Everyone’s talking about Jabrill this week, so what’s it like for you having him on offense? What does he do for you?
“Well, he’s very explosive. You can see when he gets the ball he explodes and it’s a great option to have to be able to work him into the offense and an opportunity for a few plays on the offensive side of the ball. If he does or doesn’t, it’s nice to have that club in your bag.”
I know you don’t get a ton of time with him, but is he special in the way that he can not spend a whole lot of time with the offense and still pick things up?
“Yeah. I mean, he’s a football player, so he’s got that DNA that you can kind of tell once he fixes a problem- just special. Great football awareness.
“It’s really- dealing with him is like dealing with a pro football player. He just kind of looks you in the eye and takes what you’re telling him, understands it, and then puts it into action. He’s just got great football awareness and great football savvy. He’s a football player. I’ve said that before, so it’s exciting to have him.”
Do you customize the playcalling based on whether Drake Johnson or De’Veon Smith’s in the game?
“No, we don’t. No, we don’t. We feel like they all have strengths and weaknesses, but we just call the game as we call it and put those guys in the best opportunity up front and the receivers and the quarterback so no, we don’t like specifically say, ‘Hey, do this, do that.’”
What’s Jake’s [Rudock] status at this point?
“He was good yesterday. He threw the ball around, breaking the huddle. He looked good. Looked good to me.”
You expect him to play?
“Yeah, absolutely, yes. Really do.”
[After THE JUMP: “We’re changing this thing, and it’s going in the right direction and we’re really pleased with where we are.”]
Is anything ramped up with Wilton Speight given the reminder last week that he’s one play away?
“I mean, everybody’s one play away. They’re still doing the rotation like we’ve always done every week, but it was nice to Wilton get in there. I didn’t want to see Jake get hurt, but it was nice to see Wilton come off the bench and perform like he did.
“Just did some nice things. Had a great demeanor in the huddle. Had a good look in his eye and did some great things.”
Is Rudock’s toughness undervalued? He’s taken a lot of hits and I’ve heard it described that he just bonces up all the time.
“He’s a tough guy. I think any great quarterback you’re around you’re going to have to take hits and bounce up, and he does a nice job. He really is a tough kid.”
What’s Jehu Chesson meant to this team this year?
“Special player. Really is a special player. He gets better every week and you can see it. He takes the whole thing, takes it personal. He blocks, he catches. I mean, he’s just everywhere on the field. He’s a special, special player and we’re thankful that we have him.”
He’s not the biggest guy. What’s it take to have that mentality you’re going to put a guy on his butt when you’re out there blocking?
“I think he just has a want-to for it. Coach Fisch does a great job of preaching it to him and we talk in the room about all 11 guys blocking- that means the quarterback carries out his fake- so it’s important to him.
“I think he’s excited when he walks in on Sunday to watch the film by himself to see himself flying around blocking people, and also guys in the room get excited, too. We get excited as a coaching staff. We make sure to point out the goods and things and get them excited about what we’re doing.”
What did you see out of Newsome that allowed him to play as a true freshman?
“Grant is a very, very intelligent young man. He’s got good football awareness, he’s got good ankle flexion, has got great length, and he was ready. Just working with him, with my former employer where we started three true freshman last year, I felt like I have a good feel for that and felt like he was ready to do it and did a really, really nice job when he got in there. We’re excited about the future for Grant.”
Is that something that was being discussed for a few weeks leading up to that?
“Well, it’ always in play. It’s always in play, so it’s not like- anybody can be called on at any time and they’ve got to be ready to be the next man to step up and take somebody’s job and get in there and contribute.”
How many snaps did Newsome get as that sixth offensive lineman, if you could ballpark it? I mean, I guess it depends-
“Yeah, game to game. Last week did he get about seven or eight, I believe.”
What goes into making the decision to know he’s ready?
“I think you’ve got a feel in your stomach as a coach. You know, you just kind of know in your mind and your heart that he’s ready to do it. Plus, you’re looking on the field and you’re watching practice film and you’re putting him in tough situations in practice and seeing how he responds and takes to coaching and if you can fix a problem.
“You know, if you tell a young man, ‘Hey, you’ve got to do this’ you can fix it and you’re getting a step closer. You just know. You just know by the evaluation steps as you go through.”
Has burning a redshirt ever factored into that equation?
“No. I think that- I don’t think that way. We’re here to win and win now, and we’ve got to put the best guys on the field and put ourselves in successful situations so no.”
What’s his best position on the line?
“Grant? I’d say he’s a tackle. Measureables. You know, you’ve got to be ready to be called on at any position but he’s a tackle with his length and with the wide rushers that can rush off the edge that helps, and to extend on run blocking and things. Probably his best position is the tackle position.”
