Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
We’ve been very concerned about your deep ball. We were asking head coach Kyle Shanahan about missing the throws to WR Marquise Goodwin yesterday. I realize it’s like three practices into training camp. But anyway, you know how this goes. Is there a concern with you as far as those connections?
“No concern. We stayed after yesterday, worked on a couple of them and we hit a nice one today. So, it’s obviously good, you feel better about it when you hit them. But, it’s probably one of the hardest things to do in football and it’s probably one of the last things that a quarterback and receiver get in connection with. So, we’re working at it every day just like everything else.”
Is it harder when you’ve got a guy with uncommon speed like that? Have you ever played with anybody who’s quite that fast?
“We were actually just talking about it. It’s different throwing a go ball to Marquise than it is to another receiver. I’ve never had a receiver like Marquise where you have to change a couple of things, tweak a couple of things and you’re dropping, I don’t know, it just happens differently. That acclimation to one another is obviously growing and like I said, it was good to hit one today.”
On that same topic, you’ve had a bunch of different receivers working in with that first group. How is that adjustment? Does that make it more difficult for you? Do you have to look and know who’s out there in terms of timing?
“You always see in the huddle before you call the play and everything. You look who’s at what position and whatnot. But, I think it’s good that we do that. Football, there’s a ton of injuries that happen throughout the season so to be able to get those reps with different guys and different O-Line groups and stuff like that, it’s only going to help our team. You hope you get no injuries, but you know it’s going to happen at some point.”
Considering the injury that CB Richard Sherman has come back from, were you as curious as most people in terms of assessing what you saw, how he moved and what have been your impressions?
“In OTAs when I first met Rich, he was an outstanding leader for our defense. It was something that we needed and he brought just that confidence to our defense during OTAs when he wasn’t even practicing. So, you can see it out there. Our defense has been playing tremendously. They have a swagger about them that I love.”
What about in terms of how he moves? You’re playing against him, obviously he’s on the other side of the ball, but given the seriousness of his injury, any impressions about what you’ve seen of him physically?
“He would know better than me, but I think he’s moving pretty well. All of our DBs, they make it tough on us offensively. They don’t want to give up anything deep so it’s hard to throw the deep ball against them and we have to take what they give us type of thing. All of those guys, they’ve been playing tremendous this camp so far.”
Obviously the work with Marquise highlighted the day, but you hit another pass to RB Jerick McKinnon coming out of the backfield. What does he provide for you in the passing game? We all know what he does with the ball in his hands coming from the backfield, but what about through the air?
“All of the backs, really. Jerick is a unique talent, though. He can do things out of the backfield. You can line him up in the slot. We had a nice screen to him today that he broke off for a big one. So, he can do so many different things that it’s hard for a defense. What do you put on him? A linebacker, a safety, a corner? It’s a pick your poison type of thing so, it makes my job a whole lot easier.”
You talked about possible adjustments to Marquise. Was part of that maybe speeding things up so he’s not 90 yards downfield by the time you release?
“Yeah, unless you can throw the ball 100 yards. You’ve got to speed some things up, but it’s really just how you read the play out though. You’re looking for certain things from the DBs to tip you off, shoulder tilt, hips open, hips closed, whatever it is. You just have to realize those things faster than you would on an average play.”
I think DL DeForest Buckner was able to get a hand on one of your passes today. It almost looked like you were trying to do a jump pass over it because you saw it. What’s it like back there knowing he and DL Arik Armstead have that height and what you have to do to get through that?
“You have to be creative with your arm angles, getting the ball around them. I made a couple side arm throws today just to make the completion so guys could go make plays after it. But, that’s part of being a quarterback.”
WR Dante Pettis has embraced his weirdness, he said. He has blue hair, he likes cats and he also says that he moves differently and has crazy legs. What are your impressions of him so far and have you noticed his quote unquote weirdness being embraced?
“He moves differently than most guys. He has some long limbs, long arms, long legs and it helps him create space with defenders. He has a unique ability, I call it wiggle, whatever you want to call it though, of just his body moves a certain way and he explodes out of the break and separates a foot from a guy. That’s all you need. As a quarterback, you love to see that. He’s young, he’s learning, just like all of these young guys are. It’s their first training camp. So, we all have a long way to go. But, he’s working hard every day and it’s good to see that.”
