October 7 – Head Coach Brian Flores Conference Call with San Francisco Media

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 

(You have a former Niner on your roster – RB Matt Breida. How has he been throughout this whole offseason and so far?) – “Breida’s been great. He’s obviously fast and explosive, but he’s a hard-working kid. He’s tough. He competes. We’ve been very happy with him.” 

(Obviously it’s not clear if 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is going to play on Sunday, but obviously I assume you have a bit of history. What was your relationship like with him? Just your impressions of him as a quarterback?) – “…Jimmy (Garoppolo) – my time with him was very good. You could see the talent early. You could see the leadership early. He’s just a great kid. I’m really happy for him and the success he’s had. (49ers Head Coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and (49ers General Manager John) Lynch – they’ve done a great job. (49ers Vice President of Player Personnel) Adam Peters is a great, great friend of mine, so there’s some really good people over there at that organization. They’ve built a strong roster, a very good team and this will be definitely a tough game for us.” 

(I’m sure you’ve had this scenario several times in your career where you’re not sure who the opposing quarterback going to be. What’s that like for a defense? Do you just prepare for the system in that scenario? What’s it like for a defense during the week when you don’t know?) – “We watch them all and you always prepare for the system, which this is – Kyle (Shanahan) is a very innovative play caller, so there’s a lot to prepare for from that standpoint – run game, pass game, gadgets. They’ve got some explosive players in Deebo (Samuel) and (Brandon) Aiyuk and really good backs and tight ends – obviously (George) Kittle, who I think is one of if not the best tight end in the league. So a lot of good players, a good o-line and yeah, this will be a tough test. But yeah, we prepare for all of them, or try to at least.” 

(Going back to 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, what was he like as a scout team quarterback and the looks that he gave your defenses there in New England and could you tell that he wasn’t going to be a scout team quarterback too long?) – “I barely remember what happened yesterday, so we’re going back a few years, but I’ll try hard here. He was – again, like I said earlier – he was very talented. He would make throws and make you turn back and say, ‘wow, that was a good one.’ I think he played early a little bit – I forget what year it was, ’16 maybe? I remember us going out to Arizona and he played well in that game and he played well the next week. I think just watching the preseason games and practice, I think we all knew he was going to be a good player and it’s definitely turned out that way.” 

(Obviously there was a report today that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has allowed you guys, if you want to, to expand your stadium capacity. There’s also a report that you guys wouldn’t be doing that. What was your reaction to that news?) – “I’m just getting that report. (laughter) I’ve been hunkered down here. We just got done with practice. I’ve been watching meetings, so I’m not really up on – look, we love having fans at the stadium. I think it’s great; but those are decisions that are above me. My focus is on this team and getting ready to go out to California and play against a very, very good 49er team, organization and we’ve just got to try to get our guys ready.” 

(You mentioned a few of the things that 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan does – gadgets and whatnot – what is the toughest part about facing Kyle Shanahan’s offense?) – “It’s so multiple, I would say, so you’ve got to get ready for a lot. They’re multiple within their groupings. They’re multiple getting to different groupings. Their players are multiple and Kyle (Shanahan) is – he does a good job of mixing things up and keeping defenses on their toes, so we’ve got to play a smart, disciplined game against this group. They play physical. They do a good job of protection in the pass game, so we’ve got to play an all-around good defensive game. All 11 guys have to play well; but we have to play a good team game as well, so offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. It’ll definitely be a tough test for us.” 

(When people usually talk about 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh and the 49ers defense, it’s actually usually the opposite of multiple, so how do you think they’ve performed on that side of the ball through four games this season?) – “Who’s ‘people’ are saying that they’re not multiple? Who are those people? (laughter) I would say this defense flies around as much as any defense I’ve seen. They’re fast. They’re physical. I would say they’re multiple. They may – actually, I know that they’re multiple just watching them from my standpoint and kind of how I see things defensively. What may look the same to someone doesn’t look like it’s the same thing to me. They do a lot of different things, but I would say what’s at the core is playing fast, playing with great effort, playing physical. We see that snap to snap. They’ve got really excellent players. Obviously Arik Armstead, Fred Warner. Jimmie Ward is a guy I really liked coming out. So there’s players all over the field, and I know there’s been a lot of injuries, but they’ve still got a lot of really good players and the guys who have stepped in for guys due to injury have played well. So definitely, I would call it multiple. (laughter)” 

(Regarding the 49ers run game, I know it’s not novel to have a lot of pre-snap motion and kind of the window dressing they have, but as far as that goes, do they do it better than most? I guess what are the challenges with that type of stuff?) – “I think – I’ve coached against (Kyle Shanahan) in the past and he’s done this for a long time and he makes it hard. He makes it hard for you to – he forces communication, I would say really across the board on the d-line, for the linebackers, with the secondary. He forces communication. He does a really good job of it. Obviously their run game’s been in the upper echelon of the league the last couple of years – the last few years, I would say – and that’s because there are some shifts, motions and they make it hard for defenses to get aligned. They create angles very well. So I would say yeah, they’re definitely in the upper echelon. And they’ve got good backs. They’ve got good backs and good players on the offensive line. I would say (George) Kittle is one of the best blocking tight ends I’ve seen and the fullback Kyle (Juszczyk) – I don’t want to butcher his last name. I’m working on it. I don’t want to butcher it. (laughter) He’s a good player. Very good player. He does a very good job with that. Can one of you guys help me out with that? I don’t want to screw it up.” 

(It’s YOOZ-check.) – “Juszczyk. Okay, thank you. Thank you. And I hope he doesn’t have any – there’s no disrespect or malice there. Just, he’s a very good player. Juszczyk. Got it.” 

(You just talked about 49ers TE George Kittle and how he’s great at run blocking and so difficult to stop. How do you stop Kittle? How do you plan to stop a guy like that?) – “I don’t think you stop him. I think you just try to limit him. I think you try to give him different looks – play zone, play some man. I think when you’ve got a player like this, you’ve got to think about doubling a guy like this; but again, he’s as physical as they get. He’s explosive, but they’ve got a lot of other players so you double him; then you’ve got to deal with (Brandon) Aiyuk. You’ve got to deal with Deebo (Samuel). You’ve got to deal with (Kendrick) Bourne. You’ve got to deal with the backs. You can’t double everybody, so you’ve got to kind of pick your spots; but yeah, he’s definitely one of the best in the league.” 

(Regarding QB Tua Tagovailoa, where do things stand in terms of trying to balance his development, making sure his body’s right while also understanding that eventually he’s going to need reps in games?) – “Yeah, his development is the most important thing to us. He’s doing a good job from that standpoint – learning the offense, learning how to be a professional. He’s practicing well. He’s practiced well I would say for the last – since training camp, I would say. That’s where we’re at as far as his development is concerned. When he’s ready to play, we’ll put him in there. Right now we feel like ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) gives us the best chance to go out to California, compete and try to win a ballgame. That’s kind of our thought process right now; but Tua and the rest of the rookie class, they’re all gaining experience on a week-to-week basis – Tua obviously in practice. Some of these other guys are getting some game reps. But with any rookie, there’s some patience involved here, and I think that’s the case with Tua. When his time comes, I’m sure he’ll be ready.” 

(Just kind of a big picture question for you. When you got hired there, what was your vision for what you’re trying to instill? What was your vision for the organization and where are you now that you’re one season and four games into that?) – “I think our vision was to build a tough, smart, disciplined team. I think we’re definitely moving in that direction. I think we’ve improved since the time I got here; but at the same time, we’ve got a long way to go and we’re trying to get better every day and I think just from a roster standpoint, we have a lot of guys that are tough, that are smart and they love to compete. They’re team-first guys. Those are the types of guys we’re looking for. Those are the types of people we want in the building. That’s players, that’s coaches, that’s equipment, that’s medical. Those are the types of people we want in the building. I think everyone has a role. We wanted to build a culture where everyone knew that their role is important. So the janitor’s role is as important as the head coach’s role. That’s the type of building that we have here right now. I think we’re building that and we’re building towards that on a daily basis; but on the field, again, tough, smart, disciplined, guys who want to play together, play for each other. That’s kind of what we’re trying to build.” 

Mike Gesicki – October 7, 2020 Download PDF version 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 

TE Mike Gesicki 

(This is going to sound weird. I’m color blind but changes in color do stand out to me and your hair looks blonder. Is it blonder because you dyed it or…) – “This is strictly a result of the sun. This is all natural. I can guarantee that; but I do appreciate you guys noticing. The sun’s been doing me some good.” 

(So your hair gets blonder when you’re exposed to more sun?) – “Correct. That is correct. I also did get a haircut, so a whole 180 going on over here.” 

(The same phenomenon happens to me. I understand completely.) – “Absolutely.” 

(On a completely unrelated note – QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starter Week 5. When you heard the news, were you encouraged? Surprised? What were your thoughts?) – “I wasn’t surprised. When we made ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) the starter in Week 1, obviously you’re expecting him to be the starter throughout the entire season. I’m happy to have him back there and just got to keep rolling.” 

(So you had eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick tells you to keep growing your facial hair after the game. You have one catch against the Jags and one catch against the Seahawks last week, so what are you telling Fitzpatrick about your beard and you not getting the ball enough?) – “At a deeper dive, I don’t know if there’s a correlation. Initially, we were going for the superstition. It didn’t exactly turn out to be very super, so decided to move on from it.” 

(How is it like in the locker room? Obviously you guys probably see on social what the talk is about QB Tua Tagovailoa and the quarterback situation. What’s it like in the locker room seeing that type of stuff and just kind of everybody going on a whim of what they think?) – “It’s really not talked about amongst the guys. Not to just call it what it is, but it’s really more talked amongst you guys and people are interested and all that kind of stuff, so it is what it is; but we’re rolling with ‘Fitz’ right now.” 

(We just spoke to WR Lynn Bowden Jr. I kind of want to ask about him and we saw Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey reveal the Wildcat once in the last game. What’s it like as an offensive player to be able to have that in your back pocket and maybe keep the defense on your toes when you have players like him and a guy like WR Malcolm Perry and the like?) – “Yeah, we’ve definitely got some guys that are super talented in terms of getting the ball in their hands in the Wildcat. Another guy I’d like to see back in the Wildcat is probably Durham (Smythe). I think he would probably do some good things back there – a little read option, maybe throw the ball a little bit. So maybe we can work that in. (laughter) But all joking aside – I would never do that with Durham – there’s a lot of talented guys that are back there in terms of Malcolm and Lynn and those kind of guys and the coaches are doing a good job putting them in a position to be successful. When you’re talented with the ball in your hands, you’re going to be put in a position like that.” 

(I was going to ask you about RB Matt Breida’s strengths, but is it – did TE Durham Smythe have more catches than you in the last game?) – “Yes. Yes, he did. I think it’s a big strength of his. I think it’s something – I was happy for him and he made the most of his opportunities. So that’s my guy.” 

(What about RB Matt Breida? What do you think he has the ability to do?) – “Matt (Breida) is really fast, so once you get the ball in his hands and you can kind of create some openings for him and give him an opportunity to go out and make some plays; I think you were able to see that this past Sunday whether it was hand the ball to him or some check-downs and some guys trying to get some space blocks for him and get him down the field. So I think he was another example of a guy just doing a good job making the most of his opportunities.” 

(The QB Ryan Fitzpatrick forward pass that got called back – that was obviously to you and probably could’ve been a moment where you get a catch and kind of get going there. Is it hard for you or do you think it’s hard for any of the other players on offense to get going when you guys are spreading the ball around so much to so many players?) – “No. I think that’s just the name of the game. I think the other day, DeVante (Parker) was hot, so you feed the hot hand. He was another example of a guy that the ball is thrown to him and he’s making plays, so just keep going to him. So I think we’ve got a bunch of talented guys on the offensive side of the football – whether it’s at running back, tight end, receiver, quarterback, whatever it is – and whenever the ball does come your way, you’ve got to make the most of your opportunities. I think that that’s something I that I harp on the most, just because you don’t know when the opportunities are going to come. You don’t know how many opportunities are going to present themselves, so you better be ready to make the most of them.” 

Jerome Baker – October 7, 2020 Download PDF version 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 

LB Jerome Baker 

(Do you think it’s possible to repeat as PFWA Good Guy of the Year considering all of this is being done on Zoom?) – “(laughter) I’ve never thought about trying to win it; but who knows.” 

(How everything has changed with the no locker room, us not being there and they are trying to keep you guys 12 feet apart in the cafeteria. They keep adding rules. They are adding buses and planes. They are trying to be safe. Is there anything that might not be obvious that’s kind of interesting in terms of “hey, here’s a rule that’s interesting, unique or different because of COVID?”) – “For me, all of the rules are pretty simple and understandable. For m,e the hardest thing is just remembering all of them. Even just walking out, I forgot my mask. I’m just thinking I’m going to do an interview and knock it out. But for me, all of the rules are simple and they pretty much just try to help us be safe. For me, it’s just hard to remember all of them.” 

(I wanted to ask you about the blitzing. You had so much success with it – well, you had a sack in Week 1. Do you feel like that’s an underutilized aspect of your game? Or are you more needed in coverage?) – “It’s pretty much a weekly thing for us. It changes. For me, it’s pretty much whatever they ask me, I just try to do it the right way and the best way I can. Lately, it hasn’t been dialed up; but the cool thing about our defense is that can change. You can not be on a blitz right now, and they do an adjustment or motion, and the next thing you know, I’m in it. I’m not really worried about if my number is being called. I’m just being ready when it is, and just do it really.” 

