San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly spoke to the media prior to the team's first practice of a three-day mandatory minicamp. He touched on a number of topics, including the offensive line, Carlos Hyde, Colin Kaepernick practicing, and more. The interesting part about what Kelly had to say about Kaepernick was that he stated that the quarterback would only participate in individual drills. However, Kaepernick was seen taking part in 7-on-7 drills during practice.
Below is the full transcript.
I wanted to ask you about the O-Line. I'll talk to offensive line coach Pat Flaherty in a second, but it seems like the first string, at least in the spring, has been mostly veteran guys. Is that just because they've been in the league so long they are able to kind of pick things up quicker than some of the younger guys and allows you to practice faster?
"I don't think it's that. I think they've been here longer, so they've had a big jump on the group that we drafted that last week of April. We started April 4th, so we were three, four weeks into it before the young guys joined us. And again, first string in May, June doesn't really mean anything. We're just trying to get reps, get everybody on tape. The ones, twos and threes all get the same amount of reps, it's just we know what to call depending on who's in there. So, you're not going to call something very sophisticated with the third group that you would with the first group. It's just a matter of trying to get reps, get opportunities to teach those guys off of film and they can see themselves demonstrating. But, I wouldn't put too much into who's first string, second string, third string right now."
Chip Kelly Discusses Mandatory Minicamp
Where is this team's conditioning right now? Do you like where it is?
"I think it's in a good spot. [Director of human performance Mark Uyeyama] Uye does a great job. Our guys in the weight room do a fantastic job. They are better than where they were when we started in April. It was kind of weird, usually you have phase one, phase two, phase three, but with a first staff we went from phase one, a week of phase two and then into a minicamp and then back to phase two again. So, they are a lot farther along from a conditioning standpoint from where they were the last time we got on the field with them."
Will you send them off after this week? I guess it can be easy with a month and a half off to backslide a little bit in terms of conditioning. How do you make sure that when they report that you don't go backwards?
"I think they have a feel, they have a flavor for how we're going to train and what our training sessions are like. So, I think they will be prepared when they get back here. They are all professionals and they understand that it's time away from us in terms of what we're allowed to do with them and the interaction between the coaching staff and the players, but it's really not time off. They know that. The crunch of the season is coming up and they need to prepare their bodies to get ready for that."
Six months ago, RB Carlos Hyde was coming off foot surgery. He's been pretty much present out here, doing everything as a running back. How encouraging has that been to see through the whole offseason program?
"Again, I've only seen one Carlos Hyde. The Carlos Hyde I know has been healthy and full-go. So, I'm excited about what he can do."
Does he seem like an ideal fit for your style and scheme?
"I think our style and scheme adapts to whoever it is, but I think he certainly has the skillset to be an outstanding running back at this level, because he can do everything. He can protect. That's what you're looking for. You're looking for a back that can do it all. You don't want the, quote, unquote, he's just a third down back, because that kind of diminishes what we can do with him on first and second down. So, you're looking for a guy who can be a three down back and that's certainly what Carlos is."
What made OL Alex Balducci a better fit at offensive line in the NFL than defensive line?
"I just think he has the skillset. And when we recruited him at Oregon we thought about playing him in both positions. He preferred to play defense at that point in time, so usually you kind of let them go where they want to go unless he doesn't have the ability to go play it. A guy can say, 'Hey I want to be a quarterback,' but if he can't throw, he's probably going to go play another position. But, Alex is kind of built prototypical offensive lineman. I think he's got really good feet and is very athletic, so I think it was a natural maneuver. And a lot of other teams had worked him out at his pro day at offensive line and he had heard from other people. So, we weren't the only team that was interested in him as an offensive lineman. I think everybody was talking to him about being an offensive lineman."
It didn't take any convincing on your part?
"No. I mean, I think when we had reached out to him, he had already been in touch with other teams that had discussed the same possibility with him."
G Joshua Garnett, is he expected to come in tomorrow?
"No, he's here today."
Oh, he is here today? So, he can go all three days?
"Yup. Took his last final and just graduated from Stanford. So, he's good to go."
Are you going to start him off on the right side or the left side?
"I don't know. Doesn't matter. Guard is guard. So, we're going to throw him in there and see what he can do."
You have two running backs in RB Shaun Draughn and RB DuJuan Harris who've been released, both a lot in their NFL career and they came in here in different sample sizes, but they both I think exceeded at least fans expectations. Can you explain why those guys did look pretty good given the fact that they're journeymen and bounced around quite a bit?
"I don't know why they bounced around. I've been impressed with both of them since we've been with them since April. So, I think they certainly have the ability to play in the NFL and have proven that. So, we're excited to continue to work with them. I couldn't tell you why or what went on at other franchises. Maybe there was a depth issue, I don't really know. So, for me to speculate on why they were released other places, I don't know, but we're real happy that we have them. Ten questions without a [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap question, that's pretty good."
OK, here we go then. Obviously, he hasn't been cleared for full practice--?
"He's practicing. He's just not going to do team and seven-on-seven. But, he's been cleared to do individual drills. I don't know where that report that he wasn't going to do anything. So, he's progressed."
"He's progressed a long, well, you're not going to go from not practicing to full practice. I don't think anybody ever does that. So, you're going to bring him along gradually. So, he'll do more today. He'll start to do more individual drills and start throwing to receivers and the tight ends and the running backs. So, I think it's just a natural progression that he's doing."
Would that be with a helmet on?
"I would hope so. Keep the sun off his head."
For you, for the coaching staff, what are the differences this week as opposed to what's gone on the last three weeks?
"Zero. It's the same thing. The only thing is we have meetings in the afternoon. We just have more time with them. But, your time on the field is the same. So, our morning is the same morning that we normally have. 8:30 meetings into special teams meeting, out on the field for training, go lift after training. They're just not leaving in the afternoon. So, we have afternoon meetings and a walk-thru in the afternoon. Just, I think the difference is you have more time in your day with them. I think in phase three they're allowed to be here six hours and in the minicamp, they're allowed to be here eight hours. But, time on the field, morning and all those other things, it's really the same exact thing they've been doing for three weeks."
In terms of the instillation, are you still working on the kind of basic framework of the instillation?
"No. We've been throwing everything at them. It just depends on what the emphasis that day is. Are we in the red zone? Are we coming out? Are we doing goal line situations? Are we in two-minute situations? But, we've done all of those at some other point during this spring. So, it's really just what's the emphasis for that day."
Have you guys talked to the Broncos about doing joint practices leading up to that exhibition game?
Is it going to happen?
How many days?
"Two, I think. And we'll also practice with the Texans."
They'll come here?
"Mhm, because we open with them here. So, we're going to practice together for a day with them."
Is that the day before the game or two days before?
"Two days before the game."
What can you get out of that, having multiple practices with multiple teams?
"I just think it's a chance to see other guys, a chance to see different schemes. I've always been a big fan of it. My time in Philly, we did it with New England for two years and with [New England Patriots head coach] Bill's [Belichick] group it was great because we were on the same page. And then we had a real good session last year when we did it with the Ravens with [Baltimore Ravens head coach] John Harbaugh. So, as long as the coaches kind of agree to the format in terms of what's going on, I think you can get a lot of positives out of it and I know [Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien] Billy and [Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak] Kubes really well. We're excited about the opportunities to go do that."
Have you guys already arranged the whole practice plan?
"Yeah. So, we're good to go."
* Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers