San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Fred Warner, and tight end George Kittle spoke with reporters after Friday's practice as the team prepares for Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcripts provided by the 49ers Communications staff.



CB Richard Sherman


QB Jimmy Garoppolo just spoke about how he's very similar to you and he's motivated by hearing criticism. He reacts differently, but does that surprise you at all?

"No, it doesn't. You don't become a great player by just letting people say whatever they want about you and not taking some of it as fuel. You just -- you know, everybody responds different. Everybody has different personalities, but you can tell by his play that he's heard it and he's responded well."

Obviously, your guys' defense has been successful because you're talented, first and foremost, but you guys are also a very confident group. How important is that confidence, especially when you're about to face a team like Kansas City that has an offense that's very explosive and puts up points quickly? How important is it to remain confident and just be confident in the abilities that you guys all have as a whole?

"I think confidence in this league, just in general, is one of the most important things. That's what allows great players to be great, and that's what kind of hampers and keeps other players from being great or reaching their potential is because you either get confidence early or you lose it, and once you lose it, it's hard to find again, but once you have it, it's hard to take from you. But I think we believe in each other. We believe in the scheme. We believe in what we've done all year, and we plan on going out there and putting a good product on tape and seeing how it goes."

Why do you seem to relish those verbal sort of tussles? You seem to use those as fuel, like you said.

"Because I enjoy seeing people be wrong and myself be right. It's one of those things."

Your brother takes pride in pushing your buttons, and he says he's been doing it since you were a kid. When he's still doing it after all this time, does it still work?

"Yes, it works. No matter how old, we're going to be 90 years old, and he's still going to be able to push the buttons. That's just kind of sibling rivalry, sibling connection. He understands what makes me tick as well as just about anybody. So he'll still be able to push the buttons in our old age."

What's the key to defending Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes?

"You know, I don't think there's any individual key to defending him. You've got to play good defense. You've got to contain the receivers. You've got to do your job. You've got to limit the big plays, but it's easier said than done for sure."

Is there anything that makes him unique?

"There's a ton that makes him unique. He got the MVP last year for a reason. He throws a great deep ball. He trusts his receivers. He's creative with how he gets the ball to them. They have an explosive offense. He's tailor made for [Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach] Andy Reid's system."

How has defensive coordinator Robert Saleh evolved over the last two years and kind of grow as a coordinator?

"I don't know if he's changed that much as a coordinator. He's calling a lot of the same plays. He's scheming it up just as he always has. I guess he has more talent, and I guess people are executing the calls that he calls. That was one of the things where I would get frustrated with his criticisms because people were like, 'oh, my God, he's calling a terrible game.' I was like, 'well, he's calling a great game and poor execution more than anything.' You call a blitz, and they don't blitz. You call a cover two, they play cover three. You get poor execution, and then everybody is like, 'oh, my God, he's a terrible coordinator, and he's calling the same stuff this year,' and all of a sudden we're number one in the league. It's guys just executing the scheme that he called."

Last week you switched it up a little bit early in the game and you played on the opposite side from where you normally play. How effective is that sort of surprise, and how wary of it are you as a defensive player going into a game like this, where you've got two weeks to prepare?

"Honestly, I don't know. I don't know how much of an effect it had on them. I think some plays, it just perplexed their coordinator, and they didn't know what we were trying to do. It doesn't make a difference to me honestly. Whatever the coach calls, if he tells me to line up on the right for these plays or line up on the right the whole game, then that's what I'm going to do. Like I said before, I don't call the scheme. I just play the scheme that's called."

I wondered about the element of surprise, with two weeks to prepare, how you have to approach that?

"There's always some wrinkles, especially on defense and offense. I'm sure they'll put in some wrinkles. That's the gamesmanship of it. That's the gamesmanship of having a long time to prepare and having two very unique coordinators."

You seem pretty attuned to conversations going on before games. A lot of people were talking about Kansas City's team speed. How do you guys feel like you match up with that? How do you match up with speed schematically?

