So 10 minutes left in practice, you go down with an apparent injury.
It was cramping.
Well that’s better.
Yeah, I was whooping up on them, so cramping a little bit (laughs).
Is that the first time that you’ve had to experience cramps?
No. I don’t have that much fat, so I had to take in a lot of salt sometimes to keep from cramping. It was a little hotter than expected and I didn’t do enough so a little cramp. I could have went back in the last few plays, but it was last period.
Coach Bicknell said one thing about you that he didn’t know that he was surprised about was your route running. Is that something that you always took pride in and is that something that you continue to learn as you become an NFL—
Yeah. Continue to get better each and every day. I came into the league with the sense of being consistent. People still think I can only run fast. But, that’s perfectly fine, I’ve always said I can do everything. You know coming in, I’ve had some great receiver coaches that helped me and watching Anquan [Former 49ers wide reciever Anquan Boldin], Steve Smith and those guys, has helped a lot to so. I just continue to work at it and try to continue to get better.
And being a veteran, what’s the one thing you point out to the younger guys? In their route running specifically that they need to work on?
Maybe you just see little things. I’m not a coach by any means, but just little pointers, kinda obvious things. It’s easy for us to get in bad habits, myself included. It’s about trying to be as consistent as possible. That’s all technique based, you just continue to work on that and everything else will come.
You had a deep touchdown today from Blaine [49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert]. What happened on that play?
It was a cool little concept we had. I got matched up on the safety pretty quick and there’s lot of green grass for him to try to cover.
This is your second offseason working with Blaine. Where have you seen him make the biggest strides and what do you see him general?
Blaine’s always done a good job, understanding what’s going on, knowing where the ball is supposed to be, taking the short play, the check down if it’s not there. He’s doing the same thing he’s been doing and he’s doing a great job.
Seemed pretty aggressive today though.
Yeah, just different things in practice. Sometimes they want to try to take shots, sometimes they want to work on the underneath stuff. We had some things mixed in today. Not our whole offense, but a lot of different pieces, so there was an opportunity to take some shots today.
Was there a different vibe with Colin Kaepernick out there throwing passes finally?
It was cool to see Kap out there healthy, first and foremost. He’s working, he’s been out here the entire time. He’s continued to work hard the entire time, kind of staying in the background. So it’s pretty cool to see him out there. I’m sure that he’ll say he’s rusty and wants to continue to work, but it’s good to see him out there and humming on and getting at it.
How did he work on his first 7 on 7s
He completed his own passes. I don’t think you can ever complain about that. He made a few tough throws in some tight windows. I wouldn’t say it was a bad first day at all.
How would you say the young receiving group is evolving over the last few weeks?
Oh those guys work. I’ve said it before[49ers wide receiver Quinton] Patton and Bruce [49ers wide Receiver Bruce Ellington] are doing a great job. Really all of them. I really kinda feel like saying the entire core, all of them are doing well. The rookies are coming in,picking up the offense. Aaron, tregs even ‘Juste, he’s doing a great job as well. They’re smart, they’re all completely different which helps our corps. No one is really the same and they’re all really talented.
Do you feel like you’re taking on the burden of a leadership role being the most experienced guy in that group or are you one of the guys learning the system?
It’s definitely my responsibility to be. Whether it’s leading by example or talking or vocal or whatever. That’s just how I am as a person in general. Just respect them and more so lead by example and they’ll follow. Again, they are all great listeners and they are eager to learn, eager to compete. It’s easier when you have a bunch of guys, there’s no egos and everyone wants to compete. Everyone knows there’s opportunity for them. We’re all just continuing to work and take care of each other.
You lined up on the left a lot earlier in your career. Now this offseason I see you lining up on the right a lot.
That’s not necessarily true.
No, not really
Is it any type of transition going from one side to the other?
I’ve always played on both sides just depends. I’ve played the “flanker” I’ve been the ‘x’ receiver the ‘z’ receiver. Now if you see me line up in the slot all the time, that’s new. I’m not in there too often. Generally left or right, just depends on the formation. Obviously in Chip’s [ 49ers head coach Chip Kelly] offense we move so fast you can’t rotate all the time so I’ll spend a lot of time on side of the field over the other.
Bicknell was talking today about one of the things he was surprised to learn about you is you’re more than just a downfield deep threat. And that’s obviously something you’ve been working on. Is that good to hear?
Praise is praise, but it doesn’t matter if I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do on gameday. I’m just going to continue to work and try to make plays and when my team needs me my number’s called.
Since you guys have gotten back together how much talk has there been in the locker room on Muhammad Ali?
It’s quotes around. Everyone’s affected by Ali some way shape or form, especially an athlete. Myself,as a young African/American male, I can appreciate everything he’s done for not just other African/Americans but just people in the world general. Since he’s passed away, there’s been so many new stories I’ve read and things that I’ve never known about him. I actually had the opportunity to meet him. When I was in Baltimore, they had him come out to practice at one time. It was awesome, all of us were star struck. Ray Lewis was Star Struck. Guys were like “Man, this is Ali.” What he meant, he’s a greater man, he means more to all of us out of the ring than in it and that says a lot about him.