(Obviously you have seen everybody speculating about QB Tua Tagavailoa and when he’s going to be the guy or whatever, and obviously you try to keep everything, the main thing, inside the locker room. But what’s that talk like in the locker room? Just everybody’s speculation about who the guy is and back and forth? Do y’all talk about that?) – “Nah. That doesn’t just come up or anything like that. One thing I always tell Tua – he actually comes around and asks the defensive guys how he can get better. For me, it’s just try it. Whatever, if you think you can make that one throw, try it. It’s going to help you, it’s going to help us. Just do whatever you can to get better. In practice, that’s your time to really practice, just trying to do things that you normally wouldn’t do. He’s a smart guy. He’s a competitor. Even in his first few weeks, he was coming into the defensive rooms and asking us how to see this or how to do that. Whenever his time comes, I’m sure he’ll be ready.”   

(You mentioned the motion of the 49ers offense. That’s something they actually lead the NFL in pretty much every year under Kyle Shanahan – the most pre-snap motion. I’m curious for you as an linebacker, how do you stay away from taking the eye candy and all of the window dressing they do, and stick to your keys and not fall for all of the motion and misdirection?) – “For me, it’s understanding your defense. Depending where you’re at on the call, it might be your job to leverage the motion. The motion might not affect you at all. Just understanding what your role is and then throughout the week, you really want to go through film and make calls and adjustments, and just get used to constantly seeing it, so on Sundays it’s a lot easier. You more just anticipate motion and what they do. This week, I’ll take that approach, and every play just look forward to motion and expect it, so when it actually comes on Sunday, it will be a lot smoother.” 

(I wanted to ask you about the 49ers run game, this is one of those teams where they are committed to beating your head in – not yours in particular, but the defensive front. When you are facing an opponent who want to basically destroy your will, what’s that like as a player?) – “If you’re a competitor, you take that as a challenge. You take that personally. You just want to go out there and really just compete. If you’re a competitor, you know exactly what they are going to do. They do it every week. That’s what they say, so Sunday, you’ve got to take that personally. Are you basically going to let them do it or are you not? Sunday, that’s what you’re going to find out.”    

Jesse Davis – October 7, 2020 Download PDF version 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 

G/T Jesse Davis 

(I know Head Coach Brian Flores said today that you can play left tackle, but today were you still at right even with T Austin Jackson not present?) – “Yeah, so far we all kind of mix it up. I got a little left; I got a little right. I’m still unsure what’s going to happen. It’s more so a question for the head guy.” 

(The team announced yesterday that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be the starter for Sunday. Head Coach Brian Flores explained today that he gives the team the best chance to win. He doesn’t think QB Tua Tagovailoa is quite ready to be the starter yet. What have you seen in the last month or month in a half? And what are your thoughts on the team sticking with Fitzpatrick?) – “Tua is a superstar athlete. Everybody has seen all of his highlights and all of that stuff. That’s what he brings to the table. Obviously we haven’t seen him in games and we haven’t really repped with him that much because Ryan (Fitzpatrick) has been getting all of the reps; but I’m just there to do my job, and they are there to do there’s, and the coaches are going to put us in the best position to win. If he feels like that’s Ryan, than that’s who we are protecting for.” 

(I wanted to ask you about your teammate G Ereck Flowers at the left guard position. I’ve heard a lot of stuff about how quiet of a leader he is. We had both Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey and Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall talk about that. I just wanted to get our take on how a player can be a leader, but be a quiet leader?) – “Yeah. Ereck kind of stays in his lane and goes to work every day. He leads by example. He’s always on time, he’s always there to help if somebody asks him for help. Some guys are different. I’m the same way. I don’t really sit there and try to ‘rah, rah’ everybody around me. If something needs to be said, then we’ll say it; but Ereck’s done a good job.” 

(I wanted to ask you about RB Matt Breida. He made a couple exciting plays in the last game. What do you think about what he did and what he’s capable of?) – “Matt Breida, he’s a flashy guy. We’ve been trying to get him incorporated in the run game. When he’s out in open space, he can make guys miss. Hopefully we can get him going again and try to get him going. Sometimes when I’m out there, I don’t know who’s in or who’s out. I’m just trying to do my job.” 

(I know you’re experienced enough to play just about every position on the line. What would the transition be like going to left?) – “It’s just trusting myself, trusting my techniques, making sure my hand placement is good, just like my footwork and all of that, that everybody goes through at the o-line position. It just takes me a couple of days to get it back and then hopefully I’ll be ready to go if I go out there.” 

(My question is when you have that difference of moving switching sides, does it make sense for the line to switch one spot versus a couple of spots because of that?) – “Yeah I mean once you do something so many times one way, when you do it the other way, it doesn’t feel natural or smooth; but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it or do it at a high level. It’s just reps – however many reps you can get to get it down, and trust in yourself doing it.” 

(Even though DE Nick Bosa is out, I was looking at film of No. 91 Arik Armstead. He looks pretty good. He looks like he lines up over the right tackle a bunch. What have you noticed about his strengths?) – “He’s a long guy. He’s got long movements, long arms. He looks like a strong player. It’s something that I’ve seen before, but I’ve never gone against the guy. Their whole front looks pretty solid. I know they’ve got Dion Jordan there. I think he was here in 2016 when I was here, if I remember right. It’s just how well we can do a job versus them in the run game, and try to open up the passing lane as well. It should be a fun challenge.” 

