Whisenhunt: Gates 'Does a Great Job with the Young Guys'

Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt speaks to the media following practice on Thursday.

On TE Antonio Gates:

“I don’t quite know how to answer that. He’s worked well in the games earlier in the year. He’s made a couple plays, things just haven’t gone to him. It sure was nice to see the way he responded in that game. He played really well.”

On defending Gates:

“He’s been bracketed this year as well. A couple times. Different teams do it. Especially in the red zone, people do it. We’ve had that discussion ourselves about, ‘Are they going to do that?’ I can’t say it’s as much as they used to do it, but they have done it this year.”

On Gates’ role in the offense:

“He handles it with class. One of the things about Antonio I think we all appreciate the most is what a leader he is. He really does a great job with these young guys in talking to them, mentoring them and I think that’s part of it. The biggest thing is we have a lot of good guys and he’s seen a lot of these guys like [WR] Keenan [Allen] and [RB] Melvin [Gordon III] grow up and now he’s seeing these guys play well. So, I’m sure he’s invested in that as well, which is really neat. He’s been great. I understand it. He’s very competitive. He’s one of the best tight ends to ever play this game and when you’re not doing it every snap, it’s tough. I think he is realistic enough to understand too that he probably couldn’t take every snap right now. It’s been great having him and I think we were all really excited to see some of the things he did last week.”

On playing close attention to RB Melvin Gordon III’s touches:

“No, not really. The thing about Melvin is, last year and even back in 2016, he got a lot of carries and he got stronger and stronger as they went. Obviously, you don’t want to give him too many. I think some of it’s good because [RB] Austin [Ekeler] has been able to come there in and help with that and that’s made a little bit of a difference. As long as he’s healthy, which he’s been, and running he seems to get stronger as the game goes on. He’s doing a great job.”

On if it helps that Gordon is getting the ball in space:

“He gets hit in space. I would say that’s probably part of it. There are times in space where he doesn’t get the hits where he does in line where he’s getting multiple hits like he is when he’s carrying the football. Does that help? I don’t know, maybe. He had a lot of carries last year and he was very durable. It’s a credit to him and the way he works in the offseason and preparing for it. He’s just a tremendous competitor.”

On the late third-and-seven play on Sunday:

“We had a check on that particular play to go to it. Whenever you’re in that situation, you have to go based off of what you think you’re potentially going to see. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t get it right. Obviously, they didn’t do what we anticipated they were doing and it wasn’t good. I think the natural inclination in that is just to make sure that you get it in the ground, but in that particular situation that’s a different thing. It just happened. He does a great job of managing those and whenever something like that happens you have a tendency to focus on that and you don’t think about some of the plays that were tremendous that were made. Those were overlooked because they’re not talked about. When you talk about a balance between those things, he’s a tremendous player and one of the best in the league and makes it easy. Sometimes things are not going to go exactly the way you want so keep going. It’s not a big deal. You understand it and we keep going. I think we’ve had a really balance of how in those plays and how we’ve been able to get in to things and get out of things. Just because we had one that didn’t quite work out the way we wanted to we move on.”

On T Joe Barksdale and T Sam Tevi splitting time at RT:

“Some of it has been a little bit of injury that’s been affecting that with Joe [Barksdale] and with Sam [Tevi]. It is going to be what it is I think. They’re both good players. Sam has come on as young player and Joe was playing well before he got hurt. I think there’s going to be a mix. I can’t say that it’s always going to be an even split like it was last week, but both of those guys have played well for us.”