Can you just give us an update on WR Jalen Hurd and what you know about the results of the MRI, if you have them?
"We still haven't gotten the result yet, but I saw something that the ACL was reported today. We'll be surprised if it's not. It happened yesterday. He's at the MRI right now, but it was a pretty unfortunate thing for him. We know what he went through last year with his back and the guy has worked as hard as anyone on our team to get back and for him to get hurt before he actually got to go out there and just a freak thing on air cutting, really felt bad for the guy, but he'll be back next year."
I was wondering if you had an update on CB K'Waun Williams who missed practice?
"Yeah, K'Waun's kind of in the same boat as a few other guys like [TE] Jordan Reed and [DL] Arik Armstead. We're taking care of him. He could go if he wanted to or if we really needed him to. I think it was a little calf tightness. That's what I think it was, but nothing too big."
First day with pads on, what are your impressions thus far? I know it's only one day.
"I mean, it's a lot more fun to get the pads on. We definitely need to play a lot more football. Guys are going hard and stuff, but guys die out pretty fast. Just the energy of putting pads on, playing football, getting into football shape. We had our first two periods today that weren't scripted. Just move the ball type stuff, and guys die out pretty fast, which is what is expected on your third practice, first day of pads. It's going to come a lot faster, so the key with the team is guys knowing how fast it's going to come. So, that's why it's so important, what they do between now and tomorrow, so they can recover, so we can get a real practice in tomorrow. That'll kind of be the theme of these whole two, three weeks, that we have to prepare until the week that we're preparing for, Week One. Guys got to just keep rehabbing and taking care of their bodies as well as they can."
I don't know how much you were able to watch DL Nick Bosa and OL Trent Williams, but is it safe to say that that's something you're really excited about seeing, Trent making that transition back to the game and Nick helping him get there? Also, just the kind of challenge that Trent will pose on a daily basis for Nick?
"Oh, yeah. It's been real cool to watch. You've got two extremely talented guys, but the cool thing about them is you've got two guys who really understand their technique and the position. Trent with the years he's been in the league with his talent and Nick has understood technique, I always joke about, since he came out of the womb because he's been made to rush the passer. So, watching those two go together, it's pretty cool. They had two one-on-one reps yesterday. They split them. It's fun to watch them adjust to each other. Trent hasn't played in a little bit, but it doesn't look like it. His skillset is still there. Everything's still there. We've just got to get him in football shape along with pretty much everyone else on our team right now."
I was wondering just with WR Deebo Samuel out, do you have an idea of who will start at X and Z and how have those rotations at receiver gone early on in practice?
"No, we don't have any idea who will start at X or Z or F, which is what we call our third receiver. Even if Deebo was here, we still worked that the same way. Our guys are kind of all over the place. We mix them at each position. It's been a little tough deal with receivers right now. We've lost three guys before we've even practiced who are expected to make the team. You've always got to compete, but they're three guys who made it last year. Not having Deebo, not having [WR] Richie [James Jr.] and now losing Hurd has put us in a little bit of a bind, just trying to get through this. Helped huge getting those two guys yesterday and we'll probably have to get another guy here coming up."
I realize that WR Kendrick Bourne was kind of an under the radar guy as a rookie. It seems like every year he's been kind of found money, but are you putting more pressure on him? Are you challenging him to be not only a nice accessory piece, but a guy who's an absolute mainstay of this offense now with the injury situation?
"Yes. I don't know if you would think there's much difference right now in how we talk to him to how we always talk to him. We challenge to get the most out of him every single day, regardless of what the situation is, but if you go in and look at the cut ups last year and we had some really good play from Deebo and from [New Orleans Saints WR] Emmanuel [Sanders], but you watch Bourne, he might not have had as many catches and stuff, but just his consistent play over last year, I thought he was one of our best guys, if not our best. He's always ready when he gets the ball. He keeps running his routes. You don't know where the coverage is going to take the ball, but Bourne's gotten better each year. He's almost the vet in the room right now, which is somewhat funny to us because four years ago he wasn't close to that. It's been pretty cool to watch how he's come this far and we're just getting started in camp, but I know some of the guys look up to him. He knows the offense real well. He's played all the positions and he's the same guy today as he was the first day he got here, at least as a person."
