49ers head coach JIm Harbaugh met with the media Wednesday afternoon, and he had some interesting comments about the A.J. Jenkins-Jon Baldwin trade, particularly as it applied to his comments about Jenkins last year. Late last July, he made an impromptu visit to the media tent and opened with this comment:
"I just want to visit with you. I'll be glad to take some questions afterwards. I just want to update you on the status of A.J. Jenkins, that topic. [WR] A.J. Jenkins was an outstanding football player when he got here. His progress has been very, very good and exceeded expectations. For those scribes, pundits, so called experts, who have gone as far to say that he is going to be a bust, should just stop. I recommend that because they are making themselves look more clueless than they've already did. To go on record, A.J.'s going to be an outstanding football player. So far in camp, what he's done in the offseason has led us to believe nothing but that he will be an outstanding football player in the National Football League."
Jenkins was getting some negative reviews because of previous conditioning issues. Harbaugh came out in his defense, and ever since then, people have poked fun at this comments.
In yesterday's press conference, Harbaugh referred to his comments a year ago, and said:
"I feel the same as I did a year ago when I made those comments, that I don't think it's fair to bully or label a young player. Though, I fully understand that people are entitled to their opinion and their perspective. However, I prefer that the criticism, I would appreciate if the criticism was directed towards me. I'm responsible and I certainly accept that. Actually, welcome it."
He was asked what he was responsible for, and he said, "Well, I'm responsible. I'm responsible for helping pick the draft picks and fully responsible for coaching the players up. So, I willingly accept those responsibilities."
Eric Branch had a good take on the situation. He wrote about how Harbaugh's background as a player helps explain his defense of Jenkins, and his defense of players in general.
Here's the rest of Harbaugh's transcript.
You got the first opportunity to look at WR Jon Baldwin yesterday in practice, what were the initial reactions to how he is adapting and fitting in?
"It's just one day, but good so far."
Can you tell what skills he has, how he will potentially fit into your offense?
"I think most people can. Somebody with great athletic ability. He already has a resume, so, yeah very good."
Do you have enough time to evaluate him before the 53-cut or is it you gotta have to just kind of assume some things with him when you get to that cut?
"Yeah, I think we do, I think we do with him. Sometimes there are players that are traded in the middle of the season after six or seven games. So, they get up to speed. But, to answer your question, yes."
At 6-4, 230, a guy that can run, could he do special teams? Could he cover kicks? Would that be an option for him?
"I think there'll be a lot of options."
I don't know if you decided your order for the quarterbacks, but is there a chance that QB B.J. Daniels gets the second turn, gets that early a look in this exhibition game?
"I think it'll be [QB] Colt [McCoy] that goes in second, yes."
And then Daniels third or fourth or what?
"We'll make that decision."
Has he been practicing with the two's more recently?
"Yes. Yes, played out just the way it was outlined at the beginning of the week. That's how it's played out. Those reps have been evened out so, [QB] Scott [Tolzien], Colt and B.J. have been getting work with the two's."
You've been sorting out your receivers, but it seems like WR Marlon Moore came in somewhat unheralded but certainly he's come in and he's pretty well established himself a comfort level there hasn't he?
"I never like to use the word comfort as it relates to football. That's a word that is very confusing at least to me in terms of football. But, he's doing a very good job. He's worked extremely hard this entire offseason. Training camp, he's gotten very good production in training camp and it's been very positive."
He had, on RB Frank Gore's run, he was sprinting downfield right ahead, obviously that's something you guys like to see. Is there something with Marlon Moore, that mentality, that you really like to see in a football player?
"Yes. There's the physical and there's the mental, the mentality. That's a great word that you used. You need both. He's definitely a talented player physically. He's also tough mentally, tough physically. Those things are very good combinations."
Why was QB Colin Kaepernick wearing a black jersey yesterday in practice?
"There was a play the day before where we were going against our one's, and felt like as the defense was running a stunt that [LB] Ahmad [Brooks] came free and was a little too close to Colin. So, as a way to reemphasize to stay away from Colin Kaepernick, so we don't get anything ‘freakish' happen in practice."
You went with Colin as a rookie as the backup to QB Alex Smith your first year. Comfortable is the wrong word so I'm not going to use it, but are you a coach who maybe is less worried about something like that having just a rookie like a B.J. Daniels be your main backup going into the season?
"I don't understand your question."
Is it OK for you to have a rookie be your backup? Some coaches I guess would not want that in any way.
"Is it OK for a rookie to be a backup? Yes, it's OK. How that plays out, we will see. It's OK for a veteran to be the backup."
Has he gotten fewer reps at running back and special teams? Is he just focused now on quarterback?
"Offensively, it's been strictly quarterback as of late. But, he's still taking special teams reps."
When WR A.J. Jenkins was here he got a lot of snaps in these games. Who's gonna kind of fill that void now in this upcoming game?
"There are a lot of options there. I've been really, really impressed with our receiving group. The way they practice, the way they perform. But, any number of guys will be getting those reps."
Is the transition to the new- -?
"[WR Austin] Collie, [WR Lavelle] Hawkins, Baldwin, [WR] Chad Hall, [WR Ricardo] Lockette, I'm probably missing a few."
