The newest Niner

Fourth-year defensive lineman Chris Cooper talks about coming back to the Bay Area to join the 49ers and discusses the qualities he brings to the team:

Q: What kind of objectives do you come to this team with?

Cooper: First of all, to just start turning this thing around and start getting some wins under our belts. I think I can really help out in there.

Q: Did you enjoy your previous stay in the Bay Area with the Raiders

Cooper: Yeah, I love the Bay Area. I love the people out here. I still have my house in Oakland. So everything's good.

Q: How do these new colors feel?

Cooper: It feels good. I was looking at them today – gold and red. I like these colors.

Q: The talk is you'll be playing more defensive tackle here. Is that something you're comfortable with?

Cooper: It's something I played a lot last year. I got the last nine games last year starting at tackle, so I got pretty used to it. But I still know my defensive end, so I think I'll be able to do what I did out in Oakland, play a little bit of the end in the run downs and maybe pass rush and play some D-tackle.

Q: How did it come about that you've joined the Niners?

Cooper: Well, I actually heard from the Niners before I even went down to Dallas, that the Niners were interested in me before that trade. It didn't end up working out (in Dallas), so everything worked out perfect. I got back here with the team that was supposed to get me in the first place.

Q: Has there been any further fallout or developments in you being implicated in the BALCO steroids scandal?

Cooper: That's over. That's all in the past. What was done there – that's over.

Q: What happened with you in Dallas?

Cooper: I just went down there, and I was kind of like the third man on the inside, and working in the rotation in there. They were only suiting up so many guys on the inside, and I came in late, so it's always kind of hard to beat somebody out, and then it came down to last week, and I guess they just didn't want to give up any draft picks or whatever the deal is they had with Oakland, so they ended up just releasing me. Whatever the reasons are, it's unfortunate it didn't work out.

Q: What was it like for you being in that situation?

Cooper: I mean, it was good to play for (Bill) Parcells. He's one of the greatest coaches in the NFL. He's brought a lot of teams to the Super Bowl. To play for a coach like that and understand what his standards are was really good. I think it helped me out quite a bit, like practice tempo and focus and concentration and everything like that. He just gave me a different outlook on the game that you really never even looked at before.

Q: What do you expect your job will be here?

Cooper: Kind of the same thing like I was doing out in Oakland, playing the D-end and the D-tackle, playing run downs at D-tackle. Pretty much helping out wherever they need me and trying to get in that rotation. I can move inside on nickel (downs), too.

Q: Is this a good opportunity for you here to step right in and get some significant playing time?

Cooper: That's what I'm hoping for, to get in there right away this week. I've been ready to get in there, I just haven't really had many opportunities yet this year. It's going to really feel good to get out there and start running around and hitting people.

Q: It wasn't long ago that you were having some real success in this league. What's it like to be sort of bouncing around right now?

Cooper: It's an eye-opener. It really makes you be thankful for what you're doing. You can't really take anything for granted. Going from starting nine games last year, then bouncing around to your third team in one year. So it makes you really focus in and try to really give 100 percent. You can't take anything for granted. You slack off one bit and you never know when it's time to go.

Q: Did you perhaps not appreciate as much before what you had going in this league?

Cooper: No, it just makes you realize that, like, sometimes you kind of get comfortable. You can never get comfortable. You have to keep going. You can't think for one second that you're safe at one place. You can't really take a practice off – you can't do anything. You have to give it everything.


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