(On the topic of challenges, Kris Kocurek, the former defensive line coach here, is now in San Francisco. I remember him playing a one-gap, hair on fire, get up the field type of scheme. How do you combat that? What are the challenges that presents for an offensive lineman?) – “Yeah, Coach Kocurek is a fiery guy. I remember him hooting and hollering and everything. Great guy, great coach. That’s what we’re going to expect. We’re going to expect this d-line to have a lot energy, a lot of passion for the game. It’s up to us, really, to make sure we do our job right, keep ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) clean and keep our running backs moving forward, and (if we do that), I think we have a good chance of beating these guys.” 

Lynn Bowden Jr. – October 7, 2020 Download PDF version 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 

WR Lynn Bowden Jr. 

(How was it for you to get traded? You were drafted to a team, probably thought you were going to be there for a while and then you abruptly get traded right before the season starts?) – “Me, I like to think the past is in the past. I’m here. I’m loving where I’m at. It’s life.” 

(What do you feel like you do best? I know you do a lot, but when you’re on the field, what do you feel like your strengths are?) – “Maybe just having the ball in my hands. I’m not too big on talking about myself. I like to let the game play (speak) for itself; but if I had to choose, just having the ball in my hands probably.” 

(When the trade went down, there was a report about some off-field issues, and you took to Twitter and said essentially that it’s not correct, that it’s not accurate. Could you set the record straight on some of the things that were written and why it may not be accurate?) – “People are going to talk the way they talk. Like I said, the past is the past. It’s not something I’m thinking about. It’s not something I’m worried about. I’m in a better place, just with myself. I’m happy where I’m at. I’m getting a shot to do what I love to do and I’m just going to keep going forward.” 

(Obviously you have a skillset to make people miss. Do you feel like that suits you well, particularly in the slot? And how much are you working at that position?) – “Right now, I’m wherever the coach needs me – whether that’s offense, special teams. I’m right by him, just doing whatever I need to do to get out there, whatever coach has in store for me. I’m still learning. I’m a rookie so there’s a lot of ways I’ve got to learn and follow behind, and that’s what I’m going to do with my head down.” 

(What’s it like being in a room where there’s another player and you guys have kind of some similar skillsets in terms of what they’re asking you to do with RB/WR Malcolm Perry? Both of you guys played a little bit of quarterback in college, and both of you can move back and forth between running back and receiver in terms of what they’re trying to have you do?) – “I think there’s a plus side to that. Me and him, we just work together to better ourselves and actually better the whole team and better our room, most importantly – the receiver room. We all compete every day. We come out to practice and compete every day. We cheer each other on and it’s always positive vibes.” 

(I do want to go back to the time of the trade. Did they give you an explanation at any point as to why they traded you away? And the moment you found out, what were you doing and what was the thought you had? Because it’s so unusual for someone drafted where you were to get traded so quickly. Was there any kind of feeling like, “what did I do wrong?”) – “It was. You’ve just got to put the past in the past. The NFL is a business. It’s a business first. Feelings come last. I learned that quick, fast, in a hurry, even before the trade. There’s nothing I can really do about it. I’m here. I’m in Miami. We’re making the best of it. We’re having fun. I feel like as a team, we’re good right now.” 

(Las Vegas was, of course, using you at running back. The Dolphins are using you at receiver. Do you feel like you have a better NFL future at receiver? Does it fit your skillset better?) – “Just having the ball in my hands fits. Wherever that is that coach needs me. You can look at the statistics of how long a running back lasts and how long a receiver lasts. You could look at that, but I just feel like I’m built to last wherever I need to play at, wherever coach needs to play me at. When my time comes, I’m going to be ready.” 

Ryan Fitzpatrick – October 7, 2020  

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 

(I’m sure you’ve been in this situation before since you’ve played for 16 years, but what’s it like to know a fan base is just clamoring for the other guy?) – “(laughter) Yeah, I mean this has been my career. I guess if anybody is used to being in this situation, it would be me. I focus on the every day, and that’s it. I really do, and I put everything I can into each game. You try to forget the last game if it’s a good one or a bad one, and work on the next one. I get it, and obviously I’ve been in a lot of different cities and a lot of different scenarios, and this scenario has been one in a lot of different places for me, but I just try to be very myopic and go about my business that way.” 

