SANTA CLARA — Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst spoke in the 49ers’ auditorium Monday morning. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“No real early statement other than it’s good to be back to camp. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I will try to answer as many questions truthfully and quickly as possible because we are still on the clock.”
What have you seen from the first couple practices?
“We spent that offseason having a plan. Right now, three days into it, nothing tragic has happened. So we are just trying to stay with the plan. Good depth, so we can get through several different personnel groups, get people on the field. Get them back to football.”
How fluid is your first group of offensive linemen? Are you pretty committed to that?
“Yeah, any camp you are fluid just because you are trying to see the combinations. I think it’s pretty natural, ‘Hey, who’s out there when you break the huddle first?’ The first thing you notice is [G/T Alex] Boone on the left side, but that’s a good thing. It’s good for him to be next to [T] Joe [Staley]. It’s also a good thing if Joe’s not taking camp reps, we have the versatility to move Boone out to left tackle. Then he can still play on the right side where he’s been, so we feel that’s old-hat. So creating versatility in any offensive line, swing guys, guards that can play center and centers that can play guard like C Marcus Martin. That’s all good but yeah it is fluid. Especially, we haven’t even put the pads on.”
So as camp goes on you expect to try…
“Yeah and I think the preseason games are good for the young linemen. Because how do you simulate game speed? Like I said, we haven’t had the pads on. Then you put the pads on, that’s always an interesting first day. But you’re really trying to build to have a little bit of combinations available for that game down in Houston, which is your first preseason game. So we’ll see.”
A lot of talk about QB Colin Kaepernick’s offseason work with Kurt Warner. What are your impressions of how he’s looking so far and does he look that different?
“I think probably Kurt was curious to see how he was looking. So, he came yesterday. We had a nice conversation. Having been around Kap for four years, I think it’s great that every offseason Kap wants to have a plan to get better. He’s traveled to Atlanta. He’s traveled to Miami. He’s traveled to Arizona. Maybe it has something to do with the destination locations. But he’s worked hard at it and I think he’s continuing to improve. I don’t know if he’s tapped out. When you talk to some older quarterbacks, they very rarely threw in the offseason. They wanted to save their arms for the season. Kap’s a different athlete. I mean he’s chomping at the bit a week afterwards. Having a plan and then executing the plan. So we will see, got to get to games too. We can work on the practice range all we want on our drive or our chip, but let’s get to the games. And we’ll see then.”
One of the things Kurt has talked about is the touch. That Colin can improve in that area. Have you seen it through the offseason program and the first two days? That he’s picking his spots?
“Yeah and I thought there was a growth with Kap from year one to year two, year two to year three. So you want to see that same growth. What we are talking about more is reading the body language of some of these new receivers. So you’re trying to hit a pass to [WR] Torrey [Smith], well you kind of have to read his body language. Or, [RB] Reggie [Bush], what’s his body language? We talk about communication all the time that’s part of camp. Calling a play in the huddle is communication. But a lot of it is just reading the body language and understanding that chemistry that is hard to develop overtime especially when you’re in the huddle together for the first time.”
You do have a few new wide receivers. Can you go over a few of those guys? Just what makes them unique? Start with Torrey Smith.
“First off, what a great combination because Torrey and [WR] Anquan [Boldin] were together in Baltimore and it’s a genuine friendship, which is great. If the roster churns every year, what is it in the NFL? 30 percent every year, how do you build that chemistry up? So, their collective experience in Baltimore and their genuine friendship counts. Then you have other guys that have been on the roster who have been waiting in the wings, chomping at the bit. We saw [WR] Bruce Ellington at the end of last season. I think he’s excited about being in camp. [WR] Quinton Patton, remember he played when Bruce went down. He’s also excited about camp and I think that we need to get him opportunities and at bats when Colin’s the quarterback and when [QB] Blaine’s [Gabbert] the quarterback and rotate through. So those are the people. Then you bring in the new guys. What a great job that our scouting staff has done bringing in Flipper Anderson’s son, [WR] Dres [Anderson]. He gives us a real nice speed element. You’ll look back and he’s motivated to show people that he thought he could have been drafted. He battled through an injury. We’re happy to have him. Then a lot of people talking about [WR] DeAndrew White for the same reason. He was at Alabama, talented team. He worked through some injuries in college. That sometimes makes you stronger. But we are thrilled to have him on our team. We feel like that’s a really nice young group of guys to go along with this mix of veterans.”
One more guy, WR Jerome Simpson. He comes in with the reputation of…
“We all remember the first time were probably conscious of him he’s flipping over the Arizona Cardinals when he was playing for Cincinnati. He’s got that live body that you love to see. He made a beautiful play yesterday, those of you who were there. What great effort. That’s what you’ve seen about the whole room. The way that room has been made, there’s a lot of energy and a lot of effort. And a little bit like they say in baseball if hitting is contagious maybe receiving is contagious. The tight ends and the deep mix as receivers, we love camp. We probably need a few more reps to get them all what they want. But they are coming off the ball and running so that we can work on our timing.”
