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Everything Kyle Shanahan, Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, and Sam Darnold said at 49ers OTAs

May 23, 2023 at 4:48 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, and Sam Darnold spoke with reporters after Tuesday's practice, the second of organized team activities (OTAs). Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

WR Jauan Jennings was working on the side field, did he have any issues?

"He just had a little tightness. We're being safe with him. Same with [WR Brandon Aiyuk] B. A., both of them, same boat."

What's the thought process behind that last drill that you guys do? 11-on-11, no helmets.

"Just try to ease them into that. It's something that I never wanted to do. We did it last year to have them ease into it going slower. We'll eventually put those helmets on though, so no one busts their face up, but just making sure guys learn how to use their hands."

When you're evaluating quarterbacks this early in OTAs, are you judging off of timing, accuracy, footwork? What do you really look at?

"Timing, accuracy, where the balls should go, what play they have. Who makes the consistent right play the most? Who plays the most realistically that gives you the chance to win?"

How did QB Trey Lance and QB Sam Darnold do for the most part?

"They've had two days. I thought they've done a great job. We're just putting our base stuff in on offense and defense and I thought that it's been two really good days for them."

Has Trey been getting all the first team snaps?

"I think he did for today and yesterday. So far. Yeah, he has."

Is there any meaning to that?

"No, it'll even out. We'll make sure to get that right. And the first team is kind of funny because there's no o-line out there and most of our receivers are second and third team on the first team today, so I'm curious what everyone thinks first and second and third team is."

Who took the first snap?

"Yeah, he was out there the first snap."

Veterans have different ideas of whether they should be here or not. You guys sure don't mind as long as they're taking care of their business away from here, but when you have a guy like RB Christian McCaffrey who's out there setting a pretty torrent pace for an OTA it appeared. What does that do for the rest of the team?

"Not just Christian, but I mean the majority of our players. I think it's been rare that we have had guys miss, so I think we do as good of that as most teams. But yeah, it's huge. It's a voluntary thing, so it is what it is, but I think it's really hard to practice football compared to other sports. We have a lot of rules that don't allow you to practice football, so it's very good if guys can prepare to practice so they have a chance to get better and it's cool of all the guys who try to work at that."

I know you referenced with Trey in the past that, that finger injury kind of slowed his development a little bit, where is he now in terms of being removed from that and how much did it impact his first couple of years?

"I think it impacted him a ton because he had to adjust it during the season just to be able to get through. He was healthy, but it didn't heal healthy, so he had to change how he played in the middle of the year while mainly taking scout team reps and being prepared as a number two except for a couple games. Going into the offseason having to re-correct that. I think it took him all offseason, so he worked at re-correcting that throughout the whole offseason and then he was just thrown into practice with us going into this year. That was corrected throughout last year. His grip and everything. I thought he had got that going this time with his time away. He knew what he had to focus on. He had known what he had struggled with, he had known what he had done good with. He'd gotten to see two different quarterbacks playing our offense two different ways and I just think his time away was a lot more deliberate and, in a position where he knew what he could isolate on, which I think helped him compared to last year."

Was that an ongoing thing even up to like Week One of last season?

"No, I think when you spend four months trying to re-correct, everything's about muscle memory and how you develop things through repetition and when you throw a certain way for an entire football season, adjusting because of how a finger feels that becomes your muscle memory. It takes a while to correct that. You have to work and isolate on just that for a long time and there's a lot of other stuff you need to isolate on besides that, which allows you not to do that other stuff, so I think he spent most of his time working on a grip, trying to get it back, which is usually a prerequisite but because of his circumstances he got in that, so he was just late to working on the other things. This year, he went into this offseason knowing exactly just football-wise what he had to work on and I think that's why he is ahead of last year."

Does he have to carry himself any differently inside the building as opposed to last year where he was the starter, everybody knew he was the starter and now he's competing for his spot?

"I think Trey's been the same guy this offseason as he was last offseason. Trey's a very special person that I don't think has to try to act any way. I think guys have the respect of Trey whether he played any other position, whether he was the one, two or the three. Yeah, obviously when you're the number one quarterback and you've done that and had experience that carries more weight, but also when you're the number one quarterback and you haven't played that stuff still isn't real until you go out there and do it. That's all just outside perception, so Trey's been the same since he's been here. The guys respect the hell out of him and they'll continue to do that."

