SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
Obviously, what was your reaction to the DT Ray McDonald news today?
“Just heard that today. As I’ve said from the very beginning, I was never there to stand up here and say what did or didn’t happen as any of us. The stance on domestic violence … that principle of being completely against it. And also the principle for being for due process and respect of the judicial system, legal process and that these are people’s lives. Let the facts and the information lead to the decisions that we would make as an organization and that ultimately the authorities would make. They had a process. They had an investigative process that now seems to be concluded. That’s my reaction to it. Feel like the process led to a conclusion.”
Are you concerned about the message this sends out to other domestic violence, potential domestic violence, victims?
“What message is that?”
Well, the fact that the victim apparently shut down, according to the district attorney’s office after the initial interview and refused to comment any further, which is why they have insufficient evidence to prosecute.
“From my view, there has been a lot of discussion. There’s been a lot of introspection. A lot of people have weighed in, including the authorities. I think that the people can see that if they have an issue when it comes to domestic violence, that they will be heard. That has been my view of it. I look at it from that standpoint as well. And I think that’s a real positive. I think the discussion has been a positive. I think looking at ways that we all view it and where we can improve as a league, as a team, as men, is something that has been a positive and will continue to be.”
This thing is now resolved. The LB Aldon Smith thing is going to be, he’s going to come back and play. In both of these cases, these incidents resolved around these large house parties that some of your players have had and developed out of that. Can you discourage those sorts of gatherings from happening that seemed to generate this or is that even a proper thing for a professional coach to do with professional players?
“You say, ‘all these’.”
Well, those two things.
“Two incidences. So, what’s your question? Should I forbid parties at people’s houses? What can you do?”
Can you address those? Is it improper for a coach to even address that? How do you feel about that?
“As an organization and as a coach, I think it is proper to advise, to educate. I think we do that as a team. I think we continue to look for ways to send the message of good conduct. And you strive for it 100 percent, good conduct. And we want to have that. We haven’t had that. We want to get there. So, your suggestion of ways to inform, to educate, is something that, yeah, we take very seriously.”
How’s Ray’s attitude been in these last couple of weeks as the investigation’s been ongoing?
“I think Ray can speak to that. As I said from the beginning, I’ve known Ray, in my interactions with him, he’s told me the truth. I really felt from the very beginning that if this was something that Ray was telling on the truth on and, again, we weren’t there, none of us were there, if he was telling the truth then, yes, he could be strong, he could be courageous, he could live his life, do his job to the best of his ability. If you’re not telling the truth, then I think that would be an unbearable weight, for what that’s worth.”
Have you spoken to Ray after this announcement was made?
Do you know what Aldon’s progress is going to be this week? Will he play in New York this weekend?
“Well [Associated Press writer] Janie [McCauley], we’ll see. I understand he’s eligible to play and to practice. Very much look forward to that. There’s consequences for our actions – good and bad. Good consequences for good action. And there’s accountability. He has served that. He has done that. Look forward to moving forward in a fresh, clean slate. That’s what I anticipate and look forward to.”
Realistically, how soon can he contribute to the levels you’re used to with him? He obviously hasn’t played for a long time. Do you have any sense of how close he is to being — ?
“We’re not ready to jump to that. We’re not ready to jump to predict that or answer that question. Excited to have him back playing football, with the team. I think that’s where the hope, the excitement lies right now.”
Were you relieved to learn that the charges were dropped against McDonald so you don’t have a cloud hanging over the organization?
“I pretty thoroughly answered what my feelings are and the respect that we’ve had for the process and continue to have.”
Does a win like that get you guys back on track so to speak? How much can that get this thing rolling again?
“Terrific game. Exciting game. Extremely proud of our players. I really feel like they played with as much heart, as much hustle, as much fight as I’ve ever seen our teams play since we’ve been here. And, really proud of their execution. That was a gritty game. It took every guy, it took every minute and then some to get it done. But, proud for the win and onward to the Giants. There was some extremely good play too. Offensively, I thought our line fit together in a way that was needed, meaningful. Execution, their effort, protection, the run game, I thought it was outstanding. I thought our backs, [RB] Frank Gore played a complete game. It was, when you turn on the film, and playing at the highest level. Everybody playing together. Winning individual matchups, one-on-one matchups, but also playing as a unit, playing as a team.”
