Chatting with Chavous

Not many NFL players analyze football and the men who play it like Minnesota safety Corey Chavous. The sixth-year veteran, who says he has five VCRs recording more than 10 football games each weekend, gives some of his knowledgeable impressions and observations on a variety of subjects regarding the 49ers and Vikings in a conversation this week.

Q: What kind of similarities and differences do you see between Terrell Owens and Randy Moss?

Chavous: I think that both of those guys have the ability to take it to the house at any moment. If you look at Owens, he's certainly a strong receiver. He's physical. I think he does a good job of extending his arms and getting separation in order to give him more of an opportunity to break tackles. I think he does an outstanding job of working the middle of the field. He's a guy you can also move outside. You can move him around. I think both guys are pretty versatile. They show that they can play inside or outside. Owens is certainly the most physical receiver in the league along with David Boston.

Q: What's your breakdown on Tai Streets?

Chavous: I think Tai Streets is an emerging player. Last year, he was a guy who had over 70 receptions. He runs pretty good intermediate routes. I think he has some good speed and some explosiveness. I think the 49ers like to isolate him in some one-on-one situations at times. He's a guy, who in my opinion, that I am going to cover really well. In terms of his Achilles injury coming out of school, he's made a complete recovery. If not for the injury, he would have probably been a much higher draft pick. You can see that potential emerge now. I think he has strong hands. He also has good size to position his body to make the catch even if the defender has good coverage.

Q: How much time do you spend in offseason breaking down film on opposing players?

Chavous: I spend quite a bit of time doing that. I think it helps me at this level actually. It helps me when I play a guy like Tai Streets. I know I had to cover him in I think his rookie year when I was out in Arizona. At least you have a feel for the guys when they come out. When you are facing some of these guys, who every year nowadays you are getting more and more receivers getting taken early, it is essential and an advantage to know about them. It doesn't necessarily guarantee success on Sunday afternoons, but you get somewhat of a notebook on everybody in order to find out what their style is like and what you potentially might run against them.

Q: Do you actually keep a notebook of all the guys you scout?

Chavous: I definitely take notes on all these guys. I definitely have a lot of notebooks going back to my days in Arizona. I go back and update those things from time to time. You have guys like Owens, who in my opinion has continued to improve each year. I think one thing about Terrell, you hear some people say a lot of different comments about the guy, but I know Terrell personally and I admire the way he plays the game. I think he is a guy who has a lot of passion for the game and that is something that is often overlooked.

Q: What's your analysis of the Niners' other top receivers, Brandon Lloyd and Cedrick Wilson?

Chavous: Brandon Lloyd is another guy, in my opinion, who the 49ers have gotten as a steal. I think the 49ers receivers around Terrell Owens are some good young receivers. One thing about Brandon Lloyd is that he has the ability to extend and grab away from his body. He has great body control. That is one of the things that enable him to make a lot of catches away from his body. I think he is pretty smooth in and out of his routes. You can even see his potential in the preseason as a punt rusher, which shows his versatility as an athlete. Then, when you look at Cedrick Wilson, he is a quicker guy. He has some punt return ability. He was a feature guy at Tennessee. Now, in this league, he is a guy that you can use in the slot, as well as on the outside. He is a very good route runner that sets defenders up well. He does a very good job of getting in and out of breaks and he can run after the catch. So, each one of their receivers presents a different challenge.

Q: What can you tell us about Moss?

Chavous: I think the thing that I have learned most about Randy Moss is that he is here every day. A lot of people have different opinions about him, but since I have been here, I have never seen him miss any practices or even a game in his career. He is extremely durable. He is also a guy who has a different form of leadership because he gets everybody going with the words that he says. When he says something, people listen. He is a guy who has an underrated work ethic. I think because things come easier to him, people view it differently. The one thing about Moss that you have to love is that you pretty much get the same guy every day. You don't see a lot of fluctuation, in terms of mood. People know that he is a guy that is going to bring life to a football team, not only the way he interacts with the people on the team, but the way he always comes through with the big plays at critical times. For us, it has been huge because people don't know when his big play ability will strike or when he'll make that tough third down catch. In the first game against Green Bay this year, he made a tough third-down catch along with a spectacular variety of catches that made him a force in our victory.

Q: Is it more difficult to face 49ers now because of more fronts and shifts?

