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Jim Harbaugh talks rookie minicamp

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers opened their rookie minicamp on Friday, and prior to the first practice, head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media. Yesterday, James touched on the Aldon Smith discussion Harbaugh had with Tim Kawakami. Below is the transcript of the session.

Harbaugh talked about quite a few topics beyond just Aldon Smith, and it provided a few tidbits of information. The most notable was probably that Marcus Martin is focusing on an understudy role at center. He can play all three interior line positions, but like Jimmie Ward is focusing on nickel back for now, Martin is focusing on learning the center position. I don't know that he is as likely to secure a starting role immediately, but he'll get his opportunities.

One of the more interesting pieces of information was about UDFA QB Kory Faulkner. He is staying at a Marriott nearby, and according to Harbaugh (later confirmed by Faulkner to the media), Faulkner was seen in the hallway at the hotel doing work on his drop-back. He played in more of a spread offense, but Harbaugh said he has some drop-back experience. But the extra work has to impress Harbaugh.

You’ve had your first chance to look at some of the rookies and undrafted guys, what do you think so far?

“So far, so good. They’ve done a great job studying. Coaches have done a fantastic job bringing them up to speed here in the last week, two weeks. So, excited to see them competing out there today.” 

Do you like this, that the rookies have had a chance to get their feet wet a little bit with the draft being pushed back before you get them on the field for the rookie camp?

“That’s the way we approached it last year, same way, even before they moved the draft back.” 

What’s the status of RB Marcus Lattimore? Is he going to take part in this camp today?

“Somewhat. He’s working through something. It’s not the knee. It’s something else that he’s working through. And we’re going to be going at the speed the doctors allow him, and his body allows him to go.” 

How does he look to you out here and especially compared to where he was at a year ago at this time?

“The days that he was full speed, he looked very good.” 

I know we’re going to feel a little old here when I say this, but can you believe WR Jerry Rice Jr. is out here? Talk about nostalgia.

“Yeah, I can believe it. And he did a great job with his assignments in our first glimpse there. And, excited to watch him and all the guys compete really. This is as excited as I get. It’s a great thrill to walk out here on the practice field anytime, but especially this time of the year when you have these youngsters. It’s like a horserace. They’re all starting from the gate and they’re surging out and running and competing. It gets me more excited than I can tell you. This is really fun to watch. They’re receptive to learning. They’re bright eyed. They have an opportunity in front of them that they just don’t want to let get away. And, I can’t blame them a bit for it, and it really helps the competition and the practices. Excited about it.” 

LB Aldon Smith was successfully prosecuted for three felony counts, one misdemeanor count. Does he remain a member of this team in full, good standing right now?


So, what’s your standard then? Is 10 felony counts the standard? Do you have a standard for what players can and cannot do?

“[San Jose Mercury News Columnist] Tim [Kawakami], I know you probably worked really hard on asking that question, and probably stared in the mirror and thought about just the way you could ask that.” 

That’s an assumption you’re making. It’s wrong.

“OK, well then you can write your story how you write it. If you want me to answer the question, I’d be glad to.” 

Go ahead.

“It’s part of a legal process. I am not an attorney or a judge. I’m a football coach. So, I’ll let that go through the legal process. There’s nothing more that I can add to it at this time. Is he part of this team? Yes.” 

Is he your starting linebacker?

“We’re too early to tell who the starters are right now.” 

Well, he was your starting linebacker two days after he was arrested for DUI?

“There’s nothing further I can add to that right now, Tim.”

Last year about this time, we were asking you about the Seattle situation with several of their players having issues with PEDs. And you said you wanted your players to be above reproach. And I know it was specifically about the PEDs. I know I’m very clear about that. But, do you want your players to be above reproach legally, criminally?

“I want our players to strive to be above reproach in all regards. And, I can’t imagine that anybody would tell anybody any differently. Can’t imagine you, or I, or anybody else here would want their youngsters to strive for anything less. Certainly wouldn’t promote that they strive to be below reproach. Would you Tim?” 

No, but are all your players above reproach then, right now?

“No. We’ve got some things that we’ve got to resolve. But, we are in a process, and always are in a process, of striving to be above reproach.” 

Is there any negative to a team to have players in trouble? Is it a problem at all for you? Does it take an effect on a locker room?

