49ers vs. Bucs: Jim Harbaugh Discusses The Smart, Cerebral Alex Smith

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh briefly chatted with the media today before practice. There's not a ton in the transcript this week, but a few interesting tidbits. He discussed some of his thoughts on how Bruce Miller has made the transition from defense to fullback and why it is possible from position to position.

Harbaugh also chatted about why Alex Smith is having success versus the blitz as compared to when he has some time to throw. He pointed to Smith's smarts and how he is able to prepare for each opponent thoroughly. I have to admit, it would be pretty fascinating to be a fly on the wall during some of the QB prep meetings. I'd be curious to see how meetings operate with Alex Smith preparing with the coaching staff for the coming opponent. There is plenty of implementation across the offense, but Alex would seemingly be the guy where it all starts before the rest of the offense gets going.

On a couple completely unrelated notes, now that it's Friday we can potentially forget about 49ers football for at least a few hours. If you're going to be around, feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss Boise State versus Fresno State, which starts at 6pm pacific. Kellen Moore will likely look to put up some big numbers to continue in his battle to stay in the Heisman race. He's had some very solid games, but with the strength of schedule taking a hit moving forward, he might need to run things up a bit. That game is on ESPN.

The other thing is for Sundays. I enjoy music but I'm awful when it comes to knowing song names and who sang what. Last week, at the end of the day after the 49ers beat Philadelphia, I went with Ice Cube's It Was A Good Day in a late post. I'd been waiting to use that for a while and finally decided to go with it. It'd be nice to match a song with the performance of the day. If you guys have suggestions for different songs depending on game results, I'd love to hear them. I know a lot of songs when I hear them, but I can't really say, I'm going to look for Song X by Artist Y. So any help you can provide would be appreciated.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - October 7, 2011
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center 

Why did you change your shirt?

"Why did I change my shirt?" 

Yeah.

"No good answer, I just did."

What can you tell us about [DT] Isaac Sopoaga's possibility of coming in or status?

"He's questionable for the game, doubtful, questionable." 

Did you have to isolate him from the rest of the team this week?

We don't really talk about what we do protocol wise. He's working through something." 

Can you talk about the precautions that were taken?

"No." 

What about [CB] Shawntae Spencer?

"Yeah, he's questionable as well. He's working through something as well." 

Talk about [DT] Ricky Jean Francois, probably be...

"Ricky Jean?" 

Ricky Jean. What did you see in that time early in camp when he was getting a lot of reps and played in that first exhibition game? Do you feel confident in his ability to step in at defense and move forward as he has been doing?

"We always have felt confident in Ricky Jean and he's played quite a bit of football here. It's not a matter of gaining that now, we've always been confident in Ricky Jean." 

Have you gotten to know him on a more personal level?

"Yeah, some." 

What do you think of him?

"I think he's a great guy. I think he's got a big heart. He is a team guy. I think he's a winner all the way." 

If Shawntae has to, if you have to cover for him. [CB] Chris Culler, talk about his development from when he came here from where he is now?

"I think there's been improvement since he's gotten here and there's a good chance that his role will be stepped up this week as well. Feel good about him getting that opportunity. It's really just the mentality around here that the next guy up is here for that reason, to play ball." 

Should we expect to see [S] Donte Whitner back this week?

"Yeah I expect that. I expect to see Donte in there." 

This game is going to have two guys playing fullback that have played mostly defensive line. What about a defensive lineman in college translates to fullback in the NFL?

"I think a quick twitch out of a stance, play thick and play physical at the point of contact. The distance that they have to travel to make contact is similar. There's some similar size, speed, attributes that both an end and a fullback can have. Sometimes linebacker's another one or a fullback, linebacker." 

Did you see a nice progression from Bruce from Week 3 to Week 4?

"Yes, from his first start to his second start?" 

Yeah.

"Yes we did. Bruce is not a talk about it guy. He has great focus. He doesn't say really a word. He can go a full practice without saying a word, just the kind of mentality you like in a fullback. He is definitely improving his technique and confidence at playing the position." 

Is there something about the power run that can be particularly demoralizing to a team? I know at Stanford the last game you used it over and over.

"I think anytime an offense can just move the ball down the field five, 10 yards at a time, that's demoralizing to a defense. That's not a position you want to be in defensively." 

Coach how can you explain [QB] Alex Smith statistically, a lot better when pressured vs. not pressured?

"I think he's got a great ability about him, be lose, be focused at the same time. I think he understands what a defense is trying to do and what their intent is. He studies the game very thoroughly, game plan and opponent structure. He's very smart, he's very talented, but in that particular situation he's not a guy that rattles easy. Plays with a very calm demeanor and makes good quality decisions." 

Jim, by winning these last two games, I would sense that a lot of the guys are comfortable in how things are going and people asking, ‘Are they getting over confident?' What's the line here? I would think you would want them to be confident regardless. Do you worry about over confidence or is that something that's overrated?

"Well, I think to play this game you darn sure have to be fearless and you darn sure have to be confident in order to be successful." 

Does over confidence ever play in to it? Can you be over confident or is that what you want the team to be?

"Over, no. I prefer that we be simple in that we have humility. We might not have known when we gained it, but speaking for myself, speaking for my team, we know we've gained it. That carries with a note of loss and true pride. Over confident, over prideful, those things can lead to big trouble." 

Jim you spoke with some pride the other day about recovering fumble or lose ball in the pile and you couldn't move your arms afterwards. Do you recall the circumstances from that one game when you were playing for the opponent?

"Yes, playing for the Colts against the Dolphins. I think it was a Monday Night game, maybe three or four minutes, five minutes left in the ball game. I've enjoyed a couple conversations with [DT] Will Tukuafu, he was in that situation and [TE] Delanie Walker. We've had two or three of those so far this year and I just like hearing what those guys have to say about it." 

Do you kind of brag about your situation?

No, I don't think I've mention my situation to them, no (laughing). That was a long time ago."

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