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What Trey Lance, Sam Darnold, Chris Foerster said after 49ers’ 3rd training camp practice

Jul 28, 2023 at 2:35 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance and Sam Darnold, and offensive line/run game coordinator Chris Foerster spoke with reporters after Friday's practice, the third of training camp. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

QB Trey Lance

How would you sum up the first three days of practice?

"It's good, a lot of fun. Yeah, absolutely, it's been a lot of fun. I'm just trying to take advantage of all the reps I get, working with all the guys and it's just been a ton of fun just to be able to be back out there and to have our full room back, man, it's been a ton of fun."

There's not a lot of reps to go around. Do you do anything on the side field or anything to augment what you're getting in the actual practice?

"Yeah, I mean, live reps, we've got four guys, so it just kind of is what it is and I just try to do as best I can to take advantage of every rep I get."

How did you link up with private quarterbacks coach Jeff Christensen in the offseason? Did someone recommend him to you?

"I had a friend his name is [former North Dakota State quarterback] Zeb Nolan that I played with in college. And he had worked with Jeff, and we talk ball all the time, so we had talked about it and I talked to Jeff. And then, yeah, we started working together and that was it."

What were some of the things you focused on with Jeff?

"I don't want to get into all the details, but I feel really good about what we've accomplished and I'm going to continue to work and continue to get better."

Along those lines, what did you gain from just being around Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and maybe picking his brain? Anything that you kind of glommed onto?

"Yeah, I think I talked about it during OTAs, but it's just awesome to be around a guy like that. Obviously, he's probably doing it at the highest level there is maybe, I don't want to say ever, I don't want to get into controversy, but he's playing at obviously a very high level. Multiple Super Bowls, multiple big games, so just being able to pick his brain about everything in the season, offseason, his schedule, how he sees the game, everything like that."

Did you do it in these last 40 days as well with him?

"No, no, we didn't throw together."

After QB Brock Purdy got cleared the other day. What was the message from head coach Kyle Shanahan to you? And how did you kind of digest how this might play out over the next few months?

"No, we haven't had any conversations. I find out right before practice or whatever, what the rep count is going to be. And like I said, I just take advantage of every rep, but super excited, obviously, for Brock that he's able to come back and practice. It's good to have a whole room."

You know your weapons really well. WR Brandon Aiyuk and WR Deebo Samuel look much improved this year. What do you notice about their improvements? Where do you see them different from a year ago?

"I mean, B.A. is catching everything. He is running great routes. He's getting to his landmarks. He's making plays and he looks like, the B.A. that we all knew he could be these last few years and that he kind of turned into I think towards the end of the season last year. And Deebo looks great, man. I mean, he really took care of his body. I know you guys have all talked about it and heard about it. But he took care of himself this offseason, locked in and he looks really one of the best I've ever seen."

When you have limited reps like you've had in the last couple of days, if you make a bad throw, does it stick with you more and do you kick yourself more?

"Not really. I mean, especially on the field, maybe after practice going back and watching it. But on the field, I'm very much turn the page. I've got to go onto the next play because once it starts to snowball and you don't want to let it linger or anything like that, especially with, like you said, but just seem to take advantage one rep at a time."

On Tuesday head coach Kyle Shanahan told us at any time Brock is out there on the field, it'll be with the ones. How do you kind of read that? How do you kind of feel about where you are positioned?

"I honestly don't. I'm not thinking about it. I'm taking it one day at a time, one rep at a time, and like I said, I'm just taking advantage of your rep and just continuing to compete."

What's the vibe like in the quarterback room? It seems like on the field you guys have a real strong camaraderie with each other.

"Yeah, we're all real good friends. I mean, we're all similar in age, pretty close. So, it's just been really fun just to be able to work with those guys, bringing [QB] Brandon [Allen] in, [QB] Sam [Darnold] new this year. But it's just a fun group of guys, it's off the field, outside of football. I mean, we're all pretty good friends, so it's fun to hang around with those guys."

This time last year you were declared the starter. Right now you played what, less than five quarters? Your season ended, obviously, the ankle injury was out of your control, what Brock did was out of your control, but I don't know, how do you just kind of reconcile everything?

