With the second full week of practice that QB Colin Kaepernick has taken most of the reps, is there anything specific that you look for him to build on during the week of practice?
“I think for any quarterback you’re just looking for consistency. The chemistry or the relationship that’s where the receivers are, knowing where, as they come out of their break, where they’re going to be. Is one guy a little bit sharper out of his cut? Is one guy a little bit deeper out of his cut? Obviously reading the defense as you go, but just getting a little bit more consistent, a little bit more familiar because he is getting more snaps. Sometimes when you’re the two that’s difficult because you’re not getting as many snaps. But, when you are the one and you’re getting snaps and we’re running that play and you may run it once in team and then come back and run the same concept when you’re in seven on seven. If you may have missed it in team or was off a little bit in team, do we correct it when we get to the seven on seven period? So, that’s really what you’re looking for.”
Do you, it’s only been a few days, but can you see things look maybe a little bit more crisp on the practice field?
“Yeah, you can see that. That’s a good point. You can see that and I think that’s, at any rate, like again with Colin his last extensive playing time was in the San Diego game. I think he played three snaps in the first game, but his last extensive playing time was in the San Diego game, which was our last preseason game, which was over six weeks ago. Getting him back into, really what you’re trying to do is get him into a rhythm.”
What’s WR DeAndre Smelter look like now that he’s back on the practice squad?
“Just seen him for two days. It’s good to see him back out there running around. Obviously, even through OTAs he seemed to have something. So, it was you’d have him for a couple days and then he’d be out for a couple days or not 100-percent for a couple of days. So, the biggest thing with DeAndre is are we going to get a healthy DeAndre and that’s what we’re looking for. But, for two days so far he’s looked solid.”
He was dealing with a hamstring off and on--?
“Yeah, it was a hamstring.”
OK, it wasn’t tied to his torn ACL in college?
“I don’t know how the hamstring happened, but the injury itself was a hamstring. It had nothing, there was no knee issue and it was a pretty, whatever the grades are, grade two or grade three, it was a legitimate torn hamstring. It wasn’t one of those you know he’s out for a week or two as an extensive, obviously, just look at when we released him, waived him injured and then brought him back, I know it was a pretty severe hamstring injury.”
You mentioned RB Mike Davis had practiced well last week and had earned more playing time in that game in Buffalo. Can you elaborate on what he did during practice that was an improvement? I know he had a good preseason averaging over eight yards a carry.
“Just hitting the hole, timing, making the right cuts. You’re burying yourself into the back of the guard or are you working off of the guard’s block and getting yourself to the second level and not getting touched by a linebacker, finishing runs, showing good vision. That’s kind of what you’re looking for in a running back when you’re going through practice.”
Is the next step for him maybe building a rhythm, getting playing time and then starting to feel the rhythm of the game? Is that going to help him going forward?
“Yeah, you would hope. I think, again, just like the same conversation we had about Colin, the more time you’re out there, the more reps you’re getting, the more snaps you’re getting. I think you’re trying to get into a rhythm and get into a feel of kind of how the game itself will be played.”
How is he as a pass catcher coming out of the backfield?
“Well, Mike is solid. I think [RB] Carlos [Hyde] and [RB] Shaun [Draughn] were a little bit ahead of him from a pass-catching standpoint. He does a good job in protection, but he’s solid as a receiver coming out of the backfield.”
Will you bring up RB DuJuan Harris?
“Yeah, we’ll get to, again I said that earlier, you’ve got to wait until you get to Saturday. If three guys get injured today then you’re juggling them all around. Or DuJuan could get injured. So, we’ll get to Saturday and then make a decision on where we’re going to be. But, we do want to have three running backs up for the game.”
How has CB Will Redmond looked in practice?
“One day he looked OK. I didn’t, he’s over with the scout squad, running around just kind of getting his feet wet. He looks like he’s moving better than when we saw him last in the preseason. But, he’s looked OK.”
Did he suffer a setback at all or was it just something that you wanted--?
“I don’t think it was a setback. No, I don’t. It wasn’t an injury that kept him out. I just don’t think he was ready to go.”
Going back to DeAndre, did he show you enough when he was healthy in the offseason that it was part of the plan that when he gets healthy and if he doesn’t get picked up by another team that you’d want to bring him back and see him and perhaps--?
“No, I would say the other way. We didn’t see it, really didn’t get a chance to see him so that’s what we really wanted to be able to do. It was one of those deals is that you never saw enough of him to really make an accurate decision on, ‘Hey, can he really contribute and help? So, let’s give him an opportunity when he’s healthy.’ Again, when you have the injury that he had with his hamstring, and it was legit, got an MRI. It was a real serious hamstring injury. You feel bad for the player because he’s put so much time and invested so much time coming in and being on IR the first year and getting ready to show us what he can do but then really didn’t have a chance to show us what he can do. I don’t think he played. Did he play in a preseason game? I don’t think he played. I think he was hurt. It happened before our first preseason game, so we never really got a chance to see him in action.”