Are teams paying special attention to Jake Butt? Seems like he hasn’t been targeted as much.
“You know, it goes game to game and we try to put guys in the best situation to be successful but he is a target for us. We have not forgotten about Jake. He got that nice ball over the middle last week and caught the third-down conversion, so he can do it. We have him. Rather he’s on our team.”
Did De’Veon practice yesterday?
“Yeah! He was out there.”
So him limping off at the end of the game won’t be a factor this week?
“I don’t think so. He was out there practicing. He did a nice job. Had a nice blitz pickup that I saw that he picked up a guy, and he ran the ball well. Nothing to my knowledge.”
Do you see Joe Kerridge continuing to progress as a blocker?
“Yeah, he’s doing a great job. Him and Sione [Houma] are doing a nice job in there, and we’re glad to have Henry back this week. But Joe’s doing a nice job. I think the thing he’s working through with his ankle, I think that’s gone and he’s really pressing forward and really leading this team and being a team captain.”
What has Graham Glasgow meant to this offensive line? He’s been your most consistent performer, right?
“Yeah, he’s meant a lot to us. Like I said, Graham’s a very, very intelligent young man. Both his parents are doctors, so he’s done a nice job being raised and in the room he really just helps with fixing a problem.
“You stand up there as a coach and you go through teaching a play: this is the point of entry, this is the blocking scheme, this is what we’re looking, this is how we’re going to do it, these are the adjustments [where] if they bring this pressure we have to make this call. But Graham goes to the fourth step: ‘Hey coach, what if this happens?’ ‘Hey Grant- er, Graham. That’s great. That’s exactly what we’re thinking about.’ He helps. He’s like another coach in the room.
“You want a room to take it over and then ask those other questions, that next step, that maybe you as a teacher left out but you’re going to get to it maybe later in the week, but he presents the problem right now to get it fixed so everybody’s on the same page by the time they leave the room.”
How are guys like Gentry and O’Korn and guys that aren’t part of the game package right now able to learn and absorb while you’re going through a season like this?
“I think that we do a good job just preaching in the room about either you’re getting better or you’re getting worse, you’re never staying the same. And coach Harbaugh really does a good job about a competitive atmosphere, about competing. We’re going to roll the balls out every day and compete, and you’ve got to be locked in.
“I mean, you’re going to be called on in the room to answer a question, so there’s no wiggle room for them not to be focused and keep getting better every day, and everybody’s getting coached. It doesn’t matter if you’re a scholarship guy and a starter or if you’re a walk-on, it’s our job and our due diligence as a football coach to be respectful of the game and what this game’s given us and get the best out of everybody and make them better human beings and better football players. So, I’m excited when I walk in this building every day, really.”
Is your longer term vision for Gentry at quarterback still?
“I think so, yeah. We’ll evaluate that as that goes on and as we enter into spring ball and the whole preparation of things and what will fit him, but right now he’s a quarterback and he’s doing some things. Really doing a nice job.”
To go back to Kerridge, does the way you use fullbacks, is that partly because most of college offenses have gone away from it?
“It’s just something that’s always worked for us. We can start in two-back and then spread you out. I think it’s what we feel most comfortable with as a coaching staff and Coach and I and what we’ve done together.
“It does help, I think. You don’t find a lot of teams that run a lot of two-back, so everybody’s spread so okay, you’ve got 12 games. Eight teams are spread, so maybe four of them are two-back. Maybe you gain an advantage where they go to week seven and now you’re lining up in two-back and they’ve been seeing a spread offense. So, I think there might be an advantage to that, but you’ve still got to get them blocked. But I think it does help. It really makes our offense multiple. It’s a pro-style offense that we run and that we can put people in different positions to be successful in different formations and different personnel groups. That’s a good question.”
So Jake’s not limited in any way, is he?
“No, not that I’ve seen. No. He’s out there throwing and running around and he looks good. He really does.”
So it’s just bruising-
“I don’t know. I don’t know all the details on that, but he looked good to me. Which is good.”
Coach Harbaugh doesn’t like to talk about explosive plays and stats but are you still confident you’re going to get there with the big plays?
“Yeah, we are. It’s gonna give. I mean, you just keep working on it. I’ve always said, you just keep working on it, keep grinding on it, it’s gonna give. The thing’s gonna give, and it will. I’m not worried about that right now. We’re progressing nicely and moving in the right way.
“I’m excited. We’re winning. We’re 6-2. It’s hard to win a football game. It really is. We’re changing this thing, and it’s going in the right direction and we’re really pleased with where we are.”