Grab bag: Harbaugh, Walsh, QBs and ‘athletic instincts’

Happy NFL Combine Week. The Inside 49ers blog will take off Wednesday for Indianapolis, the land of the three-pointer and the three-cone drill. Coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke will address the media Thursday, according to a team spokesman.

A few links (and other stuff) to start the week:

• In researching the relationship between Harbaugh and Bill Walsh for this story about those missing Walsh tapes, I came across this excellent feature written by Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News in December.

This line from the story sheds some light on how much Walsh might influence Harbaugh’s thinking: Writes Inman, “Walsh’s words still echo in Harbaugh’s ears, such as: “The most important thing about a quarterback is his athletic instincts.”

Those words must echo in Harbaugh’s ears because they are always among the first words out of his mouth when he’s asked about the qualities he looks for in a quarterback:

A sampling:

* On Jan. 7, during his introductory press conference: “Athletic instincts, accuracy, timing, decision making …”

* During last week’s fan forum: “First of all a competitive guy — a winner. Somebody that has great athletic instincts …”

* To Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News last week: “First of all, a competitor. Look for a guy who has athletic instincts …”

• Here’s a story providing a timeline of Jim Harbaugh-likes-Alex-Smith comments.

The wooing kicked off on Jan. 28 when Harbaugh told a Sacramento radio station “I believe that Alex Smith can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League.”

During the interview, he was asked about what qualities he saw in Smith.

“Very accurate passer,” he said. “Very athletic. And a guy that has played and been durable.”

I’m guessing the anti-Alex segment of the audience will note “athletic instincts” didn’t make the list.

• Steve Wyche of has a pre-combine story on the relationship between Harbaugh and Baalke in regards to the draft. Wyche suggests Harbaugh, less than two months removed from coaching Stanford in the Orange Bowl, could have a better grasp on the 329 prospects in Indianapolis than any other NFL coach:

“Coming from Stanford, where he led the Cardinal to a 12-1 record and Orange Bowl victory last season, Harbaugh coached and coached against a sizeable portion of the draft hopefuls. He also recruited a lot of them, the most beneficial part of his pre-NFL process, since he went into a lot of their homes and met their families and gathered a ton of background information. In as much, he doesn’t have to solely rely on team scouts to bring him up to speed on some players.”

• Harbaugh — and the coaches he brought from Stanford – either coached or coached against 13 percent (44 of 329) of the prospects who will be at the NFL Combine during this past season.

Here’s a look at those players, by position:

Quarterbacks: Jake Locker, Washington; Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech

Running backs: Armando Allen, Notre Dame; Allen Bradford, USC; Darren Evans, Virginia Tech; Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State; Shane Vereen, Cal; Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

Fullbacks: Stanley Havili, USC; Owen Marecic, Stanford

Wide receivers: Ronald Johnson, USC; Jeff Maehl, Oregon; Ryan Whalen, Stanford; Marshall Williams, Wake Forest

Tight ends/H-backs: Jordan Cameron, USC; Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame

Offensive tackles: Adam Grant, Arizona; Tyron Smith, USC

Centers: Alex Linnenkohl, Oregon State; Kris O’Dowd, USC; Zack Williams, Washington State

Defensive ends: Ricky Elmore, Arizona; Cameron Jordan, Cal; Brooks Reed, Arizona; D’Aundre Reed, Arizona

Defensive tackle/nose tackles: Brandon Bair, Oregon; Jurrell Casey, USC; Sione Fua, Stanford; John Graves, Virginia Tech; Lawrence Guy, Arizona State; Stephen Paea, Oregon State; Ian Williams, Notre Dame

Outside linebackers: Akeem Ayers, UCLA; Mason Foster, Washington;

Inside linebackers: Casey Matthews, Oregon; Mike Mohamed, Cal

Cornerbacks: Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech; Richard Sherman, Stanford; Shareece Wright, USC

Free safeties: Chris Conte, Cal; Rahim Moore, UCLA

Strong safeties: Nate Williams, Washington

Kickers: Kai Forbath, UCLA

Punters: Reid Forrest, Washington State

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