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Coach's Notebook: Dec. 4

Posted Dec 4, 2013

Jim Harbaugh talked about the flashy play of Russell Wilson, the sheer strength of Justin Smith and the playoffs-like atmosphere at Candlestick Park.

How’s T Joe Staley doing right now?
“He’s doing alright.”

Is there a chance that he could be up for you on Sunday?
“I don’t know. I wouldn’t rule it out at this time.”

Based on the way that some of the offensive linemen that did step in on Sunday, played well against a good Rams front, are you encouraged, hopeful, in case Joe and G Mike Iupati can’t go this Sunday, that they have a game under their belt against a good front to show against Seattle?
“Yes. [G/T] Alex Boone immediately stepped out to left tackle and did a very good job against a very good player. [T] Anthony Davis, another real good game from A.D. And then [G] Joe Looney being thrown in there and did a real admirable job. I thought he was very confident. I thought he went after people and was real good with his assignments, so a very good job by him.”

Do you think Iupati has a chance to play Sunday?
“Again, I wouldn’t rule it out, but don’t know at this time.”

If Alex Boone weren’t needed at guard, do you think he could be a full-time left tackle or tackle in the NFL?
“He’s a very talented player. Yes, I do think that.”

What sort of challenges does Seahawks QB Russell Wilson present and why is he playing so well?
“He’s a fantastic player. A wonderful, wonderful player, competitor. Skills of arm talent, mobility. Great field awareness. Understands the scrambling lanes, the escape routes out of the pocket. And then that feel that only so many quarterbacks have had that have ever really played the game to extend plays. So, a lot of great qualities. A lot of wonderful qualities about him.”

Are those qualities, kind of what he does when he’s improvising, when he gets flushed out, and does QB Colin Kaepernick share those same improvisational skills?
“I think they’re both very talented quarterbacks. Two great young quarterbacks. And they both throw really well from the pocket, too. They stand in there and deliver. Their timing and accuracy, they’re very good at that.”

Is he noticeably better, when you watch the film of the last time they were here, I think Week 7 last year, than he is now?
“Russell Wilson?”

Yeah. Does it jump out at you when you watch the tape?
“He’s playing phenomenal. A phenomenal player.”

Talk about just how DT Justin Smith’s played the last couple of weeks? It seems like he’s getting the pressure that you need out of him. He’s about a year removed from that triceps injury.
“Yeah. Another game ball for Justin this past week. And, it was just his usual good performance. Probably in on nine, 10 tackles, 4our hurries. Excellent job in the run stopping. But, I would agree, he’s playing very good football.”

He had a couple of those plays where he literally pushed his man back into the quarterback like he did in the playoff game against the Saints. Do you think that his strength has been getting better and better since the arm injury and that he’s back to 2011-levels?
“I don’t know. I know he’s playing really well. He’s playing with a lot of strength. He’s one of those guys, a rare, that if it was bothering him, if he had less strength you’d never know it or he wouldn’t say anything about it. He’s a great warrior with amazing perseverance.”

He has fewer snaps at this point of the season than he did last year. Is that a factor of the guys behind him playing better, DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, warranting more snaps or do you consciously want to give Justin a little bit more rest than he’s been getting?
“Yeah, I think that’s a factor. The emergence of Tony Jerod-Eddie, [TE/DT Demarcus] Dobbs, their roles have been increased. There’s been some rotation in there. I’d say it’s a function of the emergence of those guys.”

I know he doesn’t get sacks on those plays that Matt mentioned, but what’s your reaction when you see him do that on film?
“It’s awesome. Just a strong man playing extremely strong. It’s rare to see that. He’s got amazing perseverance. It would take that wouldn’t it? It would take real strength and perseverance and drive to accomplish that.”

How much have of RB Frank Gore’s struggles to get on track the last few games, not many spaces to run and whatnot, related to scheme, the offensive line injuries, Frank’s ankle or just is there anything you can site or expound upon?
“No. I don’t call them struggles. It’s football. Once again, Frank does so many things for our offense. And, people rush in and call it a struggle if you don’t rush for 100 yards in the game. I don’t see it that way.”

Your old high school coach Earl Hansen announced his retirement. Your thoughts on his career and what he meant to you?
“Yes. Learned that yesterday and congratulations to Coach Hansen on a wonderful, wonderful career. The impact he had on my life and so many of the players that he coached and youth that he taught was very impactful. Great leadership qualities. He’s been a dear friend, at the point now you can call him a lifelong friend. It’ll be interesting. He’s such a football coach. Such a coach and such a teacher that he may be back. It’s hard to picture him not coaching. I congratulate him on a stellar career and what it meant, how many people he impacted. I think of It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s Jimmy Stewart and the amount of people that he impacted. He would be a very good comparison to Coach Hansen.”

So much attention is put on how loud the Seattle stadium is. Are you hoping for a similar home field advantage when your new stadium is built?
“Well, I would hope for that this week, that Candlestick, we get it cranked up. Make it a real great environment, because it’ll be a great football game. I know players will be very enthusiastic for the game. If this doesn’t fire you up, if this doesn’t fire up the fans then what does? I suppose Abraham Lincoln riding across the field with a frock and a top hat, riding a horse, waving an American flag. I doubt that would fire them up, if this game doesn’t fire them up. The people that really love football would be fired up by this matchup.”

What’s the loudest you’ve heard Candlestick? Do you remember a game, an instance in the last two and a half years?
“Yeah, there’s been several. A playoff-type atmosphere, those games, they get the loudest. I think this is the kind of game that will really get the true football fan fired up.”

Is this the best, most well-balanced team that you’ve faced or will face this season?
“They’re a great football team. A tremendous challenge. Like I said, we’re very excited so far in our preparation and we expect really good days leading up to the game.”

Were you surprised Monday night. A lot of people thought that was going to be a very competitive game. Were you surprised by the final score or the way that game turned out?
“Games can go that way in the NFL. I’ve seen it now for three years. Every team you play, every team you go against has the ability to run you right out of the stadium. You have the ability to run them right out of the stadium. Most of the time what happens it’s a pretty darn close game that can go either way. That’s what I’ve seen for all these NFL games, goes one of those three ways.”

You talked about your fans getting fired up for this, do you sense that your team’s more fired up this week, maybe trying to prove something against a division rival?
“I think all the players are. Both sides of the ball, both teams will be very enthusiastic to play the game. That’s what I’ve said, that’s what I think. As they are, as they are for every game. That’s the nature of this business.”

How does S Earl Thomas pace that defensive secondary? How does he lead those other cornerbacks and safeties in that backfield, that’s unique?
“Unique? He’s really great at so many things that you want a safety to be great at. He’s a sure-tackler. A hard hitter. Covers a lot of ground. Does a great job of reading the eyes of the quarterback. He’s able to make the plays in the deep part of the field. He’s able to make plays up near the line of scrimmage, in the backfield or at the linebacker depth. He can cover a lot of ground. He’s like Willie Mays. He’s a five-tool player. He can do it all.”