Jim Harbaugh on Ray McDonald: “Facts will determine. And information will determine. And the principles.”

This is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. staff.

Can you tell us what happened with RB LaMichael James?

“We released LaMichael today.”

How did that go down? Did he approach you and request that?

“I have no comment on the procedure. We felt it was in the best interest of our team and made that move and we’ll sign an additional player today.”

A running back?

“Not necessarily.”

You only have two on the roster.

“I understand how many we have on the roster, yes.”

Did he communicate any dissatisfaction with his role? He’s obviously been champing at the bit for more carries, didn’t necessarily get that yesterday. Was that sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak for him?

“You have my answer on that. I’m not going to talk about what led to it or the procedure, etc. Wish LaMichael well, appreciate his contribution and wish him success moving forward in his career.”

Is there any update on CB Chris Culliver?

“No, I don’t have an update on Chris.”

What about DB Jimmie Ward?


How do you feel about your secondary? They obviously absorbed a few hits yesterday injury-wise.

“There are some very good things. I thought both the safeties played extremely well, [S] Eric Reid, [S] Antoine Bethea, pass break-up, six tackles I believe it was. Important tackles. I thought they both did a great job in the secondary communicating and leading. So, was pleased. Also, with corner play, Chris Culliver, the heads-up play, the big play that he made in scooping the fumble and taking it in for the touchdown. [CB] Tramaine [Brock] as well. And then the way [CB] Perrish Cox and [CB] Dontae Johnson played was very good. I think a theme you’ll see with our team, with a lot of our players, they did very well, made some great plays, but could play better and that’s something we’ll be striving for this week. To make improvements and learn. So, it’s a good position to be in to win the game and have things that you know you can get better at.”

Did RB Carlos Hyde earn more snaps for himself as the game went on? Did his early carries basically compel you guys to get him in the game more?

“Was very pleased with Carlos. Thought he had some explosive runs. Hit the hole very well. Was good in his blocking and his pass protection. And also things that he’s going to learn from in this game, two, three things right off the bat. You dip your toe in and you understand that there’s improvements to make. So, he’s in a similar situation. Did some very good things and had some things that he’s going to naturally learn from and practice and work on and be better for it. Thought he did a nice job.”


With all the mixing and matching and new faces on defense, to kind of set the tone with the takeaways and being opportunistic as this team has been during your tenure, what did that mean to you to kind of show that in Week 1?

“It’s great to see. Very opportunistic, I thought our defense was and great veteran savvy play by [LB] Patrick Willis reading the play, understanding what [Cowboys TE Jason] Witten and [Cowboys QB] Tony Romo were trying to accomplish and he made a great football play. Just to be in position to make the interception and then to make the interception I thought was…he’s a great player. You sometimes come to expect that, but he just does it continually with numbing repetition. He’s one of the best to ever play.”

Did anybody who hadn’t performed in a starting role before leap out at you after that defensive performance?

“Hadn’t started before?”


“Antoine Bethea. Who else are you referring to?”

Did anybody who hadn’t performed in a starting role before leap out at you after that defensive performance?

“Hadn’t started before?”

Maybe not necessarily started, but performed a major role throughout the entire game?

“There’s so many. I thought there was a lot of really, really good play and every guy I really think can continue to make improvements as well. That’s something you hope for in Week 1 to Week 2 that you’re going to make an inflection point. The most you can make at any point in your season is going from Week 1 to Week 2. So, there’ll be a high-alertness for us as a team to do that.”


What’d you think of Bethea’s play, particularly his hit on Cowboys WR Dez Bryant?

“The one on the goal line?”

The one over the middle. The interception that Bryant got nailed in the back.

“I thought he played very physical. His tackles were sharp and crisp and he played a real solid, good game and as we spoke of earlier. I think he was impressive.”

As far as DT Ray McDonald goes, will Ray Rice’s contract being terminated, is that going to affect, does that set a precedent with you now and McDonald and how we move forward?

“We’ve been very clear, actually, on what principles are at play here. And, I don’t know how we can be more clear.”

As my follow-up, does Ray Rice being terminated, does that change the environment at all for McDonald?

“We’ve been very clear on how we’re approaching the situation. What’s determining. Facts.. Facts will determine. And information will determine. And the principles.”

Have you seen the Ray Rice video?

“I’ve answered your question.”

How would you assess the offensive line? You had some different guys in there too. I know they played a lot in the preseason, but how did that unit come out of this game?

