SAN FRANCISCO – Here’s the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s postgame press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
“We have a game under our belt now. A lot of data to study, on top of what we have been doing in training camp. But, good to have a foundation. Pleased with the way our guys competed. Thought there was a lot of good play out of our starters, and things to work on, things to coach. Which is always a positive thing. Young guys were very impressive. [QB] Colin Kaepernick, loved the way he finished the run. Nice to see [LB] Eric Bakhtiari get a couple sacks. Thought our young defensive linemen did a very nice job. [CB] Perrish Cox was around the ball quite a bit, as was nice to see [S] Trenton Robinson get his hands on the ball. I thought all the Stanford players really proved themselves very well on both sides. [WR] Chris Owusu, [DT] Matt Masifilo, [RB] Toby Gerhart, [DB] Corey Gatewood. It was neat to see those guys, [TE] Konrad Reuland doing well, [C] Chase Beeler. I think we came out fairly clean in the game, injury-wise. So, that was another positive. But, overall it was really good. And like I said, good data points to move forward with.”
Did you like that you had a lot of different scenarios? You had the goal line scenarios, and you had two-minute type scenarios. Did you get a nice array of things to look at?
“Thought so. Thought we did. It was a good game. There were good situations in the ball game that I thought our guys handled very well, for the most part – substitutions, formation-wise, both offensively, defensively, and the special teams. I think we just had one time in the game where we had a guy running on late, things you see so often in the preseason. But, no fumbled snaps. Penalties were the false start variety. And some things to clean up there, but overall I thought our guys did a good job. I thought they were on top of their business.
What were the most encouraging on that opening touchdown drive that lasted 12 plays?
“That 12-play drive and there was a little bit of everything. Third downs, fourth downs. [RB] Brandon Jacobs looked really light on his feet. Got the big runs and bounced it outside. Thought he did a great job. [WR] Kyle Williams, real solid night from Kyle. Was in a lot of situations offensively and on special teams, thought he did very well. [RB] Rock Cartwright also. [RB] Kendall Hunter continues to build on what he’s been doing all offseason. Really been happy with Kendall and the work that he’s done and just the command he has on the offense, and go out and played a real solid game. It was great. [WR] A.J. Jenkins made the big catch on the sideline. Great throw from Colin and a tremendous catch. And also, we dropped a few balls. I think they were the not-looking-them-in variety, and that’s something to coach and improve on. But, all those guys, there’s a lot of stories. A lot of guys out there doing well, acquitting themselves well. It was very good to see.”
The few veterans you rested—
“[RB] Frank [Gore], [DT] Justin [Smith], [WR] Mario [Manningham], yeah that was more of a right before the game decision that I made. And there was [DT] Will Tukuafu was rested. And there might have been a few others.”
Any word on LB Aldon Smith?
“Yeah, we’re still waiting. Preliminary – looks like we’ll be all right. Looks like we’ll dodge a bullet there.”
With what you’ve seen from Colin today doing his running and all, does that give you new opportunities, new thoughts of maybe using him differently? And I don’t want to use the word ‘wildcat,’ but using him differently offensively?
“Yeah, possibilities. Colin gives you that. Colin gives you possibilities. But yeah, he does because he’s got tremendous athletic ability and can operate, really, in the pocket, or outside the pocket. All our quarterbacks really played well. I think that will be a highlight. I think they combined for somewhere around 66 percent throwing the ball. Moved the team, operated the team, there weren’t any delay of games or fumbled snaps. Those may seem like basic things, and they are, but above and beyond that, too, I thought they played with real good poise, threw the ball accurately. [QB] Alex [Smith], Colin, [QB] Josh [Johnson] and [QB] Scott Tolzien. I thought he did some really exceptional things. He made a great play on the hit, got the strong safety blitz, took it right in the teeth and threw a great, accurate ball there.”
Who do you think had the best night out of all your quarterbacks?
