How are you feeling physically coming off that game Sunday?
“A lot better today than yesterday and the day before. With each day I get a little bit less sore. Still not fully recovered, but I’m getting there for sure.”
Do you ever get fully recovered before the next game?
“Usually you do get there by Sunday.”
Like five minutes beforehand?
“No, no usually, tomorrow I should be good.”
All of your teammates after the game said that it fires them up when they see you put your body on the line, making plays. Does it have a similar impact on you? Do you get an edge from making plays like that?
“I think just anytime I can try to keep my team on the field, moving the chains and stuff, obviously the more we’re out there, the better it is for the offense and the better it is for the team. I don’t know if I really get any extra adrenaline by doing that, but it’s just kind of instinctive I guess.”
In college, did you ever tell the coaching staff that maybe TE George Kittle needed more targets?
“No, the thing with George is that he was injured most of my senior year so it was kind of tough. He was probably injured about half the year. We knew the player that George was and when he got hurt for us my senior year it was a tough blow just because we planned to use him a lot.”
He had a foot injury?
“Yeah, he had an ankle, foot, Achilles. He had a couple of different ones where it was tough for him to stay healthy for a while, for most of his senior year.”
That touchdown pass you threw to WR Kendrick Bourne last game. Is that a route that he would have been able to run really well last year? Is that something that he had to develop and refine? How did that come about?
“Kendrick’s just gotten better each and every week that he’s been here and been on the team. He was a great route runner last year when he got here. He was just kind of raw and didn’t necessarily know what he was doing, per se. If you told him to get open, he would go get open and he would do it. But, what he’s so good at now is doing it within the timing of the route combinations and stuff like that. He’s got a lot better knowledge of the offense and he’s really becoming a good receiver.”
Did you see on that touchdown route that he was going to be right on time, right in the right spot?
“Yeah, definitely. I counted on him to get open versus man on the corner and he did and he ended up making a good catch with tight coverage. It was a big play in the game.”
That touchdown to Kittle, you looked off the safety and made they play to the right side. Is that kind of a product of having a second year in the system and is that sort of a nuance that you get over time that maybe you didn’t have last year?
“Yeah, I think so. Being able to do different things, more things with your eyes and your feet and timing and all of that comes with more reps in the offense and more reps with certain players for sure.”
Are there other plays in that game that you looked at sort of in a similar vein where you wouldn’t have been able to make that play last year?
“There’s some. I think just a matter of getting it out quicker. There was another third down to George that we converted that, I don’t know, I mean he ran a great route but I don’t know if I would have been able to get that out last year. It’s hard to say what would have happened or what wouldn’t have happened. I just know it slowed down a lot and I feel a lot more comfortable out there this year.”
Was that the one in the second quarter?
“On the long drive, it was on the long drive when [T Joe] Staley got hurt.”
Is there any sense of, you can’t play cautiously but when things are so thin you have to be a little bit more careful because it gets thin after you? Even though your natural inclination is to run around and take hits and that kind of thing?
“There’s definitely a fine line between getting the extra yard and getting down and protecting yourself. You don’t want to get hurt and be out for any game and that’s something I’ll definitely work on is getting down. If the game’s on the line, fourth down, you’ll try to get that extra yard.”
Were there plays in that Chargers game that head coach Kyle Shanahan pointed out and said, “Okay, we need to make sure that you don’t get hurt in this circumstance?”
“The only one he pointed out was the one where I did get my air knocked out. He said it was a great play and he appreciates it and stuff, but he says no one would look at you differently if you slid here. But, he understands my competitiveness on third down, wanting to get the first down, move the chains. But, other than that, there wasn’t really many in that game.”
Kyle said that Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James on the last play wasn’t supposed to be blitzing. It was a bust and you read it and you were quite surprised when you saw him over there.
“Yeah, definitely. They brought both safeties off of the edge which they have never done. They just don’t do that. Usually when one comes, the other one goes back. I saw the guy on the right coming and by the time I looked left to throw the ball, Derwin was hitting me. So, it was a good bust on their part, but it’s just unfortunate.”
The Crucial Catch event where you had the two-year-old. How natural is that for you? What was the story behind that?
“It was really natural. I have a two-year-old daughter myself so it came real naturally. It’s just tough to imagine what their family is going through. I have a two-year-old and if my daughter was in her shoes, you really have to be strong and tough not only as a person that’s battling cancer, but as a family that has to go through it with their daughter. I’ve got nothing but the ultimate respect for all of those people there and they’re all just real inspiring and inspiring stories.”
Also, is it inspiring to you? Are you motivated by the tradition at the University of Iowa with the children’s hospital?
“Oh, yeah. When I was back at Iowa, I used to go up to the children’s hospital every other week just to go up and see patients, kids with cancer. It was real inspiring just being up there and having conversations with the kids and all that kind of stuff. So, I thought hit was a really cool event if not the best event here, one of the best definitely that they do here. It was a really good event and I feel like everyone enjoyed it and had a good time.”
What’s it like to be on the field when that happens at Iowa?
“It started the year after I left so I was never playing, but I did go back for a game last year and was able to partake in it. It really gives you chills. It’s something that you can watch videos of it and see it and it’s all great, but when you’re actually there experiencing it, it’s something really special. It’ll give you chills.”
What would you say has been the area that you’ve improved most from last year to this year? You said the game is slowing down and that stands to reason, but is there anything in particular that you’ve done like a 15-yard out or something like that, that you feel has been a key improvement for. You?
“I think just getting the ball out quicker and making reads quicker is definitely a big part of it. Like you said, a lot of that has to do with the offense just slowing down for me. I’m able to go through progressions quicker and stuff like that. But, there’s a lot of things in the offseason, just little things that you want to critique at so you can get better at.”
I have a bit of a weird question, but ESPN reported that the Niners have all of these primetime games coming up and that people around the league wanted the Niners to trade for Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles or a bigger name quarterback. I guess you don’t have the name recognition. I don’t know if that’s news to you, but how do you take stuff like that when it’s like, “Who is this guy?”
“You’ve just got to not even really think about it. With the good stuff, there’s bad stuff. You’ve got to take it both with a grain of salt and not really think about it when people are praising you and when they’re bashing you because you’re not doing well. It’s how sports are. It’s all ebbs and flows. When things are good, you’re on top of the world, people praise you. When things are bad, they’ll bash you and you’ve just got to take both of those the same way and not even acknowledge anything on the outside.”