HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What was it like having former NFL WR Randy Moss out here and why did you bring him in?
“We brought him in, he arrived yesterday. I coached him for almost four years in New England. Obviously, the talent speaks for itself, but one of the things that always impressed me about him was his knowledge – his knowledge of coverages, his knowledge of different DBs (defensive backs). He really brought a lot to the table last night for our team and for our receivers. It was good to have him here.”
What did he say that impressed you the most?
“I think the big thing when he talked to the team, I usually try to leave that in-house, but I will say that he talked about dedication to the game, how important the game was to him, how much it meant to him, how much he misses it, how much he misses the locker room and the camaraderie, and then he just talked about how are you adding value to this football team, are you doing your job, are you performing your role to the highest level? I just thought he gave a great talk.”
OLB Jadeveon Clowney has missed three days in a row. What’s the nature of that?
“Just giving him a couple days off. I wouldn’t make too much of it.”
At what point do you become worried about OLB Jadeveon Clowney and C Nick Martin missing days?
“I’m not concerned about that. They’ve gotten a lot of practice time in from OTAs to where we are now. Eventually they’ll be back and we’ll just put them back in there.”
Do you expect to see them out there on Friday?
“We don’t know yet.”
Are you going to have just the one practice with the 49ers or could you do something on Saturday?
“We’ll go against each other on Friday, and then Saturday we’re still kind of talking about. More than likely, Saturday would be separate. Walkthrough, separate.”
What are you hoping to get out of that practice?
“You get a lot out of it. You get to see a new team. You’ve been going against each other now since April, May, June, and then in camp for nine or 10 practices. Really, about 12 or 13 if you include early training camp. Now you get a new team, new schemes, different tempo, different vibe, you’re also able to see their roster, they’re able to see your roster. There’s 90 guys out there and not everybody can make the team, so that has a lot to do with it – evaluating both rosters. It’s just a good chance to get with another team and try to get better.”
So many teams in the NFL now go without a fullback. How do you make that decision to keep that spot on your team?
“It’s a very difficult decision and it’s an important one. A lot of it has to do with special teams, not just on offense. Both of these guys that we have in here, Jay (Prosch) and Soma (Vainuku) are good lead-blockers, they’re tough guys, they really perform their role on offense decently. Then it’s going to come down to how productive they are on special teams. It’s a big part of it. It is an important position on some teams, it has been on our team the last couple years – we’ve used the fullback a number of times over the last two years. But I think every year is different, so we’ll see how those guys play as we move farther into training camp here.”
How do you feel about the young guys in the return game like RB Tyler Ervin, WR Braxton Miller, etc.?
“Right now, I feel really good. I’m telling you, I think these guys can field the ball pretty cleanly. Even Braxton, who hasn’t done that a whole lot in his career, is getting better at it. Then, they have juice, they have speed, they have quickness, they have good vision. I’m really excited to see what each one of these guys does in the preseason game when the bullets are flying.”
Can you talk about being in the second week and whether you’re seeing progress?
“Definitely seeing progress. I definitely see a competitive roster, a good football team right now as far as how they’re practicing. But we’re a long way off from being a finished product. I thought today we came out, we didn’t start well. That’s something I talked to the team about at the end of practice. We have to figure out how to start these practices better because that’s practicing to start the game. So, that was something we didn’t do as well, but I thought we finished practice better today. Each day you’re getting out here and you’re getting better. I think we’ve made a lot of progress.”
Considering how many changes you’ve made on offense, some because of injury, shouldn’t the offense be struggling more than the defense?
“I think you have a point there. You’ve got a new quarterback, some rookie receivers, some new guys up front. I think there’s something to be said for that, but I thought that last drive you saw at practice right there was a very good drive. We put the ball at the 50-yard line and drove the ball down and scored. I thought that was good. No excuse here, but the nature of football, we’re missing some of our guys on both sides of the ball. A lot of other guys are getting opportunities. But I think there are more new guys on offense than on defense, so the defense will be a little bit ahead right now.”
How do trips like this help a team bond?
“It’s one of the better things that, since I’ve been in the league, teams that I’ve been with do. You’re able to go away now for four days to San Francisco, get in the hotel, get out of Houston for a few days, get together as a team, meet, eat, compete, do all those things together and just talk football. I think there’s a lot to that, there’s a lot to the word ‘chemistry’, and I think that helps the chemistry of the football team.”
What did you see from the corners in that red zone drill, particularly the corners?
“I think these guys are doing a good job of their red-area defense. I’ve found that it’s very difficult to complete passes, especially when they’re in match coverage. We have an experienced secondary, very competitive secondary. You talk about J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph), Kareem (Jackson) – who have been here for a while – Kevin (Johnson) is getting better every day, A.J. Bouye has had an excellent offseason and he’s very, very difficult right now to complete a pass on. They’ve had their shares of plays and we’ve made our share of plays down there offensively. It’s been very competitive.”
TE STEPHEN ANDERSON
Does it blow you away how everybody seems bigger and faster in the NFL?
