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Head Coach Jim Tomsula
"Good morning. We had, obviously, our walk-thru yesterday and our installation day. And then, today, obviously, coming out with our first practice. Guys are in meetings right now and then we'll have our walk-thru and then practice later on. What do you got?"
Fans seem concerned about your offensive line. Obviously, you guys haven't, you know, the starting five hasn't taken a ton of snaps in a game situation together. How concerned are you as far as cohesion and how ready they might be?
"Cohesion, I feel pretty good about it. I really do. I feel good about that. Again, we're not standing in a position to defend anything nor will I. I feel very comfortable with the guys. I feel good about the guys. I feel good about the group. It's a good group."
When you talk about cohesion, I feel like you are going to do a little bit more zone blocking. Do you want guys who maybe aren't as talented but can play more together to get that thing going?
"That's an educated question. No. I mean, obviously we are looking for the most talented guys we can find. We feel good about our talent. But, there again with cohesion and when you are working in those schematics, it's the fundamentals and the footwork. So, whether you are working with a guard and a center or you're working with a center and a guard or a guard and a tackle, those combinations are very repetitive. So, when you come out of an individual period, and you're making me go somewhere I really don't want, but when you come out of an individual period, everybody's working together. So, when you're working different positions, your footwork, your center's, obviously, you've got to snap a ball, so there's something. But, the footwork, your targeting and all those things are the same across the board. So, I guess that when you talk about the cohesion side of things, that's been worked quite a bit."
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said this morning, he complimented LB NaVorro Bowman for the way he's come back. He hopes Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson comes back in a similar way to what Bowman has done. What's your take on Peterson and defending him and playing? There's some anticipation for him coming back.
"Yeah. I've been on the other side of Adrian Peterson a few times. I've watched a ton of film on him, as has our staff. He's a very talented football player. Extremely talented. Adrian Peterson does a great job, but he's also in a schematic that emphasizes the things that he does and he's got some other players around him that help him. So, that whole package there and obviously that's a, [Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator] Norv Turner is the offensive coordinator, we're all very familiar with Norv. We all have a tremendous amount of respect for Norv and what he does and the way he does things. It's the full compliment of things. I mean, there's no denying the skillset of Adrian Peterson."
Sorry to ask again about RB Jarryd Hayne. You've obviously got training over the next few days. What do you want see out of him? What are you specifically looking for to ensure or to better his chances of getting a go on Monday night?
"Well, in Jarryd's situation, just like everybody that is a first-year player here, you're into game preparation now, so you've got that aspect of it. But, we've also got to stay on the development side of it. There has to be those techniques, those fundamentals, the developing that has to stay on course, has to stay on point. And we have got to stay on that road. And that first year for all rookie players is, that's the line that you balance there. How much do you give them? How much don't? When is it time? So, that's just where that has to stay."
And when you say those, for people in Australia who don't understand the game, when you say those fundamentals, can explain what you mean by that?
"Just the technique. Obviously, Jarryd has got the body position, the balance, the leverage points and all those things that he has. That's proven, he has those. But now, how to use them and when to use them. Blocking, pass protections, he's done a great job. Where he was to where he is, is terrific. I guess that's why I temper all this speculation because I don't want to take anything away from what the man has achieved. But, all he's achieved was an opportunity to be in the locker room. That has to continue. And he's the kind of guy that will do that. I mean, you feel confident that he will continue to ascend with his approach and the way he does things. So, I guess that's my temperament. I don't want to be the guy downplaying his accomplishment or the excitement for the country but it's in a place. So, that's where I feel there."
I assume you've got the game plan sort of in. How much have you thought about what the first offensive play call is going to be? And I'm curious about as the game goes on, obviously, that's offensive coordinator Geep Chryst's area. How much do you see yourself getting involved on a play-by-play basis?
"Play-by-play in the game?"
"No, I'll know everything that's going out there. So, if there's anything out there you don't like, I'm the guy. But, the plan and where it is right now to date, I'm very excited about. I think the guys are, we've got a really good group of coaches. We really do. And the way they, the thought process behind everything and the flow and yinging and yanging and being able to, you've got your jabs and your punches and your heavy-hitters and then you've got your change-ups. So, I really like where it is right now."
As the game is progressing, how involved will you be in the play calls, offensively and defensively?
