What’s the first step for you when you come in and take a look at the game plan?
“Just trying to get it. Obviously, it’s early in the week so the more the week goes by the more comfortable everyone will be with it. Today’s the first day getting the game plan. We haven’t even gone out and practiced it yet. But, just trying to get it down better and better each and every day.”
Does your routine change? Have you carried over anything from what QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s done to change your routine up this year as opposed to last year?
“As opposed to when I was playing last year? You’ve got to prepare, as the backup guy, as if you are the starter. So, I’m doing a lot of the same things except I am meeting with [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and our quarterbacks coach a little bit more just to go over little things here and there after practice, before practice, just stuff like that to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
The other day you mentioned after the game you felt like the experience you got last year would make it a little easier this year, stepping back in. In what ways?
“Just having that experience. Having gone out there and played in five NFL games, there’s nothing you can do to simulate those reps in practice. The only way you can do it is by going out there and actually getting those game-time reps. Just being another year under the system and Kyle’s offense helps a ton, just the knowledge of the offense, getting through progressions quicker and all of that kind of stuff.”
He was just saying he thought one of the things is that you’d have a better understanding of the why’s, pf why things are happening. Do you feel like you have a far greater understanding of that stuff?
“Yeah, definitely. It’s year two for me in this offense. With any extra time doing something, the better you get at it. I definitely understand more of the why’s. Why certain things happen, why this guy we think will be open, why we attack certain things versus certain coverages and stuff like that.”
It’s kind of a cliché about the backup quarterback always being ready, but can you describe what the mentality is every week when you never know when your day might come?
“People say it, but no one really believes it. You really are one play away and you just never know when that play is going to be. You could play zero an entire season or you could be playing in the third game of the year. You never know. That’s why you’ve got to make sure you’re prepared as much as possible and prepare as if you are the starter, for situations like this.”
Obviously, you don’t want anybody to get hurt, but you have 13 games in front of you to really prove that you’re an NFL quarterback. So, you have to look at this as an opportunity, don’t you?
“Yeah, no doubt. Obviously, I think more focus on this team. There’s a lot of people out there doubting us and counting us out. I think everybody in the building is excited and we’re ready to get rolling and win some games moving forward.”
Everyone was very impressed with how tough you were last year. I assume you don’t want to be able to show how tough you are, to that extent this year. Obviously, a lot went into that, but what can you do to minimize some of that punishment?
“Just try to get the ball out of my hands quicker. I think we’ve got a lot better team than we did last year. I really like the group that we have and obviously doing what I can do to get the ball out of my hands quicker and making reads quicker. As a whole team, everyone, the O-Line, receivers, running backs, everyone can add their part to help that.”
How does that make you feel when you hear so many guys talk up your toughness and then do you turn it around on them and kind of give them some praise as well?
“Obviously it’s a good thing to be, as a quarterback in the NFL you’ve got to be tough and you have to have certain qualities to be able to play in this league. It’s awesome to hear my teammates say that about me, but I think this is a real tough team. I think we’ve got a bunch of tough guys on this team on offense, defense, special teams. We’re excited moving forward.”
Specifically, what did it mean when you heard LB Reuben Foster say that you, ain’t no roody-poo?
“Yeah, people asked me about that and I still don’t know if I know what that means. I haven’t seen the entire interview yet, but people were telling me to check it out. It’s pretty funny.”
Have people come up to you and spoken to you and given you that vote of confidence personally or are they just going about the week business as usual?
“I’ve gotten a lot of support from the team, guys saying they believe in me and all this stuff, which is great. But, nothing drastically crazy. It’s just next man up. That’s kind of what our mentality is like. Throughout a season, a lot of guys are going to get hurt whether it’s quarterback, whether it’s any position on the field. You’ve just got to have that mentality, next man up and you’ve got to believe in that teammate no matter what the position is.”
Kyle said that Jimmy has been around. What’s it been like to be able to speak to him this week as you prepare for your first start?
“Oh, it’s been great having him around, being able to talk to him and ask him about certain things. Just having his presence in the facility, being supportive of us and the team, it’s great. Obviously, my thoughts and prayers are with him going forward and hopefully he can recover and get back as quickly as possible.”
Is he like another coach now for you?
“Yeah, I guess you could look at it that way.”
In what ways do you think Kyle has helped you improve as a quarterback the most?
“I think just the knowledge of how football works, how certain plays scheme up against certain defenses the best. I think Kyle’s the best at that, at drawing up plays versus certain looks and coverages that work the best and why they work and how to expect and anticipate certain things.”
In Minnesota and then the two touchdowns last week against Kansas City there were a lot of open receivers running deep. How much confidence do you have just in him to put you in a position to succeed?
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in Kyle and my team. I think it starts with coaches and then obviously the players have to go out there and execute. I’ve got confidence in every last person in this building.”
A year ago, last season, when Kyle informed you that he was going to go with Jimmy, what did that do to you? How did that sit with you?
“I don’t know, that’s so far in the past, it’s hard to look back to that. But, I looked at it as an opportunity to grow and learn and get better and just be the best backup that I could be all the way up to this point. And, just learn from Jimmy and Kyle and take it all in.”
Kyle said some quarterbacks need early success to build confidence. You got thrown in right away and you took some lumps. How did that help you and how did you prevent from losing confidence?
“I think I’ve got a strong faith in God and I’ve got a good support system with my family and teammates. I know to never get down on yourself in any situation in life. I think that having not played last year, I think it’d be a lot different situation at this point being my first game. I think I would be a lot more nervous or whatnot. I think it also helps having played in those games. My teammates have confidence in me because, ‘Oh, he’s been there before, he can do it.’”
In terms of the Chargers, what are your initial impressions of them and is there any extra spark you can get by facing a team that you grew up rooting for?
“Honestly, it doesn’t really matter who it was that we’re going to play. It’s crazy that it is the Chargers. I did grow up being a Chargers fan, but I’m just excited to go out there and play whoever it was going to be. In this case, it’s the Chargers. But, they’re a good team. They’ve got good guys on defense. They’re an explosive offense as well. We just have to go out there and play as a team and play solid on offense, defense and special teams. Hopefully we’ll walk out of there with a win.”
The Chargers with Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley run a scheme pretty similar to what you guys do here. Is there any benefit to that as you go into this?
“Yeah, I think so. It’s a lot of the same style of defense that we’ve gone against in camp and OTAs and stuff. Obviously, they sprinkle in some different things and do different things. I’m sure there’ll be some new things that they’re going to game plan against us that you’ve got to be prepared for. But, the base stuff is there. They’re a three-deep team and so are we. Obviously, having gone against a defense like that helps, but you can never count on it, what they’re doing. There’s always something different.”
Kyle talked about your preseason and overall summer and said he was very pleased even though in preseason games your stats weren’t necessarily eye popping. How do you assess your preseason? Were you overall pretty pleased? I know you were obviously dealing with a foot injury.
“I was pleased with it. I just felt a lot more comfortable back there. Obviously, there were plays that I missed and wish I had back. But, I said a while back that for the most part, the ball was going to the right spot most of the time and that’s good.”