49ers 2011 Preparations: More Starting Time In Preseason?

The 49ers wrapped up another day of practice yesterday and Jim Harbaugh followed with a discussion of a variety of topics. One particular question caught my attention.

On whether he has thought about playing starters longer in preseason games because of the lockout and shortened practices:

"I think probably more than anything in this training camp under this format, there's no set way to do it, and you really have to be on your toes to make battlefield decisions as you go, day by day. Understanding where your team is, what's best for your team and where they're at, so gather information daily and make that decision closer to the game on next Friday. So, we still got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of practice. I mean those are valuable practice days, those are four, I mean that's half the practice days that we've had so far, so we'll continue to make those decisions, but I think this year, in this setting and environment that we're in, that that's the way to do it."

The preseason provides a couple of different opportunities for a team. The first is getting your starters ready for the season and have them in a sort of "game mode." The second is figuring out your position battles and what kind of depth you're going to have for the upcoming season. The 49ers have a host of young players looking to either battle their way into the starting lineups or simply earn one of the final roster spots. The preseason allows lesser known players to shine for their coaches.

For a team implementing a brand new offense and making some adjustments on defense, all while bringing in a host of new players, how do you best implement everything? You spend more time in practice than playing real games during the preseason. How much do the games matter for getting your starters ready for the season? Well aside from consistently taking some legit hits.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - August 6, 2011
San Francisco 49ers 

Listen to Audio I Media Center

On whether he has a different perception on the look of his team compared to last week:

"We've added some new players, it's changed that way. I wouldn't say any dramatic change. The guys have come in and worked and have been very hungry throughout the training camp. I think it's just been a steady climb getting better every day."

On whether he had a plan going into free agency and if his approach worked:

"There was a plan in place and it involved some patience. I thought [General Manager] Trent Baalke did a great job, really pleased with the guys we have on our team and I thought it was well done. Time will tell." 

On whether he is committed to [RB] Jeremiah Masoli as a quarterback rather than a running back now:

"He's getting all his reps as a quarterback now. He's done a really nice job and I'm excited to watch him in the games, in the preseason games, and he's fighting like a lot of guys to make the ball club." 

On what convinced him that Masoli could play quarterback at this level:

"Like I said a couple of weeks ago, he throws the ball like a professional quarterback and he's played his way into that thinking by us." 

On how the team is picking up the new offense:

"They're executing it well, they're learning it well, and there's been a lot put in so far in the first eight days of meetings. Then, you go back and teach the parts. You put in the hole and you put in the parts. We've got quite a bit in now, and really I have not noticed them hit the wall mentally, which is a good sign that bodes well for us." 

On his impression of [LB] Aldon Smith:

"Aldon's done a really nice job and like [T] Joe Staley pointed out, very gifted and very strong playing on his feet for the first time, and he's just getting better at it every day. Aldon is going to be just fine, we're really pleased with how he's progressing." 

On how [S] Donte Whitner fits into the defense:

"He's competing for one of the safety positions. He's an experienced guy who's been there before. He looked exceptionally quick today and seemed like he had a real nose for the football. He stood out in today's practice and quite a few plays to my eye. He'll be in there competing with [S] Reggie [Smith] and the rest of our guys at the safety position, so I'm excited to watch that competition go down." 

On whether he feels true free safeties and true strong safeties are less interchangeable:

"It can be that they're interchangeable - the free safety and the safety position, there's really no difference depending on the guys you got. I think that's the way it's developing with the safeties we have on our roster right now, that they can be those kind of safeties and that they can be interchangeable. They can play the deep half of the field, play the deep middle, also physical enough to come up and play in the box." 

On why [S] Reggie Smith did not get much practice time today:

"He started out and then he felt something that limited him the rest of the day." 

On why [RB] Anthony Dixon got so few reps:

"How few did he get? I can't tell you what the reps were, there's nothing that I'm aware of physically or there was no plan. And I don't even know if you're right, so it's hard to comment on it." 

On the conversation with Donte Whitner to sway him from going to Cincinnati:

"We really - it was just a conversation. It was just me getting to know him, him getting to know me, as much as you can do that in a phone conversation. I really wouldn't have called it any kind of recruiting pitch or anything. It was just a down to earth conversation. I found him to be a down to earth, good guy, experienced football player, a ball guy, somebody that can come into our defensive room and provide leadership of a type of guy that's a professional. That's been his reputation and we've made quite a few calls to other coaches who have coached him and players who have played with him, and that's really consistently on all levels what's come back. A heck of a football player, but also somebody who's a mature, professional kind of guy that I think will be really good in our defensive room." 

On his views are the offensive line and which spots do you feel starters are solidified already:

"Well again I mean, you can say there's some things that have taken shape on the offensive line, but still when it's all said and done, it'll be our five best starters will be in there, continue to have a rep chart, not a depth chart, but you know it's starting to take shape and there's still quite a few battles for who's going to be the starter, who's going to be the contributors, who's going to be the back ups, who's going to make the team, so quite a lot still going on in the offensive line." 

On what he's looking for from [C] Jonathan Goodwin:

"That happened today. I mean he's really been doing a lot of studying with [Offensive Line Coach] Tim Drevno. Tim and [C] Jonathan [Goodwin] have been meeting one-on-one and getting caught up to speed, and he ramped up today and got more reps and continued - just how we treat every position on the team, whoever's practicing better, whoever gives us the best chance to win, will find a starting role." 

On whether [C/G] Adam Snyder's versatility is a hindrance to serve as a starter:

"To be versatile, no that does not hurt a guy to start, and I don't stereotype guys. You know, a lot of people come out with that jack-of-all-trade, master of none, I think that's a bunch of bull crap as well. He's a versatile player, but that's a good thing, and he's been playing exclusively center in this training camp and doing a very good job, so he'll continue to just keep competing at that and the chips will fall where they may and I'm excited that when you look across our line, we do have depth, we do have competition going on, and that all bodes well for us. It just makes you feel like you don't have to jerry-rig something. That you can sit back, coach guys up, watch it unfold and get really excited about the competition in knowing that we're going to make each other better in that process." 

On whether he has thought about playing starters longer in preseason games because of the lockout and shortened practices:

"I think probably more than anything in this training camp under this format, there's no set way to do it, and you really have to be on your toes to make battlefield decisions as you go, day by day. Understanding where your team is, what's best for your team and where they're at, so gather information daily and make that decision closer to the game on next Friday. So, we still got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of practice. I mean those are valuable practice days, those are four, I mean that's half the practice days that we've had so far, so we'll continue to make those decisions, but I think this year, in this setting and environment that we're in, that that's the way to do it." 

On what a day off consists of:

"It's a mandatory day off. Twenty four hours of players off from meetings, anything that's mandatory including practice. 

On whether he has the pieces in place personnel-wise:

"We're finding that out on a daily basis. We're going to continue to be aggressive and not be afraid to do what's in the best interest of the team. I've liked our approach so far and we'll continue to evaluate it on a daily basis to make this team as good as it can be." 

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker