Did you have an inkling that the 49ers were going to end up drafting you after your workout on Saturday?
“I had no idea. As a guy that’s coming off an injury, I was just up and running. I had no idea what team would probably want to take a chance on taking me. It’s exciting now to know that the 49ers were willing to take me. And I’m excited about it, I’m happy. I just can’t wait to get out there and show everyone what I can do.”
At what point do you think you can be healthy and get out on the field and play football?
“Whenever the doctors let me know that I will be healthy. Whenever the doctors say I can go out and practice and whatever. Whenever the time limit is they give me, that’s when I know I’m going to be ready. There’s not really a time right now. It depends on what all the doctors say.”
You had dinner the other night with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. What was that like?
“It was great. It was a great dinner. We talked about football. We talked about life as well. He was able to get to know me as a person, as a player. And I was able to get to know him as a coach. So, I was really excited about it. It was a great moment in my life.”
How do you see yourself fitting into the 49ers defense?
“I see myself fitting right in. I can come out there and learn from a great group of guys and also compete as well. You’re coming into a great system and a great team that went to the Super Bowl, and also want to help so we can do a repeat and go back to the Super Bowl and win it. So, I felt like it was a big accomplishment and I’m excited about it.”
And you rush the passer on both sides of the line?
“Yes, I can rush the passer from both sides of the line. Also, do stand up as well.”
“Yes, they were. They were looking at me as an outside linebacker. Teams can see by watching film see how good I can move the space. And also I was a standup DE as well in junior college. And then I did it down at Florida State. We ran some 4-3 and 3-4. So, teams have seen me fit in that scheme as well.”
What were your emotions yesterday not getting picked and having to get patience to wait for this?
“I was kind of shocked. Also, I knew that I did have an injury that was serious. But, I was able to come back fast. And I thought that if I am able to come back fast and run that fast 40 and being able to move around and show teams what I can do being four months out of surgery. It kind of shocked me but I kind of got over it. I was hoping that I’d go in the second round. Some teams take a chance on me in the second round. Because I knew that they’d be getting one of the best D-Ends in this year’s draft. I kind of had an idea that I’d get picked and I was going to be very excited about it.”
What were your thoughts when you saw Indianapolis Colts DE Bjoern Werner go to Indianapolis?
“I was excited. Bjoern is a great guy. That is my teammate. I love him. I wish the best luck for him and everything. I was really excited. I think that’s a great fit for Bjoern Werner. And I know he’s excited from when I talked to him earlier. I’m excited and I just can’t wait to get out there and to get to playing.”
We know why you’re called Tank, but is there a story about the nickname? Who gave that nickname to you?
“My mom gave it to me when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I had this little army tank always with me. I could never go anywhere without that army tank. I just had to have it with me, and I used to always push people over, try to run over people and always had my army tank with me. So, that’s how I got the nickname Tank.”
Do you still have it?
Do you still have the tank?
“Yeah, I do. My mom keeps it.” [Laughing].
Does anybody call you Cornellius?
“Yes, like generally when I go new places like school, new people that I meet. I started introducing me as Cornellius. Then once they get to know people that already knew me for a long time, they start calling me Tank. They say, ‘Oh, I like the name Tank. I think that’s cool, you know.’ So then they get in the process of calling me Tank instead of Cornellius. So, everyone calls me Tank now.”
Have the 49ers talked to you about your specific role? Have they mentioned also possibly playing some outside linebacker?
“Yeah. I had a few people ask me where would I feel comfortable at. I kind of told them I could do both, it doesn’t really matter. As long as I’m out on the field, I’ll be able to get a chance to prove myself. I didsome stand up as well and also to put my hand down in the dirt. So, it doesn’t really matter how the scheme is. I know I’m good at adjusting to the scheme because I’m a guy that can do it all.”
Do you prefer to play one position over the other?
“Not really. I like to stand up. You can do more. I also like to put my hand down in the dirt. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever the scheme of the defense is, that’s what I can play with. What I prefer? I would like my hand indirt, but also good at standing up as well. Whatever the coaches see me playing at, whatever scheme they see me fitting at as of putting my hand down in the dirt or stand up, that’s what I can also feel comfortable being at.”
What did defensive line coach Jim Tomsula share with you about the 49ers and the defense that you might have been joining?
“He was just explaining the defense to me and everything. We were just talking about the great players that they’ve got on this team and how I can come in and learn from them and things like that. How they see me fitting in the defense and things like that, just things like that as well.”
There was a report in the USA Today today that your medical recheck in Indianapolis didn’t go well and that there might be long term effects with your knee, is that something that you’ve heard before?
“No, that is not something that I’ve heard before because my knee feels great. There’s nothing wrong with my knee and there’s no long term things that I think will go wrong with my knee because I’m healthy. I did tear my ACL, but I was able to run at full speed. If a guy wasn’t healthy he probably wouldn’t be able to run as fast as I ran and be able to go out there and do those cutting drills and things like that. There’s nothing wrong with my knee. This is my first injury I’ve ever had. I’ve never got hurt before. I’ve never had an injury besides this ACL injury. And I’m just going to go rehab and excited about this rehab and getting myself back together. I feel fully healthy. For me to be four months out of surgery, going on five, I’m doing just as much as anybody that’s nine or 10 months out. It goes along with all the work ethic. It’s just genetics and the guys that I rehab with and we all put it together and worked on it and we got the knee back together. I had blood work done to my knee to see if there was anything wrong. There’s nothing wrong with my knee. There was a rumor going around that there could be something wrong with my femur, but I got blood work done. I got it done before the draft so teams could check it out. They did blood work and tests and there is nothing wrong with my leg to see if there would be something really wrong. There’s nothing wrong with my knee at all.”
I know that you are rehabbing or were rehabbing in the same place that Vikings RB Adrian Peterson did. Did you ever run into Adrian, have you talked to him about his rehab?
“No, I have not run into him or talked to him about his rehab.”
What was your impression of coach Tomsula and his energy and was he talking a mile a minute?
“It was really great because we started off talking and it wasn’t just about football. We were talking about life, general stuff. He came to a process of where we eventually got to football, but I thought he was an awesome person and great coach as well. He was breaking it down to me how they do things out in San Francisco. I was very excited to talk to him and we talked about it a lot. He has a funny story he told me, which I thought was very cool. Just making me feel comfortable as a person so I could open up to him so he could really see what type of player I really was and get to talking about scheme of football. So he opened me up. I was able to talk to him about different defensive schemes and things like that. So, I thought it was great.”
What was the story?
“About football, just a funny little joke about football. I thought it was cool.”
Could you repeat it to us?
“Honestly I don’t know it exactly off the top of my head. I would have to hear him say the story again, but all I knew it was funny. ”
Tank are you fully expecting to play this season or are you going into this thinking that you might have to basically be a medical redshirt almost?
“I won’t be a medical redshirt for sure. As you can see, if you can go back and watch the film when I ran my 40 and cut, there were no issues or any problem with me being able to get back fast. I will be able to participate in mini rookie camp. Like I said, there’s no really time on when I’ll come back. It depends on what all the doctors say. If the doctors think that it’s best for me that’s something that I probably will do. If it’s looking like I’m okay, which I am right now this early, just imagine when I’m eight months out how much I’ll be doing. Then it will be a process and I’ll be ready.”
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