This is the transcript of Jim Tomsula’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
“Good morning. Injuries, we had three surgeries yesterday, [RB] Reggie Bush, [S] L.J. McCray, and [RB] Michael Davis. Reggie and L.J. had their knees, and Michael had his hand. Reggie’s been put on IR. I don’t have anything with the other two at this time. [LB NaVorro] Bowman, he’ll be off today, again, as usual. [TE Garrett] Celek is going through a concussion protocol. [CB Kenneth] Acker, after the game we checked him out, the ribs and the neck, he wasn’t feeling well yesterday. So, they did a concussion check on him yesterday, so he’s working through that. They’re just wanting to make sure they’re on top of it. After the game he just had ribs and a neck, said he was fine otherwise. And then, [WR Anquan] Boldin and [RB Carlos] Hyde, they’re still working their way back. They won’t be out there today, but again, that’s day-to-day.”
Before we get onto other things, was McCray an ACL?
“No. No, it was not.”
Is Acker in the concussion protocol now?
“I believe so. Anytime there is anything there they suspect, they put him right in.”
Any update on G/C Daniel Kilgore this week? Any change?
“Not today. Again, we’re getting into some things here, but today, no. So, that’s it with that.”
Additional opening comments:
“Obviously, we’ve had some roster moves and things the past few days. We said goodbye to a good Niner, a guy who’s done a lot here and we wish him the best, [TE] Vernon Davis. With Reggie Bush, he’s out. We signed [RB] Shaun Draughn and [RB] Pierre Thomas, two savvy guys. They’ve got years in the league and veteran guys, so they are getting up to speed. And then obviously with the quarterback, I met with the quarterbacks yesterday, or Monday, and I’ve made the decision to go with [QB] Blaine Gabbert this week. It was a tough decision, all of those decisions are tough, but I feel that’s the direction we need to go. So, that’s where we are there. Questions?”
And what led to that decision?
“Me. Watching, feeling, where I’m at. I just decided that now is the time.”
Is this a temporary move or do you expect that it could be permanent if Blaine plays well enough?
“Well, it’s this week. Going into Atlanta, Blaine Gabbert will be our quarterback.”
Is it just that you saw Colin maybe making repeated mistakes again and again and not improving in the same situations or more that you felt, I mean, can you be a little more specific maybe about what–?
“Well, Mindi, Colin, and you all know this, the respect that I have for Colin Kaepernick, Colin Kaepernick’s a Niner. And, the respect I have for him and the way he works, and just what he’s all about, and he’s such a competitive guy. Obviously, he wants to keep working through. In no way is 2-6 all on Colin Kaepernick. That’s all of us. That’s all of us, everybody here in the Niners. We all take a big chunk of that. That’s a concerted effort that needs to change. But, this was just a decision that I just felt like I wanted Colin to step back and breathe and look at things through a different lens. Keep preparing, keep doing his thing, keep working, but just step back. Take a look at things. That’s what I want.”
What are you hoping that Gabbert can give you moving forward that Colin could not?
“Well, and again, with Blaine Gabbert, Blaine’s been here for two years and I’ve watched Blaine get better every day. I’ve watched the way he goes about his business. I’ve watched the balls that he throws. I’ve watched how he practices. I watch his seriousness in the way he’s prepared every week since he’s been here and he’s a competitive guy.”
Your predecessor used the “hot hand” analogy a couple of years ago. Is that what you’re saying, that this will be a per-week decision and whoever you think has the best chance that week will be the starting quarterback?
“I don’t want to compare any situations to any situations. This is its own decision, a decision I made and it’s going into the Atlanta Falcons game. Blaine Gabbert will be our starting quarterback this week and that’s all I have to say on that.”
Have you made any other changes to the offensive starting unit, including the line?
“Not going to get into a lot of things but we’ve got some – looking at some combinations and looking at some things throughout the team.”
When you say you want him, Colin, to step back and take a look at things, what do you mean exactly?
