SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the defensive meeting room Monday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
How do you explain what’s happened, as far as the passing game goes, last ranked in the league coming into this game and just really not ever being able to get anything going against the Panthers?
“Well, if you look at the last four quarters of this game, offensively, not getting into a rhythm there, moving the ball, picking up consecutive first downs enough. We didn’t play well enough. Came up short there.”
There’s been a lot of chatter since the game about QB Colin Kaepernick’s ability, or inability, to go through his progressions in the passing game. Where is he in that regard as far as his, the evolution of Colin Kaepernick?
“The way we look at it is as a unit. The unit, offensively, we didn’t play well enough to win the game. Now, across the board, we think about accountability for that we’ve got fingerprints on it. I’m not going to go through, dissect, position by position, raking anybody over the coals. Don’t think that’s the best thing for us. We’ve got a tough game coming up and we’re not going to wallow in it. We’re going to move onto New Orleans.”
Not to rake him over the coals, but is that something that a young quarterback is always working on, always improving upon? That seems to be one of the toughest parts about playing quarterback is that something that naturally a young guy has to continue to get better at.
“I understand. I understand what you’re doing, what you’re trying to do and glomming onto somebody’s opinion, but I think it’s whatever they think. The main thing is that we’ll look at it and talk about it with our players and see the areas that we can improve. Just dissecting it as a unit, we had too many negative plays in te game, too many negative plays, loss of yardage plays, penalties, sack, turnover, that we’ve got to get better at. We didn’t do a good enough job.
Not to use it as an excuse, but it seemed like when TE Vernon Davis was out against the Colts and when Vernon left yesterday, the offense really stagnated. How vital is he to the offense, particularly with his ability to kind of stretch the field with his speed?
“I think that definitely contributed to, one of the things that contributed to the rhythm of the offense and no I’m not going to use any excuses or is anybody going to alibi. But, we did lose two tight ends in the game, [TE Garrett] Celek before Vernon and that contributed.”
How encouraged were you by WR Mario Manningham’s season debut almost 11 months after he’d played?
“It was very encouraging being back in the fray, being back in the fire and had some opportunities to contribute and I think it’s a positive.”
Carolina Panthers LB Luke Kuechly made a nice play on that ball. Was that something that you’d expect TE Vance McDonald to come down with?
“Again, we could go through this really across the unit. Our staff, everybody involved that touches the offense, up and down the line. We’ve all got plays in there and when it’s all said and done you look back and say, ‘that was the winning edge.’ We could have made plays offensively. We could have eliminated the error, the negative plays and it would’ve been a better outcome for us. It would’ve been a winning-edge outcome for our team. We didn’t get that done and I’ll take responsibility for it, but can’t wallow in it because we play too good of a team this week. I think any time spent there isn’t going to be productive. Outside of the fact, I think it was a good game to learn from and we’ll do that.”
S Eric Reid suffered his second concussion in two months. What extra precautions does he need to go through maybe to get cleared? Are there extra, is there anything extra in the protocol having two in a season and how’s he doing?
“He seemed to be doing good after the game. To answer your question, I don’t know the answer to that in terms of extra protocols.”
Did he have to go to the hospital or anything like that after the game?
“Not that I’m aware of.”
You might just say this is glomming on, but just generally, how do you think Colin has played this season? Last year, he drops right in the middle of the season and the numbers are fantastic. This season has been not the same. Do you think he’s been as good as he was last year or is this just what happens to a quarterback sometimes?
“Just talk about this offensively. There’s been tremendous play by our quarterback. There’s been tremendous play by our line. There’s been tremendous play by our backs, tight ends, receivers. That’s all taken place. That’s occurred. There’s been great play-calling. There’s been exceptional work and everybody involved with it is working harder than you can imagine to get it to be the kind of winning edge that we need to it to be championship type of football. We didn’t get that done this week. We didn’t play championship football offensively. That’s always what our aim is. That’s what we strive for.”
The offense ran one screen. It was a pass to WR Kyle Williams in the second quarter on a 3rd and 20-something. Why not call screens more often in this game and in general?
“That’s not a bad point. Point well taken.”
What were you saying in particular, if anything, on the third downs and that lack of consecutive first downs that you mentioned was a big hole for you guys yesterday?
“What did I say? What would I say?”
What were you saying, looking back on tape that maybe they were doing or maybe you guys weren’t doing on third downs to not get those consecutive first downs that you pointed to?
“Well, we were in some third down and long yardage situations due to some negative plays early in the down and we didn’t convert also on some short yardage third downs. And we didn’t convert on some second downs, second down and ones that resulted in negative plays and then a longer third down play. So, there’s quite a bit of circumstance and situation to each and every one of those. Not going to go through them specifically.”
Not just talking about yesterday’s game, is there a reason Colin is not running as much this year, not using his legs as much? He’s had some games where he–.
“Yeah, we’ve covered it in plenty of press conferences where we talked about how well he’s used his legs, how well he’s run the ball. And that’s back to the earlier point.”
If Vernon and Celek can’t play Sunday, is TE Derek Carrier ready to be elevated from the practice squad?
“We’re looking at some options right now and there’s some decisions to be made. You wait until you get the medical results back and then have more evidence to make those decisions.”
Is it possible to bring someone in from the outside?
“I think the first step is just wait to get the medical results and get those guys examined and have more data.”
Are those today? Are they both going through some tests today?
After the game you talked about, I think, regroup, refit, a few other re-things. Do you have to also–?
Reorganize, thank you. Do you have to readjust maybe, you’re two games behind Seattle, I know you can’t just throw away the division, but do you have to change your thought thinking about this a little bit? Say maybe the division isn’t exactly what you’re focused on?
“The thought process there, no it doesn’t change. Our next game is our biggest and most important game.”
Kaepernick bootlegged twice, I believe, against the Panthers. Why not move the pocket more frequently, especially considering how fast he is?
“It’s something that’s always in our game plan and that’s another area we didn’t have a good result. You bring up a great point, which frustrates everybody. Everybody involved in the unit. When you’re not in the rhythm picking up first downs and being able to get in deeper to your playbook, get into the screen, get into the movement game, keep things off-balance, it’s frustrating to all.”
Will LB Nick Moody be on the 53-man this week?
“Again, decisions are being made. I anticipate that though, yes.”
Were there any things you saw that the offensive line had trouble with yesterday?
“Like I said, across the board up and down, we’re all taking accountability and looking at those situations, but we’re going to meet on it. We’re going to get the feedback of the players involved too, which we have not yet done as a group.”
Ultimately, what was the decision on LB Aldon Smith? Why have him play, I think it turned out to be 18% of the defensive snaps? Was it just, was he just not physically fit enough to play an entire game or just what was your thinking on why limit his pitch count?
“It was our plan to go in as a, much like we did when he started his rookie year, to play in the nickel. This was abnormally low amount of nickel that was played in the game. And [LB] Dan Skuta’s doing a heck of a job in the base. So, that was the plan this week. That doesn’t mean that’ll be necessarily the plan next week. All those options will be open.”
Do you think that was Carolina’s plan to keep you guys in base, to not trot out their multi-receiver package to keep Aldon off the field?
“They have been predominantly more of a base offense, but there’s been some games where they’ve been higher in the nickel. It has not been something that’s been set per standard for them.”
How did you think Aldon played?
“Fine. Good to have him back out there. He’ll continue to get re-acclimated and things are going well. And continue to keep it on a day-to-day basis. Defensively, I thought it was obvious we played extremely hard, played extremely well. Definitely had a winning edge there, defensively, and going to need that again this week.”
What does senior offensive consultant Eric Mangini do during the game to contribute to the game execution?
“Several things, not going to go into all of the assignments for all the coaches on a week-to-week basis, but he does several things for us.”
This was the most we saw RB LaMichael James, not only just with kickoff return, but also on offense. Is that something you’re going to gauge week-by-week? You had said earlier this season there would be a time for him, is this that time you expect to get him about that amount of touches for the rest of the season?
“Yeah, all those options will be open. We’re not really going to talk about, for any position, how they’re going to be used or how much a certain player is going to be used. But, I thought his effort and his performance was fine yesterday and solid, and another weapon there to be implemented.”
I sensed frustration yesterday by the offense. How is their mindset? Do you feel the need to boost their spirits or anything at this point? Your motivation skills are well known. How do you sense their mindset is about what happened and what you need to do looking ahead?
“I think their mindset will be what it’s always been. It’s a blue-collar mindset. And that involves fixing things, building things, sutures in our hands and the weapons are in our hands, our fate is in our hands and that’s our mindset.”
The organization has transformed over the last few years, can you talk about chief executive officer Jed York and how he’s contributed to that transformation and how he contributes to your success?
“Continuous and always. He’s the captain of the ship. Does a tremendous job giving us the tools to be successful.”
You had a chance to meet Sergeant Alfredo Gutierrez yesterday. As today is Veterans Day, what struck you about him when you met him and what lessons can you learn from his life experience?
“So many things, discipline, selfless. There’s things that he is, in terms of country unit, that are bigger than himself. And I think those are the things we can learn the most from. And he’s a fine person and good friend. And we drew much inspiration from him and the selfless act that he did for his country in serving, which we all respect. Also, that he gifted us his purple heart. It was a great pleasure as an organization and as a team to honor him and present that back to him at the game. That was quite a moment.”
Might we see WR Michael Crabtree this weekend? Is it too soon or could that happen?
Did former 49ers WR Terrell Owens joke with you about asking for a workout or anything? He kind of played around with that, he still thinks he can play.
“Yeah, I think he mentioned it. Yes.”