“The locker room, you tend to put a lot of things on a locker room. A locker room isn’t all-encompassing, to take care of all the world’s problems, or each individual’s problems. There’s a process that he’s working through individually, that is his accountability, just like all of us. Anything that we do, if we do things right, there’s going to be consequences. If we do things wrong, there’s going to be consequences for that. All of our actions, there are consequences good or bad.” 

Practically, he does have that sentencing hearing after you start training camp. Would he be in training camp to start? Is that the plan right now?

“Tim, as I said earlier, there’s really nothing further that I can add to it.” 

We do know that sentencing hearing is the 25th. We know that. That’s a fact that its after you start training camp. In your mind, is he starting training camp in pads with everyone else?

“I’m not going to get into speculating on what’s going to happen, what could happen, what will happen. There’s nothing really I could further add to this line of questioning. You can take bamboo shoots and stick them under my fingernails, and there still wouldn’t be any more I could add further to this discussion.” 

Have decisions on that been made, or you’re saying you just won’t say there’s a decision?

“There’s nothing further I can add right now without speculating. I don’t know why you can’t understand that at this time.” 

Is he still here? Participating in the program?

“Yes, he’s coming to work. Showing up. He’s working hard. He’s listening. He’s doing what he says he’s going to do. We give him that opportunity, yes.” 

I want to ask about QB Kory Faulkner. You talked about him a little bit on draft weekend. But, what have you seen from him out here? And, is he your only quarterback that’ll be taking part in this minicamp?

“Yes, he’s the only quarterback that’ll be taking part in this minicamp. But, we’ll get [WR] Bruce Ellington involved as an emergency quarterback during this minicamp.” 

He played in high school?

“Yeah, he played in high school.” 

Would he be throwing some?

“Yeah, he’s got a pretty good arm.” 

Like, throwing drills?

“Passes, yeah. He’s got a pretty good arm.” 

What do you like about Kory? You’ve seen him a couple weeks now. What kind of stands out to you as an ex-quarterback?

“He was seen taking drops in the hallway at the Marriott Hotel the last couple days. So, he is really diligent. He’s really into it. He’s very conscientious. And, it shows up when he comes out here. He’s calling the plays in the huddle. He’s moving the offense. Getting them up to the line of scrimmage, and making very few mistakes. So, you can tell that he’s studying, he’s listening, he’s taking it back to the hotel and doing drops in the hallway.”

Is that something that he just didn’t do a lot of in Southern Illinois?

“A lot of what, playing quarterback?”

No, playing under center and dropping back?

“Yeah, he did both. It was spread offense and was under center as well.”

Jim, what’s Lattimore’s condition? What might keep him out a little bit?

“He’s got something he’s working through that may take a couple days.”

Is it a leg, hamstring?

“Just something he’s working through right now. It’s not the knee.”

What you’ve seen of him thus far, can you harken back to when you saw him for those three weeks toward the end of the season practicing? Does he look considerably different? What does he need to work on to get to where he can go out and play in a football game?

“Again, he has improved to where he was the last time we saw him going in those practices during the season. Yes, he’s quicker, faster.”

Is DB Jimmie Ward able to participate this weekend?

“Right now just in the walk-through type of sessions. But, he is scheduled to be healthy for training camp. No change in that.”

Regarding C Marcus Martin, obviously he’s a very young guy, even for a rookie. That position of center, mentally, is it realistic to think he could be your starter this year?

“Right now, he’s going to be in the understudy role. That’s the expectation that we put on him, to learn and get up to speed as fast as possible, and, put no timetable on it. That’s his expectation right now. Learn the offense.”

But, he has the license and ability, does that apply to him as far as--?

“Yes, applies to everybody.”

RB LaMichael James been back this week?

“Yeah, LaMichael was here this week. It was great to see him. Great to have him back, yes.” 

Another guy, S A.J. Highsmith, went to Miami as a quarterback. Could he also fill in, or is he just strictly going to be on defense?

“He’s going to compete on defense at safety this week.”

Can you throw with your hand all right? Can you throw out there?

“Yeah, I can. I got the clearance to start throwing.”

Probably can’t catch, right?

“That’s exactly, right. How’d you know that? You’re a doctor. You’re a lawyer. You’re a man of many talents, Tim. It’s outstanding.”

One of the tryout guys, LS Jimmy Davenport, his granddad was the former Giants Manager, what do you see in him?

“He’s another youngster we brought in as a snapper, but he played some wide receiver in college as well. And, we’ll give him a look at both those positions this weekend.”