The San Francisco 49ers have slowly been working their way toward actual training camp practices, and we got through one more "milestone" today. Head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media for the first time this new season, which meant he got to discuss a whole bunch of topics that have been festering for some time now. He was fairly brief in most of his topics, in part because they were frequently topics you knew he was not all that interested in discussing.
He opened talking about the Eric Wright trade, and more or less deferred questions to GM Trent Baalke. Of course, Baalke was not available for questions, so that will fester a little bit longer.
Naturally, that led into a greater discussion about some of Wright's previous transgressions, and Jim Harbaugh's previous comment that the 49ers wanted to be above reproach. He was not quite as dramatic in his statements this time around, but unlike what Tim Kawakami said in his blog post earlier today, I don't think this was getting off his high horse, so much as clarifying his position. I suppose some might view it as backing down a bit, but given how the media ran with it, I think it's a reasonable position to take. But I'm a homer, so I guess I'm expected to think that.
Speaking of being above reproach, Harbaugh would not disclose any conversations with Ahmad Brooks. There is no word whether Brooks will face a team suspension. Charges were not filed, but that does not mean Brooks will not be disciplined. There is no word one way or another, so we're left to wait.
One other interesting tidbit from Coach Harbaugh's press conference was his mention that Michael Crabtree has spent his entire rehab process in the Bay Area. Given the medical personnel at his disposal at nearby Stanford, this is not particularly surprising. And I also have to imagine that traveling before when he was in a cast could not have been something with which he wanted to deal.
Here is the full transcript from Coach Harbaugh's media session.
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - July 22, 2013
San Francisco 49ers
"Good to see everybody. How we doing?"
So, I understand CB Eric Wright is not with the team?
"That's right, yes."
"Did not pass his physical."
What specifically did he fail?
"We don't ever talk about that."
You're not going to pursue him as a free agent or anything like that?
"The information is he didn't pass his physical. He's not on the team."
Were you aware of his DUI right before the trade, when you made the trade?
"Really, the better guy to talk to is [general manager] Trent [Baalke]. He's got a clear understanding of this specific transaction. So I'll defer to him on that."
During mini-camp you had some pretty strong words about the Seahawks and their Adderall problem and Eric Wright ...
"I don't agree with that."
"The way you characterized it."
You don't agree with how I characterized it?
You don't think those were strong words?
"That I was aware?"
Well, you said you wanted to make sure that your guys didn't do stuff like that, that you played by the rules, and yet Eric Wright did have some of that. Were you aware of that when you signed him, that that was in his past?
"What I'm going to say is, like I just said, talk to Trent on that. He's a better person to talk to about it. He's got a clear understanding of the transaction."
You did say that, I think you said, you wanted to be above reproach or beyond reproach.
"Correct. That hasn't changed."
Do you think that everyone on your roster qualifies for that at this point?
"I think our guys do a great job of playing within the rules, yes. And as a coach you anticipate and you deal with things as they occur. Anticipate and resolve."
Do you plan any discipline for LB Ahmad Brooks?
"Not to discuss out here. Had conversations, but not that we're going to talk about here."
Are you disappointed though, when things like that are public domain? These are things that people know about, about your team. Is there disappointment generally in an incident like that?
"Not the time to talk about it. Not the time to talk about the specifics, one way or the other."
Is the matter closed in your mind? Have the 49ers done all that they're going to do on the matter?
"Like I told [Sacramento Bee beat writer] Matt [Barrows], I'm not publicly discussing what our conversations have been with Ahmad, really, or any of our players."
When he signed his contract, you talked about you really feeling like he turned his life around, he had gotten back baptized and really matured. Does the incident change your view of Ahmad, kind of where he is in his life?
"Again, I'm not going to discuss it, and what my conversations with him have been. And as a general practice, we don't discuss those personal conversations with any player on our team."
Is he out here with some of the other vets that are allowed to come out and participate in the early portions of this camp?
"No, he's not been out here for this particular camp. No."
When did you guys start practicing?
"Well, it wasn't a practice. Friday was when they reported and they went through their acclamation day of a physical, equipment, lifting, conditioning."
But today wasn't the first day of them actually being out here, right?
"No, today was the fourth day. Third day on the field."
Any highlights from those first few days?
"Yeah, it's been good. I think it gives our guys a chance to, again, once again, one other step to be ahead, understand information, be able to put the pads on the way they did today and go through a practice before the vets are here. They get more reps. They get a clear understanding of what's going on. So, I think it's been a real positive thing. Something we did last year and continued this year."
And all four quarterbacks have been here the whole time through?
You've talked about this before with QB Colin Kaepernick, even during the playoffs, you kind of accept the praise and you move forward. He's obviously been talked a lot about. He's been out there. He was at the ESPY's a little while ago. Do you have any conversation with him, or anything you want to discuss with us, about someone who's been exposed so much, so fast and maybe hadn't been leading into the last year or so?