(You’ll be pleased to know that you still have at least 50 percent of the vote according to a recent Palm Beach Post Twitter poll. So good momentum has not moved away from you.) – “That’s huge. Yeah, I had all of my kids vote in that poll, so we’re good to go. (laughter)” 

(My actual question is about a leash. You’ve said before that especially within a game, you feel like you have a little bit of a longer leash with Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey by your side. I’m wondering in terms of organizationally, and where you are right now, how long do you feel your leash is in terms of your hold on the position?) – “Again, it’s not really something that I can afford to think about. I have so much other stuff going on throughout the week and during a game. For me, I just go out and try to play the best that I can in each game, and that’s where I put my focus. If you start thinking about that stuff and allowing that to affect the way you’re playing – whether you want to be more risky or more careful, that’s just not really who I am. I’m going to go out there, prepare and then play the game the way I play it. That’s something I think can be a mistake as a quarterback, is to look at that and to start playing with not your full focus out and trying to beat the other team, but having your focus on other things. I think that’s a recipe for disaster.” 

(Obviously like you said, your main focus is to focus on the game and not what everybody else is saying; but it seems like in this society, it’s hard to block everything out. I’m curious how that’s like in the room with you guys. Do you guys joke about it? Do you guys talk about the fact that there’s so much QB Tua Tagovailoa talk even though you’re the guy right now?) – “I really do think – you guys are obviously writing about it and see it, and talk about it a lot more than we do. We’re pretty insulated. In terms of today, we came in and we’ve got a million different things we’re trying to put in and talk about. When you do that and your primary focus becomes the game plan, it’s easier to kind of put some of that stuff off. I think the room has to be open and honest. There’s all kind of stuff from the outside world, whether it’s a good game or a bad game, that is said and talked about. As quarterbacks, we’re kind of the only ones – whether it’s on this team or in the world – that really understand what we go through. So sometimes you end up leaning on guys that are in your room because they’ve been through similar things. It’s hard to find somebody in a different walk of life that has had the same situations or pressures come up. We learn on each other a lot in that room for a lot of different reasons.” 

(I’m wondering what your reaction was to the latest COVID-19 related developments involving the games that were rescheduled this past weekend and then Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore testing positive. What is your level of confidence that the 2020 season is going to be able to be completed?) – “I think everybody is very interested in the next few days to see what happens with some of those tests in New England and the tests in Kansas City. I think as we’ve seen with the Tennessee example, I think they had two more tests – is that correct? Two more test positive? And they haven’t been together at all. In terms of the things that we’re learning about the incubation periods and being able to test negative but potentially coming into a building and being able to shed the virus. We knew going in that the protocols were going to change and that this was going to be an ongoing process of trying to figure out the best way to keep us safe; but I’ll just reiterate what I said earlier, which is our staff and this organization is doing a great job with us. That’s not to say that COVID is not going to enter the building. We just have to do everything we can to mitigate the risk of passing it on and having an outbreak. I don’t know that it’s anybody’s fault. I just think it’s the craziness of this virus. I think everybody’s confidence level is probably a little less than it was a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago, everybody was riding high. But it’s amazing to see what happened in Tennessee so quickly.” 

(I thought that RB Matt Breida did a couple of good things in the last game, especially in the receiving game. What do you think he can do in the last 12 games of the season? What is he capable of?) – “I’m with you. He’s very explosive. Some of those little check-downs and things he did with the ball. I think that was great to see. (He’s) a guy that if you give him some space, he’s going to be able to make some plays. As we go here, we’re just going to continue to find our playmakers and our playmakers are going to continue to have the ball find them. That was a good step in the right direction for him, in terms of taking advantage of some of the opportunities that he got, and I’m sure more will come as he continues to make plays like that.” 

(Last year, you went through a similar situation with QB Josh Rosen, and we could tell when the change was made, you were not happy about it – that for whatever reason, and we have our suspicions why, you were not happy with the change. If that change comes in 2020 at some point, how would you react, do you think?) – “I don’t want to do the hypothetical thing. I think last year was last year, and that was definitely a much different situation in who was in the room and who is in the room this year. I’ll just stick with my line, which is I’m going to do my best for this week and hopefully continue to lead this team and whenever that day comes, we’ll cross that bridge.” 

(Two questions ago, you made a comment there about the ball will find your playmakers. Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey has talked about how there are plenty of mouths to feed in this offense. Is that something that you’re conscious of? When you go into a play and break the huddle, are you thinking that you need to get so-and-so involved? Or is it 100 percent of the time is it read-based and not worried about which jersey number you’re throwing the football to?) – “Sometimes when it’s man coverage across the board and you’ve got five one-on-ones, then sometimes you’re forced to make those decisions. Where is my best matchup? Sometimes it’s dictated by who is covering our guy and a lot of times it’s dictated by the particular route that we have our guys on and if we like them or not, and if they’ve shown in the past that they can win on that route. Sometimes it is, when it’s a bigger zone game, then it is going through your reads and guys being in the right spots and making some run after the catch. I think the confidence that I have in our group is high. There are guys like Preston (Williams), he hasn’t started off this year the same numbers-wise as he did last year, and some of that is definitely on me and looking to get him more involved. DeVante (Parker) is always going to be a guy we’re going to try to get the ball. Jakeem (Grant) has shown some really nice things for us. As you mentioned, Matt (Breida). (Mike) Gesicki had a great game, and is a guy that I need to continue to get the ball to. It’s a good problem that we have. We’ve got guys that aren’t getting enough touches. That means we have a lot of playmakers and I’ll continue to try to do my best to spread it around.” 