Would you consider him, I know it’s still early and he has a long way to go, but just at this point, just given his route running and things like that, is he at a pretty advanced stage for being so new at this level?
“I think all the young guys, it’s hard to judge. We’re only four days into this now. I can remember when I was a rookie. Your head is almost spinning every day, new stuff is going in that you’ve never heard before and you have to pick it up an hour before practice. So, I think he’s doing a great job. He really is. All of those young receivers, the running backs, tight ends, all of those guys are working so well together and they’re putting in the time and that’s really what it comes down to when you’re young.”
Are you losing your voice a little bit?
“I am a little hoarse today. A lot of yelling out there, man. Some long days.”
You mentioned being creative with your arm angles. We’ve seen you do that, side arm throws and whatnot. Do you attribute that to anything, growing up playing baseball?
“Yeah. I mean, I played shortstop and stuff like that so turning two, obviously it just came naturally I guess. I don’t know. It’s not like I’m thinking about it. It just kind of happens.”
You don’t work on it?
“Oh yeah, I work on it. It’s kind of fun to work on those weird throws. But, I always heard [former NFL QB] Brett Favre did it when he played and he had some of the craziest angles, arm throws that you’ll ever see. So, you never know. When you get into a game, bullets are flying and you never know how you have to throw it.”
Is it something where you find a stationary object and you try to throw around it? How does one practice those types of throws?
“You could be on the run, you could be stationary. When you’ve got 10, 300-pound men in front of you, you’ve got to be creative sometimes.”
You talked last week about the scrutiny that you’re under in your personal life. Do you feel that out here today too on the practice field, just on a July day, that everyone wants to know what you’re doing?
“No, I love going out there. The fans have been awesome, cheering for us and stuff like that. It makes practice so much more fun when you have the fans watching. It kicks us up a notch and we start going that much harder, defense starts going that much harder. Playing football for a living, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
Do you feel more pressure to perform in a practice because there’s such scrutiny on you?
“No, not at all. I put a high standard on myself to begin with and it’s hard for me to reach that but every day I try to.”
How is this camp different from a Patriots camp and what are similarities, too?
“It’s pretty similar for the most part, actually. Long days. We get in here at six-o’clock in the morning, don’t leave until the sun’s going down. So, every camp is structured a little differently with walk-throughs and meetings and stuff like that but for the most part, it’s pretty similar.”
You mentioned Dante’s unique ability with his limbs to get separation. Does WR Kendrick Bourne bring a similar, slippery skill set to the table?
“Yeah. I’ve said it about KB before, he’s got that wiggle to him too. It’s different how the two of them do it and that’s a part of being a quarterback and just learning your guys. We see each other so much, we watch each other on film that you start to, even if the guy took the number off, you could watch him on film and know exactly who it is by how his body moves and that’s just how much time we spend together. But, it’s nice having those guys at my disposal.”
Could you talk about the process of building the chemistry with WR Pierre Garçon? It took four days into camp, obviously he missed yesterday, day off but it took four days to finally get a completion in 11-on-11 with him. What’s that been like to build that chemistry with him?
“It’s been good. Having a vet like ‘P,’ he’s one of those guys that comes in, works hard every day. You really appreciate that as a quarterback. It just sets the standard for the rest of the receivers. He’s got a unique skill set to him. He’s so powerful. When he separates from the corner, when he catches it, any one of them could be a house call. That’s how physical and how fast he is. It’s good to have him out there always, but we’re working on the connection still obviously.”
Obviously it’s early, but it seems like the defense, once they got the pads on, got a little more pressure on you. Can you talk about what you’ve seen from them?
“They’ve bene playing good. I think the O-Line as a whole has done a good job for me. The pockets have been clean for the most part. We’ve got a couple here and there that we have to clean up, but for the most part, I think it’s been a clean pocket. Those guys up front, that trench life during camp is no joke. I tip my hat to those guys.”
When a receiver, mid-route, raises his hand, does that always signal a go route? Like, “I’m changing the route and I’m going deep?”
“I can’t give you all of our secrets, man. Come on. You’re talking about what Dante did today? He smoked the dude at the line of scrimmage, his wiggle came into effect, and it was a house call.”
So that’s not always a go-route, but it could always be a go-route?
“It could be. You’ll find out.”