The first year of Chip Kelly in Santa Clara has brought a pretty solid relationship between the coach and the San Francisco 49ers media. Kelly was plenty criticized in Philadelphia. The poor performances led to it, but it is still good to see him off to a good relationship with the media for now.
On Wednesday, he got several questions about the status of various players, and what kind of work they would get on Friday against the Green Bay Packers. He was very clear about why he does not like hypotheticals.
This is my deal with hypotheticals because everybody wants to use them to some degree. So, if we’re going to use hypotheticals, we should cancel the season because hypothetically we won the Super Bowl. Let’s just go all out with the hypothetical. Let’s just say we won the Super Bowl, so it’s over. And we did it without a quarterback in the hypothetical world that I live in. Wouldn’t it be cool? It doesn’t work that way. So, we’re a real literal, black and white deal. We’re going to sit down when we find out exactly who’s available. I would hope that based on what he’s done so far that he’s going to be available. If he’s available, he’s going to play.
I have to admit, no quarterback would be problematic for this site considering the traffic such discussions bring!
Here’s the rest of his transcript.
Let’s start off with the obligatory. If nothing changes as far as QB Colin Kaepernick’s health situation, what will his role be Friday night?
“We haven’t discussed it yet. We’ve got two days of training to go through. We’ll see. He’s on track and we’re excited and we’re hopeful that he’ll be ready to go. But again, we’re not going to put the cart before the horse. We have a system. I know you guys don’t like the answer, but we’re going to do it the same every time. When we get to Friday, we’ll make sure we know exactly from [vice president of football operations Jeff Ferguson] Ferg who’s up, who’s down and then parcel out the plans. If he’s up, then he’s going to play.”
Has he been full-go this week?
“He’s been full-go this week, yeah. He’s done everything on Monday and everything on Tuesday and so he’s been good so far.”
Are you back to the pre-shoulder schedule where he splits first team--?
“Yeah, they split reps.”
Does he have to get his shoulder iced or do any extra treatment on it?
“Those are good questions for Kap.”
“Yes. I don’t go in, I don’t know. I don’t go in and follow him around and say ‘What are your protocols post-practice?’ So--.”
Is he on a pitch count during practice for you though?
“He was leading up to it. He wasn’t the last two days. So, we were building him up to what we were going to do, but he was full on Mondayand full on Tuesday.”
Have you seen any rust? Has he been able to at least kind of pick up close to where he was?
“He’s been sharp with all the things mentally. There’s always a little bit, when you take some time off from a physical standpoint there may be a ball that was behind from a timing standpoint. But, there’s not indecision in terms of he doesn’t know where he’s going with it.”
DL DeForest Buckner, is he going to be able to play Friday?
“Again, we’ll evaluate everybody on Friday after Ferg gives us a heads in where we are with the whole thing. So, can’t predict from now until then. He’s practiced full the last two days, so we’re excited to see where he is. We’ll do the same thing every Friday that we normally do on game day to make sure we’ve got the right rotations going on.”
In this third preseason game, do you plan to maybe install a little bit more or keep it sort of where it’s been?
“We’ve had everything installed. It just depends on what kind of comes up in the game, in terms of what we want to run, what we want to feature, what we want to see. Sometimes there’s evaluations going on, like we may want to do this scheme with these guys in there more to see if they can handle this or that. But, it’s not that we don’t have everything in. We have everything in. It’s just what we’re going to choose from.”
Are you going to expand what you’re going to use in the game. For instance, against Denver from what I understand there were about 40 plays that you guys prepared. I didn’t know if you were going to try to do more--?
“It depends on who’s available to us. Like when [QB] Christian Ponder is in there, that 40 plays went down to about five plays because that’s what Christian understood. You know what I mean? We also had a receiver banged up, so we played a little bit more two tight ends in the second half. So, to have a game plan going in, a lot of that is out the window depending on what’s available to you in the game. So, we were predominantly in two tight ends and with Christian in in the second half, that limits us a little bit from a play-call standpoint.”
If all four quarterbacks are healthy and able to play, do you plan on playing all four or is it something--?
“We’re going to see on Friday if those guys are available and ready to go. I’m not a big ‘if guy,’ so we’ll see what’s available. If anybody is up and healthy and we have to make an evaluation of them, we want to play them in a game.”
Did you get to use the tackling dummies, the robotic tackling dummies? What’d you think if so?
