Harbaugh: “It’s on.”

Jim Harbaugh strode into the press room at 4949 Centennial Blvd. with a big, confident smile on his face and announced: “Hello, it’s on.”

He had an aura and a twinkle in his eye reminiscent of Willy Wonka opening his chocolate factory for the lucky little boys and girls of the world. Harbaugh even quoted Wonka, explaining that the 49ers have “so much to do, so little time to do it.”

When it came down to business, he avoided specific questions about Alex Smith and free agency like he used to avoid the pass rush back when he was a quarterback.

But he did open up about what worries him, what excites him, and what the team gained from Camp Alex.

Here’s the full transcript of Harbaugh’s first 49ers press conference of the 2011season.

Enjoy.

P.S. Chris Mortenson is reporting that Steve Young believes quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will sign with the 49ers. I like the move – I think Hasselbeck will be a better quarterback in 2011 than Smith. What do you think?

HARBAUGH: Hello, it’s on.

Q: What are the first things you do?

HARBAUGH: Opening the building. Our building will be open at 7 a.m. and players will be welcomed back in.

Q: What’s your priority list?

HARBAUGH: The next week is going to entail a lot of things. You’re talking about practice starting. You’re talking about signing undrafted players, college free agents, our own drafted players, unrestricted free agents, meetings. All that’s going to take place simultaneously. First order or business is start seeing our players, getting knee to knee and eyeball to eyeball with them. Honestly that’s the thing I’m most excited about. I think there’s going to be an equilibrium there that’s going to be good for me personally, to be back with these guys.

Q: Have to you talked to the players since the lockout lifted?

HARBAUGH: That’s what we’re doing right now, getting those guys on the telephone, letting them know where things stand as of now, where things will stand as of July 26 tomorrow. To the best of our ability let them know what the rules are as we know them and then let them know they’re welcome to come back.

Q: With a free agent like Alex, will he be allowed to be here?

HARBAUGH: As I understand it, our own unrestricted free agents will be allowed in the building tomorrow right up until the time that we start training camp on Thursday then they will not be in the building until Friday when they can sign. That’s the way I understand the rule.

Q: Can you work with players before training camp, out on the field?

HARBAUGH: They’re saying we can have meetings. Right now that’s what I know. There can be conditioning. We can work with them in the weight room once they have a physical.

Q: With the lockout going on, what did you think of “Camp Alex?”

HARBAUGH: I was excited to see what was going on, that the players were taking the initiative and organizing workouts and practice. Hopefully that bodes well for us and everybody that participated in those workouts will have a leg up. I hope that’s the case.

Q: Alex said he might send you some video. Did you get that?

HARBAUGH: No, I did not get any video from Alex.

Q: How many players have you yet to meet in person?

HARBAUGH: Quite a few. I don’t know the exact number. It’s 10, 15, 20. I’ve spoken to a few of those guys today. It feels more like football talking to those guys, even on the phone. I can’t tell you how good it’s going to be having those guys in the building, face to face, knee to knee, smelling their breath, just getting to know them, let them get to know me. That’s what I’m looking most forward to.

Q: Does it feel like a long time since your hyped hiring back in January?

HARBAUGH: It does. There’s no doubt about it. A lot has taken place since then. Everybody that’s had to navigate these uncharted waters. Everybody knows what that feels like now and how that’s affected each and every one of us. I’m happy for the people that got this done and we can finally say we’re back to football and the sacrifices they made: the owners, the executive committee, the players, De Smith. I’m thankful they put in that work and they got this deal done. Now it’s still uncharted waters and there’s a myriad of obstacles that are out there right now. The good news is that we can get back to work. We’ve got a timeline for this endeavor now. I’m excited as heck to get working on it. Yeah, I’m nervous. I’m worried. That’s a part of my job to be that way. Me personally, it keeps me on my toes. Anxious, all those feelings, to get started and get going. That’s the good news: We can now start.

Q: Will you get all the rookies in tomorrow?

HARBAUGH: We hope so. That’s something we’re allowed to do now, call them and make that available to them on a voluntary basis to come in. The way I understand the rules we can pay for their flights, we can house them when they get here. Not a minute to lose from my perspective. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it in.

