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Joe Staley on offensive line competition, communication with Joshua Garnett, more

The 49ers left tackle had plenty to discuss. He talked about Zane Beadles, how he has stayed in touch with Joshua Garnett, what the up-tempo offense means, and plenty more. We have a full transcript, and you can watch video here.

On what’s been most difficult adjustment for OL:

Tempo. And that’s the generic answer when dealing with Chip Kelly’s offense. But tempo really is something different. And it’s taken us a couple weeks to get used to. First day was like, I mean everybody was just sitting there, running plays on air, just like gassed, and we’ve gotten used to that. And the first day going against the defense, we were gassed, and we’ve gotten used to that. Probably go through the same kind of transition in training camp, running plays. The tempo that were gonna run them in, in full pads. We’ll probably be gassed at first, and then get used to that. So, I think this offseason’s been really key for everybody, just getting used to the style of offense we’re running and developing.

On any mental exhaustion:

Mentally is always, it’s a little similar to how we’ve always operated, as far as mentally. You always have to be on everything, and I think the difference though is everything does have to be quicker, and you don’t have as much time to check with the guy next to you, “Hey, are we doing this on this one?” Everybody has to know exactly what they’re doing. I think that is a little bit more mentally taxing, as far as more of the work you have to put in, studying, really making sure you know what you’re doing out there.

On rapport with Beadles:

It’s been good, it’s been really good. He’s a really smart guy. One of those guys who doesn’t ever have to really check with me, or I don’t really have to check with him. Kinda just know that we know the offense, and we expect each other to do what we’re supposed to be doing. So, it’s been really good as far as that goes. And I think that’s one of the biggest things about being right next to a new guy. It’s developing the trust that this guy know what he’s doing. He can trust me that I know what I’m doing. After that, it’s just developing how we approach blocks, and combinations and all that kind of stuff. And that comes with practice reps.

On Joshua Garnett having to stay at Stanford for his finals, and keeping in touch with him:

Yea, I was actually just texting him. So, yea, I’ve kept in contact with him through text messages and that’s about it. Hopefully he’s gonna be here next week. I’m not sure what the rules are as far as mandatory minicamps for rookies that haven’t graduated. I think that’s a weird rule. Don’t want to get started on that.

On Garnett’s biggest adjustment being two months behind:

I think first off, just, physically, getting drafted in the first round, he’s obviously got physical talent. Or else he wouldn’t be drafted so high. But I think the biggest thing coming from college to the NFL is the mental game. Learning the playbook, learning the speed of everything, how much quicker everything is as far as the adjustments and identifying things. On top of that, there is also the tempo at which we play. And I think that’s gonna kinda compound him. I think he’s done a good job as far as doing as much as he can in the offseason, trying to learn, do whatever he can when he’s away from here, but I’m eager to get him here.

His thoughts on the rule:

Yea, it’s a huge disadvantage. I mean it’s a weird rule. I understand what they’re thinking, it’s kind of make sure guys aren’t really punished for not staying back and getting their degree. Which is good, I’m all for that, but the guys that are graduated can be here, wanna be here, it really puts them at a huge disadvantage.

On Fahn Cooper and John Theus:

Yea, I mean same kind of process you see usually year-to-year with rookies. They come in kind of wide eyed, eager to learn. I’ve been really, really impressed by the quickness, the ability to pick up the playbook, especially the stuff we’re doing, that’s kinda complicated as opposed to other years, and they’ve been able to pick it up really, really well. So, that’s very encouraging. And just getting better every single day. It’s all about the process of getting better. Going out and there trying to improve, and they all have that. Asking the right questions, seeking out veterans, listening to the coaching. I’m really excited about their attitude, and we’ll just carry that into the offseason, carry that into training camp, and then end of training camp, seeing where that’s at.

On Alex Balducci conversion from DL to OL:

He’s doing really well. I mean I would never have known that he was coming from d-line. I actually didn’t know until he had until a week after he was here. His footwork, because a lot of the stuff is like, I feel like coming from different positions, especially from defensive line to offensive line is different as far as footwork, and offensive line is such a technical position. And he’s got a lot of that stuff down from day one. That’s a testament to his hard work, and a testament to the coaching he’s had before the draft, when he got here. And yea, it’s been encouraging. He’s playing center too, so he’s picking up the stuff, he’s learning the playbook, learning the calls. I mean that’s pretty taxing mentally as far as the position to come in and learn when you’ve never played it. So, excited about him.