Did the finger issue have a domino effect where it affected his arm to the point where it wasn't a natural motion anymore and is that maybe where some of the fatigue or soreness came in?

"Everything. If it was a hip that bothered him, it would lead to everything, so your throwing motion as your whole body is connected from the ground up similar to a golf swing, so anything that gets thrown off, it can definitely adjust things and when you overcompensate it, whatever it is, watch any quarterback throughout the year that's when things start to hurt and then have to go back and recalibrate it."

Is this the strongest quarterback room you've had since being the coach of the 49ers?

"I don't know. I don't want to compare it to other years, but we have two guys who are talented enough to be taken in the top five of the draft and we have another guy who played like it last year. I like the three guys we got and I've always been a fan of [QB] Brandon Allen. Just watching him throughout his career and to be able to get him in here also, I feel really fortunate with our four."

How is QB Brock Purdy doing with his recovery?

"He's doing good. Still staying the same. Yeah. On schedule."

Will he begin that throwing program here in the next week or so?

"Yeah, I think he's allowed to throw sometime next week."

Does Darnold have a veteran presence, he's still young, or is he kind of a younger quarterback still in your mind?

"I met Sam just when he came out of college just interviewing him in Indy. Even then he seemed like he had a veteran presence. Just the way he carries himself whether he's in a football building or whoever his peers are off the field. And he seems almost like the same guy I met five years ago, so he is a little bit more of a veteran being in a couple places, but Sam's come in here, to me, being the same guy he's always been. That's why he's had such a good reputation and he's coming here acting like he's learning everything from scratch, which he is, and trying to act like a rookie in that way because it is all new to him. He doesn't want to make any assumptions and he's been awesome in phase one and phase two, trying to do techniques he's not used to and things like that. And it's been cool that he put the work in in those two phases that he's been able to use some of it here in these last two practices."

When you were looking at him out of a college, he was a mobile quarterback at USC, not running like crazy. Is that a big feature in what you like about him now? Can you get some of that into him this season?

"Yeah, that all happens usually with reactions. There're two types of mobile quarterbacks. Is it a type that you try to design runs for or is there a type who's got the athletic ability or just a knack for making some off-schedule plays and I think his knack for off-schedule plays has always been good. When something's not there and he feels space in the pocket, he doesn't hesitate to run and he's been able to do it very well. That's usually a bonus. You want that anytime you have that, but you also have to be very good at the quarterback position too and Sam bringing that element is something that helps a lot of stuff as long as he doesn't miss the other elements with it. I think that's something you saw with Brock a good amount last year when he came in. People wouldn't think of Brock as a runner but he is quick, he is athletic in the pocket and he makes plays very similar to the way Sam does scrambling and that's what we see in Sam too."

It's a moving target, but both you and general manager John Lynch have mentioned training camp for Brock. Does that mean it is conceivable that he could be ready at the start of training camp?

"Yeah, it's not really a moving target, it's that only God knows and it's all estimates, so it depends what quote people have got from me, but we're hoping for Week One and I feel pretty optimistic about that. That's what we're hoping for, that he'll be ready to play in Week One and usually that doesn't mean that's the day he comes back. Usually you have to come before that to make that goal and that's kind of the goal we're hoping for and I don't have any reason to think differently."

You're missing a few guys out there, but are you generally pleased with the level of participation and energy today?

"I'm really pleased with it. It's always different for o-line and d-line because of the way it is now, it's hard for us to set up for those guys to get as much, so it is more of a passing deal and skill position type thing, but for the most part, I think we had five guys not here. I'd want it to be a 100%, but I'm pretty realistic with that. I'll take five."

The ones that aren't here, were you expecting them not to be here?

"Yeah, I communicate with all of them, so I have a pretty good idea."

What are your thoughts on the new kickoff rule that passed today?

"Probably the same as all the special teams coaches. When you don't have experience of it, you don't know which way it's going to go. And I think the point is probably to eliminate kickoffs, which is for safety, so if that's the case then I think everyone's for that. I'm just not sure that it is, so we'll have to see how it plays out now and how it goes and how we adjust to it, but that's the rule now, so now we'll start trying to make estimates about what our philosophies will be, but any philosophy will be developed through the experience of watching how it works out throughout the year."