“Good. Some good things and things to improve on. Things that we can get better at. And you look forward to doing that. That’ll be part of the film study and part of the preparation this week.”

That group has in the past said, “We just need to make some minor tweaks to our technique that will make the difference.” Is that as simple as it is with this group in terms of making those strides this week?

“We’ll look forward to talking to our guys about it and coaching. That’s what we’ve always done. I thought we played good. Think we can play even better. I feel like we can make improvements in that area.”

Defensively, you guys gave up a lot of yards on the ground. Anything you can put your finger on there, why Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray had such a good game?

“He’s a very good back and the Cowboys have an exceptional offensive line. As I said earlier, there’s a theme here. I thought we did some outstanding things and we can work to improve.”

As well as your secondary played, are you comfortable at cornerback if some of those guys can’t come back if the injuries linger into next week? Do you have enough depth there to handle that?

“Comfortable is never a word really I associate to with football. I never understood that word in terms of football. I thought there was some very good play. As I said, Perrish Cox, Dontae Johnson did some outstanding things in critical situations, stopping drives or getting the big interception. So, very excited, very excited and excited to coach up and to make improvements. I think that’s fundamental and good for our football team.”

I’m going to unfortunately use comfortable again, but do you think that WR Bruce Ellington is getting more comfortable in that role as just fielding punts and looking more natural doing that?

“He’s been sharp right from the beginning. I think there are things that he can learn from, always. Especially in your first game. When you play your first game to your second game, there’s uncharted water. It’s a test to find out where your team is. And, to be able to win the game and also have … to make those adjustments and improvements is ideal. That’s where we are in a lot of areas on our football team. But, really pleased with the way our guys played. I’m sure that there was nervousness going into the first game. Guys that are playing their first NFL game or playing for the first time with the 49ers, that’s an adjustment. But, that’s to be embraced as well. That’s something that can bring on … kills complacency number one and number two just a heightened alertness, awareness. So, that’s to be embraced and now we can use that and go forward and make improvements.”

What are your recollections of Colin’s first start against the Bears on the big stage in primetime and what he was able to do taking the reins when Chiefs QB Alex Smith had the concussion a couple of years ago?

“Good memories of that. And even better memories of the way he played yesterday. I think the way Colin played yesterday in the ballgame was fabulous. The two plays early in the game where he stepped up, defender coming at him, stopped in his tracks and basically made a wrist-throw, a 30-40-yard laser to [WR] Anquan Boldin who ran an exceptional route and added good yards after the catch. And then, the very next play, he steps up, kicks out of a would-be tackler, running to the dead right, wrist-throws a BB to [TE] Vernon Davis in the end zone for a touchdown. I mean, in my estimation there’s only two people that could make those two plays, one is Colin Kaepernick and the other has an ‘S’ on his chest.”

How would you characterize the reports that you’re losing your locker room?

“We addressed that yesterday.”


Accurate or possible?

“We addressed that yesterday.”


Can we go back to how far Colin’s come in two short years since that November game. I mean, I know we’ve asked you about it, but just the course that he’s taking?

“The course [laughter]? Reminisce? We’re in the moment, as you know, and Colin does a tremendous job, of competitors that I’ve been around or known, at being in the moment. He’s not a guy that reminisces. But he is a tremendous competitor, works extremely hard and he’s in the moment again now. I mean, he’s already back, working out this morning in the moment getting ready for the Chicago Bears.”


He’s been accused by some observers of not being able to go through his progressions as well as he should. It seemed like on that first scoring drive that’s what he did on at least two of those big plays. Did you see the same thing going through the film today?

“He played extremely well. Just to rehash again, there’s been a lot of talk, been a lot of rhetoric, been a lot of opinion. Some people like you, some don’t. But the way Colin Kaepernick competes, the way he plays, is A-plus.”


You made a past reference to WR Anquan Boldin. He caught a lot of passes, big passes, on third down. I mean, obviously you were talking about his toughness. What do you think makes him so good on third-downs specifically, those kinds of situations?

