SANTA CLARA – Friday in the media tent, Jim Harbaugh compared Frank Gore to Walter Payton, evaluated Kyle Williams’ Week 1 performance and the offense’s third down production. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers.
I’m not trying to be fresh when I ask this, but how did WR Kyle Williams do? I think he had six punts in Green Bay?
“Yeah, he did really well. Got to love it the anatomy of a big play. The kick by [K David] Akers. It’s a record-tying kick. All those guys that were out there for that kick are a part of that now. But you look at all the things that set that up. The drive stop of the Packers before the half there. I think there was 59 seconds on the clock when that drive started. And great coverage in the secondary. Great hustle plays by [LB] Aldon [Smith]. Great hustle plays by [DT] Ray McDonald, on two separate plays to force throwaways. And then the Kyle Williams punt return, -yard punt return. [QB] Colin Kaepernick with the 17-yard scramble, on the quarterback draw. Yeah, you look at it, that’s one big play. But then, really the anatomy of that one big play was five plays, the five preceding plays. So, I don’t know how I got started on that. I think we were talking about Kyle. And it’s been good. It’s been very good. Kyle was very good and we like to keep improving and hopefully can be sensational this week. That would be a big plus for us.”
Was that a point that you made to the team after the game? That all those things add up even though one particular play may not seem to be a big deal, it’s part of a bigger sequence?
“Yes, that’s something we talk about.”
The third down offense, what was your evaluation of how you guys did on Sunday?
“Well, I think most people would look at the two for nine on third down. Don’t take into account that we also got two penalties that got first down because one, I think was a defensive holding, and might have been another pass interference involved there. And I think there might have been one other thing. But, when you add that up, now you’re talking you’re in the 40 percent (range). So, I thought it was good. We’d like to make it sensational this week. We’d like to keep getting better in that area.”
Do you look at stats much?
“Some. Some I do, yeah.”
Which ones do you look at the most?
“I look at, the most? Again, it’s like they’re not in any particular order. But, depending on the game, like this last game I wanted us to have the ball the majority of the time. Felt that was really important. And we were able to do that. Points, number one, is the biggest statistic there is. Two, turnovers. And then from there, there’s the various ones.”
Sounds like it depends on the game, it depends on what you’re looking at each game?
“Yeah, definitely. Though every game, points and then turnovers, one and two. In that order, points and then turnovers. And then from there then you look at a number of statistics. I wouldn’t give any as great of weight as those first two though.”
Is RB Brandon Jacobs a game-time decision?
“Getting close. Getting darn close and might have a shot this week.”
You guys didn’t have, WR A.J. Jenkins didn’t play. RB LaMichael James was inactive. How do you view that, that your top two rookies, is it a luxury that you guys have that you don’t need those guys on field contributing right now?
“Well, we certainly feel like we need them, and they are coming along. The situation hasn’t presented itself yet. But, they’re both coming.”
How do you think G/T Alex Boone played in his first start? And how important will he be? Obviously the Lions have a very good front four.
“I thought he did well. And with the line, that’s a collective group effort there. As much so as any other team, secondary and certainly the way the defensive line and the front seven have to work together. There’s a lot of correlation there with the offensive line. And, like I said they’re coming. They’re doing a good job, blocking and protecting. They don’t get a lot of credit, but they are coming. This line is coming.”
He and T Anthony Davis have a bit of feistiness to them. They’re paired now. Do you like to see that in an offensive lineman? A little bit of feistiness?
I don’t know the right wording for it. But, you know, the guy who peels people off the pile?
“A little edge to him might be better.”
A little edge, yeah. There you go.
“Yeah, edge. Toughness, yeah. It’s what you’re looking for in football players. A lot of those things would come under those descriptions. But, pleased with both those guys, yeah.”
They seem to stand out to me. Do they to you?
“As football players, yeah, yeah they do.”
As having an edge.
“Yeah, they’re tough guys. They’re solid, good football players.”
Is being 6’8” a big edge for him? Being that tall?
“I don’t know if we’ve ever documented that, just exactly how tall he is. He’s up there though. He’s close. He’s darn close. He’s darn close. But he bends well. Does a great job bending.”
The RB Frank Gore and RB Kendall Hunter tandem, it seems like they had a different flow a little bit, like they’re almost more productive and more effective than they were last year. What’s making them so effective? And do you think that tandem is going to be more effective this year?
“I hope so. And all signs point to that it would be. They’re both tremendous backs and Kendall has really raised his game. It’s been noticeable through last year, the progression he made last year and the way he was playing middle of the season, better even later in the season. And then offseason continue to see fine improvement from Kendall. So, Frank is one of the best there is. I really commented to him. I thought that run that he had in Green Bay along the sideline where he didn’t go out of bounds reminded me, and I know I’ve seen this clip somewhere some time, of a [former Chicago Bears RB] Walter Payton clip on the sideline at Green Bay. I think probably pretty darn close to the same end zone, same sideline, not going out. And I remember Walter getting hit as he was in the end zone kind of like Frank did. It was eerie how close those, how similar those two runs were in mind’s eye, anyway. Maybe somebody could pull the clip. But, I remember watching it. Reminded me a lot of that Walter Payton run.”
Payton had a lot of clips like that.
“He did. That’s true, that’s true. There weren’t a lot of times Walter Payton ever went out of bounds. Frank Gore is a similar type of back.”
That’s a pretty high compliment, isn’t it, given who Payton and who he was in this league.
“Yeah. Yeah, well I guess you’re right. Yeah, it is.”
What do you think Kendall’s improvement that you’ve talked about, has meant for Frank? Has it made him better?
“There’s no question. There’s no question that Frank has made Kendall better. Frank will be a great coach someday, I really believe that. And we’ve talked about that. Frank, he’s still got a lot of years to play. But, I really think Frank Gore would be an outstanding coach, if he chooses to be a coach. But, his impact on Kendall has been enormous. And I think they are great for each other, too. Because Kendall brings, there’s that kind of a spirit and a youth and just a desire to get better all the time. And a great work ethic that I think is refreshing for a guy like Frank who’s played as many years as he has. I know it does that for me personally, that kind of attitude from Kendall. It’s refreshing. It gives life-giving energy. And I don’t think I’d be exaggerating by saying that I think Frank has benefited from that as well.”