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49ers Vs. Vikings: Coach Harbaugh, Players Speak

The 49ers had plenty of comments after last night's 17-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The game was far from a perfect performance, but as they acknowledged, there were plenty of positives to take from the game.

Coach Harbaugh was asked about the wide receiver position, which at one point he described as consisting of five numbers ones. Apparently Brett Swain is one of those number ones! Swain got a solid amount of playing time, and capitalized on it. He had the touchdown catch, and also had a key block on Chris Cook, which helped spring Colin Kaepernick for his 78-yard touchdown run (GIF included).

Coach Harbaugh indicated the team was still trying to find their best combinations at wide receiver. Mario Manningham was in uniform for the game but did not play. No reason was given by Harbaugh and Manningham has been generally at practice, so I'm not sure what the reasoning is, other than veteran's preference (which still seems odd). Given the team's many potential combinations at wide receivers, I would imagine we'll get to see significant variety over the next few weeks at wide receiver. Brett Swain had a very solid day yesterday, but I can't be the only one who would be rather surprised if he made the final 53-man roster.

As has been the case through his little over year-long tenure with the 49ers, Coach Harbaugh was effusive with praise across the board. He was pleased with Perrish Cox's performance after a year-long layoff. He thought LaMichael James played really well. With James in particular, it is worth noting that he had very limited time with the team during the summer. Due to Oregon's school schedule, he was not able to take part in OTAs. He had a chance to start learning the playbook, and has had two weeks of training camp, but I think that's still rather noteworthy at this point in the preseason.

Head after the jump for comments from Coach Harbaugh several players.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Opening Statement:

"We have a game under our belt now. A lot of data to study, on top of what we have been doing in training camp. But, good to have a foundation. Pleased with the way our guys competed. Thought there was a lot of good play out of our starters, and things to work on, things to coach. Which is always a positive thing. Young guys were very impressive. [QB] Colin Kaepernick, loved the way he finished the run. Nice to see [LB] Eric Bakhtiari get a couple sacks. Thought our young defensive linemen did a very nice job. [CB] Perrish Cox was around the ball quite a bit, as was nice to see [S] Trenton Robinson get his hands on the ball. I thought all the Stanford players really proved themselves very well on both sides. [WR] Chris Owusu, [DT] Matt Masifilo, [RB] Toby Gerhart, [DB] Corey Gatewood. It was neat to see those guys, [TE] Konrad Reuland doing well, [C] Chase Beeler. I think we came out fairly clean in the game, injury-wise. So, that was another positive. But, overall it was really good. And like I said, good data points to move forward with."

Did you like that you had a lot of different scenarios? You had the goal line scenarios, and you had two-minute type scenarios. Did you get a nice array of things to look at?

"Thought so. Thought we did. It was a good game. There were good situations in the ball game that I thought our guys handled very well, for the most part - substitutions, formation-wise, both offensively, defensively, and the special teams. I think we just had one time in the game where we had a guy running on late, things you see so often in the preseason. But, no fumbled snaps. Penalties were the false start variety. And some things to clean up there, but overall I thought our guys did a good job. I thought they were on top of their business.

What were the most encouraging on that opening touchdown drive that lasted 12 plays?

"That 12-play drive and there was a little bit of everything. Third downs, fourth downs. [RB] Brandon Jacobs looked really light on his feet. Got the big runs and bounced it outside. Thought he did a great job. [WR] Kyle Williams, real solid night from Kyle. Was in a lot of situations offensively and on special teams, thought he did very well. [RB] Rock Cartwright also. [RB] Kendall Hunter continues to build on what he's been doing all offseason. Really been happy with Kendall and the work that he's done and just the command he has on the offense, and go out and played a real solid game. It was great. [WR] A.J. Jenkins made the big catch on the sideline. Great throw from Colin and a tremendous catch. And also, we dropped a few balls. I think they were the not-looking-them-in variety, and that's something to coach and improve on. But, all those guys, there's a lot of stories. A lot of guys out there doing well, acquitting themselves well. It was very good to see."

The few veterans you rested-

"[RB] Frank [Gore], [DT] Justin [Smith], [WR] Mario [Manningham], yeah that was more of a right before the game decision that I made. And there was [DT] Will Tukuafu was rested. And there might have been a few others."

Any word on LB Aldon Smith?

"Yeah, we're still waiting. Preliminary - looks like we'll be all right. Looks like we'll dodge a bullet there."

With what you've seen from Colin today doing his running and all, does that give you new opportunities, new thoughts of maybe using him differently? And I don't want to use the word ‘wildcat,' but using him differently offensively?

