You got RB Jerick McKinnon back out there. How’s he moving around and how’s he feeling?
“It seemed alright. It was very few reps today. I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to him. I’ll watch it when I’m done with you guys and talk to him and see how it was, but we took it very easy, so it’ll be more talking to him and see how he felt.”
Is he still in the ballgame to be on the 53-man when the season starts?
“Yeah, he definitely still is. We obviously would love him to be. We’ve just got to make sure that he’s healthy and ready to go and when he’ll be. Today was the first process, really, of getting him out there and giving us a chance to decide that and giving himself a chance to decide it. He’s done as much as he can in rehab and now we’ll see how it goes over these few days.”
It’s been just a couple days, but how has C/G Weston Richburg looked?
“He’s done real well. We had a practice yesterday just on air, but we got a couple D-Linemen out there for him to go against every play. It was 11 guys on one every play, so it was fun to watch him go through that. He did like 15 reps of it, did well, and then we just finished practice today where I’m guessing he had 15-20 reps, so we’ll check out the film when we get in, but it seemed good.”
It sounded like his injury was maybe worse than we realized, that he played through a lot last year. What did he show you going through what he went through last year?
“I mean, anytime guys play through stuff, you always earn a lot of respect for guys who do that. It’s one of the hardest things in this league because no one feels great. It’s hard to get through 16 games, especially at an O-Lineman position. You have to be willing to play through some things, you just don’t ever want to do it to jeopardize yourself for your future. It was something that he could’ve probably done earlier, taken care of, and it didn’t make it worse playing on it, but it was something he played with for a long time which didn’t help him perform at as high of a level as he’s capable. When he went in and cleaned his knee up, just the stuff you have to do, reattaching the quad, that’s a really long process. I know it’s been long for him, but I know he feels better now and hopefully we’ll get him here in football shape and I know if he doesn’t have the pain that he had last year, I know he’ll be much happier playing.”
You mentioned a while back that there was a chance that he could play this Thursday. Is that still on the table?
“I don’t think so.”
DL Dee Ford won’t play Thursday either, will he?
How’s he coming along? It looks like it’s all back on track with him.
“He looked great today. Very fresh legs, so we were messing with him over that. He looked very good.”
How were you messing with him, you took too long?
“No, that’s how long it takes, but it’s all anyone does when the new guys come out and everyone’s tired and sore and the guys come out and look extremely fresh, which is good, because that means they’re healthy, and they are fresh for a day or so, and then they get sore again. That’s why you’ve got to get them back into football shape and hopefully we’ll be able to get that done before Tampa.”
What does moving on from LB Malcolm Smith mean about the other guys that you have at that linebacker spot?
“It definitely shows that we have confidence in the other guys. Malcolm is a guy that I have a ton of respect for. I’ve played him a ton in my career when he was at Seattle and when he was at Oakland. He’s a guy I’ve always hated playing against, I’ve hated going against him in practice. I think he had an unfortunate time here, just especially the first year. We brought him in to be our backer, and he was, he had a great camp and then he tore his pec and missed a whole year. The next year, we got [LB] Fred [Warner] and he got that opportunity. Malcolm’s handled himself with class the whole time, but I know it didn’t go the way he wanted it to, nor how we expected it, but he was always the player we thought he was and the person. He’s a guy I will always have a ton of respect for.”
You’ve had LB Elijah Lee here for a little while, obviously missed time with the thumb injury, but do you feel pretty comfortable in terms of what you know about him?
“Yeah, I do. He’s been with us for the entire time now. I think our first year, I think we got him off of Minnesota’s practice squad pretty early, I want to say Week 1, so we’ve had some time with him. He’s gotten a lot of playing time for us, too. He had an unfortunate injury where he has a cast now and he’s going to see if he can play with it on Thursday. Hopefully he can. But, he’s definitely in the mix and we’ve got a bunch of guys who are at linebacker.”
Does this mean LB Dre Greenlaw’s your starter at SAM?
“No, it doesn’t mean it, but it means we feel good about him being that and we also feel good about other guys. If we didn’t feel good about more than one guy, then it would’ve been hard to let Malcolm go when we did.”
Which wide receivers won’t you play Thursday night?
“The only ones that, [WR Dante] Pettis won’t play, because he won’t be healthy until next week, same with [WR Jalen] Hurd and [WR] Marquise [Goodwin] we’ll sit down.”
What’s DL Kentavius Street’s situation?
“Kentavius, he’s battled through his knee all year. He’s had some knee tendonitis throughout camp and stuff, a little similar to Dee Ford, but he’s been trying to battle through it and get a spot here. We decided today, or yesterday, that he can’t do it anymore. We’re going to get his knee scoped here on Friday. So, we’ll decide what to do after that. He’s going to have to get his knee scoped here Friday, which will be a setback for him, but does not mean that he’s still not going to be a part of us.”