“We liked them. I know [Dartmouth College head coach] Buddy Teevens from Dartmouth very well. They are the ones who designed them and came with up with the original idea. We actually tried to build one when I was at Oregon. It broke after the first tackle. It went really fast, but, we had a great guy that was a local guy in town at Oregon that did a great job with it. But, to put it together where it’s also safe, because you also don’t want to get an injury from it. But, I think it’s advantageous that you can do some live tackling. We used it with the offensive line yesterday in our screen drills and some of them were cut blocking it when obviously you’re not going to cut block a player in practice. But, you can cut block a bag. So, I think it’s a huge step for everybody. You want to get accomplished a lot of things in training sessions, but you also want to do it in a safe environment. A lot of times, it’s not the guy doing the tackling, it’s the guy getting tackled. So, the fact that the guy getting tackled is an inanimate object, lends itself to, I think we’ll continue to do more with that.”
From what you understand, do you know when those could be viable for everybody around?
“I don’t know about, the production? Yeah, I’m not privy to that, but Buddy was great. I talked to Buddy and he helped us out and got us in touch with who we needed to get in touch with. I think we’ve got three right now.”
When did you get them in?
“Monday, I think.”
Have you had a chance to tackle, use them?
“I personally have not tackled them, no.”
What other usage besides the offensive line can use them?
“Everybody on defense can tackle them. So, you get the whole defense who can use them to work on pass rush, trying to come up and under. I think, the longer our coaches put their heads together, there’s a lot of different things you can use them for. It’s, basically, we do a lot of work with sleds and dummies, but now you have a sled/dummy that can move. So, kind of, I don’t think there’s a limitation in terms of where we are from that standpoint.”
T Anthony Davis working now more at right guard, what does that say about where OL Trent Brown is?
“It means Trent Brown is at right tackle. So, Trent is here and Anthony is here. Again, we are rolling everybody, so we played, I don’t know if you saw we played [G] Zane Beadles a little bit at center. You’re trying to figure out as a group, not only who your top five are, but really who your top seven are. And, who six and seven are, is a versatility standpoint also because one of them has to be a guard/tackle, the other has to be a center/guard, basically, and however we figure that out as we continue to move forward, and again, with people staying healthy and what not. So, we’re just trying to, with some other guys, just to get them in spots where we’ve got more versatility and our decisions become a little bit easier. So, [C] Marcus Martin has played a little bit more guard this week. He hasn’t gotten a lot of guard work, but he’s gotten a lot of center work. We’ve tried to get Zane in a little bit at center, because if [G/C Daniel] Danny Kilgore were to go down, then where are we? So, there’s a lot of different variables you’re looking at, but we’re still not set exactly where we’re going to end up in the offensive line. But, the more versatile we can get those players, the better off we’re going to be.”
You talked a lot about how you have plenty of time to make those decisions. Now it looks like maybe you don’t have plenty of time--?
“No, I think we still have plenty of time.”
You still have plenty of time?
“We’ve got two preseason games and we don’t open until September 12th. So, I look at that as plenty of time.”
Cuts start next week.
“Yeah, but I don’t anticipate cutting Anthony or Trent. I’m pretty sure they’ll be here.”
Are you comfortable with what you’ve seen from Anthony at guard to trot him out there on Friday?
“No. I mean, we’ll go through today and tomorrow and a lot of it is feedback from Anthony. He’s such a perfectionist. We’ll really defer to the player a lot from that standpoint, you know, his comfort level in terms of where he is. But, it doesn’t benefit him or us if he doesn’t feel comfortable there. So, we’ll continue to work through that. He’s been fantastic in everything he’s done since he’s gotten back here. So, the one thing I truly appreciate about Anthony is he’s a team guy and he’s a team-first guy. It’s, you know, whatever I can do to help the football organization win, is what he’s all about and he’s shown that every day he’s been out there in training sessions and we’ll continue to build off of that.”
Aside from versatility across the offensive line specifically, a lot of coaches like to cross-train their players so they have a better grasp on who’s on left and who’s on right side. Is that one thing that you’re trying to coach up on these players because I see it both on the offense as well as the defensive secondary as well?
“It’s a good question. And I think anytime a player, the better they understand the global picture as opposed to the specific picture for what they’re doing, it’s beneficial to them. So, there’s a lot to that. When you have to kind of move in different situations, you’re not always seeing things one way. You’re seeing it another way and I think it benefits them as a player. So, yeah, that is a byproduct of being able to move those guys around a little bit.”
Trent Brown said something interesting yesterday. He said he’s having the most fun playing football since junior college. He said you make it fun. Is that something you consciously try to do? How do you make practice fun? I mean, these are professional players. It’s important. It keeps you engaged.