Q: Do you know how many you’ll have?

HARBAUGH: Tomorrow? When the doors open? I don’t.

Q: When camp opens, how long before you can get out onto the field and put pads on?

HARBAUGH: Camp will open Thursday the 28th to physicals and conditioning and meetings. Friday will be Day 1, that will be helmets-only practice. We’ll be on the field practicing Friday and Saturday. Pads will come in Day 4, Sunday.

Q: You’ve spent a lot of time mapping out training camp, did you rearrange when you found out only 1 padded practice a day?

HARBAUGH: We had scheduled two-a-days as part of our plan. That’s changed. Obviously there are things that are important to the players and there are new rules that will go into effect this training camp. We’ll honor that. We’re going to play by the rules. A lot of the thinking will be how to best manage the time that we have. It will really come down to that, the teaching, the quality reps on the field and who can do that the best will eventually get a leg up. I’m not concerned with getting around the rules because those rules are important to our players and our team and our organization. We’ll honor those. It takes some thinking through. Think it through at how best we can get ourselves prepared for the season.

Q: Do these new limits on padded practicing change the basic thinking of what training camp is?

HARBAUGH: It’s different. It’s different. You know, it’s still going to be our intent to get our team ready to play for the preseason games, for the opener on Sept. 11. It’ll be four hours on the field, and that’s really… that’s pretty much dead on what we had scheduled for training camp. Sometimes in a two-a-day, sometimes in a one-a-day with a walk-through. I just feel good knowing the parameters now. And once you know the parameters, then you can start thinking through to what fits your team the best. And the main thing is getting to know our team, because we haven’t been around them. Haven’t been around them on the field, haven’t been around them in the classroom, so that time, whether it’s in the meeting room or on the field is very valuable. Do I even have to talk about being on time, how important that’s going to be this year?

Q: As you head into free agency, what’s your thinking on the quarterback situation? Are you considering adding another veteran QB, maybe to compete with Alex, or are you thinking maybe about a QB just to back him up?

HARBAUGH: We’re going to, at every position, address all avenues that are out there. And not give away any plan. Almost think of it like schematically, going into a game, you’re just not going to talk about what your plans are, how do you plan to attack a defense or an offense.

We’ll treat free agency and building our roster in the next week, 10 days exactly the same way. Just keep it as our plan and not really…

Q: How can we know if you succeeded or failed?

HARBAUGH: You’ll see. You’ll see. Oh yeah, you’re always going to judge us on how we do, right? That’s the nature of the business.

But don’t think it’s in our best interest to be talking about, hey, here’s how we’re going about it, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s the… in all instances, position and specifically each and every guy, we just won’t talk about it. We’ll keep that close to the vest.

Q: How do you handle it now not knowing what kinds of shape the guys will come in?

HARBAUGH: Everybody’s got to do just a great job of teaching and understanding where guys are. Because guys are going to come in tip-top shape, there’s going to be some guys that come in close to tip-tip shape and you just don’t know. There’s the unknown with every single guy on your team, with every rookie free agent, drafted guy, that you sign, you just don’t know.

So the idea of the unknown, now you know why I’m nervous. You know why I’ve got some angst on a lot of different fronts.

Like I said, just keeps you on your toes. Heightened awareness of where everybody is, physically, emotionally, mentally, all those different areas.

Q: Where’s Frank Gore in that?

HARBAUGH: I have not talked to Frank yet, so… like everybody, we’re waiting to find that out, we’re waiting to see him. Like I said, get knee to knee and eyeball to eyeball with him and answer some of those questions.

Q: You haven’t even seen your staff work together yet. You’ve got to be interested to see that.

HARBAUGH: I am. Myself, the players, our coaches… I think we’re all just sitting on a spring and we are ready to go. Had a chance, not to work on the field with all of our coaches, but there’s been a real trust that’s built-up in this long period where we’ve had more extra time to be together and get to know each other and see how each other operates.

Hopefully, that’s going to be beneficial. I’m sitting on a spring excited to watch them coach. Watch myself coach. And coach.

