Jim Harbaugh talks Brandon Jacobs, 49ers running back situation

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

We break down Jim Harbaugh's comments about Brandon Jacobs and his role in the 49ers rushing attack.

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Monday and had a chance to address Brandon Jacobs situation in the 49ers running back stable.

A lot of people are wondering, RB Brandon Jacobs - you guys brought him here in the offseason, still hasn't gotten on the field for any plays. What's the vision for him as far as how he's going to make a contribution?

"I think that's all decided on the field. Brandon came here, in training camp was doing very well and got injured. Then he is working his way back. That's a process that's going on and simultaneously you have some guys who have played very well at that position. So I would say it's a process."

This is not exactly a shocking answer, but it is still worth pointing out. It's a shame that Jacobs did get hurt because I thought in his limited action he was looking quite sharp. It was only exhibition play, but given the context, he was running people over.

While it would be nice to get him on the field, it says so much about the 49ers running backs and offensive line that he has had to remain sidelined. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter have been quite strong in the rushing attack, thanks in part to their tremendous talent and in part to the dominance of the 49ers offensive line in the rushing attack. The 49ers lead the NFL in yards per carry, and there has been little reason to mix in another running back.

Jacobs was finally activated last week, which is a big step forward from his inactive days. The question now is when he'll get some opportunities. I asked a similar question yesterday about LaMichael James. These two backs have been inactive for some different reasons, but they remain inactive in part because they have not been able to show they can do more than the combination of Gore and Hunter. We'll see if that changes any time soon.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - October 22, 2012
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

How was your weekend?

"Great, outstanding weekend."

Did you see the big game?

"No. I spent every waking and asleep moment with my wife and kids. Had a wonderful weekend, every minute of it was with them."

Did you guys do a bunch of the work last week, preparation for the Cardinals gameplan?

"Yeah, it's ongoing. We did some of it on Friday and then that continues today and tomorrow. And then the next day, and the day after that, the hay will not be in the barn. "

Four days off for the guys during a five day period. Did they need that time to get off their feet and get those bumps and bruises rested and healed?

"Yes."

How do they feel? They've reported back. Is it a healthy bunch right now?

"I believe so. I believe it will be, especially as the week goes on. A lot of our guys came in and lifted and got treatment. Going in that direction."

I think RB Frank Gore has 103 carries in seven games. Is that about what you want to see from him workload wise? That's considerably less than he had at this point last year.

"No, didn't have any number in mind."

Generally speaking though, do you want to see him have fewer carries this year than he did in the regular season last year?

"No, not necessarily. He's doing a great job. Been very productive when he has had the ball in his hands."

A lot of people are wondering, RB Brandon Jacobs - you guys brought him here in the offseason, still hasn't gotten on the field for any plays. What's the vision for him as far as how he's going to make a contribution?

"I think that's all decided on the field. Brandon came here, in training camp was doing very well and got injured. Then he is working his way back. That's a process that's going on and simultaneously you have some guys who have played very well at that position. So I would say it's a process."

What do you make of the Cardinals?

"Very good football team. They play outstanding defense. Very dangerous offensively. A team that we know. They know us. Have a lot of respect for the Cardinals."

When you see a team struggle protecting the passer as much as they have this season, do you see that as another golden opportunity for you guys to get to the passer?

"It's a challenge for everybody. In this league, call it a struggle, call it a challenge. Every single week, that's a challenge and an opportunity for both teams. Both teams are faced with the challenge of protecting their passer and both teams have the opportunity to get to the opposer's passer. It's a test of wills on sides, protecting and putting pressure on the passer."

What do you like most about G Mike Iupati and G/T Alex Boone and the way they're working together?

"Just been fantastic. I thought the guard play this past game was top notch. Both of those guys, Mike and Alex Boone had their best or close to their best games, which is saying a lot because they've had good games. The way the three of them worked together, I thought it was outstanding. Upon further review we had to really look at it and say that both Mike Iupati and Alex Boone had excellent games. The more you watch the tape, the more you appreciated that aspect of it."

Is it hard to believe that Alex Boone was an undrafted rookie?

"That happens, yeah. To his credit, he's taken his opportunity, his talent, his work ethic, and also a great attitude. And then he's got it. And I think it's a great lesson for all the young players, individual players, that working hard, doing it with a great attitude, a team attitude, you figure it out. You get it. And he's a wonderful example of that."

C Jonathan Goodwin had said last week he's never been around a guard that enjoys running power as much as G Mike Iupati. Does that show up on film? Or do you get a sense just from him how much he enjoys getting up and going after linebackers on those plays?

"Yeah, I think its high enjoyment level. He's a very strong man that plays very physical. It's talent. It's attitude. It's a lot of those things. But, he's unique in that he is as big, as fast, as quick twitch as he is. And also secretly likes it to come down to just that, the physical nature of it."

When you obviously looked at film from 2010 when he was a rookie, did he jump out at you? Has he improved a fair amount in these past two seasons?

"Yeah, I think he's getting better and better. The group is as a whole. Talked about it before. [Offensive line coach] Mike Solari and [Offensive Line coach] Tim Drevno do a great job with them. And continues to keep going on the right track."

Has the line had to use the silent count much yet this year? And does Phoenix's stadium \ require it much?

"Yeah, anytime you're on the road you have to be prepared to the use of silent count. Yes, we have had to use silent count this year."

I'm sorry can you repeat? It's hard to hear.

"Yes, we have used the silent count this year, and you always have to be prepared for it when you're on the road."

Is Phoenix any harder than Seattle? I know they've said they've had to use it quite a bit in Seattle. Is Phoenix any harder than any place else? Or just average?

"I think anytime you're on the road you've got to be prepared to have the silent count in your arsenal."

Are you going to find time to watch the baseball game tonight?

"Hopefully have some time to watch it. It's pretty exciting."

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll on his radio show today, he compared your statements about the Seahawks corners to what New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said about DT Justin Smith. Do you care to respond to that? Are there similarities to what Kevin Gilbride did and what you said Friday?

"No, I don't think so. And anytime you ask me about anything, the officiating from a game, previous game or an upcoming game, there's a way we've been instructed to handle that. And that is to not criticize the officiating and to address any concerns, and also just anything you want clarification of, or interpretation with, with the officials in New York. So, that's what we've been instructed to do. That's the way I'm going to answer all the questions, whatever you all ask or have your own concerns. That's the protocol. So, that's how I've been instructed to go about it. That's what we'll do."

He said he thought you may have thought your receivers were overwhelmed.

"Well, I'm not going to comment on, or get paraphrased, or let somebody quote somebody else, and then have a reaction to it. I think you pretty much know that we're from the ‘sticks and stones' school of approach. So, calling us names isn't going to hurt us."

Some people would say, why wouldn't you just limit I guess your response to say-

"No comment?"

Well no, ‘that's something that we're going to take up with the league office,' and leave it at that?

"Well, that's what I did. You made a statement, or I was asked a question. ‘Is this how you interpret the play?' ‘That's not the words I would use. We'll take it up with the league.' But, that's what we've been instructed to say and do. I can stand up here and say, ‘no comment,' to just about any question. I try not to do that. I try to be professional, try to answer questions the best that I can."

Has the league responded and given you a satisfactory answer?

"We haven't, no, we haven't, and we don't discuss those responses either. That's part of the instructions."

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