On what he’s talking to Garnett about in texts, warning him about stamina and stuff:

Warning him? THE NFL IS REALLY TOUGH! … I think he understands that (about stamina and other issues). Like I said, I don’t think he’d be a high draft pick if he wasn’t taking care of himself and really understanding this is a profession, and this is what you want to do with your life. So, I think that just comes with the territory of being a professional, and I fully expect him to come in and be ready to go. And I’ve heard, I’ve been listening to stuff he says, and quotes he says. And he says all the right things, and it’s just about coming in and doing what he says he does, and I think he’ll be fine.

On sense of where he’ll fit in, as far as left vs. right:

Umm, no, not as definitive as left or right, or where he’ll fit. I know he’ll play guard, so left, right, wherever the coaches feel is best for him, and we’ll get rolling. If he plays left, and they kick Zane over, or they keep Zane on the left and kick him over to the right, we’ll be good.

On group of offensive linemen and if they’re capable of meshing and being solid:

For sure. We have another year under our belt with some of the young guys, we have Daniel Kilgore back, which is big for us. He’s a guy who’s been in the league for a long time playing center, which is one of the more mentally taxing positions. Gotta make all the calls, gotta be on point as far as what you’re doing. And he’s been in the NFL, I think this is his sixth, seventh year. He understands how the NFL game works, how quick you have to be with all the calls and stuff, and has done a terrific job for us this offseason. And then having Zane, a guy that’s been in the league a long time, played at a high level for a lot of different teams. Yea, I think we’re improved from where we were last year. But you know, it’s still early though. Try to remind all the guys that were not trying to win a game next week. This is a long process, so focus on the fundamentals, focus on the stuff you have to do in June right now, because we don’t have a huge sense of urgency to get after a W maybe next week, Friday. Games not till September, so now is the time to focus on the playbook, the little things that are going to carry us into training camp and all the way to Week 1.

On competition at several spots:

Always. Yea, competition is always healthy. I think any time, even for myself, getting up there in age, I know that people upstairs are starting to look at my age, and think, does he still have it. Fans are probably looking at that, too. So, any time you have competition, looking to bring someone in to push you kind of motivates someone, and I think that always is beneficial, not just to offensive linemen, but to everybody.

On Brandon Thomas:

It’s good that he’s in a position where he can just learn one position. He’s kinda been thrown all over the offensive line since he’s been here. Missed his first year with injury, came in his second year and kinda was thrown all over the place. And now, he’s in there at the right guard position, and I think it’s been good for him to get good reps and get good work.

When he last talked with Anthony Davis:

I haven’t, since a year and a half ago.

On hoping to have idea of OL starting 5 earlier in camp to build continuity:

Yea, I mean, yes it’s nice, but no it’s not a mandatory thing. I mean even, it’s gonna be hard, because we have a rookie that came in, a first round pick that hasn’t played the whole entire offseason, so who knows how he’s going to fit in, how quickly, whatever happens with that situation, so it’s fluid. I think the main concern is just getting the right guys out there for Week 1. I think that is always kind of a fluid situation. So, I’d like it, you’d like to go through eight seasons in a row having the same offensive line. But that’s not the reality. I’m more concerned about the Week 1 starting lineup, and getting in the games and getting the reps with those guys. But it’s not necessarily the most important thing.

On Curtis Modkins role as OC:

Yea, I mean everything I’m seeing he’s the offensive coordinator. Very similar to everything else. Being with, it’s kind of a similar situation with Harbaugh, Roman. Harbaugh’s the offensive-minded head coach, and Roman’s coordinator. Runs the meetings, makes the play-calls on the sideline during practice. How it shapes out during the season, I have no answer for you because I don’t know. But, he’s definitely gonna be involved. I mean that’s his area of expertise. Everybody has defined roles, and he’s the same as it kind of always been.

On if he’s saying Modkins calls plays during practice:

Yea, most of the time. [Pauses to think] I think.

You don’t seem so certain:

Well yea, most of the time….it’s fast. [laugh] There’s a lot of signals coming in, I’m not 100 percent certain who’s “the guy.”

On if he took signals from sideline in college at any point:

It was different. It was kind of getting lined up, the quarterback would get the signal. We would already be lined up and then he would verbally say what we had to do. But it was no-huddle, kind of similar deal. But it wasn’t as fast.

On if he’s lost weight with the speed:

No, I’ve actually gained. I think I’ve gained two pounds. Big offseason for me!