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Blaine Gabbert on MNF takeaways, OL protection, third down conversions

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The San Francisco 49ers quarterback had plenty to discuss following the team’s MNF win. Here’s a full transcript courtesy of 49ers PR.

What was your biggest takeaway from the game?

“The biggest thing I took away from the game is we were 4-for-4 in the red zone. We got the victory and we’re going on to play Carolina. We’re going to film here today and see what we need to work on. There were some ups and downs throughout the game but the biggest thing is we kept fighting, kept chipping away and got the W. That’s all that matters in this league.”

You had some success early, making some things happen running the ball. How much do you think that maybe loosened some things up for you guys to run the ball more?

“We came into the game saying take what the defense gives you. They were kind of dropping their zones, playing some tight man-to-man coverage and there were some running lanes up in the middle of the field. Anytime you can convert third downs, get yourself into second-and-short, third-and-manageable with your feet, that’s something that you have to do and I have to capitalize on.”

What’s kind of your philosophy in just managing yourself, making sure you’re not taking too many hits when you do take off?

“There were some times I definitely should of and could of slid. We’ll probably watch those on film and see where I could slide. But, you know, I was just playing the game and trying to get first downs and you’re going to take some shots every now and then. You just want to try and minimize those as a quarterback.”

How good was your offensive line tonight because it seemed like Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald was particular frustrated toward the end of the game?

“They were doing a great job. They fought their tails off all game long. We knew it was going to be a 60-minute fight with those guys because their front seven is so talented. The O-Line did a great job opening up holes for our running backs and giving me time to throw the ball.”

By going for two fourth downs, do you think you kind of set the tone in the sense that you guys were clearly the aggressors at that point?

“Yeah. When we’re on offense, we want to be offensive. [Head coach] Chip [Kelly] and our coaching staff do not shy away from going on fourth down, especially kind of in that fringe territory whether you punt it or kick a long field goal. We were 1-for-2 on fourth down. The first one, just got to bring the ball up or hand it off to the running back and slam it up in there. But, [WR Jeremy] Kerley did a great job on the second one converting on that ball down the sideline. Anytime you go for it on fourth down, you want to convert because those are huge momentum plays for the football team.”

When you talk about taking advantage of your opportunities, what does it mean for your guys to get an opening night win against the Rams on a nationally televised game?

“It’s huge. Any time you can get a conference win, a divisional opponent win, first game of the year W, it’s a big momentum builder for the football team.”

I think the biggest thing for this offense is the third down conversions and the success the offense had in that time was something you had struggled with before. What’s your comfort level in knowing the situation and how do you think you’ve improved in them?

“Yeah. Any time you can convert on third downs and extend drives, the odds and percentages of scoring increase greatly. I think we were fifty percent on third down tonight. That’s good but there’s always things that we can improve on and improve that statistic. The biggest thing that I took away from that is we were 4-for-4 in the red zone with four touchdowns and that’s huge. Any time you can convert red zone attempts to touchdowns and do that a hundred percent of the time, that’s good football.”

Without obviously having a chance to study the film, how do you feel you played?

“Yeah, I’ve got to watch the tape. Solid there in the first half. Started slow there in the third quarter but finished there strong with the two touchdown drives and that’s what you look for. When we got things rolling, when we were executing at a high level, we just kind of got to find ways that we can get started faster there in the third quarter. That’s always a challenge that you have as an offense. How do you start faster or how do you get those long, extended drives right off the jump? We’ll watch the film, evaluate it and just get better from it.”

Are you more comfortable with the running game or was there some struggle with the passing game?

“We were just executing the plays that were called. I’m comfortable with the run game and the pass game and our offensive line did a great job in both aspects. So, whatever Chip wants to call, we’re going to execute it to the best of our ability.”

Not to knock the running backs that you had last year but this was the first time you got to play with RB Carlos Hyde. How did that change your approach and what you were able to do knowing that the defense had a high-level running back to--?

“Carlos is a tremendous asset to this football team. What he can do running the football and catching the ball out of the backfield, it’s a unique talent. Him and [RB] Shaun [Draughn], they’re a tremendous one-two punch and you saw it tonight, how those two guys play complementary football and both ran extremely hard. Caught the ball well out of the backfield and got some tough yards against a good defense.”

Running the offense that you are, how much trust do you guys need to develop with each other and have you developed in that read-option scheme?

“Yeah. It’s about doing what the defense gives you. The looks change every play. You’re never going to get the same look twice and we just got to be on the same page. They got to trust me that I’m going to make the right read because it’s so driven by the quarterback. As we continue to go through these games throughout the season, that trust is going to continue to build.”

How have you been able to develop a rapport so quickly with Jeremy Kerley? I mean, he’s only been here a couple weeks. What can you say about what he’s been able to do in a short time?

“Yeah, it’s been like a week and we’ve just tried to catch him up to speed as fast as possible. He’s been in the league quite a few years and just the mindset that he approached every day in practice showed today. Coming in on such short notice, mastering this offense, knowing exactly where he needs to be to catch the ball. Coming out with quite a few catches tonight and some big third down conversions, it was a good thing to see and we’re just going to continue to get better.”

What are your thoughts on what’s going on with QB Colin Kaepernick and S Eric Reid? Is there the sense that it’s really bringing about some change, some discussion?

“Yeah. It’s good to kind of spark that discussion but I’m here to play football. I’m focused on the game. Everybody can do whatever they please before the football game but I’m locked in trying to get victories.”

How close have you guys gotten? You play, practice together. Have you guys gotten to be pretty good friends because you share obviously a lot of information and probably bounce off each other a little bit too?

“Who is that?”

With Colin, I’m saying. What’s the relationship like as quarterbacks, as competitors? How much fun are you having working with him on the field just this last year and last year as well?

“With Kap?”

With Kaepernick, yeah.

“The quarterback room’s great. The quarterbacks are all in there to get each other better. Whatever we have to do to help this team win, that’s what that room is going to do and we’re all competitors. We all love our jobs and right now, we’re just trying to find ways to get wins and that’s it.”