This is the transcript of Colin Kaepernick’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
What challenges does this Steelers defense hold for you guys?
“There a fast, physical defense. Their defense is something they’ve always taken pride in.”
You guys have been so good on the road, especially in the Eastern Time Zone, in the past four years. What do you attribute that to? What do you think is the secret to that success?
“I think the biggest thing would be our preparation. Making sure that throughout the week, we’re on top of all of our assignments, on top of our fundamentals and techniques to allow us to go out and execute and play well.”
In the game on Monday, particularly a couple of passes to TE Garrett Celek, you were sort of throwing away from the defender, a little bit behind him. Is that something that you’re trying to do just to protect him? And is that something that you’re developing more of as you progress as a quarterback?
“It’s something that you naturally do as a quarterback, and Garrett’s someone that has had a great feel for defenses and where the air pockets are and how to get open. So, he’s someone we have confidence in as far as getting him the ball and allowing him to adjust to it.”
RB Carlos Hyde’s spin move, what was your description of that and have you ever seen him do anything similar to that in practice?
“I haven’t seen anything quite like that from him, but it was an amazing play by him. He got us that first touchdown and really got us the momentum for the rest of the game.”
How quickly did it register for you that probably when you handed it off, you’d think you’d be out of the play. Now you’ve got to get back in there and run some interference?
“Yeah, I wasn’t thinking that at the start of the play by any means. But, whether I was there or not, Carlos was going to get in. So, I was a little more of a distraction than anything.”
How was his approach going throughout the game? Was he wanting the ball more and more? Was he getting into rhythm? Could you see it?
“Yeah, I think our offense was getting into a rhythm, in large part due to our offensive line playing so well. Carlos running the ball well was a huge part of that as well. But, he’s not someone that’s asking for the ball. He wants to play within the offense. And the running game was working, so we kept giving him the ball.”
What was your impression of RB Jarryd Hayne’s mindset after he dropped that first punt and then being force to play offense with RB Reggie Bush’s injury? How do you think he, mentally, approached that part of that game?
“To me, he didn’t blink. It didn’t faze him. He moved on to the next play. Was ready to play offense and help this team win.”
Did you have to say anything to him? Any words of encouragement?
“No. He was ready to go. There wasn’t anything that needed to be said to him. He’s someone that we have confidence in as far as being a running back and being a playmaker on this team.”
You’re were one of the first guys to probably get to meet him in Arizona. Just how far has he come just mentally picking up the game and what’s being asked of him without the ball as a running back?
“He’s come leaps and bounds. It’s something that, it’s really hard to describe because it’s such a unique situation. If I went over and tried to play rugby, I’d probably be lost. So, him coming over, being able to pick up football and the schemes that we have and what we’re trying to ask him to do in such a short period of time has really been amazing.”
The blitz pickup often is talked about, kind of, the most complex thing for a running back. Where is he in that?
“He’s on top of it. He doesn’t miss blitzes. Everything he’s seeing, he’s seeing the same way that I am, the coaches are and the rest of the running backs are. So, that’s really a credit to his ability to pick up on things and learn a completely new thing.”
After the Vikings game, you gave head coach Jim Tomsula the game ball. What went into that and maybe what was the reaction or feeling like getting that ball for him?
“It was something he deserved. He’s the one that’s really kind of pulled everything together, brought this coaching staff together, and set the tone for this team as far as the mentality and the vibe that’s going to be in this building. And I think that showed Week 1.”
He’s going to be going to his hometown this weekend. Do you sense anything different in him as he’s preparing for his first ever road game as head coach?
“No. It’s another week of preparation as usual. For us, we’re going to stay on our routine. We’re going to make sure we’re handling our business.”
Was that hit you took on the sideline, do you think that was the hardest hit you’ve taken as a 49er?
Does another one come to mind?
“I got hit, I want to say it was my second year here against Buffalo on the sideline. Got hit by a linebacker that I didn’t see coming.”
Coach Tomsula said he sat WR Bruce Ellington down to talk about taking better care of his body. Carlos said he learned from Indianapolis Colts RB Frank Gore about taking care of his body. Have you seen both of those two young guys make a shift in how much they’re doing to stay on the field, stay healthy and taking care of themselves before and after practice?
“Most definitely. I think, not only them but this entire team. It’s something that coaches constantly talk to us about. If you’re not healthy and you can’t play, you can’t help this team win. And you’re here for a reason, to help this team win. So, we need you healthy. And taking caring of your body is a huge aspect of that because you have six days to get your body back to 100% or as close as you can.”
What was it like watching, maybe, Carlos learn from Frank last year or did you observe any of that and maybe what he gave?
“As far as?”
Just playing next to one of the great running backs every single day and learning from him?
“Yeah. Frank was someone that always talked to him and helped him any way that he could. He would talk to him about different things he sees on plays, things like that. And [running backs] coach [Tom] Rathman is also a phenomenal coach. He covers every detail in that room. So, he’s also someone that is a huge help to our running back corp.”
What kind of aspects do you have to prepare for defensively for the Steelers attack as opposed to Minnesota in Week 1?
“It’s a odd base defense, odd front team versus a four-down team in Minnesota. It’s a completely different scheme.”