Harbaugh says it’s a three-way tie between McCoy, Tolzien and Daniels for the No.2 QB job

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the 49ers’ media tent Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the 49ers.


How many of the vets do you expect to just get the night off tomorrow?

“Just a few.”


Which ones?

“[LB] Patrick [Willis] for sure and possibly [RB] Frank [Gore]. We’ll see.”


What about DT Justin Smith?

“We’ll see. But I think the bigger, rather than go through the who’s playing, how much is anyone playing kind of thing, this feels unlike any other preseason game, certainly any other first preseason game of the year. And the reason I say that is that there are pretty much every, almost every position group there is a fight for either a starting spot, a backup spot, to make the team more so than I can ever remember the last two years. That’s exciting on one hand because there’s been several players that have risen and gained traction to be officially in the hunt to take a job. And, neck and neck in terms of battles for starting jobs or backup spots or making the team, and so much so that you can’t just look at it like there’ll be this number of tight ends, this number of offensive line, this number of linebackers, this number of secondary players, corner or safety, wide receiver. It’s going to be the best player. So, if there is a better corner than an extra offensive lineman or tight end or linebacker, all those things will be in play to add to the competition. I just say that’s where I think it’s on one hand both intriguing and exciting. You say, maybe you want it to be clear-cut. You want guys to clear-cut make the team, and clear-cut be the starter, and clear-cut be the backup and you want to see that take place in these preseason games. Maybe it hasn’t taken place because we haven’t played games yet. On one hand it’s exciting that there’s guys that have risen and made it so competitive. On the other hand, I want somebody to be the clear-cut guy, no doubt about it everybody sees it, and these preseason games give everybody that opportunity to show it and for us to witness it. That’s the intriguing, exciting part going into this first game.”


Is there any gamesmanship that you look towards when you’re facing an opponent where a lot of people picked you and the Broncos to go to the Super Bowl? Is there anything that you can glean off of the exhibition opener in terms of seeing how matchups are or setting up plays that can come into play six months from now?

“I haven’t thought of that, no.”


WR Ricardo Lockette had a good practice yesterday and WR A.J. Jenkins had a good practice on Monday. Is that one of those things that you were just talking about that you see individuals having good days on different days and it’s hard to kind of figure out who’s winning that battle because there are so many different individuals that are competing for it?

“I’m not going to use one position as an example because there’s examples of it at almost every single position group. And, I believe they know who they are. We’ve addressed it as a team and just so they know. They know the information, where they stand and they have that information going into these practices and into these games.”


Will A.J. start at that position?

“I still haven’t totally decided. Again, if start two receivers if you start three, if you start only one because of the personnel group, what do you consider the starter? So there’s no.”


Are we going to see a lot of ‘or’s’ on the depth chart?

“The depth chart is not a painstaking thing that I go fill out. That’s, [director of public relations] Bob Lange fills out the depth chart. So I wouldn’t read, nothing against Bob, it’s not. Understand I wouldn’t read too much into it. It’s not a painstaking process to fill out the depth chart.”


You just said that you addressed it with the team like they know where they stand. Do you have a super-secret depth chart that the 90 guys in there know about and see?

“It’s a process. I love that word. It’s a process. Where we are in that process is we’ve gone through 12 practices and now we’re going to play our first preseason game. So there’s, facts are stubborn things and how you play in practice, how you play in these games determine outcomes. So, that’s where we’re at in the process.”


How encouraged are you to see WR Anquan Boldin and QB Colin Kaepernick and their timing in a game situation with the first team? Anquan and Colin and what they’re showing you on the practice field, how eager are you to see them in a game situation together?

“Eager, eager. I’m jumping out of my skin. I really feel like they’re going to be jumping out of their skin and ready to play this game.”


What have you seen from TE Vance McDonald so far and what has he learned from TE Vernon Davis?

“Steady growth. He’s in a process and there’s been a lot of information thrown at all of the players who are first time in the system. There’s been some that have been great. I would say that Vance has been good to very good and he continues to grow in football. Guys like Anquan Boldin, great. [DL] Glenn Dorsey, great, [CB] Nnamdi Asomugha, and you’d expect that. The guys that have played football in the National Football League even though they’re coming from other systems, there’s carryover, so no surprise in that. And everybody’s kind of on their own learning curve and how do they play in the game. How do they take that information that they’ve learned and practiced on the practice field and can they stay loose and focused at the same time during the game or do they get too tight or are they too loose. It’s a lot of the game that brings that out.”


