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Coach's Notebook: Aug. 28

Posted Aug 28, 2012

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media two days before the team's final preseason game.

What’s left for your first-team offense to accomplish before you start game planning for Green Bay?

“Well, several things. I think first and foremost, establishing a rhythm in and out of the huddle, snap count, substitutions, alignment. All those things that relate to getting in a good rhythm offensively.”

Can you do that on the practice field, or do you need those guys to have some reps Thursday night?
“Well, it’s good to have both, good to have both. And rhythm in how we execute, and you want to be sharp. Want to be razor sharp coming out of this game.”

A year ago there were no mini-camps, OTA’s. Compared to where you were last year to this year you seem, in terms of rhythm and pace. Do you see it better than it was a year ago?
“I think we’re better. I think we’re better as a football team than where we were last year at this time.”

Does RB Anthony Dixon have a spot on this team yet or is that yet to be determined?
“He’s done a nice job. We talked about it at some length after the ball game the other night. And I think that him working and not worrying, like we have seen him do. Just seeing the evidence of that and seeing how that pays off. But, he’s doing a heck of a job.”

What kind of a special teamer has he become?
“Core guy. He’s on all the units, all the important units. And every single one of those phases is important. But, especially the punt, especially the kickoff coverage, those two in particular. And he’s evolved. It’s been a very good process for him, in terms of his special teams play.”

You guys were only able to see WR Mario Manningham play in one exhibition game so far. Is that enough for you to know what he can do going into the regular season?
“Well, just circumstances have dictated that. Is that enough? Is that not enough? I always like more. More is more. But, condolences to Mario and his family, and that’s something that is ongoing.”

Will he be here this week at all?
“The funeral’s Thursday. So, I wouldn’t expect that, expect Mario to be here before that.”

What’s that? You wouldn’t expect him?

How has Anthony Dixon though, how have you seen him evolve this training camp as far as running back, not special teams?
“I think we’ve all seen that. It’s been very good. He’s run with authority. He’s run with a purpose. He’s been very good on his assignments. And it’s been a good progression for him. Been a good, solid training camp for Anthony.”

How difficult was it yesterday to make the decision that a 6th round draft pick, OL Jason Slowey, wouldn’t make it to the 75-man roster?
“Well, those decisions are very difficult. It’s not a day that anybody relishes. But, there’s a process for all these young men. If you looked at where it is now. 2,500 people in the world are on a roster. And a few days ago it was more than that. But, that’s in the NFL. That’s in the world. Those are 2,500 guys. And there’ll be another wave that will bring that number down to about 2,000 in the NFL and in the world. So, some have clawed out a lot of equity with where they stand as ranked in the world and ranked on this team. That’s a process thatcertainly shouldn’t be looked at as over to those young men. There will be more opportunity for many of them.”

Is this a difficult week for you because of that? Like, having to see players go and letting them go?
“It’s not an enjoyable process. You see how much they put into it and how hard they’ve worked. And appreciate the effort. And you also appreciate where they are in their career. You know what their goals are. And that’s to make a team, to make a 53-man roster. But again, it’s not the end. So many of them have made so much ground for themselves. They’ve picked up a lot of equity here and in the league and what’ they’ve put on tape, and they’re one step closer to that goal. That’s not the ultimate goal, just making a 53-man roster, or it shouldn’t be. If it is then people are selling themselves short.”

Will you have LB Aldon Smith for this game?
“Believe so, yes.”

Have you decided which starters are going to sit, not play?
“Well, that’s somewhat ongoing. It’s more of an individual thing than it is just the starters will play X amount. It’s more of an individual approach.”

QB Alex Smith will play?

RB Frank Gore?
“I don’t want to go down the roster individually and talk about each guy. Not everything has been cemented. So, it’d be premature to be doing that right now. You can see where that would lead.”

Looking back to last year, with the fourth preseason game last year, how important was that game to you guys deciding that QB Scott Tolzien would be a guy that you would try to go after if he were available?
“All these game are important. They all in some form or fashion decide, factor into, contribute to decisions that you make. That was a part of it. But yet, Scott was somebody that we, there was other parts to that too as well. Yeah, some. I can’t quantify it for you and say...”

I was just wondering if he hadn’t had a good game against you guys, would you have pursued him like you did? Was he already on your radar?
“Yeah, he was. Yeah, like I said there was other factors in that decision, just like there’s other factors in everybody’s decision. Body of work that’s been built up. The year before, in the offseason, in training camp, in other preseason games.”

Peyton Manning seemed to have a lot of time back in the pocket in the early going, except for one spectacular hit, that’s true. Were you concerned about the pass rush?
“Concern? We’d have liked to played better in the first part of that game. I was really pleased how we played in the second half. We don’t get into a whole lot of what we’re working on, what we were working on, what we’re going to be working on, but we are working on seeing where we can get better.”

Is there any talk in the course of a game that, like the play to TE Vernon Davis on the wheel route, this is something that might work now but do you really want to show it at this point in the preseason? Is there any of that give-and-take with the booth and on the sideling that, ‘Yeah this play might work now but in our best interest, maybe we don’t show it?’
“That happens on a lot of levels, offensively, defensively and special teams. Yes.”

Did that particular play, was that part of the conversation?
“No, I don’t really want to talk about any particular scheme or play. It sounds like you think, maybe you should’ve save that one and put that one in your back pocket and sprung it at a different time. You know [laughing] and definitely have the right to think that.”

Last year you come off, and in 2010, you come off a 6-10 year, you would think it would be somewhat easy to play the overachiever role and get the team fired up. Now a lot of people are thinking about serious contenders, 13-3, towards that. Just for your competitiveness, what do you do there in terms of motivating? How do you tap into that? What’s your competiveness for you transitioning as a team to keep that going this year?
“I think it all starts with the competiveness of our players, them. That group of guys that we’ve got in our locker room and coaches, our team. I think that the pride that they take in their own individual performance and the way the team plays, it’s a great group to motivate because they already are motivated. That’s what makes it such a team that’s a joy to coach.”

Is there anything specific that you do, like maybe racquetball games or interior little games that just show that constant edge or honing that edge?
“Not that I can think of.”

For you personally?
“No, not that I can come up with. I don’t have that list in front of me right now. Sorry.”

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