I’d just like to say to everybody, a day filled with mixed emotions and the last couple days, Bob just showed me before we got on, a tweet form Victor Bolden, he said, “A dream come true.” That just makes you smile. A guy like that went out and earned his roster spot with his preseason work, but that’s tempered by having the tough conversions that are a part of this league and the reality of it. I got to experience for the first time from a completely different perspective than I’ve ever had. It won’t be lost on me ever. I never take those conversations lightly. What I’m proud about is both myself and Kyle got to talk with each and every player that we released. I think that makes them feel good. They don’t always agree with our reasoning, but at least when we look them in the eye and tell them the truth, they feel like they received that respect. It was something I always respected the coaches and management to do that. Here we are at the 53 andwe’re proud of the roster that we put together and the professionalism that these guys handled that can be a really thrilling process. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.
Can you take us through the Joe Williams situation? After the game that ankle injury didn’t seem that serious at all.
Yeah that surprised us as so often is the case. Joe did get checked out and did come out of the game. I was coming down to the field and missed the play where he did come out. I heard right away saying “Something’s going on with Joe’s ankle we’re going to scan it in the morning.” Once they did scan it, we made the decision along with our medical staff that this was the best course of action for Joe. That’s a tough loss, we thought this was a guy that we felt could really contribute in a big way for us. I think everyone saw the unique capabilities Joe has. He has gamebreaking speed, tremendous vision. He’s going to be a big part of our future in my mind. Disappointing we had to put him on injured reserve, but the right thing to do in our minds.
Would you consider bringing Hightower back at some point?
Well I think options are available. Right now we have three and that’s what we’ll dress. We have three and our offensive weapon in Kyle. We’re pleased with that, but Hightower made a big impression with us. He’s someone Kyle is very familiar with, so we’ll continue to look at him and any other option that can improve our chances.
Can you say exactly what the diagnosis is with Joe Williams injury?
Just as a practice guys, I talk a lot with Bob about this, I’m uncomfortable with that. I didn’t like when people talked about my injuries publicly when I was playing so out of respect for the guys, other than what you guys know already and what our medical staff puts out there, I’m not going to get into the details.
Can you walk us through Joshua Garnett, just the decision to end his season rather than bringing him back later on?
That was a tough call, but one that, Kyle and I started talking last week. We had the diagnosis, they had the surgery. The thought process was to have six weeks of really not doing anything other than rehab. At that point things could go two weeks and get himself ready to play. There was concern that there could be some issues bringing him back that quick. At that time Kyle and I challenged our medical staff and said “Josh is part of our future here, are we giving him the best opportunity for a full recovery and a positive outcome?” Once we did that we all got into a conversation—we included Josh—and we all felt that that would be rushing it. We want to look at things where we want to win every game and we’re gonna have urgency in every decision we make, but to also have prudence and be able to look at the long-term welfare of the player. We felt giving Josh the entire year to rehab this thing correctly and it was the right course of action. That was the one we took with Josh’s blessing. He was very much a part of this decision, we presented it to him. He got comfortable and it gave him peace. When he’s happy, we’re happy and it’s we think best situation for him.
Who’s the backup center going into the season. Is it going to be Erik Magnuson and if the answer is yes, does it give you pause that a rookie is in that role?
The answer is yes right now. He has guard/center flex. And no, it doesn’t give us pause. We understood his versatility. He was a tackle in college, came here, played guard, played center. He was that guy that had tremendous versatility but also played at a high level. But you’re right, Matt—I believe that’s Matt. It’s something you have to do on every offensive play—that quarterback exchange—and there’s a lot to that position. He had the aptitude that a lot of centers have to have, they’re making a lot of calls but he also just played clean in there. He was a guy we liked, had the confidence in, and he will be that backup center coming in. We also know that Zane has been a backup center and can get us through a game as well.
What have you seen from the rookie class that helped you determine Jeremy Kerley was expendable?
That was a tough one. As you know, we made a decision on Jeremy. I think one of the harsh realities of this league is Jeremy was a victim of circumstance in that when we signed Jeremy, we didn’t have any of these receivers on the roster. As I look through here, Trent Taylor was drafted. Aldrick and Pierre and Marquise were free agent acquisitions that we were really happy with. The rookies Kendrick Bourne and Vic Bolden just impressed us thoroughly with their play. We know Jeremy Kerley is a fine player and a productive player in this league. I think in my heart and a heart of hearts, he’s not going to have trouble hooking onto a team. That was a tough call, but once we saw Trent Taylor in that slot position and once we saw Trent handle it and handle it right away, we said it was going to be hard for Jeremy to make the roster. We had good, honest discussions with him here in the last couple of days and went ahead and pulled the trigger today.
Talk about the decision to keep two quarterbacks instead of three.