"Yeah, possibilities. Colin gives you that. Colin gives you possibilities. But yeah, he does because he's got tremendous athletic ability and can operate, really, in the pocket, or outside the pocket. All our quarterbacks really played well. I think that will be a highlight. I think they combined for somewhere around 66 percent throwing the ball. Moved the team, operated the team, there weren't any delay of games or fumbled snaps. Those may seem like basic things, and they are, but above and beyond that, too, I thought they played with real good poise, threw the ball accurately. [QB] Alex [Smith], Colin, [QB] Josh [Johnson] and [QB] Scott Tolzien. I thought he did some really exceptional things. He made a great play on the hit, got the strong safety blitz, took it right in the teeth and threw a great, accurate ball there."

Who do you think had the best night out of all your quarterbacks?

"It's tough to compare. It seems likes when you compare, somebody always gets diminished, but I thought that they all played really well. All had big plays, all did their job and did it well."

On that opening drive you had five wide receivers who were in and out, in and out, in and out. Is that how you see that offense working throughout the season? All those guys rotating in and getting a lot of snaps.

"Yeah, that's the way we've been looking at it from the start of training camp, that those guys would be doing that. You're still trying to find your best combinations, but we think that they are all very talented and bring a lot to the table. Same as the running backs. I would say that it's the same thing there. I thought that really showed tonight."

There was a play on the opening drive there where QB Alex Smith dove head first trying to get the first down. What was your reaction to that, preseason opener?

"You gotta play, you gotta play as the aggressor. The aggressee is the one that usually doesn't fare so well in football. One hand, I would have really liked to have seen a night whereAlex wasn't touched at all. I understand that he's gotta play it the way he sees it and be aggressive and do what he's born to do. Do what he's trained to do. Those kind of plays are going to happen."

Brandon Jacobs had four first downs on four carries. You commented that he looked light on his feet. Are you encouraged by him in short yardage situations?

"Very encouraged. Very happy with the way he's assimilated into the team. I could say that for all the new guys, whether it be rookies or free agents guys. It's always the first question, it's just human nature. You're trying to find out what's in another man's heart. Is he about us, or is he about himself? It's been a great group, from first year guys to 10-plus-year guys, it's been a good fit. He certainly is one guy that really had a highlight night tonight. I'm very pleased with how he played. I think he was having a lot of fun too."

Was it tempting to let those guys at the end try to punch it in?

"Just the fact that those guys are out there playing hard. They want to score. They want to keep playing, but we elected to be prudent and not see anyone get hurt in the last three plays of the game, when we don't have to. We just take a knee and the game is over. So we chose that option."

You mentioned LB Eric Bakhtiari as well. Obviously you coached him in college, he had a very unique path in the NFL and he's gone through a lot of adversity. Do you particularly feel for a guy like that when he had a night like he did?

"So many stories like that. I go through in my head and that makes you so excited to come out her and watch these games. Now you have data and you watch these guys play their way into a position to make the football team and that's really neat. It's a wonderful thing about the NFL, preseason games, the opportunity t0 have 90 players on the roster and that fires me up on a lot of levels. What's good for us, what's good for these young men. To a man, they did a great job, acquitted themselves really well. Now you have data, you've got information, game film that you can go over and you learn from and get better from."

What did you think of CB Perrish Cox's first game in almost a year. He sat out all last year and played pretty well tonight.

"He sure did. Perrish Cox did a great job. I thought his coverage was excellent. He was in command of his movements, his change of direction, and his eyes. You don't get around the ball as much as he did without really seeing and tracking the ball well. That was real encouraging. I thought he played very well. He played well in special teams as well."

RB LaMichael James missed a little time in minicamp and he had a lot of touches tonight, both in the return game and the running game. How do you feel he played?

"I thought he played really well. He was put in a lot of situations as a returner, he got touches on the ball. I thought he blocked well in protection. Chris Owusu, LaMichael [James] and DT Matt Masifilo all came late in the offseason due to school. I think all three have done a real good job of getting up to speed and closing the gap in a lot of areas. It was good, I thought he did great."

Did you like the fact that the wind was whipping around, it wasn't easy to be back there catching a punt? Do you like to see those guys put in that position where it is not going to be simple?

"Yes, that's a great observation Matt. That was a thing early. Pregames, you're looking at this ‘Okay, this will be hard for quarterbacks. This is gonna be tough on kickoff returners. This is gonna be especially rough on the punt returners.' In watching the ball in pregame moving 10 to 15 yards in the air. We knew that they would be the challenged player on those downs, even more than always. It was good. All the guys that were back there made cool decisions and ran with the ball well, in addition."

QB Alex Smith
Press Conference - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

What were your thoughts on the performance of the offense?

"We ran the ball really well on the opening drive and all game. I think the offensive line did really well. The one offensive line was in there for the two series, I think, they just dominated. I don't know what the yards per rush was but it had to be pretty high. Anytime you can do that it makes all of our jobs a lot easier. You're in second, third and short. Even there where we didn't convert on the third down, you're in fourth and one and then you're across the 50 and it's a great chance to potentially go for it there. Then all of a sudden we really dominated on fourth and one and we moved the chains there. Then all of a sudden we are down in the red zone and we got a touchdown, so it made life easy."

