Harbaugh back in familiar mode and garb at Combine
With his "paw in the ground, scratching, ready to go," Niners coach Jim Harbaugh gives his takes on a spectrum of topics surrounding himself and the 49ers from the podium at the NFL Combine, managing to work both Judge Judy and former president Ronald Reagan into one of his responses to a question, along with Reagan's quote, 'Trust, but we will verify.’
Q: How does it feel to get back into the process of evaluating football players?
Harbaugh: Good. Good, good. Feels like get the paw in the ground, scratching, ready to go.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to your brother a little, or at all about the Super Bowl?
Harbaugh: Yeah, I’ve talked to him. A little bit. Talked a little bit about the game, and some other things.
Q: How do you think that game, or does it affect your relationship at all?
Harbaugh: Don’t think it affects, other than stronger.
Q: Why do you think it’s stronger?
Harbaugh: I don’t know. We’ve just got a strong relationship. And it just always seems to get stronger. Very close.
Q: Do you think it’s fascinating that we’re all fascinated by your relationship with your brother after being on that stage to ask questions?
Harbaugh: I think it’s a fascinating thing, if you use your word. What more can I tell you? Tell me what you want me to put into the, what you want me to tell you.
Q: Did you guys discuss facets of the game?
Harbaugh: Yeah, we discussed some facets of the game, and some other football talk.
Q: Is it easier losing to your brother, or no, or different that you did it together?
Harbaugh: No, no it’s not easier.
Q: Where does the line get drawn on sharing information about strategy and stuff?
Harbaugh: I don’t think we really shared a whole lot of strategy throughout the course of the season. It’s definitely gotten less the longer I’ve been in the league.
Q: You have 14 draft pick this year. Do you see 14 spots on your roster for that many rookies?
Harbaugh: Do I see it? Do I envision it? Is it possible? It’s certainly possible. And we’re here to draft the best football players that we can. And we feel good about having that many picks.
Q: Do you think that’ll make things more active on draft weekend?
Harbaugh: Will it make us more active on draft weekend? I think you certainly assume that it would. You compare to last year, seven picks last year, we’d be more active on the draft this year. I think wouldn’t be going out on a limb by saying we’d be more active this draft. Yeah, I think that’s true.
Q: What did QB Colin Kaepernick do at the combine to really catch your eye?
Harbaugh: Quite a few things. I thought it was things that we’d seen on tape showed up in the workout. His competitive nature, for sure. He threw. He did everything at the combine. Interview was outstanding. So, several things.
Q: Based on Colin’s comeback in New Orleans and Atlanta, what are just some thoughts on his kind of work ethic or what he’ll be able to do going forward?
Harbaugh: Well, I think it’s one of his assets, one of the things that make him who he is. It’s one of the things that’s made him who he is. He has a great attitude. He has a great work ethic. And people that have a great attitude and great work ethic, there’s very few circumstances or situations that can keep you from being good. I think that goes for anybody. Maybe there’s a percentage of really bad luck in there that I’m not factoring in. But, darn near 100 percent when you’ve got a great ethic and a great attitude, things are going to work out really well.
Q: He took one week off before resuming training. Do you want to see guys take longer time off, or is that OK with you to kind of jump back in that quickly?
Harbaugh: That’s OK. I think some are and aren’t needed. But, I don’t know that it’s anything set amount. This is a job playing professional football that’s at least 11-month, or close to 12-month a year job. You don’t want to get out of shape. It’s easier to just stay in shape than it is to get out of shape, and then try to get back in shape.
Q: When you talked about adding a single player, is it more about what others have told you or for you, can you tell by sitting down and looking in that player’s eyes what he has Sundays?
