SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
Do you feel like facing an opponent so shortly after facing them the first time, playing one game and then facing them again, does that cause any kind of complications for the coaching staff?
“It’s a salty opponent. We understand that. We’ve played them twice in the same year, now going back a couple years. So, understand some of the things that have happened in this game when you’ve played them a second time. And we’re looking at addressing those.”
Did you ever meet Rams P Johnny Hekker when your son was rooming with him at Oregon State?
“I think so. I think when we played Oregon State, yeah, said hello to him and say hello to him before each ball game that we play him now.”
Did Oregon State use him in the capacity that the Rams do, with all the fakes and using his arm as much as they do?
“I can’t recall a fake that he ran at Oregon State, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t.”
What was your impression of him just meeting him and his background of being a quarterback and all that?
“Well, Jay thinks the world of him, so that was good enough for me. But, heck of a nice guy and he does a tremendous job.”
How’s TE Vernon Davis’ recovery from the back spasm? He just hasn’t been the same player this year as we’ve seen in the last few years in terms of his production or handling the ball and such?
“He’s played through a few things. And, I think that’s the biggest thing that’s been slowing him down. But, I think he’s good to go now.”
Do you have any indications how LB Patrick Willis is coming along after the toe injury that he had against the Rams last time?
What has T Joe Staley meant to the offensive line? There’s been a lot of moving parts with injuries and other things going on with that unit. But, just what has he meant to that unit and obviously he’s got a big challenge this week with Rams DE Robert Quinn?
“It’s rock solid, Joe Staley. Trusted agent, known friend of the San Francisco 49ers. He has continued to play at the highest level. A captain, football player, Joe Staley, football player. He can look in the mirror and say that with confidence.”
With Quinn being such a vaunted opponent, he faced him two weeks ago. So, just what do you see in that matchup with those two guys?
“Two great players.”
Besides when he’s going out on passing routes?
“Two great players. Quinn is a great player and relentless to the football. He runs to it. And, tremendous against the run, tremendous pass rush. And, Joe is up for the challenge. He’ll meet it head on.”
Their rookie, Rams DT Aaron Donald he seems to–?
Yeah, have you noticed even since you guys played him the last couple games that he’s just becoming more of a force?
“Yes. Aaron Donald, since we played him in that game and since, you can make an argument that he’s their best player. He’s playing at a very high level.”
RB Frank Gore put the back-to-back 100-yard games together and everyone said, “Frank is back,” like he left or something. And then a couple of weeks in a row, the yards have been hard to come by. How much of it is the variables in the offensive line, the opponent, where Frank is at? How would you assess the overall state of your running game and your primetime back?
“Good. And yeah, there’s variables. Frank remains a primetime back. And we continue to strive to excel in the running game.”
Did RB Marcus Lattimore take place in the walkthrough?
And, how did he, I know it’s just a walkthrough, but could you tell that it was something special to him?
“Yeah, this is special. I think you wrote in your column a ‘landmark day’ on his path to football. It’s also his birthday. He’s excited.”
You mentioned the Rams being a salty opponent. They’re also, a lot of teams have injuries, but they’ve got a lot of injury issues, offensive line among other places. Do you have to talk to the guys about not underestimating them because they’re the Rams and they’re always going to play you all tough?
“Yeah, I think you just turn on the film of all of our games with the Rams and that speaks volumes.”
Did you watch the film of when they played the Seahawks? Because it just seems like they have a penchant towards trickery and they always love to do the trick play. Did you get an impression of that and how you coach against something like that?
“Yeah, you’ve just got to be on high alert at all times. There’ll be an onside kick that comes when they’re up 14-0. There’s fakes in the punt return game. There’s fakes in the punt game, in the kickoff return. Makes us play at a higher awareness, high alert.”
Were you impressed by their execution, especially on that one kick return play where they faked it one way and added it to another? What did you see on that play?
“It was very good. I even asked my son Jay about that. When he was at Oregon State he was a graduate assistant there. Not a graduate assistant, he was a student assistant. Let me correct that. But, he said that they had that play in at Oregon State, they never ran it. So, try to find some other plays that maybe they haven’t run.”
Is it easy to get caught up in the game and lose sight of the fact that they can do a fake at any point? I mean, just this last game against the Rams you stopped them on fourth down, it was a big play and they were about to run the fake that CB Chris Cook thwarted. Was he the only one that was aware of it? I guess, is it hard to be cognizant of that all the time given everything else that’s happening in a game?
“The degree of difficult, yeah maybe it is high. But, you have to be aware. It has to be a heightened sense of awareness. They ran a fake against us at Candlestick from the 20-yard line and we were able to stop that one. And it makes you play different. There’s got to be a, I don’t want to say on your heals, but you’ve got to be alert. You’ve got to take everything into account and be really thinking. Punt return, you have to know who the eligibles are. If you’re in coverage then you’ve got to have man eyes for the eligible receivers at all times, alert. [Rams special teams coordinator] John Fassel does a great job. Coach [Rams head coach Jeff] Fisher, he’s a willing participant in all these fakes. I give them a lot of credit. They’ve done a fabulous job.”
With all the defensive backs now coming back healthy or healthier, how do you guys determine the roles? Do you use past performance or how the guys are looking out there at practice this week?
“How they’re looking out there, practicing this week.”
The college shirts that the players wore at the team photo day, how did that come about and were you pleased with the turnout and the participation in that?
“Yes. That was a good idea. [49ers scouting/player engagement assistant] James Hall came up with that and there was a very good turnout. It was nice to see so many college graduates on our team. A few of us didn’t have our shirt. A few of the guys didn’t have their shirt. I didn’t have my shirt either, but I wanted to jump in because I was a college graduate. They’re going to put that on there somehow. There’s a way to, Photoshop, I was thinking of the word. There’s a way to do that. Very proud and should be. Being a college graduate, being able to put that degree in a frame, put it up on the wall it says something good about you. I wanted to acknowledge that with our players.”
What did you get your degree in?
“Communications. Is that a surprise? (laughter) Are you shocked? What did you get your degree in?”
Communications, Journalism, is that a shock?
“No. From where?”
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“A fine school.”
Are you guys going to have meetings after practice or are you going to be able to go watch the Giants game or any World Series plans with the team?
“No. I hadn’t thought of that. We’ll be able to catch that on the lag. Then you don’t have to watch the commercials.”
You talked on Monday about Marcus Lattimore maybe getting practice, maybe it being a little more physical for him than someone else just to get him back in the swing of things. Do you have to do something similar like that with Marcus Martin, especially knowing he’s got a physical opponent this week after missing so much time?
“He’ll have the pads on today. [49ers offensive line coach] Mike Solari does a great job in individual drills. During special teams there’ll be drills as well.”
Are you looking forward to that matchup in particular with Donald? Both rookies in kind of an “iron sharpens iron” situation?
“Yeah. I’m excited about all of the competition, as always. Look forward to watching Marcus compete.”
“This is a celebration, too, for [former 49ers wide receiver] Gordy Soltau, who passed away Sunday night. Great 49er, great football player, great man in the community, a service to his country. Celebration of a wonderful life. I send those regards to his family. Thank you.”