Harbaugh: Carolina's front seven best we faced all year
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SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh did not experience a whole lot of defeats during his college coaching career at Stanford, but one of his biggest losses came from linebacker Luke Kuechly.
And it was not on the playing field.
Harbaugh recruited Kuechly, a second-year star on the Carolina Panthers’ defense. Instead, Kuechly opted to attend Boston College.
“(I) sat in the home visit in the living room there in Cincinnati with the Kuechlys and felt confident and sure that Luke would be a Stanford man,” Harbaugh said in November prior to the first 49ers-Panthers game.
“And walked out of the living room that night feeling pretty darn good about it and got the tragic news the following week that he was going to Boston College.”
[REWIND: Panthers, 10, 49ers 9]
So why didn’t Kuechly go to Stanford?
“I was close,” Kuechly said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “I was real close when I went out there. Everything was great, but it felt so far away. They always say, ‘It’s just a plane flight.’ But it’s a long plane flight, and I realized my parents wouldn’t be able to get to that many games. On the East Coast at B.C., they were able to get to a lot of the ACC games in the Carolinas. The distance more than anything was the deal with that.”
How did Harbaugh react to the news that Kuechly would not be joining him at Stanford?
“Stew,” Harbaugh said. “What did we do wrong, what did we do wrong?”
Kuechly and Harbaugh saw each other at the 2012 NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
“He was joking around with me about it, but it was all in good fun,” Kuechly said.
The Panthers ended up selecting Kuechly with the No. 9 overall pick in the draft. He was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season after becoming the first rookie since Patrick Willis in 2007 to lead the league in tackles.
Last week, he was chosen to the Associated Press All-Pro team, along with 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Willis was not chosen to the first or second team.