The San Francisco 49ers started minicamp on Tuesday, and head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the press after the morning walk-through. We'll have some more on some of his comments, but here is a full rundown. I did get in the Eric Mangini question I'd mentioned before. I did not get much of anything on it, so try not to be too disappointed!
How was attendance today at the mandatory minicamp?
All but two players?
“Correct. Two players and a third. [CB] Eric Wright was not here as well.”
Why isn’t he here?
“I believe he’s making a decision to not play football, as I understand. Have not talked to him.”
Is that the reason he wasn’t here last week as well?
“No, I think he was here. There were times that he was here.”
Not to play football as in retire, or not to play football for you guys?
“That’s my understanding of it.”
“I don’t have any official information on that. But those are the three guys that aren’t here.”
What does that do to your cornerback numbers? Would you have to bring in somebody else or do you guys feel secure with the other guys who are on hand?
“We feel good about the guys we have. More information to follow. We won’t speculate on what we’re going to do. We’ll have an open spot and we’ll do what’s best for our team.”
“Again, longstanding policy, we don’t talk about anybody who’s not one of our players. The personnel department looks at all available players. You can understand that’s their job.”
“I’m disappointed in that decision, for them not to be here. There is a voluntary segment to the offseason and we appreciate those guys volunteering to make the team better. And now, it’s mandatory. Not the decision I envisioned being the 49er way. Really, nothing more to be said about it. The focus will be on what’s going on here. Others may make try to make the focus on that story, but our story is the football side of it.”
Let’s focus on the guys who are here. Could guys stepping into those positions find themselves getting the larger roles because those guys aren’t here?
“We’re going to focus on the guys who are here. We’re going to practice. We’re going to do a great job of making the team better and [we’re] not going to speculate on that. I know where you’re trying to go. You’re trying to tie that into this part of the story.”
They’re not here.
“I’m not beating around the bush. I’m just letting you know how I feel about it. That’s all there is to it.”
Have you spoken to Alex Boone or Vernon Davis?
“Again, I think I’ve been clear. Didn’t beat around the bush. Told you how I feel. That’s where the focus is going to be, on coaching the guys that are here.”
The news about Eric Wright – was that a surprise to you? Do you have any sense that it was something he was considering?
“Again, I don’t want to speculate and talk. I’ve given you the information as I know it. I don’t think there is really anything more to comment on.”
You talked a lot this offseason about why QB Colin Kaepernick deserved a new contract before he got it. Does Vernon Davis deserve a new contract as well?
“I’m not going to put the focus on that. I’ve told you where the focus is going to be. I understand your desire to make the story something else, and so be it. I’ve been as clear as I can possibly be.”
Can you talk about how TE Vance McDonald has looked getting those extra reps with the first-team unit with Vernon out?
“He’s done a good job. Again, not going to tie that story into this story and just leave it at that.”
As you focus on football here over these next three days, what do you hope to accomplish? What are the biggest things you’re setting out to do?
“Making the team better. That, and I want our guys to continue to grow in their execution and their understanding of the system as we move forward. I think we have something really good going here, potentially, and we understand that there is work to be done and that’s what we’ll focus on.”
Any comment on former 49ers head coach George Seifert going into the Hall of Fame? I think he’s one of the most underrated head coaches maybe in the game.
“There is no question about that. Great coach. I have studied his record from the time that I took over this job and his accomplishments speak for themselves. He’s been a good personal friend to me and to the San Francisco 49ers organization. Very happy for George Seifert and his family.”
He tells a story about a game in Indianapolis when you were the quarterback and scored a touchdown to go ahead. Do you remember that incident?
“Incident? I remember it, yeah.”
You ran past the 49ers’ bench. Do you recall all that?
“I think I let my emotions get the best of me.”
This team really hasn’t had many issues with salaries and contracts, at least that we’ve heard about, that’s been public. Guys haven’t held out. The fact that it’s happening now, is that not a big deal or does the fact that it’s rare make it a big deal?
“We’ll address it. And it will come to a resolution. That’s the deal, what it is.”
Usually, when you think about special teams specialists, coverage specialists, you think about safeties and linebackers. Does DL Lawrence Okoye have a chance to make the team as a special teams ace, like a S C.J. Spillman would or like a LB Blake Costanzo would? Is he in that mix of guys?
