“Back at it now. It’s good to be back with all of the guys, seeing everybody get back in the locker room. It’s an exciting time of year.”
Did you ever hold that players-only sessions over the break?
“We had a couple throwing sessions, yeah. We got a good group together and everything. Everyone’s schedule is so different in the summer time, it’s hard to get everyone together, but we had a good group.”
Was that here or around San Jose?
“Around there, yeah.”
How are you approaching this training camp now that it is your first one as a full-time starter?
“Yeah, I’ve been going about it similar to what I’ve done in the past. Obviously, a different offense and different scheme and everything. But, for the most part, preparing the same way I have in the past. Got a good mindset going into it.”
What’s your practice philosophy? If you have a practice where you throw a couple interceptions is that a bad practice or are you trying to take risks and test boundaries and things like that and how do you interpret those?
“You never want to throw interceptions, obviously. You want to complete as many as you can and be productive on the field. We’re only given so many opportunities during training camp, so you try to make the most of each one. But, at the same time, you’re trying out new things with different guys, seeing who can make a play on a tougher throw or make that catch for you in a tight situation. There’s a lot of variables that go into it, but you don’t want to take too many of those risks because then you’re defeating the purpose of practice.”
When you say that you’re approaching this camp as you’ve had in the past, you don’t feel that you need to take greater ownership of the offense as the incumbent starter this year?
“I think that comes naturally, kind of. I’ve always kind of had the mindset of approaching it as the starter and it’s done well for me in the past. Obviously, there’s things that are different when you’re the starter versus when you’re the backup, but for the most part I think we have a good idea of what we’re doing going into this.”
You compared learning head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense last season to being a foreign language. How fluent are you in that language thus far?
“I’m feeling good with it. Obviously, as a quarterback, there’s always more things that you can learn and perfect your craft a little bit more here and there. But, for the most part, feeling pretty good about it. We had a good rhythm in OTAs and we left there feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
Why is it important to start this from the beginning like you did this offseason as opposed to piecemealing it game plan by game plan like you did last season?
“Just the situation I was in last year was so difficult because you’re preparing for a defense that you’re learning in a week, but at the same time, you’re learning brand new calls, new verbiage, all that stuff. So, it was combining all of that into one that made it so difficult. Being able to start from the ground up and learn the why’s of the offense, how it all ties together, how one play helps dictate the next play, it just makes more sense.”
You were here working out last week. How many guys were working out with you?
“There was a big group here, actually. I didn’t stay the whole summer. I went back to Chicago for a little bit for the Fourth. Did a little house shopping. That was exciting, so got to learn the area a little bit more. Yeah, I was here for the most part. Went back for the Fourth to Chicago to see my family and everything and then I was back here.”
Did you find a house?
“I can’t tell you where I’m living.”
You made headlines last week with a date you went on. We just asked Kyle what he thought about it and he said it was a good learning experience for you in terms of getting a feel for the microscope you’re under. What did you learn from that?
“Just that life is different now. My life off the field, I’ve never really been big on being very public with things. Even social media, I’m not out there a ton. But, my life is looked at differently and I’m under a microscope. It’s like Kyle said, it is a good learning experience. Just have to take it in stride. It is what it is.”
The last five games last year have generated a lot of excitement here. How much do you embrace that and try to carry that forward? How much do you think that it’s hard to reset that?
“I think it’s exciting for the fans. No doubt about it. It was a good end of the season, but it sounds very cliché, but it’s a new year. We have new players. Every team is different around the league now. You kind of start from the ground up and I think we started with that in OTAs and got a good jump on it, but now training camp is here and we have to take it one day at a time. I know it sounds very cliché saying that, but that’s the best way to approach it.”
Kyle was saying that he felt that you guys flushed that away pretty quickly. How do you go about blocking that stuff out and as a leader, do you take it upon yourself to make sure guys aren’t taking that to heart?
“Yeah. I think we have a good group in there. A very focused group. Especially offensively, some of our key guys are new guys. They weren’t even here for that last year. It’s all about coming together, guys staying focused on OTAs and now training camp. It’s an exciting time of year and I think we’ve got a good mindset going into it.”
Do you feel you need to play in preseason games?
“Whatever coach thinks. I think the preseason games help sharpen you up obviously, but whatever coach asks of me that’s what I’m here for.”
You were quoted in a recent article saying you believed in yourself that you could be better than New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. Obviously, as a high-level athlete, a lot of people think that way. But for you, where does that confidence stem from?
“I don’t know. It’s kind of something I’ve had since I was a little kid. I think every good athlete, in order to be great at what you do you need to be confident. Not to say that you’re better than somebody or someone is better than you. It’s belief in yourself, really. I think even stemming back to when I was a little kid. I said it in the article, I would play against my two older brothers in anything. They’re obviously bigger, faster, strong, but you just have that mindset that, ‘I’m going to go out here and win this.’ It’s good to have that.”
Do you go into this season with your confidence level as a team thinking we can make the playoffs and maybe make a run like the Eagles did last year after going 7-9 the previous season?
“First we have to have a good training camp. One step at a time there, but you know, I think we’ll set goals as a team, find out where everyone’s head’s at. We’ve got a good group of guys in there. It’s easy to tell where guys’ heads are and what we expect out of ourselves.”
We’re not sure we’ll get you again before pads come on, but from a quarterback standpoint, what changes for you when the pads come on?
“I have the red jersey, so it’s a little different. With the receivers and DBs, they get to do one-on-ones against one another, get a little more physical at the line of scrimmage. The pass rush, obviously, feels a little different when you’re back there when guys have pads on versus OTAs and stuff like that. But, all that stuff, that’s what really gets me excited. That’s when it’s really football. People start hitting each other. It’s more live.”
Is there a difference in terms of how easily your receivers come out of breaks or does it change the timing at all?
“A little bit here and there. There’s advantages and disadvantages. As a receiver, they’re getting held a lot. So, when you get pads on, maybe they can break off of them a little easier or the DB has an advantage at the line of scrimmage, maybe. It just depends on how you look at it. Both ways, I think it’s good for both sides.”
What is RB Jerick McKinnon’s ability in the pass game going to provide to this offense?
“It’s very unique. He has the ability to run good routes, separate from the defender and at the same time catch it and get the yards after the catch that are crucial in our offense.”
Your quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello said in the Spring that the one thing you hadn’t had a lot of chances to do in New England or in college was the play-action when you turn your back to the receivers and have to find them again and meet them down the field. He wanted you to get a lot of reps doing just that this offseason. Are you more comfortable with that particular set of events?
“Yeah. It’s different. Just like Rich said, it’s different than anything I’ve ever done. But, that’s the nature of the beast. Every offense is different and has its own quirks and everything. In this offense, that’s one of the big components. Initially, it was weird, but I think as time has gone on I’ve become more and more confident with it.”
CB Richard Sherman has emerged as a defensive leader here very quickly. How much have you been able to interact with him and is he a guy you can learn from on the offensive side?
“Absolutely, yeah. Very smart, savvy football player. I’m glad he’s on our side now. He was here all summer so we got a little time to talk to each other and break some things down with one another. Just a great mind to get into.”