In talking to some of the players, they’re echoing that. They’re feeling the exact same way. So… that’s all good.

Q: Might you have a little advantage coming from college because there you get some players in August and you have to get them ready to play games in September? Is this a similar situation?

HARBAUGH: Interesting and definitely have thought that line of thinking through. Also have talked to Jim Tomsula about his experience in NFL Europe where it was even more so that way, a whole team reports to training camp and you start right there from Square Zero.

A lot of those things have been factored in and make up our plan.

Q: How eager are you to meet with Alex Smith and figure out exactly what he taught during the Camp Alexes and how much bearing does that have on what you do at the start of camp?

HARBAUGH: It’s going to be a scorched earth plan of teaching and coaching when this gets started. I’m happy that the players organized those workouts and took the initiative to learn and understand. I’m sure they’re going to have questions and details that need to be answered and ironed out.

But I think it gives us a leg up and we’ll find out just how much of it does.

Q What did you glean from Camp Alex?

HARBAUGH: I don’t know about gleaning, but as far as reading it…I had a lot of time on my hands, so I was interested, and I think the thing that interested me the most, I don’t know if this is right or wrong or if I should have been gleaning more or less than I was but I was just happy for these players, this generation of guys to be able to organize their own workouts, their own games, their own workout sessions, because it’s a generation that’s been in a lot of ways over-supervised, over-officiated, and over-scrutinized. It’s not the generation where the leather on the baseball starts getting soft and starts coming apart, and you figure out to get some gray electrical tape and wrap it around real tight so you can keep playing. (These days) somebody’s parent’s coming in with a new ball. So I was excited for those guys in that regard, and I feel like it will bode well for us, and I don’t know if I’m right or wrong.

Q: How has the waiting been for you?

HARBAUGH: I get anxious about things. I get worried. And it spurs me on to do more so that we’re not going to be unsuccessful. Maybe that’s a double negative – we don’t want to be unsuccessful. So you’re constantly thinking of things to do. How can we do this better? How can we do it if it’s a full training camp? What if it’s only ten days? What if it’s three weeks? What if we get them ten days before training camp starts? So it’s been kind of a constant planning for all of those scenarios. Now that we have that timeline, a lot of those things that we were doing and thinking about are working well now that we have the plan. So long story short I’m just glad we have a timeline and we can plug a plan in and get started. Once that’s in place, then let’s go. Let the low part drag and we’ll think our way through it and figure it out. So, that’s the good news. I’m happy that football is back on and that we have a timeline.

Q: You’ve made a lot of plans and schedules for this scenario or that one. What schedule are you on?

HARBAUGH: We’re on the full training camp (schedule) minus some off days. And the new rules, in terms of time limits and one-a-day, two-a-day, etc. It’s a new-rules version.

Q: Your GM and owner said you won’t be big players in free agency. Are you going to be big players next year instead?

HARBAUGH: Define major player. We’re going to look at all avenues. Hopefully we’ll think our way through it and do what’s best for our organization. We do have a plan, and now it’s a matter of trying to execute it, just like the players when they jump on the field trying to execute that plan. Let it begin.

Q: How much patience are you going to have for players who aren’t in shape?

HARBAUGH: Well I think that’s all part of the teaching, the organization, the planning. Realize that everybody’s got to get from A to Z. You got to get them to Z. Everybody may be on a different stage along that line, whether it’s physical conditioning or understanding the playbook or the way we do things, so it’s just a matter of getting guys immersed in how we do things, and showing them and telling them how we do it, and then let them do it. Tell them what they did right, tell them what they did wrong, and see if we can’t get better tomorrow than we were today. Better today than we were yesterday. That’ll be what my patience level is and how we judge success.

Q: How much will you be working with the quarterbacks specifically?

HARBAUGH: The good thing about being the head coach is you get to work with all the players, you get to coach them all. My plan is to immerse ourselves in football every day. Make it as much about ball as possible and we have a structure for how we’re going to coach and I’m involved in that. I can’t give you a specific amount of minutes but pretty much all day we’ll be attacking ball.

Q: Guesstimate of how many undrafted guys will be 49ers tomorrow?

