Jim Harbaugh on the Levi’s Stadium grass: “I just felt like there was too much slipping going on.”

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Friday morning. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. staff.

What’s your understanding of what’s going on with the field right now and will it be ready for Sunday’s game?

“My understanding is yes. What’s going on is a new grass field is being put down and will be ready for Sunday.”

What were your concerns that led you to call off, to shut down practice a couple of days ago?

“I just felt like there was too much slipping going on. And, as it relates to the field, the action’s been taken. We’re refitting, regrouping, retooling and the new field is going in. Once again, it’s our organization, we can count on them to always do things at the highest level and that’s what’s in process now and look forward to playing the game on Sunday.”

Did you have concerns about the field after Sunday’s game or during Sunday’s game?

“I thought it was better on Sunday. I thought it was better on Sunday. There’s really nothing more to say about it.”

Has anyone told you why it wasn’t better and the fact that it was a lot worse on Wednesday?

“No [CSN Bay Area reporter] Matt [Maiocco]. And as far as diving into this and peeling back the onion, what for? We are getting a new field in. It will be in there for Sunday. It will be very good for this week. Our organization will always do things at the highest level.”

But, is there no concern that they couldn’t get it right the first time, they might not be able to get it right the second time? There’s no concern about that?

“We’re regrouping, retooling. What more can I say about it? We can count on our organization to always do things at the highest level. It’s that simple.”

From a coaching perspective, does this impact though how you manage your starters in this game? Are you going to put them out there less time because you’re not sure how the field is going to be?

“No. I’m sure the field is going to be good and playable.”

Is the field going to come up after Sunday’s game?

“That’s what I have been told, yeah. Then it’ll be going to a more permanent solution. But, yeah, they’re making it right. What can I tell you?”

Are you an expert on grass?

“I am not. I am not.”

How do you like talking for the organization about grass?

“I think I’ve done well. I think I’ve handled your questions honestly and accurately and we’re going to make it right. It’ll be right. We have total confidence in that. What more is there to whittle away at here?”

Any changeup in the quarterback order for Sunday’s game that they come into the game?


Offensive coordinator Greg Roman thinks FB Bruce Miller is even playing better this camp than before the injury and instincts and just all his hard work. I guess he was the only one here much of the offseason on certain days.

“Oh, no, no, no, no, there were a lot of guys here.”

Certain days he had the weight room to himself.

“Yeah, he definitely has had a great offseason. I can’t say how much he was here compared to the other guys, but it shows that he’s having an outstanding offseason and has had a really good camp. He’s a football player.”

Is S Antoine Bethea medically cleared to play Sunday?

“I think that’s likely that he would be cleared to play Sunday, but I don’t think we’re going to play him on Sunday.”

Have you gotten any indication that LB Aldon Smith’s decision would come down very soon? I mean, you’re coming up on regular season now. Has the NFL indicated to you guys that there will be a decision imminently on what his suspension may or may not be?

“I have not gotten any indication.”


Are you sure?

“I’m sure I haven’t gotten any indication, yes.”


No, that was another question, I’m sorry. I’ve got a follow up.

“Follow up.”


Is it going to happen before the regular season starts?

“I don’t know.”


Wow. Shouldn’t you?

“I haven’t had any indication, so, I don’t know, [San Jose Mercury News writer] Tim [Kawakami]. My crystal ball, I don’t have it.”


It’s been about three weeks, almost three weeks, since DL Glenn Dorsey had the injury, surgery. Do you guys have a sense now, a better sense of if he’ll be able to return late in the season?

“There’s a good sense from the doctors that he would and that’s going on the operation. When they got in there, they felt like it could not have gone better. There was no frayed, don’t know what the right word would be, but it was good. It was a real good surgery. That was kind of the talk going in. Would he be back in three-and-a-half months, would it be four, would it be longer? All indications that I’ve gotten is that it looks like a three-and-a-half month that he would be out.”


With that being said, would he then be Injured Reserved/Designated for Return?

“Well, there is a very good chance of that. But, there’s still things that could happen before that decision would be made, but would like it to happen, yeah. As an organization, we would like to see that happen.”


You said after last week’s game that the backup quarterback is going to be the guy who doesn’t turn the ball over. Is there a guy who’s ahead right now? Is it even? Is QB Blaine Gabbert looking like he’s on track? Where is that roster battle, for a lack of a better phrase, where is that right now?