"I mean, yeah, like I said, I just take it one day at a time. I'm very present-mind focused. Every rep, one rep at a time, one day at a time, one meeting at a time, whatever it is. I mean, I truly believe everything works out exactly how it's supposed to. So as long as I control what I can control that's all I can worry about."

Are you more comfortable and do you think you're a better player since you've been here?

"Yeah, night and day. Yeah. In all the ways. The game slowed down a lot. Just continue to get better though."

Do you do any mindfulness work or anything like that?

"Yeah, a lot of breathing, a lot of meditation, a lot of just present mind focus and journaling, things like that. Just to keep myself, you know, keeping it one day at a time. And if I do that, it's not too hard to stay positive. I'm pretty blessed to be in this position to have this opportunity."

I think you talked a lot in the spring about the finger and how it kind of affected things mechanically and all that. How have you reached a point of where you're kind of just able to repeat the mechanics that you want and getting rid of whatever you had to do to kind of get by?

"Just reps. I think this offseason is probably the most I've ever thrown maybe in my life with no arm pain, no anything like that. So definitely just reps, as many reps as I could possibly get this offseason, throwing as many days as I could. That's what I try to do and just try to get better, one percent every day."

You find it that you've reached the point of just muscle memory? Like would you go back and watch tape of yourself throwing?

"It's more my feet, honestly, than anything from the last couple of years. But yeah, no, I don't find myself liking to watch the mechanics side of the last couple of years reps. I feel like I'm in a much, much better place now. For sure."

You said no arm pain. Do you think that that is mechanics related, that your mechanics are good now that you're not having soreness?

"I think, yeah, with the volume I've been able to throw, I think it's more a mechanic thing than anything. Like I said, the past was the past of just probably throwing too much."

Did you know about QB Sam Darnold before you became teammates and what have you learned about him since?

"We had met actually when I was coming out pre-draft before the draft because he does something with the agency tie. So, we met and been to dinner and hung out. And I know he's good friends with [Buffalo Bills quarterback] Josh [Allen] and [Buffalo Bills quarterback] Kyle Allen as well. So, we had met down in Orange County and hung out. So, I knew he was a great dude. I had been around him a few times, so I didn't know a whole lot, obviously, I'd seen him play and knew where he was drafted and everything like that and knew he had been put in tough situations in his career but knew he was a great person. So, I was super excited when Kyle told me that he was coming."

Deebo talked about you having more touches and sometimes your fastballs were fast at times, but would you agree with that? And I guess what was the evolution of, okay, this requires more touch?

"I think just reps, trust, everything I did this offseason, just being more comfortable, changing my ball path a little bit. But yeah, I think coming in a lot better spot as far as just throwing and playing football and playing quarterback."

When you're running, like you scrambled out on one play today, is there any extra sense of appreciation for being able to do it considering an injury you've had to come off in rehab?

"Yeah, absolutely. I'd be lying if I said I thought I'd feel as good as I do. Going back to OTAs and especially now I thought I'd have at least a setback but thankfully, knock on wood, haven't had anything. So yeah, definitely very thankful for that."

QB Sam Darnold

How do you look at the first three days of camp and are you doing what you want to do at this point?

"Yeah, I think obviously there's some corrections to be made and just got to continue to feel more and more comfortable every single day. But I think it's continuing to challenge myself, just studying as much as I can, before and after practice. But yeah, I feel like these past three days have been pretty good. Obviously they can be better, but doing everything I can to put myself in a good position during practice."

When you go back and watch it, is the ball going where it should be? How's your decision making, your thought process, how you're seeing things?

"Yeah, I'm happy with the decision making. Again, the way that we talk about our reads in the QB room, it's very clean. So feel like I'm happy with the decision making. I feel like a couple balls could have been better throughout these last three days. But yeah, that's just the beginning of camp and continue to iron it out and get better throughout the camp."

You're going against the second team defense. Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks was talking about the depth of that unit yesterday and how good it is. Can you tell

that from the pressure or just the speed of the backups?

