Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media following Thursday's practice at 49ers training camp.On whether it felt different today with his entire team on the field:**"Yes it was a different feel. You know we had some, we definitely had some reinforcements out there tonight, but it had a lively feel, a fun practice. I thought there was a lot of energy, a lot of juice. So it seemed to fly by."
On what his impressions were of QB Alex Smith's first practice:"Good. Did a nice job, just like he had been practicing for about eight practices, really. With the command of the offense, moving the team in and out of the huddle, and [he] just jumped right in and started competing."
On how he will be using to evaluate QB Alex Smith:"Well, we're just going to coach it up and sprint, get to where it needs to be. What it needs to look like, moving the offense, be an offense, is about moving the football. Being opportunistic, scoring. That position is right in the middle of that because he's touching the ball every single play. So, we'll just go out and compete and coach it up. He is game and ready for the challenge so we will take it one day at a time."
On how Alex Smith's experience benefits the offense:"It definitely creates a confidence when that guy is in the huddle and has been there before and knows the scheme inside and out and is a very smart guy. I think you see that with a lot of our veteran players; [TE] Vernon Davis, [RB] Frank [Gore], when he's in there, there's a different feel when guys have been in there. [T] Joe Staley, the same way, [WR] Ted Ginn, [WR] Josh [Morgan], all those guys. That experience of playing the game of football is very valuable. You get better at football by playing football and it's been a shortened offseason, I said it before. Maybe we are in mid-May form right now. About first couple OTA's type of form, but our guys are working hard and they are excited and it looks like they are having fun out there."
On whether C/G Adam Snyder will continue taking snaps or whether he will start practicing at guard with the addition of Jonathan Goodwin:"Well, I think all those things are possible. We'll eventually start the best five, will be the starting offensive linemen. All those things are possible. We got quite a few of guys on the offensive line that are versatile type of offensive linemen and they have to be since you dress seven a game. Every single one of them has got to be ready to be called on at a moment's notice. To go from center to guard or guard to tackle. [C/G] Tony Wragge's case last year, from inside the tackle. That's just part of the nature of the business, nature of the job description."
On what kind of impact WR Braylon Edwards can bring to the team:"He is a big receiver. We were looking for that big stature receiver. I think that, another experienced guy who [averaged] 17 yards a catch last year. A NFL pro receiver and I think he's hungry. He wanted to be here and that was exciting for us."
On whether he has concerns with Edwards, in terms of off-field problems:"We definitely talked and, what can I offer [WR] Braylon Edwards, and I told him this. My experience and my knowledge and I'm looking forward to that. We got some of a similar background. We both grew up in Michigan. We both went to the University of Michigan. I know how Braylon was trained at the University of Michigan. I know his family, know his dad. One of the real class guys that ever went through the Michigan football program. I think Braylon knows that some of the things, that you know, he needs to get back to that kind of training. That kind of atmosphere. That kind of accountability. He's hit some potholes here and you don't want that to spiral further down. So it's time to start doing all the little things right, that he knows that, that he's capable of. He's a good guy and I'm looking forward to working with him."
On whether he expects Edwards to miss any games due to suspension:"Don't know anything about that right now."
On the level of involvement he had with GM Trent Baalke during free agency:"Well, we've been pretty involved. We've been pretty involved as coaches and you want to know. [GM] Trent [Baalke] wants to know how a certain player is going to fit into our system. Whether it's going to be offense or defense or special teams. So he's been very interactive, let's put it that way, with the coaches and getting their feedback. We talk quite a bit and it feels like we're making those decisions together. You know we're getting to the point where we are starting to finish each other's sentences because we're really on the same page and thinking alike."
On whether he addressed S Taylor Mays about the team's reported interest in trading him:"Yeah, we've talked to Taylor and Trent [Baalke] had a long talk with Taylor. We don't really discuss what we're doing with the personnel. Taylor is a 49er, but full disclosure, there's been inquiries for Taylor over the last eight days. Enough to the point where, I said let's check it out. That's where we are at right now."
