SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke to Bay Area reporters in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here’s what he said.
One of the themes for the team that loses the Super Bowl is how historically they have a difficult time coming back, whether it’s mental or what. Is that an issue that concerns you at all with this team?
“Whether what context you put it in, firm believer that if you have to talk about what you did yesterday, no matter how good it was, then you haven’t done much today. So, that’s where we’re at today going forward, trying to achieve things today. Try to make what we accomplish today to be for the betterment, for the good of the Niners. And may each day be that, pray for that.”
Do you have any working theories on why teams have historically struggled?
“No. I don’t even know if you’re right.”
“Okay. I haven’t done that research. Don’t have that in front of me now.”
How confident are you that QB Colin Kaepernick can not only replicate what he did last year in a 16 game schedule, but then get even better than that and grow?
“Well like I said, you come out here and may each day be an accomplishment for the individual’s future betterment and the betterment of the Niners. Each of our guys are working at that.”
A year ago Colin came in mid-season and took over the starting quarterback role. He goes into this season unquestioned starter. Have you seen a difference in him in terms of how he carries himself in the locker room, leadership wise, sort of taking charge of this team?
“[QB Colin] Kap is a diverse guy. And the coaches love him, the players love him. It’s unique in that way, maybe, for a quarterback. You don’t always see that, but I see that with Kap. He’s universally respected in the locker room and loved by his teammates. I guess I see that from the 25 to 35 demographic too, buying jerseys. People relate to him. They like his company, they like being around him and I’ve noticed that very much from our team. So, you asked about his leadership ability or effectiveness, for a leader to be effective they got to be followed by most of the group that he’s leading. Colin Kaepernick definitely has that love and respect from his teammates.”
Would you say it was like that in the locker room before he even started playing? Did he have that kind of following among his teammates even before he played?
“I first really noticed it more with the younger guys, the class of guys he was hanging around with and spent quite a bit of time with, that same kind of respect. And now it really appears to be universal. And I’m in the locker room, I see it. So, just an observation.”
A lot of teams spent the offseason defensively trying to game plan against the read option, not just yours but around the league. I assume that you guys must have done that defensively too. So then, are the offensive people trying to counter what they think the defensive people are doing? How does that work in the offseason when you’re trying to work through that?
“Everybody is formulating their plans and how they want to attack. At the same time you setup your guard in defense of the opponents attack. So, all those things are possibilities. Speculate people are going to do what they’re going to do and we’re going to formulate our plans and do what we do.”
Yeah, the other thing is people are concerned about the quarterbacks getting hit a lot, not just yours, but around the league. Is there a way to game plan against that, against quarterbacks getting hit too much in that offense?
“Well, there’s nobody that wants to see their own quarterback get hit too often. So, we don’t really talk scheme, about what we’re going to do and not do. But I think that’s a universal statement, that nobody wants to see his quarterback get hit too often.”
What’s the hardest you ever got hit? Do you remember?
“No, I don’t remember what I did 20 years ago, what I did 15 years ago. Almost 30 years ago we’re talking, trying to remember what I did today.”
Fair enough, but you don’t remember one or two hits, sitting around talking about that was the worst?
“I got some scars. Sometime I’ll have you over for a barbeque and I’ll strip my sleeves and show my scars. I usually do it about once a year for my neighbors. Feast my neighbors and talk about days gone by. But today’s not the day. You will be included for the yearly barbeque.”
How about this, are there tips about how you avoid getting hit that you could pass on to somebody like Colin? About how you can avoid taking the big blow?
“It’s a physical game. Yeah there are tips and coaching points most certainly.”
Can you share them with us?
“They’re the ones you all know, get out of bounds, get down. Those are the two biggest ones. Get below the pad level. It’s like a guillotine coming. It’s coming, you got to get under it. Got to get under the guillotine.”
QB B.J. Daniels talked about working with University of South Florida head coach Willie Taggart. Obviously he never coached him, but were you able to get feedback from USF Willie before the draft on B.J.?
Anything that you could share? Obviously, it must have been fairly positive feedback.
“Yeah, it was positive and as you pointed out, coach Taggart didn’t coach B.J., but was around him for a few months that he was when he was hired at South Florida.”
He’s kind of, probably enforced whatever you may have seen on film?
Will you require, when you have padded practices, for them to have their thigh and knee pads as are required in the games and are there any other changes you’ve implemented this training camp that are new?
