Harbaugh: Crabtree 'chomping at the bit'


Harbaugh: Crabtree 'chomping at the bit'

After another padded practice for the 49ers, head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Friday to discuss the team's progress. Harbaugh also addressed the Michael Crabtree's absence from training camp.

Jim Harbaugh: Hello. G Mike Iupati was excused from practice today, expecting their first child, his wife Ashley and Mike Iupati. Should come sometime today. Real excited about that. Our teams about to get stronger. Wish Mike and Ashley the best and our prayers are with them.

Q: In Iupatis place was G Leonard Davis, getting a little bit of action on both sides? What have you seen from him in his time with the team?

Its been good. Its all been positive. (Davis is) working extremely hard to get up to speed. He is right on track and done that. I think thats a product of being a veteran, being somebody who has been in systems and knows the game. Hes a physical presence. Probably the largest man Ive ever stood toe-to-toe and knee-to-knee with in my entire life is Leonard Davis.

Q: Youre getting a slimmed down version of Leonard Davis, arent you?

Yes we are. Yes we are. Thats what I hear. He looks great.

Q: Was this G Joe Looneys first time with team drills?

It was. He got action in there at guard, and some good. Its good to have him back on the field, good to have him back started. I think well have a lot to work with there.

Q: To the untrained eye, it looked like the defense was really on their game out there and dominated the offense. To the trained eye, did it look that way throughout?

It did. It certainly did, about every which way it could be dominated. It was an outstanding day for our defense. Turnovers, pass rush, communication was great. The way theyre playing together is at a very high level, both units, and the young guys as well, doing a fabulous job.

Q: Is that to be expected this time in training camp? Is it normal for the other training camps youve seen or is the defense even a little better than maybe some of the other defenses that youve seen at this point at training camp?

Id say its a function of today. I wouldnt call it a function of training camp. Its been very competitive out here. Its gone up, down. Theres been days where its been sideways. Its been good, gotten a lot of competitive reps, a lot of situations. Theres no doubt the defense got the best of it today.

Q: It looked like there was a lot more switching, not just Davis for Iupati, but a lot more switching on the offensive line. Was T Alex Boone working through something? Why was he not taking part in as many reps and also C Jonathan Goodwin, it appeared he sat out a lot at practice as well?

Boone got hit in the privates. Hes going to be fine.

Q: And Goodwin?

No, Goodwin worked for a good amount of time and then backed off some of his reps. That was a function of taking the edge off of him toward the latter half of practice.

Q: Randy Moss has been in every practice. It seems every cornerbacks had a different chance to go against him. Do you sense that those cornerbacks have embraced a new challenge in guarding him?

Yeah, like I said, its been very competitive, especially in that area. But, it hasnt been self-centered. Thats what Ive been most pleased about. Its been just good work, sharpening, straightening, using it to get better. I think thats a great asset for our team to have that on both sides of the ball.

Q: What do you mean by self-centered? That youre glad that the cornerbacks arent self-centered about guarding him or about covering him?

The way they work together. The way they work together. Its an angle of approach. Its an attitude to make our football team better. Its competitive but you dont see the chippiness, the grabbing jerseys and the cheap kind of shots. Thats been a real positive for us.

Q: Along those lines, with the replacement officials here, do you have any sense about, or thoughts on, starting the exhibition season and playing a few games with replacement officials and what have you seen from them on the practice field?

They went back to back, two good practices. (I) havent seen the film from todays practice, but sense after yesterdays practice it was very good. They saw everything I was able to see and more. Then today they were right on it. So, I think they had another good day today. But, its very beneficial for us to have the officials out here.

Q: Certainly another large human being who has slimmed down a little is RB Brandon Jacobs. Can you tell any difference? He said hes lost about 15 points since the spring. Can you tell any difference in his body and the way hes moving?

15 from the offseason? No, I havent noticed that in the way hes played. Hes been good since he got here, and very light on his feet for a big man. Since the pads have come on hes even more of a presence out there because hes got great size and instincts and the ability to run the ball between the tackles.

Q: Did you guys use the new helmet communication system today?

Q: How did that go over?

There were no glitches.

Q: What was a typical glitch or a problem you might have had last year or in previous seasons with the analog system that you guys used?

