49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh chatted with the media after last night's game and naturally was not particularly pleased with the performance. At the same time he was not overly verbal in discussing the game, as has been the case in some of his dealings with the media. He was waiting for the press in the media room, which some apparently want to make into a big story.
Harbaugh made it pretty clear that he thought the offense struggled the most among the other three units. At the same time, he continues in his efforts to avoid throwing anybody under the bus. It's nice to see him treat his players with a certain level of respect, but it is also hard to get a handle on where anybody is in this process. Harbaugh is entitled to speak how he wants, but it will remain at least somewhat noteworthy. I'd say read between the lines, but there really isn't much even between the lines.
For those wondering about the positives, Coach Harbaugh was pleased with the play of Larry Grant, Ian Williams, Demarcus Dobbs. He also liked some of Chris Culliver's coverage. Generally speaking though, I think we can safely infer that he was displeased with the overall performance.
Would you put most of the offensive struggles on bad pass protection or were your quarterbacks struggling there a little bit?
"It's a bitter pill to swallow, when you're beaten that thoroughly in pretty much all phases. I think defense wasn't quite as bad as special teams and special teams weren't quite as bad as offense. Specifically with the offense, we didn't get any kind of rhythm going at all. It's on everybody involved with the offense: protection, route running, decision making - all those things."
Is it too early to really look at this and start thinking about making changes to that offense, particularly that offensive line?
"Changes? What do you mean changes? Schematically?"
"I'll always look at all things when it comes to what you can control and that's what you're doing, how you're doing it, and who's doing it. So, you're constantly always evaluating those things."
Are you confident that you can have your team ready for the opener in a couple of weeks?
"Because we have to. It's not an option not to."
Why did you not play RB Frank Gore tonight? What went into that thinking?
"That was a decision that I made. I talked to Frank and told him what I was thinking and that was my decision."
"I wanted to see the other two guys. I wanted to see [RB Anthony] Dixon and [RB] Kendall Hunter get the majority of the carries. I want those two guys to be in a position to find out who our second best back was. We found out a lot of things tonight. Some good, there was some good. Found out some things we didn't want to find out, but that's a part of an evaluation process."
You said you wanted to see QB Colin Kaepernick with your ones and against their ones. Did he show a little youth tonight?
"I think if you're just looking to find something positive to say offensively, it's not easy tonight. I'm not going to single anybody out. The players will hear it from us; they don't need to read about it as well."
Is there a chance you might be forced to start Kaepernick just for the simple fact that he is more mobile and he can escape out of trouble?
On the left side of the line, are there some communication problems that T Joe Staley and G Mike Iupati are having? It seems like there's been a couple plays where you couldn't really tell which guy had which pass rusher.
"I think we had that the first week. The second week we didn't have any communication issues. I'm not aware of any we were having tonight. It really was not real complicated what they were doing up front, but they were getting us, they were beating us. I'm not aware of any communication issues, to answer your question."
You mentioned that there were some good things you saw tonight. What, in your mind, were those?
"I think there was good play. [LB Ahmad] Brooks' interception, I don't think I've ever been associated with a game where I've seen, on the first play of the game, pick off a screen on an interception and take it in. That was good. I thought [CB] Chris Culliver played some tight coverage, it looked like he was running the routes for a few guys at times and getting his hands on the ball. There were others."
After playing some starters a lot tonight, would you anticipate not playing them barely at all like in a usual fourth exhibition game or how would you go about the fourth now?
I know this is an exhibition game, but would you call this a step backwards for you?
"I'm not going to call it anything other than it was a bitter pill to swallow whenever you lose a football game. The thorough nature of it is something that we're going to have to address and we would have anyway. We're not going to have any loser talk or hang our heads. If you're waiting for that you're not going to get it. We're going to keep our heads up and forge ahead."
I was kind of surprised when we came in here a few minutes ago and you were waiting for us. Usually we have to wait awhile for the coach and I was wondering two things: why were you here waiting for us and did you not address your team yet?
"I did address the team."
How come you were waiting for us?
"Because I was told to come to the press conference and nobody had called the media in yet. I don't think there's any big story there. After the game, I address my team and come straight in here to talk to the media."
It's nice that you're so malleable. It's nice, I appreciate it.
There seemed to be receivers running fairly open out there, definitely underneath. Were you going vanilla on scheme or was that something you were willing to give up, that underneath stuff?
"The ones that hurt us were the swing routes early in the game. I thought we addressed that after the first two drives. They also kept getting us on the 12-yard curl; hit that about three or four times in the ball game. There were some open throwing lanes. But we weren't really getting the pressure on them, certainly as much as we were receiving. We weren't giving like we were receiving."
What did you think about QB Alex Smith's play? He didn't have much of a chance, it seemed like he was under a lot of pressure each time he dropped back.
"It seemed that way and he took a couple of big hits. It seemed like there were a couple in there where he was met at the top of his drop with a defender. That's tough to evaluate."
You talked about, with your reserves playing with the first string, you wanted to get an evaluation of them against NFL starters. Were you able to get a fair evaluation, given what happened?
"In some cases we were. It didn't work out exactly as it was planned, and it seldom ever does in a football game. Offensively, the time of possession was really skewed and we didn't have near enough plays in the first half, of our own doing, to really get that executed. Defensively, I thought our young guys really got in there and did a good job. There was good play by [LB] Larry Grant; I was impressed by him. [NT] Ian Williams, [DT Demarcus] Dobbs, those kinds of guys I thought played very well. I thought we got that more on the defensive side of the ball and special teams than we did on the offensive side of the ball."
As LB Aldon Smith makes that transition, is he ready to be an every down outside linebacker?
"I think he's in a process right now."
You were talking about getting other quarterbacks into this game. I was in the elevator for a lot of it, but I don't think you got anybody but Kaepernick and Alex Smith.
"You're correct. Those are the only two quarterbacks that played."
Is that because of the struggling, you just stayed with Kaepernick longer? Was there a reason for not getting anybody else in there?
"The final opportunity to get another quarterback in was with eight or nine minutes left in the ball game. We just decided to go with a two-minute drive situation on Colin's last drive just to make sure that he had gotten that situation. I really wanted to get the other two guys in, but there weren't near enough plays to get everybody in tonight. And I would have liked to. All of those guys are working very hard and they deserve to be put in the ball game."
How much would you say the fact that the Texan's game planned and you guys didn't game plan have to do with the result.
"There's no excuses. We're game planning, too, so that's not an excuse."