You said at the Dwight Clark event that Brock was working out with the towel. Can you explain what exactly he's doing with the towel to sort of mimic the throwing motion?

"Everything that we work on when it comes for NFL guys throwing, it is usually from the ground up and how to time their feet, their drops, their eyes and everything. I rarely even look at where the ball goes, you just expect it to be there and these are NFL quarterbacks, so it's tough when you can't pick up the weight of a ball and throw because of your elbow. How do you work at everything else? Brock is healthy in every other aspect and he can move his arm, he just doesn't want to put that weight on it, so for Brock to still be able to do his drops, all his footwork and stuff, you want to be able to simulate a throwing motion and that's hard with nothing in your arm, so he uses a towel instead and it's what a lot of quarterbacks do when you try to throw every day and work on things every day, but you don't want to wear your arm down, so sometimes you use a towel, sometimes you use a football and Brock is just in a situation where you only can use a towel right now."

You also mentioned at the Dwight Clark Legacy event that Trey Lance had cleaned up his base a little bit when he throws. Could you explain a little bit what that means?

"It means playing with your feet wider apart, always be in a position to throw. When you're a quarterback your feet aren't together. When you turn into a runner, your feet are together and you look to run, but then it takes you a second and a half to throw where defenders can tee off. It's about always having to be in a certain position to throw in, so when the o-line is bad, you're not one of those guys who's just going to get sacked every time the o-line is bad. You know how to get rid of the ball or you know how to turn into a runner and go. And that has to do with how you balance your feet out, how far you keep them apart and how you can progress in a pocket."

Any newcomers stand out in particular to you today?

"Not really, it's just two days. Even if they did, I make sure I don't even say anything to the coaches because I've coached too much to get very excited about guys on day one and not feel the same way on day three and vice versa, so it's early out there and that's what of OTAs is like for the most part, but we'll have a better idea as we get towards the end of this. That's the best part because we get away for 40 days and I've also learned to not make any concrete decisions because you get away for 40 days and you come back and that's when you really see who got better or worse and who's really going to make a play for this team."

QB Brock Purdy

How's your rehab going?

"It's going good. Yeah, I'm feeling good and taking it one day at a time."

Is next week the week that you'll pick up a football and throw a football?

"Yes, sir. That's the plan."

That's still May, we'd always heard June 1st, looking at June, does that mean that you're a little bit ahead of things?

"Yeah, I'm not necessarily sure like in terms of the timeline and are we on schedule, are we not. We've just been taking it from what the physical therapist, the surgeon, what they've said, what it looks like with guys that they've worked on. Hey, this is like the next step and we've just been following the plan and really it's just how your arm feels on a day-to-day basis and a week-to-week basis. And you go from there and you make decisions from there, so that's just where we're at."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he was optimistic that you'd be ready week one. Are you feeling like that as well?

"Yeah, I feel good, arm is feeling good. To say I'm going to be ready by this time or this time, we're not trying to label any kind of timeline like that. For sure though, that's a goal. You want to be ready for the season and if that's the case, great, but we're just taking it one day at a time and don't want to say anything that we regret down the road or whatever."

How hard has it been to balance recovery and really wanting to get out on the field with everybody?

"Yeah, it's just been sort of new to me. It's my first time going through a rehab from a surgery. It's the offseason, so it was fine doing the workouts and everything, getting back into it, but then once you see guys starting to practice and you watch, it's like man, you want to be out there. That's just the competitive side of it, but I'm still able to watch the film, be in the meetings, learn and grow and see what I did last year and learn from the good and the bad, so I'm still taking a lot of good things out of the offseason."

You got hurt on January 29th and you had to wait until March 10th to have surgery. What were your emotions like during that time? Was there some anxiety as far as what the future held?

"For me, I knew everything was going to work out how it needed to. In the moment, it was, alright, what do I have to do next? What's the surgery look like and when is that going to be? That's just what I was more focused on. Not, what is my future going to consist of or anything like that. I'm at peace with whatever happens, God-willing, and everything falls into place where it needs to, so yeah, I wasn't trying to focus too far into the future with anything like that."

I don't know if you were able to look back at the good and bad from last year. When you went and watched yourself, what did you see on either side of those things?

