The San Francisco 49ers went rotated three running backs on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, and recently acquired Shaun Draughn ended up with the start. He finished the game with 44 snaps, far exceeding Kendall Gaskins' 16, and Pierre Thomas' 4. It turns out Draughn did not find out he would be starting until shortly before the game. He was told nonchalantly during pregame warm ups that he was starting. The 49ers signed Draughn on Monday, and starting with his arrival at the team facilities that, he has been working night and day (approximately 15 hours/day) with running backs coach Tom Rathman and the team. He was on the field without pads working on pass protection schemes with Rathman in early pregame as well.
Draughn, who is now on his 8th NFL team, led the offense with 16 carries for 58 yards, and four receptions for 38 yards. His ease at adjusting to the offense earned praise from his team mates and coaches.
He played an outstanding game. He was running the ball well. All three of them did a great job running the football. So, just a great job of them to be able to come in and get the information to be able to make it happen on Sunday
24, man, that guy, he's fast. To come in this week and do what he did, that's extremely, extremely impressive.
Draughn spoke with the media after the game. The questions are slightly redundant as a result of him speaking twice to separate groups.
With almost 100 all-purpose yards, give us your thoughts.
I'm humbled. I'm grateful, just happy to be back working. [I'm happy] to be out here with guys that love the game. We practiced hard all week. It's great to be back. I'm happy.
You were used out of the backfield and handing it off. Do you have a part of your game you're more comfortable with? You seem natural as a receiver today.
I like to do it all. If it's a pass they want me to do, I'll catch. If it's a run, I'll do that too. I want to be the all around guy. They used me that way and I was happy about it.
You gave a fresh perspective for this offense and you're ne of 4 new players that started for the offense. What was your take on the week of practice leading up to this game that impressed you?
It's a tight knit group. You don't get that everywhere you go. Like I've said, I've been on a lot of teams and there's just a feel, and the morale of this team is a good feel. I'm wondering why it was only two wins, you know what I mean? But I see the type of guys that are in here and the way they practiced this week, they were definitely hungry for a win and it showed up in the game. We definitely still have some work to do.
What about your readiness to jump into the fray with just a few days of prep?
I really haven't played offense in a while. I've been playing special teams and got released two or three weeks ago from the Browns. I wasn't out too bad, but it was a bit of an adjustment. When you're called, that's part of the job.
Did you know you were going to be used as much as you were?
No, actually I didn't. Coach [Tomsula] walked up to me during pre-game like 'Oh, you're starting by the way.' I was like 'Okay, let's go.' But during the week he said we would play, they would use us, but we just didn't know how much. I guess they made their decision and went with it.
That 30 yard play was the longest of your career. How did that play open up for you?
It was a draw play. The line did a great job of executing the way it was drawn up. You don't really get the looks you want with certain plays but we got the look we wanted and they slammed it down. I tried to break the tackle and get in the open field and see what was out there.
For a guy that had been playing mostly special teams, how much fun was it to get as many touches as you did in a win?
It was great. I'd been praying for this opportunity for so long. Like I said, eight teams, that doesn't happen very often. Especially when you skip from team to team and then you come in one week and you're starting. That doesn't happen. I'm just thankful and humble for the opportunity that the coaches gave me.
You seemed like you've been in this offense all season. How did RB coach Tom Rathman prepare you?
He is a great guy man, he's definitely a hard nosed guy, physical mind set, knows what he's doing, he's played the game, he can teach you from that perspective. There's a lot of coaches that teach it from a different angle but he's actually been 7 yards deep and playing the game so like I've said, I met with him night and day, trying to get everything right. I'd be in there studying and he'd turn around in his office and ask me what I [had] on this, just quizzing me. Then he would come in and would draw up some stuff and ask me what I would have, different scenarios of what would happen. He definitely did a great job of getting me ready.
How many late nights did you have?
I came in around 6:30 and then throughout the day we had meetings and I probably didn't leave until around 9:30. I did it from Monday when I got here, when they signed me. I went right in the room and tried to get to work, then until Thursday and Friday.
When did you find out you were starting?
When Tom walked up to me before the game and said "You're starting." (laughing)
Did he tell you why? Was it because of all of the work you put in?
He didn't say why. He told me just to keep stacking and keep working hard in practice. He was comfortable that I knew a majority of the things we were putting in by Wednesday so I guess he made that decision. I don't know exactly why but I'm glad he did.
What were you doing last Sunday?
I was watching football. The first week I got released I was like man, I don't want to watch [any] football, but you're away from the game, you start to miss it, so I was watching football, me and my kids and my wife. I actually watched a little of the 49ers and then got the call at 6:30 on Sunday and then I was on a plane at 9:00.
How many kids do you have?
Two. A one year old boy who is named Camden and a four year old girl named London.
You're busy then.
Yep, we're done though. One and one and we're done. A boy and a girl, that's all you need.
What were you working on with Rathman during pregame?
Pass protection techniques. We didn't get to do a lot of technique work during the week because I was just trying to figure out who I have to block. He just wanted to give me his mentality of blocking and it helped.
How do you feel stepping in and contributing to a win.
Humbled. Humbled and just grateful. I was thinking before the game, is this a tease? A lot of people don't do that you know what I mean? A lot of people, after a few teams they're done. God's kept me in his good grace and I'm just humbled and grateful.
Did you ever question your future in this league?
Early on, yep, I did. Early on. But like I said, God does different things for different reasons. Maybe he had people cut me that many times in order for me to feel like once I got cut another time I would definitely get picked up. The faith is one thing that's been instilled in me and I try to instill in my children.