Three of those guys, Hawkins, Collie and Baldwin, the first three you mentioned, are guys who obviously haven't been here as long. Do you feel the need to get those guys as many reps as possible just to get enough analysis?
"I sure would like to. They're very competitive guys and they want them. There's quite a few receivers that we have that are all healthy and chomping at the bit to get them. Hopefully that works out that way this week that our receivers all get a real good look."
With Baldwin, is he familiar enough with the terminology that he could play Sunday and do you expect him to play Sunday?
"I expect him to play Sunday, yeah."
What kind of teacher has WR Anquan Boldin been for these young receivers?
"Real good, just as you would expect. Outstanding in advice and in action. Always willing to take the time to mentor. But yet, he's also, he's also real serious and focused on his job and takes great pride in his effort and his job so that's why he's both been positive as a mentor and as an example."
On paper McCoy's numbers in the preseason don't look good. How much of that is just him still learning the system and getting comfortable with the offense?
"Definitely it's a factor. I don't know if it's a percentage that you're looking for. Is it a percentage you're looking for or how much? It's definitely a factor, and the good improvement this week, he's working at it very hard, it means a lot to him and it does to us too. We're coaching him up the best we can and we'll keep striving for improvement each day."
How much have you seen of CB Nnamdi Asomugha now and do you see the transition of coming in with a chip on his shoulder to the point now where he has a sense of belonging here?
"The chip on the shoulder analogy, I don't know that one very well, what exactly what that means. What I've seen is talent, improvement, means a lot to him. He's an ascending, improving player since he's been here on our roster and that's extremely positive."
NT Ian Williams to go from an undrafted free agent to possibly winning that starting nose tackle job. What has he done that maybe has exceeded your expectations of him?
"Exceeded our expectations? He's doing a great job. He's doing a great job. He's very athletic and he's very strong. There are some nose tackles that are bigger than Ian, but he makes up for it with a lot of heart, speed and quickness and athletic ability. His growth continues weekly. We've seen really good things from the start of this offseason, this camp when we put the pads on. Things that we had seen in the past, but again, getting better ascending player, improving player. We're very excited about him. We're very excited about [DL] Glenn Dorsey as well. Glenn's a proven football player, got a very good track record. Here's Ian Williams playing right there with him. In our opinion, both those guys really sure us up inside at the nose tackle position."
With Dobbs going to be out in Week 1, do you start giving Dorsey and Ian some snaps at defensive end because they might be part of that rotation in Week 1?
"I was just thinking about something else. Could you repeat the question?"
Dobbs, defensive end, won't be around in Week 1. So, knowing that, will you start giving Dorsey and Ian Williams some reps at that position?
"That's a possibility Matt. We've got some pretty good ends too. [DT] Tony Jerod-Eddie, he's doing a really good job in battling for a spot on the team. [FB/DT] Will Tukuafu as well. So, that competition rages on as well, both of them make it, only one make it, it's real competitive there."
Is Dorsey similar to Williams with his quickness and agility? He's not the biggest nose tackle either.
"Yeah, similar, similar. A little bigger in size just from my eye. But, yeah they're both very talented players and it's great, the point was that he had stepped up to be in that caliber."
Do you feel like RB Kendall Hunter needs to play in the preseason before Week 1?
"Yes. Kendall's ready to go. Our medical staff, strength and training staff has cleared Kendall. He is, he's been back in action in practice and, when you dive back into the action, your senses, your instincts come back and he appears to have that. Looking forward to and excited about him getting out on the field as well."
Is TE Vance McDonald someone you expect to see or hope to see in the next preseason game?
"Yes, yes. Vance was back practicing yesterday, looked good. Didn't look like he had any lingering effects from what kept him out. But, a little rust. There was a little rust there from being out seven to 10 days. But, yeah, definitely expect him to be back in the game this week."
Was that a hamstring that kept him out?
"He was working through something."
Just a follow up, do you expect Kendall to play some Sunday?
"Yes. Yes, I expect Kendall to play on Sunday."
Getting back to Baldwin, is it realistic he could step up and win that number two receiver spot by the first game given how short his time has been here, to get on equal footing with other guys and emerge by the opener do you think?
"Anything's possible. What happens there is, some guys with a little bit of a head start now. So, we're talking about what's possible. [WR] Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore have a bit of a head start in that regard, but we'll just take it day-to-day. Excited about Jonathan being out there again in today's practice. I feel like he's got a heck of an opportunity here. I feel real excited for both Jonathan Baldwin and A.J. Jenkins. I know a lot of people, kind of, have been making some sport of A.J. and Jonathan and my comments, and that type of thing. I really feel, I feel the same as I did a year ago when I made those comments, that I don't think it's fair to bully or label a young player. Though, I fully understand that people are entitled to their opinion and their perspective. However, I prefer that the criticism, I would appreciate if the criticism was directed towards me. I'm responsible and I certainly accept that. Actually, welcome it."
Jim, you did say that people who said that Jenkins was not a good receiver were clueless. Do you regret saying that?
"Like I just said, of course I'm going to defend a young player when I believe he's being bullied or labeled, before even his first practice."
You thought Jenkins was being bullied?
"Yes, and labeled. Yes."
What you said, that I'm responsible, what are you responsible for?
"Well, I'm responsible. I'm responsible for helping pick the draft picks and fully responsible for coaching the players up. So, I willingly accept those responsibilities."