San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media Tuesday morning, and we got a lot of the usual Harbaugh-isms. He was asked about Alex Boone's contract, and came back with his usual, "I won't get into contract talks" point. He also was asked about game-planning against the San Diego Chargers, and also if the team would throw more this year. He said he would not make predictions about that kind of thing, or go into anything on the game plan. It's obvious why, but he made it pretty clear:
"I just feel like it's best not to discuss what we're going to do, how we're going to do it, when we're going to do it. I'd appreciate it if the opponent would do that. We would find value in that and appreciate that very much."
One area he was willing to discuss was young players that jumped out at him in the preseason. He mentioned virtually the entire draft class, and then also mentioned Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, who are sort of like rookies. When it comes to providing praise for players, Jim Harbaugh enjoys spreading it around so he does not focus on just one player.
After going over the game on Sunday, are there still a lot of areas of concern that you have? Or did the film study kind of clear up some of the things that concerned you afterward?
"We're working. We're working to improve. It's an important week for us. Every area of the football team is trying to get better this week."
Does fatigue play a role at all in those games? Guys like DT Tank Carradine and DT Quinton Dial played a lot of snaps, with the biggest gains in the practices. Does that factor in at all during preseason?
"Well, it's been great. You mentioned Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine. They've gotten a lot of reps, lot of reps in the game, lot of reps in practice. It's been outstanding for them. They've needed that. Neither one of them are looking for a soft shoulder to cry on, either. They appreciate those reps. They want them and need them. Been most beneficial."
How did T Jonathan Martin look on film and where does T Anthony Davis stand in his return?
"Anthony's going to be back today doing individual and progressing back in. Jonathan Martin has done very well. Been a great addition to our football team. Sure glad we got him. Like everybody else on our football team, working to improve in certain areas. He's been very effective and efficient."
Do you see him fighting for a roster spot or is his spot his?
"Not going to go into open up every guy on the team with what their status is. Everybody's working, everybody should be working. Things are going to be determined. It's an important week."
Are there any young players that jumped out at you on how they performed through these two exhibitions?
"Yeah, there was very good play by some young players, no question about it. [WR] Bruce Ellington jumps to mind. Thought [C] Marcus Martin had a very good game, a very physical game. Great to get him back, get him going again. Had the ankle injury. Saw some really good things. Tank, Quinton, [DB] Jimmie Ward, [RB] Carlos Hyde, [LB] Chris Borland, [LB] Shayne Skov, [LB] Chase Thomas had a very good game. There's others. [CB] Kenneth Acker, thought he made some plays. He's building confidence. There were definitely positives in terms of individual play."
How's S Antoine Bethea recovering a few days later?
"He's in the protocol. He's going through the concussion protocol. You're familiar with that, right?"
Certainly. Do you feel like he's feeling pretty good or is there any indication when he might be back?
"It's based on how they respond with their symptoms. When they're asymptomatic then they're progressed to running. And then another day goes by, or two, until they're not symptomatic and show they're not symptomatic from running and exerting themselves. Then it progresses to practice without contact. Again, if they're asymptomatic, then it progresses to contact, again. See what the symptoms there are, if any. If not, then they're progressed back into playing."
What did you see on K Phil Dawson's two kicks?
"We know Phil. He's gotta make those kicks, he's gonna make those kicks. Again, it's another part of everybody playing together as a unit and making sure that the protection is sound, the snap is good, the hold is good and the kick is good. All those things have to work together and they didn't on the first long one. All areas we know are correctable, and we count on Phil to make those kicks."
Are you confident that the offensive line with G Joe Looney at right guard can pick up, if G/T Alex Boone isn't here to start the regular season, can pick up and do the same things that you guys kind of hung your hat on last year as far as the power, a stout offensive line and the power running game?
"We believe in Joe Looney. We believe we can win with Joe Looney. Again, Joe Looney is working every day to improve his game and that's what the unit is doing, all 11 and key backups. It's a race in that way. It has been every day since we've started. We'll continue to stick to the plan. We're coming along."
As a coach, do you insert yourself into contract stuff? Do you support how the organization has handled the Alex Boone stuff?
"As always, we don't talk about contracts publicly. Rarely have we talked about it in any form or fashion. Never feel like it's in anybody's best interest to do that."
