Recently signed San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon is entering his 10th season in the league, and is joining his third team. His first time living on the West coast became a reunion with his former coach Kyle Shanahan who he worked with in Washington. Joining Shanahan has was an attractive option as his best season came in 2013 when Garçon led the league with 113 receptions and had a career-high 1,346 receiving yards, all in Shanahan’s system.
He spoke at length to the media after the press conference. During the formal press conference, I asked him about his former Indianapolis Colts position coach Clyde Christensen and what the latter meant to him. He had this response:
“Clyde is the reason why I’m here. Clyde got me my first year in Indy and he was hard on me. But, he’s a great guy. He’s like a father-figure to me. I still talk to him almost every time I get a chance. I talked to him early in the year last year. He texted me a couple of days ago saying, ‘Congratulations. Don’t change.’ But, he put everything in front of me to be where I’m at. He told me to watch [former Indianapolis Colts WR] Reggie [Wayne], [former Indianapolis Colts WR] Marvin [Harrison], [former Indianapolis Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez] Gonzo, [former Indianapolis Colts TE] Dallas [Clark], [former NFL QB] Peyton [Manning] and he just, ‘Hey, this is what you do,” and he was hard on me for everything, even when I was doing something good, he was still hard on me and not letting me know that I was doing it good. But, he’s the reason why I’m here and he’s the reason why I’m 10 years into the NFL. But, Clyde is a very good guy and he helped my football career and my personal life too as well.”
I followed up with him in the locker room session, and will have more on their relationship.
My question about Clyde surprised you?
I didn’t expect that one, Clyde is my guy. That’s my guy.
You gave him a game ball too, correct?
Yeah, Clyde. I remember my first catch with Clyde, it was in Pittsburgh and then this year I caught my 500th catch and sent him the ball because he was there at the start of it. Hopefully I get some more catches and I can send him some more balls but he’s the reason why I can get on the JUGS machine and catch the ball because he was telling me what to do. Watching Reggie [Wayne], Marvin [Harrison] and Gonzo [Anthony Gonzalez], those guys in front of you made it easy. Having Clyde there, it definitely made it a good lesson to learn. A good person to learn from. It was tough when I was going through it but now, looking back, I’m glad I landed there because that’s what I needed and that’s why I’m still here to tell you the truth.
I heard he was very key in developing your route running.
He did it and that’s what I still do now. He’s very detailed on everything from getting out of the breaks, coming into the breaks low, doing everything detailed how they wanted and it shows because when we were there they were winning 14 games, 15 games, going to the playoff every year, going to the Super Bowl. Cant ever question what they say or ask you to do because the have the proof in the pudding. Having Marvin and Reggie, you gotta do what whose guys do because that’s what it takes and Clyde was there and he stayed on top of me but it was definitely worth it looking back now, 10 years, 9 years back.
What similarities do you see from Kyle Shanahan in his coaching style?
Kyle’s played the game so he’s definitely, well Clyde played as well too, but Kyle, he’s younger, he’s definitely one of those guys that wants you to do things his way but is not as detailed, our offense isn’t as detailed as the Indianapolis offense. But he definitely wants to see the effort. If you put in a lot of effort, you definitely will win Kyle over when you play for him, hard work week in and week out and that’s how he definitely loves players that give great effort from just purely wanting to be out there wanting to play football.
Coming into a situation like this, knowing Kyle, do you come in here wanting to have a role setting the tone?
Yeah, I don’t mind helping set the tone because that’s what I want to do too. I have a lot to prove to myself and for the team and for Kyle. Gotta make everyone look good for bringing me here so definitely want to set the tone, set the bar high and just make the plays that we’re supposed to make, and win games.
When you watched the Super Bowl, were there plays you have seen or did he build on it?
They built on it but you know there were a lot of plays were that when he was in Cleveland, even when he was in Cleveland, I would watch him because you know, that’s my friend so definitely when you’re on tv you gotta watch him and see. Ok I can do that play and I know this and that and I understand what they’re doing. But yeah, they built on it in Atlanta but obviously they had different plays, and great plays too, so you gotta keep extending plays. Definitely when the defense sees it all the time they key up on it and you have to throw a little wrench in there so the defense aren’t keyed all the way in. It’e definitely something they kept building and I’m sure when grow older in the offense you change things up too because that’s what happens when you do things, you change, you keep getting better. Kyle has definitely done that and I’m sure he has some new wrinkles that he’s going to throw in being here with the players that we have that’s definitely going to be good.
