Camp Q&A: Zak Keasey

One of the surprising new looks of 49ers training camp is Zak Keasey seeing extended time as the team's first-unit fullback. Keasey appears in line to supplant veteran Moran Norris at the position, and here in an interview with SFI, the rising young talent discusses his emergence and also his transition to fullback after playing linebacker in college and at the start of his NFL career.

Q: What are all these reps you are getting at fullback doing for your game?
Keasey:
It definitely means a lot to me. I definitely stay humble and don't take anything for granted and just go try to take advantage of every opportunity I get out there to get better and work on my skills and try to do every play exactly how coach wants it to be done.

Q: Our things crisper for you working with the first unit?
Keasey:
It definitely helps give you a little more confidence in what you are doing, having the chance to work with the first guys and go against the first defense and stuff, it's definitely a plus to get a little bit different look on things.

Q: Has it been a surprise to you to be working so much with the first team this so far this summer?
Keasey:
Yes and no. It's a surprise and it's not. I just continue to try to work hard and try to get better every day out there, and always hope that it's going to pay off in the long run. But, like I said, I'm not going to take anything for granted. Nothing's going to change about my work ethic and how I'm going to go about things. I'm going to compete every single play, and give 110 percent and continue to improve.

Q: Do you consider yourself the starting fullback on this team now?
Keasey:
Ah, no I don't. I don't make those type of decisions. We got another great fullback who's been here and been the starter for a while, so we're kind of just trying working together trying to compete, push each other and do whatever we can to help the team out.

Q: After playing linebacker in college at Princeton, in your mind have you made the complete transformation to fullback at this point in your career?
Keasey:
I think so. This will be my third year now making the position change. It definitely took longer than I thought. Having the chance to get more reps now definitely helps out. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with that and the position.

Q: How would you describe the responsibilities of the fullback in the Mike Martz offense?
Keasey:
I guess it's a little more versatile, you have to be a little more dynamic. You have to be able to block, you have to be able to run the ball when needed, pass protection, and catch routes. So it's definitely a little more dynamic of a position than in other offenses. So that's exciting. I'm excited to have coach Martz here and this system and have a chance to work with him and hopefully grow with it.

Q: How does the system fit your skills?
Keasey:
I mean, that's not really up for me to decide or say. But I think there's a lot of things that I can provide, a little more versatility to that spot. I just try to showcase that whenever I have the opportunity to do it.

Q: Martz said that you have an uncanny ability to get through tiny holes in the line of scrimmage to get to the second level and block defenders. What can you tell us about that?
Keasey:
I'm not really sure about all that. I just try to understand the scheme that we're trying to do and what my responsibility is, and how I can help out on the play, and just try to do that to the best I can. I don't know if maybe playing linebacker helped out a little bit, having in the past seek out the running back and shoot the gaps. So maybe that helped a little bit. Now I'm just searching for maybe a linebacker or someone from the secondary coming down instead. So to work my ways through the holes might be helped out a bit from my past experience.

Q: So playing linebacker earlier in your career kind of help you see things from the other side?
Keasey:
Yeah, it does. In a way, it helps me to have a little better understanding what the defense is trying to do, and how they're going to sit up on some of the run plays and what not.

Q: Now that you're into the second week of training camp, how do you see things evolving with the new offense?
Keasey:
I think things are coming along well. We're still doing a lot of installation, so it's still a lot of new stuff. We're just continuing to work on plays and try to find out what fits the personnel out there the best, what's going to work best for the team. It's definitely a work in progress, but I see us getting better each and every day out there, continuing to work hard.

Q: You've been a top special teams player for the 49ers, but what does it mean to you to be getting more involved as an offensive player now?
Keasey:
The goal is always just to help the team out in any way possible. Last year it was mainly on special teams. If it may be on offense (this year), I'm just looking to help the team out in any way possible. I'd love to be able to play offense and special teams. I'll play defense, I'll play whatever they want me to. I'm just out there trying to do the best I can and do whatever I can to help the team out to be the best it can be.

Q: How did it all go down that you got turned into a fullback?
Keasey:
At the end of my first year in Washington, one of the last weeks of the season, I had been on their practice squad and I got waived. My agent talked to them out here, and they said they wanted to bring me out here to try fullback out, and I was up looking for a fresh start and it sounded like it would be a good challenge, so that's what happened. I came out here the last two weeks of 2005, and that started it.

Q: What did you think when they said they were going to make you a fullback?
Keasey:
It was a little strange. I hadn't played fullback at all that year or at all in college. But when the San Francisco scout was out there at Princeton, he had worked me out a little bit as a fullback, so I had an idea that's what they might be thinking. So, it was something intriguing. I knew it would be a good challenge and that's something that I'm always looking forward to.

Q: Do you need to change your body at all to accommodate the change in positions?
Keasey:
To be a big blocker, definitely putting on some extra weight can help. But at the same time, I don't want to diminish my agility or something else that might be able to help me out in the other aspects of the position. So, I kind of just stay with what's comfortable, about 235, 240.


Niners Digest Top Stories