I believe Bourne caught that 40-yard pass from QB Jimmy Garoppolo during practice today and Jimmy had a nice deep ball to WR Brandon Aiyuk yesterday. How are you trying to emphasize the need to improve in that category over the next few weeks with Jimmy?
"You went out a little bit, are you saying on deep balls?"
Yes, exactly. On the deep balls to Bourne today and Aiyuk yesterday and just overall.
"When you get an opportunity that the defense allows you to go deep, that we don't miss it and take it. We want that opportunity every time. Defenses rarely give you that opportunity, especially our defense. They've usually got a guy pretty deep in the middle of the field, so you don't get many of those shots. You don't just call a play that says go deep, except at the end of a half or a game, it's called a Hail Mary. You usually have a deep guy on most of your plays, but it depends what the defense gives you. The more we can generate that in practice, even if it isn't what we totally do coverage-wise, the more reps our receivers and quarterback get at it and the more opportunities we give, obviously the better they'll be. Hopefully we can generate a lot more of that in camp and then you see what the coverages are Week One all the way through Week 16 and you attack them. We're not going to avoid any part of the field. We're going to take the part of the field they're giving us."
Being that the offseason was different, you didn't have practices, where do you think Jimmy is evolved in the offense and how can you open up the play with this year in the quarterback room?
"Jimmy knows the offense as well as he ever will. Guys know it inside and out, it's about what you do best and what the guys around you do best. It's not about having an offseason or him learning more so you can do more. It's about what we all do the best and that doesn't just involve him. That involves the receivers, O-line, tight ends and running backs. We're trying to get a feel for our team right now and what they do best. A lot of our guys have been here, so we've got a pretty good idea. We know their strengths and weaknesses, and we always try to fine tune their strengths, but always improve their weaknesses. We'll see what we get better at as it goes, but I'm pretty excited with all the guys and we'll keep working at it that way."
Two things on DL Dee Ford, first, just how does he look to you after the offseason knee cleanup surgery? And second, how important is he to your team this year, just in terms of kind of maintaining your defense's level from last year after losing guys like Indianapolis Colts DL DeForest Buckner?
"You can tell talking to Dee, whether it was me talking to know him on the phone or in Zoom meetings or when he first got here. You can just tell his aura and how he spoke that he felt a lot better. Last year we had to manage him a little bit right away and you could tell talking to him. That was our first time really going to know him. It was always a little bit in the back of his mind. When he got here, you could tell he was different. He was a lot more confident in his knee. You could feel it from him. Watching him in practice these last three days, I can see it. He's got more energy in these first three practices. Coming off the ball a lot better than he did at this time last year in camp. We kind of had to get to the season last year and I thought he did very well when he did and then we had to manage him a little bit halfway through. He's in a much better spot right now than he was last year at this time and that's what's great for him because it allows him to practice hard, which allows him to get better. Hopefully we can just keep him healthy so we can continue to practice."
How's WR Jauan Jennings done in these first two practices and do you see him with his bigger body type being somebody that could more or less gave you some of the things that Jalen would have been able to give you at that big slot position?
"To a degree. I think we've got a number of guys who can do some stuff. I think Jalen was a little bit different in some aspects, but I think Jauan is a decent comparison. He is big and he definitely has the mentality. He's had two practices out there, today was his third. It's definitely harder for rookies, missing all OTAs, missing all that stuff, because they come in and they want to go out there and compete so hard, but they're spinning a little bit. So, I know that with a lot of the rookies, but he's got the mindset, he's got the talent, he's got the tenacity to go out there and do it. It's going to be a key for him and a number of these other guys in these short practices, just how detailed they can get and learning what they're supposed to do."
I want to ask you about Jordan Reed, I know he was out there on the first day getting some work in, what is his status?
