It could be perceived as a lot of pressure to be told at the beginning of the season that you're in a three man race for the position you want on the team. San Francisco 49ers ILB Gerald Hodges says that's not the case, citing that the competition is making everyone better. It's not just competition at the linebacker position, it's at every position on the team.
It's still early in the offseason but it seems as though there is a lack of angst towards new HC Chip Kelly compared to what was reported in Philadelphia. Everyone seems to be buying into the new system and coaching staff.
The tall screens that slowly ascend upon the quarterback as the pocket "closes" are new to the 49ers team but not to Chip Kelly. They've been around since his days in Oregon. Hodges, who caught a ball that was deflected off of the screens, understands and sees the purpose behind the methods.
Hodges, who is known for his high level of energy on the field, attended Penn State as did NaVorro Bowman, the man he is competing to play next to. Hodges spoke to the media during OTAs. You can watch the full video here.
Question not included:
It’s been a blessing to come in and compete with the talent we have here, not just at the linebackers, but all the positions. And the way guys have been coming out and working, and things like that. Just competing, each and every one of us getting better. The coaches are pressing the issue of getting each other better.
On three-person race at ILB and how he thinks he stacks up:
I feel great. Not just about myself, but I feel great about the entire team, the way everyone’s competing. That’s what it’s about. I mean, they said three, but everyone’s competing. I mean, there’s only two guys out there that have a solid job already, so everyone’s competing, and that’s what it’s about. We’re excited, and guys are taking on the role of who’s competing, and continue to keep pressing every day, and continue to get better, and get one another better.
On differences in defense this year:
I mean every defensive coordinator has their own coaching style. It’s nothing better, or nothing too much different, or things like that. It’s just a whole different coaching style, and a whole different way we’re going about defense and things.
On if it’s more aggressive:
I don’t want to speak on that. I’ll let Coach O’Neil speak on it. But it’s a 3-4 defense, and you know the basics in the 3-4.
On if he and ILBs are doing different things in this defense, like rushing the edges:
Yes, that’s definitely in the scheme as well. Where the inside backers might come to the edge, or, I mean we’re moving guys around. It’s OTAs, they’re trying to see who fits best where. Who can do what, who has certain strengths and things like that. And that’s what it’s about, it’s about seeing what we have as a team, and see what when we go out their and play the Rams, and see who we have go out there, so we can win a game.
On this being the time to develop chemistry with Bowman:
Oh yeah, definitely. It’s not just building the chemistry with NaVorro, but building a chemistry with the front four guys, the guys behind you, you want to have a chemistry with the whole defense. Not just the guy you’re playing beside. You want to have chemistry with everyone. And that’s what it’s about. Making sure everyone’s out there, positive all the time, and we’ll be good to go.
On how the rotation worked between the three ILBs:
I started out as the guy, but they moved it around and rotated, and make sure they put guys, they’re fitting it up to where we’re seeing who works best with each other, and it’s all evaluation. Like you said, it’s early in the offseason, so we’re just evaluating guys, seeing who fits best in the best place. But when it ultimately comes down, the best people are gonna be on the field.
On practicing against Chip Kelly’s offense:
It’s good. I mean when we first got introduced to it during voluntary minicamp, I mean, it was fast. But, you can see the progression and the development of the entire team. Everybody’s out there, and we picked it up and we’re running with it now. On both sides of the ball. Offense looks sharp, defense is looking sharp. Now it’s about seeing who works with each other best, and getting those guys on the field together.
On if he thinks teams might run on 49ers more:
We don’t know. That’s some things we look when the season comes, and we see the game plan. That’s nothing I can call right now, but we have to wait for the game plans to come out, and we’re gonna see how they’re gonna attack it.
On O’Neil’s defensive struggles in Cleveland and if any changes:
No, I mean at the end of the day, the coaches are out there. They have their schemes and things like that, but at the end of the day, the players have to go out there and they have to perform. And that’s what their goal is. To get the players ready to go out there and perform, and do what we need to do to stop the offenses and go out there and win games.
On cross-training in defense, and attitude towards it considering Browns complaints:
With the group of guys we have, everyone’s buying in. And nobody’s being rebellious to it, and that’s what’s making everything go quicker, and allowing everyone to pick up things faster. Because nobody’s being rebellious, everybody’s buying into what we have going on. And that’s what’s making us a better team, because we’re buying into what the coaches have on the platform for us.
How many catches dd you have off the nets today?
I did catch one today actually, off the net.
How long have those nets been out there?
Coach started put them up, I'm not exactly sure but they've been using them, which is great for the QBs and offense and things like that. Coach Chip Kelly's mindset, when we go out there, you just gotta agree with it. Everything he's doing has a purpose and a reason.