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Chip Kelly on starting QB, Anthony Davis, offensive line backups

The San Francisco 49ers head coach wrapped up the team’s preparations for their preseason finale. He talked QB, Anthony Davis cross-training, and the depth chart. We have a full transcript, courtesy of 49ers PR.

You said after, you haven’t had the discussion about whether QB Colin Kaepernick could be cut. Have you had that discussion now?

“No. All we’ve done so far is, we’ve been kind of on track for what we’ve done. We knew we were not going to release any quarterbacks at the cut to 75, so haven’t had a discussion about the quarterback position at all. We kind of go through it by position-by-position, how many do we need to have to play in the Chargers game. You don’t want to leave yourself short, like only have three receivers going into the game. You could have some injuries and things like that, so we haven’t had any discussions about the quarterback position so far.”

I’m going to ask you a hypothetical, but is he one of your best--?

“I’m not a hypothetical guy, so I’ve never been--.”

Is he one of your best two quarterbacks right now?

“Is he what?”

One of your best two quarterbacks right now?


Who’s going to be starting the game and--?

“Again, we’ve gone through this every week. We’ve got two more days of training and then we’ll go through who’s going to be available and who’s going to be up. So, if no one gets injured, we plan on playing Kap in the game just because he’s only got 13 snaps so far in the preseason.”

Do you plan on playing QB Blaine Gabbert?

“Gabbert will not play. He has 43 snaps in the preseason.”

How much say do you have over who makes the final roster and how much--?

“I think it’s a group thing. There’s always input. The final say is [general manager] Trent’s [Baalke] and that’s the way it should be, but it’s not like I can say, ‘Hey, I like these eight guys,’ and he’s like, ‘I don’t care about those eight guys. We’re going this way.’ We’ve got a really cooperative relationship as we’re handling the team and moving forward and I think the one thing about it is we see things the same way in terms of how to build a football team.”

With Blaine, it’s not because he’s going to be the regular season starter?

“It’s just because right now he’s played 43 snaps, so we feel like the bulk of work for what he needs to do we’ve got a good understanding of where Blaine is. And unfortunately because of Colin’s injury and missing those first two preseason games, he’s only got 13 snaps. So, we’ve got to move forward and see if we can get him some more snaps here.”

On the practice field is it still split even?

“It’s still been split, depending on, yesterday it was the same. One person may start one period. The other person starts the other period.”

Will you try to balance the snaps and maybe get Kap 30 snaps, so then you kind of have an equal balance?

“Sometimes you have, in the ideal world it would be great, but sometimes you have an idea of numbers, but the San Diego Chargers also have an input of how many numbers we have. So, if you have a couple three-and-outs, it’s just kind of how the game goes. I think ideally every coach in the league goes into the game with a certain number of snaps that they want a group to play in the preseason, but it’s also determined by say, ‘Hey, we’re going to give them two series.’ Well, the first series was a 19-play drive. Well, then we’re done. But, we’re going to give them two series. It was three-and-out and three-and-out. They only got six snaps, so now we’re going to go into a third. So, it still has to express itself as the game goes along, but he’s certainly not going to play the entire game. That’s a realistic answer from that standpoint.”

You said after the game you didn’t play Colin in the second half because you wanted to keep him with the first team line. Will that be the case, will you--?

“No, I mean, we’re up against it. And the fact that he missed those two games, it’s unfortunate. But, we also have to look to the long-term future of the team, so there’ll be some guys, and again, we haven’t finalized any of that so I won’t be able to give you all of this and that of who’s going to go, but it’s not going to be the same line that he played behind when we played Green Bay.”

Colin talked about the team meeting he had Sunday. Other players mentioned, talked about it. What did you think about it? How did you think it went?

“Well, it was a players only meeting, so the feedback I got from our players, I thought it went well. It’s obviously their locker room and how this issue has gone on through the locker room and from the feedback I got from our players I thought it went well.”

Is the situation better or is it kind of mounting? This story is not going away. Is it getting harder and harder each day?

“I don’t think so. And I think when you talk to our players they are focused on the 2016 season and how good a team the San Francisco 49ers can be. I think, like we’ve said all along, we recognize his right to express his feelings, but that doesn’t affect what we do when we get here at 8:15 in the morning ‘til we leave her at eight o’clock at night. We’re all about preparing for the Chargers game, obviously, this Thursday and more importantly for the Rams when the season opens up on Monday night.”

Of those 13 snaps you mentioned, I think he scrambled on four of them. Is that a concern that he’s not getting rid of the ball, that he’s taking off and running--?

“No. Sometimes, I think there’s one or two of those where we had an initial pressure right away, which is you’re coming out of your fake or coming out of your drops, so that’s not a byproduct of the quarterback. I don’t think every time the quarterback scrambles it’s always the quarterback’s fault. You’ve got to look at each individual play and say, ‘Where are we on this play?’ and grade it accordingly.”

Where is he as far as coming back physically from his surgeries? Is he back to the same weight he was pre-surgery?

“No, he’s not and obviously you understand that because he did have three surgeries, so he’s limited in the type of lifting he does. So, he’s not the same size he was when he played. I don’t know the exact playing weight he was at, because I wasn’t here before. But, he’ll be the first to tell you that, that’s he’s not where he was before.”

Is that a concern as far as re-injury that he’s not his full strength yet, he might not be his full speed yet running the ball and he’s not able to kind of protect himself the way he did pre-injury?