"Yeah, no doubt. I think the way that, just the example that [LB] Fred [Warner] and [LB] Dre [Greenlaw] set for the backers and then obviously the front, no matter whether it's with the ones, the twos or the threes, the offensive line and the defensive line continue to push each other every single day. And the tempo's been really good. The effort's been really good. You see it on tape. So I know those guys can't wait to get in pads here pretty soon. But yeah, between the ones, the twos and the threes, obviously it is tough sometimes to tell a difference."

You had a real nice ball to WR Ray-Ray McCloud III down the sideline. How long does it take you before you feel like you've got a good feel for each one of your receivers and how they like to run their routes?

"Yeah, it takes time. I think it's as much as you can. Obviously, it's tough with camp and all the reps and those guys running so much throughout the day during practice. But whether it's a little bit before, obviously, in the locker room talking about routes and then after practice, getting as many routes as possible but also being smart about staying off your feet. And for us keeping the reps limited with our arms, keeping arms fresh. But yeah, I think it's just the continued dialogue that we have with the receivers and getting a feel with them that way."

Was it just kind of a challenge for you to get used to this rotation that you've done the last two days for the second team? Is that odd to get in a rhythm too?

"No, I don't think so. I think you kind of talk about it all the time, like sudden change. You never know when the defense is going to go out there during a game and force a turnover. And you just never know when your number's going to be called. So it's been good the way that the reps have been going. And, again, it's about taking advantage of those reps, taking advantage of your opportunity when it comes."

Kyle on Tuesday said that anytime that QB Brock Purdy is out there on the field, he'll be running with the ones. As a guy with 55 career starts, how do you take that and how do you approach this camp knowing that?

"Yeah, Brock, I don't know exactly what it was, but I don't think he lost a game last year. Went to the NFC Championship and who knows what could have happened if he didn't get hurt. So I get it. And again, I'm just here to get all the opportunities that I can and see what my role is for this team."

Do you never know when your number's going to be called? You guys don't know when you're getting reps?

"No, we have a good feeling before practice how the rotation's going to go."

When was the last time you were in this position as a backup?

"Last year. Obviously, we made the trade for [QB] Baker [Mayfield] last year in Carolina. And again, we battled it out during camp. Obviously, he won the job and like I just said, tried to take advantage of everything, every rep that I could from that point forward before he got named the starter and after."

Of course you did end up playing last year. What did you take from that experience and kind of doing it again that may help you?

"Yeah, I think it's not really thinking about it too much to be honest. I think it's just getting in there when you get a chance to play well and just have a good understanding of what's going on, the play that's called, what the situation is, the down and distance. I mean, there's so many different factors that go into playing quarterback. You don't have too much time to be thinking about what reps you're getting. I'm not counting reps out there, I'm just, cliche, but trying to make them count."

What is it about being here that makes you feel like this situation can bring out the best in you?

"I think this is a really good team, really good teammates. The coaching is really good and obviously it's a first-class organization.

Steve Wilks seems to have a really hands-on coaching style, like play will happen and he'll run right up to one of his cornerbacks and correct it. What was he like as a head coach last year? Was he like that with offensive players as well?

"He would have separate conversations with us whether it was in between periods or maybe before or after practice. But as a head coach, he was more focused on the entire operation. When he was a defensive coordinator early in the season, he was doing the same stuff you guys see at practice."

How have you changed as a person since 2018?

"I don't know. I think that's a good question to ask people around me. I feel like I've matured in different areas of my game. I feel like my game's gotten better throughout the years, so I just have to continue to work and get better in every area that I can."

There are high expectations for this team this year. How does the camp feel different to you than what you experienced prior to coming here?

"I think every team in the NFL is going to compete and compete really hard. Just the situation that most of the guys on this team, the leaders on this team have been in, being here in 2019, going to the Super Bowl and last year being just short, there's a lot of experience on this team and they know what it takes to win. You can see that not only in the way that they practice, but in the way that we all talk about football and what it takes not only on the field, but off the field."

Three practices, all non-padded. As a quarterback, do you feel something different when the pads go on?

"You hear a difference. Feel a difference? Obviously, there's a little bit of a difference in terms of throwing, you have to get used to throwing with pads on a little bit. You're not really getting touched at practice as a quarterback or hopefully you're not getting touched as a quarterback during practice. So, not a ton changes, not too much."