Will you have senior offensive consultant Eric Mangini in the booth with offensive coordinator Greg Roman during the game?

“Yes, Eric’s going to be in the booth.”


The second part of that question, are there improvements for the coaching staff this preseason? Do you feel that since you have the same coaching staff, the method of how you guys run a game has been fluid or do you think you need any changes this preseason at all?

“The first part of the question, I didn’t quite hear that.”


Just meaning are there any changes for the coaching staff this preseason that you’ll look to implement as far as how the staff as a whole runs the game or do you feel that in the past two seasons, you’re pretty much dialed in on how you run a game?

“Nothing dramatic. No dramatic change.”


With LB Parys Haralson, he was saying that last year, given his time not on the field, he learned a lot about seeing the field and what was going on. Have you seen that translate to his game now that he’s healthy enough?

“To site an example or say I’ve seen it, I can’t really say that I’ve seen it but him saying it is definitely evidence that resonates with me. That’s kind of the same feeling that I had when I missed half of a season in college, the ability to stand back and get a broader picture of the game and your ability to encourage teammates. Your love of the game is something that’s tested but you find out that when it’s taken away, that you love it even that much more heightened. So those things resonate with me. If he’s seeing that and feeling that, that’s evidence that will happen.”


What does his presence being back on the field mean to you guys?

“It’s been noticed. Parys is one of a big number of veteran leaders on our team. Guys that demonstrate their leadership by what they do. They demonstrate it with their action and how they go about being a professional football player. He is one of those solid individuals.”


Did QB Scott Tolzien kind of get toughened by that competition last year against a veteran guy and ultimately winning the number three job? Have you seen the steady growth in him?

“Yes, I definitely say his skin is thicker, callus, built up and I’m excited for him to go out there and play. And again, he’s in the fire of a new competition. I think it’s a step in the direction of not just making the team but of contributing and competing to win, not just compete to make the team. Sometimes when you compete to make the team, the thought of not losing it creeps into your mind. I want to see that jump of competing to make the team, to win. Not competing not to make the mistake. Kind of like you’d associate it with the analogy playing to win or playing to lose, playing not to lose. That’s one thing I want to see him doing and I think that would be a really good step.”


Did you think that happened in the last preseason game last year?

“No, I knew you’d go there.”


You set yourself up for it.

“No, I didn’t set myself up for it. No.”


He had a pretty bad game in that final game and QB Josh Johnson had a pretty good game in that game. So that seems to fit with what you were just saying about seizing the opportunity.

“Not specific to any particular player, I’m saying making the team versus making the team to contribute to the efforts of winning. I think he’s at that stage. A third year quarterback, he’s got to be thinking that way. He’s got to be able to demonstrate that.”


Are those two spots behind Kap, are they up for grabs? Has QB Colt McCoy shown that he’s the number two guy?

“No, there’s nothing shown there. So, it’s very even. And very much looking forward to the games and future practices to determine that, but it’s not clear cut at that position.”


Is QB B.J. Daniels in that mix for number two as well?



You have one guy who’s never played in an NFL game, DL Lawrence Okoye. Are you concerned? Are you curious? You know what it’s like to jump in there. What are your feelings about him playing?

“Very interested. He’s made improvement. I don’t want to make expectations be anything more than what they are. He’s not a good football player. And his next growth seems to be not a bad player. But he’s made growth from being never played the game of football. So, once again you talk about process, the expectations need to be realistic. I want him to be a bad football player because that’s really the next jump up for Lawrence Okoye. But he’s making significant strides each and every day.”


Expectations, what are your expectations for–?

“I’m sure you’ll find something really negative to say about that. That was a positive thing.”


Lawrence said the same thing, that he wants to be a bad football player. We were just talking about expectations, what are your expectations for A.J. Jenkins?

“Go out and play a lot, needing that experience to play. And step up in that game type of situation. So, expectations are high for A.J. Jenkins.”


You guys brought in a lot of special guys with backgrounds in special teams in the offseason. How do you value what they can contribute on special teams verse what they can provide on offense in a reserve role or defense in a reserve role?

“What, I don’t–?”


How you value what a guy can do on special teams verse what he can contribute in a reserve role on offense or defense?

