Want to start on the local pro day angle first? Just what are your thoughts on any of these guys out here?
“It’s just fun. First of all, this week’s been fun because you actually look out here and see players on the field and I’ve watched about as much tape as you can watch in a week, so it’s fun to actually come out and see the thing live and in person. Look, we’re fortunate. There’s some legitimate prospects here today and we just appreciate the sacrifice that a lot of these guys made. We had guys come from Yale. We had guys come from Stanford and Cal and San Jose State. I just think it’s a really neat deal for us and we’ve said from the beginning, we’re going to leave no stone unturned in terms of looking for prospects. I think as effective as film is, there’s nothing like live and in person. So, we got a glimpse. It’s hard to see everything, but you can see movement and all of those things. It was fun to see our coaches coaching. So, a lot of things that were valuable today.”
How do you scout a long snapper? You’ve got a Cal kid here who was invited to the combine. How do you scout that?
“I stay in my lane. I talk to [special teams coordinator] Richard Hightower and say, ‘Can he long snap?’ I know it’s really important, but I’d be lying to you if I said I was an expert on long snapping. So, that’s when I’ll talk to Richard and [assistant special teams coach] Stan Kwan and those guys and say, ‘Hey, what did you see?’ And, the same thing goes for kicking and punting.”
There are some of the local guys who are first, second-round picks, aren’t here. Have you had workouts with them? Personal workouts? Stanford DE Solomon Thomas, California QB Davis Webb, etcetera?
“Davis Webb was here yesterday. We had a nice workout with him. He brought [California WR] Chad Hansen with him. And, [Colorado CB] Chidobe [Awuzie] will be in here next week. [Washington CB] Kevin King will be in here next week, so we’re not missing anyone. We’re going to find them and in some cases the film’s enough, and in other cases I think any exposure that you can get by virtue of the league rules, something like this, where they either go to school here or are from here, we’ll take advantage of that.”
Are you going to have Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey and Solomon Thomas here too?
“I think we know those guys pretty well and at some point that may happen, but nothing is scheduled right now for either.”
So, you’ve seen all five of the consensus top quarterbacks in person with your own eyes. What’s your feeling about the five guys that you’ve seen?
“I’ve been, I think very upfront from the beginning. Other people have been watching them for three or four years. Some of these guys I’ve been watching as a fan and then watched them from a different perspective and took in a lot of different opinions. [49ers Head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and I attacked it and [49ers quarterbacks coach] Rich [Scangarello], our quarterback coach, so we’ve looked at it from every angle. And, from the beginning, I thought that maybe the perception that this isn’t a real strong quarterback class, I think that’s in the eyes of the beholder and we have our own feelings and I think there’s a lot that we like. We’ve put in the work. I do think that’s a position where seeing it live and in person is helpful for me. I think Kyle feels the same way.”
This time of year there’s obviously a lot of information and misinformation. So, when you hear a report that maybe the Browns are considering North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky, does that kind of make sense to you, that yeah, why wouldn’t they?
“Sure. We’ve worked Mitch out. There’s a lot to like about him. I also know that it’s that time of year and what are we 15-16 days? A lot can happen in those days. I know it’s fluid for us, the process. I’m sure it’s fluid for them and everyone else. We’re still putting the work in that room each and every day. We’ve got guys coming in and it’s really a fun, stimulating time because there’s a lot of balls in the air, a lot of different players we’re looking at and I’m enjoying it. We all are.”
Speaking of that misinformation, just this first time around, how do you kind of sift through what’s real and what’s not, or do you even pay attention to that stuff?
“I think you pay attention to see how the rest of the world views them, but we’re going to make our own opinions on how we view them for our team. I think that’s something that Kyle and I have been really clear with everybody in our building. We really don’t want to look at what everyone else, how everyone else views them until at some point, probably next week, when you start going through scenarios. Then you have to take a look at how the rest of the world views them. But, at first we want you to go study players and give us your opinion of how they fit for us, for the 49ers. I think it’s been a real good process.”
