June 22, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEO
Linebacker Scott McKillop ranked as the 49ers' most productive special-teams player as a rookie in 2009. But his second year in the NFL ended before it began.McKillop sustained a devastating knee injury early in training camp last summer and underwent season-ending ending surgery to repair tears to the anterior cruciate ligament and patellar tendon in his left knee.
REWIND: 49ers' McKillop out for season with knee injury
He spent several months in the Bay Area after the surgery, but eventually moved in with his parents in the Pittsburgh area to save money and continue to rehab during the lockout."I'm actually making money this offseason, compared to last year," McKillop said. "My parents don't charge me rent. It's a lot cheaper, staying at your parents' house than living in the Bay Area."When asked if his parents are giving him an allowance, McKillop quipped, "I tried, but I guess a 25-year-old professional athlete isn't entitled to that."McKillop works out in Pittsburgh under the direction of former University of Pittsburgh strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris. He credits Morris for getting him in the best shape of his life. When McKillop was injured, he weighed a little more than 250 pounds. Currently, he weighs 240.McKillop meets regularly to condition with 49ers teammates and former Pitt players Shawntae Spencer and Nate Byham.After a checkup last week with two Stanford orthopaedic surgeons and 49ers team doctors, McKillop was told he is on track to be be cleared to practice if the 49ers open training camp, as scheduled, on July 28."It's been a rollercoaster, getting drafted, doing some things in the first year and looking forward to the next year, then getting hurt," McKillop said. "It's life. A lot of ups-and-downs, and you got to keep battling."Q: How's the knee coming along and how are you feeling?
SM: "The knee is coming along real well. I just got back last Friday. I was in the Bay Area, getting my knee checked by Dr. (Gary) Fanton and Dr. (Timothy) McAdams. The knee is doing well. It's been a long 10 months, and I'm right on track to be ready for the season if it starts on time. I'll be able to be cleared to participate full-go. I didn't play last year, so I have a lot of things built-up inside. I'm looking forward to it."Q: When you got injured and had the surgery, what kind of time frame did they give you?
SM: "We really didn't talk much about it. They just said, here's what happened and here's what we're going to do. It's happened to a lot of other players. Thomas Clayton had a similar injury the year before and he was playing the following year. They didn't give me anything to look forward to. They just said, 'There's nothing you can do about it, so move past it and get ready for next year.' "Q: What was the worst part of it, the ACL or the torn patellar tendon?
SM: "That was my first injury I ever had in my entire career in any sport, from kindergarten as a kid playing football, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, anything. I'd say an injury like that is more emotional than physical because, one, I wasn't able to be out with my teammates and that was a big letdown. And, two, and we weren't having as good of a season as we wanted, so not being to hep out was hurting me. I'd say an injury like that is more emotional because sometimes it plays tricks on your mind."Q: Did you do most of your rehab in Pittsburgh?
SM: "I went home the first weekend in December, and I'm still rehabbing with the same person that Shawntae Spencer rehabbed with back in Pittsburgh. When Shawntae tore his knee, he came back to Pittsburgh and actually came back better than before. So it's a good thing I'm rehabbing with him -- Buddy Morris, who is Pitt's ex-strength coach. Fergy (49ers director of football operations and sports Medicine Jeff Ferguson) and the 49ers had a good relationship with him and they trust his body of work."It was good being around the locker room from August to December. I was in the team hotel and a bunch of the guys stopped by after practice, late at night, to check on me to see if I was OK. I had Shawntae, Nate Byham. A bunch of guys still made me feel like I was a part of the team."Q: How many times have you replayed the practice play on which you got injured? Why did things go wrong on that play?
SM: "The funny thing is I've never watched the play. I don't think I will because I moved past it. There's nothing I can do about it. It was just a freak play. I was carrying one of the tight ends (Tony Curtis) up the middle of the field in Tampa (cover-2 defense), and I went to plant. He planted. As I was planting on my left leg, both of our body weight and pressure got together, and the knee hyperextended backward."Q: There were reports you were jumping for a ball. That isn't how it happened?
SM: "There were a lot of reports. I thought it was kind of comical. A bunch of fans were there, too. So there were a bunch of eyes watching the play. There were a lot of reports. No, I was just covering the receiver and a freaky thing happened. When I went down, I thought, 'Something's wrong.' I thought my knee was backwards. I reached down, and thought, 'OK, it's fine.' I tried to get up, and and I knew, 'This isn't good.'"When it happened, they brought me inside. Takeo (Spikes) came in and he said some pretty positive things that helped me. He tore his Achilles a while back. And he told me, 'It's over and done with, just look forward.' He had some positive words for me."Q: If training camp opens on time, July 28, will you be ready?
SM: "If camp opens on July 28th, I'll be ready on July 28th."Q: Would you be in pads and with no restrictions?
SM: "Correct. That was one of the big things when I went out and talked to the doctors. They said, 'As far as we're concerned, you'll be cleared to participate in camp.' "Q: Can you come back even stronger than before?
SM: "You grow as a person because of what happened. I've had a lot of time on my hands to grow. I think I am in the best shape of my life. I understand there are a lot of people who don't think I can come back from it. So I have a lot of different types of motivation for the upcoming season."Q: Will you wear a brace on the knee?
SM: "I'll wear a brace for the season, but I've talked to a lot of different people who've had similar injuries and they say at first you're not going to want the brace, but then you get used to it. And, then, more than likely, you're not going to want to take it off because it becomes a part of you."Q: What are you able to do right now? Can you run and cut?
SM: "I've been doing everything like a full player probably for the past four to six weeks."Q: What makes you think you're in the best shape of your life?
SM: "I look a little different than I did last year. I'll just say that actions speak louder than words. I'm ready for the season."Q: Before the lockout, did you have an opportunity to speak with 49ers linebackers coach Jim Leavitt or defensive coordinator Vic Fangio?
SM: "I was fortunate enough, coach Leavitt was the head coach at South Florida when I played at the University of Pittsburgh. So he's had an opportunity to see me for two years. So I'm fortunate he's actually seen me play, so he knows what I'm about. And I've seen his type of coaching. I know a bunch of players he coached. I had an opportunity when I went out there before the lockout to sit down and get a chance to meet Coach Harbaugh and Coach Fangio."Q: How do you think you fit in with the new defense?
SM: "It was pretty elementary. There wasn't much X's and O's. It was so far in advance. It was before the draft. They said they know what kind of player I am. They said get your knee back, and when we get the ball rolling, and they're excited for the season."Q: As a rookie you were one of the team's top special-teamers, so what are you looking to do this season?
SM: "First off, I have to show that my knee's fine and there are no restrictions, as far as that. Whatever my role on the team is, I'm fine with whatever they want me to do. I love special teams. That role was something I cherished as a rookie. If that's my role right now, I'm more than happen for it. Whatever they want me to do, when the time comes, I think we're ready."Q: Which of the two inside linebacker positions do you expect to play? (McKillop was Spikes' backup at "Ted" before the injury)
SM: "I don't even know. I asked them about that, and they said they had no idea, that they'll see when everybody comes out there. Anything can happen. They want the best 11 guys on the field."