SANTA CLARA — Here’s the transcript of Curtis Modkins’ Tuesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Well, coming off a, it was good to get a win. That was great. I thought the guys played well. Obviously we had some, starting off the game, we didn’t start quite the way we wanted to, but I thought our guys responded and we did a lot of good things. We had a lot of young players do some good things. We’ve had a ton to fix from the film, but that’s to be expected in the preseason. If you guys have any questions, let’s go at it.”
A couple of your early drives have stalled in the first two games. Is that a timing issue? Is it a rhythm issue? How can you get things going faster in these upcoming games?
“Well, that’s something we’ve addressed. I would say it was probably more an execution deal. We had a couple breakdowns to start off the game. The good thing is that we were able to address that and we were able to fix it and the guys came out and responded. We’ll continue to work on that and we’ll continue to stress it, but I thought they responded to that pretty good.”
How are you guys approaching the whole situation with figuring out who your starting offensive linemen are and then start the process of cross-training the right tackle who doesn’t win it or the inside guy to have flexibility and versatility to suit-up on game days?
“Well, I think that’s one of the keys in this league to have that mindset from the beginning. And I think [offensive line coach Pat Flaherty] Flats has done a good with just mixing guys around. We try to expose them, not only on the field with what you guys see, but in the classroom. We try to expose them to everything because the final fit is you’d like to get the top seven or eight or whatever on the roster and then on game day the top five. So, it changes. Being able to mix them up, play different positions is critical. We’ve tried to do that. We’ll continue to do that and see where it all falls.”
Did T Anthony Davis play right guard in practice yesterday?
“Yeah, I think he took a few snaps there.”
In his limited reps there, how has he played and what have your impressions been?
“Anthony’s been fine. He’s been fine in every aspect, practice, meetings he’s been fine. He was fine yesterday. With him, it’s a deal of him being comfortable. So, we’ll try to get him more and we’ll see where he’s at and there’s no decision’s being made yet. We’ll see where he’s at. He gives us, the more he can play, all of them, the more positions they can play, the better for us.”
What did you see from QB Colin Kaepernick in practice yesterday and where does he currently stand in that quarterback competition?
“I thought Colin was fine yesterday. I don’t think there’s anything different as far as where he stands in the competition. We’ll see how the week goes, see how he progresses and see what happens on Friday.”
The third preseason game is typically a time where the starters get their last kind of bulk of time together before the season starts. Is this an unusual situation maybe for this team? Is there just more that needs to be determined in this third preseason game than if this team had been together longer under this coaching staff?
“I don’t know if it’s unusual. I think each team you have to deal with certain things and no matter how it’s normally done we’re going to do things our way regardless. And, we’ll see in this third game how the game goes and who all gets what snaps and how many. We’ll kind of determine that on how the game flow goes.”
Can you talk about WR Devon Cajuste? He obviously transitioned from tight end to now a wide receiver.
Yeah, he also made a nice 40-yard catch downfield, gaining inside leverage and then stacking the cornerback up top. What have you see from him in terms of his adjustment to the wide receiver position?
“That’s the coach in you, huh? Inside leverage, stacking the cornerback, I like that. He did good. He’s been steady. Obviously, he’s an intelligent guy. He’s a smart football player. He does what he’s coached to do and he did exactly that on that play. It was good to see him go make a play.”
What does TE Vance McDonald do so well as opposed to TE Garrett Celek? Are they similar, different when you look at those two tight ends?
“I think Vance has done a good job and I don’t look at it as opposed to Garrett. Vance happened to be in when the read took the ball to him. So, it’s nothing planned. It’s not that Garrett hasn’t done a good job because I think he has. Vance has made some plays for us and hopefully he’ll continue and I think Garrett will have his fair chance to make some too.”
We saw G Zane Beadles snapping the ball early in practice. Did he do that throughout the day? Is he getting cross-trained at center a little bit?
“We’re just trying to see what everybody can do. Let’s just see it because you never know what’s going to happen. In the course of a season, you never know what’s going to happen, who’s going to have to play what and the more they’re exposed to now, that’s what training camp’s about. We’re still in training camp. The more they’re exposed to now, the better we are in the long run.”
What’s your assessment of QB Blaine Gabbert through the first two preseason games?
“Blaine’s done a good job. I was pleased with what he did. I like to see how he started and he responded. He got the team moving. So, I think Blaine’s done a good job. He’s been accurate with the ball. All our quarterbacks have, and I think Blaine’s been good.”
What’s the best way to coach ball security for your running backs?
“Well, you just have to emphasize it. We talk about it a lot. [Running backs] Coach [Tom] Rathman does a good job in his drills. We address it. Obviously, that’s got to improve. You can’t win many games in this league turning the ball over three times. But, coach Rathman, I think he’s been coaching 19 years or so, his backs are number one as far as turning the ball over, fewest amount. So, he knows what he’s doing. We’ve just got to continue to emphasize it, not only with that position, but all our players. There are some that you may not see that it resulted in a fumble, but the ball security wasn’t where it needed to be. We try to coach that into everybody.”
If you’re happy with Blaine and he’s doing a good job, why not name him the starter now?
“It’s not time. It’s a competition and Kap hasn’t had a chance to perform yet. So, when that happens and when [head] coach [Chip Kelly] feels like it’s time, we’ll do that. But, right now it’s not time. We’ve still got a ways to go before we play.”
During your running back days, did you ever get any great ball security coaching tips?
“Yeah. We were playing University of Arkansas. We were up 21-0. This was back in the Southwest Conference days. I tried to jump over somebody and I hit the top of, it was [former NFL head coach] Barry Switzer’s son. I flipped over, fumbled, got the ball the next series, fumbled again, they end up winning and they told me if I did it again I’d never play again. So, that was my tip. So, I fixed it. I didn’t jump over anybody anymore.”
Did you fumble again in college?
“Maybe once or twice, but not after that.”
Was it just fear that–?
“No. You know, you’re trying so hard out there. You’ve just got to train your body that when you’re making moves, when you’re doing things, you have to keep the ball connected to your body. You have to keep your wrist up. You have to keep the nose of the ball up. Sometimes, when you’re trying to make moves and you’re spinning and you’re dodging, you tend to let the ball separate. So, I just had to train myself. And our guys work hard at that. Our coaches work hard at making sure the ball’s in the correct position.”
WR Bruce Ellington said yesterday he really wants to take all the return reps, you know with kicks and punts. Given that he could have a significant role in this offense working out of the slot, where do you stand on him getting all that extra work and whether or not he should be doing that or not?
“That’s not my department. I think our coaches will do what’s best for the team. I don’t have any issues with that.”
When he’s been out there practicing, what have your impressions been of him entering this season?
“Good. I was impressed with Bruce. I’ve been impressed with Bruce and I look forward to him getting out there and getting with it.”