If someone calls for the number two pick, do you have an asking price, contingency plans laid out?
“Yeah. We have, there’s the traditional trade chart. We’ve got one of our own. I think we know how we value that. As I’ve said, we’re open for business. We’d listen to anything. But, I’ve always said you don’t like being 2-14, but you like having the second pick. I think it puts you in the driver’s seat with a lot of options at your disposal and we’ll explore every single one of them.”
Have any teams called you and just said, ‘Hey, keep us in mind?’
“Some of that’s gone on, but I think we’re not going to get into specifics on that. But, there’s interest.”
In those many scenarios that you talk about, are there any scenarios where you could see yourself moving up to go to number one?
“We’ll see. Like I said, we’re going to look at every possible scenario and we’ve done that.”
Did the two of you meet with Texas A&M DL Myles Garrett or has he already come through?
“I went to his pro day and we spent time with him. We saw him at the combine in our 60 interviews. We went and watched his workout and spent some more time.”
I think he said at Texas A&M that he was going to pay an official visit to you guys. Is that not the case? I know those things change.
“I think we’ve spent our time with him and we’re good.”
Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon qualified for this local pro day, he’s from the area. Did you guys try to get him in here? Is he on your list? Have you crossed him off the list at this point?
“I honestly don’t know the answer to the first question in terms of was he asked to be here. I think in terms of our board, we’ve made an effort to be as transparent as possible, but just one thing that I believe is that we’re not going to share some specifics of our board, who’s on it, who’s off it. So, I think that applies to that young man as well.”
With regards to former 49ers CB Tramaine Brock, you’ve talked about character and I think a lot of people look at it as it’s not just talk, there’s some action there. I know it’s a case-by-case basis, but do you have a thing like if you put your hand on a woman physically, you’re out of here?
“I think where we’ve been consistent is we have said that character is important to us, football character and I think that’s for a lot of reasons. First of all, just the right thing. How you want to carry yourself as an individual and as an organization. But, Kyle and I also believe and some of our conversations that led to us coming together is that that’s how you put together a great football team too. And football character means a lot of different things. But, as Kyle I think articulated very well and I feel the same way because we kind of forged these philosophies together, as those situations arise and hopefully there won’t be a lot them, we’re going to treat each one of them as a unique and different situation. That’s what we did the other day. I can tell you guys that I understood when I stepped into this job that there would be tough decisions and I also understood that part of my job is to make tough and hard decisions. I can tell you that the gravity of that situation, you’re affecting an organization, you’re protecting your organization, but you’re also dealing with the family. So, that was not easy. I think there’s been some conjecture that we didn’t think highly of him. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. He was a starting player for us. So, that was not easy. I can also tell you that it wasn’t meant to send a message. I think you let those things happen organically and we did what we felt was the right situation in that situation. It was not easy and felt like it was something that we needed to do.”
Was he a guy that you were even thinking about giving an extension to or pursuing an extension?
“We had not gotten to that, but he was a guy we were happy to have on our team.”
Does this team need a cornerback?
“I think every team needs cornerbacks. You just look at 75-percent of our snaps in this league are played in what we call sub situations where you’re playing three receivers and I think the response to that for teams is you better be strong and healthy at those positions. And so, we’re looking and the draft’s a great way to acquire some of those guys and there’s other avenues as well. And so, it’s something that, yes, we need to get better at that position. We like some of what we have, but we’re always looking.”
Is it unlikely at this point that you’re not going to be able to trade for a quarterback? I guess you can’t really say the names in Washington or New England, but they have guys that have been mentioned. From all the reports out of those places that they’re not willing to deal them, is that your understanding as well?
