49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh wrapped up the 49ers final day of the 2013 NFL Draft with a de-brief for the press. He had comments on the picks, with plenty to say on the big names, but also a chance to discuss some of the lesser known guys. It is no surprise that Coach Harbaugh is quite excited about what these guys bring to the table.
The highlight had to be his comments about Lawrence Okoye. The British discus-thrower indicated he was planning on signing with the 49ers, although it is not official yet. Someone asked Harbaugh about Okoye's visit with the team and Harbaugh proceeded to describe him as an Adonis, and a man who made Harbaugh feel inadequate. Gotta love that!
Here is Coach Harbaugh's transcript:
"Yeah, very exciting. Very exciting three days. Excitement was in the air from day one right through today."
I don't know where to begin. Round 4, a couple offensive guys, wide receiver and the running back, back to back. Talk about how you can see both WR Quinton Patton and RB Marcus Lattimore fitting in?
"Well, Quinton Patton, who we picked with our last pick of the fourth round, 31st pick of the fourth round, just somebody that we've had a lot of respect for throughout this entire process. The way he competes for the football, I would say stands out to me in my mind. The way he competes throughout the entire route. And then when the ball's up in the air, he goes up with the mindset that he's competing for the ball and that's his ball. Plays a physical style. Good with his hands. Thought he was one of the most outstanding receivers at the Senior Bowl. Marcus Lattimore, unique player, unique person. Can't say enough about the mental toughness that this young man has displayed. Nothing gets him down. He is positive. Extremely hard working. On the field, he's an outstanding football player. Unique. And we're betting that his physical athleticism, his approach, his attitude, his work ethic, that he'll be able to overcome the setback that he had last fall with the injury to the knee."
When you think about that, just what he's gone through with the recovery, knowing how difficult that is, how much more do you get impressed by that guy coming in the building?
"Unique is the word I would use. Everything about him is determined. Everything about him is just top-notch in terms of attitude, positive attitude, winning attitude, hardworking attitude. So, what kind of effect does that have on your football team? I think a real good one."
Do you have a timetable for when he might be able to take the next step of getting into pads and how far along might he be and you project him as you go on here?
"Again, I'm not Dr. Harbaugh. And I wouldn't be counting on it to be real early. We're going to slow things down for him physically. But, I love his mental approach to it. The aggressive mental approach he has taken through this whole process. But, we're going to slow the aggressive physical down, and make sure that Marcus is going to be 100 percent healthy before he's out there on the field. Told him that. Shared that with him. Shared that with his mother. And if he doesn't play this year, then he doesn't play this year. I think if anyone can overcome what he's been through, it's him. It's Marcus Lattimore."
Do you almost want him not to play this year? And would it almost be beneficial for the team and for him just to kind of take a redshirt year and come back stronger than ever in 2014?
"It's not what I want. It's what's prudent."
Is there a sense, and not just with him, but with all these guys coming off of injuries that they might be going too fast in the run up to the draft just to prove to teams that they are healthy and they can run and do all that stuff?
"Well, I worry about that because we're not around them. And sure you worry about that. You know these guys are competitive. And the opportunity to show people what they can do, all the people coming in to work you out. And as a competitor you want to take it to the limit. So, yes, that does worry me. I don't want any setbacks. And you don't know if any have occurred to this point. But, that's why get him in here, get him into our organization, get him into our football family and put the doctors in the driver's seat."
How did you get to know Marcus? Was it just over the phone? Did you meet with him at the Combine? Did you visit him?
"No, just from everything you hear from everybody. Unanimous when you talk about the young man on the campus. He's just left a track record of success. He's left a track record of being a great human being. So, that usually predicts future success. And South Carolina tough, too, I like that about him."
Does he remind you at all of RB Frank Gore? Just his approach and what he's overcome in college? And I know Gore talked to him after he tore up his knee this last time?
"Both had injuries when they were in college. Both are great players. And so there are some similarities, yes."
Obviously there's been so much focus on his injury. But, just when you watch the film of him in college when he was healthy, obviously he was pretty electrifying. What stood out to you?
"He's dazzling as a runner. Tough, smart, electric-type of ball carrier."
