Some Saturday links, including lots o’ letters from the NFL labor front:
• Jim Harbaugh and his brother, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, aren’t identical twins, but they are offering the same response when asked about their head-to-head matchup next season. The Niners will travel to Baltimore during the 2011 season.
“Like I’ve already told a bunch of guys on the team, we’ve got Pittsburgh; that’s a must-win. We’ve got a bunch of must-wins, but the San Francisco game is going to be a must, must-win,” John Harbaugh said with a laugh in a conference call with season-ticket holders. “There’s no doubt the motivation for that one is going to be there.”
At the NFL Combine, Jim Harbaugh said he and his brother have always been on the same team, at heart, even though they’ve never worked together. He then looked ahead to their 2011 meeting.
“You know, that’s going to change this year,” he said. “At least one week when the 49ers play the Baltimore Ravens. And it will be extremely competitive and a must-win type of game for the San Francisco 49ers.”
• The thought has crossed my mind that plenty of NFL players might not be too broken up about missing minicamps if there is an extended lockout.
Perhaps. But Niners tight end Vernon Davis, among others, has some serious incentive to get back on the field.
According to ESPN, Davis will receive a $200,000 offseason workout bonus if he participates in 90 percent of the Niners’ workouts. Jets offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson has the most to lose. Ferguson has a workout bonus of $750,000.
• Jim Harbaugh was one of six NFL head coaches to attend Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s pro-day workout, notes Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks.
The other five coaches in Columbia, Mo.: John Fox (Broncos), Leslie Frazier (Vikings), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Mike Munchak (Titans) and Rex Ryan (Jets).
Fox and Ryan, who both lead teams without major quarterback issues, are both defensive-minded coaches who also could have been getting a close-up look at Missouri defensive end/outside linebacker Aldon Smith, another slam-dunk, first-round pick.
Banks says two off-the-radar wide-receiver prospects — Lindenwood College’s Jamere Holland and Central Missouri State’s Jamoris Warren – made strong impressions. Holland, who made pit stops at USC and Oregon, ran the 40 in 4.33 seconds. Warren “may have been the star of the day,” said Banks.
Holland sure runs fast for a guy lugging loads of baggage: He has had academic problems dating back to high school, was kicked off Oregon’s team last year after an expletive-filled Facebook rant aimed at coach Chip Kelly and was also dismissed from USC for a “violation of team rules.”
• The (circumstantial) evidence is mounting that two prospects possibly at the top of the Niners’ wish list – LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller – will be sporting another teams’ hat when San Francisco picks at No. 7.
Wes Bunting of the National Football Post says one anonymous NFL scout wouldn’t be surprised if Miller or Peterson became the No. 1 overall pick.
CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang offer his latest Big Board in which he ranks the top 32 prospects, regardless of position. Rang’s No. 1: Peterson. His No. 2: Miller.
Rang’s seventh-ranked prospect is North Carolina DE/OLB Robert Quinn.
• In an interview on the Eagles’ website, Philadelphia coach Andy Reid acknowledged quarterback Kevin Kolb is being shopped around the league and has drawn interest.
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes the Eagles will likely have further discussions during the owners’ meetings Sunday in New Orleans. Kolb might be stuck in Philadelphia, however, if the players don’t win their injunction to lift the lockout on April 6. If the lockout is lifted, trades would be permitted, presumably prior to the first day of the NFL Draft on April 28.
• ESPN’s AFC East blogger Tim Graham offers a defense of ex-Dolphin Ted Ginn. Kind of.
In response to a reader, Graham maintains his stance that NFL washout Pat White, not Ginn, is Miami’s worst draft pick of the last five years. Yes, faint praise.
The Niners acquired Ginn, the ninth pick in the 2007 draft, for a fifth-round pick in last year’s draft.
“Ginn was a weapon defenses needed to account for on a weekly basis. He wasn’t very effective, but opponents certainly had to game plan for him,” Graham wrote. “Ginn generated some highlights for the Dolphins. He led them with 56 catches and 790 yards in 2008. He was a scintillating return man, taking two kickoffs for touchdowns at the Meadowlands in 2009. Plus, the Dolphins were able to get draft compensation out of him.”
By the way, the Dolphins used the fifth-round pick from the 49ers to select Maryland cornerback Nolan Carroll, who gained a small measure of fame when he was tripped by Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi during a game last year.
• The NFL players have responded to commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter from earlier this week.
A quick summary of the response: Dear Roger, We. Disagree. Very. Strongly.
NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash quickly offered his own response to the players’ response to Goodell’s letter.