Harbaugh appreciates, reciprocates support of S.F. Giants

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Harbaugh appreciates, reciprocates support of S.F. Giants

SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh called the support of the San Francisco Giants for his football team "tremendous, tremendous," as he spoke to the media Friday prior to departing on a 10-day road trip.

After it came to light on Wednesday that quarterback Alex Smith nearly received a 15,000 fine last season for wearing a Giants baseball cap following games, Giants manager Bruce Bochy wore a 49ers cap for his Thursday press briefing. On Friday, there were 49ers hats in each Giants player's locker before the game.
The 49ers play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The team will then spend the next five days in Youngstown, Ohio, before making the short flight to New Jersey to face the New York Jets on Sept. 30.Here is the transcript of Harbaugh's meeting with the media (courtesy of the 49ers' public relations department):Is this time away going to be rough on you, the new dad?
Harbaugh: "Yeah, away from the family. But, with our other family here, we're with our 49er family. And a lot of opportunity there. A lot to look forward to. But the main thing is we're focused on this game. The all importance of winning this ball game. That's it. That's what these young guys are saddled with, to do. And they accept that challenge and that burden. And prepare for it and do whatever they can to put themselves in a position to be successful."The availability of WR Ted Ginn Jr. and RB Brandon Jacobs?
Harbaugh: "Yeah. They're making the trip. They've been working out with the team. And they'll be listed today as questionable for the game."With Ted, will we see him fielding balls before the game and make that decision then?
Harbaugh: "Possibly."Are you satisfied with your coverage units on special teams?
Harbaugh: "Satisfied is one of those words. That's one of those words, satisfied. Never satisfied with anything in football. That's one of those words in football that's always confused me. Given me great confusion. Doesn't resonate. Satisfied is not a word that I associate with football or coverage units."Last year you kept a couple guys on the roster solely for special teams, LB Blake Costanzo and S Colin Jones in particular. Does it hurt those units not having guys who are just solely focused in on that aspect of the game?
Harbaugh: "We've got the right guys out there. We really believe that. We know we've got the right coach, the right blend there. And it's not like any other part of our game, and part of our football. We're striving for excellence, that's what we're doing. Or striving for perfection really and you hope to catch excellence along the way."LB Eric Bakhtiari was part of those units in the preseason, could he just kind of step in and be part of the coverage units these next few weeks?
Harbaugh: "Yeah, it's definitely a possibility for us. There's a possibility of that in this game, stepping in." QB Alex Smith and offensive coordinator Greg Roman talked about how there are worse things than taking a sack. A sack is not the end of the world, it might kill a drive, but mostly, when you're losing a game it's turnovers. I assume that's your philosophy too. Taking a sack is OK?
Harbaugh: "I hate being one of the masters of the obvious, kind of guys, stating something obvious. But that is. Are there worse things than taking a sack? Absolutely." Is that something you talk to him about? When in doubt, tuck it, take a sack, run it, throw the ball.
Harbaugh: "Yeah, times when they become their own check-downs. We've talked about that many times, where they use their legs and they become the check-down. Try to move the chains. If we can get that done efficiently, I think that's beneficial for our ball club."Do you teach a guy how to take a sack, to prevent injury? I mean, is that even possible in football? He kind of knows the sack is coming, do you teach them how to take a sack?
Harbaugh: "No. That's something that we've never coached."From the tape that you've seen of the Vikings, what have you seen what have you implied from their defense?
Harbaugh: "Good defense, good defense. They are an attacking, aggressive defense. They are a blitzing defense, a multiple-coverage defense. Very aggressive up front. It's a defense that's trying to get you into bad plays, bad situations and they've got the talent and scheme to be able do that."What was your reaction to the San Francisco Giants, their outpour of support, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy wearing the Niners hat Thursday?
Harbaugh: "That was tremendous, tremendous. Bruce Bochy wearing the Niners cap because, we follow them. I personally follow the Giants and I know that myself, including a lot of the guys on the team here have gotten a lot of inspiration following the club this year. The come-from-behind wins, the close games. They're a team that just never gives up. They're always fighting and they're coming back. It's a never-say-die type of team. I just love watching them and mostly going to the park. Since we started football, I've been only catching them on the radio. But, late at night I'll be driving home, just about every night it seems like, they'll re-broadcast the game and I'll catch it there. So I just loved it, Dave Fleming and all those guys doing the call of the game. Just exciting, winning with numbing repetition. It's been a real inspiration for me personally. I just want to salute them. Just a congratulations. I know they'll probably clinch the pennant here before we come back. But we'll be following them. It's been a great season."Can you recall a more unique walkthrough that you've had than behind the Holiday Inn in Youngstown?
Harbaugh: "Probably as unique as some we've had. We've done a lot of parking lots, at Stanford, and USD, even here with the 49ers. A lot of times you'll be at a hotel and you try to get out there to the parking lot, if say a ballroom is not available that's big enough to have a walkthrough. The USD parking garage was outstanding because you had shade, plus nobody could see what you were doing. That was a great site." Do you feel a little exposed in Youngstown?
Harbaugh: "We're always on our toes. We'll have men on the perimeter. Manning the perimeter (laughing)."

