What are you expecting out of QB Colin Kaepernick in this game? Do you have any base line of where he really is once he gets on the field?
“We expect, we need to move the football offensively and that’s why we made the decision to do what we were doing. So, hopefully we can get a little more consistency on the offensive side of the ball and that’s what I think we need. I think at times we’ve looked really good on offense and things were humming and things were clicking. But, we haven’t been consistent enough in our drives and really sustaining drives to stay on the field. Critical things in third down I think have been the things that we’ve really tried to emphasize and work on as we get moving forward here. That’s what we’re hoping for and that’s why we made the move.”
Have you seen a difference, a change, an improvement with his elevated number of reps?
“No. I mean, we’ve had two days of training so I don’t think you’ve got a whole sample size. I think we had 24 repson Tuesday and then it goes up to about 40 or 50 yesterday. So, I couldn’t say there’s a mark difference in terms of what we have. I mean, it’s only been two days.”
You’ve mentioned 2013 Kaepernick. I know it mostly has been the physical stuff, what his weight was. But, is this a similar Colin Kaepernick you’ve seen on the practice field in 2013, that you remember?
“I wasn’t here. I just know what he was like physically. And that’s the only, for some reason that seems to be everybody kind of caught onto that. Whether it was 2013 or 2014, it was just pre-injury Colin Kaepernick that everybody knew that was somewhere between 215 and 290 pounds. I don’t know exactly what he weighed because I wasn’t here. So he just, what part of that? And again, it was more towards, when people wanted to know what’s wrong with Colin Kaepernick? It was he’s a guy coming off of three injuries. And he’s worked, as I said, extremely hard at putting himself back into shape, getting himself ready to play football. He was cleared medically in August, but that doesn’t mean you’re full-go ready to play and are going to pick up right where you left off. It’s been a process and he’s worked extremely hard at it. So, we’re hoping that when we get him on the field on Sunday that that’s going to show dividends for us.”
I’m just giving you a chance to clarify a comment you made Tuesday, which perhaps was unfairly interpreted. But, you said when making the quarterback change, it’s really one of the only moves you could make based on your depth. Some people took that as maybe a thinly veiled shot at general manager Trent Baalke and the roster, the offensive talent you have.
“You guys are digging deep here, huh? If you look at every position we have on offense, we rotate. So, all three running backs play. If five receivers are up, they play. All three tight ends play. We’re rotating our offensive line. The only position you don’t rotate on the offensive side of the ball is quarterback. So, when I said that’s the only maneuver you could make, it’s not like ‘Well geeze, [RB] Carlos [Hyde] isn’t playing well.’ Well [RB] Shaun Draughn plays, [RB] Mike Davis plays. [TE] Blake Bell plays. [TE] Garrett Celek plays. [TE] Vance McDonald plays. We rotate six offensive linemen. The only position that had not been rotated on the offensive side of the ball was the quarterback spot. So, that’s what I said. What are you going to do? The only position we hadn’t made a move at was quarterback. So, that’s all I meant by that.”
Obviously, what you’re saying is it’s not an indictment of the offensive talent you have?
“No, not at all. You guys are digging deep today.”
Is QB Blaine Gabbert definitely going to be the backup on Sunday?
Some coaches might have waited all week to announce it and kept the opponent guessing, kept everyone guessing until Sunday. Why announce it on Tuesday?
“Well, I think we live in a society, number one, that there are no secrets. So, if Colin took all the reps with the oneson Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, somebody’s ‘mole’ would have told them who was taking all the reps, you know what I mean? And I don’t really care. We have two similar quarterbacks. Our offense doesn’t change. I don’t think you’re going to outsmart people in the National Football League where all of a sudden if the second quarterback’s playing that [Buffalo Bills head coach] Rex [Ryan] is going to tear up his game plan and say, ‘We’re screwed. We have no idea how to defend him.’ People way over-analyze the whole thing. You ask me a question. I’m going to tell you an answer. You ask me who our quarterback is. I’m going to tell you who our quarterback is. Our quarterback maneuver was made on Tuesday then our quarterback will be announced on Tuesday. So, I don’t buy that whole stick the banana in the tailpipe and try to tell them the car is broken. It is what it is. We made the maneuver on Tuesday. I’ll announce it on Tuesday.”
