QB Sam Darnold Press Conference
QB Sam Darnold
Press Conference – August 4, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
How’s camp going? Do you kind of see the improvements? Do you feel them when you’re going through the offense and going through the film after practice?
“For sure. There’s ups and downs to every camp, but I feel like we’re continuing to improve in the areas that we need to. At least from the offensive perspective, can’t speak much on the defense, but I think as a team we’re improving every day. It’s all about watching the tape and whether you have a good day or a bad day, it’s how are you going to watch the tape and get better from it.”
How do you feel that you’ve grown and improved your game since coming here?
“Yeah, I feel like just everything’s very clear and concise with how we read the plays. And I feel like I’ve been making good decisions. I’ve been taking care of the football, but I’ve also been making quick decisions, I think. So just have to continue to improve and study the way I have been and keep up the good habits that I’ve been working to improve throughout camp.”
Where are you in the process of fully learning the offense and how difficult is that with this particular offense? And have you ever been exposed to anything quite like it?
“Yeah, I mean, this is my fifth offense, I think, throughout my career. It’s definitely, there’s a lot of shifts, there’s a lot of motions, a lot of different concepts as well. So, it’s just about getting used to it and hearing it, visualizing it before you get in the huddle. And that’s really it for me and being able to see what the defense is doing pre-snap and really focus on that as opposed to worrying about, oh, where’s this guy again? And who am I getting the ball to on this play?”
How does the mindset of a quarterback change in a practice situation when you know you’re not going to take a hit as opposed to a game situation where you most likely are going to take a hit?
“That’s the difference. It’s understanding the protection and when it breaks down. I think in practice, obviously, you want to be able to sit in the pocket and make the throws and go through your reads. But in the game, instincts at certain times have to take over and in practice you can go from your first read to your second read to your third and make the throw. Whereas in games more often you might feel a rush or especially coming off the left side you might feel something and it might make you flush. So that’s something that we always have to continue to work on in quarterback drills to continue to feel the pocket and have smaller movements in the pocket rather than forcing our way out of it.”
FB Kyle Juszczyk was talking about some of the differences in camp over the years, being with head coach Kyle Shanahan, but he said one constant is that you never know what play you’re going to get sometimes, that it’s going to be a play you haven’t repped, you don’t even really know maybe not that well, and he wants to see how you’re going to do with it. Have you found that to be the case?
“For sure. Yeah. For instance, today, there was a play where we were just kind of lining up in the same formation, same motion and he just called a play that we hadn’t ran in probably a couple weeks. So yeah, it’s in those move-the-ball periods where it’s realistic football, you’re going first, second, third down, he might because he’s just putting together everything in his head. He doesn’t have a call sheet right there, so he’s just calling a play that comes to his mind.”
Is that different than what you’ve been through in the past?
“I’ve been through similar situations during camp where you do move-the-ball periods and the offense coordinator can just call whatever. Especially when you get through all the installs which we have. You get through all the installs and then everything’s available in those move the ball periods.”
What’s been your history with joint practices and what are you looking forward to next week against the Raiders?
“It’s nice to go against different scheme, different players. So that’s always a bonus. Then all the competitiveness that comes along with it is always a fun thing for quarterbacks to enjoy.”
I know it’s your first camp with WR Brandon Aiyuk, but what is it he’s doing that’s making it so easy for every quarterback to connect with him?
“He is just crisp. He’s very consistent in his route running. So, I think that’s huge. And then obviously, we know what he does with the ball once he gets it after the catch. So, Brandon has continued to play at a high level throughout camp and that consistency is going to be huge throughout the season.”
Over the years, several offensive players have complimented Kyle’s system by saying that he communicates it really well to where every position knows the full picture. Have you found that to be helpful in your learning of the offense that a receiver might know more about the whole system than at one of your previous stops for example?
“I think the biggest thing is, I don’t want to compare it to any of my previous stops, but I think the biggest thing is just everyone understanding, because the receivers are very involved in the run game, which I know is huge in this offense for asking receivers to be able to block linebackers and block down safeties obviously and being able to understand the verbiage that allows us to do that and then have [T] Trent [Williams] or whoever on a corner. So, it’s everyone kind of understanding their role in the run game. And that makes the pass game that much easier.”