S Malik Mustapha Press Conference

S Malik Mustapha

Press Conference – April 27, 2024

San Francisco 49ers

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Just wondering about your interaction with the 49ers heading into the draft. Did you did you meet with them? Did you visit or anything like that?

“Yeah, I had my only formal meeting with them at the combine. It was awesome being able to meet, [President of Football Operations and General Manager] John Lynch obviously, and the whole staff. Even [Former 49ers RB] Frank Gore was in there. He’s someone that I grew up watching and it was kind of a starstruck moment there. But it was definitely a good meeting with them, talking about my life and things like that. And throughout the process, talking to scouts post-combine. So yeah, those were my interactions with the 49ers leading up to the draft.”


Can you describe your style of football? What the Niners are getting?

“Yes, sir. I’m a downhill, speed, tenacity, ballplayer that plays with a lot of fire. I’m able to line up pretty much everywhere. Just watching the film, I’m able to impact the game on all levels of the football. I’m pretty sure the 49ers have a plan for me. I really feel comfortable in a lot of spots, being able to show that versatility during my time at Wake Forest.”


I see your shirt. What’s the definition of Mustapha?

“Yeah, so it says chosen, selected, appointed, and preferred among many. That was something that my mom helped out with, and my uncle, getting these T-shirts made. Just knowing that the brand Mustapha has a lot of meanings to it and what I symbolize. Kind of how I’ve idolized myself and that’s what I carry onto my name.”


How do you symbolize that?

“If it was up to me, I would say king. But I feel like a lot of these definitions are just things that show a lot about the characteristics of me as a person, not just a football player.”


What was your responsibility on third downs when you were in that hybrid role?

“Yeah, so we called that the Panther package. Going into the game, there were different tasks, depending on the different teams. So, it was either I had to spy the quarterback or, sometimes I would be with the defensive front, running stunts. They always had a key factored on me offensively when identifying me. So, there were a lot of spots I was put in. Being at the linebacker depth, and then disguising, where I would have to burst to play single high coverage, and even an extra nickel spot. There were a lot of hats that I wore during that third down package. Just speaking to my versatility and being able to, like I said, impact on different levels of the football. So, it was a game plan adjustment for sure, but it was something that I took pride in.”


With all your responsibilities on defense, how much special teams work did you do at Wake Forest and are you eager to do that for the 49ers?

“Oh yeah, I did a lot. I was coming from Richmond, so when I transferred to Wake, obviously I had to earn the respect of the coaches and I knew I could do that on special teams. So, I wasn’t playing defensive reps at first, and I took pride in special teams day in and day out, week in and week out. So, running down on kickoff, running down on punt, doing different things like that. Just impacting the game when I can help my team pin the ball underneath the 10-yard line. At all three levels of the football game that you can impact. Special teams was the number one goal for me and going into the 49ers, I’m going to have to do the same thing. I take pride in that, and I know the opportunity is just impacting the game. It’s something that I’ll take a lot of pride in. So, I definitely don’t shy away from social teams.”


The 49ers ask their safeties to be what they call erasers and prevent explosive plays. How do you think your skillset can translate in that regard?

“I feel like I fit the model perfectly. It’s something that I emphasized a lot when I was playing defense at Wake Forest. Being able to be coached by good coaches that helped my playing ability at the next level, is something that’s going to help me become more of an eraser. Looking at film from guys like [S Talanoa] Hufanga is something that I looked at a lot during my time at Wake Forest, picking up gems from him as well. He’s one of the best erasers in the game of football and I know that learning from him and then picking up where he left off and just learning from the veteran guys there and earning the respect of everybody will help me to enhance my playing ability as well.”


In 2022, you really got after the quarterback. How much do you enjoy being part of those safety blitz packages?

“Oh, I enjoy it a lot. Just being able to be downhill fast, make the quarterback get off the read really fast, and react really fast. It’s something that kind of disgruntles the quarterback, but it’s something that I enjoy doing a lot, so I definitely don’t shy away from blitzing.”


Do you pattern your game after Arizona Cardinals S Budda Baker?

“Oh yeah, definitely. I watched a lot of cuts with Budda Baker. He’s someone that just goes downhill, no fear. Someone that’s undersized like me as well. It’s heart over matter in one of those instances. So, it’s definitely something that I carried on throughout my whole football playing career.”