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Coach's Notebook: Dec. 3



Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Monday following his team's 16-13 overtime loss at St. Louis in Week 13.You said after the game that you feel as if you're not going to make a change at quarterback. It'll be QB Colin Kaepernick going forward. After watching the film, did that reinforce that stance?**

"Yes, still feel that way. There were a lot of positives that were in the game. Definitely a tough loss. And specifically with [QB] Colin [Kaepernick], thought especially after the fumbled touchdown, the way he responded, the way our team responded. Again putting ourselves in a position to win after that. And the same could be said after the safety, too. That he responded with some big throws and some big plays."

Were those some mistakes that Kaepernick made specifically or would you just say that, offensively, there were mistakes, in those two situations, the safety and the touchdown?
"Well, tough loss. We've got to finish games. That's our job to finish those games. We all take responsibility for that. And the responsibility taking starts with me on that option play that resulted in the nightmare scenario. And it's a position in the game where I should have not let that play be called. So, I take responsibility for that."

Is that a RB Kendall Hunter play usually, or is that always a WR Ted Ginn Jr. play, and he's the one getting the pitch there?
"Yeah, that's—."

It would have been Hunter if he was healthy?
"No, no. That still would have been [WR] Ted [Ginn Jr.] as the option back. But, again I think that was just too much ball handling. Too much chance for the play to go sideways and backwards. And at that point in the game, I take responsibility for that."

You're the one who brought up, you're making the decision, it's a hot hand decision. At some point, does Colin still have the hot hand? Is that part of this right now?
"Again, just in the evaluation, I thought Colin played well. Did a lot of really good things. Made some good decisions. Some big plays. We were better on third down in this game. And a large part of that is [WR] Michael Crabtree. His emergence and continued good play. Thought he played extremely tough. Made some big catches for us. [RB] Frank Gore is another player who's just a 'war daddy' type of guy for us and he played big in this game as well."

You've gone out of your way to tell us that this is offensive coordinator Greg Roman's offense. Did he call a good game yesterday?
"Yes. The other play that probably gets some scrutiny is the first down with two minutes to go, we through the ball to [TE] Delanie [Walker]. In terms of flipside of that is getting both of their timeouts, running the football and leaving them probably with 1:12 to a 1:20 on the clock. But, it was a well-designed play. A play that we had worked on and we felt would work. So, there's been some, our guys have executed, our guys have called big plays before. And this one in particular didn't work."

You were pretty conservative to set up the field goal try there from 51 yards. Were you okay with 50 or was there a part of you saying, 'We should get down the field a little bit more and make this field goal a little bit easier?'
"Yeah, I think that's something we have to look at."

What's been K David Akers' status? You brought two kickers in last week, two veteran guys. Do you expect David Akers to be kicking on Sunday for the 49ers?
"I do. We'll see what his health status is this week, but all indications are, he's working through something, but he's kicked well in practice. He's kicked well in game. I thought the one that he hit in the ball game that was missed was well hit. It just didn't go in."

Jim, you talk about taking responsibility for that pitch play. When you look at the film how much do you scrutinize your own performance or your staff and how do you look back on the way you guys coached yesterday?
"Well it's an accountability, it's taking responsibility and we all look at the fact that we didn't win the game. We didn't finish the game like we're supposed to and we all look at that. We don't lay it on anybody's particular doorstep. We look at it and see where we can improve."

Jim, what's TE/DT Demarcus Dobbs status this week and have you had a sit down meeting with him?
"Yes, and it's a situation that we are handling internally."

Do you expect him to be available on Sunday?
"Yes, I think he'd be available Sunday, but we'll keep that internal."

Jim, when you talk about and evaluate QB Colin Kaepernick are you sort of evaluating him on a curve as a young quarterback or are you saying that he did good, just as any quarterback you would evaluate? If this was QB Alex Smith, that would have been a good performance?
"Yeah, a winning quarterback performance in tough circumstances. Especially, I think you look at the 3rd quarter, we're playing off of our own goal line. He made some big time plays in that situation and throughout the course of the game. Another area we have to look at and take responsibility for is penalties and our ability to move the ball when we don't have the penalties versus when we do have them."

Were they defensively taking away the deep ball? Was that clearly what they were doing?
"I mean at times, yes. It starts with they're a good defense. Thought they had a good plan and executed it well."

You resisted talking about long range, but was some of the decision to go with Colin, at least in these two games, that he's growing and he's going to be so much better maybe even by January? Was that part of this?
"I think the biggest thing is what helps us win now, these games that we've played and going forward."

