Jim Harbaugh talks PUP/NFI, strong performances and more

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Monday and had plenty to discuss following the 49ers 34-3 win over the Houston Texans. We've got a transcript. New to Niners Nation? Sign up here and join the discussion!

Do you have any update on DT Ray McDonald?

"Not yet, no."

Did anything strike you on film that you didn't realize last night how great you guys played in certain aspects?

"There was a lot of good. Good overall play. Very disciplined, evidenced by the penalties. Three penalties and one was a delay of game there on the field goal. But, a lot of good play. A lot of people to highlight defensively, the corners especially. [CB Tramaine Brock] T-Brock, you all know about the two interceptions. He also tackled, had a heck of a PBU on the offensive interference penalty. [CB] Carlos Rogers had a very good game. And so did [CB Tarell Brown] T-Brown. Those three corners really played well."

On the touchdown runs in the red zone there, was that, you guys have been doing a lot of emphasis on getting those blocks sealed right so they can execute the way they did yesterday?

"We were able to pop some runs in the red zone and had some multiple 10-plus gains in the running game and that's hard to do, especially against any defense in the NFL, but the Texans defense who is extremely good. So, I thought it was, like we said last night, a very good game plan that was well executed offensively. Team defense, a very good game plan executed. Able to shut down or contain the passing game, which, they have a very good running game, but they move the ball effectively through the air. A great group effort to get that contained."

With as well as Tramaine has played these past two games, when everybody's healthy there, what do you guys do?

"I mean, just really pleased with the way Tramaine's ascending. When you play like that you're going to continue to play. So, I think there's going to be more opportunity for him. So, we're excited about that."

One of your defensive players gave credit to the scout team for the way they simulated the Texans offense which is a unique offense. Does that strike you during the week that they were getting good looks at what they were going to face on Sunday?

"Yeah. I think that's really been the case, really good the last three weeks in a row. A lot of guys, [QB] Colt's [McCoy] doing a good job. [WR] Chuck Jacobs' doing a real nice job. Tight ends have really been good. There's been a lot of effort with the look-teams, especially the offensive look-teams, they've been really hustling."

Who was Texans RB Arian Foster on the look-team?

"[RB] Jewel [Hampton] and [RB] Anthony Dixon. [RB] LaMichael [James] was doing it, so was [RB] Kendall [Hunter]. Everybody pitching in there."

In practices, where do you have WR Chris Harper? Is he, do you consider him a wide receiver or a tight end?

"He's been doing both. He's been doing both tight end and wide receiver."

WR Jon Baldwin was thrilled that you guys had the faith in him that he could go out there and that he's come so far with the playbook. What are your impressions of how he's coming along?

"Good. Ascending, improving player. I think he's doing a great job and [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap and him are really building a good trust there, so positive, it's been real positive."

Did he have any back issues yesterday?

"Back? With his back?"

Yeah.

"Not that I'm aware of."

Where do things stand with your two rookie defensive linemen, DT Tank Carradine and DT Quinton Dial? Do you expect them to play this year?

"I do."

Will they, I guess next week they can begin practicing with the team. Are they on schedule to do that, to start practicing with you guys?

"I believe they are. Next week. So, we're counting down the days, counting down the weeks and now down to one week with quite a few guys. Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, [WR] Mario Manningham, [CB] Eric Wright. All guys that will have the possibility to start practicing next week, so excited about that."

And then you've got a 21-day window then, do you guys just determine, I mean you haven't seen them practice yet, does that part of it kind of remain fluid as to when you would be making those moves, those potential moves to the 53-man?

"Uh uh. Based on their health, yeah. And their practice capability, their readiness to help on game day. Yeah all of those things will go into determining when exactly they're heading back to the 53."

How do you assess LB Michael Wilhoite's performance, second game starting in place of LB Patrick Willis?

"Well, very good. I think the production was there. 11 tackles on defense and good open-field tackle a couple times. Also, two tackles in the kicking game on the punt coverage. That's a highlight when a guy's playing full-time on defense and making production in the special teams. [LB] Corey Lemonier was in on I believe three tackles. And, really good game by [S] C.J. Spillman and [WR] Kassim Osgood. They really led the way again on special teams. Coverage units were very effective in this game and it's great in terms of field position putting the defense in a good position making their offense go the long route and then getting the ball back for the offense in good field position. Just increases your percentage of putting points on the board and I'm very pleased with what they're doing right now. Michael had a good game, a good solid game."

Speaking of Michael and other guys, you've been without three defensive starters the last two games and allowed one touchdown. I don't know if surprised is the word, but are you just pleased to have that kind of depth with guys like Wilhoite, DL Glenn Dorsey, LB Dan Skuta, Lemonier?

"Yeah. No question about it. Guys get their opportunity and step up and play well that bodes really well for the ball club. And they're really playing well as a defense, team defense. Playing the scheme. Playing well within it. And that's really encouraging. Getting turnovers. We've been kind of down on getting turnovers and sometimes things just kind of start breaking right for you. Kind of like the olive jar. Everybody's familiar with the olive jar."

I'm not.

