SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of the 49ers free-agent introductory press conference, courtesy of the 49ers P.R. department.
General manager John Lynch: “Good afternoon to everyone. Check that, it’s a great afternoon. We’re very excited as all 49ers fans should be today. What we’re excited about is this group, starting with [WR] Pierre [Garçon] down there. Let’s see, we’ve got [WR] Marquise [Goodwin], [K] Robbie [Gould], [QB] Brian [Hoyer], [head coach Kyle Shanahan] he’s been here, [FB] Kyle [Juszczyk], [TE] Logan [Paulsen], and [LB] Malcolm [Smith]. We got a haul and I can tell you that Kyle and I and [49ers CEO] Jed [York] and the entire York family, everybody with the 49ers organization is really proud of what we were able to accomplish because we saw guys on film that we loved the film, but there’s more to it as we’ve discussed. We’ve got guys of high character, high character on and off the field. And Kyle does a great job, Kyle Shanahan does a great job of talking about, when we’re watching film, one phrase he uses a lot is ‘What it takes.’ What it takes to win championships and all of these guys fit in that mold. So, we’re thrilled to have them here. I want a couple quick thank yous, [chief strategy officer & executive vice president, Football Operations] Paraag Marathe and his group did a wonderful job. We were busy and did a wonderful job getting all these guys signed and so I want to thank Paraag and his group. I want to thank [vice president of player personnel] Adam Peters and [senior personnel executive] Martin Mayhew on my staff, everybody in personnel and all the coaches, Kyle’s group. They put a lot of hard hours into this. Most of all, I want to thank this guy right next to me because we set out with a vision and it’s really cool a month later to see kind of the fruits of that labor. What we talked about in those first conversations, I think this is a byproduct, these guys are. Without further ado, I’m thrilled and I’m going to turn it over to Kyle.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan: “I think [general manager] John [Lynch] summed it up right there. I don’t have much to say, but we’re pumped to have these guys. John said it the best, that everything with us starts with what we see on tape and all these guys I respect the heck out of them as football players. It starts there, but the tape isn’t where it ends. We want to bring in here high-character people in this building that do things the right way and are football players. We’re very confident in all these guys. It’s going to be part of the process of us winning games. We know it’s going to be hard work. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it and bringing these guys in is going to help us do that. This whole press conference is about the players, so I’d like to quit talking as fast as possible and turn it over to questions for these guys.”
My question is to the two wide receivers, Pierre and Marquise. What was the process like for you guys to want to sign here without there being a quarterback on the roster and what questions did you guys have to have answered and then when you find out, of course, that Brian is coming?
Pierre Garçon: “As receivers making plays in this league, it doesn’t really matter who is throwing you the ball. You know you have to catch it. As soon as the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands, it’s all up to you and we both know we can make plays regardless of who’s throwing us the ball and that’s what we’re going to do on every Sunday, even on the practice field as well. We’re just happy to have a team that wants us, that wants us to be part of the winning and keep it moving forward.”
Marquise, did you have questions about the quarterback situation?
Marquise Goodwin: “Not really. Piggybacking off of what Pierre said, it’s important that we focus on the things that we can bring to the table, catching the ball, getting open. I think that’s what’s most important. Our job is to make the quarterback look good and I’m glad we have Brian here throwing us the ball.”
To Kyle, are you able to confirm QB Matt Barkley being added as well at this point and if so, what about him and Brian drew you to them? What are the characteristics that you like in both of those guys?
Kyle Shanahan: “I can’t confirm Matt yet. I think he’s going through a physical and they still have to sign on paper, so I can’t confirm any of those guys that have been reported. Close, but nothing is set in stone until we get that done. Just bringing Brian in, you look, we told you guys, we’re going to try to improve our team everywhere possible and it starts with free agents and then it goes into the draft and goes to working with the guys we have here. Looking at the whole market, knowing Brian and what he’s done over his career, it always starts with the tape as usual and anybody who studies tape on Brian wherever he’s been, he’s done a great job. Obviously, being able to work with him for the year that I did, that means I knew him. That’s the part of the great character that I talk about. The advantage to having been with someone is you know what type of guy they are. There’s always the risk when you see the tape and you bring someone in that you don’t know, you don’t know exactly what you’re getting that you can’t see on tape. To know the tape, to know the person, was why we really wanted to get him.”
