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Jim Harbaugh talks Peyton Manning, Broncos pass rush, short week and more

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media Thursday afternoon. He discussed the Denver Broncos pass rush, Peyton Manning, Chris Borland, the tight ends and much more. We've got a transcript for you.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

You talked on the radio this morning how the challenge that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense gives you guys, but you said that you think your defense is going to be up for it. So, what are expecting out of your defense and how well they've been playing this season?

"Big challenge. Huge task. A tremendous offense. Great quarterback. Capital ‘G' at the highest level. And that competitive challenge is something that I think our team, our defense, will be up for."

How much more do you have to do with LB Chris Borland this week in practice if he does get the start if LB Patrick Willis is not able to go? Practice with the ones that way he gets first-team snaps?

"Yeah."

From what you've seen from a rookie in just limited time in his game, just seemed like he's playing beyond a rookie.

"Yeah, I really believe that. Credit to our assistant coaches. Across the board, young players that are playing very well that are doing a great job and credit to them. They've stayed with it, stayed in it, kept coming and put themselves in a position to play very well. And expect that from Chris. He's shown that he can play. Shown it on special teams. Two weeks ago, four tackles. This past week, tackled well, broke up two passes. Excited for him."

Is he far enough along that LB Michael Wilhoite really doesn't have to worry much about him? Michael's been in the system. Does he have to help Chris out during the course of a game?

"I don't think Chris Borland needs a caddy. He's a fine player. But Michael Wilhoite is in position - that experienced inside linebacker, signal caller - he'll be helping out. That's part of the job description."

Does LB Patrick Willis have a sprained toe?

"It's nothing to characterize. We'll evaluate. It's day-to-day."

Would you characterize it only as a toe injury?

"Day-to-day."

CB Tramaine Brock has a toe injury and he's been out, for what, six weeks now? Can you say whether Willis' injury is less severe? It sounds as if you're saying it's less than severe than what Tramaine Brock has been going through.

"That's the way it's been described to me."

Do you think that Willis will miss six weeks?

"It's not for me to say. Day-to-day is day-to-day."

You described Peyton Manning as great with a capital ‘G'. What do you admire about his game? What do you admire about the way he plays quarterback?

"It's just everything about it is at the highest level."

What do you admire the most?

"All qualities. Great competitor, great player. He's done it and done it and done it and keeps doing it at the highest level. Tremendous player."

When you were able to spend some time with him in 2012, what kind of stood out? What was the takeaway from, in your mind, what has made this guy so great through the years?

"Everything that's been reported about him. Everything that teammates, coaches, have described about Peyton Manning. I think it's well documented. Everything about him, his game, his career, has been at the highest level."

What thoughts do you have about his chance of setting the career touchdown record against you guys this Sunday?

"What are his chances? I don't know."

Well, what are your thoughts about the fact that he's three touchdowns away from doing that? You guys could be the team that he does it against?

"We're preparing for the game. Our expectations are to have a great day today. We're going to have to be at our best. So, meetings, practice preparation, needs to be at its finest."

Would you consider him to be one of the greatest to ever play that position?

"Yeah, I don't think that would be going out on a limb."

Who would you think is the best quarterback to ever play that position?

"I don't really like to compare."

He likes to use the word ‘Omaha'. Do you have a word that when you were playing the game that you might've used? When he checks down he always yells out, "Omaha."

"No."

Is there any more motivation for your defense about not being the team that he sets that record against?

"As I've said, we're going to have to be at our best. Great challenge. It's a prolific offense, but it's a very good football team defensively. Their special teams is exceptional across the board. This is a big game, big challenge, big task but we're excited to compete. And it starts today - competition, understanding our opponent and preparing for them."

They did a lot of work in the offseason addressing their defense with free agency. How would you say those guys, Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive end Demarcus Ware, have played for them so far?

"Very good. Ware missed last season but he looks like the player he was in 2012 and before. Think he's moving really well. They have 10 sacks between the two outside linebackers, putting pressure on the quarterback, getting hurries, getting sacks. Playing extremely well. Same with the secondary."

When you had some injuries, TE Derek Carrier stepped in and played pretty well. Is that a week-to-week thing as far as who the guy behind TE Vernon Davis is? I know TE Vance McDonald played a lot more than Derek this last game. Is that a static situation or has Vance pretty much won that job?

"I think we've gone over this before. We don't get into ... when we talk about quarterback, starter. That's about as far as we go. Vance is a valued player. Derek's a valued player."

Is the altitude there a real thing for an opponent coming in? Is it something that you kind of have to expect you might have to adjust to or do you just game plan and prepare just like you normally would?

"Yeah."

Which one?

"We would prepare like we normally would."

How far back have you guys started preparing for the Broncos?

"We did some work on it this week with the extra time, extra day."

Is that just the coaching staff or do the players get involved in that preparation as well?

"Coaching staff."

It's somewhat unusual with the schedule that you're playing a road Monday night game then going on the road again to play on Sunday. If you see NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz in the offseason, are you going to mention this to him or have you mentioned it? Does it seem like, I guess, unfair? Does it seem unfair the way the schedule has you setup, does it seem unfair?

"No. That's a big job that Mr. Katz has. I think every team could look at their schedule and say, ‘Oh, this is beneficial, this is a challenge.' Every team could say that every season. I'm pretty sure we played a Monday night game (12/19/11) and then played aSaturday game (12/24/11) at one time in our stay here. Did we? Pittsburgh and then a Saturday game against Seattle, possibly, 2011? But that would be my answer."

What strides have you seen from T Jonathan Martin from Week 1 until now and also CB Chris Cook as well being counted on? Did you get a chance to see what he did on special teams?

"Chris did a fantastic job on special teams, a heads up alert play. They were lined up for a fake punt and Chris diagnosed it and they ended up taking a delay of game. So a real good heads up play by him. He's been good in other weeks, too, so, been good. Jonathan Martin, really good. Talked about it before, he keeps improving. Very good this year. Really glad we have Jonathan, he's doing a great job."

Regarding QB Josh Johnson, is part of the situation with him you really want him to be taking as many practice snaps so he's sharp if you need to call upon him at some point this season?

"Yes."

Is he Peyton Manning this week? Will he practice for your scout team as Peyton Manning?

"Both [QB] Blaine [Gabbert] and Josh will."