Yesterday, when news of the Earl Mitchell signing hit, it was later reported that the San Francisco 49ers outbid the Denver Broncos for the free agent defensive tackle’s services. It wasn’t just the Broncos, Mitchell had the Seattle Seahawks pitching him as well.
While the 49ers may have had the better offer, it’s certainly nice to see they could beat out Denver and Seattle without breaking the bank. The Seahawks and Broncos probably had their own measures on Mitchell’s worth, but this signing is a turn for the 49ers. They’ve spent more money in the last week than all of free agency last year—and free agency hasn’t even started yet.
Mitchell was on hand to have his introduction interview in a conference call with the Bay Area media. He talked about his aforementioned suitors as well was what he’s bringing to 49ers. You can listen to the full interview here.
Can you maybe just trace back a few days and just tell us about your meeting with the 49ers and the first impression they made on you.
Well right off the bat that it was a first class organization. They treated me with a lot of respect. I was happy to be here because there’s a lot of people, lot of familiar faces that have helped me with my career. I was really excited to be there.
Can you talk about those familiar faces and coaches you’re going to be working with?
For sure. Well I’ve worked with the D-line coach I’ve worked with the D-line coach, Jeff Zgonina, in the past, and he’s somebody I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He played 17 years in the league on the interior. That was a big factor for me. They have DeMeco Ryans on the staff, which was big for me also because I know the type of player he is, I know how smart of a person he is and just the fact that we played together. I can tell they’re building a family-type environment there—that’s something I want to be a part of with Coach Shanahan and everyone else that’s part of their staff.
Did you meet with Coach Shanahan first or John Lynch first or how did that go down?
I met with both of them probably simultaneously most of the time. I just got the right vibe from them. They wanted a guy that goes about it the right way and I’m fortunate to hear and just listen to the things they’ve expressed about me, and those things I want to live up to, things I appreciate them saying about me as a person and a player.
What other teams offered you contracts?
I flew to Seattle, I flew to Denver and I was in Atlanta. I had a few other offers but those were the only visits I took.
What traits do you bring to this defense?
I bring leadership; I can help out a lot of the younger guys, help out their games. And I’m a guy that you can rely on and do things. You can rely on me to be accountable and do things the right way—the young guys see that. That’s real important to me. I’m a team guy. When it comes to playing, I take a great amount of pride in run defense and I like to get a lot of the young guys together and make sure that we’re watching enough tape and making sure that we’re all prepared. So I’m always one of those guys that you can rely on if you want to get extra work in and stuff like that.
Obviously by NFL standards you’re an older guy, no offense, but you’re going to a team that was 2-14 last season. Were there any concerns about the state of the franchise, not knowing how many years you might have left and if so, were some of those concerns eased by meeting with some of the people you’ve mentioned?
I’m not one of those type of guys looking into the past. I’m always looking ahead. Every year is different in this league. That’s one thing I know about playing in this league. When it comes to thinking like that, there’s another way of thinking. I’m excited to playing with people I’m familiar with, and guys I can continue to grow and learn. That’s always what it’s been about for me. I’m just excited to be there. That’s really all I’m thinking about.
Just in terms of your health, you missed the first half of last season with a calf injury. Is that an issue going forward that you kind of have to monitor during the offseason?
It’s definitely something that I work on, but I was able to finish the season strong which was important to me. Obviously I had that injury, I had that issue, but once I came back I was fine. In this league you get injured and stuff, but at the same time, sometimes you’ve got to deal with those type of growing pains. I just worked through it and ended up ultimately being fine.
You did play in that Niners game. What do you recall from that game and the way Colin Kaepernick almost led them back?
That was a great game. That was a tough game. It really came down to the last second. I know that this team plays with a tenacity and I’m familiar with it. I just remember playing against those guys and I just know that there’s so much promise and I’m looking forward to that being part of the getting-over-the-hump aspect, I guess you could say if you will.
Do you expect to be playing nose tackle?
It’s hard to say right now, but I plan on playing the interior for the most part. But yeah, maybe switching back and forth. That’s obviously one of my strengths, but it’s hard to say right now.