"The call to call, no, we'll have that streamlined. That's worked, in my opinion and my approach to it, that's all done during the week. So, I'll be fully aware of where everything is and we'll all be on the same page. We had a coordinators meeting yesterday and we will continue to talk through that. But, as the game changes, obviously, we've got to be able to adapt and adjust as it goes. But, the game plan itself and where we are and what we're doing, we're all on the same page. But, I won't be involved in calling the play. If that's what you're--?"
Well, what did you learn your previous time as a head coach? You've done this before. What'd you learn from that that will help you here in terms of that, the play-by-play?
"The players win games. The magic call, if you're searching too hard for a call you probably have more problems than that call. That's coming from a defensive coordinators perspective."
In light of what you've just said about Hayne, how much confidence do you have in him right now that he can field punts efficiently?
"All the confidence."
In a game on Monday night or even late in the game if it comes to that?
"Very much confidence. Very confident in his ability to field a punt. But again, you start talking about the 46. How much can you do? What can you do for the team? And then with the schematic that we're installing, that we're going through, that we're talking about here. How are you practicing within that scheme? The things that we're doing this week, do they fit your skillset? That's where that all comes into in my head. Special teams, OK if you can catch a punt, but can you do other things? What else can you do in the special teams area?"
WR Bruce Ellington's hamstrings are fully healthy?
"Yeah, I mean we had walk-thru yesterday, everybody was on and accounted for."
You mentioned after the Chargers game you wanted to get back on the practice field those two days last week. What was the goal of those two practices? Was it more for game planning or was there still some fundamental things you wanted to work out?
"Both. Situational stuff, making sure we went back and hit some things. You saw us hit a lot of situational things throughout camp. There were a couple there that we circled, that we wanted to go back an revisit just to stay on those situations and make sure that we had another time to go, another opportunity to go through those and coach it up and get out on the field and actively get through it. So, I would say all of it."
WR Torrey Smith talked about how he and QB Colin Kaepernick were practicing well these couple days. Can you just, looking at the league overall, it's such a quarterback-driven league and a lot of eyes are on Colin. Does he need to play at a league MVP level for this offense to succeed?
"Colin just needs to be Colin. And I think Colin is really good."
But, he seems driven to prove everybody.
"I don't know that you'll meet a more driven person. I don't know that you'll ever meet a more driven person than Colin Kaepernick. I mean, he is driven."
What did you learn about the Vikings organization from that time you spent with them in Charlotte?
"Class. I mean, I felt like they were really good people. I felt like they were honest. I met with [Vikings general manager] Mr. [Rick] Spielman and [Vikings assistant general manager] Mr. [George] Paton and I really enjoyed my time with them. I thought they were two really, really down to earth but sharp football guys, in my opinion if that matters or not. The interesting thing was the phone call I got from [Vikings owner] Mr. Wilf, he called and just to thank me for, I thought that was just a really nice gesture."
Was there, when you, I don't know how much research you had done into their organization, but are there any things that now you can apply about how that roster was built and--?
"No, I don't think so. No, I mean, I wouldn't read a whole lot into that. Honestly, no. I know of those two gentlemen and the way they think over the years and what they're looking for and the way they go about it. But, I wouldn't say that few hours, there was nothing."
How flattering was that, for them, for an outside organization, you've only been with one NFL organization, for someone from the outside to think enough of you to bring you in for that kind of opportunity?
"Obviously, those are huge honors. I mean, obviously, it's very humbling for somebody to take a few hours of their day to talk to you. I mean, that was very humbling, I'm very appreciative to it."
Are you guys using the virtual reality this week?
"Yeah, we've got a room. Well, I don't have the exact time schedule, but we do have the virtual reality. I have put it on, our coaches have put it on, our players have put it on. It is, you have seen that pole out there. Have you ever looked at practice and you see that little pole? That's what that is and you've seen it there every day."
Is it just from a quarterback perspective or do you have other--?
"We've found a few things here and there that we can use it for, that's about all I'll go. Not that it's a secret, but yeah it's a pretty neat deal. If you grew up playing video games, it's a real cool deal for you."
That was the one developed by Stanford, correct?
"I'm not sure who developed. Is it?"
What's your assessment of Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater?
"I think Teddy's a good quarterback, a well-coached quarterback. You saw him improve dramatically and again, that's no, that's not a surprise to any of us on who's coaching him. But, he's done a really good job. Obviously, mobile, he can throw the ball, he's got all the, he can move the pocket and he can make you pay with his feet."
How good were you at video games?
"I never did them. But, that thing really is a cool, it's a cool tool."