Jim, you talked in July about how WR A.J. Jenkins is going to be outstanding. Yet there's been an injury and he doesn't get on the field and then WR Mario Manningham got injured yesterday and A.J. still doesn't get on the field. Why hasn't he been playing?
"Well, we talked about [WR] Michael [Crabtree], [WR] Randy [Moss], [WR] Mario [Manningham] have all been playing at a very high level and we're working toward it. He was active, dressed for the game and is being integrated into the plan."

But right now, WR Ted Ginn Jr. was in on the three wide receiver sets, which obviously means Ted Ginn's ahead of him on the depth chart too?
"He has been, yes."

Do you see that changing?
"Anything's possible there, but that's the way it has been."

And the second round pick RB LaMichael James who seems to be more out of the RB Kendall Hunter mold, who was the backup, than RB Brandon Jacobs. Is there a role for LaMichael James with Kaepernick and those read options?
"Yeah, there's a possibility of that."

Why wasn't that the case yesterday?
"Wasn't part of the plan yesterday, but that doesn't mean it won't be going forward."

Is there any update you can give us on Mario Manningham, do you expect him to be able to practice this week?
"No, I don't have an update on him."

What are you seeing from K David Akers, in terms of his mindset? He's told us that he's frustrated on some of these and how's he doing? Last year was almost a perfect season for this guy.
"David, as far as mindset, he's a professional. He's been in every situation imaginable. He takes responsibility and knows it's his job to put it through the uprights. As far as his mindset, it's as a pro."

This is Colin's first loss as a starter. Obviously you want to win every game, but did you note how he responded to this? Did you like what you saw when bouncing back from even the plays that happened against him? Did you see anything there?
"Yeah, I thought there were some real positives to take away from his performance."

Is he one of the first ones here at 6 a.m.? TE Delanie Walker said he's an early bird, but Colin's always here at 6 getting something done.
"Yeah, he gets here early on Monday's and has a training regimen that he follows."

Why do you think the Rams have obviously played you guys so tough, but played the whole division tough and yet they haven't had a whole lot of success out of the division. What is it about the Rams that seems to match up well with you guys?
"It's a good football team. I think the matchups are pretty even, that's what the evidence shows. They've definitely played us tough both games and I think we've played tough in both those football games. Our defense played an outstanding game, almost a near perfect game and in this particular game we have to finish. That's our job and that's what we're supposed to do and like I said we all take responsibility for that."

Does that make it even more disappointing if you guys don't win and your defense plays near perfect?
"It's a tough loss. It's not one that you wake up this morning and it's not, that gut wrenching feeling is still there. The positive things are we still have a quarter of the season to play, four games; we're in position to control our own destiny and bounce back. It might certainly be a bit of an edge I would expect because we all take responsibility that we didn't get it done this past week."

You talk about how good the Rams are and you guys obviously have a very good record since you've been here, but is yesterday's game maybe a reminder of how thin the line is separating? This division has come to the point where the Seahawks have played you tough. How tightly bunched, the records are a little separate, how tightly bunched is this division do you think?
"I think it's the entire league. It's our division, it's the entire National Football League. It's a very thin line."

Can QB Alex Smith win this job back, other than what Colin is doing? Are there steps in practice that he can get this job back?
"Alex is not out of this. We feel like Alex is, we've said it before, he's one of our guys, he's won us a lot of football games and he'll be preparing himself to play in each of these games every single week. That's what his mindset has to be, as if he was the starting quarterback. So that's what we expect and I know Alex and that's what he'll do."

Did you read NFL referee Carl Cheffers explanation on the safety?
"No, I didn't read it. I talked to him on the field. Thought the quarterback was out of the pocket and in their judgment the ball did not make it back to the line of scrimmage."

What did the films show you?
"It appeared from what I saw from the film was that the ball definitely made it back past the line of scrimmage."

Is that something you'll communicate to the league?
"We aren't under the privilege of saying what we'll communicate to the league."

On the pitch play is the fail safe for Kaepernick to hold the ball and not pitch it if there's a defender coming in?

Is that drilled into him to make sure on a situation like that not to pitch it because you'll expose the ball?
"Like I said, the greatest share of this responsibility is on me on that particular play for letting that play get called in when you got those different options with four minutes left in the game."

But you didn't call the play, you just allowed it to go in? Is that correct?
"Yeah, that's correct and I take responsibility for that."

You're still on the walkie talkie to the quarterback?

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