49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

June 15, 2011
Harbaugh: Player-led practices give 49ers a 'leg up'

Jim Harbaugh this morning gave a carefully worded endorsement to the player-led practices that were held last week, saying the sessions "should really bode well for us."

"Our players are getting together and working out and holding practices on their own," Harbaugh told Murph & Mac on KNBR radio. "What a neat thing that is where character guys can really get a leg up on the competition."

Harbaugh, who twice has had his hand slapped by the league office during the lockout for either working with or talking about players not under contract, claimed to not know much about the details of those practices. "I don't know the particulars. I really don't want to know the particulars," he told Brian Murphy.

That, of course, is not true. Coaches and team officials have yet to hold a single practice with their team. They haven't even seen 4/5th of their draft class at this point. It's safe to assume they, like every ardent 49ers fan, are dying for information and consumed every morsel that was being reported from the Alex Smith-led camp.

Indeed, Harbaugh spoke as if he knew about the minor controversy surrounding receiver Michael Crabtree last week. Murphy asked Harbaugh if he thought Crabtree was a character concern.

"I've been around him a little bit and Crab, to me, is a good guy and a good football player," Harbaugh said. Some of the things lately kind of goes back to the analogy I gave a little bit ago, when you're kids and working it out and sometimes you get into some tussles and shirts get ripped and noses get bloodied, but that's part of figuring it out. I know he's a good guy. I know the other guys on our team are good guys. That's another interesting part of watching these guys figure it out. I know personally, when it comes to me, getting into quite few scrapes growing up. Most people I know and are friends with had some run-ins at some point in time. And, usually, you're better friends afterward. But, no, he's got the license and the ability. And from my experience begin around him, I think he's a guy who's about us and about the team being successful."

Harbaugh obviously is happy about the player-led practices. Meanwhile, Smith and the 49ers are tentatively planning to hold another session the final week in June. It could get scuttled if there is progress in the collective bargaining negotiations and a deal seems imminent. However, even if a deal is struck, the 49ers aren't scheduled to meet as a team until training camp begins July 28. Smith said the 49ers might need to meet again before then even if the lockout is lifted.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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