How could you describe Dante Pettis’ progression this summer as he goes into his second season?
“I mean, he’s going through what a lot of guys go through. I know a lot’s been talked about that the last couple of days. I know a lot’s been said about the quote that I had on him, but Dante’s not in jeopardy of not making our team or anything, but we are still trying to find out a role for him. When you have a guy like Dante, it can be a compliment to him, too. He’s a guy who’s capable of having any role on this team. He can be our best player on this team, he could be our best punt returner, he could be our number one receiver, our number two receiver, our slot receiver or just a role receiver. He has the ability to do all of that and he has shown that he can do all of that, but he hasn’t shown it consistent enough that we know exactly where to put him. So, that’s really what I was trying to word there. I have been hard on Dante, but if anyone knows me, I am the hardest on people that I believe in. I do believe in him a lot and I am always going to be probably a little disappointed, because I think he can be very good. It’s important to our team that he is.”
Where do you see this roster right now a couple days before your final preseason game? Are you happy with it? What are these days leading up to cutdown day going to be like for you and general manager John Lynch and the staff?
“I’m extremely happy with where we are right now. You’ll never be satisfied, you always want to keep getting better, but the main thing is you get better each year and we’re in a situation right now that we haven’t been in before. It has been a somewhat stressful week for us just having to think about some of these decisions that are coming, they’re right around the corner and that does still at this time change day-to-day based off how practice goes, based off how injuries are going. It’s kind of crazy with the competitions that we do have right now and it’s going to be an extremely stressful few days. It will go all the way to Friday. It will go all the way to Saturday on the final ones. And like I told our team today, even though there is always a lot of pressure on the final 53, you’ve just got to keep saying to guys, the only thing about the final 53 is it’s never in the history of football been the final 53. It usually changes the next day and it always changes that next week and it changes throughout the year. There are lots of guys here that might not be here in five days but could still be a big part of our team as this year goes. So, you just try to express that to everyone so everyone’s not counting themselves out, they’re still doing stuff that can have an effect on the coaches and the personnel guys.”
Have you gained some clarity with the wide receiver competition over the past few weeks?
“Yeah, I get clarity about it every day. We’ve got a lot of guys that we believe in. We’ve got a lot of guys who can play in this league. We have dealt with some injuries. We know we lost [WR] Trent [Taylor]. We’ll see if he’s ready for Week 1, but highly unlikely. We know we haven’t had Hurd the last couple weeks who’s definitely made a run, so that’s changed some stuff missing both of those two. Then you guys see all the other guys on the roster. We’ve got a lot of guys capable from top to bottom. You like to keep six, we’ll see if two of those guys are available, which definitely effects some stuff, too. There’s a huge trickle-down effect with all this that goes to DBs, goes to tight ends, it goes to everything. It’s a position we haven’t been in since we’ve been here at receiver. I think the guys that we’ve had have all gotten better and I think that we’ve got some news guys pushing some people.”
Do you know which two would start Week 1 or is that still to be determined?
“No, I don’t know that yet. That’s what I’m trying to get them to make easier on me.”
When it comes to filling out a tight end group, do you prefer to have guys with differing skillsets? I mean, you have TE George Kittle obviously, but do you want to have a blocking tight end or somebody who can replicate what George does just in case?
“You want three Georges, that’s what we keep telling him. Still expecting that, but you take the best you can get always and if you get a guy who, George is very good at both. Then you get some guys who, hey this guy can be real good in the pass game, but he can’t block at all. And then it’s like, well, we’ve got a guy who’s pretty good in the pass game. We would always love another, but if he can’t block at all, he’s a receiver. Whatever we put a number on him or call him, he’s still a receiver. So, you’ve got to balance all that stuff out. Sometimes it’s what areas do you need more. We do need some guys who can block in here because if guys can’t do it, it’s really hard for us to take George off the field because he’s very good at it. You’re not going to take guys off the field when there is a big drop off. You need guys who are close to blocking as well as him and you also need guys who can do some stuff in the pass game for him so we can take him off a little bit in pass plays and we always want him in there on third down and stuff but you don’t want a big run-pass tendency based off of when he’s in and when he’s out. You try to get the best guys out there to try and balance out your best one and if you ever get a chance to have some special ones, you never hesitate to do that. We’ll take as many as you can.”
Two injury things, is Hurd in any danger of missing Week 1 and then with Street is season-ending IR most likely?
“It is most likely. Haven’t decided that for sure, but it is definitely most likely. And then Hurd, I don’t know. I wouldn’t have thought that a week ago, but it’s still lingering and it is definitely legit. We’re going to rest it here again this whole week and then we’ll probably reassess it on Monday and see where he’s at.”