"It's great to be here. Week 1 of the regular season, there's a lot of juice throughout the league and in our locker room. But, can't wait to play Monday night. That's about all I have to say, but I know you probably have some questions."
How has the offensive line starting to come together now that OL Jordan Devey's set at right guard?
"Yeah, you know, that work up in Denver was really good work for us. We were trying to find those final combinations. But, since that game, I think we've locked in. The padded practices are real important for the linemen. If you lined up those linemen together and start to develop some chemistry, I think that's what we're seeing. So, we were valuing the practices, not just the good work we had up in Denver, but then coming back here and working with ourselves has really been good. And I think we're kind of getting that chemistry you want to see going into Week 1."
You had padded practices last week, what Wednesday before and then Friday?
"Yeah. And we're trying to work that in because what happens, normally, is you're trying to find the final 53 in the fourth preseason game. So, we probably worked a little harder, knowing going to Denver, we probably didn't play some of those guys as much in the game itself up in Denver because we had gotten some good work, a padded day, even though we had shorts on it was a padded day and then an unpadded day and then carrying that momentum into Week 4 of the preseason. A lot of the guys went through a normal week even though it was a short week. So, trying to back-end the Denver week with the fourth preseason game, I think we've picked up right where we left off right now knowing that it's a Monday night game and we still have some work to do this week."
How have you seen TE Vernon Davis, pretty motivated to bounce back from a tough year? We see him over on the side working with tight ends coach Tony Sparano, how has that relationship been with those two?
"Yeah, it's been a great relationship with Vernon and Tony and we love all of our tight ends. But, Vernon, been here now the fifth season and you see Vernon and you realize just what we think an anomaly the previous year was. And that happens, especially to veterans. And I think he's come out from the first day of offseason all the way through and there's been a nice chemistry. We have chemistry between linemen, chemistry between receivers and the quarterbacks, but we're also seeing some chemistry between the coaches that have been brought on board and then those position players. And that's really exciting to see. Those of you that have been out there, we've gotten a lot out of the practice segments. The individual portion of practice, there's a lot of work going on. There's more gadgets on the field in terms of receivers running through what looks like thoroughbred hoops. But, at the end of the day, we've gotten a lot of work out of that and we hope some of that will pay off on Monday night."
Do you expect the Vikings to test your offensive line in different ways to make sure they're all on the same page?
"Yeah, there's a lot of different ways to do it. You can test them by personnel. They've got some good young people playing defense and then [Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer] Zim's scheme has been always very sound. He's been around a long time. He's got that nice blend of being a tough disciplinarian yet they still enjoy playing for him and playing hard. So, you try to fit your plays into the scheme that it's going to be knowing that you can forecast maybe some of the things that they've done in the past to try to put their best foot forward on opening night."
You said in training camp you thought you had the right offensive linemen there but time will tell. You ended up making two trades for offensive linemen. What do you feel now? Do you feel like--?
"Yeah. You pull the scope back and you realize that there was going to be some replacement of the people who were there from previous years. And we've done that. For example, [former C] Jonathan Goodwin, we did a nice job with [C] Daniel Kilgore coming in. He's injured, so we've got to keep finding that combination. And again, going back to the value of having pads on for those linemen to work as a cohesive unit. I think we've gotten a lot out of that. But, you have to probe the different combinations. You saw that throughout, not just within the games, but even during practices. Those of you that have been out there, you saw just how much we were trying to probe to find the right combination and right now as we stand here, we're healthy which is important and we're developing some good chemistry. And I think those are really good things to bank on going into the game."
Apologies to the beat writers, a RB Jarryd Hayne question. How have you found him dealing with the attention for a player who has still got a lot to prove?
"You know, it's been a remarkable journey since he first got here. He's so good at handling the ball in flight. We remember maybe fielding a punt or catching a pass, but then during the game itself, you know, they come at you with different angles then maybe what he's used to. It's been quite remarkable for him to be that comfortable so quickly. So, it's been a remarkable journey. I'm glad you can check it out for yourself because it's been remarkable."
Are there any management issues with you given that he's still got a lot to prove and is getting so much attention as a rookie? Has it been a challenge for you?
"What's been great is [head coach] Jim Tomsula's background in NFL Europe. I think that the European player, he's worked with a lot of projects. We had [former 49ers DL] Lawrence Okoye. I would think right now, there's no language barrier. Sometimes when you're working with foreign players, if it was a language barrier, then communicating is hard. But, even though we have football terminology, I think that's been a major plus is that other than an accent every now and then, there is no language barrier."
Did you see enough just in the last week when he was healthy for WR Bruce Ellington to be the number three guy?