Mike Zimmer, obviously, is a defensive guy. As far as stunts and things he did when he was a defensive coordinator, is there anything you've noticed through the years that may be unique or special to him and will you be expecting some of that Monday?
"Yeah, I mean, schematically, yeah he's a four down guy. He's obviously creative. But, probably the one thing that's always stood out about a Mike Zimmer coached defense or the Vikings is how hard they play. They play hard. They're, nothing but respect for how hard they play."
QB Colin Kaepernick
You've obviously switched modes from the preseason to the regular season now, but in terms of your mindset, where are you at going into this?
"We're just trying to prepare to make sure we're ready to go out and get a win."
You've had six months of preparation now. Where has this team gotten in the six months to convince you of that?
"We're a lot farther along than where we started. So, I think this team has confidence in what we're doing and we need to go out and execute."
You guys obviously kept stuff in reserve, a lot of stuff in reserve during the preseason. Would you say you kept more hidden than in previous years or is this just typical as far as what you showed during the preseason?
"It's not really hiding things. At the end of the day, you go out, you play football. It's not really about what plays you're running. It's about the players running the plays and executing them and using their technique and getting the job done."
In June, you talked about cleaning a lot of things up and you wanted to take on a greater load to carry this team. Where do you feel like you've come from, you know, in a matter of those three months since mini-camp?
"I think I've improved personally. I think this team's improved. It's something that everyone in here has worked everyday and tried to get better to make sure when we did get to Week 1 of this season that we'd be ready to go and ready to go out and compete."
It's a team game, obviously, but personally, you're 4-0 on Monday Night Football. You've got nine touchdown passes, no interceptions. What is it about the lights of Monday Night Football that kind of makes you ramp up the game?
"Well, I really didn't know that. But, I've loved playing under the lights since high school. Just kind of takes you back to the old days of being under the lights. It's a different vibe then when you're playing in a day game and I think everyone likes that feeling."
And I know, also, you're looking forward to a new start, new beginning. But also, looking back a little bit, what's the biggest lesson you took from Jim Harbaugh?
"He taught me a lot. A lot about professional offenses. A lot about the defenses, how they can react, how they can change based on what you're doing and what their game plan might be. So, I really can't say one thing. He's taught me a lot."
How do you think the offense has adapted in camp and the preseason as far as the faster tempo that you guys are trying to implement?
"I think our players have adjusted phenomenal. It's become second nature for us. It's something that we don't think about anymore. We just operate at that speed."
You don't seem like a guy that's really worried about outside perception given everything that's happened this offseason. As a team captain, how do you relay that message to block out all that outside noise to the rest of your teammates?
"I don't think that's something this team really needs to be talked to about. They come to work everyday and work their butts off. So, it's something that this team kind of handles by itself. It just naturally comes about."
How eager are you to see TE Vernon Davis turn the page? I'm sure all of you turned the page on last year, but he especially wants to get things started in a positive direction.
"I don't really see it as turning the page. We just need Vernon to be Vernon. He's a phenomenal player, a great talent and someone that can make great contributions to this team. So, when we step on that field, I think everyone will be excited to see what he does."
Head coach Jim Tomsula was saying he wants 'Colin to be Colin.' How do you be yourself in this league? What do you want people to say about what kind of quarterback you are?
"To be honest, I'm really not worried about what people say about me as a quarterback. I'm worried about what my teammates think and what my coaches think about me as a quarterback. So, that's ultimately who I give that ability to judge to."
A couple years ago, you had the dual-threat. You took pride in being a dual-threat. Is that something you want people to take notice of again?
"Once again, I'm really not too concerned about peoples opinions of what they see or view me as. I mean, I was also the black quarterback with tattoos. So, once again, not something that really crosses my mind."
What sticks out to you about Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer's defense. What are you looking out for?
"They do a lot of different things and they do them well. They play fast, they play hard. Something we're going to have to be ready for everything."
Are any blitzes unusual or a lot or is that something you have to prepare for in particular, the blitzes?
"Every defense blitzes, they just do it different ways. So, we have to get ready for the way that they're going to blitz us."
Have you found the virtual reality to be valuable in preparing for opponents? How much are you using it this week, for example?
"A little bit here and there but really haven't used it too much. Something that we have to kind of progress with as the technology progresses."
Will it be special to see coach Tomsula? It's his first real game as head coach and you know how far he's come to do this.
"Yeah, it'd be great for his first game to be a win. So, that's what we're going to try to do."