Harbaugh on pace of practice and improvement of team

Here’s the full transcript for Jim Harbaugh’s post-practice group interview provided by the 49ers.

Some of the salient points he makes regard the fast pace of practice, the reason players wear their uniforms in practice, and how the team has improved in these three days.

For some reason he failed to reveal in the group interview that Frank Gore will end his holdout and will appear in Santa Clara on Monday. The news came out later.

On whether today’s practice was a significant step with having players wearing full pads:

“Significant, going from helmets only, to putting the armor on. I think that turns up the intensity and it certainly turns up the hitting. It’s more like football, more like real football.”

 

On whether he is encouraged by G/C Adam Snyder working with the first unit on the field:

“Yes, on a couple different levels; athletically, snapping ability, quickness, leadership. Right now it’s early to know who our leaders are, but he’s been displaying a noticeable level of leadership in the huddle, and so far so good.”

 

On whether it is normal seeing snaps on the ground during this time of training camp:

“I wouldn’t say it’s normal for this time of training camp, but we’re probably about late-April from that regard. It’s kind of first minicamp type of form in that regard. That’s not going to be unexpected in certain areas, like the center quarterback exchange.”

 

On whether it is beneficial for G Adam Snyder to have played different positions in the past:

“No question about it. The center is, in most plays and most protections, making calls and understating what every other player on the offensive line is doing.”

 

On whether it’s noticeable who has played in the West Coast Offense, in particular G Adam Snyder:

“I can’t say that is something that has been noticeable. Adam is doing a very nice job.  I think the noticeable thing was some of the guys had the playbook and studied it.”

 

On whether he is emphasizing ‘pace and tempo’ on offense, as noted by some of the players:

“Also in the length of practice, the three-hour practice, which an NFL game is three hours. The pace of an NFL game, you see the 40-second clock out there. We’re trying to make it as game-like as possible so we can get into some of the later stages of practice where guys are tired and guys need to focus mentally and grind on tha. They will have the ability to do that. We need to build up a callas that we don’t quite have yet. Not near good enough yet. We will just keep working at that. There’s a pushing in knowing what it needs to look like and knowing what it’s supposed to look like.  We just got to sprint to get there.  That’s what the pace is all about.”

 

On whether C David Baas’ easy transition to center last year gives him confidence on G Adam Snyder making a transition:

“I’m not going to compare [former 49ers center] David Baas and Adam Snyder, even in their situations. They’re both good football players. I don’t like comparing somebody; that always gets diminished when you start the comparison game.  So far so good with Adam.”

 

On the significance of wearing gameday jerseys during training camp:

“Great question, because you wear game jerseys in games. That’s the biggest one. There’s more of a weight to the game jersey. You get to tackle the number, the name on the back.  Also, the game jersey is longer. You get the ability to tuck it into the game pants. There’s a safety issue, past the fact that they look a heck of a lot better, the safety issue of not getting jerseys pulled. If a guy is running a route and somebody pulls his jersey, you try and avoid hamstrings that way.  Offensive linemen grabbing defensive linemen jerseys and then throwing them down toward the end of a play into the back of the legs of another player. Those safety concerns are the biggest.  We got to learn how to dodge bullets and put ourselves in the best position to do that. To not give the bullets the advantage and take the advantage away from injuries. Some are going to happen, that’s football, but we would like to minimize as much as possible so those game jerseys are playing a part now.”

 

On whether wearing game jerseys during practice is something he’s always done:

“Always done that.”

 

On whether the team has been getting better the past few days:

“Yes, I think so far, this is the third practice and I think we’ve gotten better each day. It’s not going to be something that’s going to be overnight. It’s like weight lifting, it’s like conditioning—those things are cumulative. They’re cumulative if you’re getting better every day. If you’re getting worse, it’s having a negative effect. So that’s the mindset, let’s come out here every day and get better in maybe one or two different areas, individually for the guy,s and then collectively, that can add up to keeping us on track.”

 

On one general area in which the team has gotten better since Thursday:

“The biggest one is just understanding the schemes. Understanding the offense and defensive schemes, and there’s been a lot that’s been thrown at these guys in the three or four days we’ve been together. I’m not going to say the whole kitchen sink, but a lot and they’ve absorbed it very well. For instance, we are calling plays from multiple and formation already and they’re getting out of the huddle and they’re getting lined up. They’re shifting, they’re motioning and that’s much better than it was in the second practice and in the first practice, but we’ve done that at a abnormally high level, so we’re dealing with smart guys and savvy guys, and they’ve been trained well and they’re doing a good job in that regard. We’ve gotten a little bit faster; the tempo’s been faster each day. It’s not to where we want it, but it’s getting better. I think we’re working really well together as well. I think they’re understanding how to work to get it as close to game simulated as possible, while taking care of each other. This was pads today. We didn’t have any live tackling for instance, but even when we do have live tackling, it’s still not a game and if one of our players is in an awkward position, we’ve got to take care of him. That may be different than when we get into games. They’re still our guys, so I think they’re learning that better and getting better at that every day as well. So, there’s plenty of things that we are pleased with so far.”

 

On whether they’ll be wearing pads tomorrow:

“Yes.”

 

On whether they will be doing live tackling at camp:

Yes. We will do live tackling at camp, especially early, it will be in short bursts. You won’t come out here and see a practice just tackling from whistle to whistle, from the beginning of practice to the end of practice. It will be in bursts.”

 

On whether they have to pull back at all without having QB Alex Smith able to practice:

“We haven’t, no. We haven’t had to, so that’s a good thing. [QB] Colin [Kaepernick], who’s had more time studying and understanding things, that’s obvious. [QB] Mac [McLeod Bethel-Thompson] and [QB] Jeremiah [Masoli], they’ve been here for four days and we’ve thrown them right in as well. They’re both very, very bright guys and they’re doing a good job. They’re calling plays. They’re running. It’s not always a pretty picture but that’s why you practice. That’s why you try to get better, and the reps are hot and I think that’s how you learn.”

 

On whether he has to watch how many times QB Colin Kaepernick throws the football or his pitch count:

“Pitch count? Yeah, I’m very conscious of that and talking to him throughout the practice he keeps telling me, “Coach, I’ve got a baseball arm, my arm never gets sore,” and those types of things. But I’m still going to be diligent on watching that. Especially over these first few days when there’s three guys that are throwing balls.”

 

On whether he expects to add another QB to the roster:

“We may.”

 

On whether QB/RB Jeremiah Masoli’s role will change when QB Alex Smith can practice:

“Right now we went into this camp saying he’s going to play special teams, he’s going to play running back, he’s going to play quarterback. He’s majoring in quarterback right now. We’ll see if that changes when [QB] Alex [Smith] comes in. I’m liking some things he’s doing and he’s competing. There’s an old saying in football that the more you can do. He seems to be warm to the idea of the more you can do.”

 

On how he recruited QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson:

“There were a few letters and conversations, but it was never really any serious home visits or campus visits or anything like that.”

 

On what caught his attention regarding QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson:

“He was available at the time and he stood out to me. He had a really high Wonderlic score. He had a good hand size. Had played against him, nice stature. I remember watching him throw the ball when we played Sac State [Sacramento State] last year. In a lot of areas he seemed like the guy to bring in.”

 

On whether QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s tight circle factors in at all on how a player releases the ball:

“They all seem to. If you really timed it from the time a guy started to throw the pass to the time the ball released, those are fractions of seconds. It matters what the ball does and where it goes the most. But he’s got a nice throwing arm, he really does. I told [QB] Mac [McLeod Bethel-Thompson] and [QB] Colin [Kaepernick] and [QB] Jeremiah [Masoli] they all throw the ball like professional football quarterbacks.”

 

On whether he has supervision over QB Alex Smith when he goes elsewhere to throw:

“I wasn’t aware that he was going elsewhere.”

 

On whether there have been any vocal leaders that have emerged:

“I think right now guys are working by example. I’m seeing good leadership by example and that’s always more important than the vocal leaders. A lot of enthusiasm, I guess that’s been vocal leadership. We’re not taking a whole lot of time with speeches right now from me or the players. We’re just working right now to be honest with you.”

 

On whether the defense is ahead of the offense at this point:

“I think that’s probably right. I think the defense is a little bit ahead of the offense. Historically in all the annals of football, usually it is.”

 

On whether the defense is ahead of the offense because they are reacting more:

“I’m not so sure why that is. I’ve never had anybody really explain that to me, but it’s that generally when you start off, the defense is ahead of the offense.”

 

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