We never got the answer, but we had problems in a couple particular road games where it would shut off right in the middle of a play call. (It) happened multiple times in one particular game. I couldnt tell you what the problem was because I was never given a response to the question.

Q: Today can you tell that its just been a better system? A crisper system, just from the practice field while practicing?

No, I couldnt say that I could say one way or the other on that.

Q: When those plays were getting interrupted, how did they carry out?
We had to switch over to a hand signal system.

Q: WR Michael Crabtree hasnt played in an exhibition game since hes been with the 49ers. Hes missed a week of camp. How much does missing that week set him back?

The thing I feel for Michael, I know hes feeling too, is that he came in in such great shape. (He) looked fantastic and we feel like well get him back soon and we can pick right up. I dont think this is going to be a major bump in the road. I think its going to be a minor one. Hes chomping at the bit to get back out there, and I anticipate that happening soon.

Q: Do you think just because he and QB Alex Smith have had such a body of work during the off-season program that thatll be easier to pick up? That the one week isnt detrimental?

Both of them had fantastic off-seasons. Michael was lean, in shape, tip-top shape, moving extremely well. I dont anticipate any issues when he gets back.

Q: Based on what youve seen in the last couple of days, is there one area in particular youd like to see the offense step it up in?

Well talk about that with the offense. Theyll hear it from me. They dont need to read about it right now. Thats coming off a day where we took a step back. Every day has really been getting better and better and better and better from the beginning of camp. So to look at this practice as a whole, would be a mistake of training camp. Its been outstanding. Another thing weve got to do is handle it, move forward, learn from it, and I think we will. Thats the way this offensive unit has been since we got together. So (I) anticipate that we can handle it and make a positive out of it. And there were some positives. Not to say that there werent any. Theres another old adage, That its never as good as you think it was. Its never as bad as you think it was. I know there will be things that when we turn on the tape well be very pleased with. Well look at it, well address it and well move forward.

Q: Yesterday you talked to the team after practice and kept the twos out there. Was that a schedule thing that you planned to do that?


Q: DT Justin Smith, how great of a test does he present the offense, because it seems like today hes in mid-season form?

Hes a great player. Theres no question about it. Every team in the league would love to have Justin Smith on their team. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio made the comment that this is a great player. This is a strong man who plays with incredible leverage. But he plays like a guy thats fighting to make the roster. Thats a special combination, a rare combination. A great football player. Glad we have him on our team because I know theres 31 other teams that would love to have him.

Q: When you were playing, was the nickel, cornerback role as specialized as it seems to becoming today? It seems like its a real, almost a 12th position now.

It is. I forgot a lot of things from that long ago, but I dont remember it being like the position it is now. Its really, in a lot of ways, a starting position when teams are playing that nickel defense, 40, 50, 60 percent, sometimes even 70 percent of their snaps.

Q: Vic Fangio described it as sort of a quasi-linebacker. It could honestly almost be a linebacker playing it. Is that what you see as well, that theres got to be a lot of linebacker-like abilities from that player?

Yeah, you must be able to tackle because youre playing so close to the line of scrimmage. Hes got to be able to cover in tight spaces, and got to be able to cover slot receivers who are usually really quick, fast and can get open in a tight area of space themselves. Its a unique position and weve got guys that we feel good about playing it and it gives us options.

Q: Do you have a status report on TE Nate Byham?

No, not a status report. Hes got something that hes working through."

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

49ers extend one-year qualifying offers to Purcell, Bradford

The 49ers on Monday extended one-year qualifying offers to nose tackle Mike Purcell and linebacker Carl Bradford as exclusive-rights free agents.

Purcell appeared in 15 games last season. He started the first five games of the season at nose tackle and was a reserve for the remainder of the season. Originally signed in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from Wyoming, Purcell has appeared in 25 games over the past three seasons.

The 49ers claimed Bradford off waivers in December from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in the final two games of the season with the 49ers and was credited with two tackles.

Bradford entered the NFL out of Arizona State as a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2014. After being inactive for every game as a rookie, Bradford was among Green Bay’s final cuts in 2015. He spent the season on the practice squad.

He appeared in four games for the Packers last year. The 49ers claimed him after he was waived in December.

Exclusive rights free agents are player who have fewer than three years of NFL service who have no outside negotiating power if a team extends a qualifying offer.

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.