SANTA CLARA – Vance McDonald was interviewed outside of the 49ers’ locker room Friday afternoon. Here is a transcript.
Q: Why do you think the ball was thrown your way so much Thursday during practice?
V. McDONALD: It’s just experience with Kap. You don’t have that kind of a quarterback in college. Getting here, it’s just a matter of getting reps with him, getting experience with him timing-wise, what to expect. I know what to expect – it’s a 180-mile-an-hour ball. No, but seriously, it’s just getting experience with a guy and getting a feel for it.
Q: You joke about it, but…
V. McDONALD: It’s about 180 miles an hour.
Q: Is it a difficult adjustment trying to concentrate on the route and the defense while also seeing this thing coming at you?
V. McDONALD: Absolutely. It’s just muscle memory. Coming into Year 1, not only do you have to think about how you’re going to use your stem to trigger a safety one way to get open here. You do that and you think about that and you turn your head and the ball is flying at you to take your head off. Now that I’m comfortable in the offense, it’s one more thing you get to focus on a lot more – I’ve got Kap as my quarterback, I know the ball I’m going to get, and you just go from there.
Q: Did you benefit from Vernon Davis not being here during the offseason?
V. McDONALD: Yes. I would say, personally for me, absolutely. It’s like the pressure of you’ve got to step up – right now, this is what we have and you’re the No.1 tight end. I think it was a very good start for me for next season.
Q: Were you disappointed when he showed up?
V. McDONALD: No. We’re going to win more games with Vernon, I absolutely believe that and I will be the first in line to say it. And I think he made the right decision coming back. Everyone was more than happy to welcome him back.
Q: You have a new position coach this year – Eric Mangini. What’s he like?
V. McDONALD: He is just a detail-oriented man and that’s the one thing I love about him. He is just so high-thinking and critical about us, and it makes us always want to be better for him. The one thing I like about him, you listen to him when he gives you advice – he has coached so many guys. He has been around so many years and had so much experience. It’s almost like hearing from this almighty guy with football knowledge. It’s really great to have Coach Mangini aboard and the whole different perspective he gives us of seeing the offense in a completely different way.
Q: When you say, “high thinking,” what do you mean?
V. McDONALD: It’s not just you and what you’re doing on a certain play. It’s the context of the play: the man you’re matched up against, the situation, the down and distance. There are so many things that go into football that can make the game so much slower for us. That’s one thing he has helped us all with. It’s been a big help.
Q: Does he give you a defensive perspective considering his expertise is defense?
V. McDONALD: Absolutely. At the end of the day, the defense is just like the offense – a guy’s going to be where he’s got to be, otherwise it’s a bust and the offense probably is going to take advantage of it. There are just certain keys you can pick up on. With his knowledge of the defense, if you see guys in a triangle or a safety backing up and backing off – you just can get so many indicators pre-snap that can make your job a whole lot easier once the ball actually is in play.