“Well, I think it’s important for anybody in whatever job you have. I think, you know, you go into work every day and you’re not having fun, I don’t know how successful you’re going to be, whether you’re a construction worker or football player or a reporter. But, I know how you guys, if you guys wake up every day and go, ‘Oh god, I’ve got to go to practice today,’ not really excited about covering the team, you’re probably not going to give your best effort. But, I also think having fun goes hand in hand with success. There aren’t many people that aren’t having success in their jobs that will say, ‘You know what? I’m having a blast. I just got blown out of the water four straight days in a row, but this is awesome.’ You know? So, I think some of what’s going on with Trent is I think Trent is realizing his abilities and understanding how successful he can be at this game. From a coach standpoint, it’s awesome to see. It’s watching him kind of mature and grow and get better and better. It’s pretty cool to see from that standpoint, but a lot of it, the credit goes to Trent because of what he’s invested in himself.”
For someone like DL Arik Armstead, how important would preseason reps be for him given that he’s missed so much time in team drills?
“We have a couple. That’s why I asked.”
“Because [S] Eric Reid missed a few, but Armstead--.”
In my head I was thinking Armstead.
“OK. I’m not in your head [laughing].”
“That’s OK. There’s no fault, there’s no blame. Just trying to get on the same page. They’re all valuable, but you also want to make sure that your guys that are going to be available in the first game are available in the first game. So, you know, there’s that fine line that you walk between he’s got to get reps, where if the reps are going to set him back then does he need to get those reps? The bottom line is that we need to put the best 46 out there when we play [Los Angeles]. So, we’ll always err on the side of caution from that standpoint because you do want to win every preseason game. You want to be successful in everything you do, but you really don’t get a whole heck of a lot if, you know, hey, we were 4-0 in preseason and killed everybody but when we go to play our first game, we’re not playing with the top 46 because six or seven of them are sitting on the sidelines.”
At one point in the plan, before Colin’s shoulder injury I think at the Kezar practice, you said you wanted both of those guys to be able to play with the first team in the preseason. Is that still possible or do you have to kind of tweak that now?
“We’re going to sit down Friday as a staff after we talk to Ferg and work out all those details on that. So, I hope so.”
“I’m not a big hypothetical guy because--.”
I’m not either.
“Well, if you’re not, then why’d you ask? This is my deal with hypotheticals because everybody wants to use them to some degree. So, if we’re going to use hypotheticals, we should cancel the season because hypothetically we won the Super Bowl. Let’s just go all out with the hypothetical. Let’s just say we won the Super Bowl, so it’s over. And we did it without a quarterback in the hypothetical world that I live in. Wouldn’t it be cool? It doesn’t work that way. So, we’re a real literal, black and white deal. We’re going to sit down when we find out exactly who’s available. I would hope that based on what he’s done so far that he’s going to be available. If he’s available, he’s going to play.”
With the first team, potentially?
Another question, but not regarding that topic. Do you find when you run no-huddle, oftentimes obviously you could have defenses on their heels or in defenses they don’t want to be in, do you find often sometimes that short passes are available just because of the fact they don’t want to get beat deep?
“There are times, it depends on the team. It’s a good question. There are some teams, when you play at pace, want to throw a blanket around it. So, they want to kind of back up and keep the ball in front of them. Therefore, the answer going into that is that we know going against team such and such, this is going to be available to us if we can start to play at some type of tempo and kind of play at the speed that we’d like to play at, that would be helpful for us. There are other teams that play man coverage when they’re in a fast, up-tempo look it’s because I have that guy and wherever he goes, I’m going to line up on him. So, the short stuff isn’t available. It really just depends on who you’re playing and what their philosophy is in terms of how they’re going to try and defend you. And you’ll see it because some people’s philosophy is to kind of throw a blanket around it and keep the ball in front of them. If that’s the case, then you’re going to be able to get some short passes.”
Some teams will mix that up, throwing a blanket and man to man, you generally find?
“I think all of us in the coaching profession never want to be in a situation where you have always or nevers. So, you never want to be so predictable that they always do this, or they never do this. They’re always still going to try and change it up and sometimes it’s a halftime adjustment, sometimes it’s a series-to-series adjustment. Sometimes some teams will present you a different look on every single play, just so you can’t say, ‘Hey, we’re always getting this or never getting this.’ And when you play against guys like that, you have to be prepared for all. But, I think the good ones, and there’s some outstanding ones in this league that you’ve got to challenge yourself with every single week. They’re never going to give you an always and they’re never going to give you a never. So, I will always answer a hypothetical or I will never answer a hypothetical. One or the other.”