The San Francisco 49ers defense had a strong practice on Thursday, with rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson among the highlight performers. The fourth round pick had an interception and multiple pass break-ups. He met with the media after practice to discuss his development, along with that of the defense (video).
Robinson acknowledged what we have all thought, saying, “I’m a long, rangy dude.” He sat out 18 months of football due to various off-field issues, and joined the 49ers weighing in at 170 pounds. Back at the offseason workout program, he said he was starting to gain weight, and on Thursday he said he is at 185 pounds. That would still make him the lightest cornerback expected to make the roster (Will Redmond is listed at 186), but it moves him much closer to the rest of the group.
Robinson seems to have considerable confidence in himself and the defense. He talked about how they are a selfish defense, always looking to get the ball. He kept it pretty simple, just saying they need to trust their technique and play ball.
One interesting thing we’ve learned over the first two padded practices is the cornerbacks use of mini boxing gloves. Secondary coach Jeff Hafley has the players wear smaller boxing gloves. It gets them using their punch on the line, and keeps them from using their hands once they are no longer allowed. They then have to make sure they get their feet moving to prevent receivers from getting behind them.
Here is what Robinson had to say.
Cut in to Robinson speaking: Like Coach Kelly always says, come out here and make somebody else better everyday. So we’re just trying to come out here just trying to get better.
On adding weight and what he entered camp at:
Around 185. I’m holding all my weight, so I’m good to go, ready for the season.
On getting pass break-ups, and if that’s his game:
That’s the reason why I came. I’m a long, rangy dude, go out there and play ball. Coach Haf, Coach O’Neil put us in the right defense, and just go out there and make the play.
On a particular player that he felt good about:
Well, you know, just got out there, and they say have a game plan every time we go out on the field. That’s one thing Coach Haf always preaches to us, so we just go out there and play, trust yourself, play ball, have fun.
On emphasis on fighting for the ball even after it’s caught:
Well, you know, that’s one thing Coach O’Neil always says, be aggressive when it comes to the ball. If he has it, take it away from him. We want the ball, we don’t want nobody else with the ball. We’re a real selfish defense.
On if he has an aggressive mentality:
Yes, sir. Ever since I was born, I guess. Just gotta go out there and play ball.
On if getting hands on the ball can snowball and feed off it:
Everybody, we do our job and we’ll be successful. Everybody go out there and execute what we need to do, and the defense, well the front seven send the pressure, secondary, we do our jobs, we go out there and make the plays.
On who wears the boxing gloves in practice:
Just goes by the period. Whoever they bring them to, we put them on.
On how it helps his game:
It helps me a lot, just from stopping shooting my hands so much and using my feet more because you can’t really grasp or anything like that. Once you get a quick punch in with the boxing gloves, you gotta get your feet moving. If not, the receivers, we’ve got great receivers, they’ll run right past you.
On if he was wearing the gloves on play involving Simpson:
Nah, actually no, I had them on in one-on-ones in the first period.
Describing play in which he checked Simpson at the line, sent him toward Wilhoite, and went for the ball:
Well, really, just using our keys on the defense. I had some help inside, so I was a little aggressive on the outside. He ran into Wil, and so we went ahead and shot it, went ahead and made a play on the ball.
On getting more confidence as camp goes on:
The confidence, it’s gonna continue to grow. Just gotta stay humble and hungry through the whole passage.