“We value it extremely high. We value it to the point that a guy could make the team just because he does that, on that body of work of what he can contribute on special teams. And then it could be six, seven core guys that that’s their main contribution. And somebody could be, in that group, could be a significant backup and a specialty player, either in the nickel on defense or a three or four wideout package or two tight end package. And then they could also be listed as a starter in a specific personnel group.”


How much will QB Colin Kaepernick play tomorrow?

“He’ll play a series, two series, no more than a full quarter, somewhere between there. One to two series to a full quarter.”


You guys added a scoreboard out here on the practice field yesterday. What are big benefits of that? Is it more about situational instances and time management?

“A lot of situations in football. It’s a situational game in some aspects and thought we could get a mile an hour faster getting a scoreboard in here. Looks good. I feel great about a lot of the additions that ownership has given to our compound here. I would like a before and after picture of what it looked like then, two years ago, two and a half years ago, and what it looks like now. In my mind it’s really significant. Everything, as football coaches, we’ve asked for they’ve given us, from the Forty Niner Way, to the sign, to the weight room, to the speakers, to the nice fence and the padding around the grass fields and now a scoreboard. Taken out all those bushes and we got more grass. There are so many, so many real good things that make us feel like our place, our compound. Is that what it looks like?”


Last year you said this was your football oasis inside the construction zone.



How do you prepare to play against the other team of the first preseason game of the year? Do you look at film from last season or is this more about evaluating your players and your playbook?

“Both, definitely both. And they look at us, what we do in the preseason, I’m sure. But, both.”


Was the blue collar an addition to your uniform?

“Nope. It’s an either or. Sometimes both.”


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  1. I love hearing Harbaugh speak, he does not divulge info if he does not want to but he still answers a question instead of pulling a BB and blowing them of.
    “Our Compound” love that

  2. I know it’s mandatory but why even bother interviewing Coach Harbaugh. It’s clear he won’t say much.
    The Bayarea reporters created this with Singletary. He would say way too much and all the while JH was watching and listening on the farm. When he got hired, first order of business, give the media nothing, keep everything in house!

  3. I personally find these interviews boring. Some on the questions obviously aren’t thought out. I’d rather hear observations on how the team is performing and injury observations than read through guarded answers that leave you no more knowledgeable than when you first clicked on the excerpt. I appreciate the insights though, what little they may be.

  4. Lawrence Okoye sounds like he is fighting for a practice squad spot, not the 53 man roster. Depending on how he plays he probably would clear waivers. Hopefully he would stick around even if he got another offer.

    1. It’s sounding more and more like Okoye is nothing but a publicity stunt for their upcoming game in London. Seriously, like unless he is the worlds strongest man, how do you teach someone to play football and the complexities of an NFL defense in less than a year?
      It’s almost a slap in the face of every collegiate athlete out there.

      1. Not sure they need a publicity stunt. The NFL does well in London. Roster spots are too valuable for that stuff

      2. I’m not sure what it is but I question how a guy with no football experience is able to have a shot at an NFL roster.

      3. Okoye has to be viewed as a longshot, a lottery ticket. We’ll try to stash him on the PS this year if he shows any potential – but its going to be 2014 *at least* before you see any return on that investment.

        Still, with franchise examples like Michael Carter going from the Olympics to All-Pro, and Jeff Stover having a nice career despite not having played college football, I’m not bothered by taking a chance here. High risk, low probability, high payoff. For a strong team like ours, a couple of guys like that make sense. Marquardt is in a similar position. Lattimore’s is only different in that the risk is purely health related. give them all a year and see what we have.

      4. The big difference between Carter/Stover and Okoye is that the first 2 had played football before. Carter at SMU during the Pony Express days and Stover during high school up in Corning.

        Sure Okoye played rugby, but other than the contact and shape of the ball the games are not even close. The only way he makes it on the PS is if he is capable of giving them a good look on the scout team, and at this point I’m not sure he is capable of that.

        Oh well, by this time tomorrow night we will be dissecting an actual game.

      5. Actually it’s pretty well documented that of all the professional sports Football is the easiest to pick up. It doesn’t require years of skill honing like soccer does. There are complexities, but I suspect as you see more light shed on the long term effects of head injuries that kids will be starting football much later in age without a downplay in success.

    2. I know right matt..I just envision in my mind..okoye gettin after the qb with a relentless pass rush..he’s got size,power and speed..Keep this young man on the team..its all just technique and awareness..which we have great coaches 4 that.I think he can do it..maybe like aldon a few years ago..pass rush specialist come in on a few downs..work him in slowly..