Chavous: I think so. I think one thing about the 49ers is that they have a diversified attack. You can't forget about the running game. You have two backs. Barlow, who in my opinion is an outstanding back, as well as Garrison Hearst, who has been good for a long long time. Both of those guys have the ability to cut outside and cut back. They have good vision and they are strong. They break tackles. They have shiftiness to their game. They are both are runners who don't waste time hitting the holes. Then you combine that with a guy, who in my opinion, is a good fullback in Fred Beasley that is a former running back. You have three guys in the backfield that can make plays, as well. Obviously, losing Eric Johnson hurts the offense a little bit, but Weaver had some experience starting down in Miami and they have a good young tight end in Aaron Walker. So, you've got guys who have been around. The offensive line has had some injuries, but I think when you have that conglomeration of talent like that, you are able to have options with your attack. That is why it allows you to maybe go empty out of your base personnel, in which you don't have to substitute in your third or fourth receiver and still give a spread wide receiver-type look. You are able to disguise your plays through your formations and the 49ers have done an outstanding job of that this season.

Q: Who were the top five sleepers in the 2003 draft in your opinion?

Chavous: Let me remember of some of the guys who I thought were major league sleepers this year. I don't know if you would necessarily clarify this guy as a sleeper, but I thought he was a heck of a player. Ken Hamlin from Arkansas, I thought he had a chance to be a first-rounder. He had some things that happened to him this past year, in terms of his college career, that allowed him to slip a little bit, but he was a heck of a football player. Also, in terms of cornerbacks, I thought Rashean Mathis was a guy who was a very good athlete with a tremendous amount of upside. Obviously, I liked Seneca Wallace. It might be a while until he ever gets on the field. I had a lot of sleepers and I could go on and on.

Q: Do you someday have ambition to work in a team's personnel department?

Chavous: Not really. I know everybody thinks it is a huge goal of mine, but it never really has been. I did a lot of internships when I was in school for a bunch of news stations. I helped produce a newscast when I was in college. For me, that is probably my biggest passion. That and following sports in general. I'm so much into all sports, not just football. That is the way that I have been my whole life. So, I think if I could just stay involved with it from that aspect. Maybe even one day being able to produce some news television after I'm through producing some sports television, that would be great for me.

Q: Are you the next Mel Kiper?

Chavous: No, I don't think there is another Mel Kiper. I think he does a good job at what he does. People often talk and make that comparison, but like I always say, I'm the low-budget version. I don't have the time to look up the stuff like he does. Mine is more like a hobby and it is a hobby that I will continue to have until the day I die. At the same time, that is not a huge ambition of mine.

Q: How much time do you have on a Saturday to watch college football?

Chavous: I do watch college football all the time, but I'm so much into my preparation, having to make calls and checks for our team and studying our opponent. I don't get an opportunity to really break down guys during the season, as much as I do after the year. My VCRs do a lot of my homework for me. They are constantly going. I have four or five VCRs recording 10 hours of games on the weekends. The only time I really get a good chance to look at the guys is maybe a Monday when I am marking my tapes and labeling the games for that weekend.

Q: Are T.O. and Randy Moss the best receivers in league and who is better?

Chavous: I don't know if you could necessarily say who is the best. You would have to look at the numbers and both of them have tremendous numbers. I'm a teammate of Randy's so I am in his favor and on his side because I see what he does every day. I don't get to see Terrell like that all the time unless he is making a big play on some highlights or something. When you watch T.O. on film, you know he is spectacular. You look at the play last year when he was about to throw the football, then he runs around everybody on the defense for a 45-yard touchdown. I just feel that both of the guys are tremendous and both bring a lot to the game. They bring flare to the game. The NFL needs that. I definitely feel like they are the two top receivers in the league, in terms of the opponent's defensive coordinator has to prepare for.

Q: Did you know Jimmy Williams and Jamie Winborn during your college days at Vanderbilt?

Chavous: I raised those boys. Those are a couple of my little brothers. I remember that both of them were great athletes. Jimmy replaced me as a kick returner in my senior year and his freshman year. He did a good job there. He played running back for us and I encouraged him to move to cornerback because I felt that he could play cornerback at the next level. He's a little small to be an NFL running back. At Vanderbilt, you are the best athlete there so they will play you there. But, when you think of the next level, you think about where you might have a chance. For Jamie Winborn, he was probably the most explosive linebacker. There have been some pretty good ones that have come through Vanderbilt. He, along with Jamie Duncan and Chris Gaines, they are probably the three best linebackers in school history. Jamie Winborn is probably one of the best linebackers in SEC history. Both of those guys were explosive players there, ultra-productive and great young men.


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