Do you think you’re the only guy in the locker room that met him?
I don’t know, but I’m going to check now that you said that.
What’s your first thought when he passed away.
You just think of everything that he’s done. Whenever people pass, I try to remember them for what they did, versus how they passed away. Everyone knows he’s been battling Parkinson's for years now and he’s still continued to be at a lot of events and speak out as much as he can, be a figure even just being there when he can’t communicate as well. I think it’s something you’re like “man!”. Obviously, we all know we’re gonna go someday, but when someone like that goes, it’s crazy.
I follow you on Twitter, you aren’t afraid to speak out about
Political stuff or whatever, are you inspired by him?
You’re inspired by everyone. Part of it is being myself. I never want to say anything that puts the team in jeopardy. As long as I need a disclaimer to say “My bio, my thoughts and opinions, are not those of the 49ers” (laughs). I talk about that whatever. I think they respect it. There have been times I talk about something on Twitter, then I’ll come in here, and I’ll have a discussion with Jed [49ers CEO Jed York] about it. Or whoever, just open dialogue, like, “What do you think about this?” Just things that are going on in society or things here. It’s all about communication. As long as I’m not out here doing anything crazy, Dan here [Note: I believe he’s referring to Dan Beckler, director of football communications for the 49ers], Dan will let me know. Issue me a text message like, “What are you doing?”
You've had a few weeks with Chip Kelly now, is he what you expected?
He’s been awesome, I honestly can’t say one bad thing about him. I said all the time I’ve been impressed with how organized he is. A lot of the stuff he does makes sense. Guys have bought into it. There are certain things that are different for us, it will be that way when the season starts. Everyone is all in, and at the end of the day we want to win. He's our coach, we’re behind him, and what he says goes. Even if I didn’t like what he was doing, which isn’t the case, I can complain and do all I want, but it’s not going to change anything. We’re all out here trying to do our thing, work hard, and get behind him buying in and that has been the case.
You said a lot of things make sense. He’s a guy who is known for doing things a lot of people think in the NFL are unconventional. Do you have a couple examples of things that, again, exposed to that you say “oh that makes sense?”
I think a lot of the things are mainly it’s just taking care of your body. It really hasn’t been too much of a change for us because our strength and conditioning coach, he’s been on it for years. It’s just other teams weren’t doing it. It’s not what you’re used to if you’re coming from somewhere else. He had some guy talk to us, an Olympic specialist, I forgot his name, but to explain to us how we should be taking care of our bodies. You can take some pointers from it but, he’s one of the best int he world, he’s trained people from Olympians to Seal Team 6 so, take stuff like that, he brings people like that around for you to pull from and learn as much as possible.
What would you say, now that you're exposed to it [No Huddle, uptempo offense] heard him talk about it, what are the advantages of it or what could be the advantages of that non-stop offense?
I think just the tempo itself. It’s tough on a defense to do what they want to do. The longer we take the more time they have to communicate. You kind of cut down on some of the things they can't do. We watch our own defense, the communication, if one person is wrong, next thing you’ll know you’ll see someone running wide open across the field because of their communication and everything happens so much faster. So it’s like organized chaos in a way. It's on us to make sure we know what we're doing and that we don't let the tempo kill us.
Do you have a play where if you catch a defense flat-footed, obviously they can’t sub, can you just run that play again?
It’s all comes in. It’s not like Blaine’s making anything up. If somebody likes something I’m sure he can run the same thing back to back and communicate it.
Was Messi taller than you expected yesterday?
No, I knew he was a shorter guy, that's why we all love him—he’s the underdog. Pretty cool to see him.
Did he just pop into that corridor?
Yeah we knew, you kinda see everyone walking through here. We knew, kinda chilled out a little bit. Came by, and Smelter’s (49ers wide receiver DeAndrea Smelter) like he thinks like the guru is in there. I was like “Alright, I’ll stick around for you.” And then Messi walks out, and they are like stuck, all three of them; Dres, Campbell and I just walk over start talking to him. He’s cool, took a picture.
What do you see from Smelter this offseason? We haven’t seen him participate in the team drills very much.
He’s trying to hide from you. Nah, he’s doing a great job. Essentially for him, not to say that it's a rookie year for him, but it kinda is his first time going through an entire offseason. He understands the system and is making plays out there. Just like everyone else, he’s been doing a great job.
You scored that touchdown today in the play-action period. One of the things the offense struggled in last year was the play action. When you guys watch practice tape and you guys work on play-action, do you notice with everything Chip Kelly’s running game brings that the play-action is going to be more prominent and help you out on some of those deep plays?
I think, again, it just all depends on how we do in games. You can get open, make plays like you would in practice, but obviously we want the run game to dictate the offense in a perfect world, so they can respect it. Hopefully we can get it done and open up those type of plays.