With that offensive line, each of the last couple of seasons they’ve had what they considered a bad game and they bounced back the following week with really strong play. What is it about that group being able to turn it around in a week’s time to get back on track?
“We all have had that happen to us in various parts of our lives, etcetera. But strong and courageous, I thought that’s the way our team played. That’s who they are. That’s how they’re made up.”
Can you talk about LB Chris Borland and his play yesterday? It just seemed like he had a nose for the ball. Every play he was around it, swarming it, what’d you see?
“Fun to watch. He’s doing a great job. He does have a, he’s got a sense for the ball. I’ve been watching it in practice and you watch it in the games he’s like a thief in the night, he’s going to get under somebody, get around somebody. You look how far he went to get that fumble. He was the furthest guy away from that pile, that point where the ball was and slashed in there and then secured it. I thought it was a great play. In on a lot of tackles, covering a lot of ground. He plays the game, it means a lot to him, he cares, you can see that by the way he plays and is doing an outstanding job. The other guy is [LB] Michael Wilhoite, he’s in there calling the defenses, doing what [LB] Patrick [Willis] does and doing it where you’ve got to keep guys focused, you’ve got to keep guys on edge. Your leading guys, you’re calling the defense and those are part of his responsibilities and I think he’s doing it at a very high level. And that’s because of Patrick, that’s because of [LB] NaVorro Bowman. They’ve set the standard at the highest level. And both Chris and Michael, they know what that level is. They know what it needs to be and they’re rising to it and that’s outstanding. A lot of credit to [49ers linebackers coach] Jim Leavitt and those two men.”
Given the play of those two guys and with Aldon coming back I’d imagine you feel good about the linebackers spot right now? Patrick may be getting closer. It seems like that position is becoming one of depth and strength.
“Yeah, I would agree. And, it’s always been that. Guys have always played to a high standard there. You see the way [LB] Dan Skuta plays. [LB] Ahmad Brooks, let’s talk about Ahmad Brooks. A tremendous play. How awesome that he was the one that stayed with that play, came around the backside and caused that fumble to come out. [LB] Aaron Lynch doing a nice job. So, it was good. It is a position of strength and keep trying to build on that.”
When QB Colin Kaepernick got sacked in overtime, what was the breakdown on that play?
It was the blitz. It was the last offensive play that he got sacked. I was wondering, was there a receiver that was supposed to have recognized the blitz and broken off his route to give Colin a short target quickly or what happened on that play?
“The last play, the third-and-10 play where he rolled to the right and threw to [WR] Anquan [Boldin] on the sideline?”
It was an all-out blitz in overtime. Colin Kaepernick got sacked pretty quickly, didn’t seem like he had really anywhere to go with the ball. I was wondering where the breakdown was?
“Yeah, that particular one, I believe that was the back who didn’t get a hand signal from the guard. The protection was changing based on the look. You’ve got to get a hand signal and if you don’t get the signal you’ve got to site it on the move, on the run. We didn’t get that picked up by the back. I think I’m thinking of the same play.”
I think one of the last updates we had on Bowman was that he was cutting and doing some of that. Any update on what he’s going to be doing this week?
“Yeah, we’ll see. He has been doing some cutting and cutting pretty darn well. So, we’ll see. Tomorrow will be a big day and we’ll see if that window gets open to start practicing.”
After the game, WR Michael Crabtree had some quotes to some of our colleagues that were there about that he now considers himself just a third-down back and he seemed to express some dissatisfaction with that perhaps. Will you address that with him and what is your response to that?