How long do you think your starters will go in this next preseason game?
"Again, can't make a blanket statement of how long the starters, individual players ... we'll have a plan for the game. Not so much in terms of starting groups."
QB Colin Kaepernick may be a little deeper this one?
LB Patrick Willis hasn't played in either one and he sat out practice last week. Was that related to the stinger he had in Baltimore? What's he working through?
"He's working through something. Didn't feel like it was prudent to play in the game."
Might he play in this game?
"He might. We'll see how the week goes."
Do you have a starter at that other inside linebacker position?
"The linebackers are working well. Think we're getting there. Feel confident in how the linebackers are progressing."
Has Jimmie Ward become the first option at nickel cornerback?
"We'll just keep working, work and not predict. Think that's the best course of action right now. Start predicting the roster, the starters, et cetera. We're still working."
You guys look like you'll throw more this year than you have in the past. Is it possible, can you impose your will on a defense if you throw 30 or 35 times a game? I'm asking in general.
"Same would go for that. The predicting how many times we're going to throw the ball isn't something that I think is in our best interest, announce game plans or numbers in that regard. We're going to be trying to move the ball. That's where we want our offense to be. Move the football, score points, be a winning offense."
Can you talk a little bit about Chris Borland, just because getting the start against Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning? Because defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Chris Borland, one of the things he did well in college was he relied on instinct. But here, the quarterbacks in the NFL game are so good that you have to be more assignment-based sometimes. How's Chris' growth been in that area just between the two games?
"His growth has been outstanding. Means a lot to him. He works extremely hard at it. He does have extremely good instincts. And playing with the defense, getting that experience working as part of a team-oriented defense, our defense. It's different than what he did in college, or anybody, different from what they did in college. He's coming along real well."
Are you game planning and preparing for the Chargers this week like you would a regular season opponent?
"Again, we're not going to talk about what we're doing game-plan wise. I don't see the benefit of that."
Have you spoken to G/T Alex Boone?
"Again, I'm not going to get into it, relay it, open up the conversation as it relates to contracts, etcetera."
You brought up Ellington, what do you like out of him?
"I think he's got a great feel for the game. I think it means a lot to him. He's very talented. He gives great effort. I think he's got the ability to be a very versatile player. And again, he's working, he's learning and he's coming along real well."
This is a serious question, I was wondering if your dad or former Michigan head football coach Bo Schembechler or former Ohio State head football coach Woody Hayes were still coaching today, do you think they would embrace more of the passing game, you know, three wide receiver sets?
"I can tell by your questions you've got an idea where you want to go and you want me to plug something in here to help you write your article."
Those are your big coaching influences and you like a power running game and there's talk about you guys passing more, so that's where I'm coming from.
"I can't speak for any other coaches, former coaches or present. I just feel like it's best not to discuss what we're going to do, how we're going to do it, when we're going to do it. I'd appreciate it if the opponent would do that. We would find value in that and appreciate that very much."
What have you seen from WR Michael Crabtree this camp behind the scenes? Do you see him being more motivated than ever?
"Well, we have a new member of the 49ers. Michael Crabtree welcomed the birth of his son, Michael Anthony Crabtree III, yesterday. Everybody's real excited for him. I'm real excited for him and his family. Great report: ten fingers, ten toes. Right down the middle of the strike zone. A very healthy child and a big child. So, the statistics were very good. Didn't get a wingspan on him yet, but all reports are great and Michael's very excited about it."
Is Michael here?
"He was there for the birth of the child."
Is he still there, in Texas obviously?
Just on the field, in the meeting rooms, he's working his way back, looks like he's lost a lot of weight and is in the best shape he's been in a while. What have you seen from him motivation-wise and how he's approaching this year?
"It's been great. It's been A-plus-plus. He's had a great offseason. He's worked extremely hard. He was having a great camp and then had a setback for a couple of weeks there. But, he's back now and looking real good. It's been real good. He's working, he's doing everything that you want him to do, everything that he's always done. He's a fantastic player. I love to watch him play, love to watch him practice. He just enjoys making the tough catch. He's a great example for everybody."
How much do you value results, scores and win-loss records in the preseason?
"We want to execute. We want to win. We want to stay healthy. We want to get better as a football team. Those are our goals in the preseason."