SANTA CLARA – Alex Boone spoke in the 49ers’ auditorium Monday afternoon. Here are selected quotes.
Q: How has it been moving to the left side in training camp?
BOONE: It’s great. It’s different, obviously, playing next to Anthony all those years. Now I go and play next to Joe. Both great tackles. Footwork’s a little different. Handwork’s a little different. At the end of the day it’s coming along real well.
Q: What’s it like working next to Joe?
BOONE: It’s great. Joe knows the plays and we have a lot of fun out there. It’s just like playing next to Anthony, only a different side.
Q: We saw you move from left guard to left tackle a lot yesterday. Is that easier than right guard to left tackle?
BOONE: No question. You’re kicking out one position. Guys are a lot less different, a lot less lighter, but at the end of the day it’s a lot less thinking for me. So it will be better.
Q: Did you lobby at all to move to right tackle aftere Anthony retired?
BOONE: I don’t know.
Q: You don’t know why you didn’t lobby?
BOONE: No. Should I have?
Q: Haven’t you always kind of considered yourself a tackle?
BOONE: I just do what the coaches tell me.
Q: Is there a transition period for this unit? You’ve got some new faces.
BOONE: Yeah, it’s different. And I think the one thing people forget is that when you play next to somebody, especially in such tight quarters like we do, you have to know that person really well. And you have to know what they’re thinking at all times. There is some miscommunication, but at the end of the day we’re cleaning it up and it’s just part of the process. We’ve got to keep playing together, the same five guys being out there all the time together – it’s coming along pretty well.
Q: How do you like the faster pace?
BOONE: I don’t….No I’m just kidding…It’s different. It’s hard at first. Obviously we’re not used to anything like that. We took a long time last year to get plays off. That was a problem, and I think everybody knew that was a problem. It pissed a lot of people off, including the offensive line. For this offense to get rolling, get moving, it’s completely different but at the same time I love it. You’re just going. You’re not thinking. You’re just moving and doing what you’re supposed to do.
Q: Could the opposing defense fire off the ball when the play clock was close to zero?
BOONE: Yeah, when you get to three seconds, people know you’re not going on two. It’s, “Hurry, hurry!” and you’re just off and away. With this, you can change up the snap count, change up the plays. When you go up to the line with 22 seconds you can do whatever you want. Literally whatever you want. It’s kind of nice to be up there and being able to talk, free range to do a lot of things, as opposed to last year where it was like, “We’ve got to go.”
Q: Do you feel like you have the advantage when you put the pads on?
BOONE: Yeah, when you have no pads on, people are just running into you full force. To have pads on is actually kind of nice – save yourself a little bit, your shoulders. Things like that. The other thing that a lot of people don’t know is when you don’t have pads on, that loose a— jersey drives me nuts. It drives me nuts because defensive guys just grab you all over. With pads it’s different. It’s real tight. It’s more to our advantage, which is nice.
Q: What’s it like going up against Quinton Dial?
BOONE: It’s cool. I think Quinton’s a great player. He’s very smart. One of the things we both have been working on is trying to go against each other to work on different things. I think the one thing is he’s adapting to different moves. He’s such a big guy, people see him and they’re like, “That’s a nose tackle.” But now he’s playing defensive end, now he’s trying to work on being quicker, being smarter, being faster. I think when you play a guy like that, he really brings out the best in you because you do have to think more. It’s not just 350-pound dude who’s going to run into you full speed. It’s a guy that can move, he’s got good hands, he’s smart, he knows what he’s doing, where he’s at. When you get a guy like that, it brings your level of play up and it starts to bring you into the season in a good way.
Q: Coming back to the clock issues in the past, sometimes you would break the huddle with 12 seconds left on. When you had 20 or so seconds in there waiting for a play or whatever was going on, were you guys talking amongst each other, staring at each other? What was going on during that dead time?
BOONE: You’re talking about last year?
Q: Past years.
BOONE: I’m not going to talk about last year. Last year was last year. It is what it is. We just know we’ve got to break the huddle a lot faster if we want to win some games.
Q: Stupid question – do you have to also huddle faster?
Q: How does that happen? How does that work?
BOONE: With your legs.
Q: Who gets that done?
BOONE: The center.
Q: So you have to drill that, too?
BOONE: Yeah, you just move. Move to the huddle. Now. If you’re the last one to get in the huddle, someone’s probably telling you to move.
Q: Didn’t Jim Tomsula say something to you and Staley a few days ago about having the responsibility of getting things going?
BOONE: No, that’s the center’s job. The center’s job is to call us up to huddle. He’s the leader. Wherever he stands, you better get there as fast as you can.
Q: As a group do you guys have to be in a little bit better shape?
BOONE: Absolutely. You don’t see a lot of fat guys walking around here anymore. That’s for a reason.
Q: What are your expectations for this season?
BOONE: After what I’ve seen so far and the way that we’re going, I’m excited about this year. Truly am. I think this is one of the best teams we’ve had. There are so many guys out there that are doing such great things. Young guys, the veterans – Reggie Bush coming on the team. You see all these guys and they get the philosophy. We’re out here to play football. We’re not out here to do anything else. We’re going to go out, we’re going to smash people in the mouth and we’re going to have fun. And that’s what I’m looking forward to.
Q: You and Staley are set on the left side of the line. How are the other three positions looking so far?
BOONE: I think they’re going to be new guys and I think they’re looking good.
Q: How much different is it blocking for Carlos Hyde as opposed to Frank Gore?
BOONE: Frank had 10 years of experience under his belt. When you’re blocking for Frank, you’re blocking for a legend. It was always fun to watch Frank run, and especially when he would get mad at you, the way he’d yell at you was kind of fun, too. Carlos is coming along great, and I think he’s going to be a great running back in this league. I think he’s perfect for this system. I think that anybody that tries to take him head on is going to have a rough day.