The San Francisco 49ers gave head coach Jim Harbaugh an extra dose of lithium and dialed him into a conference call with the St. Louis media on Wednesday. It was probably the friendliest thing he ever had to do ... and the man worked at Standford. Naturally, he talked plenty about quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but also hit on sack master Aldon Smith and Mr. Hold himself, Justin Smith.
Here's the transcript of the call ... my annotations are in italics:
(On if QB Colin Kaepernick has been named the starter)
"Yes. Our plan will be to prepare Colin for the start against the Rams this weekend, yes."
(On what factors led to his decision to start Kaepernick)
"The factors are that we have two really good quarterbacks - two starting quarterbacks. Both have earned that, both deserve that, Alex over a long period of time and Colin over the last three games. Feel like Colin has the hot hand right now and that's the way we'll proceed."
Smith's rejuvenation in San Francisco has been a great story, but Kaepernick's mobility and arm make that offense something more than just a ball control thing. It also means the end of Smith's time in San Francisco after this season, and it'll be pretty interesting to see which one of the quarterback needy teams sees him as a fix. I'll also be interested to see how Smith does outside of Harbaugh, who is widely credited for reviving his career.
(On Kaepernick's maturity and leadership on the field as a young quarterback)
"He has a demeanor, I believe, that's been both the same in practice and in games - how he prepares, how he operates in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage. I see it being very good in practice and very good in games."
Translation: I'm Jim f@#$ing Harbaugh. I'm not going to let some kid mess around ... ARGH!
(On if he drafted Kaepernick as a work in progress considering he came to the game of football late and what went into his decision to draft him)
"Don't really go back to the past or relive all the lists of things that we liked about the players that we've drafted and I believe that everybody's a work in progress. Not always when you come out of college do you want to admit that, but all football players get better by playing football and Colin, it's important to him. He works very hard at it and he has been improving as a football player."
(On if he would consider this game against the Rams as a continuation from their last game)
"That's an interesting way to look at it and probably some people would think there's some merit to it. I think it's just new business. That game is finished business and this game coming up is new business. Great challenge for our football team. We must prepare well this week. We must travel well. We must be ready to come in and play our best because we have great respect for what the Rams are capable of doing."
That's a direct contrast from Fisher, who said that he considered the game an extension of the tie from Week 10. The 49ers and the Rams are at different places in the season though, so Harbaugh's perspective makes sense for a team that might be the best in the NFC.
(On if he would have liked to continue playing the last game against the Rams or any tie game just to get a winner and a loser)
"No, I'm not adamant about that. You can win, you can lose, you can tie. The game finished in a tie and now that's finished business and we move on to new business."
Jim Harbaugh doesn't mess around, yo.
(On what he liked about his last two games that proved to be thorough and impressive victories)
"Liked that they were thorough and impressive victories."
(On LB Aldon Smith and how he has improved since last year)
"He's a full-time player now, where last year he made a huge impact in nickel situations, which was maybe 60-40, 50-50 of the plays that we had defensively. And now he's made the big stride of being a full-time player and he's acquitting himself extremely well."
Smith has 16.5 sacks this season, which leads the league. He had two sacks against the Rams last time, and two in one game last year for a total of four sacks in three games.
(On if Aldon Smith's comfort with the system as time has gone on and his ability to handle more has contributed to his play)
"Yes. Absolutely, that's a factor."
(On DT Justin Smith, what he's doing differently compared to past years and how his game has improved)
"Well, it's the consistently great Justin Smith. I believe everybody should have a Justin Smith. He is a football player and I consider our team lucky to have the great Justin Smith on our team."
The elder Smith is a pretty good player, but give the man credit for being able to hold offensive guards so well, so covertly in the lineup. It's a skill!