Johnnie on the spot

"I am going to leave that (his status as a possible starter) up to them. I know what I expect out of myself, and I am going to keep that to myself, but my main thing is that I am going to work as hard as possible and I will be the best player that I can be and if that becomes a starting role, then that is my main goal." -- Johnnie Morton

Q: What did 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan do with you in Detroit to improve you so much?

Morton: He taught me how to be a complete receiver and how to see receiving as an art form. Basically you can take any guy with talent and he can show from before you get to the line of scrimmage to every single bit of the route proper technique and how to get open regardless of what the defensive back is doing. He is the one who taught me how to be a receiver. The one thing about coach Sullivan is that he takes great pride in teaching.

Q: With all of your NFL experience, how much of your role is going to be teaching?

Morton: The one thing that I know is that everything that he is trying to teach in his drills to the young receivers I have been through, so I can give them a player's perspective. A lot of times I will be showing them how to do it just like coach Sullivan, I will probably be a secondary coach and also I know what he expects from his players and I like to lead by example I like to work hard as possible, I am not a big rah-rah guy, I can be but what I like to do is work hard and hopefully that will become contagious for the younger guys.

Q: Did you talk to any other teams before signing with the 49ers?

Morton: I talked to a handful of teams, but as soon as I found out the 49ers were one of the possible teams I made them my main focus, especially because of coach Sullivan.

Q: What do you know about coach Nolan?/p> Morton: Coach Nolan? I know that he is well respected in the league and I have heard nothing but great things about him. I have seen him on interviews and I knew that he was the type of guy that I wanted to play for, so I was excited about that.

Q: Are you expecting a starting role here?

Morton: I am going to leave that up to them. I know what I expect out of myself, and I am going to keep that to myself, but my main thing is that I am going to work as hard as possible and I will be the best player that I can be and if that becomes a starting role, then that is my main goal.

Q: Do you know anything about the 49ers quarterbacks?

Morton: I know that they are all talented, and I think that because they have so many guys it is going to bring about some healthy competition and that is going to make them all better. I am just looking forward to playing with all of them, I have seen them all, I haven't seen a lot of Alex Smith but I have seen the other two and I think that they are going to push each other.

Q: What did it take to convince you that this organization is on the right track?

Morton: Everything is starting fresh and that is something that I want to be a part of and just regain the history and the tradition that they had there, that is one of the main reasons that I went to USC is so many players went through there and it is just a well respected organization like the San Francisco 49ers. I was there earlier (Tuesday) and met a lot of different people in the building, from the doctors to the trainers, PR Department, Coaches, strength coaches, security everyone there is so positive and you can tell that there is a lot of energy in the air they feel that it is time to do everything the right way and I can tell that is what is going to happen.>

Q: Have you thought about what number you are going to wear?

Morton: I know that I will be a teen number for the preseason, but its funny the two numbers that I have worn as an NFL player are both retired, and like Jerry did to Steve Largent I am not going to ask him to wear 80, I really don't care about a number as much as I do about being a 49er.

Q: Does it matter whether you are a split end or a flanker?

Morton: To be honest, I am a natural split end, that is the only position that I have played since high school and the dynamics are different from a flanker because you are on the line of scrimmage. I am used to having guys right in front of my face and that determines the technique to use to get off the ball. As a flanker you are a couple yards back. Route depth, I can run 18 yards with my eyes closed and stop because I know how many steps it takes. I have played the slot before and I have been on the move a lot so I have the ability to play what is called Zebra in our offense so I can learn Z which is not a problem, but I am probably a natural split end.

Q: Mike Nolan said that you are his kind of guy, what does that mean?

Morton: I would think it means to be a professional football player, meaning a lot of guys I don't think that they really have what it takes to do the right thing as a far as working as hard as possible every practice and just maximizing your potential. Some guys have it and some guys don't and that goes with any job and that is one thing that I have taken pride in my whole career or I wouldn't be here going into year 12. And I just want to help this team overall just get better, be positive about everything because regardless of what is going on your attitude effects everyone. If you lose, but if you find the positives in it and then apply it to the next game that is how you turn things around.

Q: What does it mean that Mike Nolan wanted you over Jerry Rice and David Boston?

Morton: Those are two big names. Jerry Rice, I don't have to tell you guys anything - you know more about Jerry Rice than I do. He is the main reason that I chose number 80 in college and in the NFL. The only place I didn't have it was in Detroit because it was not available. David Boston is a great talent, he has done a lot, he has had some issues recently, but he is an immensely talented player and for me it is an honor that out of those other two receivers that coach Nolan wanted me there and I will do everything to give him all that I have and be the player that he expects me to be and some.

Q: How would you evaluate your play the last few seasons?

Morton: Last season, I think my whole career in Kansas City got gradually better. Last year I was on my way to 1,000 yards and then got a little knee injury at the end of the season and it didn't heal up until about the end of the season. But I felt really good, I know only because our offensive coordinator Al Saunders told me because I was really good at converting third downs I think that was a strength of mine. Clutch catching. I think playing fast, that is something I heard Jerry Rice did a lot, John Robinson in college told me about that, and they stress it at Kansas City, that is something else I think will be a strength, just being a diverse player and being able to contribute.


Niners Digest Top Stories