SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
How do you replace FB Bruce Miller and everything that he brought to the table?
“Well, a fantastic football player, does so many things for us. [RB] Anthony Dixon will step up and do a great job, as he has been doing in that backup fullback role. I know we’d like to, at times he’d like to be running the ball more, but never a complaint about that. And, you never have to worry about AD’s effort and I look forward to watching him compete.”
There was a point early in Dixon’s career where the coaching staffs asked him to be a more physical runner, more of a north-south runner. Where is he in just learning to be more physical and hit the hole quickly?
“He’s a physical back. I don’t see the things you’re talking about there.”
It may have been before you came in.
“Is that right?”
They were trying to get him to do less dancing at the line and hit the hole more directly. That’s not an issue with him and the way he operates?
“No. He’s a very physical back.”
Is the situation, if he can do the job and can kind of do what Bruce did, can you kind of go on with the status quo the way the offense has been running? Is that, I guess, the hope?
“Yes. We’re very confident in AD and how he’ll do.”
Does he become more of an option as far as with the ball in his hands too, as opposed to just lead-blocking for RB Frank Gore?
“Again, all those possibilities, you’d like to think the opponent would consider and you’d like them to consider all possibilities.”
How different is the Atlanta Falcons? Obviously, their record indicates they’re different from last year.
“A lot of the same players. Like everybody, you fight tooth and nail for wins on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, whatever the case may be. And, they’ve had some close losses and some games that haven’t gone their way. This year, more than any year I’ve been coaching or in this league, everybody’s fighting tooth and nail for these wins and this will be no different on Monday night.”
Is FB Will Tukuafu solely a fullback or if you ran into a jam could you play him at defensive line?
“Yeah, that’d be a possibility.”
Do you have to do, I forget what the issue was with the number, is it he’ll have a fullback’s number?
What would he have to do if you did have injuries at defensive line?
“Is it possible that Will Tukuafu in an emergency situation could play defensive line? Yes. We would just insert him into the defensive line if that were the case.”
I thought there was something.
“No. There’s no mechanic there that I’m aware of.”
I know you’re focused on the Falcons. A lot of us are writing stories about Candlestick this week. I have one question along those lines and if you don’t feel like answering it I understand. Your playoff win against the Saints a couple of years ago was one of the greatest wins in Candlestick history. What do you remember about that day and what did the win mean for this franchise?
“It meant that we got another chance at the ultimate chance that particular season. It was a great thrill of winning, great joy of victory, all those things.”
You always talk about improving as all coaches you want to get better every week. In what aspects would you say this team is definitely getting better?
“The number one thing, our players really play like they want to win the game. And, when you got that you got something really good. They work hard to win in their preparation and on game day. I admire them very much for that.”
Have you sensed that they taste the playoffs or the playoff possibilities that is right around the corner? Do you sense that from them?
“They know what’s at stake. And they’ve known that for, going back weeks and months to the start of the season, how important the next game is, how big these games are and what our mission is. And our mission is to win the next game.”
I suppose Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez is one of the dwindling number of players you’ve played against. Did you get to know him through the years and if so, your thoughts on him and his career?
“I’ve not gotten to personally know him. Just through watching him like other coaches or fans would. A fabulous fabulous player. A future Hall of Fame player. And, does not look like a guy that’s playing his final year. So, he’s very much a top-notch competitor.”
TE Vernon Davis also probably has the capacity to be a Hall-of-Fame player. He’s so versatile. How has he changed just the position of tight end in the time that you’ve seen him? What does he do that other tight ends don’t?
“Well, you hate to compare him to other tight ends. He’s the kind of tight end that blocks at the highest level, and has speed of the highest level, and catching ability, the ability to get open. He’s an all-tool tight end, which is rare.”
Are you hoping to have four tight ends active on game day?
Yeah. Is that a possibility?
TE Vance McDonald, he was not active due to his ankle? Is that correct?
“He was working through something. We felt like it was best to get that better for him.”
What is the timeline for Bruce Miller in terms of offseason activities for you guys? I’m not trying to get ahead, but just, what’s his recovery going to be like?
“Every day now is a healing day and a rehab day. I don’t know how long it takes for that injury to completely heal. I’m guessing six weeks. I think after that he’d be good to go. Seven weeks, eight weeks.”
You had the same kind of questions when WR Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles. You handled it at that point saying this was not a season-ending injury. As it’s evolved, is this best case scenario with how far he’s come with Michael and his ability to come back from the Achilles?
“Best case scenario? Yeah, it’s been the best case I could think of. Credit to him, credit to the doctors who did the surgery and all those members of our team who helped him rehab. He carried the heavy load, but it’s worked out very well. I’m very pleased.”
QB Colin Kaepernick was saying yesterday that him and WR Anquan Boldin had a pretty good daily competition that he hopes rubs off on everybody else on offense. What do you see on the practice field between those two guys?
“I think they’re, it’s certainly not self-centered. If it’s competitive and not self-centered that’s the best kind.”
It seems like Colin really opened up and became much more assertive about his running, much more decisive about his running. There’s been speculation that basically that there’s kind of a keep him at bay for a while, keep him healthy through most of the season then let him go be Colin again. Was there that kind of articulated plan?
Is it now at the point where you think that he is just now more comfortable with his–?
“I think he’s been pretty comfortable running since he’s gotten into the league and he’s been very effective at it. But, no, there’s no articulated plan. Do what you can to put the players in the best position to win games and every one is so critically important. We do the best we can to put the best game plan forward. And they execute it. He’s done a fabulous job.”
How is G Mike Iupati doing at this stage?
“He’s doing good.”
Would you say that Colin’s game against Tampa was his best game of the season, most complete game?
“He’s had a lot of good ones. I don’t know if I could compare that to another game. He’s been fabulous all year. On the field, off the field, leadership in the locker room, obligations in the community, he’s fulfilling all of his obligations to the media, I mean, he’s just been A-plus across the board.”
He stood out in that game running to his right and firing at the last second some great passes like that. Is he also able to do that going to his left, and if so, is that rare for a right-handed quarterback to be sort of ambidextrous in the way he’s rolling out of the pocket and throwing?
“Again, this would be probably a rare time you start comparing people to other players, but I’ve never seen anybody throw to their left better on the run than Colin does. I know I’ve said that before.”
What’s the comparison?
“I’ve never seen anybody do it better.”
Who else was good at it?
“I’ve never seen anybody throw to their left on the run better than Colin. Comparative to the universe of quarterbacks. It’s a rare comparison.”
Better than you?
“To the universe. You have my quote.”
Perhaps you’ve read there’s been some talk about your relationship with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and it’s been characterized as a solid good working relationship with occasional disagreements and friction, which is normal. Is that a fair characterization and how would you describe your relationship?
“Good. It’s the 49er Way. It’s the team, the team, the team. Everybody does a little and it adds up to be a lot. Nobody above the team. Nobody more important. Nobody less important. Hundreds of people in this organization and we all have a role, we all contribute to the best of our ability and that’s the team, the team, the team. We win as a team. That’s how we do it.”
49ers chief executive office Jed York mentioned on the radio that he expects to sit down with you and your representative and you would talk about an extension. Do you look forward to that? Is that something you’d expect to get wrapped up in the offseason?
“When it comes to talking about, you’re talking about contracts?”
“I’ve always felt that it’s in nobody’s best interest to publicly discuss those. Always been another principle of mine.”
Would you like to stay here for a lot of years to come?
So, you’re not taking the Texas job?
“Is that a question? Do you have a question?”
I said, you’re not going to take the Texas job?
“As I’ve stated many times–.”
These rumors just keep following–.
“Rumors? Give me evidence. Do you have any evidence Art or Tim or Eric. Any evidence. What are we talking, hearsay here? Well, in Judge Judy’s court, hearsay is not admissible evidence. I think we can all agree that an unnamed source is hearsay. Would we not?”
Your owner is a name and he said he’d like to sign you. He said he’d like to sign you to an extension. That was the question that I had.
“And I answered. You have my quote on that.”
Don’t say it’s an unnamed source.
“I see unnamed sources related to many of these topics. And, it’s my point that an unnamed source is hearsay. In the court of public opinion, why would you give any of that credibility? Beware of unnamed sources. Beware of unnamed sources. They speak with forked tongue.”