Brian, welcome to the Bay Area. Do you guys think you can recreate what you did in Cleveland, that 7-4 start? Is that what kind of drew you here?
Brian Hoyer: “When you go through this process and you find out what the options are and then my agent tells me that San Francisco wants me and obviously right then and there you’re flattered because Kyle, it’s his first year as a head coach and John as a GM and to know that they want you to help start their era, was very flattering. You talk about a gut feeling, when I knew that I had a chance to work with this guy again, especially, like he mentioned that one year working together, but then you watch him go onto Atlanta and see the things that they do and the year that they had this year offensively, it’s just that gut feeling that I knew that this was the best place for me. I was really excited about the opportunity because I feel like we kind of have some unfinished business from Cleveland. We didn’t get even a full year. So, to get another chance to be in this system, to be around him. He talked about knowing the type of guy I am, I know the type of guy he is too and I know that this is his life and you want to be around a coach like that.”
Brian, can you just elaborate a little more on what it is about Kyle that made this so attractive, and for Pierre and Logan, can you also talk about how your familiarity with Kyle attracted you to come here?
Brian Hoyer: “I think I kind of touched on it. When you get to spend as much time with someone as he and I did that one year, it’s several hours a day for months on end, you get to know them as a person, you get to know them as a coach. And then, for me to see him go on and flourish in Atlanta, just confirmed everything I knew about him. And like I said, when you get the opportunity to come back and play for the guy and really start that era like that, it was just, to me, I knew in my gut that this was the place that was for me. Really, I just had to get my wife on board moving out to California. She said, ‘Who wouldn’t want to live in California?’ So, when I got that answer, I knew this was going to be the place for us.”
Logan Paulsen: “Yeah, I can’t honestly say enough positive things about Kyle Shanahan. I think the way he approaches the game, the way he approaches his preparation, I mean, obviously he’s in this position because he’s a special coach and he’s a special person. I count myself very privileged to play for him again. I’ve had that opportunity in the past. Anybody who’s played for him knows what kind of football mind he is and when you have the opportunity to play with a coach of that caliber, you take that. You jump on that as quick as you can.”
With all due respect to Brian and Matt if he passes his physical, but are you guys done in terms of free agency with quarterbacks or are you still going to look?
Kyle Shanahan: “We’re never done trying to improve our team. We’re going to try to improve our team every single day. The biggest step was the first day of free agency. We’ll continue to look. You rarely take just two guys into a camp. So, I have a pretty good feeling we will add more. I don’t know whether that’ll be through free agency or the draft, but there’s every avenue possible. We don’t limit ourselves to anything. There’s lots of ways to win in this league, usually the best way changes every year because there’s zero absolutes and that’s something John’s staff upstairs and us downstairs, we will never stop working to do. Even if we have six of them, we’re still looking for more. That’s a never-ending process.”
In addition to the seven guys that are sitting up with you guys here, you guys are expected to sign two more free agents in the next couple days. That’s a total of nine signings for the first couple of days in free agency compared to 2016 when the team only signed two free agents. How have you guys approached in changing not only the culture of the 49ers organization, but also making San Francisco a destination for free agents?
John Lynch: “You know, I think we were very strategic setting out with where we felt we needed to improve our team. But then, let’s not do it just with any player. Let’s find if there’s people out there that fit what we’re looking for. And I’ve described, I think that’s one thing we’ve done extremely well is get a great definition, have it clearly defined what we’re looking for at each position and the type of person. That’s what we did from the outset. And so, I think while there’s a lot of numbers, we didn’t reach for anything. We found guys that fit it, if not we’ll wait. So, I think while the numbers are big and we’re really happy about that, we felt like we found guys that we were excited about being here. Not just getting guys because we needed guys.”
My question is for the other Kyle, and I’m not going to be the first one to try and pronounce your last name, but you’re one of the guys that hasn’t played for Kyle in the past. I’m assuming you’ve studied a lot of his offense and the way he uses fullbacks. What about that was appealing to you and do you see this as an opportunity to really expand on what you’ve done in this league already?
