Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Wednesday before his team's Week 10 matchup with the St. Louis Rams.Can you give us a progress report on the rookies? We haven't seen WR A.J. Jenkins or RB LaMichael James since the exhibition season. How are those guys doing behind the scenes?**
"Good. They're working hard, doing it with a very good attitude. And just same thing we tell them is work hard, have a great attitude, and you'll get it. And they'll get their opportunity. So far, really with our rookies they haven't had the opportunity to play in games. But, they are practicing and doing very well."
It's a unique situation where you have those guys who aren't suiting up. What does it say about, is it a disappointment that they aren't on the field? Or what does it say about your team in general?
"Generally it says we that we have 53 healthy guys. And you can dress 46 on game day. So, I think that's the biggest statement right there."
Do you have, injuries aside, do you have a plan or an idea of when you could get them game time, or do you just have to take it game by game?
"I think that, yeah."
These guys have been stars all the way through. Do you see any frustration?
"Hanging their dobbers, or?"
"No. Haven't noticed that. In fact, seeing real good progress. I think that's a function of keeping a great attitude."
You mentioned your players' health. How much of that has to do with the offseason program with head strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama and assistant strength and conditioning coach Kevin Tolbert and everything they do in the offseason?
"I think that's a huge part of it. They deserve a lot of credit. Weight staff, trainers and as always the players themselves, who work very hard at this. They take it very seriously. Their job, their health, their bodies. That's their moneymakers."
Sometimes after a bye week there could be a lull. Some of the players say they like to keep up the momentum. Did you do anything different this week at practice to jump back in and bring that tempo back up? Or is it things you've done as usual?
"One slight change, we practiced yesterday. And other than that the work that the guys did on their own, conditioning, weight lifting, etc. But, used that extra day."
Did you do anything as head coach to kind of shock them back into it? Or did you not need to do that?
"No. there was no shocking. No shock techniques used."
You don't want a Detroit Tigers situation is what I'm saying.
"No, no we don't."
Rams LB James Laurinaitis, what kind of player is he? Is he a guy who you put on the film and he jumps out at you?
"He sure does. James Laurinaitis, absolutely. One of many players that jumps out at you when you look at the Rams defense, the Rams team. Mobile, rangy, tough, real savvy understanding of the game. And they use him in a lot of different ways. In the blitz packages, rush to cover packages, cover packages. So, he's a force to be reckoned with."
We were talking to Rams head coach Jeff Fisher earlier today and he was marveling about the offense, of the different plays that you guys can run. And that it's been the hardest offense to prepare for in his time as a coach. That playbook, is that something that's constantly, you're constantly adding to? And how much bigger has this grown from back in the days when you would play?
"I don't know for sure really how much it's grown. But, to answer your question, it evolves. It's constantly trying to just move the ball and score points."
Can you kind of assess where WR Michael Crabtree's at right now, as far as his development this year?
"I think it's been pretty evident in the way he's played. Done an outstanding job in all the different phases that a receiver can do a good job in. Catching the ball. He made some great catches for us. Route running's been very good. Physical in the blocking, in the physical game. And yards after the catch, he's done a real fantastic job catching and running the ball. Very determined when he has the ball in his hands."
Is there a specific area where you've seen the most improvement from him?
"I think just in all those areas. I think he's continuing to evolve and improve."
Do you see any influence from WR Randy Moss on him at this point, either practice-wise, habits, any of that?
"I'm sure that there is. I think, personally speaking, we all probably have felt an influence from Randy, in terms of his practice habits and his work ethic. And just a good guy to be around in the locker room and on the field."
Both Jeff Fisher and other people through the season have talked about some of your run scheme and some of your more unique run plays you don't see a whole lot in the NFL. Not to get into the scheme of course itself, could you just talk about maybe some of the influences on you, or offensive coordinator Greg Roman as far as where some of the stuff came from?
"Probably could, but I'd hate to leave somebody out."
Just give it a whirl.
"I could give it a whirl. Just kind of back that to standing up here and philosophizing, or pontificating on anything, just rather not. Really, we've just got to keep asking those questions. That's seriously what we do, is just keep asking the tough question. Can we continue to be successful in that area of the game? What's it going to take this week against an outstanding Rams defense? They present all kind of problems along the front, the linebackers. Very good in the secondary. And a lot of times I guess we tend to talk earlier in the week - Mondays, sometimes Wednesdays. It's just not a real great time to be talking as a coach. You're worried, you're nervous. You're still kind of formulating just how are we going to get this done this week. So, you just kind of in those question-asking kind of modes. So, not always the most confident guy that stands here before you and just able to spew out, hey here's exactly how we do things. Or all the why's and the where's. More on just kind of focused on what's it going to take today. Can we have a great practice today? And making sure that our preparation is right. Because this is just another team that is an excellent football team and it's a great challenge for our team."
Is Friday a better question answering day?
"Most of the time. Most of the time I feel a lot more locked in on what we've done during the week and how we prepared. And just more solid on how we're going into the weekend."
For most games your confidence level starts off low? And then you see how your team is accepting this stuff?
"I think that the biggest function is as you look at your opponent, early in the week especially, how the heck are we going to move the ball? How are we going to get a first down? How are we going to score points? And then you go to work on it. Kind of probably like taking a test, doing your homework. You're kind of racking your brain, so to speak. But, that's a function of what we have to do as a team, and how we have to understand our opponent and prepare and practice and feel good about it as the week goes on because of our preparation. And that's a team situation, a team issue. And I'm excited as heck to go to work today and see if we can't make today the best practice of the year. It's really going to need to be."
The Rams told us the 49ers are the blueprint of the football team a lot of people want to be. Does that mean anything to you? Or are you still—do you take pride in that, being the blueprint for a lot of teams striving to be like the 49ers?
"I didn't catch the first part of the question."
The Rams told us that the 49ers are the blueprint for what a lot of teams want to be. Does that mean something to you?
"Not really. We'd rather probably just try to kick them in the shins when people are saying things like that."