SANTA CLARA – Wednesday in the media tent, Jim Harbaugh answered questions about the Buffalo Bills, Colin Kaepernick, Alex Boone, the rookies, Randy Moss and more. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers.
The Bills obviously had a pretty rugged second half last week against the Patriots. What do you see from them? Obviously, they have challenging players on that side of the ball. What did you see from them last week?
“Well, a dangerous team. Statistically a very good football team. Explosive team on both sides of the ball. This will be the best defensive line that we’ve played so far this year. And solid defense, again, very aggressive. Can make things happen. Offensively, you see it from the running game. You see the explosion from the passing game. Ability to put up points, and generate those big numbers. Some turnovers have gotten in their way, but if those were eliminated they would be one of the most effective, explosive teams in the National Football League.”
You said they’re dangerous. They came off a pretty embarrassing loss. They’re coming off a pretty embarrassing loss. Are teams more dangerous when they’re coming off losses like that? They want to prove that they’re better than that?
Would you rather play a team that’s coming off a win or a loss?
“Don’t really analyze it that way. That’s a good question though.”
“[Laughs] I was kind of hoping maybe you had an answer there.”
Growing up in a coaching family, were you sort of taught always to be weary of the opponent? Did you ever go to a game as a player, whether in high school or in college, where you know, we got this game? Or because you were always around football, all these coaches are saying, ‘hey that team is dangerous.’ Is that something you just grew up with?
“Yeah, I suppose I grew up with it. I can’t remember ever thinking a different way, or learned it along the way. But, it’s a fact.”
You’ve never gone out and said like, the coach last week but he did a couple years ago, we’re going to the Super Bowl and either we’re overly optimistic or arrogant to a point. You’ve never gone out that way, have you?
“No, I don’t remember ever saying that.”
What makes this defensive line of the Bills unique, maybe that you didn’t face against the Lions or the Vikings?
“Well, just look at the players they have. You’ll see the equivalent of [49ers DT] Justin Smith on their side [DT Kyle Williams]. Extremely athletic on the edges. And inside tackle that is maybe the most powerful, athletic tackle in the game. And he doesn’t come out ever. He’s in there on the pass rush downs as well. Big, 330 [-lb.] plus guy that can move. It’s impressive when you watch the film, the end zone shot of him lined up in there. He’s a big powerful man that can run. Just their skill and talent and the way they work, it’s very impressive.”
Bills head coach Chan Gailey said that your offensive line is the best that they’ve faced. How much is that the continuity from being in the second year in the same system, pretty much four of the five guys are back at the same spot. How much has that helped that offensive line get better this season?
“Well, a lot. I don’t know how much, but quite a bit. Cohesive group, enjoys each others’ company. Respects each others’ ability and each others’ work ethic. Experience of playing amongst each other, are all key factors.”
There was a lot of talk in the summer about G/T Alex Boone’s size. Is he too big to play guard? But does his size open up things for you to be able to do because he’s so big as a guard?
“Well, those questions haven’t really been coming up. I think he’s proven that he’s a fine, talented football player, no matter how tall he is. Question is answered there, I’d say.”
Well, I guess my question is, is there an advantage to it? That we didn’t ask the question that way.
“Yeah, could be. He’s tall, but he’s got great ability to bend and yeah, uncork, arm length. A lot of good positives there as well.”
Are you running right a little bit more than you were doing last year?
“I don’t know that.”
When you looked on film, what did you see from QB Colin Kaepernick that maybe you didn’t see during the game as it was unfolding?
“Well, he looked extremely explosive. And he seemed that way in the game, the poise and the speed. But I thought he was just very efficient in his mechanics and everything that he did out there wasn’t affected by being on a big stage.”
Are you OK with his throw to WR Randy Moss?
“Yeah, I was.”
Even with the coverage?
“Sure, yeah. I thought it was a good throw. And it ended up being about a 58-yard throw into, it wasn’t a wind storm, but we were going into the wind at that point. And his ball powered through it. It gave Randy a chance. It was the right read, too. Of the two options he had, thought that was the good decision to make that throw.”
He lost his shoe on the 17-yard run. Was it the plan to keep him in on that play, that play after the 17-yard run?
“No, no that wasn’t the plan. [QB] Alex [Smith] was going back in on that play.”
At least I haven’t heard you publicly talk about Freddie Soft and the stuff that you brought up last year about this time. Is it because your team maybe, you’re comfortable with your team’s mindset, you don’t have to bring it up? Or have you brought it up to them this year, too?
“Yeah, I can’t remember when it was, but there was a point, there was a day, one day we can remember that there was a sighting.”
Oh really? A Sunday?
“No. I think it was a Wednesday, three, four weeks back.”
Looking back on it, do you think the Minnesota game at all, that was a part of the Minnesota game at all?
“No. No, I don’t think it was. Looking back, we had good preparation. Thought we played hard. Thought we gave very good effort. And we just didn’t win that game.”
What day was it then?
“Three or four weeks back.”
“Yeah, it was a Wednesday somewhere.”
When he shows up, do you have to say anything, or do people know he’s here and the veterans take over?
“(Laughing) It was a combination. And a couple other people noticed him first, yeah.”
Just on the practice field? Or is it in the meeting rooms? Or what is it?
“It was just noticed pre-practice, before we got out there, that he might be lurking.”
RB Brandon Jacobs says he’s healthy. He’s healthy and ready to go. Is it just a slam dunk that whenever he’s ready, he suits up on Sunday?
“We’ll see. We’ll assess it during the week.”
My question is because he doesn’t play special teams. You have some guys, you know, you’re one and two guys RB Frank Gore and RB Kendall Hunter’s playing so well. You already have RB Anthony Dixon who plays special teams and does a lot of things. Do you have to wiggle some things around to get him on that 46?
“There are certain numbers you have to have at each position, and as you point out, special teams etc. It’s an option. We’re a pretty fully healthy team right now. And Brandon is saying that he’s healthy and ready to go. And we’ll make a decision as we go through the week and really see what our best options are. But, they’re good options and we’ll see what fits best for us this week.”
Randy Moss has played about 20 to 26, 27 snaps a game these four weeks. Do you see him a time where he’s going to play 40, 45, 50? Or does this feel like right now that 20, 25 snaps for him?
“I don’t rule anything out. You don’t know what circumstances you’re going to be in. But, I don’t think there’s any doubt that he could do it. But yeah, it’s a good mix right now.”
Is there a little bit of saving his legs in this? A little bit of that?
“Not really. Not really. We have a lot of combinations. We have a lot of things that we could use right now. And it’s more that than anything else.”
Does he practice pretty much 100 percent of the time?
Yeah, yeah. He hasn’t missed a practice since he’s been here.”
The drills and the teamwork, everything?
With the rookies coming in obviously it’s a competitive roster here and they haven’t played, the draft class. How did they go about these four weeks of not playing and just strictly observing and participating in the practice? Do you sense they’re just transitioning into a learning stage right now?
“Not slowly. Not slowly at all. Getting ready, learning, being there when they’re called upon. I felt that it’s been good. All those young guys, again, I know they want to play, and I think they’re demonstrating that on the field that they want that. Nobody’s hiding. Nobody’s trying not to be seen out there on the practice field. They’re jumping in there and they’re working extremely hard. And that’s good, that’s what you want. Just try to emphasize it, you’d rather be prepared and not be called upon than be called upon and not be prepared.”
Why was TE Garrett Celek activated against the Jets? Why that game against New York?
“He was activated for Minnesota, too.”