HARBAUGH: No I don’t. I don’t have a guesstimate on that. We’re going to work really hard. We can’t sign anybody today, but getting on the phones and talking to guys and seeing if we can get the best possible guys to bring in her.

Q: Is that where your college recruiting skills come in?

HARBAUGH: Yeah, somewhat. These young men are savvy. They want to go to a team that gives them an opportunity to make the team, to win, to play early. All those things are what’s on their mind, so we’ll talk to them about the merits of coming to the 49ers.

Q: What did you glean from Camp Alex?

HARBAUGH: I don’t know about gleaning, but as far as reading it…I had a lot of time on my hands, so I was interested, and I think the thing that interested me the most, I don’t know if this is right or wrong or if I should have been gleaning more or less than I was but I was just happy for these players, this generation of guys to be able to organize their own workouts, their own games, their own workout sessions, because it’s a generation that’s been in a lot of ways over-supervised, over-officiated, and over-scrutinized. It’s not the generation where the leather on the baseball starts getting soft and starts coming apart, and you figure out to get some gray electrical tape and wrap it around real tight so you can keep playing. (These days) somebody’s parent’s coming in with a new ball. So I was excited for those guys in that regard, and I feel like it will bode well for us, and I don’t know if I’m right or wrong.

Q: How has the waiting been for you?

HARBAUGH: I get anxious about things. I get worried. And it spurs me on to do more so that we’re not going to be unsuccessful. Maybe that’s a double negative – we don’t want to be unsuccessful. So you’re constantly thinking of things to do. How can we do this better? How can we do it if it’s a full training camp? What if it’s only ten days? What if it’s three weeks? What if we get them ten days before training camp starts? So it’s been kind of a constant planning for all of those scenarios. Now that we have that timeline, a lot of those things that we were doing and thinking about are working well now that we have the plan. So long story short I’m just glad we have a timeline and we can plug a plan in and get started. Once that’s in place, then let’s go. Let the low part drag and we’ll think our way through it and figure it out. So, that’s the good news. I’m happy that football is back on and that we have a timeline.

Q: What schedule are you on?

HARBAUGH: We’re on the full training camp (schedule) minus some off days. And the new rules, in terms of time limits and one-a-day, two-a-day, etc. It’s a new-rules version.

Q: Your GM and owner said you won’t be big players in free agency. Are you going to be big players next year instead?

HARBAUGH: Define major player. We’re going to look at all avenues. Hopefully we’ll think our way through it and do what’s best for our organization. We do have a plan, and now it’s a matter of trying to execute it, just like the players when they jump on the field trying to execute that plan. Let it begin.

Q; How much patience are you going to have for players who aren’t in shape?

HARBAUGH: Well I think that’s all part of the teaching, the organization, the planning. Realize that everybody’s got to get from A to Z. You got to get them to Z. Everybody may be on a different stage along that line, whether it’s physical conditioning or understanding the playbook or the way we do things, so it’s just a matter of getting guys immersed in how we do things, and showing them and telling them how we do it, and then let them do it. Tell them what they did right, tell them what they did wrong, and see if we can’t get better tomorrow than we were today. Better today than we were yesterday. That’ll be what my patience level is and how we judge success.

Q: How much will you be working with the quarterbacks specifically?

HARBAUGH: The good thing about being the head coach is you get to work with all the players, you get to coach them all. My plan is to immerse ourselves in football every day. Make it as much about ball as possible and we have a structure for how we’re going to coach and I’m involved in that. I can’t give you a specific amount of minutes but pretty much all day we’ll be attacking ball.

Q: Guesstimate of how many undrafted guys will be 49ers tomorrow?

HARBAUGH: No I don’t. I don’t have a guesstimate on that. We’re going to work really hard. We can’t sign anybody today, but getting on the phones and talking to guys and seeing if we can get the best possible guys to bring in here.

Q: Is that where your college recruiting skills come in?

HARBAUGH: Yeah, somewhat. These young men are savvy. They want to go to a team that gives them an opportunity to make the team, to win, to play early. All those things are what’s on their mind, so we’ll talk to them about the merits of coming to the 49ers.

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