Jim Harbaugh talks McBLT, Chuck Jacobs, 49ers secondary

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Friday to wrap up the week before the 49ers host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. He discussed new quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, scout team receiver Chuck Jacobs, and the improved play of the 49ers secondary. New to Niners Nation? Sign up here and join the discussion!

You have a new quarterback. Why bring in QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson?

"Really, always liked him. Always had a plan for him to be here. He just went to Minnesota after the first year. So, now we're reconnected. It aligned and we had a chance to get him and put in a claim and got him.

What about him did kind of stand out?

"Well, from the time he was here, and the things we liked about him when we signed him right after the lockout in 2011, he showed very good arm strength, really smart, got a good football character about him. And, since then, he's been playing football, watching film, getting coached, taking reps. So, feel like he's even further along than when we had him the first time, and excited about it. He's excited to be here, too."

We probably asked you this in 2011, but I can't remember the answer, did you recruit him at all at Stanford? Was he on your radar at all when you were in college?

"No. He first went to UCLA and then transferred to Sac. State. I think I was still at USD when he was first getting recruited."

Is LB Dan Skuta starting again in place of LB Aldon Smith? Skuta will start?

"Yeah, Skuta, [LB Corey] Lemonier, yeah."

What do you like out of what you've seen out of--?

"Dan?"

Yeah.

"He's just a good Flint, Michigan guy. He's like [T] Joe Staley, you know? Like me, you know, we're Michigan guys."

Something blue-collar and gritty about those guys?

"There's just something blue-collar, something gritty, determination about those kind of guys. Yeah, that's a good way to say it."

Can you talk a little bit about how well your secondary has been playing? I mean, you guys have a little bit of transition this year bringing in S Eric Reid. It seems like you're playing some of your best pass defense since you've been here.

"Yeah. Some of the numbers and statistics carry that out. Doing a very good job. [49ers secondary coach] Ed Donatell does a great job with our secondary and they work very well together. [S] Donte Whitner is a big factor in that in terms of the communication and getting guys right on the back-end. And then, some very competitive guys that are playing well right now and that bodes well for us."

What kind of a lift does CB Tramaine Brock give you in that area?

"Tramaine, T-Brock? It's pretty obvious, he's given us a big lift. He's made plays. Even before he got the two interception game he was covering, getting PBUs and tackling. Some of the most impressive things were the tackles that he was making. Third down tackles, getting us off the field kind of tackles. And, so, I think he's done a fine job."

QB Colin Kaepernick's on the injury report with a foot, he was there a few weeks ago. Has that impacted at all your practice plan for him, what he's able to do in practice, what you have him do in practice or what you have him do in games?

"No it hasn't. He's taking just as many reps in practice, every single practice."

So, why is he on the report?

"I think you know why. I mean, it's been well documented about the injury reports and any type of ailment, injury or however you define it has got to be put on the injury report. Complying with the rules. Why is he on the injury report? Because we're complying with the rules."

What is his condition?

"Well, we don't really talk about what it is that he's working through. But, we're complying with the rules, he's on the report."

It doesn't look like it's hindering him at all on the field?

"Not to me it doesn't. I mean, we haven't altered anything with the practice or game plans."

Did you guys have interest in drafting Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu in the third round?

"Well, we could talk about a lot of players we thought were really good. You can see who the good players are most of the time. And you realize they're not going to be playing for you, they're going to be playing against you. That's just the nature of 32 teams picking and you get one pick each round and that's kind of the nature of the business."

Has that evaluation process helped you prepare for him in any way? I know he lines up in different places. Seems like a tough player to prepare for. Does your knowledge of him in the draft evaluation process help that a little bit?

"I think what we're seeing him do in the games is what we prepare off of."

How's WR Chuck Jacobs doing as a scout team receiver?

"He's doing a good job. Yeah, he's doing a good job. He's won scout team Player of the Week. Does a nice job. Kind of the featured guy each week. Game plan guy."

Did he win it last week?

"No, not for the offense last week. The week before he did."

This week he did?

"The week before."

When he was impersonating the Rams, who was that? Was it Rams WR Chris Givens?

"Yeah."

What's the role of the number 3 quarterback in practice? What will McLeod Bethel-Thompson be doing these next few weeks?

"Learning the system and competing on the field. Scout team and see how fast the process goes for him to get up to speed, but competing."

Both QB Colt McCoy and Bethel-Thompson would get some scout team work and--?

"Yes."

What makes Cardinals QB Carson Palmer such a threat?

"Just his knowledge, his savvyness, his toughness, his throwing ability, quarterback ability that he has. He's still the guy that can, one of the top pocket passers in the game. Makes all the throws. Been a very good addition for their team."

How did DT Ray McDonald look today and do you expect him to be able to contribute Sunday?

"I think so. Looked good."

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