What did you mean by reading the body language? Is that on a back shoulder throw or to lead–?
“Let’s take a traditional offseason, we are restricted to seven weeks. The first three weeks on air. Well, the game as its evolved, especially in the pass game, is the guy open or not open? And sometimes you’re going to have somebody wide open, especially in college. In the pros those windows are much smaller. But I might have leverage on him and so based on the body language of the defender in the relation to, there was a beautiful throw that Blaine made to [TE Blake] Bell in the first practice. Kind of down the seam for those of you that were there if you can remember it. That was a pretty tight window, but when you watch it on tape, what Blaine saw was a window of opportunity based on where Blake’s body language was and where the linebacker was. So, you take that as growth. Now, can you take that from the practice field to a preseason game and then from a preseason game into the regular season? But as coaches you remember that play and that sticks out. That is a specific example of a body language throw where you wouldn’t have gotten the on air stuff and you need the defense contesting the throw. It’s a contested throw.”
In terms of your tempo, is there a time on the play clock, is there a time on the play clock where you like to be at the line of scrimmage? And how might that tempo play to Kap’s strengths?
“When you are in the huddle or you’re communicating, you are just getting the play and going to the line. So the tempo you can watch maybe on the tape, the coach’s tape of where that play clock was when you broke the huddle. You can take into accounting of it. But it’s really more of a feel. What we often say is, ‘I know if I’m driving down the boulevard and the speed limit is 35, I’m kind of at 35 but I’m not always glancing down at the speedometer.’ Same thing with the play clock, I kind of know where I am with the play clock, but I’m not constantly glancing up at it. What you’re trying to build is the luxury of time at the line of scrimmage, luxury to change a play, luxury to maybe catch a defense who isn’t quite lined up. So, we are practicing it and we like where we are so far. But we need to get better at that. And again, that idea of communication in camp. What do coaches love about camp, hey we get to work on communication, breaking the huddle, executing plays. So that gives us an opportunity to do that in camp.”
How does that relate to you to? Do you have a time that you need to get the call to Steve?
“Yeah it does, I think you want to have streamlined communication. Sometimes you see, again to use other sports, a basketball timeout where the guys got a grease board and he’s drawing up the play and everybody is supposed to be paying attention. We always laugh sometimes because maybe two guys are paying attention and everyone else is watching what’s going on. So our opportunity to communicate concisely and being on the same page so that you don’t have to get grease board out to communicate. Same thing is true in a huddle. We’re trying to communicate the play without having a whole grease board to detail it out. That’s what camp is for.”
Tomsula has talked a lot about 22 seconds.
Do you say ‘I need to get this call to quarterbacks coach Steve Logan by 35?
“The way I see it is Jimmy T is an excellent street cop with the radar gun making sure that you are going 35. And we’re just executing within that comfort zone, and again, we’ve all driven down a street. You kind of know when you’re scooting. You kind of know when you’re behind or late or you feel like you’ve got to get to, that you’re kind of above the speed limit. And then there’s times when it’s just nice and relaxing and you’re right in, kind of in rhythm. I would say that Jimmy T’s done a great job of being that guy that’s accountable, so that we can be accountable to him. But when you’re within the context of it, you’re just running another play.”
During the practices, I see Steve radioing the play in. Are you also, is he going off a script or are you talking to him and the–?
“Good question. And both, really. What you want to simulate and you see that as a change, Jimmy T is very specific about how he wants where the offense and defenses are. In fact, not just off the field but in the box, which makes it game like. It’s kind of fun for the players who are out there. It’s frustrating for some of our coaches because they want to get in the ear to coach. But that simulation, I think, will pay benefits for both offense and the defense because there is a substitution opportunity, there is a in the huddle, out of the huddle opportunity and then go. So, we’re practicing it right off the bat. One of these days you may see me 20 rows up, instead of going all the way up to the press box, but you’d like to eliminate it and make it as game like as possible knowing that it’s still practice.”
You guys have such a deep group of running backs, is the plan to give RB Carlos Hyde the snaps that Indianapolis Colts RB Frank Gore has gotten in previous years or to have more of a three back rotation that splits them up?
“You know, that’s a great question because that’s what we need camp to find out and will probably have to use some of the preseason games to find out as well. Carlos is looking great out there. He’s done a really nice job in the offseason program, along with the rest of our team. We want to give him his opportunities. And then [RB] Kendall [Hunter], another one of those great stories, coming back from injury. What a great personal story for an athlete. You got to work through things and you come back. But we feel that’s there real nice depth there. They all give us a little bit something new and different. Now, we’ve got to work on rounding out everyone’s game so you don’t have the ‘Hey, Reggie’s the receiving back, hey Carlos is the running, running back.’ We’d like to have versatility in each of those guys and I think that paying attention to the practices, I think you’re seeing that. Guys running the ball who are good runners but guys who are catching the ball who are also good runners.”
TE Blake Bell has made a lot of catches during team drills this offseason. What is your impression?
“What a great kid. We all remember him from his Oklahoma days as the “Belldozer” and if you think about it, a lot of publicity about him and his quarterback skills, and what a great quarterback and athlete he was. Oklahoma invests time, you know, Kap had the pistol offense, we know that Oklahoma had an offense for Blake. And then, he’s got to deal with well, we’ve got another guy called Trevor Knight, and he was willing as a teammate to switch positions late in his college career. We think he’s only tapping into, here’s a guy 6-6, I think he weighed in at over 260 pounds, but what you see when you watch him on the field isn’t size or girth, you’re seeing an athleticism, a savvy, an ability to really be a nice weapon. So as a young receiver, he’s got a lot of attributes. Now, we’ve got to teach him, lets block at the line of scrimmage against NFL defensive linemen and then we’ll even try to use him and see what his versatility is. But right now, it’s a great piece to have in camp and one that, there’s no doubt, you showed up, you look up, ‘Hey, who was that? It was 84.’ What a great thing. And our personal opinion, I think, he’s probably drafted a little bit below if he had played tight end his full four years, I think he’d of been right up there with the best in this group. Again, what a great job by our scouts. Thrilled to have him, and we can’t wait in camp, today I can’t wait to see what he does today. It’s that kind of talent.”
Kurt Warner talked yesterday about the hardest thing for an athletic quarterback is deciding this pass play isn’t going to work and I’m going to use my legs. He said he wasn’t much use to Kaepernick on that. What is your philosophy on that and what do you want to see from him?
“The best line I’ve heard, probably in the last year about that was when Z, Michael Zagaris our photographer who was working our San Diego game at night. If you think [San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip] Rivers is doing a great job of getting rid of the ball out of the pocket, and he said, ‘Philip Rivers looks like a Venezuelan shortstop.’ But he had so many arm angles because he wasn’t going to run with the ball. That’s not what his game was. Where you look back through the years, people will use [QB] Michael Vick as a point of reference for an athletic quarterback. Think back to [QB] Randall Cunningham. But you look some of those guys statistics up, they get sacked a lot because they’re looking to make that dynamic play because they have rare attributes. And so, there’s discretion. And how do you do it? You got to practice it. Kap was out of the pocket on the first play of team yesterday, and he kind of thought he saw Anquan, so he thought he’s going to have fun and cut one loose. Now, he had 20 yards to run and can step out of bounds. As a coach, you gently remind him that that might have been the best choice. But he’s back to camp and he’s having fun and right now those turnovers are calorie free, but we know we’ve got to tighten that down once the games begin. That’s using his athletic ability but then, ends up being a negative. So, that’s camp. Welcome to camp.”
You’ve got a number of young offensive linemen. How much of a benefit is it for them to have to go against a guy like LB Aldon Smith on a daily basis?
“Just talking to [DL] Tony Jerod-Eddie, what a great, and you know it’s only naturally for fans and people to concentrate on who have you lost on a team or on a defense. We’re looking at them every day, who they have and the improvements that a lot of these guys have made. Specifically Aldon, he looks like his rookie year. He was so long and athletic when he came in in 2011, that you really didn’t want to single block him at any point in time. It seems like he’s back to it. On the other side, [LB] Ahmad [Brooks], we could not complete a pass. I think the same athletic skills that Ahmad has, he’s come into camp with great shape. So, across the waterfront, with those interior defensive linemen plus those outside guys, I think it’s a real competition, something to follow in camp here. I think it gives us tremendous depth right now. Especially if we’ve got the second offensive line in there and they’ve got their first unit in there, we’ve got to figure out a way to hold our own because it’s a talented group.”
First padded practice tomorrow, what’s the plan with RB Jarryd Hayne? Are you kind of going to throw him in the fire or do you protect him–?
“He’s been phenomenal. I mean, he’s catching punts. You’ve got to think it’s a different shape ball then he’s used to. He’s got great hand eye coordinator. He’s really made strides under [running backs coach] Tom Rathman of picking up blitzes, defensive recognition. It’s really been amazing. So, he’s one of those things, now, always when you put pads on, pad level is always the number one thing you try to get people down. I hope he keeps his pads down as he runs through the line. He’s going to have fun with it but that’s one thing that you always needs reps at the first couple of days is pad level. You put the pads on, you want to hit somebody, but we’ve got to play with our pad level down.”
So he’ll get some carries?
“Yeah, I think so. I’m anxious to see him and again, we do a great job of practicing where you’re not lighting people up, but I think it’ll be great for him. The sound the pads make, I think it’ll be good for him to hear, you know, in the blocking game. He’s such a great natural athlete, we’ll see where this goes. You’ll see it just as soon as we will. I think there’ll be a humorous moment and then there’ll be maybe a wow moment and it might all be in the same practice.”