“Yeah, what we’re going to do with that is – all the first year players when we have padded practices will be wearing their pads in there thigh boards and the knee pads. The second-year players and above who have been practicing in full gear without the pads and the pants will have the choice to practice like they have been practicing, without the knee pads and the thigh boards or they can put them in. So, kind of like hockey. I was thinking about that very same question. What do you say to them? What do you tell them? And hockey came to my mind. Back in hockey, nobody wore helmets. There was a time when not even the goalies wore helmets. Then they thought, maybe it’s a good idea for the goalies to wear a shield, like a catcher. Some did, some didn’t, but all the first year guys coming into the league had to, and the ones that’d already been in the league were grandfathered in. And even the hockey players, the position players, then made the same rule. First-year players had to wear helmets, the ones who were already in the league it was their choice. I think Brad Park might have been the last player to not wear a helmet in the NHL. You guys can check me on that fact. But that was kind of the analogy that I drew on to make that decision.”
Any new changes to training camp that you implemented that you haven’t had the past two years?
“Yeah, there’s some. Nothing that’s not secret, necessarily, that we’ll share. ”
Aren’t they required to wear them in the games though?
So why not start to get them to adjust to the pads in training camp?
“And that’s definitely our suggestion, is that they wear them in the practices. And that’s their choice to do that. Then we’ll have one practice, maybe two before the preseason game where everybody wears them. So, we’re thinking along the same lines.”
What’s senior offensive consultant Eric Mangini’s role? How do you anticipate him helping?
“Well, we love our coaching staff and when you love what you got you keep it and you add to it. And that was our feeling. We had an opportunity to add a great coach, strictly be on the offensive side of the ball helping us in a lot of different ways, mainly game-planning looking at future opponents. Seeing where they possibly have a weakness or what strengths, weaknesses coming up with that, helping us come up with that and helping us come up with a game plan. Also, maybe where defenses will attack us offensively. So, really not going to stand up and say it’s just that, it’s going to be a lot of personal help with me. And so he’ll be a great addition to our team and already has been.”
“The plane was flying over and I didn’t hear it. Who were you referring to?”
Colin, with Kaepernick was saying that it’s still in his head how the Super Bowl ended. How can you help him move forward. It’s a good theory, but sometimes if it’s lingering there’s got to be a way to get that out of his head.
“Like I just said, if you’re still talking about what you did yesterday then you haven’t done much today. So, now’s our opportunity. This is the start of training camp. Make each day an accomplishment for our future. Him as a player and us as a team.”
Can you individualize that? Can you talk to him specifically or do you just hope that he…
“I think I just did individualize it. It is individualized. It’s accomplishments today for the future of the individual, for the future of the team.”
What about Colin’s personality gives him the ability to handle this sort of rock star status that he’s achieved in this last few months here, post playing time last year?
“Not going to peel back the onion in every possible way, but like I said, he’s a very diverse guy, a very intelligent guy. Got a lot of attributes, lot of common sense. And he’s plus, plus, plus across the board when you start talking about his attitude, the way he thinks, the way he thinks things through, how he operates. So he’s A plus.”
What do you want to see out of RB Frank Gore this training camp?
“What do we want to see out of him? You guys ask me that every year. Then next question will probably be what? How many reps is he going to get and how are you going to keep him healthy all season long. Him like every other player. I’ll probably say it for the third time and it may bore people but today, make that an accomplishment. That’s what we’re hoping for and that’s what we’re working for, for his betterment and our team’s betterment.”
With Colin he leaned heavily on WR Michael Crabtree last year. With Michael out, do you expect that to go to WR Anquan Boldin or do you think he’s going to spread it around and what’s your hope in that area?
“What’s my hope in who’s going to get all of Michael’s catches?”
Yeah, do you think he’ll kind of lean on WR Anquan Boldin the way he leaned on Michael last year or do you expect him to spread the ball around a little more?
“I expect Anquan to be a very big factor in our offense. I’m probably being the master of the obvious both of us saying that but, that’s what we expect.”
With the injuries at receiver, just talk about the competition in this camp especially as it pertains to WR Marlon Moore trying to make the team.
“You know competition will hone us. We’re back into action and the senses, the instincts are honed once again. When you do that the competition is there. Guys fighting for spots coming in. ‘Will I make the team,? Will I play well? Is this my first camp as a professional football player, first camp with a new team?’ For some guys, ‘Is this my last year in football?’ There’s just a lot of things and there’s an attack on the nerves right now. There’s some angst, there’s some butterflies, excitement, enthusiasm, all of those things are going through the player’s nervous system right now. How do I know that? Because I have them too and I can’t wait to get out back into the action and just literally throw yourself back into the action. That’s what hones the senses and the instincts.”
S Donte Whitner said yesterday he would love to stick around here beyond this season but it’s not something that is a distraction he just voiced what his desire would be. Is that something you see talking about with him before things get started or just let it play out?
“That’s my desire too. Master of the obvious, but he is 28 years old, he’s done a lot. Who do I respect more than Donte Whitner? No-body. He’s right up there at the very top. He’s one of the best athletes at his position in his sport and I expect great things from Donte this year.”
Did you have the locker room quote board up yet?
What was the quote today to start training camp?
“[WR] Kassim Osgood. Aristotle.”