"It's kind of an ambiguous question, but how do we match up with speed schematically? I guess we match up well. This is a fast football league. There's a lot of teams with speed. There's a lot of teams that have a tremendous amount of speed on the outside, on the inside. At the end of the day, you've got to go out there and execute your scheme regardless. You can go out there and face five receivers that a four-six, and if you don't execute your scheme, you can get run out of the building. So at the end of the day, we expect to go out there and do what we've done."

Does having Super Bowl experience help a player? Is that an asset, and do you feel your experience helps you?

"It's overrated. Before I won a Super Bowl, we didn't have any experience, and we won the game 43-8. It doesn't make a difference. It's a football game. If you said the Super Bowl, you're going to play under different rules and unique XFL, there's 80-yard field, you know, then cool, it would be something to have experience doing that. But if the field's 53 and a third, whatever it is, if the end zone's the same, if the field goal posts are in the same spots, then it's the same game."

When you came here, there was a lot of young eyes in that locker room that were looking at you to see what you were like, and some of them I've talked to, they were even a little bit nervous because of all you've done and your pedigree. How did you go about putting them at ease, and how much have you enjoyed that relationship with the young players?

"Well, I don't know what I've done to put them at ease. I just communicate with your teammates, get to know them. I always told them it doesn't really matter what you did in the past, you know what I mean? They're like, 'oh, my God, your Seattle days were so cool.' I was like, 'I'm about to show you even better.' It's not about what you've done in the past. It's what I'm going to show you now, and what I'm going to show you now is the best product I can put out on the field. I've enjoyed it. It's a lot of great players, great teammates, a lot of guys that have grown tremendously since I've gotten here, and I think we've enjoyed this journey together."

Do you feel like there's a little bit of unfinished business from the last time, just personally you, when you were last in the Super Bowl?

"I don't think about the last time very much. It's a different team, different organization. I look forward to another opportunity to go chase that trophy, and I think we have a great opp."

You've been on different championship teams. What are the biggest factors that separate the teams that are great?

"They have great players. Just kidding. Great players, great execution, great coaching and poise. There's a sense of brotherhood for sure in the building. There's a trust in one another. There's a bit of adversity, you know, overcoming adversity throughout the season, and we've had all those ingredients. Then it's just guys that play hard for one another. They won't take no for an answer."

Every player that CB K'Waun Williams tackled facing the backers outweighed him by nearly 20 pounds or more?

"That's it? It's not enough."

That was the minimum. But he said you can't measure anyone's heart.

"You can't. If they could measure heart at the combine, they'd stop doing these pointless drills and all this other stuff, and they'd stop having busts in the second and third and fourth and fifth round. They'd stop having busts because if you could measure what K'Waun has, what [DB] Jimmie Ward has, what [DL] DeFo [DeForest Buckner] has, what [LB] Fred Warner has, what [TE George] Kittle has, what [QB] Jimmy Garoppolo has, then all these guys would be first day picks. You're talking about [LB Dre] Greenlaw went in the fifth round in this last draft, and you're not going to sit here and tell me he's not a day one talent. But that's just how it goes, you know what I mean? If you could measure the things that these guys have, then they wouldn't make as many mistakes in the process. It is what it is."

How good is Greenlaw?

"He's really good. For a rookie to come in and play as well as he has, I would expect him to be on first team all-rookie teams and everything. He deserves it. He's played at a high level since he got here. It's hard to say enough about how well he's performed."

DL DeForest Buckner


To go through this journey with DL Arik Armstead alongside from your college days, his mom posted a picture of you guys here at the Pac-12 Championship. Can you reflect on what that's been like to work alongside each other?

"It's been awesome. Coming in as a rookie already having one of my good friends and college roommates on the team already, who's been in a similar position as me, getting drafted in the first round and being the team's first pick the year before, and really helping me transition into the locker room and having a guy to really bounce ideas off of throughout the year. It's been really beneficial for me, and it's been fun, especially this year. All the hard times, we had a lot of good times at Oregon, and we went through a rough patch here the past couple of years. To finally have this year, everything happening the right way and getting here to the "big dance," it's been a hell of a ride."

