Joseph Cress-USA TODAY Sports

Joseph Cress-USA TODAY Sports

Transcripts: 49ers rookies Burford, Womack, Zakelj, Davis, Castro-Fields, Purdy discuss being drafted

Apr 30, 2022 at 10:26 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers' six selections from day three of the 2022 NFL Draft spoke with reporters after each pick was made. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcripts provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

OL Spencer Burford

I noticed that you've played guard, tackle – what do you think the 49ers have in mind for you as far as your rookie fit?

"I'm going to play wherever they need me. I'm not going to come in and suggest one spot over another. I have a lot of versatility and can play inside or outside, so that's why I feel comfortable. So, wherever they need me, that's where I'm going to play."

Are you familiar with T Trent Williams and his ability at left tackle?

"Most definitely. Trent Williams is a freak of nature. I'm just glad I got the selection, so I can come in and learn as much as possible from that dude. I like to watch his game and study his style of play, so actually, getting this opportunity and a chance to meet with him, play with the dude, that's a blessing."

Can you describe your style of play, both your strengths and your weaknesses?

"I'll start with my weaknesses. Sometimes my aggressive nature sacrifices my technique. So, I just need to play more under control, and with my passes, I need to take that one extra kick at the end of the set. I had too much weight on the inside of my foot, so just making sure that my shoulders are balanced, so that way I can still have a good anchor. There's always room for improvement with hand placement. Just playing under control and refining the technique and the little things within the game. Some of my strengths, I'm going to run off the ball, for sure. You don't ever have to worry about me lacking on a play. I play hard all the time. I treat the game as a sacred field that you play on. The game means a lot to me, so I'm not going to disrespect it. The other thing that I do really well is coming off and striking on the second level. I'm good with combo blocks, especially in the zone concept. I'm good on the back side of zone, front side of zone, especially with the outside scheme that they run. I just feel like it was a perfect fit."

You mentioned the zone concept, how much of that did you guys run at UTSA and are you familiar with how the 49ers run their offensive line?

"Yes, I am familiar. They run it with a fullback replacing the tight end. I like the concept that they run, and the outside zone concept was something we played at UTSA. Just getting the opportunity to expand on that and learn more about it in the next level of play is a blessing."

When you were talking to NFL teams, did a majority view you at a certain position? Did they view you as a guard or a tackle?

"It depended on what system they were in. Some teams had me at guard, some had me at tackle, some teams had me at both. So, it just depended on what the fit was with their system and what they saw fit for me."

How familiar are you with Head Coach Kyle Shanahan's offense and how mobile he asks offensive lineman to be?

"He is a legend with the offense that he runs. Like I said, I feel like it is a perfect fit. You can just look at the lineup of guys he already has on the offensive line roster. They go in there and they refine offensive linemen to be the best that they can possibly be. I'm just happy."

What kind of interaction did you have with them in the run up? Did you have a visit or a Zoom?

"Yes, sir. They came to my campus, then I ended up bumping into them again at the Senior Bowl. Then I talked to one of their scouts at the combine. Then I had a top 30 visit, I had a Zoom call with the offensive line coach. It was good."

CB Samuel Womack III

Is it Sam or Samuel? How would you describe your style of play?

"My full name is Samuel, but you can call me Sam. I'm a lockdown, press corner in your face, but I'm also good at being a man corner, overall. I improved in my zone to fulfill my all-around coverage. I'm physical, too. I like to get hands-on. I like to tackle. I like to do it all."

How much contact did you have with the 49ers during this process, if any, and how familiar are you with their defense?

"I had some contact with the DB coach [defensive passing game specialist/secondary coach Cory Undlin], a Zoom call with the DB coach. I met the GM, [John] Lynch, at a bowl game, and I just also talked to scouts. There were a few scouts at my pro day. When I did good there, scouts were just calling me here and there throughout the weeks. I'm familiar with their defense. They run a similar defense to what I ran in college, in terms of playing man, Cover 3, switching it up to Cover 4. That is all similar to what I did in college."

I saw you were a walk-on. Is that because colleges totally missed on you, or did you just improve a lot at Toledo?

"It was both. Out of high school, I, for sure, should have had offers, but I played a role in that too. I was playing basketball, so I didn't really know which sport I wanted to do, and I chose late. I didn't really go to camps and get that exposure like kids do nowadays. So, that was kind of on me. My tape was good, so a lot of colleges missed out on a dog."

Have the 49ers talked to you about where you might be playing on the defense? How has this process been for you? What was getting the call like today?

"Yeah, we talked about playing a majority inside, as well as playing special teams. I also have the versatility to play outside and we talked about that also. This journey and this road that I've been on in getting to this moment, it was just so surreal. I really couldn't believe it. When I got that call, I knew the area code, so I knew what team it was coming from as soon as I got the call. It was just so surreal. Once I saw my name on that board, just seeing my family light up with me, it was just an amazing moment that I can't take away."

You mentioned playing inside. The 49ers, this past year, a lot of their biggest plays on defense were blitzes from the slot cornerback. How much experience do you have blitzing and if you do have some experience blitzing, do you enjoy that facet of the game?

"I have a lot of experience blitzing and a lot of reps, whether it is in practice or a game. I like it. I feel like when I come off on that edge, I can use my speed by being fast and having the lineman try to get his hands on me real quick. I feel like I can get to that quarterback when I'm blitzing and make a play back there because I'm so fast."

Didn't you and CB Ambry Thomas used to be high school rivals? Did you have a pretty big game against his team about six years ago?

"Yeah, I don't like his school, but we have a good relationship. That's my man, that's my brother. We worked out a couple of times and chopped it up a couple of times. I'm familiar with him. When I played against him in high school, we played them at least twice a year, whether it was the playoffs or regular season. They got the best of us, but I feel like in our matchup – between me and him – I got the best of him."

Have you spoken to Ambry Thomas recently?

"I haven't talked to him since the summer, a matter of fact, during the season I reached out to him and congratulated him about how he finished the season, especially when he got that pick against the Rams. I just congratulated him and told him how he's working hard. He just said, 'you are going to get to this day and this level.' It is ironic that we are on the same team now."

Are there any cornerbacks in the NFL that you watch in particular and model your game after?

"I don't really model my game after anyone, specifically. I watch different corners whether they are legends or Hall-of-Famers that used to play or new ones, like [Los Angeles Rams CB] Jalen Ramsey. I just take bits and pieces and learn what they are saying, the knowledge that they are giving, and I just try to add it to my game and bring it all in one."

OL Nick Zakelj

You look like you play a lot of tackle but you also saw some guard action at the Senior Bowl, which position do you prefer and have the 49ers spoken to you about where they envision you?

"I haven't really had a lot of specific talks like that. I've just kind of been going through their general, team outside zone. I did play tackle in college, so that is obviously where I'm most comfortable at. I think getting those reps at the Senior Bowl at guard and broaden my horizons, getting some flexibility, I think that showed value throughout the whole process. I definitely see myself as more of a guard at the next level."

I read in a scouting report that you were a no-star high school recruit. Given that, when you first got to Fordham, were you thinking you could be an NFL draft pick? What were your football aspirations?

"Yeah, obviously, I was fairly underrecruited coming out of high school. I only played O-line my senior year of high school because I went through a late growth spurt. So, I was considering schools like Fordham, Columbia, schools like that. As I got to Fordham, obviously you want to go to the NFL, but that wasn't my purpose for going to Fordham. I went to Fordham to get a great education and play ball at a D1 level. That's a big reason why I went to Fordham, just because of the great academics there. I was able to get my undergrad and my master's while I was there, while also achieving my goal of eventually getting to the NFL. I think it all comes through hard work in the end."

Are you familiar with T Trent Williams and his abilities at left tackle?

"Yeah, I'd say I'm very familiar with Trent Williams because I think that he's someone who I like to watch the most. I don't try to take much from his game, because I don't think there are many guys who are able to do the things he does on the field. With how freaky athletic he is and how technically sound he is, I think that watching him, whether it is in the wide zone scheme, getting out in space, or the one-handed snatches he does on the field. He's definitely one of the most entertaining players to watch in the NFL, not just O-linemen. The stuff he's able to do on the field is great."

How similar is what you guys did at Fordham, zone blocking wise, to what the 49ers do? Do you guys watch head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense?

"Yeah, I'd say it's fairly similar, with a lot of zone reads in there, too. At Fordham, we didn't really go as much wide zone and getting out in space with the pull stuff that the Niners like to do. We played a lot of tight zone, maybe even some counter here and there. I definitely think it will be a treat having a seamless transition. I'm excited to get a better grasp on the offense and learn as much as I can."

DL Kalia Davis

How good-to-go are you going to be after your knee injury and how is that recovery coming along?

"I'm five months out of surgery. I'm going to get with the 49ers and their training staff. I just can't wait to work with them. We will take it from there. I'm blessed. I'm happy right now."

Can you take me through your positional history? I saw you played linebacker, but I'm not sure what level you played at. I saw you played defensive end before moving inside. How has your path influenced your current style of play on the inside?

"I played linebacker in high school, and I was recruited in college as a linebacker, so I played linebacker my freshman and sophomore year at UCF. Then in my junior year, that's when I moved to defensive end. Five games into my 2019 season, I moved to defensive tackle, and I've been a defensive tackle ever since."

Can you talk about your visit to the 49ers and your interaction with defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, and whether you thought the 49ers might be the spot for you?

"Yeah, so I met him at the combine already as a formal meeting. I met the whole staff, met [general manager] John Lynch, met everybody. Then, they brought me in on the 30 visit. We just got to know each other a little bit more. Coach Kris was taking me through the defense. He was just showing me how similar the UCF defense is to San Fran's. It is a perfect situation for me. I just have to come in and work."

Kris Kocurek's style is very vocal, very loud. Are you used to, or ready for, that type of coaching?

"Of course. When I first moved to defensive tackle, my coach's name was coach [Shane] Burnham and now he is at Florida State. Him and Coach Kris have a similar play style in that they want to get everything out of you. I actually prefer that coaching style because I'm fairly new to the position. With coach Burnham pushing me like that, that made me into the player I am."

Can you take us through this journey of being drafted today? How was getting the call from the 49ers?

"It was surreal. I was just sitting on the couch, just watching the picks go by. My mom told me to keep faith and be patient. Then, I got a call five minutes later. It was a very surreal moment for me. It is just unfortunate that I had the knee injury last year, but I'm ready to work now."

CB Tariq Castro-Fields

What was your contact with the 49ers leading up to the draft?

"I talked to them at the combine and some scouts called me as well."

Can you describe your strengths and weaknesses as a cornerback?

"I feel like I came from a system where I did a whole lot. I ran cover-3 and man. You name it, we did it, so I'm well-versed in all coverages. I can cover, my size, my speed. Of course, I can work on my eyes and all the fundamentals. The league is super fundamental-based and that is what separates people. I'm just ready to work as hard as I can and go. This is amazing."

Can you take us through the day getting the call from the 49ers and was your grandmother with you when you got the call?

"No, she was downstairs. I watched it with my teammates from high school and college. It was a super emotional day. Just waiting for your name to be called was the hardest part, but when the 49ers called me, my whole mood changed. I'm ready to go to work, no matter what. I'm ready to put my best foot forward and show the world what I can do."

How familiar are you with the 49ers current cornerbacks and what excites you about playing with them?

"I know they have [CB] Ambry Thomas, he went to Michigan. I know they just got another guy in the draft. I'm kind of familiar with the system and the things that they do. I'm ready to learn with all the vets, just like I did in college when I came in. I was a sponge and tried to learn as much as I could and I just took off from there. I'm super happy to learn from all the vets there and I can't wait to get to work."

You played just three games in 2020. Did you have an injury and what was it?

"Yes. I was dealing with stingers."

Are there any particular NFL cornerbacks that you have modeled your game after throughout your career?

