clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jim Harbaugh discusses returning players, injuries, Cam Newton and more

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media Wednesday afternoon. We've got a transcript for you.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

How was your, I guess, week off? I guess you could say, were you able to refresh yourself?

"Yeah, I think a lot of people got a chance to refit, regroup, reorganize. And, also continue with our efforts in preparing for the Carolina Panthers."

Now with LB Aldon Smith back, what impresses you about him, or what strikes you most about having Aldon back, I mean his attitude?

"I wouldn't say one thing strikes me most other than it's good to have him back, good to be around him again."

LB Patrick Willis and LB Ahmad Brooks said they got pretty winded in a drill the other day that Aldon wasn't even breathing heavily. Showed that he's back, he's still in good shape and ready to go. Were you impressed by just the shape he came back?

"Who said that? Patrick Willis and Ahmad?"

Willis and Ahmad said they got winded in a drill with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio a little bit and that Aldon was-?

"Interesting. That concerns me, because the drills were not that rigorous. That will open up a different topic of concern."

Well, is Aldon looking good like he's physically fit and ready to play for you this week?

"He does."

Will he play this week?

"We'll assess that. It's been clear, and Aldon has been to, that this is a thing that's being taken day-by-day."

How is WR Mario Manningham and do you expect him to be good to go?

"Well, there's going to be probably a lot of possibilities that we could delve into here since we haven't played a game in 10 or 11 days. Some new players that have been added onto the active roster, so quite a few possibilities, maybe some nuances. But, I'd like our opponent to think of all those options being open and would be less inclined to go into the details of each or any of those, unless we were to get the same thing from our opponent."

Has Mario been able to do everything in practice since he's been back?

"Again, today's the big practice of the week, the first one of those. And, we'll get a chance to really look at Mario today. But, we've all been watching and it's all looked good. He's been taking part for the last couple weeks now."

Having WR Michael Crabtree back on the field, what does that mean, just his presence out there as he works himself back?

"Well, same thing, good to have him back, you know. 15 reporting eligible. Everybody kind of watches out of the corner of their eyes, they're doing their drills and it's neat to see any player that comes back from a serious injury. Understanding the grueling rehab that's taken place. The mental toughness, grinding through those rehab sessions to be where they are now and that's an exciting day when they trot out there in uniform and start taking reps."

Does he just take reps with the offense, or do you work him in a little bit scout team, or how do you do it?

"Again, today will be a bigger practice where there'll be scout-team reps and multiple reps. So, he'll have a pitch count."

What's this like for you getting so many reinforcements for the stretch run so to speak?

"It's good. One thing I'm noting really is that for this game the inactive roster will really consist of only one non-healthy scratch. And, of those seven players, there'll be six players ready to go and there'll be six really good football players that won't be active for the game. So, there's some decisions to be made and you expect that the players will have the opportunity in reps this week to state a case, make an argument for why they should be out on the field contributing. So, very much looking forward to that process."

Is WR Quinton Patton the-?

"He'd be the only one who's not a healthy scratch this week."

I think today actually marks the 24-week anniversary, or 24-weeks since Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon. Are you surprised, impressed by how quickly somebody can come back from that injury nowadays?

"Say that again?"

24 weeks, six months since he tore it.

"I think you're right. I had the math since the surgery - five months, 27 days as of Sunday. So, five months, 30 days today. Surprised? I don't know the surprise there. I guess because you watch him day-to-day, successful surgery, on track at every point, doing everything that he was asked to do by the doctors and all reports were really good. [Baltimore Ravens LB] Terrell Suggs would be maybe the other one that I'm aware of. He played in a game five months, 28 days from his surgery. So, that seems to be the common ground, that sixth month. But, they're different positions. Who knows for certain how that plays into it."

Did you talk to your brother at all about working back a guy from an Achilles injury that's coming back so quickly with Suggs and Crabtree comparison?

"Yeah, we spoke, we spoke."

Anything specific that he gave you? Any advice that he gave you about bringing a guy back in there, not pushing him too hard or anything like that?

"No, I mean, the same thing I think of. Neither one of us are doctors and the doctors are the tip of the spear on the surgeries, the rehabs and the prognostications."

Is Patton a candidate to go on IR, or do you expect him that he'll be playing at some point again this season?

"I anticipate he'll be playing again. And, doing really well, came out of his boot less than a week ago, a couple days ago and looked really good, Mondayor Tuesday, and looks really good. So, I think ahead of schedule for Quinton."

Can he do anything on it now as far as running or anything?

"He's working. He just got out of his boot, but soon."

Going back to Aldon, is that just solely a football decision, whether he plays, that's made by the coaching staff whether he can help or not, or are there more layers to it?

"Layers? I don't know that I'm familiar with your, layers there would be."