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh talked about how defensive line coach Kris Kocurek makes everything black and white as opposed to gray for you guys. Can you explain what that exactly means, where you can get speed faster?

"He won't sugar coat anything, you know what I mean. If you mess up, he'll let you know. If you do something better, he'll let you know. If you do something really well, he'll let you know. There's no in between. He doesn't sugar coat anything. That's what you really want in a coach. If you're a player and you can take criticism and strive to get better each and every day, he's the type of coach you want because he'll tell you how it is. Having that relationship is really good with a player and a coach."

How have you seen Robert Saleh evolve over the past few years as a coordinator?

"Saleh, man, he's just confident in his play calling. He's a really good coach with listening to player's ideas and everything, and honestly, listening to him and putting it into the game plan. He's one of those coaches that's a real big, approachable guy and he'll hear things out and bounce ideas off of you. I mean, like Saleh, man, he's one of the best coaches here. Just like all of our coaches, the whole entire coaching staff, all of them are approachable and you can really talk to them about anything. Whether it's on the field, off the field, and that's the kind of chemistry that we have in this organization."

Your defense has had a terrific season. It seems like the few times you've been really challenged is when you've gone against a quarterback who can move and run. What have you learned in those four or five games, and how do you feel you're equipped to deal with that type of attack?

"The whole thing is really just rushing coverage, you know what I mean. We all know [Kansas City Chiefs QB] Patrick Mahomes has an arm, and he's one hell of a talent and he's got speed on the outside that he can make those throws to. We just need to play really good coverage, limit the explosives and really do a good job rushing up front with containing him within the pocket and really bringing pressure early."

Are your assignments from defensive line coach Kris Kocurek more black and white as well, not just his criticism, but what his job is for you? Is it more black and white?

"Yeah, definitely. You go through the game plan. You go through different plays that you learn throughout the entire year and you play a certain position and this is your job. Each and every single play. Defensive ends in the run game set the edge and if you're on the back side, close. Inside, if you can't follow step, you've got to attack shoulders. It's really, like you said, it's black and white. He'll tell you the assignment, what you need to do and you need to go out there and execute."

Certainly back to getting the pressure on early, do you feel like it's more necessary in this game because Mahomes isn't known to have a ton of pressure in his face early on? Does it make it more an emphasis in this game against him to see if he'll maybe tap out at the end?

"Yeah, definitely. As a defensive line, you need to go and attack all day and once you put out the run and you start pass rushing, you want to consistently put pressure in his face, whether it's just pressure up the middle, off the edge, getting hit and also getting sacks. So, you just want to make him uncomfortable. You don't want to have him back there because a quarterback like him, when he has time to throw, he'll make you pay. We just need to do a really good job rushing as a unit."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan's run blocking scheme has gotten more exotic as he's been here for three years. Have you noticed that when you're practicing against them?

"A little, yeah. Early on in the year, just our own alignments, changing up alignments and everything, he had to change up his own blocking schemes. Sometimes when we had those battles between the offense and the defense throughout training camp, it was starting to go back and forth. At first, you know what I mean, we were kind of, especially as a defense, dominating at first and then started getting back and forth, and then who was winning the day? It's definitely cool to see his blocking schemes and also, as a defensive player on this team, going out there and watching the O-Line, the whole entire offense go to work and run the ball over the field, it's great to see."

LB Fred Warner


How have you seen defensive coordinator Robert Saleh evolve during your time at the 49ers as a coordinator?

"I think just any time you have more experience with the people around you, I think you get a little bit more comfortable with the guys, him being able to, you know, he knows the guys who he's coaching. It allows him to just be able to coach better, I guess. I think any time you do something, you're going to get better at it with reps or with experience. So he's done an outstanding job. I feel like he's a guy that doesn't get talked about enough. So, yeah, he's been great."

Do you feel the trust between you guys grow from last season to this season?

