during that period because a lot of times when our defense is up and we’re giving them a look, that’s an opportunity for [QB] Blaine [Gabbert] and for Kap to throw with [WR] Torrey [Smith] and to throw with the tight ends and to kind of get some timing things down. So, we just kind of flip flop going back and forth with that.”
You’ve made that correction of reporters several times, for the layman, what’s the difference?
“Zone-read is where the quarterback is reading the defensive end whether to give the ball or keep the ball. Zone-read-option would be you read the defensive end and now you’re going to another phase and there’s a pitch back for you. So, then you’re going to option that guy. So, a lot of people say you run the read-option. Not many people do that, take it to the next phase where it turns into a triple-option. Zone-read you’re just reading one defender. If he takes the dive, it’s an either or, give or keep. If you add another phase to it, now I get to another guy and it’s keep or pitch. That would be from that terminology. And then, I will preface this, not every run out of the shotgun is a zone-read, which is another huge misconception from everybody. There’s a lot of times where there’s a tight end there blocking the defensive end, quarterback’s not reading anybody, he’s just handing the ball off but then everybody says, ‘They run zone-read all the time.’ So, you look at it and say, ‘They don’t run zone-read’ because they’re not reading anybody. They’re handing it off. It’s just, they happen to hand it off from the shotgun as opposed to being underneath the center.”
What do you call that?
“I call that a handoff.”
Since you’ve come into the league in 2013, have you seen defenses defend zone-reads better over time? Have you seen that defensive end being able to handle that better than he did–?
“I see people, there’s different ways to do it. I think probably the way people are defending it, there’s more multiplicity on the defensive side in terms of how to defend it. I couldn’t tell you if it’s better or if it’s worse. A lot of it depends on who that guy is playing quarterback. There’s a lot of times where when you watch the tape and the guy pulls it, you’re like, ‘That was the wrong read,’ and then he out runs the defensive end and has a gain of 20 and everybody’s like, ‘What a great play.’ Well, he actually should have handed it off because the defensive end was actually playing the quarterback. He didn’t squeeze at all, but the guy still outran him. So, there’s times where it’s defended well but it turns into a one-on-one matchup where the quarterback was faster or more athletic than the guy that was assigned to him.”
Is there a difference between a team that runs a zone-read and having its defense kind of face that in the offseason and how well they do it–?
“Yeah. But, it depends. I just think how people block it is different too. So, just to say blanket that this people run zone-read and those people run zone-read, it may be entirely different in terms of how they block the backside in terms of what they do. So, to generically say, ‘Well, they see it in practice,’ it may be blocked differently up front. So, there’s a lot more to it I think than just saying, ‘They saw it in practice,’ because the blocking scheme up front may be different than how they handle it.”
It seems like the last recent seasons, running backs don’t go super early in the draft. What in your mind makes Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot unique in the fact that Dallas was willing to take him fourth overall?
“Well, I think he’s a complete back. And I said that the other day because he can hurt you not only running the ball, and he’s outstanding at doing that, but he can be a pass receiver coming out of the backfield. He’s tough and physical and can pick up in blitz situations. So, he’s not a guy that you have to take off the field. You know, a lot of teams have used kind of a first and second down back and then they have a specific third down back. Well, if you’re using multiple people to play one position, you’re probably not going to use a draft pick to take a guy that high because it’s a two-person job. So, that’s where I kind of see it. But, I think when you’re going to take someone that high, he has to be a three-down back and that’s definitely what Ezekiel is. He’s got speed. He’s got power. You know, he’s kind of the best combination. Sometimes you get a bigger back that’s not going to break and hit homeruns but can really honker it up in there and hit it up in between the tackles. Then you have other guys that are kind of outside guys that got great speed but they’re not a guy that can run inside the tackles. I think he’s the combination of both where he is physical and has that ability to run inside the tackles but he also has the ability to break away and take it the distance. So, that’s what made him, and I think everybody agreed, that he was the top back in the draft last year.”
I know that you’re not into comparisons, but given they came out of the same system, played for Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, are there similarities between RB Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel in terms of their style?
“Not going there with the comparisons. I’ll just stay there. I know they’re comparable because they both played for Ohio State.”
The camera loves you on the sideline.
“I have no idea why. I’m not very photogenic.”
But, you have that play sheet that has the “S” and the “8.” What does that stand for?
“It’s just to cover up because they used to try to zoom in on our game plan. So, I’m trying to cover up what our game plan looks like.”
So, why not two “Xs?” Just “S” and “8” randomly?
“No, that’s not random. Just means something to me. It’s a personal thing.”