“Well, my response is, and I was there, I caught the tail end of it, I didn’t catch all of it, so I don’t have it all verbatim, but I did see the two reporters that were talking to him and here was my view of the battlefield as I walked up to it: There’s Michael Crabtree catching a 4th-down-and-10 play, where he comes open, Colin hits him with the long pass. Great catch. Sets up a chance for us to kick a field goal to tie the game and togo into overtime. And again, I just caught the end of it, but what I heard the two reporters asking him was, ‘You don’t seem like you’re getting the ball as much. Are you not part of the offense? Why aren’t you getting the ball? You dropped some balls.’ Again, I didn’t see the whole thing, but I felt a little defensive for Michael. Here’s a guy who makes a great play and now he’s answering this question or that question. Maybe I might’ve gotten a little defensive too.”
I wasn’t there either.
“You weren’t there. I didn’t catch all of it, but–.”
You thought they might be leading the witness.
“No, I’m just saying what I saw. Here’s a guy that makes a great catch and it kind of feels…looked like he was put on the defensive.”
Is he just a third-down receiver?
Just to make sure we have it right on Aldon, is he available full go starting tomorrow for meetings, practice, everything?
“Yes, to my understanding.”
Is there an update on NT Ian Willams and WR Bruce Ellington?
“Not more than what I gave yesterday. I’ll get that later today.”
It’s nice to see you smiling today and I assume, you had a great game yesterday, a great win. Last week, I watched on TV, I wasn’t here, and you seemed really down. I’ve never seen you that way before. Very monosyllabic. Is it that after a loss like the Rams loss, you’re just so focused on what you need to do or you’re downhearted? What’s the difference between you this week and you last week? And I know it’s a California question and I apologize.
“Why do you say it’s a California question?”
Because in the past when I’ve asked questions about feelings, you say that’s a California question, but I know you went to Palo Alto High School, so you can’t get out of that.
“Well, I don’t know if it’s a California question, but it’s a question on feelings. I think you see me game day, you see me sometimes in these press conferences, and I think you’re right in the middle of the fight. I think to be judged on personality or the cut of your jib or what clothes you wear has never seemed as important as what your integrity is or your character, your ability, your effort, how hard you work at something. So, I guess that’s where I go with the personality or feelings questions.”
I asked you how many times you watched the Rams game film and you didn’t like that question much either. Are you now willing to say?
“Yeah, I watched it more than once. Bunch of times. But, the main thing is right now is watching the New York Giants and onward to that particular game. As Anquan Boldin said, these now are one-game seasons for us and that’s the way we’ll approach it. But, very proud of our team. Enjoy each other. Enjoy the time we have to prepare and to practice and to play these games. And you think you’ve got a lot. You think you’ve got a lot of time. You think, ‘Well, we’ve got from now to Sunday and it’s only, here we are Monday at 12:17 p.m. and we’ve got a lot of time.’ But, the sand slips through the hourglass and then you don’t have that much time. So onward, get onto that ballgame and do the best we can to prepare and get ready to play the Giants.”
Back to Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist Lowell Cohn’s question, is there a certain weight having McDonald and Aldon sort of in the rearview mirror now? You can go forward without that stuff. Is that part of, maybe there’s a weight off your shoulders with that stuff?
“There’s a process that played out. From the beginning, you ask for some patience there and to let that process see a conclusion. See a process, see a conclusion. I think it’s done that and you move forward. It’s OK to do that. Taken a lot of questions on the matter and I think I’ve plowed that ground as thoroughly as I can possibly plow it at this point.”
You mentioned process, which you’ve mentioned throughout this news conference. What exactly is the process for players who get into trouble? In this case, Mr. McDonald called team security first, not 911. What are the players told to do when they get into trouble?
“I can’t specifically say that they’re told to do…”
Is there a process?
“No. No. I don’t have a process.”
Where players are told to call team security first and then 911 or 911 first, then team security?
“No. There’s a thousand different examples that you could say. There’s a lot of different shades of gray. Do they call security on particular issues, do they not on others? I can’t comment to those and say that there’s a process. No.”
Do you want to change that? Do you want a process after this experience?
“I want to strive for 100 percent good conduct in every way we could do that and strive to do a better job and do the best job that we can.”