"Yeah, for sure. I mean, as a rookie, hadn't played in the box or even given calls before, so it was an adjustment for sure. There was a learning curve. But this year, he's been great about just keeping up with me, just seeing where I'm at, if it's too much, and lightening the load for me so I can go out and just play fast and be able to anticipate what the offense is doing."

Is that an added responsibility that you enjoy, kind of being the brain trust on the field and everything that he throws at you?

"Yeah, for sure. I feel like it's an honor just to be able to be out there and have the green dot and give the calls. I take a lot of pride in that, and I try and make sure I'm the most prepared every single week with my own preparation individually, outside of our meeting rooms and stuff like that, just making sure I'm watching tape."

What kind of challenge does Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce provide that's unique to tight ends around the league?

"I think he, I mean, the dude is a receiving threat for sure. They like to put him in a lot of different positions to get him to catch the ball, and he knows what to do with it after he catches it. So I mean, he's a mismatch for sure. You don't really know who to put on him. You put a safety on him, he's a bigger body. You put a linebacker on him, he's shifty, he's fast. So he's going to be a challenge for us for sure."

Is film work something that you gravitated towards even when you were back in school, or is it something you've evolved and appreciate to take more advantage of?

"Yeah, it's something that for sure evolved over the years. I think, being introduced kind of more in college to it, there were some guys, mentors, guys that I even talk to to this day. [New England Patriots LB] Kyle Van Noy was a guy that went to BYU and kind of took me under his wing, and he was a film junkie from being at BYU, and I kind of took that from him. And then obviously, once you get to the NFL, it's a whole nother ball game. You can't just go out there just hoping you're going to figure things out. You've got to be able to anticipate what's going on. You can't know that unless you're looking at the tape so you can see what they're giving you."

I'm sure you've been asked this before, but there's a long proud tradition of linebackers here, especially in the recent past. Just to be part of that and to be so successful so fast after being part of that lineage, how important is that to you?

"It means a lot. It really does. Last game, you know, I've talked to [former 49ers LB] Patrick Willis a couple times, but he was on the field, and we just had a little encounter where he gave me a handshake before the game, and we just shared that little moment. But you mentioned it, this organization has a long history of having great linebackers, and I knew ever since I stepped onto this team, that I wanted to fall in line and just work my butt off every single day to try and be the best player I can be."

CB K'Waun Williams, one of the more overlooked players on your guys' defense, he can help you guys in the box or just coverage, and got a strip sack on Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. What can you say about the guy who can play almost like a linebacker amongst you guys and how he just grinds every day?

"You're right. I think he does get overlooked a lot. I don't even think people talk about the strip sack a lot, just from what I've been seeing. But I think it's just because he puts his head down, and he just works day in and day out. He doesn't try and look for praise or any of that. I mean, the guy, he does it all for us. He's unwavering. You know exactly what you're going to get out of him every single day, and when you put him on the field on Sundays, you know, I have so much respect for him. We call him the shark just because he eats. He's out there, and he might be a smaller guy because he's a nickel, but the dude is one of the most physical players I've been around, and the way he attacks the ball is something that I try to replicate when I'm out there."

Is there something about Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid's system that is going to test you mentally? Whether it's misdirection or the volume of things that he can do. Does his system pose a challenge mentally?

"Oh, yeah, of course. Not just to myself, though, that's just to the entire defense in general. I mean, he's been doing it for a long time. I'm sure it's evolved over the years, but the way he uses his weapons that he has, having one of the best quarterbacks in the game right now with the weapons he has around him, they're able to do a lot of different things. That's why I think you kind of see the success that they have. So, yeah, we'll make sure we're covering our bases."

TE George Kittle


You like the present of the Mexican fighter. We saw the video with the mask and everything.

"Yeah, it's awesome. I haven't gotten it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. The Lucha masks are incredible. The design in them and how unique each and every one is, just awesome."

How well do you know Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce? Do you take anything from his game? Are you a mutual fan society?

"Definitely mutual fan society. I've been a fan of Travis Kelce since he's been in the league. Watched his tape when I was in college. Watch his tape now. I get his games every single week so I can watch what he does. He's definitely one of the best in the game at what he does, receiving, just finding open spots. I got to meet Travis last year when we played him at the Chiefs. Had a jersey exchange after the season and then I met him again in Atlanta during the Super Bowl. So we definitely know each other. He's awesome. It's going to be really fun to share a field with him again."

