Q: Why did you choose the 49ers over other teams like the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants?
A: “Those were all good options, good football teams, good opportunities, but in reality this was close to home. We watched a lot of film through the season, me and [New York Giants QB] Eli [Manning], we’d watch other guys, watch a lot of teams and kind of be prognosticators a little bit to see who was on the rise. He was trying to find me a job too. This was a good spot. This team has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. We used to talk about what defense we didn’t want to face and these guys always came up. We used to talk about the young talent with [WR Michael] Crabtree and [TE] Vernon [Davis] and it seems like they have enormous talent on the team.”
Q: What did Coach Singletary tell you about playing time?
A: “Honestly, that was one of the first things that I asked him when I came out here. I didn’t word it that way. The way I worded it was, ‘Are my actions on the field going to matter?’ The last two years being with Eli, he’s been entrenched since [he won the] Super Bowl MVP. I wanted to feel in my next stop, hopefully my last stop; I want my actions to matter. For me, I got the right answer from him. ‘You go out there and compete and yes we are going to pay attention to what you do.’ That was good. That’s all I needed to hear. Now it’s just all hard work.”
Q: Do you see this as a quarterback competition or it the burden on you to win the job?
A: “For me it’s more of a mindset deal. It might sound funny, but I don’t see either one of us as a starter or a backup or anything. I just see us as all trying to get better and make the team better. It worked out for me in New York. I played well when I went in and I was always prepared when I went in. I didn’t say, ‘Well, I’m the backup and I’m going to do what I can the help the starter.’ No, I prepared as the starter. Some games I’d go in, some games I played a half, some games I played no snaps. For me mentally, it was the easiest way for me to get through it.”
Q: Do you see the similarities between your background and Alex Smith’s?
A: “Yes, being the first pick. Some of the coaches – it was funny, [Alex] was telling me a story when he was coming out of high school. It was my last year in Fresno [State] and he really wanted to go there, but he ended up choosing Utah. We know some of the same guys, but it was kind of neat to talk about some of the coaches that we had. We need to catch up.”
Q: How are you different as a player now than when you were with the Houston Texans?
A: “Experience and confidence. When I first came out, I didn’t know what I was doing. I could throw all the throws and I still believe that I can. That stuff has never been a problem for me. The stuff that has been a problem for me is, ‘Can I do this?’
My first experience, it was just such a rough year. I struggled with that… I really didn’t realize how important the team was and how important having good coaching and guys that believe in you. That’s what I go back to with the 49ers believing in me and wanting me here. That stuff’s important as a player. It’s not going to help you throw a quick out or a post, but it helps you just carrying yourself in the locker room because as a quarterback you have to carry yourself the right way or guys aren’t going to believe in you. I went through the year in Carolina which was tough when I left there. I was kind of just wondering, I’ve said it before, if this is really what I wanted to do. It wasn’t fun anymore.
When I went to New York, I got around some awesome guys, awesome coaches that believed in me. They never showed a lack of confidence in me. That’s why, when we went on the field, we had success. That stuff is important, but those last two years were great. I recharged my battery for my career and now I feel like my talent level and my experience level are right next to each other. Hopefully, that can transcend into helping the team win.”
Q: Did you take any offense to LB Patrick Willis’ comments about you on Twitter?
A: “I was actually sitting in [GM] Scot [McCloughan’s] office and he called my phone and I took it and walked out on the patio. We had a great talk. I understand he’s definitely passionate about winning and he’s protecting his teammates. For a guy to play that well and to have that much energy, for him not to respond a certain way, I think that would be a little strange.
“Of course, initially you say, ‘Well, I can play.’ As a player, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t, but after talking to him, he was very apologetic and I told him, ‘You don’t have to apologize for anything. You said what you said and you believe that and that’s fine. It’s my job to change your opinion of me,’ and that starts from day one working out here and getting around those guys and showing them that I can play the game and I want to help you guys win.”
Q: How much would it mean to you to stop people from thinking of you as a first round bust?
A: “For me, that’s the biggest thing. I could have easily went back [to the Giants], sat there for the next seven or eight years and been a backup and got paid fine and my family would have lived in New York half the year and California half the year. It’s a great life for my kids. For me, I was in such a good place with my experience and my playing ability that it was time to go out and push myself a little bit. I wanted to see what was out there. Thankfully, the Arizona and San Francisco deals, even the Cleveland deal, those opportunities were out there for me, so I could go get them. So I’m super excited to come out and do this.”