"Yeah, the good, just in terms of having confidence, man, playing at this level, you have to have confidence in going in and being consistent. I feel like those are things when I first went in, I just stuck to what [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] was coaching me on. And then as I started playing, there's times where you want to make some plays and things like that, and you start to get out of what they're coaching. I feel like playing within what they're coaching and just playing consistent ball as an NFL quarterback, I think that's something that I can work on. And I've watched the film with Kyle and [quarterbacks coach Brian] Griese and all of them and they all say the same thing, so those are just some things I took away from last year and what I have to work on."

Your thinking, it's mostly forward or what's going on, but rehab time gives you idle time. And I'm just curious as to, did you have much time just to reflect from what happened to you from the point of the draft all the way to the end of the season when you got hurt against the Eagles? All those events. It must be pretty remarkable to even sit back and take all that in.

"Yeah, I definitely had some time to just reflect on everything, especially after once we knew when I was getting the surgery and all that, got all settled and then just took some time to, yeah, from last year, finishing my senior year of college and then trying to scratch and claw my way into making a team and then all the way up until the NFC Championship. Man, I was just seeing how good God was and is and how great of a story he can create with anybody. And obviously for myself being thankful for the way things have turned out and the things that I've learned along the way with just adversity and trying to make the team and then trying to do good in preseason games. And once my opportunity had come, Week 13, taking advantage of that opportunity, so there's so many things that had happened within the last year and the offseason was great just to take a step back, reflect on everything and be thankful."

I can see you have a sling on your arm, I think even at the Giants game on TV, pretty soon after surgery, you were kind of moving around. In real life, is there any limitations, anything that you're experiencing or you can't do with that right arm?

"After surgery you get out of the brace and everything like that. You just got to regain your strength and start lifting and doing things like that. So yeah, I'm not going to, I don't know, do something crazy where I'm lifting something heavy after surgery, but the last month or so it's been regaining your strength and yeah, I'm lifting and doing everything normal now, so it's feeling good and yeah, I feel like I can do everything around the house now, so, yeah."

In March, both Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch said that John's words were that you're the leader in the clubhouse as far as being the starter to open this season if you're healthy. How did you take that? And I'm sure they obviously told you the same things. What did that do to your mindset to hear that vote of confidence from both of those men?

"Yeah, I just try to focus on where I'm at right now, and for me it's getting my arm healthy. To say all these things and say you want to be this kind of guy or that kind of guy on the team. I think that's just in a sense, foolish, just for myself to think like that. Like for me, I come into work every day trying to get my arm right, try to be around the guys and do what it takes to win. We want to win a Super Bowl here, and that's simple as that. I just do my job and everything else falls into place, but I'm just trying to be present. I'm not trying to get caught up in rumors or what people were saying or anything like that, but for the fact of them to say that, yeah, I'm appreciative to see what we did last year and winning 12 games in a row and everything that we did as a team, it was a great accomplishment, so we just want to build off that momentum."

What's the quarterback room dynamic like now with QB Sam Darnold in there, QB Brandon Allen in there and QB Trey Lance. Does quarterbacks coach Brian Griese run it, like, how vocal, I guess, are you if you're not out there on the field?

"No, yeah, the dynamic is great. Brandon has played for a numerous amount of years and his experience with [Cincinnati Bengals QB] Joe Burrow has been great. To have him come in and just see how he thinks about football and obviously Sam, where he's been, and how [Carolina Panthers quarterback coach] Josh McCown has helped him out. And then obviously Trey, and we've been around Griese and [offensive passing game specialist Klint] Kubiak [and assistant quarterbacks coach Klay Kubiak], so I think just all of us as a collective just understanding what our scheme is, what Kyle is teaching us, and just helping each other out within the meetings and seeing things from different perspectives from all of us because we've all had some kind of experience of playing, so it's been great so far. The dynamic is great. We all get along really well and I'm really excited moving forward with this group of guys."

What's your plan for just the rest of this offseason? Will you stay here to do all the rest of your rehab or will you get away? What's kind of how you lay it out?

"Yeah, we got to finish out everything through OTAs here. See how I feel, but I think the plan would be good back down to Jacksonville with my quarterback guys I trained with before the draft, Tom Gormely and Will Hewlett, as I start to throw more and I want to just make sure my mechanics and everything are right. So go down, work with them for a couple of weeks, and then get back here."

How would you compare to where you're at right now mentally in the offense compared to last year at this time?