Kyle Juszczyk: “Yeah, most definitely. I had watched tape on the Falcons offense last offseason, just because they were one of the best, well, probably the best offense in the NFL last season. I like to watch [Buffalo Bills FB] Patrick DiMarco and kind of see how he was being used and what he was good at and use that to compare with myself. But, when I was going through this process and trying to figure out where I wanted to play and San Francisco was on the table, reached out to a couple players that I had played with and knew my style and had played with coach Shanahan here and they all just had outstanding reviews about his offense and told me how well I would fit in to what we’re trying to do here. So, when I get some seal of approvals from guys like [former Houston Texans TE] Owen Daniels, [Denver Broncos RB] Justin Forsett, [Atlanta Falcons QB] Matt Schaub, that kind of sealed the deal for me and I knew this could be a good place for me.”
John Lynch: “It’s YOOZ-check, right? So, we’re all getting used to it. But, I’ll tell you with Kyle, there were a couple points, just being completely honest where we set out early on and we said that this guy, he’s worth it to us. We’re going to make him the highest paid fullback in football. And what I’ve learned very quickly, the price goes up in free agency when there’s numerous suitors. There were numerous suitors for him and at some, Kyle and I said, ‘Wow. This is getting real.’ But, we both gravitated, I forget who coined it, but we said, ‘Let’s not think of him as a fullback. He’s an OW.’ So, if you see OW, that stands for offensive weapon. We saw an offensive weapon that this guy is thrilled to be able to use in a number of different capacities and I think that kind of is symbolic of our approach. There’s a reason behind each one of these guys and why we felt compelled to go get them and be aggressive in doing so. We were fortunate that we had a lot of room to do so and we still have a lot more room. So, we’re in great position. We have an owner that if we don’t use the room this year, we carry it over until next year. So, we’re really excited about where we’re at.”
My question is for Malcolm Smith. What was appealing, clearly there’s an offensive focus among the group that’s here today, but what was appealing about the 49ers to you as far as a team that had struggled defensively the last couple of years but some of the young players that you see, what made that end of the ball appealing and this to be a new home for you?
Malcolm Smith: “Yeah. I had seen some of the players and I know there was talent there. My familiarity with [defensive coordinator Robert Saleh] coach Saleh played a big factor in that as well. So, it’s one of those things where I’m kind of trusting that the right people are in place and from what I’ve seen, I think that’s the case.”
To follow-up on that, do you see any parallels in when you went to Oakland? You go to Oakland with a defensive coordinator that you knew on a team that was looking to turn things around and did turn things around. Do you see some parallels there?
Malcolm Smith: “Definitely. It’s all about the people. So, I think it’s important that, one of the most important things to management here is the character. That plays a big factor in whether you can turn things around or not. So, I’m glad to be in a good place where that’s important.”
For Pierre, can you talk a little bit about Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen and how important a coach is for your role?
Pierre Garçon: “Clyde is the reason why I’m here. Clyde got me my first year in Indy and he was hard on me. But, he’s a great guy. He’s like a father-figure to me. I still talk to him almost every time I get a chance. I talked to him early in the year last year. He texted me a couple of days ago saying, ‘Congratulations. Don’t change.’ But, he put everything in front of me to be where I’m at. He told me to watch [former Indianapolis Colts WR] Reggie [Wayne], [former Indianapolis Colts WR] Marvin [Harrison], [former Indianapolis Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez] Gonzo, [former Indianapolis Colts TE] Dallas [Clark], [former NFL QB] Peyton [Manning] and he just, ‘Hey, this is what you do,” and he was hard on me for everything, even when I was doing something good, he was still hard on me and not letting me know that I was doing it good. But, he’s the reason why I’m here and he’s the reason why I’m 10 years into the NFL. But, Clyde is a very good guy and he helped my football career and my personal life too as well.”
Pierre, at this stage in your career, why were you interested in joining a team that’s coming off a two-win season and maybe a couple of years away from playoff contention?
Pierre Garçon: “In football, one year can turn everything around. We’ve done that in D.C. when I went to D.C. when Kyle brought me in. If we put our nose to the ground and just grind and play every day, I know things can turn around. Looking forward to help build something instead of being a part of something that’s already winning. So, I enjoy working hard, working for every victory and working for every play and gaining every yard I can after every catch. So, that’s what I enjoy doing and nowhere better to be than with a coach that wants you and a team that wants to win in a city that wants to win, especially with the fans too.”
Brian, you were not recruited. Throughout your career, it’s been like, ‘Oh, he’s a nice quarterback but can we do better?’ You’re being viewed as maybe a one-year placeholder. I assume everyone talks about a chip on their shoulder. Do you have that, just because of maybe the reputation you have as a good quarterback but not considered among the elite?
