QB Sam Darnold Press Conference
QB Sam Darnold
Press Conference – July 28, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
How do you look at the first three days of camp and are you doing what you want to do at this point?
“Yeah, I think obviously there’s some corrections to be made and just got to continue to feel more and more comfortable every single day. But I think it’s continuing to challenge myself, just studying as much as I can, before and after practice. But yeah, I feel like these past three days have been pretty good. Obviously they can be better, but doing everything I can to put myself in a good position during practice.”
When you go back and watch it, is the ball going where it should be? How’s your decision making, your thought process, how you’re seeing things?
“Yeah, I’m happy with the decision making. Again, the way that we talk about our reads in the QB room, it’s very clean. So feel like I’m happy with the decision making. I feel like a couple balls could have been better throughout these last three days. But yeah, that’s just the beginning of camp and continue to iron it out and get better throughout the camp.”
You’re going against the second team defense. Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks was talking about the depth of that unit yesterday and how good it is. Can you tell that from the pressure or just the speed of the backups?
“Yeah, no doubt. I think the way that, just the example that [LB] Fred [Warner] and [LB] Dre [Greenlaw] set for the backers and then obviously the front, no matter whether it’s with the ones, the twos or the threes, the offensive line and the defensive line continue to push each other every single day. And the tempo’s been really good. The effort’s been really good. You see it on tape. So I know those guys can’t wait to get in pads here pretty soon. But yeah, between the ones, the twos and the threes, obviously it is tough sometimes to tell a difference.”
You had a real nice ball to WR Ray-Ray McCloud III down the sideline. How long does it take you before you feel like you’ve got a good feel for each one of your receivers and how they like to run their routes?
“Yeah, it takes time. I think it’s as much as you can. Obviously, it’s tough with camp and all the reps and those guys running so much throughout the day during practice. But whether it’s a little bit before, obviously, in the locker room talking about routes and then after practice, getting as many routes as possible but also being smart about staying off your feet. And for us keeping the reps limited with our arms, keeping arms fresh. But yeah, I think it’s just the continued dialogue that we have with the receivers and getting a feel with them that way.”
Was it just kind of a challenge for you to get used to this rotation that you’ve done the last two days for the second team? Is that odd to get in a rhythm too?
“No, I don’t think so. I think you kind of talk about it all the time, like sudden change. You never know when the defense is going to go out there during a game and force a turnover. And you just never know when your number’s going to be called. So it’s been good the way that the reps have been going. And, again, it’s about taking advantage of those reps, taking advantage of your opportunity when it comes.”
Kyle on Tuesday said that anytime that QB Brock Purdy is out there on the field, he’ll be running with the ones. As a guy with 55 career starts, how do you take that and how do you approach this camp knowing that?
“Yeah, Brock, I don’t know exactly what it was, but I don’t think he lost a game last year. Went to the NFC Championship and who knows what could have happened if he didn’t get hurt. So I get it. And again, I’m just here to get all the opportunities that I can and see what my role is for this team.”
Do you never know when your number’s going to be called? You guys don’t know when you’re getting reps?
“No, we have a good feeling before practice how the rotation’s going to go.”
When was the last time you were in this position as a backup?
“Last year. Obviously, we made the trade for [QB] Baker [Mayfield] last year in Carolina. And again, we battled it out during camp. Obviously, he won the job and like I just said, tried to take advantage of everything, every rep that I could from that point forward before he got named the starter and after.”
Of course you did end up playing last year. What did you take from that experience and kind of doing it again that may help you?
“Yeah, I think it’s not really thinking about it too much to be honest. I think it’s just getting in there when you get a chance to play well and just have a good understanding of what’s going on, the play that’s called, what the situation is, the down and distance. I mean, there’s so many different factors that go into playing quarterback. You don’t have too much time to be thinking about what reps you’re getting. I’m not counting reps out there, I’m just, cliche, but trying to make them count.”
What is it about being here that makes you feel like this situation can bring out the best in you?
“I think this is a really good team, really good teammates. The coaching is really good and obviously it’s a first-class organization.
Steve Wilks seems to have a really hands-on coaching style, like play will happen and he’ll run right up to one of his cornerbacks and correct it. What was he like as a head coach last year? Was he like that with offensive players as well?
“He would have separate conversations with us whether it was in between periods or maybe before or after practice. But as a head coach, he was more focused on the entire operation. When he was a defensive coordinator early in the season, he was doing the same stuff you guys see at practice.”
How have you changed as a person since 2018?
“I don’t know. I think that’s a good question to ask people around me. I feel like I’ve matured in different areas of my game. I feel like my game’s gotten better throughout the years, so I just have to continue to work and get better in every area that I can.”
There are high expectations for this team this year. How does the camp feel different to you than what you experienced prior to coming here?
“I think every team in the NFL is going to compete and compete really hard. Just the situation that most of the guys on this team, the leaders on this team have been in, being here in 2019, going to the Super Bowl and last year being just short, there’s a lot of experience on this team and they know what it takes to win. You can see that not only in the way that they practice, but in the way that we all talk about football and what it takes not only on the field, but off the field.”
Three practices, all non-padded. As a quarterback, do you feel something different when the pads go on?
“You hear a difference. Feel a difference? Obviously, there’s a little bit of a difference in terms of throwing, you have to get used to throwing with pads on a little bit. You’re not really getting touched at practice as a quarterback or hopefully you’re not getting touched as a quarterback during practice. So, not a ton changes, not too much.”
You touched on what Brock accomplished last year. When you watch the film, what do you see in him? What special qualities does he possess?
“Yeah, I think for Brock, just being here for the time that I have and the couple practices that I’ve seen, it’s the poise for his going into his second year and as a rookie last year. You can see it in the way that he plays and the way that he prepares. Kid’s got poise. I don’t know if you can coach that or teach that quality and he’s got it.”
It appears that WR Brandon Aiyuk is communicative in between team drill reps. Is he giving you feedback after the reps that you have together?
“Yeah, I think all the receivers are doing a really good job communicating after practice or after a route. So, it’s great whenever you can run a route, whether it’s good or bad, continue to have that dialogue.”