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49ers vs. Bengals: Coach Jim Harbaugh Discusses Frank Gore's Status For Sunday

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh conducted a conference call with 49ers media earlier today, handling normal Monday press conference duties from Youngstown, Ohio. I've posted the transcript after the jump and you can also listen to it at

Coach Harbaugh discussed several issues but again we didn't get a whole lot of clarity at this point. We know there is competition at the right guard position. Beyond that, the closest he came to committing to anything was his mention that he thought Frank Gore was good to go. He said Gore's status at that point was that he would be good to go for Sunday. I'd imagine we'll learn a little bit more when the team hits the practice field on Wednesday.

It's also possible Gore wasn't hurt all that bad and it was an opportunity to get Hunter some more carries without making it look like any sort of benching for Gore. That's speculation, but given Gore's struggles three weeks into the season, it is one possibility to consider. I honestly don't know what the case is at this point because the offensive line's poor performance hasn't exactly helped clarify matters. We'll just have to wait and see.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Conference Call - September 26, 2011
San Francisco 49ers

Media Center 

Jim, how is this Monday different than a normal Monday after a game for you and your staff?

"It's very different. We left Cincinnati last night after the ball game. Flew to Youngstown, Ohio. And woke up in Youngstown Ohio, watched the tape of the ballgame. We're in Ohio, it's not San Francisco, so that's a very big difference."

Is there an update on RB Frank Gore's ankle? Is he wearing a boot, or did he receive an MRI or anything? Anything you can tell us?

"No. Nothing to really report there. He wasn't wearing a boot." 

Did you guys have WR Braylon Edwards stay home just to do rehab?

"Yeah. That's right." 

Same with FB Moran Norris?

"Correct. Yup" 

Coach, how do you think RB Kendall Hunter did in the game?

"I think he did very well. In the spot play, graded out very well. Made some very good, tough runs, including the touchdown run. Caught a pass, got a first down, and did some very good things." 

Is he ready to take on a bigger role if Frank can't play against the Eagles?

"We have confidence in all of our players to step up and fill the role that their called on to do. That's part of soldiering up and being a great teammate. But, yeah I think he is." 

Jim, do you feel more inclined now to use Kendall no matter regardless of Frank's status, just because of the different dimension of quickness that he can bring to the offense?

"Can you repeat the question?" 

Yeah, do you feel more inclined now to use Kendall regardless of Frank's status because of the quickness and the different dimension that he can bring to the offense?

"I think Kendall's a good player. He's the backup tailback, and Frank's status in my mind right now, Frank is good to go. So, we'll play him. We'll scheme and prepare for this game, Frank along with the rest of the players on the team. But, no bold statement on how much we're using Kendall or really anybody else." 

Jim, yesterday when I asked you after the game about the offensive line, you just said it needs to improve across the board, but after looking at the film from last night's game, could you just comment, do you think some other issues are maybe still learning new blocking schemes, just being a step or two behind the defense, I mean, is it footwork, I mean, is there anything you can point to that they're struggling with right now as they begin this season?

"Yeah and that's something that we talk about as a unit, as a team. They hear from us coaches. I don't feel inclined to have them read about it as well. We're working at it. The ballgame yesterday, it was tough, hard-fought, at times painful. Kind of like going to the dentist. But, you win, it's good for you. I'm excited about young ball club and the character that they showed. The patience, both by the players and the coaches, in the football game, and the resolve that was shown. I think it bodes very well for our football team in a character building way. And I was proud of our football team about that." 

How do you feel about the job that C/G Adam Snyder did coming in and playing as much as he did?

"There were things that, specifics for everybody on offense that can be improved and better. And individually there was good performance on the offensive line - Adam included, [T/G] Chilo [Rachal] included, and all the guys on the line, as well as the other positions. But, it was a hard-fought struggle and it was tough. That was a physical football game on both sides. Yardage was coming hard and tough. And our defense made it that way for Cincinnati. It was an outstanding performance by our defense. I thought it was a real gem that our defense turned in. On many occasions, especially the sudden change situations, where we turned the ball over in the red zone and our defense holds them to a field goal. And even the first drive of the game when Cincinnati drives 75 yards to our five-yard line, first and five. And our defense rises up and holds them to a field goal there. Tremendous play by [LB] Ahmad Brooks. Ahmad made all three of those plays. Including the first down, three-yard loss. Defeated the tight end and then made the tackle in the backfield. And then the third-down play, he chases down the quarterback from the backside. Great hustle play. Gets the hurry, defuses that play. And then the big plays defensively with the turnovers. [CB] Carlos Rogers' big interception in the fourth quarter. Also, the touchdown-saving tackle he made. Big pick by [S] Reggie [Smith]. Just a phenomenal job of breaking on the ball and getting his hands underneath the football. I've been involved where our side makes a play like that, goes to review and invariably the review shows that the ball hit the ground. But he did a great job of catching that ball clean." 

Getting back to Chilo Rachal, is consistency an issue with him? You praised him in training camp for what he was doing there, is he a guy that had a couple of good plays and a couple of bad plays?

"For me it's more of a team. It's more of a unit thing. I know you like to pick out guys and point things out. I choose to look at how we can improve as a unit. And consistency is something for our entire unit, our entire offense. And we're working hard to get more consistent." 

I mean Chilo was a guy that was taken out of game in the second half and played sparingly, so that's why we're asking about him, and obviously whether there are any changes coming down the line as far as the starting unit.

"I feel like I've answered the question." 

Jim, you guys used NT Isaac Sopoaga for the first time as a fullback, what did you see in him that made you think that would be a good fit in a short-yardage situation?