"You could tell right, the fourth preseason game we wanted to get him in. We actually tried to call some plays in the second half of the Denver game, trying to see where he was at because he's a dynamic player when he's out there and when he got out there the first third down, it wasn't exactly called to be a touchdown, it was called to move the chains but he did it on his own. Again, as an example of someone where you don't want to jump to too many conclusions after the first day of training camp or in the offseason. But, it seems like where we stand right now, he's at a good spot and confident and healthy."
WR Torrey Smith seems unconcerned that they didn't hook up on a lot of passes in the preseason, with QB Colin Kaepernick. Is that your take too? I mean, they hit a lot in practice.
"Yeah. I would have to say over the long haul of training camp, games and practices blend together. And so, we saw enough from the offseason, the OTA's, the mini-camps and the practices themselves including the practice yesterday, where there's enough connections that you're not losing sleep over that."
Are you getting along with C Nick Easton?
"No problems there."
When you guys were scouting him, did you look at him as a guard as well? Is he capable of playing that?
"Yeah. We all know what the numbers look like on game day, right? You have a big group of 90 that dwindles down, but then you're only going to have probably seven, it's a luxury to have eight dressed up. So, you're always looking for someone that can be that swing guy, the person that has the ability. So, we worked hard last year, for example, with [C] Marcus Martin so that he could pull the ball and play center and also play guard. That versatility, position versatility, is really important and any of the guys coming in, including [OL] Ian [Silberman]. We were out there, for those of you that remember watching we had that one training camp practice where we were rolling the ball back there. But, we just have to stay with developing him as a center even though that's not part of his background. It's just the versatility, and hopefully though practices and reps and over the span of an entire season, everyone becomes comfortable with it."
In basketball, coaches likes to say it's important to get a big man involved early, get him touches early.
Does the same principle apply to Vernon Davis?
"I think Vernon's very unique in that way in that for a big man, he does run. And there's another basketball analogy that's reward the big man for running the floor. So, Vernon, I think it's important to get everyone going early. And the easiest way to do that is to get first downs so that you get more plays and you string some plays together in a drive. So, I think you're conscious of everyone's role on game day. And then within the game plan, can you spread it out, not just for Vernon, but what is Bruce Ellington's role in the game plan? Or what is [WR] Anquan's [Boldin] role? Or Torrey's role? And if you feel like you've got a balanced call sheet going into a game, you feel like everyone has ownership within that game plan."
Could you imagine how tough that was for him last year dealing with some injuries and not being utilized maybe the way he--?
"Yeah, and any athlete, you talk to athletes, there's no such thing as an overnight success. And I think there's never the perfect season where everything just falls into place. So, the challenges are kind of playing through some of the sticky points to a season and for the most part, the people who are good athletes play through all of that. And every now and then, they do get stuck and you've got to make sure to just stay with the plan and move forward. And so, we're moving forward off of that and there's been a lot of plays that have been made throughout the course of this training camp that, you know, the past is the past."
What kind of differences have you noticed out of RB Carlos Hyde the rookie to Carlos Hyde the number one back replacing someone like former 49ers and current Indianapolis Colts RB Frank Gore?
"First off, he's had a great rhythm to things. So, you come in as a rookie, you're not quite sure what's around the next bend. I think he took full advantage of the offseason here to put himself in a good spot conditioning-wise. I see him working out so hard with [director of human performance Mark Uyeyama] Uye and in the weight room, and then working on the practice field. There's just a comfort level. You're no longer a rookie, you see that, take a Marcus Martin, that draft class of people who are coming back for their second go around. They're looking at some of the rookies and realizing what it was like. But, we really see a lot of growth from Carlos both physically and then within the playbook."
But, was rhythm maybe an issue for him last year in the sense that he was a much different runner than Frank?
"Yeah, and again, you want to have a little bit of a piece of a game plan for everybody. But, when it's game day, no one wants to come out of a huddle on game day. But, you want to mix people in. So, there's always a balance associated with that where right now, he knows he's in the huddle and he doesn't want to come out. So, he wants to make the plays. So, I think it's a different role for him and something that he's excited and looking forward to and has worked hard to be in that spot right there."
What's your assessment of QB Blaine Gabbert's preseason performance?
"You know, the last time we talked, a couple of things we wanted to look at, we wanted to look at the O-Line as a rotation, we talked about Jarryd a lot and how phenomenal he was just picking up this game. And then we talked and it was really a serious effort to try to get Blaine what he was doing on the practice field, and I thought he had it, I don't know what else he could have done in the preseason games to give himself more confidence and to give us more confidence. And that's always a great feeling going into the season."