“I think Blaine is that guy right now. Just kind of long standing, we’re talking about, there’s no real controversy at any other position other than the starting quarterback the way I look at it. Would be glad to address those if that comes up, but I don’t really talk about the other positions in that way as far as from a controversy standpoint. Does that make sense? Just like we don’t go through every other position and talk about who we plan on starting or who the backup would be.”


Blaine’s numbers, which you might term “low hanging fruit,” don’t look good. Are they reflective of how he’s performed?

“I don’t judge it off of just those. I’ve been pretty clear what I thought we needed to get better as, as a unit – a team-oriented offense that has precision and plays well together, all 11. And that’s what we’ve been striving for. We’ve had a good week, feel like we’ve made progress and hopefully that progress shows up on Sunday.”

Will RB LaMichael James be playing in this game?

“Yes. Yes, I think so as it stands right now, yes.”

Returning punts?

“He’ll be playing.”

QB Colin Kaepernick certainly mentions WR Brandon Lloyd in the first set of his receivers that he mentions. Is Brandon Lloyd, it’s a general term, but is he in that first set or is there possibly a numbers game going on at wide receiver in terms of the roster?

“He’s done a very good job. He’s got a little something he’s working through right now. But, he’s done good. As far as getting into the who’s the number one, who’s the first set, those kind of things have been made quite a bit of sport of in the past for going down that path. So, we’ll just keep working and competing. But, to answer your question, Brandon’s done a very nice job.”


Does that mean he’s not going to play in the game?

“We’ll see.”

Have you seen enough of DT Justin Smith to gauge where he is and does he look different now that he’s not dealing with that shoulder injury he had all of last year?

“Looks good, really does [San Francisco Chronicle writer] Eric [Branch]. He looks good, he looks strong, he looks fast and he looks like he always looks. Biggest, strongest kid probably since he was five or six he’s been that way. He really likes to show how fast he is too and how quick he moves and it’s impressive the man’s that way. I think that’s probably who he’s always been his whole life. He works extremely hard at it. But, look forward to him being back on the field here soon.”

How would you assess how NT Ian Williams is coming along?

“Better than I thought he would in terms of Ian. He’s looked good right from the beginning, right from the first day he was out there. I think our strength staff, our trainers and doctors have done a great job. And Ian himself, has done a fabulous job. So, it looks good right now, the way he’s practicing.”

Better than you thought he would in what way? The way he’s moving or agility or just–?

“Yeah, just in the movement, in the quickness, the burst of separation, driving to the ball. He looks better than before. That’s what I’ve seen so far.”

Would you expect the three defensive linemen, LB Patrick Willis and CB Tramaine Brock would start, would play in Sunday’s game?

“Would I expect the three defensive linemen?”

The defensive linemen who haven’t played in one of these games yet – Justin, [DT] Ray [McDonald], Ian, Patrick Willis, Tramaine. Would you expect those guys to all play on Sunday?

“Yeah, we’ll assess it as it goes tomorrow and on Sunday just how much we want to do that. We’ve got a plan, and as I’ve said before, it’s not always the unit, it’s not always the starters play a set amount. Individuals have different targets that we’re trying to get in terms of play time.”

Will you guys get to walk through on the new sod on Saturday, or tomorrow?

“I’m not planning on it. No, that wasn’t in the plan.”

Okay, I don’t know how that works. So, Sunday’s warm-up will be your first time on the new grass?


Will you go out there earlier than usual or–?

“Yeah, the guys usually do. They usually get out there two-and-a-half, three hours before the game and get their warm-ups in.”


Do you treat a preseason game any differently when you know you’re going to play that opponent in the regular season?

“I’m sure we both do.”

Show a little less than you might?

“I would assume that, yeah.”

When WR Stevie Johnson went down right at the end of that practice, anything serious out of that?

“He seems to be doing good. He actually was coming into it with something and it flared up on him. So he’s good to go today. Said he’s ready to compete.”

This article has 8 Comments

  1. Anytime you lay down sod it takes at the least 5 to 7 days to take root and that’s if you baby it . 300 pound guys tramping thru it for 3 hours seems like it would be impossible to withstand

  2. I don’t know how Jim can stay civil with Tim after those kind of questionings! I wasn’t there but you can almost hear the “tone” on how he was asking those questions by just reading it.

    1. Hey Ricardo,

      Did you read Kawakami’s piece a couple days ago about Harbaugh and baseball? If not, check it out.

  3. Whats up with Tim Kawakami, that guy is always so snarky about Aldon Smith. I don’t like that guy.

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