Did we see the affect RB Brandon Jacobs is going to have, especially on that first drive in that short yardage situation?

"Yeah perhaps. I think all of our backs ran great tonight, Brandon included. I think they all looked great. You know, I think that's a good problem to have. Especially when you are able to give Frank [Gore], it's the first preseason game, guys played a lot of football, and you're able to give him time off and let those younger guys get their reps. Not younger guys, but Brandon included, but see them all come in and run well, it was a good thing."

You got in the red zone and threw a touchdown pass.

"Yeah, it's great, love it. I love touchdown passes. I didn't throw that great of ball. [WR] Brett [Swain] did a great job outside. One, with his release and it was good enough."

That first drive being a long, sustained drive gave you a lot of different things to work on and execute, right?

"Yeah, I got some short yardage in, got some red zone in. Not quite goal line but close, got a lot of situations in there. I mean that's what you want out of the preseason. You're trying to get the reps. Trying to be competitive, get some stuff out of it. I thought it was a good start."

Talk about the importance of the first drive in the game:

"You want to get off to a good start. We didn't know how many plays we were going to play. You just want to put something good together. We read the ball great, made the big fourth down conversion. [WR Brett] Swain made a great play down there at the goal line."

How about the offensive line?

"I mean one offensive line, in two series, had 130 yards rushing so the stats speak for themselves. We just dominated tonight. Anytime you can play like that, it just makes all of our jobs easy."

RB Rock Cartwright
Post-Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

What's your opinion of QB Alex Smith?

"Alex is a good quarterback. He knows his stuff. He knows where he wants to go with ball. As long as you have a quarterback who knows exactly what they're doing, you've always got a chance to win a football game."

So it's easier just for you to fit in?

"It's a little bit easier. I knew a little bit of the offense. I know some of the terminology because I've been in a couple of offenses very similar. It was good."

CB Perrish Cox
Post-Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

How cool was that to just the energy, just being back out on the football field?

"First and foremost, it started in training camp. Just around the whole environment, it was back to what I love doing. They brought me in to make plays and it's all focus. I have a lot of energy built up in me and I'm just ready to go out and have fun."

How much of a difference do you think you made tonight?

"I really can't call it. I wouldn't be here if I didn't make a difference. I don't know. I'm just out here. Whenever they call my name, it's my time to get in and do my thing."

How about that pick? Was that just an extra sweet kind of way to end the night?

"I'm kind of a low key man. No, I'm just joking. They came in the huddle and told us on that play that whoever gets a pick or a fumble to stay down. I saw the end zone and I stayed down."

So you could have had a pick six?

"Yeah, so I had to pass up on it. It's just all fun and games. It's the first preseason game to see where we are at. Get to see where all the defensive backs and everybody are at."

RB Anthony Dixon
Post Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

How did you think you played today?

I was just pushing for yards. The big boys up front, they did a great job. It was really their yards. I just found the creases and ran hard. That our plan. We had been building good team chemistry all week and it just showed.

How did you feel in that role, first game at FB?

It went okay. I've definitely got to get better. I could have did some things better early on. Once I got comfortable I started showing a little better. But definitely got to get better."

Are you your toughest critic then?

That's what I expected to do, running out of bounds in the four-minute [offense] and running [in]to the quarterback that one play, it can't happen. That can't happen and I've got to get that corrected.

The first team goes down 84 yards, scores, second drive, 78-yard run by Colin Kaepernick. Does that just show the depth of this team? Because I think the Minnesota Vikings still had their ones out there.

We've got a lot of talent and we're hungry. We almost tasted the Super Bowl last year and I know that drove a lot of people this offseason. Losing that last game, walking off the field like we did, that was heartbreaking.

TE Demarcus Dobbs
Post-Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

On how he felt about his play at the tight end position.

"It wasn't all crisp and it didn't go as well as I planned it to be tonight. Go back and watch film, learn from it and try to correct that and try to put in a little bit more work. I have to put in a little bit of extra time since I'm learning multiple positions and work on my technique."

I think they did it for ease sake to list you as tight end so that you don't have to go and check in everytime.

"Yeah, that was one of the main reasons for my number change also and having that number changed you don't have to report everytime you go out there without an eligible number."

RB Kendall Hunter
Post-Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Just your overall thoughts coming in on that first drive, and performance. Went well.

"It just feels good, getting back out there and playing against somebody else. I tried to make the best of my opportunities."

It certainly seemed like yourself, RB Rock Cartwright, RB Brandon Jacobs, everyone getting opportunities and making the most of it. Was that kind of the plan going in, to mix things up?