You touched on what Brock accomplished last year. When you watch the film, what do you see in him? What special qualities does he possess?

"Yeah, I think for Brock, just being here for the time that I have and the couple practices that I've seen, it's the poise for his going into his second year and as a rookie last year. You can see it in the way that he plays and the way that he prepares. Kid's got poise. I don't know if you can coach that or teach that quality and he's got it."

It appears that WR Brandon Aiyuk is communicative in between team drill reps. Is he giving you feedback after the reps that you have together?

"Yeah, I think all the receivers are doing a really good job communicating after practice or after a route. So, it's great whenever you can run a route, whether it's good or bad, continue to have that dialogue."

Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Chris Foerster

What are you seeing out of RB Ty Davis-Price and how he's reported to camp and how he's looked the first couple practices?

"He looks great. I mean, he looks really good. We've talked before about guys between their first and their second year make one of the biggest jumps. They know what to expect. They know what camp's going to be like. They know what their shortfalls were. They went through a whole offseason of being corrected on things they needed to work on. They come back out for camp and they're ready to go and he looks great right now."

What did he need to work on? Because we didn't see much of him last year.

"Just the whole process, learning how to be a professional, learning how to come to work every day and be the consistency factor. And he works very, very hard. He's a very hard worker. Learning the offense. Sometimes you get behind the eight ball early, it doesn't all ever make sense through the course of the year. And having a chance to sit back, relearn it in the offseason and then get back out there and apply it during the season can really be helpful. So, he's really done a good job with that. Also, some of his running, open-field running and things like that, just making the adjustment from college to the NFL. He's a good, hard, tough runner. But again, a little bit of the elusiveness, hitting the holes with more consistency, like with speed and trusting, knowing what he's looking for, knowing what he sees and doing those things. It's all coming together for him. Again, we're a couple practices in."

So, until he's in full contact drills or in games, is when you can better evaluate him?

"No doubt. That's what the value of, contrary to popular belief, preseason games have a lot of value for some players."

With a guy like OL Matt Pryor, seemed like he had a great year with the Colts and then maybe a pretty rough one last year. What do you look at when you're evaluating, bringing a guy in and you know how he fits in your system?

"Well, it was hard. We liked him two years ago. Obviously, we had a high evaluation on the guy and I think we, I don't know if we got involved in it that year, but we did. And then this year it did fall off for him, but some of it was, he was kind of moved all over the place, left tackle, right tackle and the left wasn't as good for him. So, we've kind of focused him at the right tackle spot now. And he looks to me to be back to the form that we knew him to be. He came in very good shape to camp. He wasn't in the best shape when he got here. Not bad shape. He was just a little bit heavier than he usually plays in this offseason. But he came back to camp in good shape and looks good so far."

Can you talk about learning to be a professional and the difference between college and the NFL? Do you think that's something a lot of players underestimate as they come into their rookie season?

"Well, I was talking with [OL] Spencer Burford about it the other day, just because the difference between him this year and he says, you know, it's just, you don't know what to expect and it's different. It's just longer, the length is what gets you. They go through a process in college that it may be the same, different, I don't really know the college routine at this point, but I do know our routine when it starts early and if you're really going to do everything it takes as far as the re-gen, as far as hot tubs, cold tubs, training with the weight staff, flexibility, maybe it's things that you do mentally. Then you have the actual meetings and practices and then it starts July 29th and we ended the last day of January and if you do it, you want to go into February with this thing. It's just so long for them that literally by October, November they felt like it should be over and it just keeps going. It just keeps going. And it's harder. You're playing a level football that every single minute of every single day, there's a lot demanded of you. So, learning how to take care of yourself, learning how to not pace yourself, but understand the length of it. That's all part of the process. And it catches everyone, it catches all of them. And maybe since then, you know, it's not like we keep them here forever, but it is a full day. I don't know what the college day looks like as far as the hours and all that stuff. I really don't know. But it's demanding."

A month or so ago former San Francisco offensive line coach Bobb McKittrick won the Dr. Z Award for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach. Did you know Bobb at all or do you know of his teachings?

