SANTA CLARA — Curtis Modkins spoke in the 49ers’ media tent Wednesday morning. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Good morning. Good to see you all. Well, it was good to get a couple days off the kind of mini-bye deal and be able to sit down, reevaluate and look at some things. So, there’s not probably a whole lot of reason to go back to last week. I’m sure you guys probably have some questions so we’ll just go ahead and get into it.”
What are you most curious to see from QB Colin Kaepernick in a game atmosphere now?
“Well, him moving the football team and scoring points and helping us win on offense. Kap has been here before. Kap has done it before. He’s no stranger to being a starting quarterback in this league and we look forward to seeing him move the football team.”
Will you tailor the offense from one guy to the other? Does one guy do things better than the other guy does and you can call plays to that effect?
“No, I don’t think we change. I think both guys are similar enough. We don’t change what we do.”
The transition of G Joshua Garnett from both sides, I know he started off at right, then left then, now back to right. Why move him around like that?
“Well, I think part of developing an offensive line is you have to have some multiplicity with guys being able to play different positions. When you’re trying to get to know a player, get to know a team, get to know a unit, especially offensive line, I think it helps to get guys experience at a different position so we know what we have. Josh has done a good job and we look forward to him continuing to develop.”
Is he starting Sunday?
“I don’t know. We got him a couple plays in the game because of the way the game fell out. Hopefully we’re able to continue that, but no decision has been made about him being a starter, no.”
What has he done since the beginning of the regular season to put himself in that position to get 18 snaps Thursday and be considered–?
“Well, he’s worked hard. He’s gotten better in practice. He’s learning what we do. Obviously he’s a talented player. He’s like any other young player on our team, they all need to continue working and continue to improve. But, I think Josh is on the right track.”
Can you talk about the play of WR Jeremy Kerley? He’s been targeted 23 times in the last two games, went over 100-yards for the first time I think since 2012. Are you surprised at all at his progress at all being a late addition to your football team?
“Well, Jeremy obviously has done a good job for us. Some of the things we’ve seen schematically versus the defense that we played have been conducive for us to give him some targets. He’s done a good job, made the most of them. Jeremy has always had ability. He’s been a good player in this league for a few years. I’ve known him since he’s been in college. He came out, so I’m not surprised at all that he’s done good. I’m looking forward to that continuing and I feel he’ll even get better.”
Some metrics say that QB Blaine Gabbert was really struggling in throws, deep throws, beyond 20 yards? Was that an area that, are those throws part of this change and do you guys need to push the ball downfield and maybe open up things for the running game?
“I think we need to improve in all areas of offensive football. I don’t think that’s a single one defining deal. We made a change because we felt like this gives us the best chance to win on Sunday and moving forward, so that’s why the change was made. But, to point to a specific metric would be probably unfair because a lot goes into being able to get the ball down the field. Protecting, the routes, there’s a lot of other things involved in that.”
After having that shoulder issue early in the preseason, how has Kaepernick looking in terms of his arm strength?
“I think Kap’s getting better and better every day.”
You’ve talked a lot about getting the ball down the field. Is it important to be able to get it downfield better than you have been?
“Yeah, I think it’s important that we hit some of our downfield throws. Yep.”
How was yesterday’s practice? I mean, how did Kaepernick look? I think WR Torrey Smith said that they seemed to have a good rapport, hooked up on a couple.
“Yeah, I think he looked good. Today will be another shot for us to come out and get better. Now, good one day is not good enough in this league. We try to get better every day and that’s not only with Kap, but every other position on the team.”
What was the energy like after the–?
“I thought it was good. The guys had a few days off. That’s something we talked about this morning. We’ve got to pick that up too, but I thought yesterday they came out and they ran around good.”
In your experience, can changing a quarterback provide a spark to the rest of the offense?
“I don’t know about sparks. We think it will give us the best chance to win on Sunday. I’m not into sparks or anything like that. So, I’m anticipating that it gives us the best chance and that’s the decision we made. It wasn’t about a spark. I think we all have got to be better around whoever the quarterback is, me included.”
You guys gave up seven sacks last week. When reviewing the game film, was that more indicative on the fact that it was missed assignments or is that just miscommunication along the offensive line as a whole?
“I don’t think there were missed assignments involved. I don’t think it was miscommunication. Maybe slow communication. I just think we’ve got to do a more effective job of blocking. And I’m not just talking about up front. There’s a lot things involved with that. Backs, we’ve got to do a better job of blocking there. Up front, there’s some things they did that we knew they were going to do. We’ve just got to do a better job. We’ve got to get the ball out. There’s a lot that goes into whether you get a sack or not. So, it wasn’t that idea of not knowing what was going on. I thought we had a good idea of what they were going to do.”
Head coach Chip Kelly said the Cardinals were doing a lot of twists and stunts and things like that. Was that first time or the most that you’ve seen that from your opponents?
“No, not the first time. But, they did beat us on a couple twist games and definitely not the first time. We’ve just got to be better at picking that up. Our defense does it. We’ve just got to get better at picking it up.”
What strikes you most about the Bills pass rush and their ability to get after you?
“Well, they’re like any other [Buffalo Bills head coach] Rex Ryan defense. They can pass rush you in a lot of different ways with a lot of different people. In their normal pass rush, they have a really effective, really good pass rusher in [Buffalo Bills LB] Jerry Hughes and then on the other end, they’ve got a guy that’s leading the league in sacks right now. So, they’ve got some individual guys that can rush the passer. They’ve got inside guys in [Buffalo Bills DT] Kyle Williams, who I was with for three years, who really understands get off and how to get to the pass rusher and they’ll get I’m sure [Buffalo Bills DT] Marcell Dareus will be back. He’s a really good pass rusher. So, they’re able to generate it with different people, but in their base pass rush they have good people doing it.”
The Bills are known to have a rabid fan base. Is that game day experience there different or unique?
“It’s fun. It’s a really good game day experience. I think our guys will be excited for it. Only bad part about it is when we drive up, there’ll be some good food I’ll be smelling in the parking lot. The Bills have great fans. We look forward to going back there.”
Either this week or in the offseason when you’re doing your early preparation, do you pick defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil’s brain, just maybe about some of the nuances of Rex’s scheme?
“Yeah. Jim and I talk all the time about different things. Sometimes that’s part of it, but not that specifically. We talk all the time and bounce ideas off each other. Not only Jim and I, but a lot of our coaches do that. Our wide receivers coach will talk to our DB coach and get ideas and what affects us here or how did you handle this? That happens a lot.”