"Well, you open it up and a brand new can of olives and turn it over and no olives come out. They're packed in there so darn tight, but if you just get one to come out, just pluck one out of there and then they want to come out, they're just flying out of the jar. So, hopefully that's the case for us defensively. You just wonder, are you ever going to get a turnover, or interception or fumble and how can we get one. Then you get one and then you get, then they start flying your way. So, hopefully that's where we're at."

I know we've asked you about FB Bruce Miller who has a special place in your heart. He said his slow start maybe this year was technique, fundamentals a little bit and just getting back to basics has really helped. QB Colin Kaepernick calls him your Swiss army knife. How would you like to elaborate on that?

"I think all those things are true. [49ers running backs coach] Tom Rathman's been working with him. He's been working very hard on his technique and his fit on his blocks. He was getting too much of an edge and know he's getting more down the middle. It's much more effective. But to Colin's point, he does so many things for our offense, catches the ball out of the backfield, blocks in protection. He's the lead blocker out of the two-back formations. He's very athletic and can do multiple things. He's a known friend and trusted agent. Very valuable member of the offense."

Us on the outside look at the passing game yesterday, you see a quarterback, 6 of 15, 113 yards, not a real dynamic or prolific performance. How do you view it? Does there need to be bigger numbers from that passing game, more receivers getting in on the action, etc.?

"Well, we made some big plays in the passing game and missed on a couple where Colin made a heck of a throw there on the post to [TE] Vernon [Davis] that we didn't complete, and then he missed one to Vernon along the sideline. Had a few knocked down. I marvel at the defensive line of the Texans and their ability to knock passes down and sometimes they're getting two hands on the ball. I really don't know how they're doing it or they're drilling it or teaching it, but it's not like they're just sitting back on the line of scrimmage either and waiting for the quarterback to throw with no pass rush. They are rushing the passer effectively and then somewhere, somehow they're seeing something that the quarterback is setting to throw or the arm angle because they're able to stop in mid-rush and get two hands up and darn near catch the ball. But it doesn't diminish their pass rush either. They're able to continue on in the rush and gets hits on the quarterback. You've seen how effective they are with the pressure in this past game with us, the week before with Seattle, you see it every game. But how they're able to do that, and stop, and get hands up and knock down passes, it's really impressive. I don't have the answer on how they do it or how they teach it, but it's very effective."

Is that something where you would have offensive senior consultant Eric Mangini or defensive coordinator Vic Fangio study maybe something like that more closely?

"Yeah, that's a good idea. How they're getting that done. I'm very curious about that today."

This is the third game that Kap's completion percentage has been in the 40s. Is it a concern yet or what do you attribute that, big picture?

"Well, I think there's just so many things that the team did well. Like I said, I thought we had some big plays in the passing game and the run and the pass were effective. We don't really go into these games always knowing what's going to be more effective, the pass or the run. You need both to be good and sometimes you get into a game and one's more effective than the other."

How is WR Michael Crabtree's progress and are you still hopeful that sometime in November he could maybe start helping you guys out?

"It's been very, very good. It's more November, middle-to-late November is what we're hoping for. But, seems to be on track for that."

Are you able to share what he's able to do right now or is that premature at this point?

"Yeah, he's starting to run. He's running."

You're talking about middle-to-late November actually being able to play?

"That's what we're hopeful for, yeah."

Play in the game?

"Yeah, being ready to play."

Do you go out and watch him rehab and maybe marvel at how far he's come?

"Yeah, I catch it now and then. Sometimes when we're practicing, he's doing his rehab work, but I pretty much talk to him every day and things seem to be going well. He's been very positive, very upbeat and feels like things are progressing well."

As far as Eric and Tank and Quinton, everyone if they can practice next week, that's when the team's on the road in London. Will they travel and then start practicing over there if that's the case?

"Yes."

Are you looking at Quinton as a nose tackle or as an end or one of those guys that does all three?

"Be looking at him as an inside guy, a nose tackle. One technique, nose, three technique. He's up there somewhere around 340, close to 350 pounds and moving real well so high hopes for him."

How's LB Aldon Smith doing? Talk to him lately or--?

"Few texts. Just heard things are going very well, very positive reports back."

Any timetable?

"No."

Does RB Frank Gore require any follow up with his little leg injury yesterday?

"He seemed to be in pretty good spirits after the game and don't have a report on him yet."

As far as McDonald, you just don't have the MRI results back?

"Correct. We're waiting for those."

You'll have that this afternoon?

"Yeah, should have those by this afternoon."

Just text us?

"I'll text you."

I have one more on Tramaine. When you've seen him with the opportunities that he's had in practice and you say ascending, do you see him do in games what he does in practice or do you see him also just taking bigger steps in practice as far as getting better?

"You see those same things in practice that you've been seeing in games and getting his opportunity. That's sometimes what a player needs most. I think it's all those things. I think he's getting better and I think he's done a wonderful job on his fundamentals and his techniques and then that big piece of getting your opportunity of extended playing time and then making the most of it."

He didn't come from a big program in college? Do you think most of the fundamentals and the things he's learned here or did he come with a good base because he came from a very small school. One year at Minnesota and then Belhaven or something?

"I wasn't here when he was first here his rookie season, so I wouldn't know that as much. Since he's been here, he's always been pretty darn good and he's always stood out on the special teams. He's played well in games and now he's getting an extended opportunity and making the most of it I think. Love to see it."

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