The first pick of the fifth round for the 49ers was Scott McKillop, a linebacker out of Pittsburgh. I'd expect year 1 to be a special teams year as he learns to take over Takeo Spikes inside linebacker position.
RE: Did you expect that the 49ers had a lot of interest in you?
“Not really. The first time that I was able to meet with the 49ers was actually the last day I was at the combine when not Head Coach Singletary but his nephew I believe approached me. He had an opportunity to… He had previously coached at Buffalo and we had a little, quick time to talk for about 10 minutes and that was my first opportunity. I really wasn’t aware of this, but I’m more than happy right now.”
RE: Who did you speak just recently to when you heard the news?
“Head Coach Singletary.”
RE: Did he give you an indication about exactly what linebacker position he likes you as?
“Not really. He just talked about how he was happy to select me and I’m more than happy to play where they need me to, whether that’s special teams, depth or wherever - any linebacker. I’m just happy and looking forward to making the San Francisco 49ers [team].”
RE: Did you play much special teams at Pitt?
“Yes. Actually my first two years at the University of Pittsburgh I backed up H.B. Blades, who’s at the Washington Redskins now. So that was basically my niche in the team was playing kickoff, kickoff return, punt, punt return. Actually at Pitt, I’m our backup long-snapper.”
RE: What’s your reaction to now playing for a head coach that’s in the Hall of Fame as a linebacker?
“I don’t think there would be a better coach for me to play for than someone who has the reputation of being a great defender, not only as a great linebacker, to learn from as well.”
RE: How much do you know about him and his career?
“Not much. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh so I’ve followed the Steelers a great deal. I just know his reputation and he’s a great coach. I’m just looking forward to it.”
RE: Third-team All American. Big East Defensive Player of the Year this past season. What allowed you to take this quantum leap in your career here this past season?
“I’m just looking forward to getting the chance. I’m excited. And speechless. And just willing to do anything and everything that the 49ers ask me.”
RE: You did so well this past season. What allowed you to take the next step in your career development this past year?
“Just getting there, studying the defense, know what it’s all about and hopefully get on special teams and whatever. Just really excited and looking forward to getting out there and getting this all started.”
RE: Did you take some visits leading up to this and where did you go?
“My only visit was out to San Diego with the Chargers. The Broncos came out to Pittsburgh to work me out but the only place I traveled to was San Diego.”
RE: Have you had a chance to see Patrick Willis at all?
“Yes. I am very, very familiar with him. When he was a senior in college, he was just dominating. He’s one of the top linebackers in the NFL. I couldn’t be happier to learn from someone like him, and hopefully learn anything and be a sponge and soak up anything that I can to make myself a better player.”
RE: The other inside linebacker is Takeo Spikes. Are you familiar with is career?
“Yes. I’m very familiar with his career. He’s had a long, successful career. He’s a great player. Those are two of the main linebackers they have that are great players. Like I said, I’m just looking forward to getting out there and seeing where they need me at. Whether that’s initially at special teams, I’m happy and just want to do anything. I’m just looking forward to getting an opportunity to play. ”
RE: How much do you think your showing at the combine helped you? Do you think you really opened some eyes there?
“I think a lot of people [inaudible] that athletic, and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to perform well. They thought the combine was where I was going to not do as well. In the seven events, I was a top five performer in five of them. Hopefully, at the combine I opened some eyes that I am athletic and I can play. And it worked. I’m getting an opportunity now.”
RE: How do you think your wrestling background helps you at inside linebacker?
“I think wrestling has helped out my toughness. When I was younger, that was the first sport I played. I think you can translate that to the football game and just be able to make a tackle and not miss anything. That’s one of the things, as a football player, I try to do is, I don’t like missing tackles. Tackling, I love it. I think wrestling has helped me out tremendously with it.”
RE: I read a story that you were a linebacker that nobody wanted coming out of high school. Are you a self-made player? What did it take for you to make it to this level?
“I kind of play like I have a chip on my shoulder. Everyone is always doubting me. All it takes is one person to make one comment about me and I’m just going to work harder and try to prove people wrong. Coming out of a small high school in Western Pennsylvania, I only had one scholarship offer and that was Pitt. I made the best of it. All you need is one opportunity to show everybody what you can do.”
RE: One comment from a scouting publication said you didn’t have a great week at the Senior Bowl, but in the game that you really played well. Would you agree with that?
“Initially, the first day I was really rusty. I played a little bit too nervous, and as the week went on I could definitely tell I was settling down. At the game I felt I got in the zone and tried to make every play. I would kind of agree with that, but I think one of the things that I was hoping a lot of the teams would look at was how I progressed throughout the week and how well I peaked at the game. It was a month [inaudible] practice or anything. I thought I showed my best at the game, like you said.”
RE: Other scouts have mentioned that you’re always around the ball. Is that one of your greatest attributes: anticipation and savvy?
“One of the things that I really think that’s a great aspect of my game is my instincts, having a great feel for the game, having a great feel for who’s in front of me, having a great understanding of the game, knowing what the defensive line is doing, what the linebacker’s got to do, what the secondary – having an understanding of everyone’s assignments and not trying to have any mentals because all it takes is one person to break down and that’s a touchdown for the offense.”
RE: When you’re taking on blockers in the middle of the field are you somebody that goes around the blocker, do you attack the blocker? What’s your approach to that?
“I think that in certain situations each can apply. Obviously, the goal is to tackle the ball carrier so if you don’t have to engage and you can make the play that’s fine, but in certain situations, when it’s short yards, you’re going to need to engage with the offensive player and make the play. I think that I can use both of those but ultimately the goal is to make the play.”
RE: Were you [in] a 4-3 [defense] at Pitt?
RE: This is obviously a 3-4 [defense]. What about the transition there? What do you expect?
“I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think that I’m a very smart player. I think that I can pick up well on new defenses and I’m looking forward to getting there as soon as possible, being a film rat and just trying to study and learn the defense and special teams as well. I’m really excited about that. That was the first thing that opened eyes here at the University of Pittsburgh was special teams: making plays and just trying to get my name recognized for helping out the team.”
RE: Where do you see yourself fitting in here as a rookie?
“I’m looking forward to making the team. Nothing is guaranteed. I’m looking forward to contributing on special teams. I know a lot of people say that they love special teams but I truly do love special teams. I didn’t play at all my first two years and all I was was special teams and that’s where I first made a name for myself. If they need some depth at any linebacker position, I’d be more than willing to help out. But there are a bunch of great linebackers that are already there. I’d just be willing to help them out [by] any means necessary.”