Who is your starting right guard?
“That I don’t know yet. It’s still a work in progress. I think [G] Josh [Garnett] has played more. I think he played about 20 snaps on Thursday. He’ll continue to play more and we’ll just kind of see how that goes based on how we are in training. Hopefully, you’ll see both of those guys depending on how we go from a training standpoint.”
Is this one of those situations where a couple weeks ago I think defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil was talking about the cornerback situation and there being competition in practice to see who wins it in?
“Yeah, it’s similar. Yeah, but I would imagine we still may play all those guys on the offensive line too.”
Gabbert got five games. I know that might not have been restricted that he’s going to get five games. But, are you looking at Kaepernick getting at least five?
“We have no pitch count or whatever it is on it. We have to make decisions on what’s best for us to do. So, I didn’t go into it saying Blaine had, we had a plan, let’s give him five games and see where we are after five and then make a decision. It’s just we evaluate everything on a day-to-day basis, honestly, in terms of where we’re going to be and what’s the best for us to move forward and to try to win on a weekly basis. So, that’s kind of where it is. But, there’s not a count of games, throws, whatever, for anybody right now.”
How’s Kap’s timing in terms of playing with the ones? WR Jeremy Kerley has been targeted and pretty much a security blanket for Blaine Gabbert. He and alongside WR Torrey Smith, how are they looking when they roll with Kap?
“Again, it’s been two days of training with them, but they’ve been consistent since we’ve been out there. They get a lot of work in all our individual drills, so you get a chance to see that. We do a lot of, whether it be three on two or four on three against our defense where we’re just rolling the receivers and rolling the quarterbacks. There’s not, ‘Hey this guy has to be with that guy, that guy has to be with this guy.’ I don’t see that being an issue, saying he hasn’t been throwing to those guys because he has been throwing to them in training sessions.”
Along the same lines though, with Kerley in particular, so much of that position is predicated on body language and hot routes and things like that. How important to you is chemistry between the slot receiver and the quarterback?
“Well, I think all of it’s important. You can’t say chemistry’s not important. But, I don’t know what the word chemistry is. Are the receiver and the quarterback on the same page and do they know when the receiver’s going to break and make his decision in terms of where he’s going? We don’t run all option routes, but we do have a fair amount of option routes in there where you’ve got to a feel in terms of where they are. But, that’s what practice is for and training is for, to get that stuff ironed out. So, we’ll see how that goes.”
Colin said a couple times that what you guys do is similar to what he did in college. Did you ever look at the University of Nevada when you were going across the country and meeting different coaches?
“I never met with the University of Nevada, but I know [former Nevada head] coach [Chris] Ault and what a great career he had there and the impact he had on football in terms of what he did. But, I didn’t specifically go to Nevada and study coach Ault.”
Do you see the similarities between what they do, what they did and--?
“Not in the passing game, no. But, I think there’s some things we do in the run game, yes.”
In that last preseason game, was Kaepernick running the full offense there? What was that like?
“Pretty much. I mean, we were limited a little bit, like Kerley just got here. So, I think Jeremy played in that game, but I only think he had like three or four plays in that if we got him in, you know, I think he ended up having three catches in that game. You’re a little scaled back just based upon what you have playing around him. So, I wouldn’t say we had our full offense in for that game, but a good chunk of what we’re doing was in that game.”
You’ve given up 100-yards or more to a running back in four straight games and here comes Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy. What are the issues in that? Is it mostly tackling? Is it gaps?