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.

But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.

Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?

Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.

“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”

And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”

In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

Before starting six games as a rookie, Rashard Robinson had not played football since the 2014 season at LSU.

Yet, Robinson is the closest thing to a sure bet to win a starting job among 49ers cornerbacks.

Tramaine Brock was projected as the starting cornerback on the other side until his arrest on suspicion of a troubling domestic incident prompted the 49ers to release him more than three months ago.

The 49ers open training camp next week, and here are the top competitions for starting jobs on defense:

LEFT CORNERBACK
Keith Reaser has yet to make an NFL start while appearing in 28 games the past two seasons. The 49ers rotated cornerbacks with the first-team defense during the offseason program, and Reaser put himself in position to enter camp as the slight favorite to replace Brock.

Veterans Dontae Johnson and Will Davis will try to work their way into the picture. And the 49ers are hopeful talented rookie Ahkello Witherspoon will develop a willingness to play with more physicality. The 49ers selected Witherspoon in the third round. He has the size and all the tools to win the starting job, but there were times in college he showed an alarming lack of aggression as a tackler.

NICKELBACK
K'Waun Williams is healthy after missing last season due to an ankle injury and falling out of favor with the Cleveland Browns. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, one of the few holdovers from Chip Kelly’s staff, thinks highly of Williams after coaching him with the Browns. Hafley said he believes Williams can become one of the top covermen in the slot in the entire league.

Williams lined up with the first-team defense throughout the offseason program. His biggest competition could come from Will Redmond, whom the 49ers selected in the third round of the 2016 draft but did not play as a rookie due to a knee injury. Redmond has some rust to knock off, but he did not appear to show signs of the injury during the offseason program.

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END
Arik Armstead is not the prototypical player at the “Leo” position. At 6 foot 7, Armstead does not have the low center of gravity that is typically associated with that position. But Armstead is certainly not lacking for athleticism.

The 49ers need a more consistent pass rush to assist their unproven cornerbacks, and this spot will be counted upon to provide more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Veteran Elvis Dumervil, who believes he has regained his explosion off the edge after being hampered with Achilles injury, was added last month to do what he does best. Dumervil, 33, enters the season with 99 career sacks.

Aaron Lynch is on notice as he enters his fourth NFL season. He moves from outside linebacker to defensive end in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme. Multiple competitions will be ongoing at this position, as the 49ers will look to determine the best fits for base downs, as well as passing situations.

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
The signing of free-agent Malcolm Smith raised a few eyebrows. It was just the offseason program, but Smith was as impressive as any player on the team during the non-padded practices. He is clearly comfortable in Robert Saleh’s scheme, which is based on the Seattle Seahawks’ defense.

The 49ers had Reuben Foster rated as their No. 3 prospect in the entire draft. They traded with the Seahawks to move up to select him at No. 31 overall. The 49ers seem thoroughly unconcerned with Foster’s shoulder. The club believes he will be medically cleared for the opening of training camp.

The 49ers might want to bring Foster along slowly, but it is clear they do not expect him to be a backup for very long.