clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

WR Aaron Burbridge says his heart is what gives him an edge

New, comments

When asked which NFL players he admires in the league, Aaron Burbridge answered: Steve Smith, whose heart matters more than his size

The San Francisco 49ers drafted one wide receiver, and it was Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook's favorite target, Aaron Burbridge. Although in his first three years at Michigan State he had moderate but solid production, he really shined his senior season. Burbridge had a break out year, recording 85 receptions for 1,258 yards and seven touchdowns, and was named Big Ten wide receiver of the year.

Burbridge is 6'0 and 206 lbs., ran a 4.56 40 yard dash and his 20 reps on the bench press was tops among wide receivers at the 2016 NFL Combine. He's not a small receiver by any means, he falls right in the middle of all of the current 49er wide receivers by size, who range from 5'9 (Bruce Ellington) to 6'3 (Eric Rogers). Regardless of his actual height, Burbridge has been told that he was not athletic enough and not big enough to make it to the NFL. As a result, the player he admires the most in the league is Steve Smith Sr., who he says plays with heart, just like himself.

Burbridge, who took up football just because all of his friends were doing it, originally only wanted to play basketball. He really started focusing on football as a junior in high school, when colleges started to pay attention. Because he lacks breakaway speed, he will need to become more accustomed to playing in the slot, which he didn't do very much as a Spartan. This will be even more important if the void left by Anquan Boldin remains.

His full conference call is below:

What are your thoughts on joining the 49ers?

"It's a true blessing. I can't even explain it right now. So happy to be a part of this organization, this program."

You were so productive at Michigan State, in a really competitive conference. Any disappointment that it took until the sixth round for you to be drafted?

"I mean, being the competitor that I am, of course I wanted to go earlier than when I did. But, like I said, it's a true blessing to even be in the Draft. So, I'm just happy to be a 49er right now."

What kind of interaction did you have with the 49ers leading up to today?

"We talked a few times, but like I said, we talked and they talked to me. I don't know. We talked a few times. I can't even, I'm at a loss for words right now. I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

But no visit, no personal workout, nothing like that?

"Nope. No visits. No personal workouts. None of that."

Did they meet with you at the Combine at all?

"Yeah, I talked to them at the Combine. You know how they talk to everybody at the Combine, so I talked to them at the Combine. So, that was cool."

The 49ers had a receiver here, free agent WR Anquan Boldin, for a few years, very productive. He might not be back. Did you see yourself at all as a similar type of receiver, a possession-type of receiver to him?

"Yeah, most definitely. I feel like I can step in his shoes and fill that void. So, I feel like I can be very productive and win games up in San Francisco."

Had any teams talked to you about playing in the slot? How much slot work did you do at Michigan State?

"I did very little slot work at Michigan State. A lot of teams in the NFL talked to me about playing in the slot. So, I guess I'm a slot receiver. I can do both."

What is the biggest quality that you bring to the team? What do you bring to the 49ers?

"I bring heart. A lot of people feel like I'm not athletic or I'm not big enough, but I play the game, I love this game so I play with heart. I make plays. I'm not as big as most receivers, but I play big just like them. So, I feel I can make plays and be very productive."

Head coach Chip Kelly likes his wide receivers to be very aggressive, especially in the run game. How much pride do you take in run blocking for maybe springing a running back downfield?

"Oh, you know, playing at Michigan State, we take pride in blocking. So, if you don't block at Michigan State, you're not going to play. So, that's just second nature to me. I block and I do everything. I'm a very tough receiver so I can do everything that they ask me to do."

What wide receiver in the NFL do you most look up to?

"I feel like [Baltimore Ravens WR] Steve Smith Sr., that's my guy right there. You know, he's not as big as most receivers, but he plays with heart and he plays with confidence and he knows he can go out there and make plays and that's how I play."

Do you play with that kind of swagger that Steve Smith has? After he makes a catch, he kind of rubs it in the defensive back's face.

"I don't got to do all that, all that talking. I mean, once I make the catch, he already knows. I just look at him and he don't say nothing back to me."

Are you at all perplexed about why Oakland Raiders QB Connor Cook didn't go earlier in the Draft?

"Yeah. It really shocked me that he didn't go higher than what he did. You know, it's still a blessing to be drafted and he's going to go do his thing out in Oakland. So, you know, I know he's going to do his thing."

Are you close to him? You won't be very far away from Oakland and Connor Cook when you get here. Are you friendly with him?

"Yeah. Me and Connor are very close. You know, we've got to have that chemistry, that type of connection to be wide receiver and quarterback. So, you know, we talk a lot. We talked a lot outside of the football building. So, me and him are very close."

Who are you spending your time with today?

"I'm with my family right now. My mom, my sister, my brother, my aunt, my cousins, everybody. All my family."