SANTA CLARA – Here’s the transcript of today’s Q&A with Donte Whitner from the Niners locker room.
Q: Was your coach a hot topic amongst your friends and family when you went home this weekend?
WHITNER: Yeah, it’s still a hot topic, especially when they show it (the handshake) so many times on ESPN and all these places.
Q: Where were you last week?
WHITNER: I was in Cleveland and I went to Miami for a little. While I was in Cleveland some people asked me what happened, a lot of people. It’s different when you’re on the field than when you’re watching it on TV. You think you know everything but I actually didn’t see it until I watched TV also. After hearing about it and talking to different people about it you figure out what goes on. I don’t really see it as a big deal, but everybody else sees it as a big deal who’s on TV, so my entire family and everybody wants to know. I probably had to answer that question maybe 20 times. So then I just get to the point where I tell them it was a misunderstanding.
GC: What did you tell them the first time?
WHITNER: The first time I said, “One coach loses and one coach wins, and somebody gets upset.” And then after I while I just said it was a misunderstanding.
GC: So they were more interested in learning more about the incident and not more about Harbaugh’s personality?
WHITNER: Yeah, more of the incident. If he continues to win you’ll see more and more of his personality, trust me.
GC: Was he out of character at the moment of the handshake, or was he very in character?
WHITNER: He was very in character. People will start to see. He’s a comedian sometimes, and sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get, you don’t know what you’re going to hear. We like it that way. You don’t want just the regular mold of a National Football League coach or any coach in that sense. You want somebody who’s got a personality, somebody’s who’s going to be a straight shooter, and somebody who knows how to motivate guys who naturally motivate themselves.
GC: So you’ve never had a coach quite like Jim Harbaugh in the NFL?
WHITNER: No, I haven’t. I had Chan Gailey who was an older guy and I had Dick Jauron who was an older guy, and neither one of those guy say much at all.
GC: So Harbaugh seems younger?
WHITNER: Younger, a lot more vibrant, a lot more into it emotionally. Those guys had been around for a long time so they were a little bit tuned out.
Q: Ricky Jean Francois was saying it’s like he’s still a player.
WHITNER: Yeah. It is like he’s still a player. He played over 10 years in the National Football League, so some of the feelings we get before a game he can put them into words and describe them. It’s kind of weird but it’s kind of cool at the same time because you’re being coached by someone who actually played in the league and knows what you’re going through.
Q: How many Browns fans in your family?
WHITNER: Everybody, but they’d rather me win over rooting for the Browns.
Q: So there’s no debating this week amongst your family?
WHITNER: There’s some debating. There’s a few people but not much. The majority wants me to win.
Q: Who doesn’t want you to win?
WHITNER: A couple uncles. I have an uncle named Greg. He’s pretty much the only one.
Q: What did he say?
WHITNER: He said he wants me to play well but he wants Cleveland to beat us.
Q: Did you see him?
WHITNER: I didn’t see him. he called me on the phone and sent me a couple text messages.
Q: He even said it a few times?
WHITNER: He says it all the time. He knew this game was coming up.
Q: Do you hope Braylon Edwards plays this week?
WHITNER: I do. I hope he does. I think he will. I’m sure he’ll be pretty fired up to play against those guys, and I would be too if I used to play for them.
Q: What did you say to Uncle Greg?
WHITNER: Wait til after Sunday. You’ll see. I’m not bringing him here, either. He can stay in Cleveland and watch it.
Q: You’re flying in some?
WHITNER: I’m flying in some, my mom and my close family members, but he’s not coming.