The San Francisco 49ers drafted 12 players over the course of the 3-day NFL Draft, and most of them took some time to speak with the media via conference call. I got some of the transcripts published this weekend, but I'll get you the rest over the course of this week.
The 49ers invested their second pick of the third round in Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland. He entered the draft with a bit of a too slow, too small rep, but the 49ers liked what they saw. Here's what Trent Baalke had to say after the pick:
“Well, it’s Wisconsin. I’m from Wisconsin. How can you not love him as a football player? Not tall enough, not fast enough, arms are too short, you hear all of that. We just love the makeup. We love the player. He’s everything you’re looking for from a DNA standpoint. He loves the game. He’s a smart football player. He’s an extremely instinctive football player. He’s overcome that lack of arm length. He’s overcome that lack of speed that is being talked about. He’s just a baller and he’s going to get thrown into the mix and then it’s up to him from there. But, we expect him to come in and compete.”
Borland spoke with the media Friday evening, and you can view the transcript below. The best part might have been when he would be able to come out to San Francisco. He graduated in December, so he does not have to worry about when finals end. Additionally, he said he does not have a girlfriend or anything that would keep him from getting out to the Bay Area. Someone asked if Borland wanted it advertised that he did not have a girlfriend. It was a random, amusing little aside.
Borland mentioned how he did not do a lot of work in pass coverage, but he felt it was more because of his skills as a pass rusher, as opposed to deficiencies in coverage. Bowman and Willis have both done some great work in coverage. With Bowman out for now, it will be interesting to see how the 49ers use the linebacker next to Willis on passing downs.
Did you have any inkling that you’d go to the 49ers?
“No, I really didn’t know. I met with coach [49ers head coach Jim] Harbaugh and the staff at the combine, but other than that I had no clue.”
You must know their situation at linebacker right now. What are your thoughts of perhaps playing next to LB Patrick Willis early on in the season?
“Well, I expect [LB NaVorro] Bowman to make a comeback. He’s a great player and it’s just still way too early to look that far. I think San Francisco’s got a proven coaching staff and a bunch of proven players on defense. So, I’m just going to find my role and play whatever that is.”
Do you have any experience lately at playing special teams?
“Yeah, I was on our punt team this past season for a little over the first half of the season. So, that was my most recent experience. Prior to that, I played on the kickoff team a little bit in 2013.”
Both of the 49ers inside linebackers, if Bowman’s healthy, are known for their sideline to sideline speed. What would you say your biggest strengths are as that inside linebacker?
“I’ve always felt like I’ve got a great feel for the game. I really approach it as a student and I try to know everything I can. I think that really shows on my film. Take great angles, understand what the offense is trying to do and what we’re trying to do defensively, so that’s my strong suit.”
When will you be able to move out here full-time?
“I’m not quite sure yet. I don’t have anything holding me back. I don’t have a girlfriend and I don’t have anything else going on. So, the number one priority is to get out to San Francisco and to get to work as soon as possible.”
As far as the final exams, have they taken place at Wisconsin?
“I graduated in December, so that’s not an issue.”
So, you can be here on Monday?
Do you want us to advertise the fact that you don’t have a girlfriend yet?
“No, don’t worry about that. I’ll figure that out.”
Are you an admirer of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman? Have you had a chance to watch them play much, and if you have, what’s your take on how those two guys work together?
“I’m very much an admirer of the way those guys play the game. I’ve gotten a chance, Bowman was at Penn State while I was at Wisconsin, so I obviously looked up to him as a young player in the (Big Ten) Conference. Then we’ve gotten a little bit of exposure to those guys and that defense when we had a switch to 3-4. We watched some of their film. We actually implemented a few things the Niners do on defense. So, they’re two of the best in the league and I’m looking forward to learning from them.”
Are your schemes similar?
“We had a lot of different wrinkles in our scheme and I know we just put in a few pressures that they had. But, absolutely as far as those individual pressures themselves they’re ones that we got from the Niners.”
The Niners ask their inside backers to do quite a bit of pass coverage. Has that been a strength for you? Is that something that you do a lot of at Wisconsin?
“Well, I didn’t do a lot of it at Wisconsin. I rushed the passer a lot. But, I think that was because of my skills as a pass rusher not because of any deficiency. I think I showed at the Senior Bowl that I’m a more than capable coverage linebacker and I’m excited to show that in the NFL.”
Did you rush the passer from the outside in that 3-4 ever?
“In the 3-4 it was more up the middle. We had a package that was I guess 3-3-5 a couple seasons ago and out of that package I rushed off the edge. But, this past year it was more up the middle.”