"I guess. I can't call it, it's just whatever the coaches want. You've just got to be ready whenever your name is called."

What's the biggest difference you notice starting this season and last?

"Team chemistry. It's the team you're on, everybody's pushing each other. Everybody's' getting better. We're taking it one day at a time and getting ready for the next practice."

I know last year, you were learning the line for the first time. What's your comfort level with that line in front of you and knowing when those holes are going to open?

"A lot of of help from [RB] Frank [Gore] and [Running backs] Coach [Tom] Rathman. Having the offseason to learn more and just feel a little bit more comfortable. Keep working hard and just trying to be the best I can be."

RB Brandon Jacobs
Post Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

On the game and his offensive line tonight:

"It starts that slow, because they're good guys. Offensive linemen they get people out of the way, they move people and I just run. I run and read what I to have to read and run. Great lineman, they do what they're supposed to do, they move people out of the way, they're big strong guys."

Was this a great start to the season?

"Great start, I can't wait until we really get going."

RB LaMichael James
Post-Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

What was your first impression about the NFL?

"First impression, I was a little anxious. I was just trying to get going, just get hit a little more. It's all fun. It's really good for me to get out there and play around a little bit just to get use to it and make this transition from college to the NFL."

How was your first preseason experience?

"It was super fun, running around a little bit, getting hit, just playing stress free, trying to have fun. It's a preseason game, it's good for some of the younger guys to go out there and play hard."

Were you surprised at the huge whole QB Colin Kaepernick had for that touchdown he was able to complete the play and get all 78 yards?

"I look up and I see 11 defenders, so I look over and he's gone. Credit to him, he's a fast runner, he made the right read and took off."

QB Colin Kaepernick
Post-Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

When you were running and saw all green, what were you thinking?

"I was thinking touchdown all the way."

Talk about your game overall. Your passes, your numbers were good. Evaluate your passing game.

"There were a few passes I wish I could have back. Make a few different decision, but overall I think today went pretty well."

Did you feel that, overall, the whole offense was in control?

"Yeah, I think our offense played well as a whole today. We went out and executed the plays we wanted to. We were picking up first downs and we put points on the board."

Talk about your touchdown run, it looked like it was wide open.

"Our offensive line did a great job blocking in the box. Our receiver blocked the corner, the tight end got up to the safety. They left me with a lot of green grass."

What were you thinking on your touchdown play to make it happen?

"Don't get caught. Our offensive line did a great job. Our receivers and tight end did a good job blocking the corner and safety and just opened it up."

You were 5-of-9 in the air and almost 100 yards on the ground. I thought I was watching the pistol offense again.

"I felt back at home, running like that, but once again, our offensive line did a great job. Our receivers made plays and our offense played great."

As the play started unfolding at the 78 yard run, what did you see?

"Our receiver kicked the corner out. The safety got blocked and just saw green grass."

T Joe Staley
Post Game Quotes - August 10, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

You guys had a 12-play scoring drive to start the season.

"It was a good start. We wanted to go out there first game, first series, set a tempo, something to build on. Obviously, not perfect but it's good to get a first drive scoring drive in there. I thought we did some good things today. Go back and watch the film and see what we can improve on."

How about RB Brandon Jacobs? He had the fourth down near midfield and that was a big play early on to keep that drive going.

"That's something we struggled with and put a lot of emphasis in this season was converting the third-and-shorts and the third downs. So, happy with our conversions there and like I said, something to build on. We'll go back to camp and keep working."

Were you pleased with seeing the second and third team linemen, just seeing their development in this game.

"Yeah, we'll have to watch it together and see what we did. It's kind of weird watching on the sidelines. You can't really see everything. I thought we did a good job. Everybody went out there and got started early."

What was the angle on QB Colin Kaepernick's touchdown run?

"I was on the other side, blocking my dude and heard the crowd go crazy. I looked up and he was already on the 10-yard line. I was blocking my guy that long, or that short, depending on how fast he was running."

It seemed like the running game go going early.

"We just wanted to come out early, run the ball. Coach put it on us to get the tempo going. We weren't doing anything exotic or doing anything crazy. We were just running our base plays, just coming off the ball. I think we had a good tempo. Obviously we wanted to see a scoring drive and we accomplished that."

What did you think of the overall running game, over 200 yards?

"It was good, we wanted to come out and run the ball early. I'm happy with our success. We broke a few big ones. [QB Colin] Kaepernick's run was obviously a big one. It gave us a lot of yards. We were consistent with the ball and that's what you want to see early. We set a tempo, overall it was a good day for the first unit."

What about the first drive, the 12-play drive to get the touchdown, how was that?

"It's what you want to do when you come out in the first game. You want to have a drive coming down early. It took the momentum for the season and I think 12 plays, got into a rhythm offensively. The tempo was good. It was a good first start."