"Yeah, last year, every single night it's like study and sort of stress out about I got to learn this concept and this one and go run it at OTAs and try to prove myself to my teammates and coaches. And so obviously this year, I'm not out in the field, but being able to when a play call comes in and I hear it and I can see it better mentally and it just happens a little bit quicker, but there's still a lot of details and things that I can clean up with how I operate and see the defense, so that's what I'm working on right now. But I think, yeah, it's like a night and day difference for sure coming in as a rookie compared to now."

Was there a certain point last year where you did hit kind of a comfort zone with what you're talking about?

"No, I would say during the season compared to offseason, just play calls like OTAs, camp, you're running your base plays. During the season you get into more just scheme of playing a defense and so the plays are different every week, but I feel like the flow, how a play call comes in, being in the huddle, taking command, all that kind of stuff started to click after the Tampa Bay game and sort of just rolled from there. But before that, yeah, I think just playing quarterback and leading and talking to guys and communicating, those are all things that people don't really necessarily see that are huge. Just the way your teammates look at you, they have confidence in you, they can sense that you have confidence, so yeah, I feel like that's an area that I've grown in."

How does quarterbacks coach Brian Griese returning help you and your preparation for season two?

"Oh yeah, it's been great, really just picking up where we left off last year. I always say like his experience, he's been in our shoes, so he's able to relate to a lot of things. What we're seeing, how we're feeling, situational football, so to pick up the momentum that we had from last year and then him being able to really just break down protections and different concepts, having Griese in our corner has been a blessing. He's the man."

QB Trey Lance

In March, both general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan said that QB Brock Purdy is the leader in the clubhouse as far as being the starter when he's healthy. When they had those conversations with you about where things stood currently, how did you take it and what's your approach to the offseason been?

"Nothing's changed for me. I've been able to focus on a lot more things that are going to help me I'd say this offseason versus just focusing on trying to get back to as healthy as I could last offseason. As far as the stuff with Brock, that's same thing I told you guys last year at the end of the year, my opportunity is just to come in and compete and that's all I wanted. I don't want to take anything away from Brock and no one should be able to take anything away from Brock. He did what he did last year and he deserves all the credit in the world for it. I just want an opportunity to compete."

What's been your focus specifically on becoming a better quarterback right now?

"Everything. Right now, in OTAs just being efficient and learning the offense and continuing to learn and grow as the best quarterback I can be."

The finger injury that you had to kind of re-learn a motion to make it work with the injury and then kind of unlearn all that. Can you just kind of explain to us how that has impacted your development here over the last couple years trying to deal with all that?

"Yeah, my rookie year was a lot. It was definitely the hardest on it because I couldn't straighten it. It was my pointer finger and I couldn't straighten it after that third preseason game when it happened, but coming through my rookie year and finishing that, my goal that offseason was to get as healthy as possible. First and foremost, just to be able to get my finger as straight as I can and I felt like I got close to that point, but spent a lot more time rehabbing that and trying to figure that out and relearn my grip and throwing everything like that than I did versus this offseason, being able to focus on the things that I need to focus on."

Was there a trickledown effect from that where it affects other parts of your body that may not be as connected?

"Yeah, for sure with anything. Wrist, hand, arm, shoulder, it all kind of connects obviously. Yeah, it bugged a lot of other things and it was hard to find a way to throw finishing off my middle finger and changing my grip and things like that."

What did you get out of training with Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Jeff Christensen this offseason?

"A lot. I learned a ton. I was able to focus on the right things. Just having a better idea, even better this year coming into year three of what is expected of me, how to run the offense, being able to watch [Las Vegas Raiders QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] and Brock play at such a high-level this year. Being able to be around Patrick was awesome. Just pick his brain, learning about just the type of guy he is, how he spends his free time, offseason and then more about his in-season schedule as well.

There was a report that your arm soreness has started to improve as well. Is that true? Are you not dealing with any arm fatigue, arm soreness since you worked with him?

