San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media Friday afternoon before the team departed for their season opener in Dallas. Coach Harbaugh confirmed the injury status for a few players, but he would not go into details on who would play in certain roles. Specifically, he would not announce the backup quarterback, and he would not say whether Alex Boone would start.
Have there been any new discoveries from your standpoint with DT Ray McDonald?
"Everybody's weighed in on that. I know I have, the organization has, the Commissioner has."
Will he be on the flight to Dallas?
And will he play?
"Yes. As it stands now, yes."
And what's the reason behind that?
"Well, we've been pretty clear on that. Two principles are woven together here. I feel like the way the facts are and what's known that he has the liberty to play in the game."
Are we to assume then that everything you've heard points favorably for him?
"As we talked about the other day, in terms of that question, this is a legal matter and I'll refer it back to that."
How's he practiced this week?
"He's been fine. Been fine."
He was late a couple days coming out to practice. Was that because he was dealing with some of this stuff upstairs?
With team officials or with league as well?
"He was dealing with the matter, to answer your question, yes."
What is the plan? I know T Anthony Davis hasn't practiced this week. Will you have him listed as out for this game?
So, T Jonathan Martin would be next man up?
"Again, we're not going to go into what exactly is going to take place."
And have you made a roster move with G/T Alex Boone?
"We'll make that tomorrow."
So, that obviously means that he would be up for the game?
Did you talk with any of the players or anything regarding Ray's being active in this game? Did any players give you feedback whether they wanted him up or did not?
"Again, there's probably a lot of questions that could be asked. Not going to answer every possible question that could be asked and that's one of them. As I said earlier, I believe that I weighed in on it to the best of my ability. I know the organization has, the Commissioner of the NFL has. Nothing more to add right now."
When you say the commissioner has weighed in on it, are you talking about those public comments he's made or to your organization?
"His public comments."
How did you feel the mindset of the team is going into the regular-season opener?
"I feel like we've had a very good week of practice. Feel like the team is ready to go. Very excited about it and always the case in the opener. We want to play well. We want to improve as a football team, we want to win the game. And it's a great opportunity to find out where our team is, playing a team like the Dallas Cowboys on the road."
You guys have won all three season openers under you. Is there a common thread into the secret ingredients of that? Is this a lot of the preparation you've done has paid off with that extra time to prepare?
"Well, again, we've talked about this many times with you and as a team, what good you've done in the past, if you haven't done anything good today, then you're still talking about what you did yesterday. So, we're focused on the task at hand, the challenge at hand. We know what a big task and challenge that is and that's where the mindset and the focus of the team is."
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett the other day was talking to us about, speaking about you guys, you don't know exactly what the other team is going to do because the exhibition season, nobody really shows their cards. So, you kind of anticipate and then you react. From a coaching standpoint, do you kind of feel that way about your own team because you haven't seen them do you things that you guys have been doing on the practice field for the past couple weeks? How the team is going to look once the regular season starts and you really start doing the stuff that you plan on doing.
"There's unknowns in the opener. I think the greatest share is with the opponent that you're playing. I know we're studying hard, have been studying hard, will continue right up to the game in terms of understanding them as a team and what they could or could not do, but I'm sure they're doing the same thing. Things will be revealed that they haven't put on tape or haven't shown. So, that's also part of the excitement of kickoff. There is uncharted waters."
You guys have a pretty different secondary compared to last year. What are you expecting to see out of that group?
"I have high expectations for them. Feel like the group has the license, the ability to be a very, very good secondary. I think they're excited to show what they have and like every single player on the team, they're champing at the bit to compete."
The other day you likened LB Dan Skuta to a Civil War soldier. What are the qualities that prompted that metaphor?
"First, I think he's just a real football player. Talented, gives tremendous effort, always executing his assignment, doing his job. He's very much to me like a young captain in the military would be. He's a leader. He's a strong person. Got a very strong will and very disciplined. Just everything that you'd want. All summed up, he's a real football player."
Does he have a throwback quality to him that reminds you of players who have played in the past or anything like that?
"In terms of the analogy that I made, I can see him. It just came to me one day. I was just looking at him and I just got a vision of him in the gray of the South, or he could have been in the blue of the North. I just had a vision of him, so I said it."
Have you seen him play Peruball?
"No, I haven't seen him play Peruball."
He'd be good though?
"He'd be good."
WR Bruce Ellington was listed as the primary punt and kickoff returner on the depth chart. Is that the role he's going to have in the game against Dallas?
"Well, there's not something that we talk about. Who's doing what and how many times you're going to do it and in what form or fashion they're going to be used in the ballgame. The depth chart is a guide, but you couldn't take it as Gospel and verse.
Watched the game last night and both teams had a player WR Randall Cobb with the Packers and WR Percy Harvin for the Seahawks that they can move around in different spots. Is Bruce potentially a guy like that that can have a varied role in the offense?
"Yes, he definitely has the potential for that."
Have you decided whether QB Blaine Gabbert and QB Josh Johnson will be the number 2 or 3 quarterback?
"We'll list that on Sunday."
With G/T Alex Boone being up will he start?
"Again, the information you're asking me, I would love to get from the Cowboys. Each question, darn near each question. I'd love to have that same information to ask from the Cowboys. So, if we can glean that prior to the game, that would be very helpful. So, understanding I'd like that information, I'd be hesitant to give it. Would rather choke the flow of some of that information."