“Oh yeah. I remember the first day I walked into the locker room, it was wild. My college team wasn’t big, but it’s definitely the pros now and it’s definitely different.”
Who helped you reach this point in your career?
“I just had a good crew supporting me every single day. They supported my dream and they knew I loved this game and wanted to play this game since I was little. They just supported me in whichever way, getting me to training, practices and everything. I think you’re going to hear the whole crew at the game. Just tons of support down here.”
Are you looking forward to getting back to that home weather?
“I look at the weather every day. I’m just like ‘man, it’s going to feel good stepping off that plane’ and your skin just kind of knowing you're back in California. I’m looking forward to it. I grew up like 15 minutes from the stadium so I’m just looking forward to that whole experience.”
What do you have to show in this game and in the other preseason games to show you belong on this team?
“As an undrafted rookie, you definitely have to show maturity. You have to show that you can play with these guys out here, show that you know your job, show that you can catch the ball, show that the coaches can trust you because that’s a big thing. If they’re going to put you out there with only ten other people on the field at one time, you just have to show them they can trust me and that I can do my job consistently.”
What have you felt like you’ve shown the coaches over these past 10 days?
“I’ve made plays but it’s up and down. I just want to prove that I can be out there. That’s it. I’ve made plays, as you see. I just have to keep putting good practices together and go from there.”
How have things played out versus how you thought things might play out?
“I didn’t come in with too many expectations. I just knew I was going to come in as focused as I can be and working hard. That’s about it.”
Is it a situation where you can’t afford to have a bad day out here?
“Bad days happen. You can’t come out here and be perfect every time. Just like I’ve said, it’s consistency, that’s it. If you make a mistake, one thing the coaches always harp on is don’t make the same mistake twice, so that’s what I’m trying to do every day.”
What’s the feeling among the rookies heading into the first preseason game?
“I think we’re confident as a class. We work hard. That’s one thing that surprised me from the first guy to the last undrafted guy, we all work hard and we all believe we can come in making plays. Hopefully you’ll see that.”
What are you most excited about for Friday’s practice with San Francisco?
“There’s a lot of things. I grew up right around the corner from the 49ers’ stadium. Just coming full circle to see my family there and have my first NFL game. I need to make sure I know my assignments and everything like that.”
Did you grow up a 49ers fan?
“I appreciated the Niners but now I’m a full-blown Texans fan. It’s going to be cool playing them.”
Will it be weird seeing the 49ers line up on the other side of the line of scrimmage?
“Definitely. But hopefully I’ll be so locked in that it’s just a helmet.”
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
Is practice vs the 49ers better than the game in regards to what you get out of it?
“I think it’s a fine line just because sometimes, the older guys that have been here for a while don’t get as many reps in the first preseason games so having that practice there gives you a chance to get some good work against those guys also. It kind of eliminates the game for some of us.”
What are you trying to show with attitude you’ve brought this deep into camp?
“Us being a lot of veteran guys over there that’s played together, pretty much returned the whole group over there, we kind of understand what we need to do as a defense and where we need to be coming into training camp. We don’t want to come into the season and have a slow start and things like that. We knew in OTAs that we wanted to come back here with that mindset.”
Do you know what your preseason game playing situation will be?
“I have no idea. Coach makes those decisions for us. As players, we just go out there and if our number is called we got to go up. But obviously, the preseason is a chance to get guys going against different competition and not beating up one another in practice. If that’s the situation, we’re all for it.”
What do you think about former NFL star WR Randy Moss working with the guys you’re trying to stop?
“It’s good. I had a chance to play against him and I know the type of player he is and the type of person he is. For some of the younger guys, they idolized him growing up and then to see him firsthand and learn something from him out here. I think it’s viable for those guys.”
How much of a challenge will it be for the younger defenders going up against San Francisco Head Coach Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense in their first game?
“It’s good because like I said, going against each other for so long you start to figure guys out- know the way this guy runs that route. It gives the guys a chance to go out there and study other guys. Being against a fast, up-tempo offense, it tests your conditioning also so there’s another big factor.”
Do you remember your first preseason game?
“Yeah I think it was against the Washington Redskins. I remember the first play of the game I was up against Santana Moss and I was like ‘Man, goodness’ because first play I went up there and pressed him, he just shot right by me and I was going back to the sideline, I didn’t know if I was cut out for it.”
How did you end up doing in that game?
“I did okay actually once the jitters got out a little bit. I kind of calmed down and after that, it’s football.”
Was it a ‘welcome to the NFL’ moment?
“Oh no doubt about it. I was the youngest guy on the team back then and I had a lot of growing pains to go through but I was just excited to be out there with the guys and just wanted to compete.”
Do you use your experience to relate to the younger guys?
“Of course, like I tell these guys, it’s not like a practice where you can chatter all day and talk and you can get your emotions caught up in it a lot because the game is a long game and sometimes the emotions run high. It tends to take some of your energy and zap your energy away from you so I just try to preach that to those young guys that are out here in practice doing those things.”