Is his offense complex?
I’ve been in offenses that were more complex but once I’ve learned that offense, I can learn any other offense and it was easier to transition to Kyle’s offense coming from Indianapolis but that’s just from being at Indianapolis, it was a lot more complicated. Being here coming to Kyle’s offense it’s not as complex. For new guys going in it could be difficult because there’s a lot of verbiage that’s different and terminology that mean so much stuff or minimal stuff but if you hear a lot of things you can get overwhelmed easily.
How much does it help guys like Brian [Hoyer] and you?
It helps. It helps me and Brian for sure and it helps the whole team because we can explain it to the other players. We can explain to to Marquise [Goodwin] and [Joe] Staley and the guys how simple it is instead of how wordy it is, it doesn’t mean too much. At the end of the day it’s like ‘Block this way, block that way’ instead of saying all the plays the whole play.
So are you prepared to be a wide receiver and an assistant coach?
I’ll help out for sure because that helps the team. That makes us all better because anything can happen when the next man has to step up he has to play well and provide a lot of info and knowledge on this offense and being around the league it definitely helps those guys to see them successful because that’s what happened to me. I got thrown into the fire and I was prepared. Reggie and Martin and Gonzo prepared me so that’s what I want to do for a young guy to get his opportunity but I definitely want to help them out, that’ll help our team and help us make that playoff run because at the end of the day, all the guys are going to play and we need everybody to be at their best and not be caught by surprise in the middle of the game. That’s the worst time to get caught by surprise.
What’s the secret to your longevity?
Simplifying things, staying healthy, preparing. Preparation is everything. You gotta prepare for a long season, you have to prepare you body, your mind, keep things simple. Keep it honest, work on things that need to be worked on and prepare and watch film. Watch film on yourself, watch film on defenses. Learn the offense, make it simple. Honestly keep a clear mind because it’s not complicated, it’s catching the ball, running, playing hard, knowing your down and distance, knowing what needs to be done and have fun.
When you were in Washington did you think Kyle would be a head coach soon?
We knew it was going to happen. We knew Kyle was going to follow in his dad’s footsteps and wants to be better than his dad but you could tell that he was already going into it. He has the mind of a football guy, you know he knows a lot for such a young age. I knew he was going to be a head coach at some point, I didn't when it was going to come or how fast it was going to come but after you go to a Super Bowl, it’s definitely hard to not take a head coaching job. It was going to happen. It was always happening. It was just the right time and the right moment and everything worked out for him.
Did you think this was place you could end up?
Every place was an option when you know you’re a free agent coming up. I couldn't really say I thought about the West coast because I’ve never been to the West coast, never lived out here but when you have a familiar face to go out to the West coast and you enjoy playing with them, there’s a mutual love for each other then there’s a possibility but to say the West coast, the West coast is far from home, but I’m happy it happened and I’m happy I’m out here and I’m definitely happy to be somewhere I’m wanted.
Do you see similarities between you and Anquan Boldin’s style of play?
If I can play like Anquan Boldin, I’d definitely be happy. He’s had a hell of a career, he’s been playing football very well for along time. He was Mr. Football in the state of Florida. He's a lens in Florida and not just in our home town because we were in the same county. He’s definitely a legend. If I could be like him, it would be an honor. He’s a great friend, we work out all the time together. Hopefully I can do more than he did but he’s definitely one of those guys you try to follow and try to be as good and for the long term not just for one or two years.
Do you like to run over linebackers like Anquan?
[laughing] If they’re in the way and there’s a first down, anybody can get it at that moment. Doesn’t matter who that is, I try to do my best to get as many yards any play.
Did you look at any other teams?
Yeah, there were a lot of teams that were interested, but at the end of the day Kyle was familiar with me, I’m familiar with Kyle, it just made perfect sense. The only obstacle was that it was on the other side of the country. That was the only obstacle.