Jim Harbaugh: “I think we’re real close to playing our best football.”

SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Friday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.

Generally, people will probably second-guess your decision to trade Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith if they could. I mean, they probably do anyway, especially if they come in and win. Does that add any weight or any perspective to this game for you?

“We said before, playing against a team that was your team at one time, it adds to the competitiveness. It’s already at a very high level. It’s a big game for both teams. Looking to take care of business.”

 

Do you expect T Anthony Davis and TE Vernon Davis on offense to be in the lineup for you on Sunday?

“It’ll be questionable.”

 

Is TE Vance McDonald – last week he thought he’d be able to play in that game – how’s he doing this week? How’s he running around?

“He’s participating. We’re taking all those guys that you mentioned day-by-day.”

 

You mentioned on Wednesday DT Justin Smith’s performance in the game against the Eagles. Does he look like a different guy this year than he did last year dealing with the shoulder injury last year?

“That’s a good question. He’s someone I watch so much. He’s always playing at such a high level. Your eyes go to him as you’re watching the game. There’s just so much energy and aggressiveness the way he plays the game. It always looks good to me, [Sacramento Bee writer] Matt [Barrows].

 

Are you especially proud of the way the defense has played considering that a lot of people had predicted that they would struggle and now they’re No. 2 in the league, total defense, considering who’s not there and the way the guys have filled in for the absent players, the big names, critical.

“Yes. Very pleased. Speaks volumes for the guys that are playing, the coaches. [defensive coordinator] Vic Fangio, [secondary coach] Ed Donatell, [defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula, [linebackers coach] Jim Leavitt, do a great job. Really proud. Really proud of [assistant secondary coach] Greg Jackson and [defensive assistant] Ejiro Evero. And the way the guys are playing. They’re playing team defense. Eleven guys playing their assignment and that’s good. That bodes well for us. Then we have a big task this week. This is a stellar offense that we’re facing yet again.”

 

Being in the locker room since this locker room opened, it’s tough not to notice that some guys are here, some guys are still over in the other locker room. Is there any concern on your part about just what that does to the dynamic of the team to have players split up in two different locker rooms?

“Well, the players don’t all go sit at their locker at the same time. They’re in the weight room. They’re in the cafeteria. They’re in the film room. They’re in the training room. Very rare that everybody just takes off their helmet, puts it in their locker and sits down on their stool. Those guys are very busy all day long, including the lunch time.”

 

It looks like you guys will get a big look at, a long look at Chiefs WR A.J. Jenkins on Sunday. What kind of problems does he present? Has he changed himself in the year and a half that he’s left the 49ers?

“I believe he has. I believe he’s continued to grow as a player. He’s also on the field goal extra point block coming off the edge and he’s gotten close a few times. We’re aware of him and need to be.”

 

I think 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said on draft day he was somebody that needed to get into the weight room and add some strength and get a little bit bigger. Can you see that? Can you see a guy who’s stronger on the field when you look at the tape of him?

“I can’t tell that.”

 

Would you agree with that though, that that was one of his issues when he was here, just wasn’t physically as strong as he could have been?

“That’s the case for a lot of the first-year guys that get drafted. He’s progressing.”

 

What makes Chiefs LB Justin Houston so effective and difficult to block?

“He’s speed. He’s power. Got a good savviness for the game. Very effective rusher rushing the quarterback. He gets sacks. He’s got the presence and the athletic ability to get the quarterback down on the ground. [LB] Tamba Hali, another good example of that.”

 

When you have such a strong pass rush that you’re going to face, is that when you count on QB Colin Kaepernick to use his legs and his mobility and all the things that we talk about all the time to especially shine through?

“You count on everybody. It’s really team offense, the pass protection, the backs and the pickup, the route runners, Colin. It’s a group effort.”

 

Is there anything new regarding the team’s position on DT Ray McDonald?

“Not that I know of, no.”

 

What’s your relationship with NFL Network Analyst Deion Sanders? Do you have any bad blood with him?

“No.”

 

Or any rivalry?

“No.”

 

Hali and Houston, is this the biggest test the offensive line is going to face as far as from a pass-rush perspective?

“Yeah, it’s hard to imagine one bigger. It’s a big test, no question about it.”

 

The metrics suggest your offensive line pass protection hasn’t been stellar. How would you rate it four games into the season?

“It’s been very good at times. I think we’re real close to playing our best football. That’s what we’re striving for.”

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    1. And keep Houston and Kali out of the back field as much as possible.

      I was reading some stats, Alex Smith has been sacked 13 times this year. There may be some hope of our improving pass rush?

      1. The way they do that is by reminding them of the inconvenient truth inside, keeping Houston/Hali honest. Get Husain/Parker leaning downhill with play action and hit the 49ers receivers for a big play down field….

  1. I agree. I won’t blame all penalties on the refs, just the timely ones that cost us. But they clean up the Boldin type penalties are were golden. Holding down the fort till week 10. This team could an should be 3-1 4-0. They didn’t get beat on the field by superior players and teams. They beat themselves and couldn’t beat the refs at times.

  2. This game will be about exploiting Alex Smith without a run game. The 49ers have to stop the run and force Smith into 3rd and long. Don’t let Charles get too shifty.
    Aaron Lynch needs to have a big game and get pressure along with Brooks. He never liked Alex and said it publicly.
    CK my whipping boy, don’t fumble, don’t throw picks, give to Gore, capisce?
    NINERS roll
    SF 26
    KC 7

    1. Niners are the better team. Chiefs are coming off a short week. Charles and Davis cannot get going. If they control the line of scrimmage, then that’s trouble. They need to dare Alex to beat them over the top. Make him throw it to AJ Jenkins. There will be a lot of screens and my concern is that Reid is missing a lot of tackles lately. It’s going to be a patient game, slow and methodical.