(A few minutes ago when you were talking about how you are sort of insulated in the quarterback room, it sounded like there’s a good deal of support for one another. I feel kind of odd asking you this because you’re the veteran and QB Tua Tagovailoa is the rookie, but has there been a moment this week when maybe Tua is kind of lifting up your spirits? Or has it been sort of a normal week between the two of you?) – “The week is young but it’s just been a normal week. He is just a very positive guy in general. (He’s) a guy that it doesn’t seem like he’s ever had a bad day. I just think it’s important, especially in the NFL, every week is so extreme whether you won and you’re on your way to the Super Bowl or you lost and the sky is falling and everybody needs to be fired and benched. Staying level and keeping that good vibe, those good feelings – sometimes when you lose, it’s tough to do but it’s an important thing to have in the building. I would just say with him, that’s kind of his personality. Every day he kind of comes in and has a smile on his face. In times like this where you’ve lost a few and the outside world thinks the sky is falling, it’s nice to have those guys walking through the locker room upbeat and with a smile on their face.” 

Brian Flores – October 7, 2020  

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 

Head Coach Brian Flores 

(I was wondering your thinking on staying with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as your starter in Week 5.) – “We feel like he gives us the best chance to win. I think he’s had some rough moments like some other players, but we feel like he gives us the best chance to win.” 

(I just wanted to get your thinking on the difference between QB Tua Tagovailoa as a backup with his health and Tua as a starter, because you mentioned you obviously don’t want to rush him back, don’t want to feel pressured to put him into a position where he has to play – where he must play. In your mind, what’s the threshold for him? It’s okay for him to be a backup but may not quite be a starter yet?) – “I guess I’m struggling with the question. What’s the threshold? He’s the backup. He could go in right now any snap, so obviously we’re confident he can play just like any backup player. We’re confident in any player who has a backup role to play in the game. So I guess we’re confident from the standpoint that on any snap, he could go in there. As far as him being a starter, we just don’t feel like he’s ready there just yet. That’s kind of where we’re at with him and other players. There are some other rookies who just aren’t ready to kind of take that step just yet, but he’s doing all the right things. Right now, we feel like ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) gives us the best chance to win. I would say overall ‘Fitz’ has played pretty well. He’s had some rough patches like I just said earlier, like some other players, but we do feel like he gives us the best chance to win.” 

(Just a logistics question – are you guys going to fly out Friday or Saturday? And I did want to ask about the San Fran QB situation. Not sure if 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is going to return to practice but 49ers QB Nick Mullens and 49ers QB C.J. Beathard are probably two other guys you’re going to have to prepare for. What’s it going to be like preparing for maybe three quarterbacks instead of one or two?) – “We’re going to fly out Friday. As far as the quarterbacks, all three of them are good players. There’s film on all of them. We’re pretty much going to have to watch them all. I think we’ve done that as a staff already. We’re going through that with the players already this morning. All three are good players, but I wouldn’t say it’s just the quarterback. It’s really, it’s everyone on offense – obviously the o-line, the tight ends, they’ve got good backs, they’ve got good receivers. They’ve got a good scheme, so the quarterback is just one part of that; but we’re really preparing for the entire group. It’s a good group.” 

(Two-part question, but they’re completely related. They’re not separate. The first one is how long was the discussion regarding a potential change at quarterback on Monday night and then in a related question, how long is QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s rope at this point in the season?) – “Any discussion we have a staff, they’re just going to remain internal. As far as – I don’t even want to use the term; but look, we expect ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) to play well. We expect everyone offensively, defensively and in the kicking game to play well. We’re not putting negative energy into the atmosphere, so we’ve just got to prepare well this week, practice well this week, fly out to California and try to win a football game against a good group – a very good group, actually.” 

