Q&A with ex-49ers CB Nate Clements

Q&A with ex-49ers CB Nate Clements
September 21, 2011, 4:25 pm
Share This Post

Cornerback Nate Clements said Wednesday morning that he didn't figure he'd be playing for the home team this week when the 49ers visit the Cincinnati Bengals.He figured a new contract would be worked out and he'd be back for a fifth season with the 49ers. But the 49ers released Clements and he quickly signed with the Bengals.On Sunday, he'll be facing an offense that looks nothing like the one he saw while with the 49ers, he said. And he sees an offensive philosophy under new coach Jim Harbaugh that plays to the strengths of quarterback Alex Smith.Here is what Clements had to say in a conference call with Bay Area reporters:On so many former 49ers in the locker room:
Clements: "It's one of those things where it's just a coincidence. It happened to work out that way."

On whether Bengals asked him about Taylor Mays:
Clements: "No. I really don't have anything to do with the front office decisions. So those guys, they're capable in what they're doing when it comes to that, and I just focus on playing football."How soon after you got released did Bengals go after you?
Clements: "Actually, I didn't even expect this to happen. But things happen for a reason. I was fortunate enough that I didn't have to wait too long for a call."Did you expect to be back with the 49ers?
Clements: "Well, yeah, I mean, at the time, my mindset was I'm a player who's still under contract. I knew we'd have to talk contract issues, and I was fine with that. I definitely didn't think things would play out the way they did. And so like I said, things happen for a reason. That's the nature of this game.On whether they talked about a smaller contract:
Clements: "I really don't want to get into details about that situation. All I know is I had to do what was best for me and my family, first and foremost. And if it wasn't in me and my family's best interest, I wasn't going to do it."Is there any resentment the way the 49ers handled your situation?
Clements: "None at all."When you signed with the Bengals to did you look at the schedule and circle this one?
Clements: "I didn't circle it. I'm anxious. I was excited because this year is definitely unique in the sense we had the lockout and guys missed a whole offseason. So it was a unique offseason and just be able to play football and get out there every week. The season opener, I was anxious and excited. I'm excited every week."On looking back on the years in San Francisco:
Clements: "Great. Great. I had great teammates. The fans are still good to me. They show me a lot of love out there. I felt blessed for the opportunity and fortunate enough to play for an organization with that much tradition."How much do you miss it here?
Clements: "I miss my teammates. That was the big deal. But I've been in the league awhile. And I see things as I've been playing. I think I've been prepared for this time, for anything that had to happen. I was prepared for it."Do you play the slot on third downs?
Clements: "I do a little bit of everything."When you now start studying the 49ers' receivers, what do you see?
Clements: "My impression is the same as it was before -- a young, talented receiver corps that definitely has what it takes to have potential stars in this league. They definitely have speed, talent, size. I had a chance to face those guys every day in practice, so my perception has not change."Has the 49ers offensive philosophy changed?
Clements: "It's pretty much changed every year that I was there. But, just looking at it on film, you definitely see a major difference -- a major difference. It's nothing like last year. You can see major difference in the philosophy, formations and how they approach the set up. You can see the difference."Can you can give an example?
Clements: "Well, the one thing I notice is they move guys around in different positions. It's a very versatile type of offensive philosophy. They stick different guys in and run the same thing. It's very versatile. You can do a lot with it."Does that put more pressure on you guys?
Clements: "I wouldn't say pressure. I'd say you really have to be focused and play with technique and within the defensive scheme when you face an offense like that."Have you noticed a change in Alex Smith? It seems like he's sticking with plays longer and not just throwing the ball out of bounds.
Clements: "I think Jim Harbaugh is doing an excellent job of playing to Alex's strengths. You can look at him and see he has a higher completion percentage, which is key for a quarterback. That's a great thing for them. He's definitely playing to his strengths."On the 49ers' defense of past years not getting over the hump:
Clements: "We definitely had the players, had the chemistry. I can't really pinpoint on one thing. Things didn't pan out the way we all wanted them to."How much has your game changed through the years? Are you even more physical?
Clements: "I just try to play my strength and be who I am."On sharing tips about 49ers offensive players with Bengals coaching staff:
Clements: "I've definitely told my teammates things to look out for and what guys are good at -- things of that nature."Is Vernon Davis one of those guys you've talked about?
Clements: "Vernon and, yeah, pretty much all the skill players and what they can do and what they're capable of."Did you see Cowboys and Seahawks trying to take Vernon away from the passing game?
Clements: "I'm not sure what their game plan was. A guy like Vernon, he's an explosive player and he's going get a lot of balls thrown at them. You just got to minimize -- and be fundamentally sound when you go up against a guy like that."On what the Bengals defense offers?
Clements: "I'm excited about our defense. We have some talented players on that side of the ball. We have some players, young and hungry. You can see we make plays. We try to be opportunistic in making plays and be confident and stripping and deflecting balls and try to get interceptions. It's exciting playing with this group."Did you expectDonte Whitner to sign there?
Clements: "I'm not sure. I wouldn't be the one to talk to about that. You'll have to talk to management about that one."How is Manny Lawson doing?
Clements: "Manny's doing great. He's getting acclimated, not only to our system but being back on the East Coast."How is Lawson's role different than it was in San Francisco?
Clements: "It just a different style of defense. It's a 4-3 here, 3-4 there, so it's completely different style of defense."After having gone against Andy Dalton in training camp, how much has he improved from those days to the first two games of the regular season?
Clements: "One thing about him is he's getting better every day. And you can see it. The key is with guys who are young, in general in the NFL, they key is confidence. You can continue grow and get better and you gain more confidence. When you play with confidence, it's not a better feeling than going out and playing with confidence and feeling, 'Hey, I can make this throw' or 'Hey, I can make that throw.' It's exciting to see him progress every day and do it in practice."