"Yeah, hopefully we can finally kill that this year. I thought going back to my rookie year that it was on me. I didn't do a good enough job of taking care of my body coming out of school early, started throwing, through that whole year, going into that one game, my last game in college and then didn't really stop, went all the way through the fall, through the winter, through the spring, got drafted, kept throwing through OTAs, 40 days away, wanted to be as ready as I could, kept throwing the whole 40 days away and then going through the whole season, kept throwing again, so that's just a lot of time. I don't know any quarterbacks that would spend that much time throwing, but I wanted to work and I thought that was the best way to do it, but obviously I learned a lot from that. Going through my rookie year dealing with it last year, I thought it was in a great spot as well going into it, but yeah, no issues this year."

When you were in your rookie year, specifically, going through all that offseason work into it, did you feel like, 'Hey, the ball is not coming out the way I'm used to, the velocity was down,' anything like that?

"Oh, no. My rookie year I felt really good until this happened. I think the biggest thing my rookie year was just learning. Being able to tie my feet to my arm and tie my feet to my brain and how we see concepts and everything like that. The offense is very specific as far as just tying your feet to your progressions and no offense, I don't think any offense in the country in college is like that, so it was definitely a learning curve for me, but then obviously having to deal with this kind of took some time away from that and mentally as well."

You talked about how teams have been interested. There's been some interest in trading for you, they've had those discussions. At any point, did part of you think maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing?

"No, not at all. I knew where I wanted to be. I just want an opportunity to compete. I love it here. I love the coaching staff. I love working with [quarterbacks coach Brian] Griese and [assistant quarterbacks] Klay [Kubiak] and now [offensive passing game specialist] Klint [Kubiak] as well. Love the quarterback room, love the guys in the locker room. No doubt for me, this is absolutely where I want to be."

When you first got here, Jimmy was a little bit older than you. Detroit Lions QB Nate Sudfeld was last year, but this year you guys are relatively the same age, the three of you with QB Sam Darnold. Is that different? What's the vibe like when you're all at different stages of your career, but generally the same age?

"Yeah, I wouldn't say it's a whole lot different, but it's definitely fun. I had met Sam pre-draft back going into my rookie year, so I got to spend some time with him. I knew he was a great dude, so I was super excited that he was the guy we were going to bring in. And then bringing in [QB] Brandon [Allen] these last couple of weeks as well has been awesome. Just guys I can continue to learn from, like Sam has played in a lot of different places, a lot of different systems, has seen a lot of ball, so for me it's just picking his brain on little things. It's been awesome. It's a ton of fun in the quarterback room with now adding Klint Kubiak as well into the meeting room, so I've really enjoyed it."

Can you talk about your ankle recovery and how you're monitoring that now that you're back on the field and kind of how you've regained confidence, really another important part of it?

"Yeah, it feels like it's been a long process. I do want to say thank you to [physical therapist] Mike Sola especially he was the PT that I worked with throughout this whole time. We spent a lot of time together, a lot of time with him rubbing on my feet and ankles. So super thankful for that, for him and his willingness to take weekends, travel, whatever it was with me, but I feel like I'm in a really good spot. I honestly don't even feel it or think about it. I'm sure there'll be something as the season comes up, not anything bad or anything like that, but with something like that, there can be things that happen. Not missing time or anything, a little bit of soreness, so just continuing to work through it and learn as I go, figure out what works best."

When during this offseason, did you feel 100% healthy, finger, ankle, everything? And how does that help you going into this season?

"Shoot, I don't know exactly when. Probably towards the end of March, I would say is when I was 100%. And yeah, finger was probably a past thing throughout this whole rehab process for most of it. I felt like it got to that point. Pretty close to that point after my rookie year after that offseason, but yeah, it's been an awesome offseason for me, just being able to spend time finally getting back to football, finally getting back to being around the guys now."

Brock said that you helped him out quite a bit last year as he was playing. What kinds of dialogues did you guys have during those games? What kinds of things did you share with him that maybe helped him through some of those late season games?

"I tried to one, just be an ear for him. Just to listen to whatever he's seeing and whatever he's processing, how he's seeing things and just educate as much as I could and help. And obviously, I haven't played a ton of ball. He's played more games than me now, but for me it was just like being a friend, honestly. A lot of it throughout ups and downs of plays and drives and things like that. I just wanted to be there for him, whatever he needed."

Have you thought out your plan this summer, what you're going to do when OTAs are over, where you're going to train, that kind of stuff?

