Nevius: Getting to know 49ers players in a new way

When the 49ers began offering video press conferences with players, you can probably guess the reaction:

It won't be the same.

And it isn't.

It's better.

Part of it is that the players are checking in via Zoom from wherever they are, from New York to Fort Lauderdale to Houston. Often they appear to be in their homes.

By now we're all Zoom-ologists, after plenty of pandemic-mandated Zoom chats, meetings and happy hours. We notice the rookie mistakes, like putting the light source behind you - we're talking to you, offensive guard Tom Compton - so you look like a backlit, shadowy blob.

Nick Bosa took us on a short walkabout in his house when one of his dogs - who we learned are Emma, a mixed-breed rescue, and Journey, a black lab - began barking.

And best of all, we get to engage in background lurking. Looking over the subject's shoulder, you can check out wall hangings, bookshelf arrangements and the health of potted plants.

Although there was nary a bookcase to be found among the 49ers, I do think I spotted an Ohio State poster behind Bosa.

Also, it is a more relaxed interview situation. Players are sitting comfortably, talking into a screen. A bonus is seeing what they chose to wear for the interview.

Here, check out a few of the video highlights:

Jimmie Ward, Bay Area: Background: Ward brought his “A” game. He, or someone he knows, is computer-savvy enough to set his background as an aerial shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Full marks.

Vibe: Some people seem laid back. Ward actually is laying back in his chair with his left hand casually behind his head. He's wearing a silky black scarf that covers his head and is tied in back. Also a yellow branded T-shirt.

Money quote: Asked about an offer from another team, he said, “I can't confirm the other team, so sorry, but the Niners came up with a decent amount so I feel comfortable.”

Arik Armstead, Sacramento: Background: It doesn't get more basic. Flat, blank, white wall behind him and his face right up in the camera. The bottom of his goatee hits the task bar at the bottom of your screen and his hair touches the top edge.

Vibe: No fuss, no nonsense. His shirt is dark gray, which must be a thing. A lot of them are wearing something dark.

Money quote: When asked about teammate DeForest Buckner getting traded, he said it was “a shock to me. We definitely still wish we were playing together. But some things are beyond our control.”

Kyle Juszczyk, New York: Background: Kind of disappointing, standing in a corner formed by two beige walls. But he makes up for it by posting a video of himself working out in the snow, lifting big tree limbs and pulling people on sleds.

Vibe: Well, he went to Harvard, so duh, he comes across as smart and aware. Wearing a white T-shirt with a logo that makes you realize what a big guy he is. His chest looks about five feet wide.

Money quote: Asked about defending Jimmy Garoppolo to critics, Juszczyk said he was happy to do it and that the quarterback was taking doubters in stride: “I haven't seen any crazy media lashouts. He's just Jim.”


Nick Bosa, Fort Lauderdale: Until the aforementioned trip to check on his dogs, Bosa was giving us a view of himself sitting in front of a window.

Vibe: I don't think Bosa is trying to be entertaining, but he can't help it. That slow, bro drawl cracks me up. Asked how he likes virtual meetings, he offered, “It's pretty similar to normal meetings. Letting Kris (Kocurek, D-line coach) talk. That's how it goes.”

Money quote: Asked about Buckner's departure: “Buck definitely was one of my best friends on the team. He was the hype-speech guy and third-down signal caller. We're going to have to step up.”

Deebo Samuel, Houston: Background: Downstairs at a house. Cream-colored walls and a dark wood staircase in back. Looks nice.

Vibe: Let's begin with the gold and brown patterned ball cap, which he is wearing sideways. Samuel also injects a little style with a zipped workout jacket. Light-up-the-room smile. Looks like a fun guy.

Money quote: “When we got Emmanuel (Sanders), the whole room changed. Any time we wanted advice on anything, he was there.”

Raheem Mostert, Cleveland: Background: Cool, stylish minimalism. Mostert appears to be at a desk in a room with dark walls. Behind him is a photo or painting of a lion's face. Solid.

Vibe: Mostert gave the longest interview of the 10 I watched. He took his time to answer the questions. He told a nice story about Joe Staley noticing him sitting by himself at the cafeteria. Seems down to earth, thoughtful.

Money quote: Asked about worries about coming back during the pandemic: “My wife actually cried a couple of times. Not just for myself, but for those 90 guys in the locker room and their families to stay safe.”

Surely, virtual interviews won't last forever. We'll get through this virus at some point and we will be able to talk to players in person, face to face.


Contact C.W. Nevius at Twitter: @cwnevius

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