The San Francisco 49ers have been without safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt for most of training camp due to injury, and it has opened the door for undrafted free agent Lorenzo Jerome. The 49ers signed Jerome to compete as a reserve safety, but injuries have thrust him into the starting lineup in practice, and he could start this Friday at free safety against the Kansas City Chiefs.
On Monday following practice, Jerome met with the media to talk about camp so far, and what he has been learning. Jerome went to FCS St. Francis University, and the chip on his shoulder is immensely clear. You can read the transcript below, but I recommend watching his press conference. The confidence he has is pretty clear the entire way through. He recognizes he has plenty to learn, but he also is confident in what he can already do. He’s one of many players I’m excited to watch on Friday!
On physical practices and not going too far:
The way I’ve practiced since college is to always protect the team. So every time I get a good shot, I like to let up. But I still practice my routine, like coach wants, and finish through the ball, finish through the tackle. When it’s during practice, protect the team, but when it’s Friday and we play Kansas City, hopefully I get a good shot on somebody and I can prove that I can play the middle third for the 49ers.
On excitement for opportunity:
Oh I can’t wait. Friday’s a big day. It’s a great time for my teammates to show out, and for us to ball out and we come out with a win.
On confidence coming out of a small school:
I always play with a chip on my shoulder, coming from St. Francis University. It’s a great program, but I went to the NFLPA Game and the Senior Bowl — that actually helped me out a lot. At first I was getting toasted, getting burned, but I had to adapt, I had to get used to it. So as that progress I went through, I came into OTAs, I came into rookie minicamp, and now I’m into training camp, so I’m just going to keep that chip on my shoulders.
On what he is picking up new in camp:
All the vets help me out in the meeting room. Like, E-Reid, Jimmie Ward, Tartt. They’re down, but it’s my responsibility to fill in their shoes. That’s why you guys brought me here. They just help me out every day in film, they tell me what to look at, so is Coach Hafs, so is Coach Saleh, and that’s pretty much it.
On playing much slot in college:
Yes, I played nickel as well. I played nickel and strong safety for my university, but I’m versatile, so you can put me anywhere.
On how NFL speed impacts his instincts:
Yea, you have to play a little further back knowing Marquise is fast. He’s going to get going quick, so you just gotta read your keys, read what’s going on there in the field, and if the play comes my way, I hope I make the play. But guarding Marquise, you have to be very patient and very still because he can break either way. That’s how quick he is.
I mean everybody hears rumors about themselves every day, and negativity. You just have to ignore that and go on with your day, and be proud for always walking around with a chip on your shoulder. Be confident, not cocky. But sometimes it’s OK to be cocky, but at the end of the day you gotta know what you’re doing. When you’re feeling you’re prepared, you’re going to play great.
What he thought when John Lynch said he played D-III (it’s FCS):
[Laugh] I didn’t really pay attention to that. Everybody was giving me feedback, “Oh he said you guys are D-III.” I was like, he made a mistake, everybody’s not perfect, but then I like the fact that he corrected himself and said sorry, Lorenzo Jerome, Division I. It made my school happy and made myself happy.
On if he talks to Lynch much:
Yea I talk to him sometimes. During walkthroughs he comes by and says, “you know, I played safety as well.” He talks to me and says, “I was a hard-hitter,” and that’s pretty much it. He doesn’t really, we haven’t really communicated on a heavy level because it’s always walkthroughs, we’re always doing work. When it’s work it’s work. But on the off time, I say, “Hey John, how you doing?”
Is he developing chemistry with Chanceller James:
CJ, he’s a heck of a player. He’s physical as heck. I try to be like him sometimes. Seeing him going through the hole, crush the hole. We just feed off each other. I try to motivate him, I say, “CJ, calm down, next play something else’s going to happen, you gonna get your opportunity. Be patient.” You never know with this game, you always gotta remain humble.