The fan that you're sending to the Super Bowl, what's the story behind that? How did you get connected there?

"It's just the work I do with the USAA and the Taps organization, which is something I've really kind of fallen in love with. I have a lot of family in the military, so it's something that I just respect and the sacrifice that they give is the ultimate sacrifice. So, if I can ever give back and make a family's day or just make them smile a little bit, then I feel like I've done a little part in their lives."

Are you connected with that family?

"I get to meet them today, so that will be pretty special."

There's a clip that went around this week where San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan talked about your route. You do this and go to the outside and get held, flag comes out. Is that something that doesn't even really surprise you anymore because he's able to kind of predict the defenses and leverages and that kind of thing?

"That's how he installed the play too. 'Hey, you're on inside release. He's going to play outside leverage on you. He's probably going to hold you on the way out, just fight through it, and you're either going to catch it or get a holding call.' So, yeah, that's what happened."

How much confidence does that give you guys on offense to be able to detect exactly what the tendencies are?

"Yeah, a lot of confidence. He's had multiple plays where at the beginning of the week, when he installs it on Wednesday, if you don't trip and fall, it will be an 80-yard touchdown, and it's an 85-yard touchdown. When you have stuff like that, you definitely have confidence in yourself, but when you have a coach like that, it definitely makes playing a bit easier."

As the captain and one of the key players on the team, I guess, is it important for you, or are you making a conscious decision that your love for the running game and your willingness to throw out receiving numbers, is that a conscious decision? Like, 'I need to set the tone for these other guys so the other guys buy in,' or is that just you going by the beat of your own drum?

"It's more just the beat of my own drum. If you put in the dirty work and do what you're asked on every single play whether it's pass or run, the rest takes care of itself. Whether it's yards, catches, touchdowns, whatever it is, if you just do what you're supposed to do, you're eventually going to get the ball and it will take care of itself."

This game seems to be more intricate than it has been the last couple of years. FB Kyle Juszczyk talked about how it's exciting as Christmas morning when he gets the install. Are you similar?

"Yeah, it's fun. Sometimes we get an early install Tuesday nights. Opening it up for the first time when it says Super Bowl First Plays, you definitely kind of smile at it. It was definitely a special moment. It's very exciting. Just looking forward to the opportunity."

Have you gotten to know former San Francisco 49ers TE Brent Jones at all since you've been with the team?

"A little bit. I got to meet him a couple of times. He spoke to the team last year, and that was really fun. Just told stories, and I think there were three or four guys together from the Super Bowl team and just telling stories of that season. Just don't miss the opportunities. You don't really have a lot of the opportunities, so just take advantage of each and every single one as they come, whether it's practice reps, walk through reps, individual reps, and then ultimately game reps."

Aside from his impact on the field, how would you describe CB Richard Sherman's effect on this team?

"Sherm's the best. He's such a leader. He talks to every single person in the locker room. He's not one of those guys that sits in his locker space and just talks to guys around him. He's always around. He wants to talk to everybody and he doesn't really force knowledge on you. He's definitely an open book. If you have questions for him, he'll sit and talk football with you all day. That's one thing that's incredible about him. But he's also a guy who supports guys and he'll talk about other things if they have problems or anything like that. He's just incredible. He knows how to read guys, and he definitely knows how to get the best out of each and every single person in this locker room."

What's the origin of your touchdown celebration?

"It's from Pentagon Jr. He's an AAW wrestler now. Cero Miedo, No Fear. Two years ago in New Orleans, I went to Wrestlemania, and watched him wrestle six different times at a bunch of different shows. Just like his swagger in the ring and his confidence. Just kind of stuck with me. I mean, wrestling, it's something that I love and enjoy too. So, just seeing that in the ring and just how he holds himself and how he enters the ring, how he leaves the ring, everything he does has a purpose, and I just kind of love that."