(I know one thing you suggested Monday was maybe at the quarter mark of the season, how you’d take a look at playing time allocation. Did you emerge from that conversation with your assistants thinking that there would be some changes at some positions? And also, I wanted to ask you about now that the NFL has made basically a six-day turnaround to get a player in the building for a tryout and sign him; does that make you and General Manager Chris Grier less likely to bring in outside guys for looks?) – “Less likely, yeah. I mean it’s hard to bring someone in with the six days. You threw like four or five (questions) at me right at once, so let me try to – I’m trying to backtrack here. (laughter) So yeah, it’s hard to get somebody in, obviously. We’ve already kind of gone through the thought and planning if we’re going to do something really for next week, and I think every team is kind of going through that same process. As far as the meetings with the coaches from a playing time standpoint, like every team, we want to play our best players, our most dependable players. We talked about situations where we want to play different guys and maybe we want to play some guys more, play some guys less; and we’re going to try to probably practice that way today and this week, and then see how things shake throughout the course of the week. But we always want to get our best guys out there, our best group of guys, our most dependable players. I think that’s everything.” 

(I have only one question for you. It’s regarding WR Preston Williams. Obviously he looked so good last year, was on pace to set team records for rookie receivers. How does that compare to how he looks this year? I think he’s at roughly 20 yards per game in receiving. How close is he to the Preston Williams we saw last year?) – “I think coming off an injury, you never know how things are going to shake out. I think he’s doing well from a physical standpoint. Preston is a hard-working kid. He’s obviously talented. I think he’s there physically. We’ve just got to find different ways to get him the ball and he’s got to come through for us when we do throw him the ball. So again, we’re four weeks into the season. That’s something that was discussed – part of the discussion with the coaching staff – how to get him more involved and hopefully we do that in the coming weeks.” 

(I wanted to get clarification on T Austin Jackson’s status and his practice participation. Also, can you assess how T Julién Davenport played in his role last week, and if your stance is to still start the best five guys, figuring out the combination, however it works?) – “I thought Julién played well last week when he went in there for Austin. I thought he played well. I thought he did a really good job. Austin, as far as practice, he won’t be out there today. Hopefully – he’s still kind of working through some things but hopefully tomorrow, we’ll see. So just from that standpoint, you won’t see him today. But Julién played well. Yes, we’ll always try to play the five best guys. Obviously Julién will be part of that – Rob Hunt will be part of that – conversation. Again, we’ll see how this goes throughout the practice week and we’ll take it from there.” 

(You mentioned earlier about QB Tua Tagovailoa not being ready yet to be the starter. I wanted to ask, how do you think he can get there with mental reps? Is that something he can do there or do you have to see him on the field before you know he’s truly ready?) – “I think he has to keep doing what he’s doing. He’s in here every day, he’s working, he’s practicing well. I think he just continues to do what he’s been doing. He’s learning every day. He’s getting better and improving every day. If he just continues to do what he’s doing, he’s on the right path, on the right trajectory. Again, we’re not going to get an opportunity – we didn’t have any preseason games. That’s not going to happen as far as getting a different way or a different look at this. So for him, the only thing he can do is come in, do a good job in meetings, do a good job in the walkthroughs, do a good job in practice and then when his opportunity presents itself, which as the backup could be at any point in the game – I think the 49ers are a great example of that, having played three guys already – that he’s just got to be ready. That’s really it.” 

(I wanted to ask about RB Matt Breida. He made a couple of plays in the passing game last week. I was wondering what stood out to you about Breida and how you think he’s coming along.) – “Yeah, he made some good plays the other day. Look, he’s an explosive kid. Fast. He’s practiced well (and is) getting a few more touches. I think he is playing well and hopefully he continues to play well. He’s a hardworking guy and it’s important to him. I think he’s doing a good job.” 

(I wanted to get back to QB Tua Tagovailoa. Could him getting any kind of limited snaps in a game kind of help towards his progression to becoming the starter?) – “Potentially that could help. But there’s a lot of other things to that – how the game is going, rhythm of the offense. There are so many things pertaining to the team that you don’t want to do something for one specific person. I guess I’m not – I wouldn’t be in favor of something like that; but I understand the question.” 

(Clarify something for me: would you be comfortable playing G/T Jesse Davis at left tackle to get G/T Robert Hunt snaps at right tackle? Or can Hunt play left tackle?) – “Robert can play left tackle. I would feel comfortable playing Jesse at left tackle. I’m also comfortable playing Julién (Davenport) at left tackle. We’ll just see how the week goes. Thankfully we have some guys we feel good about going in and playing left/right (tackle). All of those guys have played both positions. But at the same time, we’re going up against a very aggressive defensive line and a very, very good defense. This will be a tough, tough challenge. But we’ll see how this goes over the course of the week. I’m not saying Austin (Jackson) is out of the question either. Let’s just take it one day at a time. But yeah, I’m comfortable with all of those guys playing really left or right. I think (Offensive Line Coach) Steve (Marshall) will do a good job of getting them ready. We’re going to need to play well from an o-line and really a team standpoint against this team. They’re very good.”