San Francisco 49ers wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur spoke to the media during OTAs and answered questions about his receivers and the relationship they are building with Jimmy Garoppolo. He talked about the development of the younger players as well as going into a little X’s and O’s analysis.
With Garoppolo arriving midseason, it was not only a crash course in learning the play book, but also getting to know his receivers. For how little time they had, their chemistry was pretty remarkable. This off season there have been extra credit throwing sessions on Saturdays at an undisclosed location where, without coaches, Garoppolo and his receivers can have a dialogue as well as get to know each other’s habits on the field. LaFleur says those sessions have been great for their chemistry.
When asked about how his younger receivers are progressing LaFleur mentioned that the group is very tight and they pick each other’s brain regularly, sharing information. Not only is the group closely knit, they are very competitive. Last seaosn, as a result of missing OTAs, Kendrick Bourne had a slower start to last season before he really got going. This offseason he picked back up right where he left off. LaFleur mentioned that Bourne has been working with assistants T.C. McCartney and Katie Sowers and it has paid off for him having a “great camp.” Garoppolo also confirmed that Bourne, as well as the whole wide receiving corps, has come a long way, “moving in the right direction, working hard, putting in the extra time.”
This year’s second round pick, receiver Dante Pettis has had the “luxury” of being able to participate in OTAs and LaFleur says they’ve “thrown a lot at him.” The 49ers met with Pettis at the combine as well as having him in for one of their 30 visits and he’s been everything they’ve expected so far. He’s been taking the coaching they’ve been giving him and putting it to work on the field. LaFleur urges him to take one thing each day to focus on, and he has been doing just that, showing how he “understands ball.” He also been impressed with Pettis’ versatility and hands but advised that he has a long way to go.
For our film aficionados, LaFleur explains the “blaze out” route that was utilized a lot by Julio Jones when Kyle Shanahan was in Atlanta. He discusses how the player is trying to get width as well as getting vertical to expose the defenses. Both Marquise Goodwin and Victor Bolden Jr. have been seen using that route, making it look like they are going all the way deep, and it is used facing man or zone coverages.
One of the best tidbits that LaFleur revealed was how Goodwin responded to his contract extension. While the receiver did more last season than he had ever put on tape, LaFleur knew he was capable and Goodwin was chomping at the bit for more. Still, after his extension Goodwin expressed that it doesn’t matter who gets the ball. LaFleur explained what Goodwin said: “It could be him one play, it could be Juice [Kyle Juszczyk] the other play, and Aldrick Robinson, it doesn’t matter, this offense can spread the ball around. It doesn’t matter how many touches I get, I’m just going to go out and do my job. It’s been a great message for our group.”