"He's been outstanding. He's had an outstanding offseason. Talked about it many times, his work ethic and what he does here and his preparation, it's top notch. And this offseason has been outstanding in that regard."
Do you have any issues with him wearing a Miami Dolphins baseball cap?
"I know [QB Colin] Kap. I know Kap and I know where his allegiances lie, and they lie with us. Chalk that up to a slow time in the media cycle. But I know Kap very well and know exactly where his allegiances are."
Do you think he's got to get use to knowing that people are going to take pictures of him wherever he's at, no matter what? They're going to respond to what he says on Twitter or whatever. Do you think he's got to take some getting use to that or do you think he's there already?
"Yeah, as far as I know he likes to get his picture made, just like I do. That happens quite a bit, wherever he goes."
So you didn't have any issues with him wearing the hat?
"I know exactly where his allegiances are. I know him. I know him. I know how he prepares. I know where his allegiances lie."
It was a short offseason obviously because you had the Super Bowl, but because we constantly want to talk about football and the 49ers, is it good to have the season get going where we're not going to be maybe focused on the off-field stuff and just focus on football?
"It's a happening when the season starts, especially when all of the veterans are here. That first day, I always think of it as New Years. It's like your birthday. It's like the start of a long journey whose conclusion isn't certain. It's all of those things on one day. I'm very much looking forward to that on Wednesday and getting started. Because once you start, the instincts, the timing, the habits come right back. So, definitely looking forward to getting started."
There's a new rule about pads. Have you gone over that with your team and what's the reaction from guys, especially skill players, who traditionally haven't wanted to wear a lot of pads?
"They vary a bit, but that's the rule. Their opinion, their take on it is different, but that's the rules."
What was your pad attitude when you were playing?
"I don't recall what my pad attitude was."
"I loved it, I loved the armor."
So you wore the thigh pads and the hip pads?
"Not wearing them now. No."
I'm talking about when you were a player.
"Yeah, the thigh pads and the knee pads, I think, is what I wore if I remember correctly."
You put a couple of your receivers on the PUP heading into camp. Are you going to be looking at other receivers? Is there some kind of need there just to have a couple of bodies in there that definitely are going to be practicing every day?
"Well, we said from the beginning that the spots were opened up, especially for the young guys. They've competed and they continue to do that and that rages on. I really feel like they're making a lot of progress. I feel good about where that stands right now, and the continued competition will continue to be good for our team and those youngsters. To answer your question; I feel good about those guys."
Do you expect WR Kyle Williams to start practicing this weekend?
"I don't want to get in to commenting on the areas that the doctors and the trainers ... is their specialty."
He's made a lot of obvious progress. It looks like that he's almost up to full speed. He said he's ready to go. You're as optimistic and positive as he is?
"Very optimistic, but I'm not making any prediction."
What are your hopes for WR Anquan Boldin this season? How far can he go to fill in the void left by WR Michael Crabtree's injury?
"Well, he's got the license and the ability to do that. Everything we've seen has been A-plus. What he's done in his career and then the time he's been with us has been outstanding. Very serious about winning. Very serious about football. I admire that about him. He's not always the friendliest guy to sit down next to in a meeting or at lunch and have a conversation with, unless it's about football. He's just serious about it. It almost comes off as a little bit as - I don't want any distraction. I want to be focused on football. And, I think it's a good thing for all of us. I think it's a good thing for our younger players. I think it's a good thing, and I've noticed and I've been impressed by it. The guy isn't a small talker. He's serious about football and serious about winning. I respect that."
Has age caught up with him at all or is he still the same guy he's been throughout his career?
"Like I said, everything has been good. Everything has been A-plus."
He's starting on one side to start camp, who would be the penciled-in starter on the other side?
"The three guys that we mentioned. Also, [WR] Marlon Moore has been doing an outstanding job. Rather than get focused on what the depth chart is now, we'll play this into camp and give the competition the importance that it deserves."
Will WR Michael Crabtree go on PUP or IR when he gets here?
I know that you probably don't know this precisely, but can you give us an indication of where he is in his rehab? Is he still on that track to get back at some point this season?
"Talking to the doctor and talking to Michael [Crabtree], they feel very good at where he is right now. I wouldn't categorize it as ahead of schedule because he's just starting now to start moving on it. It's been just healing so far, but it looks great, that's from the words of the doctors. So, again optimistic there and Michael did a tremendous job post-surgery. Stayed in town. Did not leave, did not travel and did everything that he was being asked to do. They say it looks great."
Did the offseason seem short to you personally?
"Glad it's here. Glad, like I said, that day, you anticipate that day coming. This has been a good exercise for everybody, young guys, coaches getting back into, the ramping up to the start of the season and then on Wednesday everybody reports. That's a big day. To me it's better than Christmas. It's better than the New Year, because it is the new year. All of us that are involved in football recognize this as the start of the new year."
Could CB Lowell Rose come back to the roster?