“It’s tough to compare. It seems likes when you compare, somebody always gets diminished, but I thought that they all played really well. All had big plays, all did their job and did it well.”
On that opening drive you had five wide receivers who were in and out, in and out, in and out. Is that how you see that offense working throughout the season? All those guys rotating in and getting a lot of snaps.
“Yeah, that’s the way we’ve been looking at it from the start of training camp, that those guys would be doing that. You’re still trying to find your best combinations, but we think that they are all very talented and bring a lot to the table. Same as the running backs. I would say that it’s the same thing there. I thought that really showed tonight.”
There was a play on the opening drive there where QB Alex Smith dove head first trying to get the first down. What was your reaction to that, preseason opener?
“You gotta play, you gotta play as the aggressor. The aggressee is the one that usually doesn’t fare so well in football. One hand, I would have really liked to have seen a night whereAlex wasn’t touched at all. I understand that he’s gotta play it the way he sees it and be aggressive and do what he’s born to do. Do what he
s trained to do. Those kind of plays are going to happen.”
Brandon Jacobs had four first downs on four carries. You commented that he looked light on his feet. Are you encouraged by him in short yardage situations?
“Very encouraged. Very happy with the way he’s assimilated into the team. I could say that for all the new guys, whether it be rookies or free agents guys. It’s always the first question, it’s just human nature. You’re trying to find out what’s in another man’s heart. Is he about us, or is he about himself? It’s been a great group, from first year guys to 10-plus-year guys, it’s been a good fit. He certainly is one guy that really had a highlight night tonight. I’m very pleased with how he played. I think he was having a lot of fun too.”
Was it tempting to let those guys at the end try to punch it in?
“Just the fact that those guys are out there playing hard. They want to score. They want to keep playing, but we elected to be prudent and not see anyone get hurt in the last three plays of the game, when we don’t have to. We just take a knee and the game is over. So we chose that option.”
You mentioned LB Eric Bakhtiari as well. Obviously you coached him in college, he had a very unique path in the NFL and he’s gone through a lot of adversity. Do you particularly feel for a guy like that when he had a night like he did?
“So many stories like that. I go through in my head and that makes you so excited to come out her and watch these games. Now you have data and you watch these guys play their way into a position to make the football team and that’s really neat. It’s a wonderful thing about the NFL, preseason games, the opportunity t0 have 90 players on the roster and that fires me up on a lot of levels. What’s good for us, what’s good for these young men. To a man, they did a great job, acquitted themselves really well. Now you have data, you’ve got information, game film that you can go over and you learn from and get better from.”
What did you think of CB Perrish Cox’s first game in almost a year. He sat out all last year and played pretty well tonight.
“He sure did. Perrish Cox did a great job. I thought his coverage was excellent. He was in command of his movements, his change of direction, and his eyes. You don’t get around the ball as much as he did without really seeing and tracking the ball well. That was real encouraging. I thought he played very well. He played well in special teams as well.”
RB LaMichael James missed a little time in minicamp and he had a lot of touches tonight, both in the return game and the running game. How do you feel he played?
“I thought he played really well. He was put in a lot of situations as a returner, he got touches on the ball. I thought he blocked well in protection. Chris Owusu, LaMichael [James] and DT Matt Masifilo all came late in the offseason due to school. I think all three have done a real good job of getting up to speed and closing the gap in a lot of areas. It was good, I thought he did great.”
Did you like the fact that the wind was whipping around, it wasn’t easy to be back there catching a punt? Do you like to see those guys put in that position where it is not going to be simple?
“Yes, that’s a great observation Matt. That was a thing early. Pregames, you’re looking at this ‘Okay, this will be hard for quarterbacks. This is gonna be tough on kickoff returners. This is gonna be especially rough on the punt returners.’ In watching the ball in pregame moving 10 to 15 yards in the air. We knew that they would be the challenged player on those downs, even more than always. It was good. All the guys that were back there made cool decisions and ran with the ball well, in addition.”