How beneficial did you think it was working against another defense?
“It was great. I had a lot of fun. Changing up, going against a different team, different scheme, different personnel, seeing a bunch of different looks, all it really does is just help you get better and that’s what we’re here in training camp for. Just consistent improvement every day and it was a good, physical, clean practice and that’s all you can ask for. Each team got great work in. We’re all coming out of here healthy and ready to play a game here on Sunday.”
From the offensive standpoint, just as a whole, that seemed a lot crisper than Wednesday at Kezar. Would you agree? Is there anything to that? Did you guys focus on anything in the interim?
“I think we were just executing. Everybody plays hard in the NFL. I was talking with [quarterbacks] coach [Ryan] Day earlier about this and everybody plays hard in the league. It boils down to execution. I feel like we were executing pretty smoothly today. Hitting on a bunch of passes, seeing protections, seeing the pressures they were bringing, getting the ball out into the flat when it was there and as a group, as an offense, we moved the ball. That’s what we wanted to do today. We didn’t really game plan the Texans. We just wanted to go out here and execute our offense and we did that for the most part.”
Were you able to get into more of a rhythm taking all the first team reps as opposed to the first nine practices?
“Yeah. The more reps you get, I think the more rhythm you’re going to be in. [Head] coach [Chip] Kelly and [Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel] coach Vrabel, their defensive coordinator, did a great job kind of letting us go six-seven plays at a time and then getting another four at the end of the period. So, there were some periods where we were getting 10-11 reps as the ones. The more reps you get, the more comfortable you’re going to get and you’re going to get into a flow. We did that today.”
Head coach Chip Kelly hasn’t announced whether you or QB Colin Kaepernick are going to be the starter, but is it your role right now to act as if you are the starter and try to take ownership?
“When the quarterback’s on the field, he’s the guy and that’s how I approach every day, as if I’m the starter. Go out there and just put my best foot forward. Let my play speak for itself and just lead the team.”
Was this, I realize still we’re not playing a game, but it was about as most competitive as it will get in training camp. Was this encouraging for you to be able to, as an offense, do that against an opponent?
“Yeah. There’s always a different vibe when you practice against another team. You kind of get that feeling in your stomach, just like a game. You want to come out here and put on a good show. You want to play well in front of another team and compete with those guys. So, yeah, we did a lot of great things today. There’s definitely some things that we need to clean up on. We’ll watch the film and do that this afternoon, but for the most part, the offense as a whole executed really well.”
What did you see from your wide receivers going up against other defensive backs? Any guys that you really felt good about, their ability to get open?
“They were running their tails off and you kind of saw that in that one period where we started going no-huddle, moving the ball. Just the conditioning that these guys have done throughout the offseason and training camp really puts them in the best position to make plays in these extended drives. They’re competing. They went up and got the ball today. [WR] Jerome [Simpson] had a great move on that double move down the sideline, really kind of gave the offense some juice in that move the ball period. But, no, all those guys are working extremely hard and making a lot of plays.”
Did you see a different in efficiency when you were in the huddle versus the period where you were going no-huddle?
“Well, it’s good to do both. You’ve got to be versed in each kind of situation. Being in a huddle, calling the play, breaking the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage, you’re going to see some different looks when you’re in a tempo situation because when you’re going tempo, playing fast, it limits the defensive looks. But, no, it was a lot of good work today. Can’t say enough about the Houston Texans defense. They played well and just a good, competitive, clean practice.”
Would you be surprised if you didn’t start Sunday?
“I don’t know. Yeah, it’s up to coach Kelly. Coach Kelly makes those decisions and when I do get the chance to get out there and play, I’m just going to make the most of my opportunity. That’s all you can do. Whether you’re going in the first, second, third or fourth quarter, every quarterback wants to go out there and compete, have fun and just execute our offense and move the ball down the field.”
How would you assess your chemistry has grown with Jerome, particularly using that double move as an example?
“Yeah, he’s been doing a great job. The thing you notice about Jerome is he’s always running. The conditioning level that he’s at right now is tremendous. It’s full-speed every play, whether it’s the first play of practice or the last play of practice. He caught that double move and burst down the sideline and he still had juice to go after that. So, it’s been a lot of fun to work with him. He’s getting everything down and he’s playing really good football.”
Was he in because WR Quinton Patton was dealing with something?
“I have no idea. We just kind of got on the ball and I think Jerome, [WR] Torrey [Smith], [WR] Bruce [Ellington] and [TE] Vance [McDonald] were out there and we were just rolling. I think those guys just always rotate in every four or five plays. I’m not sure what their play count is. But, yeah, whoever’s out there is just rolling.”
Any new guys you’re excited to see on Sunday?
“All of them. I mean, I know that feeling, going into your first preseason game as a rookie. Got the butterflies, just want to go out there and play ball. I’m excited to see what [QB] Jeff [Driskel] does. We’ve been with him all summer in the quarterback room and I’m excited for him. He’s going to out there, have some fun and throw the ball around a little bit.”
What have you seen from Jeff in these practices?
“He’s getting better. You just want to see that consistent improvement from a rookie quarterback. There’s going to be bumps along the road. There’s going to be a lot of mistakes made, but just kind of his consistent improvement from when he got here in the OTAs to now in training camp. It’s been great to see.”
Is your goal to end this competition as quickly as possible?
“I just want to go out there and play good football. Let the decision be made for itself. I’m just going to go control what I can control and go sling the rock and put some points on the board.”
You said you remember the feeling of playing your first preseason game as a rookie. What do you remember about the game?
“I remember showing up to training camp like that night, signing a contract and we played like four days later after the lockout in New England. [Former NFL QB] Dave Garrard had gotten hurt. [New Orleans Saints QB] Luke McCown had gotten hurt. So, he was like, ‘Hey, you’re starting.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know the offense.’ But, we just rolled with it. I remember like it was yesterday. But, it was lot of fun. Something I always kind of remember.”
A little easier this time around?
“Yeah. No question. Got a lot of experience under my belt now. Not fresh off the bus playing the Patriots up there.”
I’m going to ask you to tap into your memory again. Do you remember the game you played against Nevada when Kap was there in 2009? Do you remember that game?
What do you remember from that game?
“I remember I got a really bad turf burn on their logo. It was like concrete. But no, that was a good game. We had a bunch of big plays, put up a bunch of points and it was a happy flight home.”
He tried to do all he could to take it away from you. Didn’t he have a big night that night?
“Yeah, it was back and forth. But, man, we had a lot of weapons at Mizzou and a lot of talent on the outside. We were throwing it all over the field.”