It’s only May, but Jim Harbaugh the orator is already in midseason form.
The San Francisco 49ers head coach checked in from Rookie Camp in Santa Clara comparing the atmosphere to a “horse race.” Harbaugh also weighed in on the health of Marcus Lattimore and what he’s seen out of Jerry Rice Jr. so far.
The coach, however, didn’t feel like talking when it came to Aldon Smith.
Here’s what Harbaugh had to say about Lattimore, as he recovers from a mystery injury.
“He’s working his way through something, it’s not the knee it’s something else that he’s working through. We’re going to be going at the speed that the doctors allow him and his body allows him.”
And how has he looked?
“The days that he was full speed looked very good.”
The coach also likes what he’s seen from the son of 49ers legend Jerry Rice.
“He did a great job in his assignments in his first glimpse there. I’m excited to watch him and all the guys compete really.”
As he went on to explain, Harbaugh just really enjoys rookie camp in general.
This is as excited as I get. It’s a great thrill to walk out here on the practice field anytime, but especially this time of the year when you have these youngsters, it’s like a horse race. They’re all starting from the gate, they’re surging out and running and competing.
It gets me more excited than I can think. This is really fun to watch. They’re receptive to learning, they’re bright eyed. They have an opportunity in front that they just don’t want to let get away and I can’t blame them a bit for it. It really helps the competition and practices. I’m excited about it.
However, the coach definitely didn’t feel like sharing when it came to the embattled Smith, who is due to be sentenced on July 25 for six separate charges.
Here’s the transcript Harbaugh’s exchange with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News including a reference to bamboo shoots.
Smith was successfully prosecuted for three felony counts, one misdemeanor count. Does he remain a member of this team in full, good standing right now?
So, what’s your standard then? Is 10 felony counts the standard? Do you have a standard for what players can and cannot do? “
Tim, I know you probably worked really hard on asking that question, and probably stared in the mirror and thought about just the way you could ask that.
That’s an assumption you’re making. It’s wrong.
OK, well then you can write your story how you write it. If you want me to answer the question, I’d be glad to.
It’s part of a legal process. I am not an attorney or a judge. I’m a football coach. So, I’ll let that go through the legal process. There’s nothing more that I can add to it at this time. Is he part of this team? Yes.
Is he your starting linebacker?
We’re too early to tell who the starters are right now.
Well, he was your starting linebacker two days after he was arrested for DUI?
There’s nothing further I can add to that right now, Tim.
Last year about this time, we were asking you about the Seattle situation with several of their players having issues with PEDs. And you said you wanted your players to be above reproach. And I know it was specifically about the PEDs. I know I’m very clear about that. But, do you want your players to be above reproach legally, criminally?
I want our players to strive to be above reproach in all regards. And, I can’t imagine that anybody would tell anybody any differently. Can’t imagine you, or I, or anybody else here would want their youngsters to strive for anything less. Certainly wouldn’t promote that they strive to be below reproach. Would you Tim?
No, but are all your players above reproach then, right now?
No. We’ve got some things that we’ve got to resolve. But, we are in a process, and always are in a process, of striving to be above reproach.
We do know that sentencing hearing is the 25th. We know that. That’s a fact that it’s after you start training camp. In your mind, is he starting training camp in pads with everyone else?
I’m not going to get into speculating on what’s going to happen, what could happen, what will happen. There’s nothing really I could further add to this line of questioning. You can take bamboo shoots and stick them under my fingernails, and there still wouldn’t be any more I could add further to this discussion.
Watch the full interview with Harbaugh below.
Note: Quotes either obtained firsthand or courtesy of San Francisco 49ers Public Relations.