Harbaugh: 49ers WR Crabtree 'a good guy'

Harbaugh: 49ers WR Crabtree 'a good guy'

JUNE 15, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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When 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh last spoke in front of a microphone, he was in the San Diego Padres' TV broadcast booth, telling veteran broadcaster Dick Enberg that he expects the labor situation to be resolved in early July.

He also praised quarterback Alex Smith's character, concluding "we can win with that."Harbaugh went on with Murph and Mac this morning on KNBR-680. Obviously, Harbaugh has given a lot of interviews since signing with the 49ers, here are some updates and new material he covered Wednesday on "The Morning Show":
On the labor situation
"I don't know anything more than what you read in the paper and what I read in paper. I choose to be optimistic and prepared. . . . You got to be prepared. And that's what we're doing. We've organized, we're prepared for any scenario that might occur. The old adage, you measure twice and cut once. We've measured about 12 times and haven't cut once. So we're looking forward to that."NEWS: NFL headlines
On what's occupying his time at work
"We really organize and trouble-shoot and comb through all our systems and our schemes. That's been done. The playbook is ready to roll, and it has been since before the draft. After draft, it turned to game-planning, organizing training camp. Every minute of training camp has been organized. And, then, looking at our opponents, not only the preseason ones, but Game 1 (Seahawks), Game 2 (Cowboys), Game 3 (Bengals) and Game 4 (Eagles). So we just keep plugging away at that."RELATED: 49ers 2011 schedule breakdown
On contingency plans based on when lockout ends
"What the organization of practices and installations of our offense, defense and special teams would be if we had a full training camp, if we only three weeks of training camp, if we had 10 days before our opener, etc. Those contingencies have been made. We feel like we'll be ready no matter what the scenario is."On the get-together of offensive players last week known as "Camp Alex"
"What a neat thing that is -- where character guys can really get a leg up on some of the competition. And just thinking about it, too, it's kind of a generation of guys playing football now, they've grown up over-supervised, over-officiated and over-scrutinized, and now these guys are organizing practices and throwing sessions like we had to do when we were kids. . . . It's just been interesting for me to watch and read that our guys are getting together. And that could really bode well for us.WATCH: More video from Camp Alex
"Here's the thing, what's going on at San Jose State. I don't know the particulars. And I really don't want to know the particulars. I think it's a phenomenal thing that the players are organizing it. Obviously, you don't get that many guys out there -- if what I read is correct -- by just one guy. That's a lot of guys making plans, changing their schedules and making the effort to be there. I think it's a sign of character guys that winning is important and being prepared is important. I'm hands-off, let them organize it, and what a phenomenal thing for those youngsters to be able to do without the over-supervision and without people telling them what to do. They have to figure it out. And when it comes to winning, that is a key component, thinking your way through success and figuring out how to win."On Alex Smith's play, not his character, being the issue thus far in his career
"When it comes to performing on the field, that will be determined when we get all our players in here and we practice and start playing games. We'll find out who our best players are. Right now, we don't know who our best players are. We'll figure that out when they get in and start practicing. But I think all of our players, from what I watched on tape and the players we drafted, I'm excited to watch them throw the balls out there and compete. We won't play any games. We won't play any politics about who plays and who starts and all of that. It's who's playing better? Or who's practicing better? Those will be the guys out there in the starting 11. So, just to sum it up, we don't know who our best players are, yet, and we'll find out when we throw the balls out there."On receiver Michael Crabtree
"I've been around him a little bit. And Crab to me is a good guy and a good football player. Just some of the things lately kind of goes back to the analogy I gave a little bit ago, when you're kids and working it out and sometimes you get into some tussles and shirts get ripped and noses get bloodied, but that's part of figuring it out. I know he's a good guy. I know the other guys on our team are good guys. That's another interesting part of watching these guys figure it out. I know personally, when it comes to me, getting into quite few scrapes growing up. Most people I know and are friends with had some run-ins at some point in time. And, usually, you're better friends because of it. But, no, he's got the license and the ability. And from my experience begin around him, I think he's a guy who's about us and about the team being successful."

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.

 

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

Under the 49ers’ new regime, the club has already invested more in the free-agent market than a year ago under then-general manager Trent Baalke.

Just a reminder: The free-agent signing period does not officially open until March 9.

The 49ers on Friday reached a contract agreement with veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is penciled into be a starter in the team’s new 4-3 base scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

"As soon as Earl hit the open market, he became a priority for us to sign,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement released Saturday morning. “A man of high character, he represents everything we want to be as a football team. Earl is a tone-setter who plays the game with a tremendous passion and the effort necessary to win in this league. We believe those qualities are contagious and will help to make our team stronger. We look forward to the impact Earl will have on the field, in the locker room and in our community.”

It was the first significant move under Lynch, who also signed a player with NFL experience earlier in the week.

The 49ers also added cornerback K’Waun Williams to a one-year contract. Williams served as the Cleveland Browns’ nickel back for two seasons. The Browns released him before the start of last season and he was unable to play due to an ankle injury.

Mitchell was available to be signed before the start of the new league year because the Miami Dolphins released him last week in a move to save the team $4 million in cap space.

Mitchell took four free-agent visits and after wrapping up his tour with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, he and the 49ers quickly agreed on a four-year, $16 million contract that includes $5.5 million of money in the first year, according to a source.

Last year, Baalke did little to improve the roster for coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers, who finished 5-11 in Jim Tomsula's one season, dropped to 2-14. Just hours after the season concluded, the 49ers announced the firings of Baalke and Kelly.

The only veteran free-agent addition who stepped on the field for the 49ers last season was offensive lineman Zane Beadles. The 49ers signed Beadles in late-March to a three-year, $9.75 million contract with a $1.75 million signing bonus. Beadles had a good season for the 49ers, starting 12 games at left guard, two games at left tackle and the final two games at center.

The 49ers have already shown more willingness to be aggressive under Lynch’s leadership.

Mitchell, 29, is a seven-year veteran who began his NFL career from 2010 to ’13 with the Houston Texans. He was a rookie in Saleh’s final season as assistant linebackers coach in Houston.

Mitchell joins DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial on the 49ers defensive line. The 49ers view Mitchell as a high-energy player who bring good character to the locker room. The signing of Mitchell could be an indication the 49ers are moving on from Glenn Dorsey, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

With 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, the 49ers do not figure to use Mitchell in passing situations. The club must try to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft. Last season, Buckner and Ahmad Brooks shared the team-lead with six sacks apiece. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch both led the way with 6.5 sacks.