"Yeah, I'm pretty close. You probably saw everything about me going to Tight End U, so I'm excited for that. Finally making it this year. I couldn't make it the last couple years, so I'm excited to go down there with those guys and hang out and throw some balls at [TE] George [Kittle] and those other guys, but yeah, I'm planning on working with the same people. Going down, just trying to lock in again and hopefully be even better when I come back to training camp."

How much are you itching to get back into game action, whether it's preseason, regular season, obviously you have to take it one day at a time, but just to prove yourself back on the field, 11-on-11?

"Yeah, I'm really just trying to be where my feet are. Trying to live in this moment and be as present as I possibly can. I've enjoyed it. It's been awesome. It's been really, I was just talking to [LB] Curtis Robinson a about it. I really feel like I'm having fun playing football again. It's hard those first years, my first year and especially and then last year, I thought I'd be able to get close to that point of not having to be so stressed and worried and have a better understanding of offense and defense and I finally feel like I'm able to just have fun and enjoy it again. Obviously, there's ups and downs and there is stress and anxiety that comes with playing the position and playing football, but this is the best I've felt for sure."

Some veterans come to OTAs and do just a little bit and take their own pace and some don't come at all and it's voluntary, but seems like RB Christian McCaffrey sets a pretty torrid pace out there. And I'm just curious as to when a veteran comes like that, one of your best guys, and he's out there, even at the end without helmets on, but he's out there going like it's a hundred miles an hour. What does that do for everybody else?

"Yeah, he sets the standard. He's quickly grown into a great leader in our locker room, and I think a lot of guys had a feeling that that would happen pretty quickly just based on who he is. And after meeting him, how he carries himself. Just a very impressive human being. Some people call him like a little [DL Nick] Bosa, just the way he's just so meticulous with his routine and how he takes care of his body. And I've learned a ton from him, not only football, but being able to talk ball with him is awesome just because he's seen so many different offenses, defenses and looks. Just being able to be around him as far as his routine and how meticulous he is."

You've been through a lot in your young career and you talked a little about the stress and anxiety of the position, but you've dealt with a lot of ups and downs. What do you do to take care of your mental and emotional state?

"I do a lot. Thankfully, I am really close with my family. Me and my little brother, my parents, I meet with people to help me set my mindset for the day pretty regularly. I's just being able to find ways to live in the moment I think is one big thing that I've focused on this year as well as just realizing how blessed I am to be in this position. I say it every single day, like I play in the NFL. Hopefully, obviously the plan is for me to get on the field this year and really get this thing started, but gratitude is kind of what I bring everything back to, just kind of bringing everything back into perspective."

Are you talking about a sports psychologist?

"Something like that, yeah."

Provided by the team or did you find them?

"A little bit of both. Yeah, it wasn't provided by the team, but someone that someone knew through the team. It wasn't like a you need to go meet with someone, you're sad, anything like that. No, I feel like I'm pretty positive, but it's helped me out a lot and I'm just super thankful to be here."

QB Sam Darnold

What are the biggest obstacles you've faced coming to a new system?

"Yeah, I think it's continuing to learn and watch yourself grow as a player, but I think before that it's learning the system and then once you learn the system, being able to go out there and go through a walkthrough in phase one and phase two. Then phase three kind of put it all together and go through some seven-on-seven and some different team drills that we're doing. I think it's really making sure that I'm on it in terms of all the shifts, motions, checks, all those things and my reads and making sure that everything's clear in my head to go out there and play confidently and play fast."

We've talked about how having quarterbacks coach Brian Griese in the room having gone through the whole process is such a huge advantage for a quarterback. Can you discuss that?

"Yeah, for sure. Griese has been awesome so far, really throughout the whole process, right when I decided to sign here. Griese has been awesome for me just to be able to talk to about learning the system, about coming to a new team, certain expectations coming in and being the new guy on the block, but also having that mindset of, 'Okay, when I step in that huddle, I am the leader,' and guys are going to, if they have questions, they should feel confident in me that I know the answer in terms of scheme and what they got, so Griese has been great that way."

Did you have the opportunity to sign for more money elsewhere?

"I'm not going to go into too many details about what I could have signed for and the different options that way, but I just know I'm excited to be here and excited to get things going here."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said they are going to balance out first team reps. We saw QB Trey Lance take them yesterday and today. Have they communicated to you and does that mean something to you that the first team reps will be split up with you and Trey?

