2008 49ers Training Camp: Day 1 Quotes (Mike Nolan, Alex Smith, Shaun Hill)

The 49ers have been so kind as to provide press conference Q&As on their media website.  While they'll certainly have a fair number of the usual cliches, we're bound to find some useful information if we dig deep enough.  If people are interested I'll make this a running feature when I can get access to this kind of information.

MIKE NOLAN

General Comments
"Everyone did practice [although] we had three players that didn’t practice due to some injuries and those Joe Staley with a foot [injury], it was just an infection from a bite or something that he got. Aubrayo [Franklin] Achilles heel in which he had an MRI on it , which I think it will be fine. They just wanted to take precaution and take a look at it. Everybody knows [David] Baas obviously is out with a pectoral injury. He’ll be out for a few more weeks from the surgery that he had a few months ago. Some of you have asked about Bryant Young. Bryant Young will be around and doesn’t have a specific role at this time."

On rotating running backs
"Well, obviously Frank [Gore] will work with the first group and [DeShaun] Foster with the second but Michael Robinson is a guy that is pushing pretty hard for that second spot, and that’s the way that we’ll start . . . As you’ll notice out there at times every now and then Foster will slip in with the ones and so does Michael Robinson with the twos and even sometimes with the ones, so you’ll just try to keep them fresh."

Who other than Justin Smith is taking on a leadership role
"The one that is noticeably taking on the leadership role following the spring is Patrick Willis and again, it’s not because he’s been asked or pushed into that role. It has to be a natural thing. If people force it, it doesn’t work. It’s has to be a natural thing . . . But I’ve notice that Patrick’s kind of taken a verbal role.”

When will he make a decision on the starting QB
"We have a target to start each of them in each of the first (two) preseason games, but we’re also talking about that a little bit. What I mean by that is Mike [Martz] and I have talked about taking a couple of series in each of the games rather than just saying that ‘this is your game’ because that’s putting too many eggs in one basket so to speak. One game doesn’t make a season; it doesn’t make you a starter."

On Michael Robinson
"He’s got good competition in front of him obviously with Frank [Gore] and [DeShaun] Foster. But at the same time, Michael’s different than those two guys. Just like Foster’s different from Frank. He’s a nice changeup from what Frank does, and we’ve got good depth within the running back position right now. We’ve got to stay healthy within those guys that we have in there. I’m confident that our backs are not only good on running plays but that they’re very good on pass plays. And they must be good on protection as well. Frank’s an outstanding protector in pass protection. I would say secondary in protection, Mike and then Foster."

On waiting till Monday to put on pads
"Usually when you start the first day, in my experience, with the pads on the very first day everyone is out there hungry to just tattoo somebody. When you’re practicing against one another it shouldn’t be releasing six months of built up whatever you’ve got. This way we’ve got some of that out.”

After the jump we've got a few more quotes from Mike Nolan and then some from Alex Smith and Shaun Hill.

NOLAN CONT'D

On what he's learned about running training camp from Mike Martz
"I’ve had Mike McCarthy, Norv Turner and last year I had Jim [Hostler], and then this year Mike [Martz]. Obviously, Jim didn’t have much experience to kind of call on in those duties, but the other three I’ve looked to quite a bit for a lot of reasons . . . One is I’m typically in defense and special teams . . . So, I do communicate a lot with the offensive coordinator. I’ve done the same with Mike Martz as I have with both Norv and Mike McCarthy . . . Mike [Martz] and I have spoken extensively about training camp, practices, reps, personnel: a lot of things. And, it’s good for a lot of reasons. Obviously, the more you communicate with your people the better you get to know them. Mike [Martz], as I’ve said many times, has a great command of the offense. He’s had a lot of success as a head coach and as an offensive coordinator, and I respect that.

