Harbaugh: “Kendall Hunter is having an exceptional training camp.”

SANTA CLARA – On Monday, Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent and discussed the current quarterback depth chart, Michael Crabtree’s injury status and why Kendall Hunter is having a great training camp. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers.

Opening Statement:

“Hello. I want to send our condolences to the Reid family on their loss. We’re saddened with grief for them. Our prayers are with them and Garrett, at this time. The Reid family, both Andy Reid and Tammy Reid have meant a lot to the Harbaugh family. (They) have done nothing but good things for our family and we’re very saddened at this time.”

 

What is your background with the Reid family?

“My brother John was an assistant coach with the Eagles for eight or nine years with Andy. Tammy also has been tremendous to our family.”

 

When something like that, obviously strikes a chord throughout the NFL, do you address your team in any way about something like that? How to cope with situations such as that?

“Those conversations are private and (I) would like to reserve comment on that question for another time.”

 

A few days ago you said that there was a tie for the number two quarterback position, where does that position stand now after nine practices? Still in the same pattern?

“Well, we’d like to see some games. At this point, it’s been very competitive, as we thought. When the players are good, as they are at that quarterback position, it’s fluid from day-to-day how that competition moves. One guy’s up, then down, then sideways. It just has a tendency to go like that. The games will be very important.”

 

How would you describe the progress of QB Colin Kaepernick?

“Colin Kaepernick is making some real strides. He needs to play football games and he’ll get the opportunity to do that Friday night in this preseason. He’s ahead in that regard, as it stands now, as the number two quarterback. He’ll be the number two quarterback into the game on Friday night and we’ll look forward to watching him compete.”

 

Because he hasn’t gotten a lot of snaps in the NFL, do you want to play him more than you would say, QB Josh Johnson?

“We’re going to play all of them a really good amount. We wouldn’t pin ourselves down to an actual number of plays because you can’t be exact when it comes to that situation of the game. Yeah, he’s going to get a lot of work, a lot of game work. They all need it. They all are fighting for that job and the competition, as I said, is very close. So we’re at that next step to take those, to get those game reps. Colin, specifically, he needs that work. It’s been a long time since he’s played in game action. (I) kind of liken it to golfer who does nothing but play the same course, over and over and over again. That’s kind of what practice can be like for a quarterback. They’re getting a lot out of practice, practice tempo and things of that nature. But there’s something about playing the games that makes them advance even further.”

 

He seems like a guy who would almost be a guy who is a game kind of player, that maybe turns it up for the games. Do you sense that about him, do you anticipate that?

“I think that he’s not unlike other quarterbacks. If they’re accurate in practice, they’re accurate in games. Good in practice, good in games. Not good in practice, usually not good in games. I don’t think that he’s any different. I think that carries over, practice to games.”

 

Has he been mostly accurate in practice?

“He has. He’s put some really good days together. Some things we’re working on specifically. I think now we’re getting into the game atmosphere tempo. Running the team to different situations, all those things are essential for a quarterback to be honed up on, to have done. I’m excited to watch all of them, [QB] Scott [Tolzien], [QB] Josh [Johnson], Kap. I’m very much looking forward to it.”

 

Kap seems to tuck the ball and run with it a lot in practices. Is that something that you- because he’s such a good runner and was a good runner in college, that you tend to, I don’t want to say tolerate, but is that okay for him to do that more so than some of your other guys?

“I think all quarterbacks have to make that decision. When it’s time to throw the ball, throw it away or run, get the ball to a check down or become the check down yourself. That’s something that we encourage with all of our quarterbacks, to make those good decisions. That’s, along with accuracy, timing, decision making, those three things are the three essentials.”

 

What have you seen in that regard as far as his decision on when to…?

“I think it’s getting better and better. I think he’s made some real progress there and it’s been noticeable in practice.”

 

WR Michael Crabtree’s progress, he looked pretty spry in the one-on-one drills? Is that what you wanted to see out of him and how’s he come along?

“Yeah, today he was back and our plan was to have him in the individual drills. He looked good. I haven’t talked to him yet, since practice. We’ll see how he responds, how he feels tomorrow, see what the soreness is like. We’ll make a decision tomorrow where we’re at.”

 

Were there any names that really made an impression the last few days? That have stood out?