“He’s got to make it as a position player and that’s what he’s trying to get done. He’s doing a good job. We talked about it last week. We have been really pleased with all of our defensive lineman doing everything that we ask. And there is great competition there, there’s great talent there and there’s been great effort there throughout the offseason. And we want that to continue into the preseason and in those games, and the competition will rage. It’s a position of strength for us.”
RB Frank Gore is going into his 10th year. I’m just curious, has he talked to you what his plans are for this season and beyond that?
“You know how I feel about it. I feel like Frank is still at the top of his game. I have even made the comment very clearly, that I think he has three great years of football left in him. That’s his mindset as well.”
How important is minicamp?
“It’s a chance to make the team better. Therefore, that important.”
Is it kind of the first step towards success in the season?
“I wouldn’t call it the first step. It’s the ninth week we’ve been together.”
With coaching intern George Whitfield, does he work a lot with Kaepernick or is he mostly focused on the other quarterbacks?
“We’ve hired him to be an intern here in the offseason and through the training camp working with the quarterbacks.”
Are there things from Colin that he needs to kind of tighten up as far as mechanics? How much of a focus has that been this offseason? Colin’s mechanics – footwork, etc.
“Colin works at all parts of his game. He has a great desire to be great in all facets.”
Who does most of the one-on-one work with him when it comes to that?
“I talk to him, [offensive coordinator] Greg Roman talks to him, [quarterbacks coach] Geep Chryst talks to him, [offensive line coach] Mike Solari talks to him.”
So it’s a group effort?
“The people I’ve mentioned. Quarterbacks, generally, my thinking, my finding on it is they listen to whoever says something to them. Whoever has an idea or a coaching point, and they understand whether they can adapt that to their game or not. A quarterback ultimately has to play his own game. It’s good to get knowledgeable voices to communicate with anybody that plays the quarterback position because they have the ability to be the filter on what’ll work for them or what won’t. That’s always been our approach here. Nothing has changed in that regard.”
Is QB Blaine Gabbert the second-string quarterback or do you want to have all four guys fight as Colin’s backup?
“We’re competing for that spot.”
What have you seen since you’ve gotten your hands on Blaine Gabbert and watched him up close?
“Very impressed. Very impressed with Blaine mentally, physically – all attributes that you’d like to see in a quarterback. He’s been very good, very solid. [He’s] picked up everything very quickly. It’s going well. Everything is progressing well. I think you’ll watch it when you have a chance to see it today and look at it for yourself. In my eye, it looks very good.”
Do you expect T Anthony Davis to be ready for the start of training camp?
“Again, I don’t want to speculate on that. Very hopeful that he will be.”
Through nine weeks of the program, what exactly has tight ends coach Eric Mangini been able to bring to help the tight ends improve?
“From my perspective, he’s done a very good job. All of our coaches have. Going to be a good question for the tight ends. From my perspective, he’s done a very good job. Very detailed, knowledgeable football coach. Seen a lot of balls kicked off in his day.”
Is RB Marcus Lattimore pretty much 100 percent in this minicamp. Not 100 percent, but he’s going to go through everything in this minicamp?
“Yes. He’s going to go through everything.”
Have you seen him progress even in the last couple of weeks or so?
“I have. Really been a daily, weekly progression with Marcus. Every day he seems to get more confident and get more strength, more feel, which is translating into more burst, quicker turnover with his leg cycle. Things are progressing day-by-day.
Is he a guy who can go right in and see in blitz pick up, or is it just kind of not there yet for him? Just get him through the regular stuff?
“Right now, I think things are progressing well. We’ll continue to evaluate and monitor, but I think he’s progressing well.”
Did you know Chuck Noll at all? Is he a coach that’s influenced you in any way?
“Yes, by his accomplishments, by his greatness, what his teams were able to accomplish that he was a part of. As an avid football fan of the 1970’s, even having the chance to watch him up close, never meeting him personally, but admired him looking through the key hole.”
Did you ever get to know former MLB player Tony Gwynn when you were in San Diego?
“A little bit. Everybody in San Diego knows Tony Gwynn. Haven’t been too many professional athletes that have had the presence or the effect on a city that Tony Gwynn has. Mutually admired by teammates, rivals, fans, and anybody that followed the game. I got to see that up close in the days that I lived in San Diego. Real, genuine, down-to-earth, good person. Sorry to see him pass.”