Is it a football decision?


Given a couple health scares with coaches over the weekend, are you willing to share kind of what your medical, do you get a physical every year? You had that heart procedure last season that you said was minor. But, there's some concern on what are the protocols for coaches in a high-stress job and certainly you saw what happened with a couple of your colleagues this week.

"Yes, but I'm not aware of any protocols for high-stress jobs."

In terms of physical, how is your physical health and do you get a physical more regularly since the heart procedure last year, or anything you're able to share?

"Yeah, just as you said, it was a minor thing. I was able to walk it off and I'm feeling good. Thanks for asking."

What makes Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton unique and special as a quarterback and what have you seen from him this season?

"I remember when he was coming out of the draft. How did we say it? Plutonium grade. What was the next thing I said?"

Raw material.

"Yeah, really good, really good. He's just, continues to grow and blossom into a top-shelf quarterback. My father-in-law, Merrill Feuerborn, was adamant that Cam Newton was the, we had to get Cam Newton and he was the future of the NFL. You've got to give him credit, I mean, he saw that. He saw some things in Cam Newton, which we all did. But, I think all the football world saw at that time and we weren't in a position to pick him. He's been a great addition to the league and to the Carolina Panthers, he's a great player."

What stands out to you about Carolina's defense?

"The linebackers and the defensive line. I think this is the best defensive line we'll play. The linebacking crew is outstanding, great talent, play very hard, and a really smart group, they play well together. The secondary's very physical, cover extremely well. All-in-all this is a formidable defense and we understand the task that's in front of us this week."

What is plutonium grade, raw material? How would you define that? What does that mean?

"It's just, uniquely talented. My son, Jack Harbaugh, who's now a little over 14 months old, I mean, on the curve he's outside of the 100 percentile now. Above, he's above the 100 percentile. He's big, he's big, growing very well. Yeah, Cam Newton would be further outside the graph. He's in a world by himself. He's tremendously talented."

Have you talked to the team about what happened in Miami? I'm just curious if you feel it's the job of the veterans in the room to prevent sort of the good-natured abuse that goes on in all locker rooms from becoming kind of toxic. Is it really just sort of the guys you have in the room? Is it something that you have a bright line on and keep an eye out against?

"Well, a couple things there, number one, yes we've well discussed it. It's been well understood on what the policy is within the organization. But, as far as that situation, there's only one thing that I can intelligently comment on and that's knowing [former Stanford and current Miami Dolphins OL] Jonathan Martin. I know him to be a fine person and his family. A great contributor as a student and an athlete at Stanford. Epitomizes the student-athlete model and then a personal friend. So, I support Jonathan."

Have you reached out to him at all?

"I don't have any comment on that, or anything else because I wasn't there. Not in the locker room there, didn't see anything, didn't hear anything, didn't talk to anybody that did. So, anything I would have to say in any regard would be hearsay."

Can you generalize for us what your policy is regarding hazing, and the rookies and things like that?

"Yeah, I could and I'd be glad to at a different time. I don't think that this is the forum for that discussion. But you bring that up to me at some point where it's not related to this story, like I said, anything else is hearsay on my part. And if you want hearsay just tune into ESPN. They're rolling it all day long. Plenty of here hearsay."

There's been a lot of comparisons just between Cam and Colin just because of their size, their ability to run and their ability to throw. Is Colin the scout team quarterback this week as well?

"That's a good idea, that's a very good idea because they are so similar. And in ability, and makeup, and confidence, and in so many ways, talent, they're both great. And that's not a bad idea at all."

Did your father-in-law have any insight on Kaepernick before the draft?

"No, no he did not. My father, Jack Harbaugh, was championing Colin Kaepernick. The two fathers each championing their champion."

How big is Jack Jr. right now?

"He's pretty big."

Did you visit Carolina Panthers LB Luke Kuechly when he was in college?


High school?


How'd that go?

"I thought it went really well. Sat in the home visit in the living room there in Cincinnati with the Kuechly's and felt confident and sure that Luke would be a Stanford man. And walked out of the living room that night feeling pretty darn good about it and got the tragic news the following week that he was going to Boston College."

Did you expect this type of production from him in the NFL when you had that meeting with him?

"At that point we were still so young and so early. But by his freshman year he was, I believe, and I tracked it very closely, he was leading the ACC in tackles as a freshman and had a stellar college career. And as we were evaluating for the draft you could see that he's a great player and somebody that has got to be blocked or he'll make every tackle. So, big challenge for us this week."

How do you react when you get that kind of news? What do you do?


You don't throw things?

"What did we do wrong, what did we do wrong?"

Do you expect WR Kyle Williams to return punts and kickoffs Sunday?

"Again, all of those options are open and I'm not going to divulge that information."