TE Brayden Willis Press Conference

TE Brayden Willis

Press Conference – April 29, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

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How do you feel about the culture fit in terms of what you do and what you like to do and how the 49ers run their offense?

“First and foremost, I like winning so obviously the Niners do a lot of winning and I love doing that. Also, the system fits me really well. I think I can learn a lot from [TE] George Kittle. I think I can do a lot in terms of versatility in the offense and just the way that they use their tight end in the run game and pass game, I just think I can do a lot. I think that it’s a great fit for me. I think it’s the best fit for me and I’m excited to get in and go to work.”

What was your pre-draft contact like with San Francisco?

“The Niners showed their hand the whole time. I think they showed their hand out of most people and I fully expected to hear something from them and I did. I’m just excited to be here, excited to go to work and hopefully I can have a long, great career here.”

You’re not only known as a tight end, but you’ve done halfback work, fullback work. Where do you think your strengths are and how does that fit into the 49ers offense?

“I think mostly, I’m a tight end. I’ve done a lot of tight end work and that’s what I’m accustomed to, I’m used to. Obviously, I can play a lot of different positions and I’m going to do anything that the coaching staff asks of me, but I’m coming in as a tight end. I want to make a mark as that. I’ll do anything the coaching staff asks of me to do and I’m excited to get to work.”

It was mentioned that you would line up on occasion at fullback. Is that accurate and how did that come to be?

“I really haven’t played any fullback unless you count me being in the wing as a fullback in Oklahoma. I’ve been in the wing, I’ve been in the snip for a little bit just for specific run plays. Like I said, I can do it. I’m a football player, so it’s not hard to pick up. I can do it, I’m good at it and I’ll do whatever they want me to do. It just kind of came by me being versatile. I can do a lot of different things that football players can and that’s kind of how it came about. I’m excited to be able to do a whole bunch of different things and be a chess piece they can use. I’m excited.”

How does a college tight end views George Kittle, with the whole persona and his ability on and off the field?

“At Oklahoma in general, we watched a lot of George Kittle. He just does so many great things. He does so many things that we do as an offense, like the same schemes that we do in terms of gap, zone, outside zone, inside zone, counters, all types of stuff. We watched a lot of his film. He’s a willing blocker, great pass catcher, a great athlete, a guy that can do it all. We view him as a chess piece, a guy that can move around, a guy that can do a lot of things and make the other team pay and that’s how I view myself as well. I’m excited to get to learn from him. He’s one of the best in the business, obviously, and I can’t think of a greater mentor for me and my play style than George Kittle.”

George Kittle gets this maniacal joy from blocking, from moving a man from point A to point B. On tape, you’re a really good blocker as well. How would you characterize your passion for that physical part of the game?

“I really think you just said it. Moving another man from point A to point B without him wanting to be moved, I think that’s the best feeling in the world. It’s just as good as scoring a touchdown. When you’re able to move someone against their will, it’s the best feeling. The joy he gets from it, that’s the same joy I get from it. It’s the violent nature of the game and I think if you’re a fan of the violent nature of the game, the physicality and everything, I think you get a joy out of that too. Like I said, I think we’re both fans of the violent, physical nature of the game and that’s why we love to do stuff like that.”

Looking at your stat line, your seven touchdowns jump out. I was just wondering whether there’s a theme with those seven touchdowns? What were those seven touchdowns like?

“A lot of the touchdowns came from the red zone, but more in passing situations. There were some situations where you’re expecting a run and we did something with a little pop pass or something like that. There was one of those, but it was just a lot of match up things. You get an ability to be in a match up situation where you have a guy that you like in a match up and the coaches liked me in a lot of these match ups throughout the year, so I was able to capitalize on that. Shout out to my coaching staff at Oklahoma, they put me in great positions, allowed me to be myself, be the best football player that I could be and allowed me to capitalize on that. I think that’s more so what it was.”

You averaged 7.2 yards after catch. How excited are you to go to the 49ers and be with George Kittle, WR Deebo Samuel, RB Christian McCaffrey, WR Brandon Aiyuk who are known for their YAC?

“As my career has gone on in Oklahoma, I learned to do the yards after catch thing. Each practice, we did it. Caught the ball in practice and practiced my moves after the catch and everything. I’m excited to learn from all those guys because they’re great in YAC. I’m excited to learn from all those guys, pick up some tips and tricks they have that made them so successful in college and in the league and just make me a better player. That’s the biggest thing. I want to learn, I want to be a better player and I want to be able to contribute on a bigger scale. That’s the biggest thing I’m excited for.”