After several bouts with off the field issues with their players, the San Francisco 49ers promised to "Win with class" moving forward. The character of players has been at the top of the list of qualifications for the front office. With their 4th round pick, the 49ers selected LSU CB Rashard Robinson, who sat out all of 2015 due to off the field issues. During his post selection conference call, the former Tiger explained how he has changed.
I had things come up in the past, but I had to learn from my mistakes of the past, so just missing this whole season and everything, and just learning from them and trying to progress and just become better as a man and as a person as a whole.
How did he prove this to teams?
To be honest, just being honest. You know, manning up to whatever you did and just being honest and just showing people you're just trying to move forward from your past and not trying to go back.
How did you get ready for the draft after sitting out all year?
You gotta just go out there and show what you can do. Staying, working out, being active while not playing a whole year and going to the combine and performing like I did after missing a whole year. Football is natural to me, I grew up loving this sport. I'm going to do anything to keep playing this sport.
About his arrest in 2015:
Actually the case was thrown out. It was a big misunderstanding. My record was expunged.
Talking about his year off:
Just being down home, I had my immediate family around. It was like a village, you know it takes a village to raise a child. I had a lot of people keep me on the right path and just going out...you know, it was up to me at first. I have to do what I need to do. I had to prove it to myself. So just going out, working out all the time and just putting myself around positive people, it helped me stay out of trouble and just keep staying on the straight path.
About a week ago in Fort Lauderdale, Robinson met with 49ers team chaplain, Earl Smith. They had a long meeting where the two shared their stories in a session that Robinson called "great." Smith, who has been San Quentin's chaplain for over two decades, led a life of drugs and gang involvement until he reached his turning point, being shot point blank and expected to die. You can read Smith's story here.
Robinson, who is currently 6'3 and 180 lbs., would like to put on a few pounds. He says he can play inside and outside, and looks up to Patrick Peterson's footwork, Josh Norman's aggression and Richard Sherman's aggression and trash talking.
Here's the full transcript:
Were you surprised at all that you came off the board when you did?
"Well you know, it was a blessing. I really couldn't count it after missing the whole year and everything. It was a shocker. It was unexpected."
What was it like, did you ever meet with the 49ers? Did you come out here on a pre-Draft visit at all? What was your interaction with them during the draft process?
"I met with them when I was up at the Combine in Indy, and then I actually met with one of the members of the organization. We sat down and had lunch down in South Florida and just had a great conversation and a great meeting."
Who was the guy you had lunch with?
"Actually, it was the team pastor."
Earl, Reverend Earl?
"Yes. Yes. Yes."
Obviously looking at your history, for teams it would be logical thinking that you're a character risk. Are you a character risk?
"No sir. I had things come up in the past, but you know I had to learn from my mistakes in the past you know just missing this whole season and everything. Just learning from them and just trying to progress and become better as a man and a person as a whole."
How can you convince teams, or how do you think you went about convincing teams, in this case obviously the 49ers, that you are changed and that the light has gone on?
"To be honest, just being honest. Just manning up to whatever you did and just being honest. Showing people you're trying to move forward from your past and not trying to go back."
How are you going to be able to get back in the flow of things football-wise on the field after not playing so long? How did you convince the 49ers that you will be ready to do that?
"You got to just go out there and show what you can do. One thing, just stay working out, going, just being active while not playing for a whole year. Going to the combine and performing the way I did after missing a whole year. Football is natural to me. I grew up loving this sport and I'm going do anything to keep playing this sport."
You measured in 6-1.5 and 171 pounds at the Combine?
What are you now, as far as your weight goes and do you need to put on weight?
"I'm around 180-182 range. I want to put on at least a few more pounds, because I'm trying to come in and make a great impact."
Did you participate in any Pro Day, or were all your workouts just private with the teams?
"Yes, I actually did a workout at LSU."
How would you describe your style of play? Do you mostly stick to the outside at cornerback?
"I play both sides of the ball. I'm an aggressive player, and just have a high energy for it. I like to compete. I love to compete and I just want to dominate every time. I'm just trying to be a great competitor and a great pro."
The SEC has had some very tall, physical wide receivers in recent years. How did you match up against some of those guys? I'm thinking about Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans, the Auburn Receiver that was drafted, Pittsburgh Steelers WR Sammie Coates. How did you do against those guys?
"You've just got to go out there, that's big-boy football out there with SEC. That's like a lower level of the NFL, how I view it. You've just got to go out there and you've got to compete. Just have aggression and go out there every play and just give it your all. Don't ever become submissive or tuck your tail, as they would say. You've just got to go out there and just keep going. Keep grinding and pounding it out."
What's the closest comp comparable to you who's already in the NFL? Anybody that you kind of pattern your game after?
"Actually, I take different things from a lot of people's games. You know, [Arizona Cardinals CB] Patrick Peterson, his footwork. [Washington Redskins CB] Josh Norman, his aggression. [Seattle Seahawks CB] Richard Sherman, his aggression, his trash talk. I just take different things and put it into my game to make myself become a better player."
You were arrested in June, what's the status of that case?
"Actually, the case was thrown out. It was a big misunderstanding. Record was expunged."
Can you tell us a little bit about your year off? Was there a mentor that helped you out? How did you get through that season off?
"Just being down at home I had my immediate family around, so everybody. You know, it was like a village. It takes a village to raise a child. I had a lot of people just keeping me on the right path, and going out. It was up to me at first. I had to do what I needed to do. I had to prove it to myself. So, just going out and working out all the time and just putting myself around positive people it helped me stay out of trouble and just keep staying on a straight path."
Did you meet with any other team chaplains or team pastors?
That was the only, you never talked to 49ers head coach Chip Kelly or general manager Trent Baalke during this process?
When you mentioned your meeting with the pastor, what town in South Florida was that and do you remember about what month it was?
"We were in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I want to say it was last week. You know, it was just a great meeting. We sat down and we related about a lot of things. We sat down, and hearing his story and he's listening to mine, it was a good feeling."
He's got an interesting story, doesn't he?