Changes from past camps
"...typically what I’ve done is between each team drill in the past I’ve had a 10-minute teaching period leading into it. What we’ve done this year, because I believe repetitions are really important, is that we need to play more football. Teaching is important but we need to teach off of playing the game of football. So we’ve cut those 10-minute periods in half to five and added those five minutes to the repetition drills so that we can get another extra six reps in two drills that we didn’t have before, minimum."

ALEX SMITH

On his last quarterback competition
“College was the last time . . . It was my sophomore year . . . [against] Brett Elliott . . . it was similar to this essentially. He and I were close just like Shaun and I are close. It was the same thing with a new system and a new coach coming in. I was trying to learn and pickup as much as I could and just go out there and execute it, turning it over on the field.”

On his shoulder and the lack of crispness in deep passes
"I think there is a little there with some of the deeper balls. I think I need to stay on top of my shoulder as far as fatigue goes. I need to stay on top of some of the rehab that I’m doing with my shoulder because you throw a lot during camp. I’m just trying to maintain it."

On any awkwardness in competing with Shaun Hill
"I think the great thing was when all this started, Shaun and I sat down and talked about it which kind of broke the tension . . . [The conversation was] earlier this spring when workouts were first starting."

On whether he shoudl have to compete for the job
"I never really thought that and Shaun is a good player. He played well last year. I did have an injury and was out. Some things happened and competition is a part of this game.  It happens everyday out here with a lot of positions. For some reason, quarterback is a position in the NFL where it doesn’t happen as often especially when you are a high pick.  Again, it is something that I am excited about and I’m ready to come out and compete. All I can try and do is win it."

On the high stakes nature and thus the high competitiveness
"Everyday, absolutely. It is definitely high stakes. Everyday is going to count. There is only two weeks before our first game. Every single day is going to be evaluated. When you come out here, you can’t have an off day and can’t lose focus."

SHAUN HILL

On first speaking with Alex Smith about the competition
"We’ll approach it the same way we always have, and that’s just going out and trying to make ourselves better every day. And at the end we’ll still remain friends and be able to help each other throughout the season. Whoever does happen to be the starter, have that other guy behind him helping him out. Because we’ve had that kind of group here since I’ve been here, and it really kind of started with Trent (Dilfer) – where we’ve stayed here and watched film together and helped each other."

On what he needs to do to win the job
"Just improve every day. That’s going to be my answer for all of that. I don’t know if you guys noticed, but the kind of relationship we have out there, when he makes a good play, I tell him: ‘Good play.’ And vice versa, when I made a good throw today, he said: ‘Good throw.’ That’s just the way we are."

On his own last QB competition
“Well, my first year was my junior year. Well, I guess that one wasn’t as friendly. The last one was my senior year, and that one definitely was … Latrez Harrison was his name. He was as helpful as he could be to me as a back up and very supportive.”

On how much credit he gets for last year's performance
"Yeah. This is a week-to-week league, and a practice-to-practice league. So yeah, definitely, you can’t rest on what you did last year that’s for sure, no matter what the situation, good or bad. Just can’t. You have to be ready to go."

On gaining confidence from his performance last season
"Being able to step in the huddle with those guys that I’ve played with now, and me being able to step up and say something to them, kind of be more of a vocal leader. So that playing time has helped a little bit.”

On what he's learned from Martz
"A lot it has to do with balance, and kind of my shoulder level as far as throwing technique goes. Still sometimes we get into those team situations, I kind of revert back a little bit. We’re staying on it.”

On a tight competition in an air it out offense
"If you go out there worried about making mistakes, you’re not going to be very good anyway . . . If I put the ball where the receiver is supposed to be, and he’s not there, then coach jumps the receiver. And vice versa . . . Saying, ‘Look, just cut it loose. If he’s not there, then you did what you were supposed to do.’”

On fitting into the Martz offense
"Some of the timing things I feel I’ve been pretty good at in the past. We’re still working on all that. I feel like I can do that stuff. I feel like I’ve gotten way better at throwing the deep ball. I’m very confident that I can do well in this offense.”

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