COURTESY OF SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
As far as defensive end, any chance that either DL Nick Bosa or DL Dee Ford returns this week, and if the answer is no, are we getting to the point where there’s concern that their injuries could spill over into Week 1?
“No, they’re not coming back today, but no, I’m not concerned. I expect them, I’ll be very surprised if they’re not ready to go for Week 1.”
In addition to that, do you have updates on TE George Kittle, WR Brandon Aiyuk, LB Dre Greenlaw, TE Ross Dwelley and OL Ben Garland?
“No updates. They’re all about in the same situation. I think Kittle might do a little bit today, but we’re still taking care of them.”
Obviously, you’ve had a lot of moving pieces at the center and guard spot there throughout this camp. How did that play out in your mind? And do you have, are you concerned at all about that going into Week 1?
“I mean, you’re always concerned about guys who haven’t been playing and with the injuries that we’ve had and stuff at that position, a few others, but I think a lot of people are in the same boat around the league. I think we’ve got an idea of the guys that we want to go with, but we’ve got to see how people heal over this next week or so and who’s in the best health and football shape to be ready for next Sunday. So that’s something, we’ve got an idea of what guys we like and want to go with, but that’ll probably be playing out all the way up until next week.”
I realize that both of these guys are kind of under situations where there’s a lot of competition and it’s going to be tough for them to make the team. But, a couple of the guys that were previously very high draft picks, DL Dion Jordan and WR Kevin White. I know you haven’t seen a whole lot of Kevin White, but with both of those guys, if you could talk about each individually, can you see the qualities, the athletic skills that enabled them to be such high draft picks?
“Yeah, you definitely can. I mean, those guys, the way their bodies are wired, you can definitely see that. And I think it’s been a huge credit to, starting with Dion, I think this is his first training camp since 2013. So, he’s been through a lot of stuff and for him to come out here and battle throughout this whole camp, especially with a lot of guys down where he’s had to pick up the reps and go extremely hard on a consistent basis with a limited number of D-Linemen, he’s earned a lot of my respect and has been very impressive that way. And Kevin, same thing. I’m just glad for him that he’s got another opportunity. He’s come in a lot later than Dion, he just got here last week. So, it’s been very limited with him, but, just for being a top-10 pick and stuff and the way he’s come in, he has been very eager to learn. He’s been great to have around and wish we could’ve had him here a little bit longer.”
While you guys are practicing in here again today at Levi’s, is part of that just so you can I guess work on the sound and the visuals? And then when you get into a game, if the noise is going to be muted somewhat, do you have to worry about like hushing your play calls or else maybe using a stronger cadence?
“Yeah, I mean, that’s 100-percent why we’re going into the stadium today. We’re still trying to figure out the noise. We went in there a couple of practices ago to try to figure it out and we need more work at that. There’s a few things to experiment and the rules aren’t official yet either. So, I want to experiment with a few things and hopefully we’ll get that solidified this week. Yeah, if it’s silent in there, it’s definitely going to be a difference. I don’t know how much, I don’t call them very loud anyways, because it would drive the quarterbacks crazy if I screamed into the microphone, which goes into their ear. So, I usually just say it at a normal voice level, unless I’m in New Orleans and I can’t hear myself think. But, the defensive calls and stuff like that to me is a bigger deal. Every time you change strengths and you get to hear what the middle linebacker says and all their calls and stuff, I mean, a lot of quarterbacks could pick up on that. So, you’re hoping we can get some noise in there so it does feel a little bit more like a real football game. We’re just trying to figure out if that noise is constant, what decibel it’s at and all the things that go with it, which we don’t have a ton of experience in that. So, we’re trying to figure it out this week.”
WR Trent Taylor has been on quite a roller coaster over the last two years, kind of making his way back. What has stood out to you about his journey and getting ready for Week 1?
“Just his perseverance. I mean, he had a great rookie year for us and was coming back, expecting to have a better second year and the back trouble that he just battled through the entire second year where I don’t think he ever went on IR. But, he just, it was tough for him to go through that year not truly being himself and then to get his back fixed going into his third year and having a great camp and then to have the injury on his foot that he did where we were expecting him to be back by Week 3 versus Pittsburgh last year and he had so many setbacks with an infection in it and had to get a number of surgeries. So, just something that was extremely discouraging for anyone to go through, especially following the year that he had before with his back. So, for him to go through that for two seasons and then come back and have a competitive camp where he’s been able to make it through all of it, where he’s had up-down, he’s had some good days, some bad days. He’s had to fight through soreness like everyone does in camp. I am really proud of him and happy for him that he was able to stick with that with all the adversity he did face. He’s just been kind of obsessed with getting into Week 1 with playing and he doesn’t want to talk about his injuries very much, which I respect, but he’s as tough of a guy as I’ve been around and I’m really pulling for him.”
Obviously, you lost Indianapolis Colts DL DeForest Buckner on the inside of the defensive line, but given what we’ve seen from DL Kentavius Street, from DL Kevin Givens, from DL Solomon Thomas in this camp, and I guess even DL Kerry Hyder is a player that started on the inside, do you feel that you have a chance to be deeper on the inside of the interior of the defensive line this year?
“I mean, I think with the health of those guys and adding Kerry and stuff, you might have a chance to have a little bit more depth, but I mean, you can’t underestimate losing a player like DeForest. He’s as good of a teammate and one of the best players in the league at his position. We feel we have got some guys there and stuff, but, that’s not easy to just come in and replace someone like that. So, we’ve got a group of guys, who it’s going to take them some time. But, I’m glad we’ve got a number of guys who can do it. We’ve got a number of guys who are capable and it’s going to take a bunch at first and hopefully they’ll just keep getting better and we can try to fill that void.”