  5. how many series will Colin play?
    They will leave him in until he moves the football.
    If he goes 3 and out or
    picks up a first down (or two) but then
    fumbles or throws an interception…
    look for him to come back on the field again.
    The coaches must leave Kaep in long enough
    to either score or gain big yards.
    To send him into the regular season as a starting QB
    with even one mediocre preseason appearance will
    handicap him, particularly during crunch time in
    December and January. The preseason will tell the story.

    1. how many series will Colin play?
      They will leave him in until he moves the football.

      So he will be gone after he has run in a TD on the first play. Gotcha.

    2. Its a pre season practice scrimmage meant to evaluate players in a game environment. They know what Kap can do so they give him a little run and then get him out of there. Keeping him healthy is more important than what he does in the 1st pre season game. What they really need to do is sort out the remaining three guys at QB, wide receivers, secondary and special teams guys. O line, D line, LB, RB are pretty well set except the back ups fighting for a roster spot.

  6. So MidWestNiner believes that “Kaepericus” will score a running touchdown – during the preseason.
    Here’s my theory: if the kid attempts some long runs from scrimmage, the odds are about equal that he will (a) put six points on the board or (b) be stopped with a bone-crushing tackle. Think pure mathematics on this one. You spend enough time in a barbershop and you can get either (1) a sharp haircut or (2) a botched hackjob. Run the numbers, fellas.

  7. Hey Grant. Looks like your pre-draft pick for WR Markus Wheaton is having a good camp. Already slated to be the #3 WR in Pittsburgh.

    1. Wheaton is going to make a big impact this season. He could take Sanders’ starting job by end of it.

      Do you think Keenan Allen could emerge as a rookie standout in San Diego? His competition is dropping like flies.

      1. He should get a lot of reps in this first game, and should get his share of targets during the season. As for being a rookie standout I’m not sure, but he will definitely be a contributor.

      2. grant, remember when you were defending your assessment that the Chargers had better skill position players than the niners? One big point was Alexander, you saw the glass half full, 7 td’s in a injury-shortened year. Everyone else saw that guy as Mr. Glass….someone who would NEVER play 16 games in one year!

    2. I’ve thought all along Wheaton will end up being one of the top WRs out of the 2013 draft, and he’s gone to a great situation with a team that likes to use WRs with his type of skills, and that is short on bodies.

      Keep in mind also that Wheaton missed almost all of the OTAs and mini-camps due to Oregon State being on the quarter system. The fact that he is impressing so early in TC despite that speaks volumes. Wheaton is going to have a good year.

    1. Everything has lined up for him to have a big year. He was on a good pace before being injured. If he can keep that up for the full season he can easily double his number of receptions from last year.

      1. Haha. I’m covering the Raiders-Cowboys game tomorrow, so I’ll give you an update then.

        I was just re-watching Matt Scott’s film. He’s my second-favorite QB in this previous class behind Tyler Wilson. I’d be shocked if Scott wasn’t the Jaguars’ starter when they play the 49ers Week 8. Scott was the best QB in the Pac 12 last season. Check out this throw: http://youtu.be/81vkGTV0xxo?t=8m15s

    2. Nice article Grant.
      I really expected more from Fleener last season because of his built-in chemistry with Luck.

      Hilton became the go-to WR and Allen proved to be a better TE than Fleener.
      That development was somewhat disappointing to me because Coby should have been ahead on the learning curve.

      1. Arians used Fleener as an in-line blocking possession tight end. Hamilton will use Fleener as a deep-threat move tight end, as he was used at Stanford.

  8. Some douche named Paul Ditino said on nfln TC preview that a source on the 49ers told him that last year “half the time in the huddle CK would not know the play and just winged it” as well as ” from what I hear he is not the best/smartest qb at picking up the playbook”

    Now I have never heard of this guy so i dont know how reliable his sources are. But every report or account of CK last season to present that i have seen has been the exact opposite of that

    1. Reminds me of those goofballs who wrote Montana was over-rated. Its the Andy Kaufman method of getting attention. Gore, Moss, Staley, Crabs never would have stood for that. Harbs doesn’t make the switch if CK doesn’t know the plays.

    2. BOS49er,

      At best, that moron’s comments are ignorant. At worst, they reveal his intolerance.

      My guess is the latter. The only question is, what is he intolerant of?

