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Donte Whitner on playing for a losing team, Blaine Gabbert's play, good ol' days in SF

The former San Francisco 49ers safety spoke with 49ers media on Wednesday. He talked about getting up for games even as the team is losing, the chemistry in San Francisco, and what he sees in Blaine Gabbert and Shaun Draughn. We have a full transcript, and you can listen to audio here.

On how he stays in it with team struggling:

Well you continue to do all the things you were doing even when you were getting wins. And eventually it has to turn. We have to stop making the same mistakes over and over, of a young football team, and eventually, we'll get tired of losing and guys will stop making the same mistakes. Don't change anything, continue to do the things that get you wins. And that's show up early, leave late, getting your film study here and home, take the workouts seriously, take the practice seriously, and then it'll all translate to the football field.

Impressions of Blaine Gabbert:

Gabbert's is doing a pretty good job with what they're giving him to do. They simplified the offense. When things aren't there, he's using his legs. He's far better of an athlete than I ever thought he was. And when you see that on film, see him try to run around, make things happen, that's why they've been able to pick up a couple wins. So that's where they're at with it. I see they have a lot of injuries over there, especially in the running back position, tight end position. So it's gonna be up to him to make some things happen. We're just looking forward to facing him.

On if he is growing comfortable, or looks similar each week:

Well I see him growing more comfortable. He hasn't taken that much, that many chances down the football field, but he can. You saw that with the game-winning play against Chicago last week. He can put the ball where it's supposed to be. He can beat you with his arm, so we have to be ready for that. And they still have some weapons over there. Anquan, he's still the same guy. Torrey Smith, he takes the top off the defense. And our friend, Shaun Draughn, who was just here with us, he's looking really good on the football field, running the football, catching it out of the backfield, screens. Kind of make us wish that we kept him.

On Draughn getting his chance:

Yea, I'm very happy for him. That was really my lifting partner on Fridays. You guys kinda stole my lifting partner. We used to do arms together on Friday morning. I'm very happy for him. He's a hard worker, a very humble, guy. He doesn't really say too much, but he's just a gamer. And he's running the football very hard, you can see that some of the runs he had weeks in a row, even when he's lowering his shoulder on defensive tackles, showing his athleticism, catching the ball out of the backfield, screen game, making guys miss. He was doing some of the same things here, he just didn't get as many opportunities as he really should, and I'm happy for him.

On who led the workouts between him and Draughn:

Nah, it wasn't just me. We would always, some guys would show up for the Friday workout, it's not mandatory, it's optional. Some guys don't, but me and him was always in there together. We would do the normal workout, and sometimes I would give him something extra to do, and I'm accustomed to it, and sometimes he would give me some things he's accustomed to. He knows all about hard work, and it was really just a matter of him getting his opportunity.

On frustration with Browns struggles:

It is a bit frustrating, especially coming home and being from here, and having to hear everybody from family members to even my own children sometimes say stuff about us losing and when we're going to start winning. So, it has been tough, but one thing I can say is we haven't given up. We have guys that want to get the things right. We have a lot of young football players right now. We had a little bad luck this year, from some games losing by field goals, and getting called offsides, getting the interception vs. Denver in the later parts of the game and overtime, and needing about six or seven yards to get a field goal to win it. Not picking up a yard, giving them the football back, and going down and losing that. Saw the heart-breaker on Monday night. We're a lot closer than a lot of people will give us credit for, and nobody's gonna believe us until we actually go out there and turn it around, and put some wins together. But right now we're in the same boat as the San Francisco 49ers, and we're just clawing for a win.

On how to change the culture:

I don't really know how you guard against it, but I know what wins football games. And you know, I learned a lot from the coaching staff in San Francisco. Even after we had some tough losses, or even after we had wins, coach Harbaugh was the one that really kept that thing together and really helped us understand what it takes to win football games.

And that's the tenacity, starting each and every week brand new, as if it's the first game of the year. And that's always staying the course, and making sure you put that extra work in so that you're one step ahead of the football team that you're going to face. We're still trying to put that together and get everyone on board here, but we're moving slowly but surely.

On NaVorro Bowman and Ian Williams return from injuries:

Well I haven't watched those guys, the defensive side of the football, but me knowing NaVorro, I know that he works tremendously hard. I know he worked tremendously hard to get back from that ACL injury. I'm not sure if he's 100 percent right now or not, but I expect him to be, if he's not. Ian is the same type of guy. I hear the offensive linemen talk around here, and he's very active, he's out there making plays. My hat goes off to them, but I would be lying if I told you I've seen any of their film, because I'm basically just focusing on the offensive side.

On how past success helped his leadership role:

Yea, being with 49ers definitely helped me being a leader, from learning from guys like Justin, of course and Pat, and everybody that we had there. Everybody held their own. No matter what happened during the week or what happened on the field, when it came to Sundays, guys were gonna be ready to play and win games. And that's what we had there. We had a chemistry unmatched. I tend to miss those guys that I played with there, from Dashon Goldson, Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers. You never realize how special a situation was until you're gone. If you talk to any of those guys, they'll tell you the same thing. That's in the past right now, but as far as moving on and being a leader, I take a little bit from everybody that I played with, even coach Harbaugh and Vic Fangio, Donatell, we still text to this day. It's just, understanding that different guys are motivated by different things, and there's a different way to motivate each and every guy. And when you're a leader you have to be tirelessly involved in everything that guys do, whether it's off the field or on the field, or giving our defensive line a tip from what you're seeing on film, or a DB, just everybody. You have to be involved in it all the time. That's what I learned.

On Andy Lee's contributions to Browns:

Andy Lee means a lot to us, he's an extra defender for us. He's always been an extra defender, even in some of those big playoff games when it comes down to late in those games and we're kind of backed up, Andy Lee was the one that always got us out of that mess. We're happy to have him. He's still the same guy, so we're happy to have Andy.