TE Charlie Woerner had a reputation of being tough in college, which I guess is not surprising since he’s a blocking tight end, but have you seen even without live tackling or preseason games that he has the necessary grit to do the job at the NFL level?
“Yeah, I do. Yeah. He is a good blocker and he does things in the pass game too. I mean, he’s George in that way. I know everyone said we drafted a blocking tight end in George, only because he didn’t have any pass stats. I’m not trying to put that pressure on Charlie, but he comes in and earns his way by being a tough player by really wanting to get after it in the run game. George told us when he met with him in Tennessee, that we had the right type of guy. The first thing he said to George was how bored he was with all these pass plays. When are we going to start learning some run plays? So, I think that can kind of show you his mentality, which is similar to George’s and similar to our whole tight end group. We’ve got some tough guys who do the run and the pass game and they enjoy both plays.”
With the wide receivers, with the two rookies not having OTAs and rookie minicamp and the guys who have just gotten here, do you have to kind of simplify the offense at all for them?
“Yeah. You try your hardest to simplify it for them, keep them at one spot. But, that’s all good until you lose a guy in a game. You know, there’s only so many guys you have up so you’ve got to be able to move guys around. But, from [WR] Deebo [Samuel] not being out there as much, being hurt, Aiyuk, he came in strong, learned it very well, but now he’s been out. We’re hoping to get both of those guys back next week, but it’s stuff that those guys have got to keep up on and they have from a mental standpoint, but they’re going to have to go through some things with them that you understand as a coach. You’ve got to constantly challenge them and put pressure on them, but you’ve also got to understand a little bit of that’s going to come. There are some rookie issues you’ve got to go through and we’re counting on those guys to be out there. But, what’s been good is the opportunities they’ve opened up for everyone else. We’ve had some other guys step it up to regardless of who we have up next week, I feel we’re going to have guys going in there who know what to do and guys who give us a chance to win.”
Following up on Nick’s question about guard from earlier, it seemed like the OL Daniel Brunskill, OL Tom Compton competition had to be put on hold for a little bit. Is that back on, at this point is Brunskill getting more guard reps now than center reps?
“I think he’s still going at both. You know, it depends on what day it is. We try to balance it out over a four-practice stretch so we can be ready for anything. I don’t remember what he got last, but no, we’re still balancing it out because none of that stuff’s settled. We don’t know the health of Garland yet, how he’s going to be next week and how that’s going to go for both the positions. So, it’s kind of a nice situation for me because we know that we had a competition to see who is our starting right guard. And it’s kind of been hard to have a true just starting competition at right guard when both of those guys have got to be playing center and the possibility of starting at center and what gives you your best combination for Week 1. So, all that’s going into play, which makes it to where I wouldn’t want to give you the answer, but I truly don’t know the answer anyways because of the situation. I know Garland is not going to be trying to come back until next week and we’re going to have to play that out, see how it goes and see what the best line up is.”
Where do things stand as far as between Weeks 2 and 3, playing the two games in New Jersey? Have you gotten approval to stay back there? Where are things right now?
“For me, I haven’t thought about it much, but I’m expecting that we can go there and stay there and I think we’re going to stay at the Greenbrier in between for a week. So, I believe that has been approved. No one’s told me that we’re not doing it. So, usually someone tells me if something bad has happened and no one has told me. So, I’m counting on that to work out right now.”
TE Jordan Reed said last week that so far with the 49ers he’s having the most fun playing football he’s ever had. Can you see that in him out there? Can you see that fun in him so to speak?
“Yeah, well I know Jordan has been, he’s had a tough couple of years trying to come back from injury and stuff. Anytime that you haven’t played football in a little bit and you get out there and start playing again, I think guys remember how much they do like it and how much they enjoy it, especially when it’s been taken away from them for a while. So, I do see that with Jordan, he’s enjoying playing again. He knows some guys on the team so when you do come to a new area it’s always nice if you do have some familiarity with some of the players. So, I think he’s been good in that way. I’m excited for Jordan. He hasn’t been out there the whole time and has still battled back from some things, but, when he has, he’s done a good job and we’re going to keep trying to push him to get out there more.”
You kind of smiled and chuckled when you said WR Kendrick Bourne is the veteran in the room and he’s kind of come in with a different mentality this year. Was it kind of a switch that flipped with him, that he came in with a new maturity that he’s taken more responsibility on himself?
“Kendrick is the same guy every single day. So, that’s not going to change with how he carries himself. But, I think it is confidence with going through experiences. Kendrick’s helped us out every single year, but last year we relied on him even more than we had the previous two. And for him to kind of earn that role as one of our top three receivers consistently for the second half of the year and how good his game got and how reliable he was, that to me is what changed him. He’s been out there, he’s had some bad drops in games where he’s had to come back the next week and make it up. And he’s done that. To experience all that stuff, I think whether it’s good or bad, it ends up making you a more confident player, a more confident person because you know what you’re capable of doing because you’ve done it. And once you do that, you realize how much more you can do. I think he’s just been excited with the success he has had and he knows he can still get better. So, when you know you’ve been successful in this league and you still know there’s more in you, I think that’s kind of what he’s feeling right now. You can tell how he walks around, how he works, how he attacked the offseason, because he knows he’s got a chance to do some good things and he’s working to do that every single day.”