“He’s a tremendous receiver. He is a great slot receiver. He’s a great outside receiver. He’s great with the ball in his hands after the catch. His preparation is always impeccable. Again, you watch Anquan run a route in practice or games and if you didn’t know him, didn’t know how many years he was in the league, you would think, ‘That’s a young rookie out there, he’s a youngster playing football’. So, he does a tremendous job in that regard. Had been some talk and rhetoric about age of players or shelf lifes – [RB] Frank Gore, must talk about Frank Gore. 10,000 yards in 9 seasons and one game. And again, he goes out yesterday and he was Frank Gore. [DT] Justin Smith, two (sacks). There’s no shelf life for football players. And that’s something I learned at an early age from my mom, ‘never to believe in expiration dates.’ She taught us that very early, ‘Pay no attention to the expiration date on that can or that milk or that bread.’ Now, maybe she was just trying to get things at a lesser cost. Learned that very well. There is no expiration date. Even if the bread had a little mold on it. ‘Brush it off or cut it off and eat the other part, but we’re not throwing it away. We’re nothing throwing away good food or drink.’”


I know you don’t want to go into any details, but does the Ray Rice incident put pressure on you guys to just make a decision now?

“I’ve completely answered that question. It’s already been asked. It’s already been answered.”


Do you expect G/T Alex Boone to start this week?

“That’s something, you know, we just don’t go into that information. Who’s going to start., who’s going to do what, what role they’re going to be in, as we prepare for the Chicago Bears.”


With everything NT Ian Williams has gone through over the last year since his Week 2 injury, where’s he at and did he impress you with how he came back?

“Yes, as always, the player that fights back from injury, that you watch him go through the grueling rehab, the hours that he puts in to get himself back. And he’s stronger than he was. And that’s one of the things that’s always impressed me as a follower of the game of football. Very happy for him and he’s back in that role.”

With the roster at 46 active guys for a game, how important is it to have a guy like CB Perrish Cox, who can fill so many different roles, including now, backup punt returner?

“Very important. Talk about the versatile football player. He does that – corner, nickel, punt returner, special teams. That’s very valuable.”

Question about LaMichael. You talked after the game about having an open-door policy, where players can come in and talk to you about their gripes and what not. Did he ever take advantage of that and kind of tell you exactly where he was?

“Yes, yes. We’ve had conversations. We did talk about it earlier that we wished LaMichael well in his career and hope for a long and healthy career for LaMichael James and appreciate his contributions to the 49ers, and continue to wish him well.”

Do you have an update on CB Tramaine Brock? Sorry.

“No, I don’t have an update on Tramaine.”

This article has 34 Comments

  1. Just finished the season finale of The Leftovers, what a gut wrencher. Awesome show, cant wait for season two.

    1. It left me puzzled Coffee. There really wasn’t any kind of answer as to why the Remnant were the way they were and why they made mannequins of the people that disappeared. The killing off of Wayne especially didn’t make any sense and I’m hoping for an answer to that in Season Two.
      It was definitely explosive, but I felt like the episode where the MC’s father escaped from the asylum was more well done.

      1. Patty pretty much explains the point of the GR in the last episode in the cabin. They exist to remind people of what happened, to make the people that are trying to move on and pretend like it didn’t happen to remember, to always remember. The ‘Loved Ones’ dolls were placed to be exact reminders of what they lost. This is why they raided the homes for the photographs around the 1/2 way point of the season.

        Wayne had prophesied his death on a couple of occasions before this episode. How exactly he ended up in that particular bathroom with the wound that he had is a mystery but I also think it kind of doesn’t matter how he got there. His interaction with Kevin as the point.

        Carrie Coon’s(Nora) reaction to seeing the Loved Ones dolls at the table as well as Kevin reading the bible passage are two of the most well acted scenes I think I can ever recall watching on a television show. Truly powerful moments that you can almost feel in the pit of your stomach as you watch.

        As far as I know the first season pretty much wrapped up the book so the next season will be on it’s own for material. Will be interesting to see if they can keep it as strong as this premiere season has been.

        1. Kevin said it best when he responded that he didn’t understand her. That’s where I am at in regards to the Remnant because it seems like they came to that conclusion on their own in an unrespecting and selfish way, with the end result truly having no point to it.
          I get the prophecy of his Wayne’s death; I just didn’t see a point to it.
          I agree with you on Nora’s scene, although the one where Matt had Kevin read from the Bible was a pretty good gut check in its own way.
          One thing that I hope changes in Season Two is the mayor. She’s a terrible character that drags the story down even in brief appearances. I am hoping they develop her character better, replace the current actress for her character with a more solid one, or just kill her off.

        2. CFC, did you catch the implication that people disappeared when the characters in the show were frustrated with their loved ones? 1st episode with the mother trying to talk on the phone with the baby who wouldn’t stop crying — baby disappears. Nora’s frustration with her family in the flashback episode and they all disappear. Kevin’s wife finds out she is pregnant and seems reluctant to tell Kevin — fetus disappears. Kevin admits to the minister that he had thoughts about not having a family — woman he is having sex with disappears. Maybe that’s why the GR are called the Guilty Remnants because they had those temporary bad thoughts we sometimes get about loved ones, but in this case what they thought caused people to disappear?