How much of an impact have both of your tight end coaches, in college University of Iowa special teams coach LeVar Woods, and San Francisco 49ers assistant head coach and tight ends coach Jon Embree, had on you both as a person and from a confidence standpoint on the football field?

"I can talk about that for a while. Coach Woods, he was a linebackers coach and switched over to tight ends. I don't know how much he knew about tight ends, but he did everything he could to be the best coach he could be. He helped me a lot. He was the first coach that really helped me get on the field as a tight end. I still keep in contact with him. He came to the Seattle game in Seattle. He was at the NFC Championship game. When you have a guy like that, a relationship with him, it means the world to me. Coach Embree has been incredible to me. Definitely, I wasn't a great player my rookie year, but he stayed with me and kept coaching me on things I wasn't very good at, the little things. Ultimately he would say, 'Look, focus on things you're not good at. Get better at one thing every single day, and eventually it will stick.' It kind of has stuck, and we keep working on it every single day."

Is he the one that instilled the mentality of wanting to take the souls of other players?

"No, that's my mentality."

What do you like about Kansas City Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu's mindset as a player?

"He's incredible. Just watching him on film, the things that he does, it's really just fun to watch. Just for example, a play that I really like, there's a lot of teams that do pin and pull. They try to get to the outside edge, and how he sets the edge, it doesn't matter who he's going against, whether it's an offensive line plan or wide receiver or tight end, he always sets that edge and does it so well that he gets off the block and still sometimes makes that tackle, which is an incredibly hard thing to ask a safety to do. He does it relentlessly, and he does it every single time. When you have a guy like that that makes those plays and a guy like that that sparks the defense every single time they're on the field, he's definitely their key player."

Have you gone against him before?

"I think he was with the Cardinals, right? And that was my rookie year. Definitely played him."

I talked to former University of Iowa FB Steve Manders this week. He talked about how he brought wrestling into your life. What made it stick?

"Yeah, the first wrestling thing I ever watched was Wrestlemania here at Levi's Stadium. He said, 'Hey, look, just give it a chance. You're going to find a guy that you love.' And, Seth Rollins is a guy from Davenport, Iowa, a hometown guy for me. Kind of fell in love. He had an awesome match against Randy Orton, and he cashed in the money in the bank in the Heavyweight Championship Match. So, he just said, 'Hey, find a guy that you like and follow along the story line, and you're going to fall in love with wrestling.' He definitely made me fall in love with it. I got to go to a show with Manders because now he's a wrestler. I always enjoyed watching them and their mindset and attitude when they're wrestling. Day in and day out, no matter what, they always put on a great show. He definitely force-fed me it, and now I just love it."

Has Kyle Shanahan's playbook evolved since he's been here, or is it more about you as players being able to do more?

"Definitely evolved. Our offense from my rookie year against Carolina opening game is much different than what it is now. And, it's really fun too. Just being part of the evolution, how it's grown and how it's changed is really fun because you can look back, 'Wow, man,' that's what we were doing and now we're doing this stuff, and it was so much more fun. Just the fact we basically install new plays every single week, we have a whole new playbook every single week, it makes football really fun. You get to learn every single week techniques, how to block guys. The similarities always carry over, but the difference is what makes it exciting."

How well do you know San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York and how would you describe his management style as it relates to you, the players?

"I've talked to him multiple occasions, Christmas parties, stuff like that. See him in the locker room after games. He's awesome. One thing I love about him, he doesn't force his presence on us. He says, 'Hey, I'm here for you guys if you ever need me. I'm supporting you. I'm your guys' biggest fan. If you ever need anything, I'm always here to help,' but he never forces things on guys. I love that about him, and I have the utmost respect for him and how he handles this organization."

Is there one person you're looking forward to blocking on Sunday?

"I'm looking forward to block the Iowa linebackers, Kansas City Chiefs LB Ben Niemann and Kansas City Chiefs LB Anthony Hitchens. Hitch used to bully me in practice when I was on scout team in Iowa, so I'm going to give it back to him a couple times."