Harbaugh: No, I mean, I think there’s certainly a part of being with somebody for a half-an-hour or 15 minutes or an hour or two that you can know somebody. Some people have that ability to, ‘Boy, I had a 30-minute conversation with them, I walk away feeling like I really, really know that person.’ Others you can’t. And I think you’ve got to validate a meeting with a person or two or three conversations with their track record, their relationships with other people at their school, their teammates, their coaches, their trainers, equipment managers, teachers, professors, their family. People usually leave a track record of success, or failure, or success and failure. So, I think both. Yeah. But a look in the eye, the gleam in the eye test, I think it’s definitely a lot more than that. Or, I don’t possess the ability to just look into the eye and know somebody, or claim to, yeah.
Q: Did you ever have a prospect where you kind of know going in, you know his background, you’ve got that indication from scouts? What was the effect on that when a guy isn’t true according to an interview about the things he’s asked?
Harbaugh: Oh, somebody that’s not truthful. I mean, that’s big to me. I’m a big fan of the Judge Judy show. When you lie in Judy Judy’s courtroom, it’s over. Your credibility is completely lost. You stand no chance of winning that case. So, I learned that from her. And, it’s very powerful, and true because if somebody does lie to you, then how can you ever trust anything that they ever say after that? And then [former President] Ronald Reagan, another person of great wisdom and advice, ‘Trust, but we will verify.’
Q: Do you perceive the pain of that loss quickly washing away? Is there something to be said for holding on to it, knowing what it’s like to get that close and then use it as motivation?
Harbaugh: I think I saw this in the last two, three weeks, a lot of people want you to look at it through a certain lens – the, you got there but it wasn’t as good as you wanted to lens, or if you get to that game, you’ve got to win that game or else, I don’t know what the or else is. And several other lenses, like it was a successful season or it wasn’t or either team could have won it etc., etc., it could go on for a while. But the lens that I choose to use, that we choose to use, is look at yourself, where can you get better? We’re forging ahead with a new day. It’s a new day today, paws in the ground and we’re attacking it with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. See if we can’t make today better than yesterday and be a little bit better tomorrow than we were today. So that’s our attitude with it.
Q: Is Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o not draftable to you because of the trust factor?
Harbaugh: No, I wouldn’t say that.
Q: How much time passed between the game and you and your brother talking and do you remember who reached out to who?
Harbaugh: Who actually dialed the phone? I called him.
Q: You mentioned the 14 draft picks. Can you imagine that many rookies making your roster?
Harbaugh: Yeah, that was asked a little earlier. Can I imagine that? Sure. Anything is possible. But we’ve also got a lot of good players on our team and just as a point of fact, we take all the players we’ve got on our team and love to see them develop and coach them to be the best players that they can be, so that there’s no way that 14 players could come in and make the roster. And then simultaneously, we’re going to go find 14 players that can come in and beat out those 14 of our guys that are currently on the team. That’s working at the same time. It’s that iron sharpening iron effect. So I can imagine it both ways.
Q: In conversations with Alex Smith, what has been the tone of discussion?
Harbaugh: Well, I think that it will be a process. That’s the reality of it. That’s the way it will play out over the next so many weeks and months.
Q: Thoughts on what you’re looking for from WR A.J. Jenkins heading in to next season. You got Colin Kaepernick working out with him. What are you looking to see from him heading into next season?
Harbaugh: Same thing I’m looking for for myself, continual effort and continual improvement.
Q: Before you got to San Francisco, QB Alex Smith wasn’t really going anywhere as far as becoming an effective NFL quarterback. Was it something that you guys did with him? Was it the play book? How did it happen?
Harbaugh: That list of things, ‘A’ I don’t have that in front of me and ‘B’ I think the main thing is that Alex is an excellent football player. Alex is really playing the best football of his career the last two years. We think we got the best quarterback situation in the National Football League, feel strongly about that. Again, that’ll be a process that plays out. Alex Smith continuing to be a 49er or if a trade occurs in the next weeks or months. Those are the two possibilities, most likely possibilities.
Q: Your first draft, how did you go about being objective with Stanford players?
Harbaugh: How did I go about being objective? Really the same way that you’re objective with any player watching the tape. Most all of the evaluation is really done off the production and the tape.
Q: So you’re saying that the release of Alex Smith is unlikely?
Harbaugh: That’s unlikely.