“I think that’s with any player. Whether it’s [DL] Glenn Dorsey or [S] L.J. McCray or Colin Kaepernick, any player coming off an injury, that’s a concern.”

Is this strictly a football decision? If it’s up to you, is it strictly football?

“It’s not up to me. And any decisions on this team are made through everybody and I do not have control of the 53-man roster. So, you know, I don’t sit there and say this is the 53 we’re picking. It’s a group effort. And again, I know everybody wants to know where this is going. We haven’t had one discussion about the quarterbacks because we had planned on having all four quarterbacks for the Chargers game. So, our sole discussion was the cut to 75 and that’s kind of where we are. We need to go play this game. We’ve got two more days of training and then we’re going from there.”

Do you want to keep three quarterbacks on the 53?

“It depends. We’re going to keep the best football players on the team. So, you know, if it forces you to lose someone at another position that you think is a quality football player. You’ve gotten it done with two. You’ve gotten it done with three. Some people have kept four, you know? There was an instance with the Patriots when they had [New England Patriots QB] Tom Brady where they kept four. So, I think everybody has ideal numbers, but the numbers, it’s not 100-percent in concrete with a number for any position just because it has to be somewhat fluid based upon the depth that you have. You can say, ‘Hey, we’re going to keep nine offensive linemen.’ Well, what if we don’t have nine? You know, are we going to let go a really good defensive lineman who we know can play in the National Football League for the sake of the number of the ninth offensive lineman? It just, there’s a set number. Obviously, we’re not going to have 14 offensive linemen and one wide receiver. I mean, we’ve got to be able to balance how we’re going to play the whole thing out. But, it’s always, we’ve got kind of an ideal number we want, but it’s plus or minus one in terms of how we have to put together the best 53 to be here, not just set that it has to be this number. But, you’re not going to go with one quarterback. You’re not going to go five quarterbacks. But, it could be one, could be two, could be three, could be four.”

How soon do you think you’ll name your starter?

“Hopefully, after the Chargers game because we’re not going to have any more information for us. So, a lot will go into after evaluating the tape from the Chargers game.”

How soon after the Chargers game?

“We haven’t set that. So, we’re going to watch the tape and evaluate it, everything. So, it’ll at least be the day after because we’ve got to go through everything and get a chance to gather all the information and then go from there. So, it’s not like the night of the game we’re going to turn around and say that this is the direction that we’re going in to the start of the season.”

Did Colin tell you before the first preseason game that he would not be standing for the anthem or is this something you just found out basically when we all found out?

“Yeah, well, we knew before. I know he didn’t stand at the Denver game. So, we were aware of it. When you guys found out I think obviously was after the Green Bay game and then that’s when the--.”

The first time he didn’t do it or the first time you were aware, did you talk to him?


Did you ask him his reasoning at all?

“No, and it’s his right as a citizen.”

How does he look like he’s handling the balance of this because it’s such a big story that he’s doing, but he’s also having to deal with the football aspect of it?

“Again, my dealings with Colin since April is when he’s here, he’s all about ball and he’s been great with that. So, that’s what I deal with and that’s how we interact and he’s been great. You guys watch him. When he’s not in he’s mirroring the quarterback. He’s getting as many mental reps as he can. He obviously had a setback in camp because of the shoulder, but from a football standpoint, he’s been excellent.”

Can you talk about T Anthony Davis? You obviously cross-trained him at right guard. Do you ever see him possibly also cross-training at left tackle because you talk about offensive linemen and with how the 53-man roster’s going to shape up, that’s going to be a problem on the left side if T Joe Staley goes down. Who’s going to fill that role?

“That’s a really good question. The one thing we have with Anthony is we have a really versatile football player that has played right tackle at a very high level in this game. We’re looking at him as a right guard right now. He has the ability to be a left tackle. The only thing we have to be aware of is, it’s kind of a master of, he’s so spread out that he never really gets to hone in on the individual techniques that he has to play at the position he’s going to play at. So, you’re kind of caught sometimes when you have a player like AD that has that versatility is, we can put him here, we can put him here, we can put him here, but we also need to put him in a spot where this is where we see he’s going to get the most amount of snaps and then work it from that standpoint. We had it when I was in Philadelphia is our right tackle would be our backup left tackle. If it happened in a game, we didn’t do it because he didn’t get reps at it. But, if the left tackle was out for an extended period of time, we moved the right tackle over and gave him a week of practice there and then did it. But, I don’t know if in-game you can make a guy because it is, as much as everybody knows, ‘Well, it’s just two spots over,’ there’s a drastic difference between being a right guard and being a left tackle.”

When you go to twos, say today, who’s your left tackle?

“Our left tackle today is Joe Staley.”

No, when you go to twos.

“When we go to twos, it’s been [OL] Colin Kelly and [OL] Fahn Cooper because it was [former G/T] Erik Pears, but we released Erik on the cut to 75. So, Colin and Fahn have been playing out there and then [OL] John Theus has the ability to go over there, but he’s been playing on the right side. He’s a rookie. We’re really high on John, but it’s one of those deals he’s getting reps at right tackle, we’ve got to get him over to reps at left tackle.”

What’s the status of DT Quinton Dial?

“QD’s out for the Chargers game and we anticipate him back for the opener. So, we’ll go from there.”