On how close QB Alex Smith is to where he would expect Smith to be without having been able to practice this past week:"Well like I said, practicing football, playing football, that's how you get better at football and as a whole team we're, we knew that this obstacle was here and we're racing right now to get to where it needs to be collectively as individuals, as a unit and confident that it's adding up and it's coming along. Like I said, maybe it is mid-May form right now, but guys are working hard at it and we'll just keep grinding."
On whether the braces that both Smith and fellow QB Colin Kaepernick wear on their left knees were his idea:"Yes. Yes, it's like a seatbelt. You can't fight the odds, on wearing it on the plant leg, that leg that strides out and it's something that can prevent MCLs. That's the thing that it's there to prevent, the impact from the side of the leg. Even if you were to get a shot that would be a grade three [sprain], the brace could make it a grade two or a grade one or eliminate it all together. We're trying to find ways to dodge bullets out here and give ourselves the advantage over the bullets."
On whether the braces helps with technique at all:"No, it's strictly to prevent those shots from the side, or from either side, when the quarterback strides and puts all his weight on that plant foot."
On whether the knee brace might be something the quarterbacks use in a game:"Yes, yes."
On whether he wore one in his playing days:"I did, yeah. I did in college and then I didn't until I got an MCL."
On whether the new NFL limitations on practice times affect what they are trying to accomplish, and whether they can counteract the effects of those new rules with more meeting times or something else:"I'm really liking the new rules from the standpoint that you get the one three-hour practice, which to me is very game-like because these games are played in three hours and you get to a certain point in practice where it's hard, just like it is in a game, it's hard. So you get to focus and concentrate and finish. It's so important to any football team. I think it works. And then the hour session in the morning, the walkthrough, is a period where you can really concentrate on communication, technique, alignment. So that's been good too, and it's probably a thing that we don't do enough of. So that's been very valuable, and our guys are taking it really seriously and really using every minute that they have during the day to create more meeting time. To really get the most out of these practices and those organized workouts in the morning. We're just trying to reduce drag anywhere we can right now too, because there's a lot to do and a very short time to do it. So, I've really been pleased with our players. You should see them hustling around in the building to get to a meeting, or to eat ,and then get their treatment, and then back into the meeting room, out onto the practice field, hustle back so they can get in the meeting. We're cutting a lot of drag that way."
On whether the approach his players are taking is a reflection of his enthusiasm for his job:"I think it's more just they understand. They understand that there's some adversity here in what's taking place and we didn't go looking for it, but it found us. And we have to do everything we can to overcome it."
On whether he is happy with the amount of physical contact the new rules allow for in practice or would he rather have more physical practices:"Like I said, I'm good with it. I'm good with what we've got right now. It's a three-hour padded practice every day, if we choose to do that. Now today we didn't, we chose to go out in the soft shells and the helmets and the shorts. But like I said, those three-hour practices in pads, in the hitting drills, are hard. They are very game-like, so I've been pleased with the way our guys have responded."
On whether the personnel on the team right now is better than last year:"Is it better than last year? I don't think that I can really answer that. Again, I hate to compare things. I really do. Whenever you compare anything, whether it be one player to another player, or this year's team to last year's team, or our team to somebody else's team, somebody gets diminished. Whenever I can, I like to avoid it. Just so you know, that's how I feel about it."
On whether he was avoiding the earlier question about comparing QB Alex Smith's throws with QB Colin Kaepernick's throws because he doesn't like to compare:"I was, I was, yes. It was fairly obvious I guess. It's just that somebody always gets diminished when you compare this, compare that. [Reporter responded by saying he would never ask him to do that again] I'd appreciate that. I'd appreciate that."
On whether he likes the Beatles or the Rolling Stones better:"You know, I don't listen to a lot of music, but they're both great. They're both great [laughing]. Who could say one's better than the other? They're both legendary bands, right?"