Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Friday as his team prepared for its Week 14 matchup vs. the Miami Dolphins.The challenge with this Dolphins defense, how do they compare to some of the other defenses you've faced already this season?**
"They're as good and better in some areas than we've faced. It's a tremendous front seven. Excellent defensive line. And a secondary that's big, athletic, can run."
The big challenge will be able to run the ball on them?
"Yeah, it will. It will. They're very stout up front."
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman mentioned yesterday that he thought maybe RB Frank Gore got too many touches, or just working him a little bit too much in that Rams game. How do you as a coaching staff kind of determine how to spread out those carries when you've lost RB Kendall Hunter?
"That's part of the game plan. That's part of the scheme. We have some other backs that we feel confident in as well. But, Frank is one of the best, if not the best back in the league. So, he's going to run and he's feeling good. He had a good week at practice."
What was WR Mario Manningham's practice situation today?
"Did not practice."
Is he going to play on Sunday?
"Probably list him as doubtful."
Does that give WR A.J. Jenkins a shot do you think on Sunday?
[Nodded in affirmation]
What have you seen from him just the last few weeks, progress? What you want to see from a rookie?
"Yes, I've seen progress from A.J. He's been on his assignments. He's executed well when he's been out there. So, he's given great effort. Football rewards that effort. And effort."
Does Greg Roman call all of the offensive plays during the game? Or does wide receivers coach John Morton call the pass plays and quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst the red zone plays?
"I think we've gone over this multiple times. Greg Roman is the play caller."
So, when you're on the sideline are you only hearing one voice in the headset? Greg Roman's?
"I don't really feel the need to dissect it. We've gone over it."
How does this team respond to losses? During the practice week, do you sense any kind of different vibe, any kind of different focus after a loss?
"Yeah, I think you're ticked off. I think probably the best way to describe it."
Can being ticked off have any benefit as opposed to coming off a win?
"I think it can. Usually when you're ticked off you're going to do one of two things. You're going to come back and do something about it, or you go cower in the corner and shrivel up in the fetal position. Probably one of those two things is what people do. So, come back, chest somebody up and let's do something about it."
I guess there hasn't been a lot of shriveling up in the corner, though?
"I haven't seen that from our team. No."
Sort of off topic, but I know you've referred to the practice squad as the developmental squad. Why, how important is that over the course of a season, those guys to the overall team effort?
"What they do week to week is very important for the team. I think it all starts there. Any three and out you get on defense starts with the look that you're getting from the opposing offense. Practice situations. Same for offense, any long drive you have it really starts with the practice that you get during the week. So, those guys are critical in that regard. Also, just their development as football players. Getting better as a football player. You get better at football by playing football. So, we want both. We want guys that are going to give us great effort and a great look. And also develop and be future starters on future championship teams."
How much of a joy is it to work with LB Tavares Gooden? And what kind of spark or light does he bring to special teams units?
"Well, T. Good brings a lot. He just brings a passion for the game of football. He loves what he does. He has great contact courage. He's looking to see how fast he can get from point A to point B and go hit somebody. Great guy in the locker room. Team guy. And yeah, he is a joy to coach."
You've talked in the past about S Dashon Goldson's tackling ability, technique. What makes him such a good tackler and how do you sort of stop that before it gets over the line? Obviously, that penalty down the stretch at St. Louis?
"Well, he is a great tackler. Again, a contact courage. Probably one of the best front-up tacklers in the game. In terms of his technique, he has really refined that. The penalties that he's got have been after the whistle. So, that's the main thing is pulling off the hit when the quarterback's sliding. Leaving it when the whistle stops. But, he's done a great job. There haven't been any helmet-to-helmet penalties from Dashon. His technique and ability really have been outstanding."
What do you mean when you say front-up taclking? What is that front up tackling?
"Face to face. Chesting somebody up. Stopping them in their tracks. Turning them back to their goal line."
A former Washington Redskins S Kenny Houston-type tackle? Remember him?
"Kenny Houston. I do remember Kenny Houston."
He had a famous tackle on the goal line.
"Turned the guy back toward his goal line, yeah."
What were your thoughts on LB Michael Wilhoite's debut last week?
"Really good. Really good. Had an outstanding game on special teams. Multiple tackles and really, had we won the game, deserved a game ball. He would have been the guy. He did a great job."
Just because he was that good? Or a combination of him making his first start and having played well?
"Yeah, results, tackles. And did some great things in the punts. Freed up some of our other contained guys off the line blocking his man and then getting a chip on the next man. He did a fantastic job. Was really on it assignment wise the entire game."
Last week there have been a couple tragedies in the NFL. What happened with the Chiefs and then the father of Raiders head coach Dennis Allen. Have you ever experienced anything like that during the season and then how does getting back out there and playing, coaching, help a person get through that?
"Yeah, one experience where a player died during the season in a car accident when I was in Chicago with my teammates. Yeah, it's something that you don't forget. But, there's something that being back with your teammates, practicing, around each other. There's just medicine out on the practice field, everybody being together. That's probably the way I would describe it."