This is the transcript of Earl Mitchell’s first conference call as a member of the 49ers.
Q: Tell us about your meeting with the 49ers and the first impression they made on you.
MITCHELL: Right off the bat I could tell it was a first-class organization. They treated me with a lot of respect. I was happy to be here because there are a lot of familiar faces that have helped me with my career. So I was really excited to be there, and I had a great time when I was there.
Q: Talk about those familiar faces, the coaches that you’re going to be working with.
MITCHELL: I’ve worked with the D-line coach, Jeff Zgonina, in the past, and he’s somebody I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He played 17 years in the league on the interior. That was a big factor for me. They have DeMeco Ryans on the staff, which was big for me also because I know the type of player he is, I know how smart of a person he is. And just the fact that we played together. I can tell they’re building a family-type environment there. That’s something I wanted to be a part of with Coach Shanahan and everyone else that’s part of their staff.
Q: Did you meet with Kyle Shanahan first or John Lynch? How did that go down?
MITCHELL: I met with both of them probably simultaneously most of the time. I just got the right vibe from them. They wanted a guy that goes about it the right way. I’m fortunate to hear and listen to the things they’ve expressed about me, and those things I want to live up to, things I appreciate them saying about me as a person and a player.
Q: What other teams offered you contracts?
MITCHELL: I flew to Seattle, I flew to Denver and I was in Atlanta. I had a few other offers but those were the only visits that I took.
Q: What traits do you bring to this defense?
MITCHELL: I bring leadership. I can help out a lot of the younger guys, help out their games. And I’m a guy that you can rely on to be accountable and do things the right way. The young guys see that. That’s real important to me. I’m a team guy. When it comes to playing, I take a great amount of pride in run defense and I like to get a lot of the young guys together, make sure that we’re watching enough tape and making sure that we’re all prepared. I’m always one of those guys that you can rely on if you want to get extra work in and stuff like that.
Q: You’re going to a team that was 2-14 last season. Were there any concerns about the state of the franchise, not knowing how many years you might have left? And if so, were some of those concerns eased by meeting with some of the people you mentioned?
MITCHELL: I’m not one of those type of guys that look into the past. I’m always looking ahead. Every year is different in this league – that’s one thing I know about playing in this league. When it comes to thinking like that, there’s another way of thinking. I’m excited to playing with guys I’m familiar with, and I can continue to grow and learn. That’s always what it’s been about for me. I’m just excited to be there. That’s really all I’m thinking about.
Q: In terms of your health, you missed the first half of last season with a calf injury. Is that an issue going forward that you have to monitor during the offseason?
MITCHELL: It’s definitely something that I work on, but I was able to finish the season strong which was important to me. Obviously I had that injury, but once I came back I was fine. In this league you get injured and stuff, but sometimes you’ve got to deal with those type of growing pains. I worked through it and ended up ultimately being fine.
Q: You played in that Niners game. What do you recall from that game and the way Colin Kaepernick almost led them back?
MITCHELL: That was a great game. That was a tough game. It really came down to the last second. I know that this team plays with a tenacity and I’m familiar with it. I just remember playing against those guys and I know that there’s so much promise and I’m looking forward to being part of the getting-over-the-hump aspect, I guess you could say.
Q: Do you expect to be playing nose tackle?
MITCHELL: It’s hard to say right now. I plan on playing the interior for the most part, maybe switching back and forth. That’s obviously one of my strengths, but it’s hard to say right now.