Brian Hoyer: “Yeah. I think, especially when you enter the league as an undrafted free agent, you always feel like there’s a lot to prove. So, I’m worried about this year and that’s all I can control and that’s coming in here and being the best quarterback I can for this organization. It’s a real exciting time. You see the guys that they’ve put in place. Like I’ve said, I worked with Kyle. You get to meet John Lynch, a guy who knows a lot about football, who’s been in our shoes, there’s a lot of respect there. And so for me, I have a lot of confidence in myself. Unfortunately, every time something’s kind of gone well, there’s been an injury or a bag game here or there and you just put it behind you and you keep fighting. And that’s why, as I said, an undrafted player, I’m sitting here going into my ninth year with a great chance to be the quarterback for this team and that’s all I’m looking for. I think you go out and prove it every day. And that’s not just on Sunday’s. It’s coming in here and being a leader in the locker room. It’s getting together with these new guys. I have familiarity with this system and try to help them in it. Obviously. Pierre’s played in it before, Logan. We bring Marquise in here and get him going and Kyle. So, there’s a lot that goes into it and I’m thankful that I have this opportunity because sitting back these last few days, I had options and like I said before, when I had this gut feeling when I had a chance to play for Kyle again, I knew it was the right fit for me at this point in my career.”
Robbie, you’ve kicked in some difficult places. I’m sure you’ve kicked at Candlestick as well and I think you were here probably for the first game. Your thoughts on coming here, kicking in Levi’s Stadium and replacing Arizona Cardinals K Phil Dawson?
Robbie Gould: “First, I have the most respect for Phil Dawson. He’s probably been the guy that I’ve looked up to since the beginning of my career because of how well, not only did he kick here, but also in Cleveland. The type of person that he is and the respect that I have for him, trying to watch film and you talk about getting better and the things that you do and the people you want to model yourself after, that’s a guy that I hope that I can come in and do my job to help these guys around me. Whether it’s finish a drive or start the defense off backed up with kickoff or let the guys go hunt and eat on kickoff as well. But, I think the big part for me is, I’m excited about the warm weather, I’m going to be completely honest. Kicking in Chicago and New York, getting into December and it’s 70 degrees is going to be a little different for me. But, at the end of the day, I think a lot of these guys can tell you, it’s about relationships. It’s about doing your job. It’s about fighting for one another. It’s about the culture in the locker room and I think if you talk to any single one of these guys, which we’ve probably passed each other 10 times, whether it’s by physical or by going to HR or whatever, I think there’s a common goal that each guy here has and it’s winning and that’s all we talk about. We’ve talked about, ‘Hey, we’re going to do it for one another.’ It’s not about stats. It’s not about, ‘I’m going to catch this amount of balls.’ I don’t think any guy sitting here, talking at all today, talked about, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to have this. I’m going to do that.’ It was all about, really, winning and how we’re going to go about winning. So, I’m excited to be kicking in warm weather, but shoot, I’m excited about this group. You talk about a kicker. A kicker gets a lot of time on his hands to talk to everybody, realistically, and we get to absorb a lot. You talk about the two guys that are really forming what the building blocks and the foundation for what’s going to be I think something really special and that’s what gets me excited about being on this stage today.”
Marquise, as a guy who, some of the things obviously out of your control with injuries and things, maybe haven’t produced as much as you would have liked in the past. When you were making your decisions, did you look at a guy like Atlanta Falcons WR Taylor Gabriel who Kyle had success with and kind of pulled that out of him? Was that a factor in your decision and did you do that?
Marquise Goodwin: “I just looked at the opportunity that I had ahead of me. Being able to have the opportunity to come to an organization like this is a blessing, a blessing in disguise. Coming from Buffalo, totally different. The culture, the winning tradition here, the people here, the sun, the warm weather. Everything about it is just different. So, I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Pierre, specifically reuniting with Kyle, how appealing was that? You had some great years with him in Washington.
Pierre Garçon: “It was very appealing. Me and Kyle go way back. I enjoy working with Kyle. He definitely is an offensive guru and he will definitely show us how it’s done with his own personal tapes in our film room. But, it’s one of those things that, he loves what he does, he loves players that play hard for him and I enjoy playing for somebody that wants me. So, happy to be reunited. Happy to see him doing well. Happy to see he’s a head coach and happy to get this thing started.”