“I can tell you, [San Jose Mercury News reporter] Cam [Inman], that we’re really happy with what we have right now. But yet, I’ve been very upfront with you guys, with everyone, that Kyle and I, when you start talking about priorities, this is a quarterback driven league. I knew that when I played. I learned it even more as a broadcaster because I don’t think I could ever admit it as a player because I didn’t want to give those guys that much credit or respect. Respect, yes, but not credit because I had to play against them. As I stepped into that broadcast booth, you talk about commonalities between the teams who have had sustained success and they have that guy. Minus a few anomalies. Some of the teams I played on in Tampa that were defensive-driven. But, that’s a common thread. And so, as long as Kyle and I are here, we’re going to be searching for one of those guys. We’re really excited to see what [QB] Brian Hoyer and [QB] Matt Barkley can do and I think they sense the opportunity at hand at their disposal and I think they’re both working really hard to try to take full advantage of that and that excites us.”
Even though you played for Tampa, you had defensive linemen like former Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE Chidi Ahanoto, Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Brad Culpepper, Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE Simeon Rice, those types of players that can rush the passer. What have you seen about University of Tennessee DE Derek Barnett and what do you like about his game?
“Derek’s a very good football player. Productive in a tough, tough conference at the highest level of competition. So, he’s a guy that we think highly of. I think the rest of the league does as well.”
You’ve mentioned DB Jimmie Ward potentially playing safety. Are you going to be able to make that determination before the draft or is that something that’s not even on your radar when you’re going in?
“I think, and maybe I misspoke, I think we’re going to give him an opportunity to see where we feel like he’s the best fit and safety is going to be an area where we’re going to look at him at. A lot of people, I think the automatic assumption is with what happened here in the last week that maybe we’d change and redirect. No. I think we’re going to do what we think’s best for our team and Jimmie I think provides a unique versatility and we’re going to try to take advantage of that.”
Did you invite former San Francisco 49ers QB Steve Young or did he just show up on his own?
“Well, you know as a local pro day and we felt like there was a lefty at BYU who might be able to help us. So, no. Steve has a player that was here today that he’s buddies with and I got a text today in the middle of draft meetings that said, ‘Hey, John. This is Steve Young. Do you think it would be possible if I might be able to come out to the Pro Day?’ I said, ‘Steve, whatever you want and I’ve told you that. You’re always welcome.’ It’s a treat to see him as always. He’s a good friend. I think he’s a big part of the fabric of this organization and any time we have him out here, I think we’re better for it. I always feel like I get smarter when I talk to Steve. He’s a bright guy and he’s got a unique perspective on things.”
If Ward isn’t your single high safety, who else are you looking at at that spot?
“I think there’s a lot of guys in this draft. One of the really cool things for me is in the system that we’ve chosen to play, we’ve got a good road map for what you’re looking for. Not that it’s a cookie cutter, but everybody would love to find [Seattle Seahawks S] Earl Thomas. There are not many of those guys out there. And it doesn’t mean that we’re looking for a 5-9, 195 pound guy that Earl is, but we’re looking for some of those traits. It’s a credit to Earl. He’s put it out there that this is the profile that you’re looking for when you’re playing this scheme. We’re going to make this scheme our own scheme and we’re going to have some wrinkles that they don’t have, but that position’s pretty defined as to what the standard is and I think he’s done a fine job. We’re looking for that next guy.”
Do you have anything there now, if you were to line up today? Who would be the frontrunner at that spot?
“I think Jimmie’s going to get his chance. That’s something we’re excited about seeing. I think even for great players, people have always said that’s an easy transition. If he could play corner, he certainly could play safety. It doesn’t always work like that because you see a position a different way. And so, like I said, we’re going to vet that, we’re going to look at it, but we don’t know. I don’t think Jimmie knows. So, we’ll see.”
There was a report that you guys were ready to move on from RB Carlos Hyde. Where does he stand? Does he have to prove anything to you guys during this offseason program?
“I know that when I was a player and I went through a couple coaching changes, I think as a player, one of the great things about this league and frankly what drove me to get back into it is that you’re always proving yourself, I think in particular when there’s a new regime. And, I hope Carlos feels that way, but I can also tell you that we’re really high on him and what he might be able to do in this offense. We think he can be a highly productive player, but we’re eager to see. You have these thoughts as to do these skills translate to what we do? He’s a very talented young man and we’re very excited and hopeful just in the interactions we’ve had that he’s come ready to play.”
49ers media services