“Just, look, you’re in there, you’re in the grind, it’s a 2-6 season. And again, one guy doesn’t own it. We all own it. That position gets way more credit than it should when you win and it gets way more junk than it should when you lose. It’s just that pile, it just keeps getting bigger and I just want him out of there. This is a guy I care about a lot. This is a guy that I respect a lot. This is a guy that I think has talent. It’s just me, what I’m watching, what I’m feeling and I want him to just step back. Keep working, let’s do our thing and move forward.”
Is part of that decision though, when you said what you’re watching and what you’re feeling is maybe a change might also help other players in the offense just maybe with some of their frustrations, even though they may not be directed at Colin?
“Yes. You’re surmising what I’m trying to say. It’s all of us. Offensively the entire offense needs to play better, needs to coach better. We need to do everything better.”
Just to clarify, is this 100-percent your decision?
Did you talk with general manager Trent Baalke or CEO Jed York before making it?
“Yeah. I watched. I don’t want to go through all of the names, but I watched tape, had my feelings and talked with the offensive coaches and then went upstairs and let them know what my decision was.”
This is a pretty dramatic move considering that Colin signed a large contract. He’s signed through 2020. I mean, it seems to be very much an organizational shift for the future of this franchise in a lot of ways. Are you saying there wasn’t any conversation with Trent and Jed and president Paraag Marathe leading up to this? How much involved were they or did you use them as a sounding board?
“I spoke to them about what I was feeling and what I thought. No, absolutely. Why I thought it, what my reasons are and explained that to them.”
ME: What does Blaine Gabbert do well on the field?
“The ball he throws. The preparation. Again, we’re talking about what we’ve seen preseason and in practice. He has done nothing but improve in the way he’s throwing the football and the way he handles the offense. I just like what he’s doing and I want to put him in there.”
You’ve referenced the fact that Colin can kind of carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, wants to succeed, all that. Did you feel like the burden and that weight had just become too heavy for him?
“No. I felt like we kept putting more of that on him.”
More of what?
“That weight. When your team is 2-6. The briefs and the clips that I get that’s where it starts and stops most of the time, on that position. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but that’s where it’s been. Where does it all go? I just want to move you out of there. This isn’t a blame or an indictment of one guy. This is a guy that I’ve got a lot of respect for.”
Can you give us an idea of Colin’s reaction when you sat down with him and talked about this change?
“Obviously, knowing Colin, he’s competitive. Colin’s going to keep fighting his way through everything. The competitiveness in that guy is second to none. You all know that. And he wants to fight right through it. He’s going to keep going. His reaction was exactly what I thought it would be. But, Colin will be a tremendous teammate. He’ll give everything to this team that he gives and he’ll keep working hard and he’ll prepare and Colin will be a wonderful teammate.”
At what point did you become convinced that this move needed to be made and had you contemplated it earlier?
“No. Just as I’ve gone through every week, I go through and we look at everything. Just watching that film after the game.”
You were here in 2012 when the switch was made to Colin and some people might argue that Colin played better because he might have been competing for that job with Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith during that season. Do you think that competition could potentially spur something from him this season?
“I don’t know that. In the game of football competition is at every place and I think it’s a very healthy thing everywhere. Not relative to one position, but to every position on our field. Competition doesn’t do anything. What is that (saying) in our weight room in there – ‘iron sharpens iron.’ Competition is never a bad thing. But, I’m not comparing this to any other situation. I’m not comparing this to anything. This is one thing. A decision I’ve made. That’s what it is.”
I just want to clarify, you made the comment, you suggested earlier that kind of the noise outside influenced this?
“No. That’s not what I mean. I mean, in this game as you all do your jobs and everything that goes into this game. What’s the one position? That’s not an indictment on anyone. But what’s the one position when teams are winning, where does the lens go? When teams aren’t winning, where does the lens go? That’s just that position. That’s what it is. That’s why it’s the most important position in all of sports. So, to clear up what I meant – that’s what I mean.”