On situation he walked into as HC:
I think I walked into a good situation. It’s obviously an outstanding franchise. First that strikes you. An organization that’s won five Super Bowls. It’s got a great tradition, has a brand new stadium, state-of-the-art facilities. And then a really young roster that I think is really talented. So I was excited when this opportunity came up.
On quarterback position and having Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert:
Yea, very happy. I was excited, and you know part of looking at the roster, when you have an opportunity to analyze what’s out there. I was excited with what they have here at the quarterback position. Obviously Kap’s coming off an injury, was on injured reserve, and is back getting healthy. But I thought Blaine when he played, played well. So I think there’s talent there. It’ll be a good competition when we get Kap fully healthy.
On if he liked what he saw in Kap while he was with Eagles:
Ah, nah, I’m not a guy that looks at other people and thinks, because you never know who you’re gonna have. I don’t speculate, and what if this happens or that happens. But we did play, when I was in Philly, we did play San Francisco and we had a very difficult time corralling Kap. And some of the big plays that occurred in that game was Kap keeping plays alive with his feet. And then obviously, you see him in person throw the ball, and how strong his arm is. So I never thought a) I’d like to have him on my team some day because in this league you never, trades, you don’t really speculate, you deal with the reality of it. But I was always very impressed with him in terms of his skill set as a quarterback.
On whether explosive ability or efficiency is more important:
There’s so many other factors, it doesn’t come down to just two things where you can say it’s either a or b. There’s so many different ingredients to being a quality quarterback in this league. I just, I couldn’t boil it down to just two.
On traits he wants in starting QB:
Someone that helps you win. We’ll just draw the line at that. You’re looking for a guy, and I don’t think you have to look at it and say, he has to have this, this, and this, or he has to have this, this, and this and check the boxes. You evaluate what you have as a player, and then our job is to kinda build around what they do well, and play to the strengths, and try to hide some of the weaknesses. But, you know, obviously when you’re looking at both those guys, I think they’re similar. They have a similar skill set. They’re both 6’4+. They both can really run, which will help keep plays alive. Obviously we’re not a quarterback-run offense, but if the quarterback can run, you can use a little of that to your advantage. And they both have extremely strong arms. So, from a skill set standpoint, the two of them are kind of cut out of the same mold.
On being a disruptor with his offensive philosophy, and if he likes that (mentions Warriors):
I don’t look at it that way. I just look at it as, what will give us an opportunity to win. And I think actually, if you look at the NBA championship, I’ll give both Steve Kerr and Tyronn Lue credit, because I think they play to strengths of the players they have available to them. So, you’re gonna see two contrasting styles of how they play, with Steph and Klay, and how they shoot from 3. And then how the Cavs are gonna drive the basket to the ball with LeBron and Kyrie. It’s two entirely different brands, but I think it’s what fits those teams. What you’re trying to do as a coach is figure out what’s gonna give us the best opportunity to win. And really be able to assess your personnel, and how you can deploy them that will give you that opportunity is the key.
On leaders on the team to help him get his message across:
I don’t know if there’s one specific player, but I think the unique thing about this is there’s a group of guys, NaVorro Bowman, Joe Staley, Antoine Bethea, that really, every day now, I think the younger players, because we are a really young team, look up to. And the good thing I think is, there’s enough of them that have been here, Torrey Smith at the wide receiver spot, that you see the younger players kinda gravitate. But I don’t just talk to the leaders. I talk to the entire group of them, what our message is, and it’s about being the most prepared for the challenges that face us. And I’ve been really, really happy, with just their work ethic, and capacity to work, since we’ve been here with them. And it starts with those guys. And they’re certainly lead-by-example guys, that are right out in front of everything that we’ve asked them to do since we got here.
On Bruce Miller’s transition, and what his role will be:
Yea, he has. He’s playing both tight end and move tight end for us. Gotten him, he’s playing a little bit of wide receiver for us. And he’s really adapted very well to it. And that’s why I think, when you’re looking to try and deploy your personnel and put them in positions where they can make plays, to have someone with the versatility of Bruce, that’s a positive. And it speaks to his abilities. He’s not just a fullback, we’re talking about a guy who played defensive end in college. And when he was drafted moved over to the offensive side of the ball, adapted as a running back here in the systems that they used before, and did a really nice job of that. And now in our system he’s a tight end/wide receiver/slot receiver for us, and doing a heck of a job.