      On offense, CK can’t play like the dumb ass. No delay of game of mental brain farts. Just hand it off to Gore, don’t turn the ball over. If they fall behind, God help us. He’s going to press. The Chiefs from 2013 were an opportunistic defense.
      O-Line better hold up, or Lame Area is going to be mighty mad!
      It will be a closer game but Niners should win 23-17.

  3. Ya kno .. with all this rose -colored nostalgia about
    Alex, as of late .. I hafta point out … that I’ll feel a little
    bad for him .. come Sunday ..

    I mean… think about it ..

    Every time Alex gets under center .. and looks up ..
    he’ll be lookin’ at the Cowboy, P-Willy, Brooks .. Lynch …and
    the secondary …

    I dunno about you … but if I had to stare into the eyes of
    those guys, I wouldn’t feel secure with two
    pair of Depends !

    Heck .. seein’ Justin Smith about ready to take my head off …
    would be enough to get my knees a knockin’ …

    No … I won’t envy Alex Smith this Sunday !

  4. As nice as last weeks Defensive performance was I think it needs to be tempered a little bit. Keep in mind the Eagles were playing 3 starting offensive linemen and for part of the game without 4 of their 5 starting offensive linemen. If anything will kill an offense faster Im not sure what it is as it will destroy both the running and passing game.
    This game will be a chance to see how good the defense really is and how good of player we have in Lynch. Im crossing my fingers as I really hope the defense is as good as what they showed last week.

    Unfortunately I think our D will have to carry the day as I cant see our offense looking that great against this fierce pass rush and with our offensive line. Heres hoping they start to gel and play better together.

    1. Remember one of the few teams worse at protecting the QB than our o-line is the team lining up across from us. They’ve surrendered 13 sacks so far. Could be a sack fest on both sides.

      1. wilsonm73
        I didn’t know that, but with Alex Smith at qb it doesn’t really surprise me. He was fairly notorious for holding on to the ball unless someone was clearly wide open.

  5. I’d feel alot better if Ian Williams can play. TJE, Dial and Dobbs are stout interior players but not the fireplug shaped NTs Williams and Dorsey are.

    Missed Monday’s Chiefs game, so here is what I think the 49ers need to do based on what I’ve seen Alex do over the years.
    – Stop the run (of course)
    – Pressure the right B (Chilo) gap, force Alex to move to his right. Roll coverages right so Alex has to throw it away or run out of bounds.
    – “Captain Checkdown” is much more dangerous with a good receiving running back. The backs will get completions. The 49ers need to tackle well and eliminate rack.

    On offense…
    – KC has good pass rushers. The 49ers need to minimize negative yardage plays.
    – Mr. Stale (Boone) and Mr. Staley better freshen up. Staley is rumored to improve as season’s progress. Boone is staler then a mummies sack lunch.
    I used to dampen old baguettes, then re-bake for 5 minutes to crisp them up. Failing that, they become croutons. As for Boone, keep playing him.

    Summary: Both teams are ball control plodders on offense. The team with the fewest negative yardage plays wins.

  6. Before we all get too excited about a pass rush, you might do well to remember that the Chiefs may be the best and most dangerous at running screen passes, Alex has perfected his timing, Charles can BURN YOU, and Davis is good enough to be a starter on many teams.

    1. Do you think he’s better than Forte or McCoy? He’s good and no doubt a threat. The guys will have to be on their game with him.

        1. Statistically Niles is better than Forte right now but Charles is not because of his early injury. And KC is 18th in the NFL in rushing. I feel like maybe we are spotting them a bit too much credit. Demarco Murray continues to be the real deal for the season.

          1. I’m not going just by statistics Wilson. He seems faster and shiftier than Forte and McCoy while (as you mentioned) being a double threat, more so than the two aforementioned because of his ability to line up as a WR, making him dangerous in the back field or on the line.

  7. If the 49ers I’ve been watching are “real close to playing our best football”, we’re gonna be in trouble. They haven’t looked “close” to me.

    1. Harbaugh is good at spinning. They have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball and their special teams has been pretty bad. That’s probably the biggest drop off for the team since 2011.

      1. That’s probably the biggest drop off for the team since 2011.

        You’re stretching the truth here Fan. It’s true that the team has been inconsistent on both sides of the ball, but that’s due mainly to the OL needing to gel and the secondary being a work in progress. In spite of that, we have the second best defense and Kaep has had a better passer rating. And most importantly, we have a 2-2 record. It’s not sexy, but at least it beats the heck out of what the Patriots and Saints have been doing.

  8. Ok, Im not too pleased with the injury report, especially on Defense. Ian is important to stopping the run and TJE is nicked up too. But wow, Bethea ‘Probable’ and Reid ‘questionable’ gives me heartburn.

  9. Was just watching the coaches 22 film. Man Ellington was a shoestring tackle away from taking it to the house.
    The coaches really should play action and take a deep shot to him right from the get go. Give KC’s defense something to think about….

    1. If he can’t make it with Brady, will he make it here? He needs to go the Raiders who have very little WR talent.

  10. Pretty excited about going to the game tomorrow. It’ll be my first time in the new stadium and a chance to cheer/boo Alex smith. Stoked!!

    1. Big,
      Why in the world would you boo Alex Smith? Would you have booed Cutler or Romo? Remember, Alex didn’t run out on us, he was chased out of town. All he did while he was with the Niners was the very best he could do (whether you think that was good or not), and act like pure class on and off the field. He’s been pretty damned classy since he left, too, when talking about his time with the Niners. I’d say “polite applause” would be the appropriate response…then cheer like hell for the Niners!

      Enjoy the game! I’m hoping for a report from you on the garlic fries!

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