Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports




At what point did you start focusing solely on the Panthers defense?

"Really, once we got done with that Minnesota game. Knowing that I wasn't going to play for the last preseason game, you start watching some film. Obviously [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] has a history of playing against these guys the last few years. So, you watch as many of those games as you can and then start to watch their preseason games and a few other games that they played last year too."

New coordinator for them. Playing the secondary I'm assuming, do you take that into account?

"Yeah, I think anytime a guy gets promoted even if it's within the same system, in my experience guys put their own twist on things. It'll probably look a lot the same, but I think coordinators have different personalities. Maybe one likes to pressure more than the other. Maybe one likes to play coverage more than the other. But, I think the one thing that has stayed pretty true is the players that they have over there. Obviously [Carolina Panthers LB] Luke [Kuechly] will be playing, which is a big difference when you add him to their defense. He gets everybody lined up. He's as close to being a quarterback on the defensive side that anyone can see in the NFL. So, obviously, he's a huge part of what they do. Having him back will definitely affect the way they play."



Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan had a lot of success against Carolina's defense last season. Just watching those games, what was the key to Ryan's success? What'd he do well?

"Part of it is planning. Obviously, Matt had a great year last year and played extremely well. It's just going out and executing the plan. I think it helped that Kyle had a good feeling of what they do. Like we mentioned before with the new coordinator we've got to go out there, we think we're going to know what they're going to do to an extent, but you never know. It's the first game of the year. No matter, same coordinator, new coordinator. Things are always evolving. So you've always got to be ready for things that maybe you haven't studied for."

How important will the communication and adjustments be? Not at halftime, but between series or in the first half?

"It's always critical. When you come over to the sideline, you look at the pictures and see. You either confirm what you think it was going to be or now you've got to figure out 'Oh maybe they're doing this a bit differently.' So, communication throughout the entire game is always huge."

How are you feeling about this whole thing? I remember you during training camp and you said the team is yours. Everyone says you have great leadership and things of that nature. Do you feel like there's a lot of pressure on you entering this season?

"No. I think for me this has been the most fun I've ever had playing football. It's the most comfortable I've ever been. Being able to come in day one and kind of be handed the reigns and to having the control and implement the offense and do those things and get all the reps, I think it's been huge. For me, I feel really good about where we are heading into Week 1 and we've just got to keep improving. We've improved all offseason. I feel like we got better each day in training camp and we've got to keep that same mentality heading into the regular season."

How cool was that for a preseason game for the offense to actually do this?

"For us, it was about going out and playing the way we practice. For us, we know how we practice every single day. I feel like we were getting better and better. Unfortunately, the first two games, the first game limited reps, the second one, kind of just hurting ourselves. Then the third preseason game to go out and play the way that we knew we've been playing the entire training camp was huge for us. Obviously, we didn't get to play in the last preseason game because of the quick turnaround. So, it was good to have that going into this week. Also, the guys that weren't playing having time to get caught up on Carolina. I think that helped as well."

Kyle said he wasn't going to pick captains until later in the year. How much would that mean to you to maybe be a captain?

"I was a captain at Michigan State. It always means a lot. Especially when it's voted by your peers. So, we'll see what happens, but I think for me regardless of that, being a quarterback you have to be a captain whether you're named one or not. You're the leader. You're the guy who's responsible to get the play call, to get all 11 guys on the same page when you're out there. It would be great. I think especially when it's voted by your teammates, it's always an honor."

How much of an advantage or an asset to this team is Kyle Shanahan's ability to game plan, design plays, and call plays?

"That was huge. That was a big reason why I came here. I knew, having played for Kyle before how great he was piecing things together. Then, you watch him go to Atlanta and do the same thing, even to a bigger stage really, taking them all the way to the Super Bowl. For me it was probably the deciding factor coming out here was just to play for Kyle and knowing that his scheme and the way he game plans games and defenses, that was what I wanted to be a part of."

What was the first thing you did when you got a look at the game plan?

"This week?"

Yeah. What's the first thing that you want to see?

"I guess without giving too much away, you want to get ahead of it as much as you can so when you come in here today you have a pretty good feel for it. I always try to come in on Tuesdays and get as much as I can, have a feel for it, so when it's starting to get installed to the entire offense I'm already a little bit ahead. Because when it comes down to it the quarterback has a lot more responsibility as far as getting the right play called, getting us into the right play. So, for me, I always want to try to be ahead of the curve. I think that's the biggest thing. You get done with Wednesday and you put that to bed and then you move onto Thursday, which is more third down, short-yardage stuff. You can't be overwhelmed. You've got to be one step ahead I think."

When did you get the game plan?

"Well, it's always a work in progress. We've had the few extra days. Some of the plays that we've run have become part of the game plan and some of them have not. It's always a work in progress. I think even up until Saturday night we're thinking about what we're going to put in and what we're going to run. Like I said, I always try to stay a step ahead whether I come in and they give me what they have and if some gets taken out, of well. Whatever stays in, at least I know that going into Wednesday or Thursday. Whatever it might be."

How much input do you have on the game plan? Do they ask you what plays you're comfortable with or what you like?

"Yeah, I think it gets more to the point where you practice and then we always do a meeting with Kyle and kind of rate our plays the way we like them. I think that's always huge. It's good to have a guy who's willing to get your opinion. The worst thing you could do is go out there and have a play you're not really sure about and it gets called and you don't feel great about it. I think the good thing we do is we get a lot of reps, whether it's walkthrough or practice. Most of the time you feel pretty good about all the plays going into the game."

* Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers