SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Wednesday afternoon. Here is a transcript.
Q: What strikes you most about having Aldon Smith back?
HARBAUGH: I wouldn’t say one thing strikes me most other than it’s good to have him back, good to be around him again.
Q: Patrick Willis and Ahmad Brooks said they got pretty winded in a drill the other day and Aldon wasn’t even breathing heavily which shows he’s still in good shape and ready to go. Were you impressed by the shape he came back in?
HARBAUGH: Who said that? Patrick Willis and Ahmad? Really? Interesting. That concerns me because the drills were not that rigorous (laughter). You’ve opened up a different topic of concern.
Q: Does Aldon look physically fit and ready to play for you this weekend?
HARBAUGH: He does.
Q: Will he play this weekend?
HARBAUGH: We’ll assess that. This is a thing that’s being taken day by day.
Q: Do you expect Mario to play?
HARBAUGH: There are going to be a lot of possibilities that we could delve into here since we haven’t had a game in 10 or 11 days and some new players have been added on to the active roster. Quite a few possibilities, maybe some nuances, but I like to think of all those options being open. Would be less inclined to go into the details in each or any of those unless we were to get the same thing from our opponent.
Q: Has Mario been able to do everything in practice since he’s been back?
HARBAUGH: Again, today is the big practice of the week, the first one of those. We’ll get a chance to really look at Mario today. It’s all looked good. He’s been taking part for the past couple of weeks now.
Q: Having Crabtree back on the field, what does that mean, just his presence?
HARBAUGH: Good to have him back. 15 reporting eligible. Everybody kind of watches out of the corner of their eyes as they do drills. It’s neat to see any player that comes back from a serious injury, understanding the grueling rehab that’s taken place. It takes mental toughness grinding through those rehab sessions. To be where they are now, that’s an exciting day when they trot out there in uniform and start taking reps.
Q: Does he take reps with the offense or do you work him in with the scout team at first?
HARBAUGH: Today will be a bigger practice where there will be scout team reps and multiple reps. He’ll have a pitch count.
Q: What’s this like for you getting so many reinforcements for the stretch run?
HARBAUGH: It’s good. One thing I’m noting for this game, the inactive roster will really consist of one non-healthy scratch. Of those seven players, there will be six really good football players who are ready to go and won’t be active for the game. There are some decisions to be made. You expect that the players will have the opportunity to state a case, make an argument for why they should be out on the field contributing. Very much looking forward to that process.
Q: What about Quinton Patton?
HARBAUGH: He would be the one who is not a healthy scratch this week.
Q: I think today marks 24 weeks since Crabtree tore his Achilles’ Tendon. Are you surprised or impressed by how quickly someone can come back from that injury nowadays?
HARBAUGH: I think you’re right. I had the math, since the surgery it’s been five months and 27 days as of Sunday, so five months 30 days today. Surprised? I don’t know. I guess because we watch him day to day. Successful surgery, on track at every point, doing everything that he was asked to do by the doctors. Reports were really good. Terrell Suggs would be the other one I’m aware of. He played in a game five months and 28 days from his surgery. That seems to be the common ground, six months. But they’re different positions. Who knows for certain how that plays into it?
Q: Is Patton a candidate to go on IR or do expect he’ll be playing again at some point this season?
HARBAUGH: I anticipate he’ll be playing again. He’s doing really well, came out of his boot a couple of days ago and he looks really good. I think ahead of schedule for Quinton.
Q: Can he do anything on it?
HARBAUGH: He just got out of his boot, but soon.
Q: Going back to Aldon, is that a football decision whether or not he plays?
Q: Given the health scares with coaches over the weekend, are you willing to share what your medical, do you get a physical every year? You had the heart procedure last year you said was minor. There is some concern about protocols for coaches in a high-stress job. Certainly you saw what happened with a couple of your colleagues this weekend.
HARBAUGH: Yes, but I’m not aware of any protocols for high-stress jobs.
Q: How is your physical health and do you get a physical more regularly since last year or anything you’re able to share?
HARBAUGH: No, it was just a minor thing and I was able to walk it off. I’m feeling good. Thanks for asking.
ME: What makes Cam Newton unique and special as a quarterback and what have you seen from him this season?
HARBAUGH: I remember when he was coming out of the draft. How did we say it….plutonium grade. Really good. He just continues to grow and blossom into a top-shelf quarterback. My father-in-law was adamant that we had to get Cam Newton. He was the future of the NFL. You’ve got to give him credit, he saw it. He saw some things in Cam Newton, which we all did. I think the whole football world saw it at that time. We weren’t in a position to pick him, but he’s been a great addition to the league and to the Carolina Panthers. He’s a great player.
Q: What stands out to you about the Carolina defense?
HARBAUGH: The linebackers and the defensive line. I think it’s the best defensive line we’ll play. The line backing crew is outstanding, very talented, play very hard and they’re a very smart group that plays well together. The secondary is very physical and cover extremely well. This is a formidable defense and we understand the task that’s in front of us this week.
Q: How do you define plutonium grade?
HARBAUGH: He’s just uniquely talented. My son Jack Harbaugh is a little over 14 months old. On the curve, he’s above the 100 percentile. He’s big, growing very well. Cam Newton would be further outside the graph. He’s in a world by himself. He’s just tremendously talented.
Q: Do you feel it’s the job of the veterans on a team to prevent hazing or bullying?
HARBAUGH: A couple of things there. No.1, we’ve well discussed it and it’s been well understood what the policy is within the organization. As far as that situation, there is only one thing I can intelligently comment on and that’s knowing Jonathan Martin. I know him to be a fine person and his family, a great contributor as a student and as an athlete at Stanford. He epitomizes the student-athlete model. And he’s a personal friend. So, I support Jonathan.
Q: Have you reached out to him?
HARBAUGH: I don’t have any comment on that or anything else because I wasn’t there. I’m not in the locker room there, didn’t see anything, didn’t hear anything, haven’t talked to anybody that did. Anything I would have to say in any regard would be hearsay.
Q: Can you generalize for us what your policy is for hazing?
HARBAUGH: Yeah I could and I’d be glad to at a different time. I don’t think that this is the forum for that discussion. You can bring that up to me when it’s not related to this story. Anything else is hearsay on my part. And if you want hearsay, just tune into ESPN. They’re rolling it all day long.
Q: There have been a lot of comparisons between Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton. Is Colin the scout team quarterback this week?
HARBAUGH: That’s a good idea. That’s a very good idea because they are so similar in ability, in makeup, in confidence, in talent. They’re both great. That’s not a bad idea at all.
Q: Did your father-in-law have any insight in Kaepernick before the draft?
HARBAUGH: No, no he did not. My father, Jack Harbaugh, was championing Colin Kaepernick. The two fathers championing their champion.
Q: Did you visit Luke Kuechly when he was in high school?
HARBAUGH: Yes. I thought it went really well. I had a home visit and I sat in his living room in Cincinnati with the Kuechlys and felt confident and sure that Luke would be a Stanford Man. Walked out of the living room that night feeling pretty darn good about it. Got the tragic news the following week that he was going to Boston College. He’s a great player, somebody who’s got to be blocked or he’ll make every tackle. Big challenge for us this week.
Q: How do you react when you get that kind of news? What do you do?
HARBAUGH: Stew. What did we do wrong?! What did we do wrong?!
Q: Do you expect Kyle Williams to return punts and kickoffs on Sunday?
HARBAUGH: Again, all those options are open. Not going to divulge that information.