Harbaugh on Kaepernick’s development: “I don’t know that there will be dramatic increases when you’re that good.”

Jim Harbaugh held a press conference Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. Here is a transcript.

Q: How has coaching in college helped you evaluate draft prospects?

HARBAUGH: It helped. I feel like it still does. There are players in this class who I didn’t coach, but I recruited them. And some I did coach. So you continue to know guys that went to other schools. You remember recruiting them, and in my case there are some Stanford players that we did coach.

Q: How did Frank Gore play last season?

HARBAUGH: Frank was, once again, Frank Gore. A++. Played all of the games. Our other running backs – Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon – once again provided a very strong backfield for us. I’m very excited about all of those players and the addition of Marcus Lattimore.

Q: Can you put a finger on why the 49ers haven’t drafted a player from Stanford the past three years?

HARBAUGH: Hmm. Well, I can put a finger on that. If you watch the tape and you evaluate at the Combine, you can see most all of the good players and there are a lot of them. The biggest problem is you realize you’re going to be playing against them because you only get one pick every 32 picks. So the great majority of these players play against you. You know it’s coming. You know how good they are. In some of the Stanford players cases, I’m sure not looking forward to playing Andrew Luck, but you realize that you’re going to be. Sure enough, you end up playing him and he does pretty darn well. That would be the one thing I put my finger on.

Q: What’s your take on what happened to Jonathan Martin in the Dolphins’ locker room?

HARBAUGH: I wasn’t in the locker room there. I can’t really comment on that. I have not spoken to him. I think you know what I think about the whole situation. It’s pretty well documented in reports. I have commented on it before.

Q: How responsible are you to know what’s going on with your players?

HARBAUGH: I always avoid answering those questions when the question is tied to a situation that was in a different locker room, on a different team. For me to stand up here and answer that question, you would link it back to that situation. So I’d prefer not to comment on something I really don’t have any knowledge of.

Q: Is there any doubt in your mind that Martin will develop into a good NFL player?

HARBAUGH: You have my quote on that. That was also in the report. I do believe that, yes.

Q: Can you tell us about Tank Carradine’s progress and what kind of a role you expect him to play next season?

HARBAUGH: Expectations will be very high. Tank had a procedure done after the season that took out a mass of scar tissue. He wasn’t able to straighten out his leg before that, but they took that out and his leg went straight. He looks like a different guy now since that procedure. Just with what we saw when he did practice with our team, and now this procedure that’s been done, I really am more excited. I think he’s going to have a great offseason.

Q: How hard is it to get the feel of a player during a 15-minute interview?

HARBAUGH: It’s one piece of a getting-to-know-a-player process. A piece. I don’t have a percentage for you. I certainly enjoy it. It’s one of my most enjoyable experiences of the year, getting knee-to-knee with these youngsters and talking to them.

Q: Your defense is so good at inside linebacker and safety. How does that challenge opposing offenses?

HARBAUGH: It’s good to be good in the middle. Just like in baseball – you want to be good up the middle. Catcher. Pitcher. Shortstop. Second baseman. Centerfielder. Same thing (in football), you want to be built that way on defense. Nose tackle. Your two linebackers. Your safeties.

Q: Have you watched the tape of Johnny Manziel?


Q: What did you think?

HARBAUGH: Impressed.

Q: Do you think his game will translate to the NFL?

HARBAUGH: Yes, I think he will. He’s very competitive. He’s a winner. I think those qualities translate very well in the NFL.

Q: Why is it important to be good up the middle on defense?

HARBAUGH: It’s the core of your unit, defensively or offensively. Closest to the ball. Same on offense – center, quarterback, running back.

Q: Where would you like Colin Kaepernick to make the biggest improvement this offseason?

HARBAUGH: We played our last game. I came into the facility and his car was already in the lot when I got there. He worked out the next week and now he’s down in Florida working out again. I never have any questions about Kaepernick’s work ethic and his desire to be great. He is pretty darn good. I don’t know that there will be dramatic increases when you’re that good. He’ll find a way to get a mile-an-hour faster. It’s just the way he trains and he thinks.

Q: Your alma mater keeps getting pounded by the Buckeyes. Will you ever go back to Michigan and turn that thing around?

HARBAUGH: We’ll see about next year now.

Q: Do you stay in touch with them much?

HARBAUGH: Don’t underestimate the Wolverines.

Q: Did the result of the Super Bowl surprise you?

HARBAUGH: Yeah, I think it did.

Q: How have you seen the tight end position evolve the past 15 years?

HARBAUGH: It’s always been a valuable position in football and continues to be.

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