Jim Harbaugh talks roster moves, Saints offense, Eric Reid and more

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media Wednesday afternoon. We have a transcript for your perusal.

You had a couple tough decisions you had to make yesterday. What went into cutting WR Kyle Williams?

"With both of the moves we made yesterday, Kyle Williams and [CB] Perrish Cox, first of all two great guys, two 49ers. And, a tough decision. It's not one of those you feel great on, on one side of the coin, for those two guys not being with us today. But, two guys that really contributed. Kyle Williams, in his case, fought back from injury, rehab and a great testament to him. So, it's tough. A really, really hard decision. Same with Perrish. Both great guys. On the other side, [LB] Nick Moody coming back, feel good about Nick and his contribution that he could potentially make, and then one spot we're going to see how things unfold here in the next couple of days."

Both Williams and Cox could return punts. Who are your one and two? Obviously, one is RB LaMichael James, but who is the backup punt returner nowadays?

"There'll be a couple of guys working there, [CB Tarell Brown] T-Brown and [CB] Eric Wright.

That one spot, is that potentially WR Michael Crabtree?

"We'll see. I'm not going to make any predictions today on who that is, but we've been encouraged with his progress and there's other options as well."

With LaMichael being up as the punt returner now, is there a temptation also to get him more involved in the offense, including on the receiving aspect too?

"Yes. Yes there is. Those options are open and we had started that last week."

How come you guys haven't passed as much to the running backs this season?

"Why haven't we passed as much to the running backs? All those options are open."

A lot has been made out of the way QB Colin Kaepernick played last season versus the way he's playing this season. What do you see that's different about his play from last season to this season?

"It's been a very good, steady progression for him. I don't know exactly what you're referring to with ‘a lot has been made.'"

Well, some people say he's not reading defenses. They're trying to figure out, quote unquote, what's wrong with Colin.

"We don't think anything's wrong with Colin. We feel like his progression's been very good. He's played winning football for us and that's what we expect."

Colin has incredible speed and arm strength and body control to throw on the run, and he's demonstrated that here and at Nevada. But, this season, your offense has moved the pocket, moved the launch point by design for him on just 10% of his passes. Why is that?

"Don't know that 10% is not enough."

Why not 20 or 30?

"It's part of the plan. It's been part of the plan. Here's the thing, you're only as good as your last quarters of football. We understand that. It's very, very convenient, very easy to say why not run? Why not pass? Why not move the pocket? Why didn't you throw a screen? Why didn't you go for it on fourth and one? Those are convenient things to do. When you don't get the result that you wanted, anybody would rather see how it would've played out in that situation. What would it have been like if we had gone for it? You know how it was when you didn't get it and how that affected the game, etcetera. Hindsight's very convenient."

I'm talking about a yearlong trend, not just one game.

"I know what you're ... I understand. I'm just making the point I'm making, I guess."

Did you expect that S Eric Reid would be one of your leaders in takeaways as a rookie? I know you've like his progression, but what has really stood out to you?

"We've talked about it many times. I think that's one of the things that we were very hopeful for, that he would be involved in those takeaways, interceptions, recovery of fumbles, causing fumbles. The play he made the other night, it was tough to grade him on. On one hand he gave up the blocked punt, but on the other hand he hustled like crazy and made an incredible hustle play to recover the fumble. So, he's doing a heck of a job and I'm sure glad we got him."

With the concussion protocol out of your hands, once he does get medical clearance to come back, is there any concern on your part to put him on that field with multiple concussions this season already?

"Well, like you said, it's the neurologist, it's the doctors. Trust their tests. My tests? I go back in the days of two fingers, three fingers, one finger, how many fingers do I got up. It's advanced so much further from that. So, I think we're on the right track in leaving it up to the doctors. Leave me out of it."

When you assess Colin Kaepernick, is he sometimes a victim of his own success? It all happened so fast for him. He's got barely one full season under his belt. You played the position. How long realistically does it take for an NFL quarterback to get to that elite, maximum, full level where you can say OK you've grown and accomplished, you are where you should be at this juncture?

"Why do we need the labels there? He's, two weeks ago we're giving him a game ball. The week before that he got a game ball. I'm not getting excited about the labels. So, I think he's doing a great job. He's one of those rare quarterbacks that can come in and play winning football at a very early time in his career. Those kind of quarterbacks are rare throughout the history of the NFL. He's one of them that can do that. He's done it. There's evidence and he's proven it."

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman last week had said that he's seen some exotic schemes to stop the run. Have you seen some exotic schemes defensively to stop Colin that were vastly different from last season and different than the film you're seeing of the opponent that week?

"Schemes are ever-evolving. Yes, we've seen new schemes."

You've seen the Saints obviously a couple times in the last year. What strikes you about this team that you're going to come up against on Sunday?

"A really good football team. We're excited about our preparation today and paying our dues and our preparation. That's first and foremost today. Saints, outstanding football team. Really, really have things working very well offensively, machine-like in the way they operate. Very hot and playing extremely well. Defensively, they're doing a great job getting off the field, getting the ball back for their offense, creating turnovers, creating negative plays and a very, very good football team. We're going to have to play our best football to have a chance in this one."

When you say there's one spot left, is TE Derek Carrier ready?

"We'll see. We'll take a look at that this week and excited to watch the fellas go out and run around today."

Has TE/DT Demarcus Dobbs worked at tight end at all this season?

"No, he has not."

Where are those guys in the concussion protocol right now? Are they able to do activity without symptoms? Are they symptom-free or is it too early to know that?

"Yes. They were seen by the neurologist yesterday. And, where they're at is, they came back today, no symptoms and they can participate without contact today in practice."

Is there anything that Reid is doing wrong or can adjust as far as the way he's been tackling? Both concussions came with him sort of broaching the ball carrier. Is there any coaching adjustments that he needs to take into account?

"That's possible. That's something that we may see him take into account and try a different way. From the situations he's been in and the result he's gotten. So, yeah he could make some adjustments there."

How do you coach that?

"I think there's going to be some coaching of himself there. There's always a different way to do things and he'll adjust."

I assume you can't define this, but the Saints offense wasn't quite what it had been last year. Obviously, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is back. Can you just talk about him as a play caller or what he may have added to the team this year with his presence?

"Yeah. I think it's noticeable improvement. [New Orleans Saints QB] Drew Brees, I think I got this right, he's been there eight years now. That's a long time that he's been there and been in the system with Sean. Not a lot has changed. Well, there's been changes, but I mean, it's been the same system and they've grown it. You can see the play calling is different, it's better, and that definitely factors in."

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