SANTA CLARA – Here’s the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Wednesday press conference.
Q: Do you see similarities between yourself and Tampa Bay the way they want to establish the run?
HARBAUGH: That would be a compliment, to be a similar team to the Bucs. Outstanding football team. They do a very good job offensively, the balance. The ability to have a strong running game. The ability to have the quarterback make plays. Speed team. Very athletic football team, both sides of the ball, and on special teams. But wouldn’t call them a finesse team. It’s a strong team, it’s a physical team, really, all across the roster. The quarterback is big, physical, strong-armed intelligent guy, very hard to get on the ground. Very hard to rattle. He’s very Ben-Roethlisberger-like kind of guy. Excellent football team. Really well-coached, too.
Q: What can you take from what they did to the 49ers last year?
HARBAUGH: Well, watched it definitely. They’re a team that’s multiple in scheme, but they’re very good at what they do. They’re very confident in their approach and the scheme that they run. That shows up. Hopefully we have a little chip on our shoulder after what happened to us last year. What happened last year was not good.
Q: On Frank Gore’s TD run against Philly, the blocking was excellent. The way the blocking was set up on that run, is that what you want to see every time out?
HARBAUGH: Yes, that was a well-blocked play. There were a couple other examples of the same thing in the game. The timing was there, the angles were there, the pad level was right. And even though Frank hadn’t run the play all week in practice, it was interesting because about Thursday or so, Frank went up to coach Roman and just said ‘So, you just want to cut off Delanie’s block and get the ball through the A gap, and then cut left and get the cut off Delanie’s block.’ And it’s just the way it transpired in the game.
Q: Is that the play you kind of finished the game off with?
HARBAUGH: No, the play I’m thinking of was on the touchdown drive. It was just an example of the timing was there, the angles were right, the pad levels were there and also Frank mentally had taken the mental reps during the week of practice and just fit right into the scheme, without taking a rep. It was pretty impressive that a guy is that focused and dialed in even though he’s not getting a rep on the field. Great example to young players.
Q: How is Braylon coming along and will he be back after the bye week?
HARBAUGH: I won’t put any limitations on when he’ll be back. He’s coming along really well. He’s got an upbeat demeanor, a clear look in his eye and I think he’s chomping at the bit to get back. Working very hard at his rehab.
Q: Dashon Goldson came in here late, but he doesn’t seem like he’s missed anything …
HARBAUGH: He played a terrific game. We were talking about it yesterday in the office with Dashon. Made some real big hits in the ball game. Recovered the fumble. Almost had an interception, could have had a pick. Got his foot twisted a little in the turf. I thought it was a real solid game from Dashon and had a chance to be a spectacular game.
Q: Will Kendall Hunter continue to have a bigger role in the offense, regardless of whether Frank’s fully healthy or not?
HARBAUGH: That’s very possible. That’s all part of the game plan week to week. But as far as Kendall, he’s done very well. He’s graded out very well at his position. Last week, worked with Alex on the scramble play to make a big play in the ball game. So he’s making the most of his opportunities.
Q: Is that what he was supposed to do on the play, or was that more ad-libbing for the situation – the 44-yard completion?
HARBAUGH: That was them. I’d love to stand up here and say that’s something we coached them to do, but I’d be fibbing. That was those two guys being football players and making a play.
Q: Does that impress you that a rookie will have the wherewithal to connect with his quarterback on a play like that?
HARBAUGH: Absolutely. And Josh Morgan did a similar thing in the ballgame on a different scramble drill and that one resulted in about a 10-yard gain. But, yeah, definitely Kendall having the instincts, the wherewithal, the special awareness to find the soft spot and get into it and Alex finding him and throwing across his body into the middle of the field is dangerous, but he felt it and he made the play. We made a big deal of that. That was something we made a big deal of in the meeting room watching the film.
Q: With the progress that the line made last week, might you stick with the lineup that worked so well?
HARBAUGH: Yeah, in some form or fashion. That’s all part of the game plan and how you implement the guys there. But definitely in a similar form and fashion going forward there.
Q: Have you guys been improving every week?
HARBAUGH: That’s what we’d like to have, that’s what we’d keep striving for. I do believe that experts say 21 days, that’s what you need to get acclimated to a new home, a new situation. We’re long past that now. I believe that our players know what to expect, know, ah, we expect from them. Kept making real progress that’s the intent.
Q: Why did you make the pass to Kendall Hunter a center piece in meetings?
HARBAUGH: We were talking about Kendall and that was a centerpiece play, a big play, a unique play, something that took instincts, took some real feel. So, highlighted it.
Q: Why did you work out some running backs yesterday?
HARBAUGH: Getting the lay of the land, in case something happens. We like to be prepared before you have to be prepared. That’s what we’re looking for
Q: What can you say about the play of Bowman?
HARBAUGH: Really pleased with how he’s played. NaVorro got a game ball for his efforts against the Eagles. He was involved in four third-down stops by pressure, by fumble recovery, by open field tackles. I wouldn’t say surprised, we all felt like he was this kind of player. It’s great when a guy lives up to it and keeps pushing through. He has a high ceiling.
Q: With Tukuafu hurt, who takes his place on the depth chart?
HARBAUGH: Next guy up would be Dobbs or Williams.
Q: Will they both be active on Sundays?
HARBAUGH: They’ll be one for sure, we’ll see how we play it out. Both of those guys are on notice that things are changing this week.
Q: When you decided in the spring to bring Alex Smith back, did you envision him playing as well as he played on Sunday?
HARBAUGH: Yes, I was really, really happy for Alex the way he played. He was happy for his teammates for the way they lifted him up. That’s a big time accomplishment for a quarterback to have a 20-point comeback, and for the team to have a 20-point comeback in a ball game. Good start, keep building on it.
Q: What are scrums likes?
HARBAUGH: It can get pretty eventful, there’s a lot going on down there. A lot of guys giving each other the business. I likened to a arm wrestling match. Most of the time, one guy has half of the ball and the other guy has half of the ball. You got a little piece of it and might be a few minutes and it feels like 15, 20 minutes, just constantly wrestling for that ball. You’re strained up trying to keep your leverage on the ball, and increase your advantage and hold on the ball. Other guys are tugging at your legs sometimes giving you a shot in the ribs, gauging your face. It’s eventful, eventful.
Q: So, anything goes?
HARBAUGH: Pretty much. It’s been my experience talking to the fellas this year. Things haven’t changed much in 20 years.
Q: Were ever in a scrum in your playing career?
HARBAUGH: It was probably one of my proudest moments as a player to go into one of those piles and I had half the ball and I was able to work it and came up with the ball. And it was exactly how I described it. It was an arm wrestling match. Couldn’t even lift up my arms after I was done, straining so hard to keep leverage on the ball.
Q: As a QB, you don’t want to stay out of that.
HARBAUGH: Loose ball you want you got to go and get you know. You’re called upon to do it and your there, you got to get down in there. It would be hard to live with yourself if you turned that down as a quarterback or any other position. There are some things that really bother a man all the way to the rest of his life.