"I think for me it's cliche, but focusing one day at a time. I think that's the biggest thing for me, whether it's first team reps or second team reps, they're reps and it's just being able to be dialed in every single play and just compete. I think that's the biggest thing is competing, whether it's first team or second team reps, I'm ready to go."

How do build rapport with your receivers? How have you done that over your career? Is it just practice or do you actually have conversations with a TE George Kittle or a WR Brandon Aiyuk? Sort of get inside their heads a little bit.

"I think every single time, for me, last year I had some of the same faces and so you kind of get used to the way guys run routes, but I think conversations just kind of come up naturally throughout routes on air, through phase two, even really phase one without coaches out there. Phase three, obviously when we go against the defense, you start talking about certain schemes and certain routes, the way you want to run them against a certain coverage, so it kind of comes up naturally, just talking football with the guys."

Has RB Christian McCaffrey helped you ingrain yourself with this team and how do you see him fit with this offense?

"Christian, we all know how he is as a player. Christian's a great player who can go out and make plays not only in the run game, but in the pass game as well. Then coming in here as well, it's always nice when you have someone that you know and that you're buddies with. When you're coming to a new place, being able to have a familiar face coming in is always nice."

Lots of times in OTAs with some teams, maybe not this one so much, prominent guys sometimes they come and don't practice, maybe they stay away and work out on their own and it's voluntary. McCaffrey is setting a pretty torrent pace out there. When one of your main guys is doing that on a daily basis in practices that he could skip, what does that do for the rest of the team?

"I'm used to it. It's just his work ethic, that's never going to change. It really stems from meeting his dad, meeting his mom, it kind of stems from that, from him growing up and being raised that way. He's just got a great work ethic and I think guys respond to that really well and it kind of pushes the guys around him."

How are you a better player now than you were coming out of USC a few years ago?

"I think just learning from certain experiences, good and bad, indifferent. It's just the more ball you get to experience, as a quarterback especially, can only help you. For me, it's continuing to experience football and I feel like last year, taking a step in the right direction in terms of protecting the football a little bit better. I just want to continue to make strides in that direction, staying patient in pocket, all those things. I feel like every year you continue to strive to get better. And for me, it's just doing all the little things, but first and foremost it's learning the offense, learning the scheme, and continuing to study that way."

How can the competition in this quarterback room elevate your play and make you a better player?

"I think competition is great for everyone. Obviously, we've got some competition in the quarterback room, but other places as well. It's always great to be able to go out there and compete and we're going to do that."

What kind of knowledge are you able to impart on QB Brock Purdy and QB Trey Lance in terms of dealing with the things they can't control?

"I think the past five years of being in this league and being a starter and going through the ups, going through the downs of just being in this league and being a quarterback, you experience some things. I think Trey and Brock, even the young careers that they've had, have dealt with some adversity. Obviously, some ups, some downs as well. At the end of the day, playing quarterback is a special privilege and with that comes a little bit of adversity as well. I think it's just really cool the conversations that we get to have in the quarterback room, especially like you mentioned with Coach Griese in there, just being able to talk about the position and talk about how to kind of deal with those things and deal with adversity and even deal with success at times, so it's just great conversations that come up."

You dealt with adversity in New York, which is not an easy place to deal with adversity. How did you, by all accounts, have emerged with your psyche and confidence still intact. How were you able to do that? A lot of the young quarterbacks in that situation kind of get shattered?

"I think it really just stems from never changing who you are. I need to continue to get better as a quarterback and all those things, but it's really just having a good family, having those people to lean on and a really tight friend group circle that I have from back home, from college and people that I met in New York and Charlotte as well. It's just keeping that tight circle really close, that friend group that you have and obviously a really close family and that's kind of helped me along the way."

Kyle said you've been putting in a lot of work in phase one and two, almost like how a rookie would do it. Do you feel like that's an accurate description of how you're starting out your career here?

"Yeah, for sure. Learning a new system is always a challenge in itself, but at the same time it's pretty fun to be honest, just learning football and kind of hearing the way Kyle talks about some things, Griese as well and just the other guys, Brock and Trey being in it, [QB] Brandon Allen as well, who's in our quarterback room, who was in Cincy last year with [Bengals QB] Joe [Burrow]. It's just a lot of good experiences to kind of bounce certain questions off of, or opinions off of as well. It's going to be a fun year and I'm looking forward to it."


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