"The same thing. We haven't let him go out there for any team stuff. He's done some routes on air with us and nothing against anyone yet. He hasn't played in just as long as Trent and he's coming off a few more serious injuries than Trent is. We're trying to ease him in. I know his history pretty well. I think everyone does, and we're just trying to be smart with him. It's kind of a day-by-day thing. I was expecting him to maybe come in more into play next week, but we're conditioning him, getting him ready to go out there and compete. Just keeping up on the offense and when he gets his opportunity, we'll make sure he's ready."
Today's practice seemed to be the same duration, the same style as the two over the weekend. Are you still sort of in ease-in mode as far as kind of getting into a full training camp style practice?
"You have to be to a degree. Our first two days weren't in pads. Today was the first day of pads, which the third day of practice probably would go a little bit longer, but we have a rule to where the first day of pads it only can be an hour and a half. So, you have to go with that. I think tomorrow's an hour and 45. We rarely go over that anyways. We change our reps each day, basically to let our guys recover. I think it's something that everyone's going through in the NFL right now. We've all got a very good idea how to prepare our team with 90 people over a month time while playing four preseason games before Week One. There's lots of stuff you balance out, when you hit them hard, when you have time to recover, when other guys are playing in games that might not be making your team. Right now, we don't have any of that time. We're starting a couple of weeks late. You can still have the amount of practices that you can get in, but the recovery time's not there. We've got to be very smart with that on easing the guys in and trying to build it up, regardless of the rules. We are staying under that and we would be doing it anyways, because if we try to make it all up with what we've missed, that'd be great if nobody got hurt, but the odds of someone getting hurt when you do that go way up. That's the biggest thing right now. If you do get hurt with how little time we have, it's going to be very tough for us to now get you out there and give you a chance to make the team. Or, if you pretty much already have, it's going to be very hard to get you in football shape. It's a huge risk that you've got going right now on how to prepare guys as well as you can, but also try not to get them hurt."
I know the answer usually is whoever gets open deep is your best deep threat, but who would you say right now is your number one deep threat? Do you care if you have one and is it maybe RB Jerick McKinnon? Can it be a running back?
"It depends if we're running go routes versus the linebacker, safety. I think he's got the ability to beat corners, but it depends what you're talking about. Usually your biggest deep threat verse cover two zones and stuff is the guy with the fastest 40. You've got to blow the top off and run. I think our fastest 40 on paper was [WR] Travis Benjamin and then he left and I think our fastest one on paper is [WR] J.J. Nelson, but we've got a few other guys who can run, too. [WR] Tavon's [Austin] got that 40. I know some of our other guys do, but it all depends what coverages you're going against. When you start with a go route, sometimes the fastest guy is the worst deep threat because the corners know they can run by him, so they back up and those guys don't always have the skillset to go up and catch the ball. Sometimes your best deep threat could be the slower guy with the best hands. When you go with guys like Bourne, guys like Jennings, those guys make plays down the field, too, on go routes because they've got the right hands. Are you going to do that with guys across the field and stuff like that? There you need the 40. So, no, I don't have a direct answer and it depends on the play and coverage."
With the report that WR Jaron Brown is coming in, is that, two-part question. Is that kind of the same protocol as far as three days of testing and then hope to have him out after the day off? Also, when you've brought in these wide receivers, Tavon Austin, J.J. Nelson, Brown, what's the thought process there of bringing in guys who have experience as opposed to just bringing in camp legs?
"You need both of those. First of all, they've got to go through the same protocol. It's tough to get guys in. They've got to go through all that testing, so they can't do it right away. It's very tough when you're down to 80 and you lose three receivers before you start practicing. Those guys count until you IR them, which there's only one guy we can fully IR, now that it was his ACL, to not bring back. So, we'll be able to get one more number back from that. First thing we need is the numbers, but when you have those guys who have a good chance of playing Week One and making your team, guys like Deebo, guys like Richie, and they're not going to be there, especially Richie, we know. You better bring in other guys that, yeah, we need numbers, but also who have the ability to play in this league and beat people out. That's why it was important, that's why we felt fortunate to get J.J. and Tavon when they were out there. We needed numbers right away, but we also need some guys who have the skillset to challenge the guys we already have here. Those guys have proven it on other teams. They proved it coming out of college and so far, they've proved that they're capable of having a chance to earn a spot."