Considering that he is the reigning Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, Chris Borland sure has dealt with a lot of critiques.
Most relate to his “T-Rex arms” or the claim that at 5’11″, Borland is simply too short to play in the NFL. As Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, of the 99 linebackers who have been picked in the top-80 selections since 2005, Borland is one of four who stands under 6-feet tall.
Still, that didn’t stop GM Trent Baalke and the 49ers brain trust from snagging the former Wisconsin standout with the No. 77 overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Here are the highlights from Borland’s recent interview with reporters at Levi’s Stadium.
Note: Questions paraphrased but Borland’s answers are directly transcribed.
What did you think when the team signed fellow inside linebacker Shayne Skov after the draft?
I didn’t really give it a lot of thought … It’s been great working with Shayne these past few days. He’s a smart guy…and I’ve got a lot of respect for him.
What’s it been like to be around 49er legends like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman?
There’s so much to learn…It’s been great to work with Patrick one-on-one…The way he works, the way he approaches things and leads. It’s inspiring…I don’t know if there’s two better guys on the team to learn from.
When was the first time you heard the knock “short arms”?
Probably the Senior Bowl was the first time.
And what was your reaction?
I didn’t really give it a whole lot of thought.
Moving away from the talk about physical limitations, what would say about your mental tenacity?
I think I have to have it. I don’t think I really have a choice. Luckily, I was born with it, and I love to play that way. So, I think hopefully guys respect it, emulate it. But as far as being tenacious and being aggressive, it’s just the way I am. It’s the way I’m going to be this year.
What stood out when you got the chance to face off against running back Carlos Hyde in the Big 10?
He was just a complete, all-around back—didn’t have any flaws really.
What would you say to the argument that you were a great college player but that your skills won’t translate to the pro game?
You have to prove yourself at the next level. College doesn’t matter. It’s a brand new slate. I intend on proving my skills at this level.
You can watch the whole interview with Borland below:
Up next in the Q&A series will be wide receiver Steve Johnson.