SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Monday morning. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the 49ers.
A little bit better showing from the offense yesterday as oppose to at Candlestick?
“Yeah that was a real sharp, crisp, tighter practice yesterday. We’ll see if we can’t come back and get two in a row.”
Were there certain players that kind of took responsibility for making it a sharper practice? QB Colin Kaepernick seemed really on point yesterday.
“There were a lot of guys that just had a real good practice. [TE] Garrett Celek was outstanding. [TE] Vernon’s [Davis] been outstanding the last, I mean every day he’s outstanding. The practice at Candlestick and yesterday – very, very good. Quite a few guys to highlight. It was just a good practice.”
Do you like to see that the players take it upon themselves to–?
“Take it up a notch? Yeah, sure, absolutely. We’ve come to expect that.”
Is that something that you had to address with the guys that you were not altogether satisfied with what happened on Saturday?
“Everybody’s addressing everything all the time. Players do it, coaches do it, team effort.”
Are there specific things that you look for in a good practice? I know your mantra about you’re going to get better every day but, is there specific things that you look for to make it a good practice?
“Good execution. Guys that are highly motivated to perform. You could also hear it. You can hear a good practice. Pads are popping. The focus is there. The mental assignments are executed and plays are made physically. I thought yesterday’s practice had all those elements. Now we’re at today’s practice. We’re still talking about yesterday, then we haven’t accomplished anything yet today. So we’ll see if we can’t have an excellent practice today. High expectations for that.”
Good or bad practice you always seem to use positive reinforcement coaching and a lot of your staff does as well. Is that something that has always been the case, the style of coaching that you do? And why do you prefer to always go positive?
“I wouldn’t say that’s always the case. When you’re a coach you see yourself as a teacher, as an advice giver. That’s really the role of a coach.”
But you don’t rip into guys.
“You seem to know.”
What are the biggest challenges that Colin faces going into his second year as a starter now that everyone’s kind of had a chance to size him up over the offseason and so forth.
“What are the expectations?”
The biggest challenges that Colin faces as a second-year starter?
“That the quarterback position is a very challenging position. Not any specific than any other season. Really the same challenges that were there last year and always there for a quarterback on a football team.”
Does it get harder going into your second year as a starter? Does it get easier or is it always difficult?
“It’s very difficult. I think many people can debate what’s the hardest position in sports. You never like to compare things, but I think everything that the quarterback has to do as I stand back there and watch 10 yards behind the quarterback, 15 yards behind the quarterback, every day, that’s probably the most challenging position in all of sports, in my opinion.”
Have you begun game planning for QB Alex Smith or watching film? How strange will that be this week for you?
“It’s personal with Alex. It probably is different in that way. And, feel like there’s a great friendship there and a lot of history. He’s a unique person. A very good, in all ways, a good friend. No longer on our team. Not a trusted agent anymore. I know the competitor he is and he wants to win and we do as well. I’ll be able to tell you maybe more afterwards. But, yeah I think it will be, it feels different right now. Long and good memories of the time when we were teammates, a personal friendship. Then we wish him the best. A long and healthy and successful career.”
How much do you owe him just because of the circumstances in which he took the job, the lockout and what he was able to do, really doing a lot of the work of the coaching staff during those months when you couldn’t have any contact with the players?
“Certainly that and a long, long list of things. And, great memories of his leadership and his play. Just the kind of person he was. You go up and down the locker room, a guy that was universally respected by his teammates and his coaches. Long list of great memories.”
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said recently that there were two other instances where he tried or at least inquired about trading for Alex Smith, do you recall either of those prior to this latest trade?
“Not to discuss the past. I wasn’t aware of any instance where the Eagles were trying to trade for Alex Smith while I was here during my tenure. Before that I don’t know. Nor would we have.”
How do you size up the rapport between Colin and Vernon at this point? Is it looking like they have a really good connection, kind of like the last two games you guys played in the playoffs?
“Based on practice yesterday, the day before, all the body of work at practice, it sure looks like there’s a great rapport there, to use your word, yeah.”
Are you seeing the kind of versatility out of TE Vance McDonald like blocking that can make him a big part of this offense?
“Yes, everybody has high hopes and expectations for Vance. He’s done a very good job.”
How well do you know, how well have you gotten to know G Mike Iupati? Can you give us any insights into his personality, what drives him?
“Very motivated. There’s a group of players, it is the players that you all know and contribute game in game out, season after season for us. Mike Iupati is one of those guys who just hits it hard. Here in the morning along with all the other guys who hit it hard, hit it every day and come in extra. Mike’s one of those morning guys. He’s a ‘be about it guy’ not ‘talk about it’ kind of a player which, again, is universally respected in the locker room. A strong, tough man.”
I see you scurrying around between drills. I see your players running off the field. They’re charging off the field to get in and do meetings or other things. Is that part of the culture here? I see people moving with some urgency at all times.
“I take that as a compliment. Thank you very much. We want to be about that.”
Is that something that has to be said or do you lead the example by doing it yourself?
“Again, and this is really the truth, it’s led by those players. The [DT] Justins [Smith], [DT] Ray McDonald who hit it five days a week off the field too in the weight room. Kaep, five day a week guy. [RB] Frank Gore, every day 6:15. [CB Tarell Brown] T. Brown, every day 6:15. [CB Tramaine Brock] T. Brock, every day 6:15. Mike Iupati, 6:15. [G Alex] Boone, 6:15. [S] Donte Whitner, every day 6:15. Vernon Davis hits it hard every day catching balls off the jugs machine after practice. Kaep, you see the wind sprints before practice and every morning during the season. Again, it’s just a long list of great leadership that our guys demonstrate. Ray McDonald. Again, it’s a long list and kind of showered by the leadership of those guys that makes a huge difference.”
Kaepernick sprints off the field after practice and I’ve noticed that other players are starting to do the same thing. What’s the meaning of that to you? Is it about not walking on the field or what’s the significance of sprinting off the practice field afterwards?
“A little extra conditioning pops into my mind.”
How have you seen Vance’s blocking improve?
“How have I seen it improve? In technique, in his fundamentals and in repetition. It’s something that you could see from his college tape that he was capable of doing and wasn’t always in the position to do that. Sometimes used more as a spread-type of blocker or receiver, but that’s where his improvement has come, in his fundamentals, his technique and his repetition.”
Will McDonald play? Will he be healthy to play Friday do you expect?
“I think we’ll hold him out this week. He’s working through a little something right now and probably better to be cautious with it.”
Anybody else maybe not make the trip?
“Yeah, there could be some guys who don’t make the trip. Want a couple names? Possibly [WR] Michael Crabtree. [WR] Mario [Manningham] perhaps.”
Do you expect Vance to be ready when the regular season starts, this isn’t anything too serious?
“I think be cautious for maybe seven days, 10 at the outside.”
Do you have a timeframe on CB Eric Wright yet? (Coach Harbaugh misheard the reporter and answered the question as if it was in regards to rookie S Eric Reid)
“Day to day, yeah. Something that he’s working through, but wouldn’t call it anything serious.”
Is Eric here? (same as previous question)
“Eric’s here, yeah.”