“Yeah there’s been quite a few. [RB] Kendall Hunter is having an exceptional offseason and exceptional camp. [LB] Ahmad Brooks has been fantastic all offseason, all camp. Another one of those things that speaks volumes about a guy, Ahmad, I don’t know if he doubled, tripled or quadrupled his salary, but this is the best shape he’s been in. People say it’s the best offseason he’s had. I think that speaks volumes about a guy, a person. Some people tend to go the other way when money enters the picture like that. I’ve been real impressed. Ahmad is having an outstanding camp and there are several others.”

 

WR Kyle Williams has talked about how he wasn’t intense or motivated or focused last year, but he’s come into the offseason and training camp with even more focus and intensity. Have you noticed anything mentally with him, what his approach is?

“It’s all been good. Kyle’s been doing a very good job. Great attendance in the offseason. I think the only day he missed was the day he had a Lasik surgery. But every way possible that he can contribute to the football team, that’s the kind of attitude that we’ve seen.”

 

Where would you say the offense is versus the defense? We see the team drills and that seems like the defense is getting most of the edge there. Do you see it the same way as that?

“I do, and I’m the happiest guy in the world for it. Our defense is playing extremely well, especially this time of camp. If it was the other way and the offense was moving the ball down the field, down, down, down the field at will, then it would be cause for great, great concern. The fact that our defense is making the offense better, the fact that there’s 16 other teams that have to look down that gun barrel makes, me the happiest guy in the world.”

 

Is it pretty cut and dry for you when you get into the film room that this is good defense as opposed to this is bad offense?

“Yes, I think this is good defense, very good defense. And our offense is getting better too, each day. Partly it’s those efforts plus our defense helps make it better.”

 

Do you have to caution about your offense getting frustrated when they can’t put the ball in the red zone or do they know they’re going up against a really good defense and you don’t have to worry about them?

“Like I said, (I’m the) happiest guy in the world. Our defense is playing extremely well. (The) offense is making strides each day and it really hasn’t been all one-sided. I wouldn’t characterize it like that by a far stretch. (I’m) pleased and we’ll see what improvements we can make today and hopefully be better tomorrow than we were today. And I think we were better today than we were yesterday. The last time we practiced.”

 

What is the versatility of TE Delanie Walker in the many roles he plays in this offense? Will you still use him in those many roles now that you have a lot of new parts coming together this offseason?

“Delanie is a very valuable member of this team, does a great job.  All those options are still available with Delanie.”

 

I wasn’t here at the last practice which ended, I understand, pretty interestingly. Can you talk me through on what happened with the fake field goal there? Did you just slip?

“On the fake field goal? When I went down? Yeah, I can tell you exactly. (smiling) It was a fake field goal. To the untrained eye, I’m sure that looked like a slip and fall to the ground. To the savvy football mind, that was a chance to demonstrate the importance of cutting off the outside foot. Also a demonstration in having the proper footwear when playing football. Cleats are a necessity. A teachable moment. “

 

What about the pitch? It seemed like it got you a little bit off kilter there?

“The pitch? No it was a very nice pitch, outstanding pitch.”

 

How often to you jump in there and run stuff like that. I know you’re a guy that likes to have your hands on. Do you think it’s good for the team to see the coach out there running around in the middle of a drill?

“That was a spur of the moment thing. It was not planned out. It was spur of the moment.”

 

You pulled it off better than Oakland Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski a few years ago?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

How important is the offseason for P Andy Lee, training camp, OTAs?

“Like any football player, very important. He works very hard at it, as does [K] David [Akers] and [LS] Brian [Jennings] and all our specialists.”

 

G Joe Looney has gotten a lot of practice the last two days after not any practice. How’s he looked from what you’ve seen? He hasn’t missed a beat?

“Yeah, I think he definitely belongs. There’s going to be a learning curve there with any first year player and the offensive line. But to his credit he’s jumped in there and done a fine job. And also, even a higher learning curve for not having the offseason like the other fellas had. But so far, so good.”

 

You brought up RB Kendall Hunter. What’s made him look exceptional? What’s made him stand out?

“Well, I really think just his instincts, his vision, both have improved. Timing of his running, those running patterns on the various run plays. It just seems the feel, the experience is there and in tremendous shape, very strong, running with a lot of confidence. It’s been evident, really throughout the whole offseason. I think he really has a chance to have a big year.”

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