          1. I’ve thought about it but I don’t agree with it. There would be a heck of a lot more people gone if it was about granting people’s desires to be rid of the ones they are frustrated with. I also don’t think that Laurie was having the same type of thoughts when she was looking and listening to her fetus as Nora was when her family was wearing her down or when the mother was frustrated by the colic infant. I also don’t think that answers at all why Kevin’s hook up would disappear, he certainly wasn’t frustrated with her at that particular moment.

          2. Meg didn’t lose anyone, her mother died the day before the event but she didn’t lose anyone on that day. Laurie and Patty also didn’t lose anyone directly. I think the GR is more about people that don’t know how to live their lives anymore, they’re totally lost and what the GR does seems to make sense to them in this new reality.

  2. Q:You only have two on the roster.

    A:“I understand how many we have on the roster, yes.”

    This reminds me of the old Mad Magazine jokes called; Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.

  3. They already have McCoy and Sproles… do they need James too? Polk seems to offer more as their 3rd RB as he’s the only one in their group that has some size to him.

    1. If a coach likes a player he’ll at least bring him in and see if he can find a way to make it work. Reminds me of that FB that Harbaugh brought in. It didn’t work so he was cut but coaches tend to make moves for players they personally like.

    2. Chip likes the smaller shifty types more than the bruisers. He inherited Blount when he first started at Oregon, but most of his backs since then were small and quick. I think he’ll be interested, but it will depend on his roster flexibility.

  4. “We’ve been very clear on how we’re approaching the situation. What’s determining. Facts.. Facts will determine. And information will determine. And the principles.”

    This sounds like gobble gobble turkey. Unlike the rest of his typical responses, this one was poorly constructed, garbled, and painful at best. Clearly he is uncomfortable discussing this particular issue – my guess is that he’s not happy with McDonald or the situation.

    1. Probably so, 49erGirl. Harbaugh likely has two conflicting motivations. One, to not tolerate domestic abuse; and, two, to not alienate the player and locker room if the allegations prove to be false.

  5. What doesnt the press get that ray rice knocking his wife out on video in an elevator has nothing to do with ray mcdonald? Is it really that hard to understand that there is no discipline until it is certain there was wrongdoing?

    It is creepy how people are so eager to punish first and then figure out what happened. And the real irony is i am not sure mcdonald starting is that important for the niners- it is likely that tank and dial are both better than the guy- but i am glad that harbaugh and the niners are holding firm against these people.

    1. Yeah. Ray lewis is a rat who told on everyone and was the only one to get any time/punishment.
      I believe the prison hierarchy puts ray rice ahead of ray lewis.

    2. It makes me sick that Lewis has a forum from which to spew such garbage. It’s equally nauseating that most of the media seems to have forgotten what Lewis did, or caused to happen. Too bad he didn’t have the decency go away quietly after being gifted that going away super bowl victory.

    3. What’s sad is…. Murder isn’t that big of a deal compared to hitting women and doing drugs. I guess he’s be better off of he just slaughtered ruined fighting dogs.
      Must be great for Ray Ray to point his murder finger at a women beater. Oi oi oooooiiiii! Smh!

  6. Osgood signed to take spot left by LMJ departure leaving just two RBs on roster. Wow maybe they really are changing to pass oriented offense. Push for more WRs, a pass catching RB and the all passing attack of first quarter plus of Cowboy’s game, do I smell an actual C change and not just smoke blowing in the wind.

  7. Big Suede,
    If the connection, that you discussed previously, between the LMJ departure and the purported locker room kerfuffle turn out to be true then good detective work in putting together the pieces to an interesting story. Clues do seem to fit that story line.

    Or do you have a bug hiding in one of the many trophies in Niner HQ.

    1. Honestly- it is pretty easy to figure out. LMJ is the ONLY niner who has been on record criticizing Harbaugh (He talked crap on twitter a year or so ago) He also has been angling on finding a way out of town. He succeeded.

      1. Some people are just better at figuring out things with less than others. What you might consider as easy to others might actually be impossible. You probably are just very good at recognizing the important pieces to a puzzle. Usually it’s just a few pieces that are the necessary keys to make it all come together.

        1. Correction –“What you might think of as easy to you might actually be near to impossible for others. “

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