San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick met with the media Tuesday afternoon before the team departed for Baltimore, and he had some interesting comments about the tension on the field. Someone asked about how there seemed to be more tension than the previous three seasons. Kap had this to say:
I think it's the level of competition is higher. The first year, everyone was just trying to understand and see where they fit in. I think now everyone is confident in what our offense is doing, what our defense is doing and we feel like we have such a high caliber of player here that getting a starting spot, getting a spot on this roster is difficult and people are fighting for those jobs. I think that's where a lot of the tension, a lot of the frustration comes in is people fighting and grinding to try and find their place.
What do you think about this? It seems like the tension has risen more in the last week or so. I don't know how many of you watched the new Hard Knocks last night, but the Falcons camp had several fights already. It is certainly possible the fights are overblown because the cameras are on them, but there seems to be a bit more to it. Their head coach, Mike Smith, talked about wanting to build toughness, but it seems like that has led to even more tension for them. Thankfully toughness is not something the 49ers really have to worry about.
What are some of the things that you hope to get out of an exhibition game like this?
"We get to see where we're at as a team. Especially a lot of the young guys that we have, we get to see how they play in a live game."
Any special motivation or meaning given that it's the Ravens you're practicing against, you'll be playing against them, given the Super Bowl history?
"No. This is preseason. If it was a regular season game, yeah it would be a little bit different, but right now we're trying to make sure we go out and do things we need to do as a team to get better and get ready for the season."
You talked about cleaning up the offense and offensive coordinator Greg Roman talked about it right now. In what ways have you seen out here in practice that becoming more efficient and the efficiency that you guys have been talking about?
"I think everyone just being on the same page. We've simplified some things. Made it easier for us to get in and out of plays. And, I think that's helped us a lot so far."
In what ways is WR Quinton Patton maybe different than he was last year? I realize health is a big priority, but beyond that, just the way he's running routes and stuff, how has he changed?
"I think just how comfortable he is in the offense. He's always been a great route runner. He knows how to get separation and how to win. Last year it was just a matter of him being comfortable and going out and using his skillset to get open. This year he really is comfortable with everything that's going on. So, he can set things up better. He knows how to run routes to win."
What have you seen from WR Stevie Johnson and how eager are you to see him on the field?
"Stevie is Stevie. He gets open. He makes plays. Very excited to see what he does in live action for us."
It seems like you have a lot of depth at that position now don't you, certainly more so than last year?
"Yes, very much so. A lot of great receivers. A lot of great opportunities in this preseason to see some of our younger guys and what they can do and how they fit into this offense."
How quickly is he picking up the offense? Is he as comfortable as Quinton Patton is?
"Stevie's a pro. He's picked up the offense quickly. He makes very few mistakes in the little time that he's been here. As a quarterback, you like to see that."
Is cleaning up the terminology and kind of simplifying and making it more efficient help with new faces pick up the offense like that?
"Very much so. We had a lot of things that we have changed along the line just because we knew where we started. And, for people coming in it was harder to pick some of those things up and harder for them to figure out how we got to some of those things. Cleaning it up has made it a lot easier for the younger guys and the new guys coming in."
What specifically will you work on this week in the game and the practices playing against guys that aren't the 49ers?
"Winning. You go out, every time you run a play, every time you step on the field you do it to win and that's what we plan to do."
What do you think of Greg Roman's ability to roll out to his right and find someone in the back of the end zone?
"He's much improved. He's getting better every week. I'm expecting big things from him next week."
FB Bruce Miller said he spent much of the offseason here by himself, weight room to himself. Greg Roman said he hasn't lost a step, he's better than ever. What does that mean to have a healthy Bruce Miller?
"It means a lot. I think everyone knows how much Bruce does for this offense and what he means to this offense, so having him healthy and back is a huge asset for us."
Your time capsule was featured in the 49ers Museum. What do you remember about the assignment and writing that back, I don't know, 20 years ago?
"To be honest, not a whole lot. I really remember it was an assignment- it was writing to your future self. When were 18, we were supposed to open it and basically what was important to you now, what you like now and where you think you'll be. And I remember the assignment, but almost everything of mine was sports related. So, I guess I was on the right track."
Do you remember winning the trophy for the Vikings? The Pee-Wee trophy.
"Yeah, we had a pretty good Pop Warner tradition for the Vikings. We had a pretty good run for some years there, but that was just another team we just focused on winning."
Did you play defense too?
"Yes, safety too."
How old were you when that was? The time capsule.
"Ten. Something like that, ten, 11."
There seems to be a little bit more tension on the practice field than the first three years that you were here under head coach Jim Harbaugh. To what do you kind of attribute that? Is it more padded practices, just a different assembly of personalities or what?
"You said more tension this year?"
Yeah, there seems to be.
"I think it's the level of competition is higher. The first year, everyone was just trying to understand and see where they fit in. I think now everyone is confident in what our offense is doing, what our defense is doing and we feel like we have such a high caliber of player here that getting a starting spot, getting a spot on this roster is difficult and people are fighting for those jobs. I think that's where a lot of the tension, a lot of the frustration comes in is people fighting and grinding to try and find their place.
What do you expect to get out of this game, a preseason opener, how much do you learn about yourself or the offense realistically?
"It depends on how much we play to be honest. But, as a team you can find out a lot, especially with the younger players because they'll get a lot of the playing time. You get to see who can step up to the challenge in a live game and who kind of weeds themselves out. And, I think for us, having the competition that we do here is going to be something that we need to see."
How much do you think you'll play?
"Your guess is as good as mine."