  9. Grant, what odds would you give the Niners trading McCoy this preseason if they think Daniels could handle the offense? They got him for a 6th round pick. Maybe they could convert that to a 3rd rounder?

    1. George,

      I know you asked Grant, but there is no way the 49ers are trading McCoy, and even if they wanted to, there is not a chance they would get a 3rd rounder for him.

      1. Jack, I’m just wondering. I respect your opinion, but it cannot be said that there is no way. I’m raising the issue because it’s interesting. This team has assembled amazing talent. There are backups on backups. Daniels is a good example. What if they think he is the second coming of Wilson? If they do, why not entertain offers for McCoy? I’m not saying they do, because I have no idea what they really think. No one does.

      2. George,

        This whole “we don’t know who the backup QB is” thing that Harbaugh put out there yesterday is a bunch of balogna. He said the exact same thing a year ago when anyone with the ability to think for themselves knew Kaepernick was the backup.

        Also, do you really think a team would give the 49ers a 3rd round pick in a trade for McCoy?

      3. Jack, I don’t want to belabor this, but anything is possible. As I said, I asked the question because I think it’s interesting to go back and forth about. I’ve seen other discussions on this blog about less. Personally, I think McCoy would probably do a better job moving the team than Smith did, so he’s definitely valuable to the Niners. Then again, look at what KC gave them for Smith. Of course, that was at the start of free agency. All the teams are already into installing their offenses. It’s just interesting to discuss, that’s all.

      4. George,

        If Baalke gets a third round pick for McCoy this year, assume he has some very compromising photos of the GM on the other end of the trade.

        If the 49ers were ever going to get a third round pick for McCoy, it wouldn’t be now, it would be sometime next off season, or after; and that would require McCoy to show that JH has worked his magic on him.

        Barring McCoy playing extensively, and well, this year (god forbid), it seems a fourth rounder is the future ceiling of McCoy’s trade value.

        But, hey, anything can happen. Someone wins the PowerBall, eventually.

    2. Think it depends on who gets nicked up in preseason. It also depends on how much the can coach him up. If he looks good in August and so do the other QBs, he could be offered for a 3rd or 4th from someone needng a decent backup. I’m hoping Tolzien lights it up tonight or at least plays confidently. He’s a good kid, deserves a shot…

  10. Though not up to a Fangio level (understatement), I thought this was a more interesting Harbaugh interview than his normal. I stayed with it. Part of the reason was that he had an answer on his sleeve that he just could not wait for the question to come along (or that may never have come along) so he pushed it in right off.
    Competition is close among a lot of players and including some starters and more so than previous years. You could feel his anticipation even his excitement. This is both a difficult place and a (generally) very good place for the staff to be.
    To me, there is always this question? Is this a case of no clear winner rising above the mediocrity or do we actually have the case of a lot of players moving to the next level because they are desperately competing with and against each other for those few spots and because they are competing with and against some top notch veterans? Is the reason there is no clear leader in #2 QB because Colt McCoy hit an early ceiling or because Tolz and Daniels are now playing up to his level?
    My read from this interview is that Harbaugh’s thinking is some of the latter —- or is he just using the interview to further heat up the competition? From my reading, there did seem to be a buzz in the air. Can’t wait for tonight!

    Question for Grant:
    Based on this JH interview in particular would it be an occasional good move to find out ahead of time what question JH would like be asked – in other words what is foremost on his mind at that moment. Or is that crossing a professional line some how?

    Side note:
    Stupid question – how do I create a handle as my last comment (couple weeks ago) came up anonymous?
    Lately this has become my go to 49er resource thanks to Grant and “crew” so I am hanging here for a good while.

    1. I’m looking for some too, FDM. I’m getting tired of my usual sites “Seized By The Department of Homeland Security”.

      Follow a guy named Greg Punzo on twitter, he usually has complete listings.

  11. Just popped some ribs in for slow cook. Ready about game time. Red Rooster Ale is chilling. Practicing for regular season.

      1. BroTu,

        Just checked, JJ was 6′-2″ and played at 188; and the original Eric Wright was 6′-1″ and played at 183.

        Whichever guy you were referrin too, nice memory. Taking your fish oil capsules?

        I just remember (not so much JJ, I only saw the last five years of his career) both of those guys almost never having the ball thrown in their direction.

  12. It’s a great start for the 49ers in the pre-season with a loss. Are they going back to the SB again or not? That remains to be seen :)

    Harbaugh’s nfl coaching career might be in jeopardy, this coming season.

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