"I wouldn't say modeled, but definitely watched. Guys like [former NFL CB] Richard Sherman, just how smart he is. Guys like [Los Angeles Rams CB] Jalen Ramsey, [free agent CB] Kyle Fuller, [Buffalo Bills CB] Tre'Davious White, a lot of those guys are just good at the fundamentals and are dogs. When you add those two things, you're kind of unstoppable."

What are you most looking forward to in starting your NFL career?

"I think just to prove myself again. We are starting at square one. I'm going to be a rookie again and I can't wait to shock the world and prove everything that I know. I can't wait to bring it to the 49ers. I have family in The Bay, so this is a dream come true. It is a perfect spot for me and I can't wait to go to work."

QB Brock Purdy

What were your impressions going into the draft? Did you have any inclination of what teams were coming after you or if you were going to hit the undrafted market?

"Yeah, going into the draft the feedback that I was hearing was anywhere from four to undrafted. For me, obviously I believed in myself and understood that I could go in and compete on an NFL roster, that's just who I am. Going into the draft, I was at peace with whatever was going to happen. Obviously, I was anxious, really from the fourth round on, trying to wait for a call, get my name called, hear from my agent, those kinds of things. Then when I got called at the end, I felt relieved just knowing that I was secure in where I was going."

Being Mr. Irrelevant, there is a ceremony for you and joking around. Do you embrace this and what surrounds the 262nd pick in the draft?

"I think it is a funny thing. If you're a fan or a family friend, it is fun to laugh about it. For me, I'm looking at it as an opportunity. A team believed in me and now I get my opportunity to go and play football. That's what I want my career to be, my job to be. Now I have the opportunity to do so. That's how I'm looking at it. From the outside, yeah, I guess it's a funny thing. I'll embrace the role and have fun with it, for sure, but at the end of the day, I'm trying to help a team win a Super Bowl. That's where my mindset is at with it."

What kind of interaction did you have with quarterbacks coach Brian Griese in the lead up to the draft?

"We had a Zoom meeting about a month ago. Him and [assistant quarterbacks coach] Klay Kubiak, we've been talking. Klay Kubiak has called me a couple of times outside of the Zoom meeting. Our Zoom went great, and we broke down my thought processes in some of the games I was playing in. We watched my film and I think we hit it off really well. I think they respect the way I go about things, my football IQ, the way I lead, the intangibles I think the like. We had a great meeting on Zoom and like I said, talked with Coach Kubiak periodically up until the draft. That's the communication we had."

Did you miss any games in college due to injury? I think you played in most of them. What was a point of pride for you?

"Yeah, I have never missed a game due to injury. There have been games where I've gotten hurt, and had to leave the game, but I've come back. That's something that I'm prideful in, being tough. I'm not a quitter. I try to play through injury for the guys on the field that I'm playing with. I think that is one of the strengths that I have as a player. I'm durable and I can take hits. I'm gritty and crafty in the way that I play. It is something that I have clearly shown in the past four years and something I can hang my hat on."

What do you know about the 49ers quarterback history and what they have currently with QB Trey Lance, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and QB Nate Sudfeld?

"The history, they have one of the greats in [HOF QB] Joe Montana, and then [HOF QB] Steve Young. After that, I'm not so sure. With Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, man, what they did last year and the years before with Jimmy G, I respect them so much. It is enjoyable watching them. How Jimmy operated within the system and being so decisive, I really respected that. With Trey Lance, obviously he had a great career in college and he's the guy that coaches want to build around. I respect that, too. I respect his game and I want to go in and help build that quarterback room up as best as I can with whatever they need me to do. I'm all for the team, so that's where I'm at."

Are there quarterbacks that you looked up to, modeled your game after, see yourself as being similar to in the league or previously in the league?

"Yeah, growing up for me I loved [HOF QB] Brett Favre and how competitive he was, how tough he was and the way he made things happen. Recently, watching [former NFL QB] Drew Brees and [Denver Broncos QB] Russell Wilson, those kind of guys with similar statures like mine who get the job done and are decisive. Russell is able to be crafty outside the pocket. There are things that I admire about his game, have watched and tried to dissect. I really respect those guys and have watched them for years."

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