That’s a philosophy of Kyle’s and one I agree with . It’s just the makeup of the roster in this league and the reality of it. It’s tough to get enough guys up to satisfy your needs at every position. To have backups and to have special teams depth. If you can do it and if you trust that we can make this, then do you role the dice a little bit? Sure, but we feel it’s a calculated risk we are willing to take. Brian, as you know we are pleased with the way he’s performed and C.J. has proven this is not too big for him and all the things we liked when we drafted him. As I said during camp, it was less of what Matt Barkley didn’t do and more of what those two did. At that point, we felt comfortable going ahead and making that decision going with two and making those two be the guys
Is it safe to say the tie went to the younger player?
I know there’s always some bias when you draft a player. Kyle and I always have a saying, “Fight familiarity”. We don’t want to do things just because they are our guys, because they’ve been with Kyle before. We drafted these guys. We believe in them. The free agents, we feel very good about. I think it’s more indicative that feel like we had a really good draft, time will tell. They made our 53-man roster now they gotta go play. So there’s all these steps along the line and these guys seem to check the boxes along the way, each and every one of them. Now they gotta go do it when it counts for real. They’ve shown us enough that they are up to the task. As we’ve been consistent with saying, we are very excited with our draft class, our free agent class. I think with 14 in our mind, 15 with Joe Williams being on the IR is indicative of the type of class that we felt we had and as we said during the draft and free agency, those guys are the nucleus of this team in us turning this thing around.
We see someone makes the initial 53 and then loses their job later. How active do you expect to be tomorrow [Sunday waver claims]?
Well first of all let me say I hope I’m never #2 on the waver claim again, but it’s a nice spot to be sitting in. Kyle and I said from the start any opportunity we can improve our team, we won’t hesitate to do so. There’s been a ton of preparation in trying to prognosticate people’s rosters throughout the league, and here’s some people that could be out there. We’ve been tireless in our efforts to do that and that continues to today as we start to see cuts come out and we’ll see the official wire. If we feel like someone can help us and improve who we are as a team both in the long term and short term then we won’t hesitate.
You will place Ronald Blair on IR tomorrow [Sunday]?
That is likely. I think him making the roster here today is a good thing for Ronald. With a short-term IR we get a couple shots with a guy and it better be someone you really believe in and we believe in Ronald. He’s a versatile player. He’s a very good player. One we like and that’s a likely outcome.
How big of a role do you see Matt Breida having in the running back group? THere’s not many guys behind Carlos.
I would tell you all three guys. One thing if you watch Kyle over the years, and Mike Shanahan he was my coach, Bobby Turner, if you’re on the roster as a running back, you’re likely going to play. Raheem Mostert gives us tremendous asset as a special teams player as well. Carlos will be featured in this deal but Matt Breida is a part of our plans. He’s a guy from day one that showed up here and you don’t need to be a football savant to see that guy can move. He can move fast and he’s a smart football player and he has the intangibles. I remember early in camp he went down with what looked like a hyper extended knee. The trainers got near him and he almost physically pushed them away like, “I’m not missing a snap.” Little things like that tell you had the makeup that we wanted and we continued to push and to give opportunity. He continued to prove what we thought to be the right assumption, exactly that. Now, just like I said earlier with all these rookies they have to go show what they can do on the big stage, but we feel very positive about Matt Breida and what he brings to the table.
Was there a particular decision that kept you up overnight as you were getting this thing down to the wire?
All of them to be honest with you. We tried to do this as humanely as possible. A lot of people ask me since I’ve had this job, what does being a former player afford you? What perspective does it afford you? One thing that it affords me is I know what those guys in that locker room have been going through this last week. While it’s very exciting what’s right around the corner, what this 53-man roster is significant and symbolic of is the regular season is right around the corner. You become very close with these guys that you play with. The last week and a half has been a great challenge and we’ve been doing our best to come up with the best 53, but it’s not easy at all. I know dreams are both made and some dreams are bumps in the road. They all kept me up at night, but we tried to do like anything else. You try to prepare yourself to make the best possible decisions and we feel like we have right here.
On Adrian Colbert, he seemed visible that night at free safety. Was it that performance that won him a spot? Were you at all wavering on him as far as the final roster?
I think that’s a good pickup on your part, but I’d tell you our evaluations, it’s the whole, the whole picture. But with Adrian, I can tell you he came out throughout the offseason and he impressed. Early in camp, really impressed. He hurt his ankle and even when he came back and we weren’t seeing the same guy. The other night, he showed up as that same guy. He provides versatility in that he can play corner and safety and he’s an excellent special teams player. That’s what we knew when we drafted him and saw it throughout the offseason, we saw early in camp, and then we were kind of going, “Oh no, he’s not the same guy we’ve seen.” Well what happened? He hurt his ankle. Even when he was back, he wasn’t all the way back and fortunately for him and a credit to him, he came in and made some plays. Oftentimes that last impression is critical and I’d say in his case it was.
When do you think you’ll get Jimmie Ward on the field? Is he available Week 1?
That’s still fluid. I was watching Jimmie outside my window here earlier going through a great workout. We’re going to do what’s right for Jimmie and what’s right for the team in terms of Week 1. We’ll update you as we know. To be perfectly honest, we don’t know that right now. He’s pushing, he’s doing everything he can and our trainers are doing a great job with him to try and get him back healthy, but when he comes back we want to make sure he’s back for good.