49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick met with the media before practice yesterday and discussed a variety of topics including his rise to stardom, losing Michael Crabtree, and the biggest hit he has taken in his career (it happened in college). Here is the full transcript:
Colin, how would you describe how your life has changed these last couple of months from being removed from the team? Getting all of this rock-star status in the offseason, the ESPY all of that sort of stuff, how does that change the things around you?
"I mean, there's just more opportunities to do things. For the most part, for me, I'm worried about playing football."
When you go back to last season and you take over for QB Alex Smith mid-season and you have 20 reporters around you in the locker room asking questions, was that an awkward transition for you to go from backup to all of a sudden you're the focus of everybody?
"No, it wasn't awkward. For the most part to me, like I said, I was worried about playing football. That was my only concern and everything else was just extra."
How much have you thought about the end of the Super Bowl and how much has that motivated you during this offseason?
"I think about it a lot. I think about it to make sure that doesn't happen again. I'll put our team in a better situation next time we're in a situation like that, we have an opportunity like that, so the outcome isn't that way."
How different does it feel knowing that you are the number one guy at this point of the camp as opposed to last year?
"To me it's football. Football is football regardless. I'm here to work. I'm here to make sure I get better and make sure I get myself ready to help lead this team."
Head coach Jim Harbaugh mentioned that guys gravitate towards you and that there's some kind of popularity you have with them. How important do you think it is for the starting quarterback to have that kind of leadership or whatever you want to call it among the whole locker room?
"I think it's very important. I think if your players, your teammates don't respect you, if they don't feel that you're someone that they can come to, talk to, associate with, they're not going to follow you. They're not going to play as well for you on the field and they're not going to perform for you. So to me, if I can build that relationship and make sure my players and my teammates are comfortable and feel like I can help them be better on the field, I think they're going to go out and perform better."
How do you do that? Just conversations off the field or in the locker room?
"There's a lot of different ways you do it. From talking to them, to going out and working hard at practice, showing them that you're here to work and being willing to help them if they have questions. Anything you can do to try and help them and show them that you should be the leader and that you're someone they can follow."
Have you noticed a change in your teammates as far as seeking more leadership from you or asking you about maybe off the football field questions more?
"Off the football field we're just having a good time together. When it comes to football, I think my teammates are more comfortable with me. I think they have more confidence in me now."
You made a big impact when you took over as the starter last year. What do you do for an encore? Where do you need to improve?
"Everywhere. It's not something where I'm trying to get better at one thing. I'm trying to get better at every aspect of my game."
Colin, you said that you don't want to have that happen again. One of the things that happened in the Super Bowl it seemed on that one play was that you didn't get the play called on time. Is that an area of getting the play relayed or getting the team ready before the snap that you're working on in this camp?
"That was just one situation, but to be real honest, the problem came in the first half when we didn't perform well. It didn't come down to those last four plays. It came down to the first half when we didn't put points on the board."
Can you take us back to the first time when you first heard about the WR Michael Crabtree situation? Now looking at it now and seeing it, what's your review of the guys that you do have? Can you take us back to what your thought was then? Maybe how it's subsided a little bit now that the season has begun?
"Well, it's a tragic situation to have that happen to a great player like Crab. At this point people have to step up. Who that is will really depend on how this camp goes and what players show."
You said a week ago or so that you thought there would be some creative feedback from your teammates about your magazine cover. What has been the feedback? Who's had the best joke so far?
"I haven't had anything real bad yet. I feel like they're plotting on me right now."
Colin, has some of the attention, go back to the Miami Dolphins hat or whatever, been a little stunning for you even knowing how big the game is and how big things can get? Has some of that surprised you at all?
"I don't worry about that. I'm worried about playing football. I'm worried about making sure I'm ready to go out on the field and perform."
Colin, one of the offseason themes is that the read-option offense can't sustain, that defenses are going to find a way to stop it. What are your thoughts on that?
"The same way defenses adjust, offenses do to. It's a chess match regardless."
One of the things is that quarterbacks are supposedly going to get hit. You've been successful with your choices you've made in terms of running or not running. Is that something that you can practice or is that something that just is mental when making those choices?
"I think it's a little bit of both. I think as a quarterback you have to know that you have to be healthy to be able to help your team. Running down and taking a big hit from a linebacker or a safety is not going to be in your best interest or the teams. You have to be smart with your body."
What is the hardest that you've been hit; high school, college or pro?
By? Do you remember the game?
"Sean Weatherspoon, my sophomore year."
"On the run, got a clean shot and hit me kind of shoulder and head. Best lick I've taken."
Was it a read option play or what was it? Do you remember?
Did you come right back or do I have to look this up?
"Yeah, knock on wood, I haven't been knocked out yet."
With what Baltimore did specifically having a guy at you the whole time and maybe hitting you after you gave the ball up. Was that different and was that a little tricky to deal with?
"I've seen that before, so it wasn't something new for me."
You leaned heavily on Michael last year for a high percentage of your passes. Do you expect to maybe do that with WR Anquan Boldin this time, or do you hope to spread the ball around a little more?
"It depends on the play-call and what the offense is trying to do. Crab was a hot receiver for a while, so we went to him. He kept making plays so we kept going. This year, it really depends on what the offense is doing."
Now that you've been elevated to rock star status, last year was Kaepernicking, have you been thinking about what you're going to do this year?
"No, I'm worried about trying to put points on the board."