“It’s a combination of both. It’s never just one thing. But, I think first and foremost the fundamentals of tackling have to be, especially with such an elusive back like LeSean, you better make sure not only are you doing a good job in your fundamental technique of tackling, but you’re also getting as many guys as you can to the football because you have to kind of corral him. He can make one guy miss in the open field. That’s his forte. He’s got extreme quickness and the ability to shake guys in one-on-one situations. So, part of playing against a really good running back is the ability to gang tackle him and not give him outs and make sure that you’ve created a wall so to speak up front so there’s not a place where can insert if it’s an inside running play and if it bounces to the sideline, do we have contain, have we set edges on him and if we set edges, are the rest of the guys running to the ball and playing with great pursuit so that you can kind of corral him? So, to play against someone like LeSean, it’s going to take all 11 guys on defense contributing. The biggest thing for us is try to stay out of the one-on-one tackle situations and let’s get into gang tackle situations where we’re getting three, four and five guys to the football.”
Has LB NaVorro Bowman had surgery and has he been around the team?
“No. He’s not. I think he just had surgery two days again maybe, I think. What’s today? What are we on, Thursday? I think it was either Monday or Tuesday. So, two to three days ago. I’m not sure if he’s back yet.”
I’m going back a couple weeks here, but Kaepernick was very complimentary of you when you called what he was fighting against heinous. I was just wondering what that comment meant to you and having him say that what your reaction was?
“Well, I think the comment is very self-explanatory. There’s people that are dying senselessly, both police officers and citizens of this country. If you don’t see that, I think you’re either blind or ignorant. I mean, there’s a huge issue going on in this country. I don’t think anybody can say that they think it’s OK. I don’t think you’re going to get that from anybody and that’s just what I mean, that I think it’s, there’s a lot of senseless things that are going on in this nation that need to be addressed. So, I support his take on that.”
He said that you demonstrated strength by saying that, reacting like that. Have you had a conversation about that with him, just the support you’ve had for him?
“I’ve had conversations with Kap. I know he’s got a lot going on on his plate and I think part of that is making sure that he understands that people do support him in terms of where he is and what he stands for and what the things are. I think sometimes he’s very misunderstood and I think people’s reaction towards what he’s trying to do is very misunderstood. But, I think Colin has a clear heart and a clear vision of what he’s trying to get accomplished and I support that.”
When it comes to stopping the run, stopping the run in nickel seems harder because you have more defensive backs on the field, you’re more spread out. How do you balance schematically matching up that way versus trying not to get gashed in the running game inside?
“Well, I don’t think you can stay stopping the run in nickel is different than stopping the run in base. It’s because, what do they have out there? So, really what you’re trying to do is match their personnel. If they have bigger tight ends in there and you have smaller DBs in there, then that’s a mismatch. That’s why you don’t want to be in nickel when they have bigger guys in there. But, if they have 10-personnel so to speak when it’s receivers out there and you have DBs out there, then it’s the same. You’ve got to be able to, no matter who you are, to defeat the block. You’ve got to get off of the block and get to the football. So, part of what people try to do is match who you have in. So, if you’ve got bigger bodies in, then we’ll have bigger bodies in. If you have smaller bodies in, then we’ll have smaller bodies in. The reason is twofold is that number one, we feel like we can matchup in the run game when we have smaller bodies because our guys should be able to get off those blocks because they’re getting blocked by similar sized guys. But, number two, if you have big bodies in and they have a small lineup in, then you can’t cover them. So, you get into some mismatches when you’re 6-4, 6-5, 270-pound outside linebacker is in space versus a Jeremy Kerley or a [Dallas Cowboys WR] Cole Beasley. That’s a mismatch, that chess game that goes on within the game is, ‘Hey, they left base in the game. Well, maybe we should be throwing it, not trying to run against base. If they have nickel in the game and we have big guys in the game, then maybe we should be running it.’ But, usually people are just trying to match. So, you don’t kind of get caught with, we have a smaller lineup in. It’s no different than basketball. If you’ve got a small lineup in and they went big, well, you’re probably going to get the ball pounded into post on you, you know what I mean? If, alright, we have a small lineup in and they’re big, we’re going to stand outside three and start taking threes because we don’t feel they can cover us. So, that’s kind of the chess match that goes on within the game.”