Here is a transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s post-cuts conference call, courtesy of the 49ers.
How was the process today or over the last couple of days, of getting down to this 53-man? How difficult was that?
“Well, there’s a lot of worthy players. And the thing that’s profound to me was that so many guys improved, so many guys were ascending players, right up to the point of making the final roster, that it made the day, to me, a very exciting, good day by the efforts of the players and what our coaches accomplished over the offseason and the training camp. And to see young football players ascend and get better as football players, that’s very exciting to me. But I have yet to have a day where it’s not been a good experience to watch the players ascend.”
Do you guys intend to sign FB Owen Marecic?
“As always is our policy, we don’t talk about any player who is not a part of our team. Who we intend to sign, or workout, or what possibilities there are out there. You could just get into an endless discussion about it.”
How difficult was it in making the decision to move on from TE/LS Brian Jennings and go with LS Kevin McDermott?
“Yeah, that was a big decision and personal because Brian Jennings, to me, we breathe the same air. There’s nobody I can say I enjoy more than Brian Jennings. Watching him play, watching him compete, just being around him every single day. And I think Brian’s got more football in him. He’s definitely a NFL top-level talent. And we felt that way about Kevin McDermott and that decision we felt was in the best interest of the team. But, yeah, on a personal level that was as tough as it gets.”
Were these two games a test for McDermott, and how did he perform in these last two preseason games?
“Good. It’s a test for everybody all the time. That’s the nature of football. But he acquitted himself very well and made the football team and we’re excited about him. Everybody you talk about on the team is in competition, but that position has been under scrutiny, has been competitive every day of training camp and was before in the offseason. Every single day you’re laying it on the line and what they do in their profession. And it’s been scrutinized, it’s been competed for daily. So, he handled it, handled his business.”
There were some guys, you talk about the ascending players, anybody come to mind of the guys who did make it? Certainly, it looked like LB Nate Stupar played his way onto the team in the last couple weeks?
“I wouldn’t categorize it the last couple of weeks. Ever since Nate got here late last season, was added to the practice squad, the way he’s worked and the way he’s ascended as a football player and improved has been very good for our football team and for himself as a player. You get so excited about that. And gosh, maybe there’s more there too and he can keep ascending. You talk about it being a meritocracy, that was evidenced with Nate Stupar.”
What are you going to do with RB LaMichael James? Are you going to put him on the PUP list or what’s going to happen?
“You can’t put somebody on the PUP list now. So no we would not put him on the PUP list. That’s not an option. To put somebody on the physically unable to perform list, once they practice one day in training camp that no longer becomes an option per the collective bargaining agreement.”
The decision to keep the five wide receivers, you obviously had some veterans in and WR Lavelle Hawkins showed up well the last couple weeks, what went into that decision?
“What always does. You do what you feel is the best thing for the football team. They’ve competed well. They’ve performed well and at this time were put on the 53.”
We saw WR Chad Hall get into the game at defensive back the other night. He seems like a guy who was going all out since the beginning of the offseason program. Was that a tough cut for you?
“Like we talked about, I really felt Chad Hall improved by a real inflection from the time he got here and through the offseason and through training camp. Definitely was, talked about, several guys that were right there on the, certainly deserving and on the cusp of making it and Chad Hall was one of those. I would say no doubt about it, he was very deserving of making it.”
QB B.J. Daniels, if he’s not there yet, do you see him being able to compete for the backup job at some point this season?
“Again, talking about really just jobs in general, who’s competing for the starting job or who’s competing for the backup job, that just takes place. There’s no discussion about it outside of the practice field and the meeting rooms, except when it relates to the starting quarterback. I can see entertaining a lot of questions on that position as we have in the past, but not the other positions.”
Can you just maybe discuss what you saw from B.J. this summer and in the preseason games? Did he open your eyes or when you drafted him is that kind of what you anticipated?
“Definitely thought a lot of him when we scouted him and drafted him. And, the coaches coached him hard and he got to compete with multiple players at the position. Some that were on this team, some that were veterans of the league and nothing was ever handed to him and he went out and performed. Performed in games, performed in practice and earned that spot. That was just another example of the merit system, and felt that he earned it with his play.”
With LB Cam Johnson, was there question when the game started on Thursday? Was he one of those guys on the bubble or had he already in your mind earned his spot on the 53?
“Everybody uses that cliché the bubble. There’s constant evaluation daily in practice and in games. What he did in practice and in all the games, there’s no question especially in that game that earned it, merit again. He showed that he is a ascending, improving player as he had in training camp and in the offseason and when he was here last year on the roster, on the squad. Yeah, that was earned again. There’s a body of work, but definitely that game was a shining moment, shining game for him.”
You guys are deep at linebacker. Is that a good position to be deep at as far as contributing to special teams? You want to have a lot of linebackers for your special teams coverage?
“Yes you do. That’s a place you want to be strong and I think we will be. I think that who dresses in the games, there’s still 46. Only so many go to the game when your team is fully healthy, but definitely they’ll be training up in those positions. Keeping guys that are smart, keeping guys that are tough, keeping guys that are hungry. I feel good about our team in that regard.”