The San Francisco 49ers selected Oklahoma tight end Blake Bell in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and his post-selection conference call revealed some interesting information. In the transcript below, he talked about having previously played quarterback, and how he switched over to tight end. He discussed what he needs to work on and where he shines. And it is worth noting he indicated his nickname at school was The Belldozer, having received it from the fans.
On a side note, general manager Trent Baalke spoke with the media after the draft, and he said the team would consider him as their emergency quarterback. He said the coaches had gone over some of Bell's QB film last week, and brought it to Baalke's attention.
Hey Blake, how you doing?
"Doing well. Couldn't be better."
I could imagine.
"Glad to be a 49er."
Going back, can you explain how the position switch came about and how comfortable you feel at tight end?
"Yeah, I'm feeling really comfortable. It's one of those things that, you know, it's becoming a lot easier as the season went on and that's what was nice. It's just kind of repetition. You know, when you haven't done something for that long, it's all about just getting reps and getting used to the switch. It went good. It all went back to me making a switch. A lot of people thought that, you know, OU or somebody wanted to do it for me. And I said ‘No, no. That was my decision.' So, ever since I switched, I haven't looked back. And I'm just excited about it."
Is there an advantage in making that switch after years of quarterback, kind of knowing what a quarterback wants out of his tight end?
"Oh, exactly. It's kind of one of those things, where you're on the field and running routes and you kind of know when the quarterback is hot, when you need to break it off. In your eyes, you kind of just, hey, I played quarterback before. So, it's I can see the coverage, man, zone, what the corner's doing, linebackers, D-ends, stuff like that. It obviously helped."
What do you need to work on? I mean, what's the process like in making that transition? Is strength one of the things that a quarterback needs to work on when he's becoming a tight end?
"Yeah, I'd say strength. You know, they're just so many lifts we didn't do as a quarterback, but ever since I switched, I've been getting in the weight room and doing a lot more stuff. Just trying to get bigger and stuff, but also leaned out too so you can move. Also, technique wise, only playing the position one year. Had great coaches at OU that taught me. But, I can't wait to get in there and have the coaches seeing me, help me, giving me tips and stuff like that. So, I'm just super excited."
Are they talking about maybe using you also as an H-back and just various roles on offense besides tight end?
"Yeah. I think I'll start to talk to coach more. Right now I'm just so excited. But, yeah I'll do whatever I can do to help the team and whatever they want me to do. Like I said, I'm just so excited and blessed and pumped man."
Why did you make the switch?
"The big deal was, my dad played tight end in college and in the NFL and we kind of sat down and talked about quarterback and different ways maybe to transfer and stuff. One thing was hey what about playing tight end. I was like, ‘You know, I've actually thought about that a lot and I think it's a good idea.' I played receiver for one year in high school and was pumped up about it. So, yeah it kind of when I made the switch I was fully invested and did it. It was pretty cool."
Was your dad done by the time you were born?
"Yeah he was. I'm not sure exactly what his years played. But, yeah he played seven years for the Seahawks and Colts and my uncle played 12 years for the Chiefs?
Did you talk with tight ends coach Tony Sparano at all during the Draft process?
"At the Combine I talked to a couple of the coaches and had good visits. I had a visit with them one-on-one at the Combine for a, what do they call it, you go into the room, had one of those and it went well. Just kind of basic stuff. Just talking about what I thought of the process. Just kind of some of the stuff that we're talking about too. How it went about and how you like it and how the transition has been and stuff? Yeah, we had some good conversation. I got that call today and I can't even, oh man it was unreal. I'm just glad they gave me an opportunity and pumped about it."
Could you ever imagine that Kenny Chesney would be saying your name on TV?
"No, I wouldn't. Did he?"
Oh, you didn't hear it? Didn't he make the pick?
"I've been on the phone and everything. Oh man, that's cool."
Blake, your dad played for the Seahawks and Colts. You said he played tight end. Did he also play defensive end? Did he play different positions?
"I think he played a little bit of D-end back then, they might have moved him. His main position was tight end. But yeah, my uncle played just strictly D-end."
Does the nickname "The Belldozer", does that fit?
"Well, it goes back to, you know, at OU. The fans, they kind of gave it to me and it stuck. And that was it through my whole career. You know, I kind of just told everyone, if they like calling me it, it works."
And that's because you would get into short yardage situations?
"Yeah. I would go in at short yardage, goal line. Basically it would be fourth and one or third and one, stuff like that. I still always give all the credit to the O-line and tight ends at the times because most of the time, I wasn't even getting touched. They did their job for sure."
You must have worked with FB Trey Millard quite a bit in those situations.
"Oh, absolutely. He and another guy, [T] Aaron Ripkowski, were big time in that formation. Me and Trey are really close friends still to this day. I'm excited to be reunited with him too and go to work."
Was part of the position switch, I guess, a) to get on the field more consistently and then, I mean, were you looking toward the NFL thinking that would be a way to get to the league?
"When I made the switch, I knew 100 percent, you know, I'd keep working and I knew I had the size. So yeah, I just wanted to get an opportunity. I just wanted to prove that I can play tight end and I want to play tight end. The more reps and I got out there I knew, ‘hey, I can do this.' You know, and just kept working."