Harbaugh: “We made some big plays in the passing game.”

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh spoke in the defensive meeting room Monday afternoon. Here’s what he said.

Q: Any word on Ray McDonald’s injured bicep?

HARBAUGH: Not yet, no.

Q: Did anything strike you on film last night about the way your team played last night?

HARBAUGH: There was a lot of good, good overall play. Very disciplined, evidenced by the penalties, three penalties and one was a delay of game on a field goal at the end of the game. A lot of good play. A lot of people to highlight defensively, the corners especially – T. Brock. We all know about the two interceptions. He also tackled, had a heck of a PBU on the offensive interference penalty. Carlos Rogers had a very good game and so did T. Brown. Those three corners really played well.

Q: On the touchdown runs in the red zone, have you guys been doing a lot of emphasis on getting those blocks sealed right so they could execute the way they did yesterday?

HARBAUGH: We were able to pop some runs in the red zone. We had multiple 10-plus gains in the running game. That’s hard to do, especially against any defense in the NFL. The Texans defense is extremely good. A very good game plan that was well-executed offensively. Team defense, great game plan, executed. Able to shut down or contain their passing game. They have a very good running game but they move the ball effectively through the air. Great group effort to get that contained.

Q: With as well as Brock has played the past two games, when everybody is healthy there what will you guys do?

HARBAUGH: I’m really pleased with the way Tramaine is ascending. When you play like that you’re going to continue to play. There will be more opportunities for him. We’re excited about that.

Q: How is Jon Baldwin coming along?

HARBAUGH: Good. Ascending, improving player. He’s doing a great job. Kap and him are really building a good trust there. Real positive.

Q: Where do things stand with your two rookie defense linemen, Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial? Do you expect them to play this year?

HARBAUGH: I do.

Q: Next week they can begin practicing with the team. Are they on schedule to do that?

HARBAUGH: I believe they are. Next week. We’re counting down the days with quite a few guys – Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Mario Manningham, Eric Wright, all guys that have the possibility to start practicing next week. Excited about that.

Q: You guys will have a 21-day window to put them on the 53-man roster. You haven’t seen them practice yet. When do you think you’ll add those players to the 53-man roster?

HARBAUGH: Based on their health and their practice capability, their ability to help on game day, all of those things will go into determining when exactly they’re headed back to the 53.

Q: You’ve been without three defensive starters the past two games and allowed just one touchdown. Are you surprised about your depth?

HARBAUGH: No question about it. Guys get their opportunity and step up and play well, that bodes really well for the ball club. They’re really playing well as a defense, team defense, playing the scheme, playing well within it. That’s really encouraging. Getting turnovers. We’ve been kind of down on getting turnovers. Sometimes things just start breaking right for you like the olive jar. Everybody is familiar with the olive jar. You open it up, brand new jar of olives, you turn it over and no olives come out. They’re packed in their so tight but if you get one to come out, pluck one out of there, then they want to come out, they’re just flying out of the jar. Hopefully that’s the case for us defensively. You wonder if you’re ever going to get turnovers or interceptions or fumbles. How can we get one? And then we got one and they start flying. Hopefully that’s where we’re at.

Q: Bruce Miller said his slow start this year was technique.

HARBAUGH: Tom Rathman’s been working with. He’s been working very hard on his technique and his fit on his blocks. He was getting too much of an edge. Now he’s getting more down the middle. It’s much more effective. He does so many things for our offense – catches the ball out of the backfield, he’s the lead blocker on the two-back formations, he’s very athletic and can do multiple things.

Q: An outsider looking at the passing game yesterday would see a quarterback who went 6-of-15, 113 yards, not a real dynamic or prolific performance. Is there a need for bigger numbers in the passing game, more receivers getting in on the action, etc?

HARBAUGH: Well we made some big plays in the passing game. We missed on a couple where Colin made a heck of a throw on the post to Vernon. We didn’t complete many. We missed one to Vernon along the sideline. Had a few knocked down. I marvel at the defensive line of the Texans and their ability to knock passes down. Sometimes they’re getting two hands on the ball. I really don’t know how they’re doing it or drilling it or teaching it. It’s not like they’re just sitting back on the line of scrimmage and waiting for the quarterback to throw with no pass rush. They are rushing the passer effectively and then somewhere, somehow they’re seeing something – the quarterback setting to throw or an arm angle – because they’re able to stop mid-rush and get two hands up and darn near catch the ball. But it doesn’t diminish their pass rush, either. They’re able to continue on in their rush and get hits on the quarterback. You’ve seen how effective they are with pressure in this past game with us and the week before against Seattle. The pressure, you see it every game. How they’re able to do that and stop and get hands up and knock down passes, it’s really, really impressive. I don’t have the answer on how they do it or how they teach it, but it’s very effective.

Q: Would you have Eric Mangini or Vic Fangio study something like that?

HARBAUGH: Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’m very curious about that today.

Q: This was the third game this season that Kaepernick’s completion percentage was in the 40s, though. What do you attribute that to?

HARBAUGH: I think there are just so many things that the team did well. Like I said, we had some big plays in the passing game. The run and the pass were effective. We go into these games not knowing what will be more effective, the pass or the run. We need both to be good. Sometimes we get in a game where one is more effective than the other.

Q: How is Michael Crabtree’s progress and are you still hopeful that sometime in November he could be ready to go?

HARBAUGH: It’s been very good. It’s more middle-to-late November. That’s what we’re hoping for. He seems to be on track for that.

Q: That he’ll play in a game?

HARBAUGH: Yeah.

Q: Are you looking at Quinton as a nose tackle or a defensive end?

HARBAUGH: Looking at him as an inside guy, nose tackle, one-technique, three-technique. He’s up there somewhere 340, close to 350 pounds and moving real well. High hopes for him.

Q: How is Aldon Smith doing? Have you talked to him recently?

HARBAUGH: A few texts. Things are going very well, very positive.

Q: Any timetable for his return?

HARBAUGH: No.

Q: Does Frank Gore require any medical follow up for him leg injury yesterday?

HARBAUGH: He seemed to be in pretty good spirits after the game and I don’t have a report on him yet.

Q: As far as Ray McDonald, you guys don’t have the MRI results back yet?

HARBAUGH: Correct. We’re waiting for those.

Q: You’ll get those this afternoon?

HARBAUGH: Yeah, should have those by this afternoon.

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