"We were looking for a guy like that. And we've worked Sop a few times as the training camp was going on and early in the season. And after Moran went down, amped it up this week. And just thought he had the physicality, the athleticism to have a role on offense. There's been some suggestions from the players with Ike's rugby background. ‘Get him in there.' I've heard and seen him display the athleticism out there on the football field doing some offensive things. So yeah, that was good. He did a good job. I think he was excited to be doing it. He got in there and fulfilled his assignment and then some. So, I was very, very pleased with the two plays he was in the ball game." 

What about FB Bruce Miller? Obviously he gives you a little bit of younger legs out there. How was his blocking and receiving?

"There's a learning curve there. Bruce started his first game, saw extensive playing time at the fullback position. Did some things very well, we'll look to rep those and expand on those. And also, in terms of where he can improve, be specific with him and he's very motivated to do it. He's got the right mindset and temperament to want to get better. First time out, did some good things. Caught the football out of the backfield, was not afraid of contact, was on his assignment, technique, running his feet, angles, there are  all things that I think he'll get better and better at, as he plays the position more." 

Coach, I was cut off the call so if you already answered this, I apologize. Have you seen a definitive replay of the Michael Crabtree illegal touch/touchdown and did you or anybody in the organization note in a report to the NFL the video flaws around that?

"It will be noted in our report, yes. Definitive? No. I have not seen a definitive angle other than the coaches' video that we've watched." 

Did it give you a hint or any clue either way?

"Yeah, from the look of it, it looked like he was in bounds and never stepped out of bounds. That's what it looks like from our coaches' video. It looked like a heck of a play. It was a fantastic play by Michael and fantastic play by Alex in a part of the game where that touchdown was big and important and would have loved to have seen it stick because they both deserved it. From what I've seen on the tape, it sure looks that way. Now, I could be wrong and there's an angle or the official saw something that I don't see, but we have not gotten a report back yet as far as it concerns from the league." 

Will T Chilo Rachal start against the Eagles?


Will Chilo Rachal start against the Eagles?

"That's to be determined. There's a competition there." 

Eagles QB Michael Vick talked after the game yesterday about how sometimes hits on him go uncalled. Have you had any beef with the NFL as far as some of the hits on Alex Smith going uncalled?

"We've turned a few in and gotten reports back." 

Were you satisfied with the answers?

"Yes, I've been satisfied with the answers." 

How much do you prepare for Eagles QB Mike Kafka this week? Do you prepare equally for Vick and Kafka or how do you split that time?

"I think we have to be prepared for both and [Eagles QB] Vince Young as well, until we have more information." 

From the standpoint of taking this team, third game in the season, coming to Cincinnati and winning a road game, what does it do for the building of the team that you're building?

"I think it's a very positive thing, like I pointed out earlier. Young football team that goes on the road, plays a good football team, in a tough, hard, physical game, shows a real level of tenacity and mental toughness. I think it's a real good thing in terms of a character building process for our team. I thought our defense, especially where our offense was patient and hung in there and got the job done when it needed to, and had to. I think that's fantastic, but also just the mentality of our defense. Packed the defense for the road games. Came in with the mentality that they were going to get stop, after stop, after stop and they expected it and they got it done. I think all those things are very good for us." 

The way that you guys got those two interceptions in the fourth quarter, it was a big opposite from what happened against Dallas. Did that secondary need that boost just to get their confidence back?

"I think we've got confident guys in our secondary. I didn't see any signs that our guys were hanging their chins down or anything like that. They're confident, strong, mighty guys. They stepped up and made big plays and that's what they're capable of doing and they have the ability to do that and they got it done. That does show a lot of mental toughness and character. It was good, it was good. There's times when you're struggling in the game for points and yardage and one side of the ball can be ‘what's going on here? Are we ever going to score any points?' And you get finger-pointing, and that never occurred. I never saw our team lose confidence or trust in either side of the ball." 

When Reggie Smith had that interception, it looked like you were encouraging him to run and I know some coaches want the guys just to fall on it. What was your thinking after he caught that pass and got to his feet?

"To get down." 

It looked like you were telling him to keep running, but you wanted him to get down?

"I might have. I saw him get the ball and get up and my first initial thought was ‘go, go, go, nobody tackled you' and then as soon as I realized it, it was ‘get down, get down' but he did a great job protecting the ball. I think that's somebody's first instinct, and I think the same thing went through his mind after he realized the situation, thought fast, reacted fast, then he was getting down. Also, I'd like to talk about [K] David Akers a little bit. Seven for seven on field goals right now, hit the big 53-yarder in the game and I was told that was his 300th made field goal of his NFL career. Heck of a job." 

Tomorrow is the day off for you guys, what do you have planned to do?

"Prepare for the Eagles. Today, tomorrow, we'll be preparing for the Eagles. Coaches will be game-planning, watching the tape and getting the game plan prepared for our players." 

Have you advised them on things that they should do or shouldn't do tomorrow since they're foreign to the area?

"Yeah, we've talked. We've talked, yes. It's not a vacation for us in terms of where to go sight-seeing or anything like that. We'll be focused on the football game." 

Do you have any weather contingencies for practice or will you practice rain or shine at Youngstown State?

"We'll practice at Youngstown State and there's also an indoor facility at Youngstown State as well." 

Can you talk a little bit about how TE Vernon Davis responded to getting more involved in the offense? It seemed like you really went to him in some critical situations and he responded in those times?

"I thought Vernon performed very well. Had some more opportunities, balls coming his way. Like I said last week, Vernon's always involved in the offense. Huge part of the offense. Responded well, though."