On DeForest Buckner pick:
Well, I’ve known DeForest since he was in high school. And interestingly enough, when it came to players we recruited, I did not weigh in until the end. I thought it was important for the people in personnel to give their own opinion, and to talk about him. They were extremely high on him. He was on the top of the board whether I was here or wasn’t here. That just kinda tells you what kind of player and person is. No matter who it was, any team in this league would tell you that DeForest Buckner is a top 10 kind of draft pick, and certainly ended up being one. He’s just got great athleticism for someone of that size. When we originally recruited him at Oregon, he played outside linebacker as a true freshman for us. Was a stand-up linebacker for us as he continued to grow into his body. But he has that type of athletic ability. Extremely smart, extremely intelligent, very competitive. So that was, I think people kind of, because I coached there think that’s the connection, but it didn’t matter who was coaching the 49ers. And how much our personnel department loved DeForest, I think he would have been the first round draft pick if you were the head coach, Damon.
On demands his offense places on defense, and if too much made of it:
I think so. I think, you know, people always look at, this equals that. And I think there’s always so much more that’s involved in the game we play that you can’t just look at one thing and say that’s another thing. There’s times where we’ve had 14 play drives and scored a touchdown, and the defense gets scored on in three plays. And you would say, the defense should have stopped them because the offense kept them off there. But, the other team’s really good, too. And, I think part of it in terms of when you look at it is there’s a lot of different ways to look at it. You can look at it, a lot of different statistics, and try to get to whatever your narrative is, it’s gonna be this, so this equals that. There’s a lot more involved in it, so when we won the division my first year in Philadelphia, no one said that, even though we went 10-6. My second year we went 10-6, and people started talking about that. But we had the same identical record. I think playing good defense, and when you talk to guys like NaVorro, they want to be on the field. I don’t know one defensive guy I’ve been around who said, I hope I don’t have to play many snaps today. They want to be on the field. They’re competitors. And they want to go play. And we talk about how many plays per drive are they facing. And that’s part of your responsibility also, being a defensive player. When you put them in situations on third down, you gotta get them off the field.
On why 49ers weren’t good last year:
I know this. If you’re not in a place on a daily basis, you can speculate all you want, but you don’t know. So, I don’t know much that went on here. Our job when we got here in January was put together a staff, and then kind of evaluate the talent that was currently on the roster, and then go to work putting in our system. So, they didn’t spend a whole lot of time wondering what this team’s record was last year and why that was their record. It’s really kind of a forward-thinking operation where, what are we gonna do now to make the 2016 team the best version of itself.
On biggest question he had during interview process:
Well, I never sought out anybody. There’s not a “want ad” out there for NFL jobs. [You mean it’s not on Craigslist, Niners seeking head coach?] You know, I’ve never been on Craigslist, but I don’t think they really advertise head coaching jobs in the NFL on there. Maybe I should have looked at that. I would have had more opportunities.
To me, it was just the stability at the top. Because that’s what really runs the organization, and that’s the vision. In my first meeting, and I had met Trent before, when I was head coach at Oregon, because Trent had been up many times scouting our players. The one thing about Trent that always impressed me was his work ethic. And he leaves every Wednesday to go and visit colleges on Thursday, sees a Thursday night game, visits another college on a Friday, catches a game on Saturday, and then meets the team on Sunday. And that’s every week during the college football season. Not all general managers do that. I had known Trent from a football standpoint before that. But what really impressed me was getting a chance to sit down and talk with Jed, and his vision for how he wants this organization to be run from top to bottom. And it was something that I wanted to be a part of. So I think philosophically, we thought alike, Jed, myself, and Trent.
Talking about being sick of certain questions:
I’m not sick of anything. I’m very happy, and very fortunate in my chosen career, coaching football. I’ve been very fortunate to work at a lot of great places, so I think people look at it, and go oh this was tough, that was tough. I never thought of it like that. I thought that, I had the opportunity to coach in the NFL, and work with some great people in Philadelphia, coaches and players. I enjoyed my time in Philadelphia.
On the “secret Chip Kelly shake we heard so much about”, joke about how someone could start a business with it:
Well, I think he’d lose money. That would be a bad investment on their part. The one thing I get a kick out of, is I would venture to guess that every professional sports team provides shakes for their players when they’ve done their workouts. And for some reason, that was like a phenomenon when we got to Philadelphia, because, check out the US women’s soccer team, ask Brandi Chastain, who’s a good friend of this organization, and has done a lot of work for the 49ers Foundation. The US women’s soccer team has been on the cutting edge of sports science since before they won the World Cup in ’99. So, I think some of the things that were written or talked about from a sports science standpoint that we looked at was, we’re not doing anything they weren’t doing in 1999 when Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm and the crew were winning the World Cup. But some people decided to write about it a couple years ago, like it was a phenomenon, but, to eat right, to get a lot of sleep, and to put good things in your body so you can be a productive athlete, I’m not taking any credit for coming up with that idea.