"Oh yeah, I did. I actually, I didn't know Bobb that well personally. I was coaching at Stanford and me and another coach came up to visit the 49ers right here and he was out there on the field. And then we spent the day talking to him, watching his techniques, watching his tape, and listening to how he taught it. And then I worked with [former Indianapolis Colts offensive line coach] Howard Mudd later, who he and Bobb were very close, and so I learned more about it. But Bobb was just old school. Bobb was unique. It was different. I didn't get a dissertation when I asked questions on certain things. It wasn't going to be this long philosophical, it was this is what we do, this is how we do it, and I'm demanding and we get it done. And I thought Bob was outstanding. In fact, when I came here in 2008, I was in the coach's locker room there and my locker was right next to Bobb, which he was gone at that point. But they had encased his locker in glass and so there was Bobb's whistle and hat and everything, and I lockered right next to him, in spirit only, but yeah."

Have you seen those videos on the sled? Do those principles still apply?"

"Yes, I've seen them. It depends on the style of offense that you run and the principles of blocking. I've known guys that have coached in the league for a long, long time that implored a lot of those principles. Some of them aren't as applicable. Some of the things they did with the chop blocks and things like that aren't as much legal as legal anymore in how they do it. But he was outstanding. He did a great job and obviously well deserving of the lifetime achievement award and all that. So, he's one of all-time greatest assistant coaches in the NFL, deserving of everything and worked really hard at his craft. You can tell by his players, his players all played well. They all respected and liked him. He was well-liked by the coaches. I never heard coaches say, 'ah, it was hard to work with Bobb.' It was always positive."

How is OL Aaron Banks looking compared to a year ago? Last year kind of looked like he struggled in camp a little bit, and then every week he seemed to get better.

"Yeah, we'll see when the pads going. He seems really good right now. I mean, he's picked up where he left off. I think he's playing well. I'm very happy with Aaron's progress as a player, as a person. He seems more confident and ready to go this year. I think last season, he had a nice year. He struggled in camp. There was no mystery and we knew it could be. And so, anytime you have a first-time starter in there and trying to find his way, he locked down and had a good season. And it seems to be picked up right where he left off."

How much progress have you seen from OL Alfredo Gutierrez?

"Alfredo, he's working hard. He works hard every single day. He progresses, he's gotten better every day that he's been here. And we really like the work he's given us. He's a great guy and works really hard."

The way teams prepare now is like you're training to get to the end of the season basically. Even early on head coach Kyle Shanahan said the first practice, he didn't want them to be too eager, didn't want to get somebody hurt. When you think back to when you got into coaching, how different is it now in terms of taking care of players, getting them to the point where the season starts as opposed to just a battle of attrition in training camp?

"Yeah, it's interesting. It is different because I remember, and it wasn't smart. I always wondered how it was smart, but you did it. I did it as a college player and then the NFL, you just come in the first day, you stretch, you have about 10 minutes of individual, next thing you know, you're banging each other for the next two hours. Hitting hard and going to drill. You're like, holy cow, you just come off a summer vacation, next thing you know, you're in a full-fledged scrimmage within 20 minutes of practice. I don't know when that changed or why that changed. I really don't. But it is, it's taking care of players and maybe it's because the season's gotten longer. I don't know. I can't explain it. I was just talking to my guys about it. We talked about golfers, tennis players, some of these other sports, and again, football's different because of the physicality of it, but just how hard a guy works. A buddy of mine played pro golf and ask [T] Trent [Williams] about his golf game. Trent Williams has started playing golf this summer, so he's taking it up and he's getting better. He keeps telling me he is getting better all the time. But how hard a guy has to work to become professional or professional proficient at hitting out of a trap, right? How much time this kid I went to high school with we'd go out and play golf and he might be in a trap for three, four hours just working on all the different shots out of a sand trap. Well, same thing with football. To become a good pass blocker, become a good run blocker, you need a lot of reps and you need live reps. How many live reps can you give a guy in practice before it becomes the point of diminishing returns? Maybe you shorten his career by a few years, maybe there's a risk of injury. So, you have to make everything in practice as much like a game as you can without risking injury. That to me is the goal. But how do I have drills that are going to help this guy be better in a game or do they only get better playing in games. So that's the tradeoff. In the old regime, the old way of doing things, guys could get a lot better in practice because there were a lot of full-speed reps in pads. Now it's more of you're getting them prepared for the games and the game reps is where they start getting better and better and better. I talked about it last year, you really won't know about these guys until they start playing games, until they start getting beat in games and they have to recover from, oh, that wasn't a good game to have a good game this week and they start learning that some of the things they learn in practice against our defense, but some of them, there's just not enough reps to get that done anymore. So, I'm not one to say good, bad. I think player safety and health is, it's great to have Trent Williams around for three more years that maybe if we practiced the old school way, he wouldn't have been. I watched players, coached players that hit the wall in a big way at the end of their career because I think of how things were done in the past. It's a tradeoff and you're always trying to balance that out. Player availability has become, if you look at analytics and the people who study it, the teams that have their players available for the most games, win a lot of games, and then obviously you have to have good players to do that. But that is, that's a big piece of it."

