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Harbaugh Looks for Young WRs to Emerge

Posted May 24, 2013

According to the 49ers head coach, A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette are the early contenders to fill in for Michael Crabtree.

Michael Crabtree is out for the foreseeable future with an Achilles injury. Jim Harbaugh expects a young wide receiver to step up and make a case to start opposite of Anquan Boldin.

According to the 49ers head coach, A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette are the early contenders.

“We'll put Jenkins, Patton, Ricardo Lockette at the same position and let them compete and emerge,” the 49ers coach told 95.7 the game on Friday.

Harbaugh also said veteran wideouts Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham are on track to return to the team after suffering season-ending injuries in 2012.

But until the two veterans can show they’re fully healed, Harbaugh will have to rely on the youthful depth on San Francisco’s roster.

“The good news is somebody will emerge because they have to,” the 49ers coach said.

Behind Boldin, Harbaugh said Chad Hall, Marlon Moore and Joe Hastings are the ones competing on the other side of the field, Harbaugh said.

The 49ers have two more, three-day OTA sessions and a mandatory minicamp in June that will allow the receivers to continue showcasing their abilities.

Harbaugh is eager to see how it all plays out.

To the 49ers coach, the remaining offseason workouts present, “A real good chance for some young guys to emerge and get some reps and contribute. I very much anticipate that will happen.”

Patton, a fourth-round pick, is one of the many reasons why the 49ers coach is enamored with his 11-man rookie class. Harbaugh raved about his newcomers.

“So far, just really like getting to know them,” the 49ers coach said. “They’re work-hard guys, they’re tough guys and the other thing is, it’s a big group. Physically, big strong guys and that’s something I think that will really benefit our team.”

Harbaugh was asked to look back at his two successful seasons in San Francisco which included an NFC title game appearance in 2011 and a Super Bowl loss in 2012.

The 49ers coach said there wasn’t a timetable for immediate success, the team kept a slow and steady approach and it worked.

“We did a have timetable and that was win our next game,” Harbaugh said. “The other timetable was just see if we can get better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we were today. Our expectations were to do that.”

In Harbaugh’s mind, there’s no reason to change that mindset heading into his third year as an NFL head coach.

“It hasn’t changed, that’s still our mantra, that’s still our philosophy,” Harbaugh explained. “It’s winning the next game and that game is against the Green Bay Packers, opening week. Finding a way to win that game, putting ourselves in a position to be prepared to do that and that takes the players work, that takes them studying, working and preparing themselves for the season, for the training camp and the first ballgame.”

The 49ers haven’t won any games this offseason, but the Bay Area celebrated the news of Super Bowl L taking place at the team’s future home, Levi’s® Stadium.

Harbaugh, a die-hard football enthusiast, had an encouraging reaction to the big news.

“How ‘bout that?” Harbaugh said. “It’s great news for the Bay Area.”

The last Super Bowl in California was played in 2003, coincidentally, Harbaugh was an offensive assistant with the Oakland Raiders who were defeated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The football historian in Harbaugh enjoyed hearing that the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl would return to California. The 49ers coach is already picturing the atmosphere at kick-off.

“I just love Super Bowls on the West Coast,” Harbaugh said. “When they start, it starts at daylight, the sun is still out… About the third quarter the sun goes down and the fourth quarter is played under the lights. I think those Super Bowls always look really good.”

Harbaugh was asked about his team’s chances of making it to the Super Bowl in 2016, but the 49ers coach didn’t want to speculate.

The most important task is being better tomorrow than he was today.

“We have great expectations for OTA number 4 coming up on Tuesday,” said Harbaugh, who will have the team get back together following Memorial Day weekend. “We’ll be back at work on Tuesday and really that’ll be seeing if we can make that the best OTA of the offseason.”

Harbaugh appreciates the work of his 90-man roster and even went out of his way to highlight fullback Jason Schepler who made the team after trying out at the team’s rookie minicamp. The former Northern Illinois tight end was told he needed to put on weight to make it in the NFL as a center, no less. Schepler put on 30 pounds in the offseason but eventually won a roster spot in San Francisco as a fullback/tight end. Now, he has to lose all the weight he gained.

The undrafted fullback’s story is one of many unique tales on the 49ers roster.

Harbaugh likes the efforts of the players in his locker room and it has him excited for a third year in San Francisco.

“We really like our team,” Harbaugh said. “I like the guys on our team, I like the way they work, I like the way they compete.

“I think we’re going to be alright if we keep working hard, being tough and come in with a good, gung-ho attitude.”

Harbaugh, himself, has a gung-ho attitude for the upcoming weekend.

The racing fan and principle for the Panther Racing team will drive the pace car on Sunday at the Indianapolis 500.

Harbaugh called into the radio show from the road where he’s already planning on taking tips from a racing legend.

“I got a little more work to do, but I got Johnny Rutherford, who’s coaching me up, so I feel confident that I’m going to nail it on race day,” Harbaugh said.

There’s no doubt Harbaugh has been off to the races in his third year with the 49ers and he’ll continue his fast-paced coaching style when he gets back to the Bay Area.


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