What stood out most to you with QB B.J. Daniels? And do you think he's suited to run the diverse offense with offensive coordinator Greg Roman?
"Many things. We can go into what these guys have accomplished. Four-year starter in college at the quarterback position. Before that, four-year starter in football and basketball. All-State in basketball. All-State in football. And you look at the mobility. He's got a real sense when he runs of alluding defenders. Buying time in the pocket, extending plays, very strong arm. And then you wonder with the athleticism, just how many ways could he contribute to this team and this roster. Quarterback position, 217 pounds, 5'11-and-a-half. Can he be a running back? Can he be a wide receiver? Can he be a kick returner? Can he be a punt returner? That idea of being a Swiss army knife kind of comes up again. And we'll see just how many things he can be good at. But, he's a tremendous athlete with great foot quickness, strong arm, two-time captain. I think we're fishing out of a good pool there that he'll be able to contribute to this football team."
Is that an exciting thought to you to potentially have a third quarterback on the roster that you can dress and do a lot of different things, playing special teams and all the things you mentioned?
Does it excite you, that thought?
Will quarterback be his first position? Will he compete at quarterback with QB Scott Tolzien and all the other guys this camp?
"Yes. Bring him in quarterback meetings, quarterback on the practice field, quarterback through rookie mini-camp. Great way to learn the offense through the quarterback's eyes. And then simultaneously he'll be winning on the other level of learning the offense at the running back position and then also the wide receiver position because the quarterback has to know what everybody's doing."
He's just shy of 6 feet. Obviously, you play against a guy twice a year whose shorter than 6 feet. What is your personal stance on height and quarterbacks and what is being over 6 feet a necessity for that position?
"Well, there have been several quarterbacks through the years that have proven that it isn't a necessity."
Why did you wait so long to draft a cornerback?
"There definitely were times in the draft that we wanted cornerbacks. Had them targeted. But, that's the way it worked out."
Did you meet with Lawrence Okoye when he came here?
What was your impression of him? He seems to be a physically impressive guy.
"Inadequate. It was my first impression standing next to him. He's just an Adonis. Just a great physical specimen of a man. I can think of some other adjectives. Our Creator created a beautiful man. And the things that really impressed, he had the rugby background growing up, and didn't start throwing the discus until he was 18 years old. And then two years later he was throwing in the Olympics. So, you maybe start to put the pieces together and say, taking on football at this time in his life, I can see this guy doing it. So, I'm excited. And I think you will be, too, when you get them all together. When you get this entire rookie class together and we go walking out to the field and there's [S Eric] Reid, and [DL Cornellius] Tank [Carradine]."
The tight end?
"[TE] Vance [McDonald]. We get all those guys, Lawrence, the rest of them. It's going to be one impressive looking group. I think you'll see that."
Who did you guys, you and General Manager Trent Baalke, go to when you try to project whether he could do this? Were there players, past players who had no or little football experience that you look back on to make that decision?
"I don't think there is anybody in the National Football League who has more experience with that than [defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula, who coached in the European League. This was what he did for years. So, that was the person that we went to."
What kind of position would he be?
"There are a lot of positions that he could be. But, I think we'll start on the defensive line."
Looking at just all the moves you guys have made over the last two months through free agency and the draft, how complete does this roster look to you and how confident are you in it now?
"Feel good about it. This part of the season, this part of the year, you're just trying to assemble the best possible football team that you can assemble. And get the best 90 that you can get going into training camp. And then from there, you start competing. And our confidence will be determined out on the football field. So, at this point feel very good about it."
Is the best way for LB Nick Moody to make the team, is that a special teams role?
He talked about that kind of might be his niche?
"Definitely, he is one of the best we've seen at that in college football. He's got excellent ability to do that. So, we have high expectations for him to be a real contributor on special teams."
He played on all the coverage units?
"Yeah, and just the speed, the tackling ability, physical player that can run."
What about DT Quinton Dial, is he suited for nose tackle? Is that maybe where he'll get his start on this team?
"He'll be an inside, projected inside defensive lineman."
Any other agreements, undrafted guys, from the area or anybody we would know?
And who are those?
"We're not making an announcement of those names at this time."