With Trent, how do you challenge him? He seems to be at the absolute top of his game, top of the league from one year to the next. How do you push the buttons to get him either improved or not sliding back?

"Yeah, it's simple for me. Luckily Trent and I have been together for a long time. Just blocking his guy, I mean, it's how he does it. I'm always challenging him to do it the way we've talked about. And he and I talk and agree upon this is how this is going to get done and it's not getting done that way. Yeah, your guy's not getting there and your grade's fine, i's a plus, your guy didn't sack the quarterback, but it's not even close to being clean like we want it to be clean. He came into me and we'd been talking back and forth at the end of last season, and he came in before the playoffs, it may have been one game left even, and we spent a good two, three hours on a Tuesday going through his tape to fix something. That was him and it was me. It was both of us. It was just saying, 'hey dude, we want this to look better and we know that there could be problems coming if you don't fix these things.' And I've told him for years, and there comes a time as a player that's played as an absolute freak athlete, and Trent is a technician as well, but there comes a time where that technique you're going to rely on that technique as maybe your athleticism starts to dwindle, which, put this in caps, it's not dwindling. But you want to have that ready to go so those fundamentals have to be on point when you do get to that point if you want to keep playing and he obviously does. He's a pro that way too. He wants to be really good and he wants that challenge. I'm lucky, he says, tell me what, and I do, I have no problem correcting him as much as I correct [OL] Nick Zakelj. I mean, it's the same thing. I'm a little nicer to Trent than I am to Nick, but it's the same thing."

Are you sort of in awe of the way he's aged? It's an age where players regress and it seems like he's getting better and better a little bit every year and he's almost at the full force of his career.

"Yeah. His thing is, he's had so many reps. It is amazing, physically, that he's one of those physical specimens that as time's gone on, he doesn't look any different. It shocks me when he comes back. It seems to me he moves just as well as he always has. He really loves football, so he really dives into finding out everything about a lot of things. He's a big football junkie. He knows about all the players in the league and he loves football. He loves this stuff. And that's what's helped him too, is he just wants to be really good. He wants to do it, you know, he wants to do things well and in the right way, and he's always looking at himself really critically to see how can I be a little bit better? How can I do this a little bit better? And he's not afraid to say that he doesn't like the way I teach this, or can we look at doing this a different way and talk about it, and things like that. So, it's been fun. I've been really fortunate to have worked with the guy for as long as I have and he's just a really special person. A talented, talented guy."

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By John Porter
Feb 20

Since the last pass of Super Bowl LVIII (I couldn't even tell you what happened in the aftermath, nor who caught the pass, I turned off as soon as the ball hit his hands), I've surprised myself. One would anticipate that I may have gone through the seven stages usually associated with grief, particularly since it was the third heart-shattering Super Bowl loss of my fandom (I'm a UK Niner who has, in some way, managed to watch, at times excruciatingly, every down of every season since 2005). Alas, no. I'm not even stuck in denial. It happened, we lost, but for once, I accepted it. I had my moments of despair, but overall, I was quite looking forward to a long break from the game, a chance to breathe, reset, and hopefully come back next year. Then, the crushing avalanche of


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