Colin’s athletic skills and everything are evident. One of the criticisms on him has been on touch and anticipation. One, do you think that’s fair and two, is that something you can develop later in your career? As your career goes on, can you improve that?
“Well, I think he has touch and anticipation. I think part of that’s understanding the concepts that you’re teaching and what he’s being asked to do. I don’t know exactly what the ins and outs of the systems that he was in before we got here, but in terms of us seeing him, I think he does have anticipation, he does have the ability to throw guys open. There’s certain balls you have to put some touch on to throw and I’ve seen that displayed in practice. I think one of the things that’s difficult in terms of grading Colin just from the first game that he played in Buffalo is I don’t think anybody was really accurate. But, a lot of that had to do with the weather. I think part of that, even the long throw to [WR] Torrey [Smith], when you talk to Colin about it, he said, ‘I just wanted to get it out there.’ He was afraid, I think we were going with the wind, he was afraid if he let that thing go, how open Torrey was, we overthrow him by 10 yards we get nothing out of it. So, I think he babied that throw a little bit but understandable because you’re in a little bit of a different environment. There was a distinct wind in the difference between going one way and going the other way and I know you can talk to [K] Phil [Dawson] who’s got great experience at it from a kicking standpoint. We probably had to get to almost the 20-yard line going down away from the tunnel and then the other side, I think he hit a 65-yarder in warmups going the other way. So, the wind was a bigger factor I think in his first time out. So, hopefully, back here in the friendly confines of Levi’s, we’ll be in a little bit better situation, a little bit better weather in terms of us throwing the football.”
Colin’s been described as maybe a better player in games than in practice. Would you agree with that?
“In the one game that I can judge him from?”
You’ve watched tape.
“I don’t think he’s been bad in practice. So, I don’t see that.”
Well, not bad.
“That’s the point. I’m just saying I don’t get that. I think Colin has been great. He’s very intense. He really works very hard from a practice standpoint. So, I don’t see that aspect. The one thing that set him back is he had a sore arm. So, we missed a chunk of time in preseason camp with him. But, I don’t get the, and I’ve heard that, but I don’t, my body of work with him from a practice standpoint and a game standpoint is really the Chargers game which I think he played half good but you’re going against the twos and threes of the Chargers and then the Buffalo game was the only games that I’ve ever seen Colin in.”
In your experience though with other players, I’m sure that have had similar attributes being better in games than maybe during the week.
“I haven’t been around many of those guys, to be honest with you. I believe people sink to their level of training, they don’t rise to the occasion. I haven’t really been around a lot of guys that just don’t practice very well and then all of a sudden on game day show up. I think it’s too hard a game. I’ve never really understood that narrative. I think it’s too hard a game to not practice very well and then go out and play very well. I don’t think that happens really in any spot, that that truly happens, to be honest with you.”
Are you fully committed to staying with the 49ers beyond this season?
“Unless the media has an opportunity for me somewhere, I’ll always explore those opportunities. But, I’m not going anywhere.”
How would you describe former 49ers LB Charles Haley’s role with the team and to have guys connected to that kind of success that this organization’s had in the past? What value is that?
“Well, I think on the second part, I think that’s huge and I think it starts with our player engagement program run by [vice president of football affairs] Keena Turner. To have guys like Keena and [director of alumni relations] Guy McIntyre around here, they have a huge impact on our players and I think this player engagement is different than a lot of player engagements in the league in the fact that so many of the former players give back here. We’ve had meetings in the offseason with our rookies and there’s [former 49ers C/G] Jesse Sapolu, [former 49ers CB] Eric Wright, [former 49ers RB] Ricky Watters, [former 49ers QB] Steve Bono. The list goes on and on of how many former 49ers really reach out and want to help because of their ties to this organization and I think it’s unbelieve. I think it’s great. Charles is just another example of that. But, to hear from [former 49ers RB] Roger Craig or [former 49ers TE] Brent Jones or [former 49ers WR] Dwight Clark’s around a ton, you know, [former 49ers QB] Steve Young, [former 49ers WR] Jerry Rice, all those guys. I think the history and the tradition of this organization is something that we really want to continue and we want to use that to help our other players and motivate them. So, the fact that so many of those former players want to give back to this place kind of speaks and tells you a little bit about it and that’s kind of the role that Charles has. Charles wants to be around, Charles wants to help and I think he’s had a positive impact when he’s been here and had a chance to sit down and visit with our players.”