49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 23, 2012
Harbaugh talks Indy racing; raises caution flag on Manning questions


A red and gold, 49ers-themed Indy car was on display outside of the team's locker room today. It's driven by J.R. Hildebrand, but it's got Jim Harbaugh's old number - 4 - because he's part owner of the racing team, Panther Racing, that runs it. Hildebrand, who is from Sausalito, will be driving the car at Sunday's GoPro Indy Grand Prix in Sonoma.

Harbaugh said he fell in love with Indy racing when his dad took him and brother, John, to a time trial at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1976. Harbaugh said an Indy Car team's goal is to go one mph faster all the time, and he's brought that philosophy out of the pits and onto the practice field.

"How can we get better, what facet can we tweak to get a little faster, where to reduce drag, where can we save time, where can we be more efficient?" Harbaugh said. "That's the whole operation of racing. They do it as a team. Everybody's doing a little. And that adds up to a lot."

When it came to other lines of questioning, Harbaugh pumped the brakes.

He hates comparing two players - one of them always ends up on the short end, he says - and he applied that philosophy when asked how Sunday opponent Peyton Manning looks now vs. in the past.

"Past, present ... those comparisons. I'm not going to compare them," he said. Later when asked whether Manning had something to prove, Harbaugh said, "Does it matter what I think in that regard? I don't see what the relevancy with what my opinion is. It's not relevant at all to what our situation is here."

Harbaugh said that, as was the case in the first two preseason games, Alex Smith would start in Denver and that Colin Kaepernick would be the No. 2 quarterback. He would not say which quarterback, Josh Johnson or Scott Tolzien, would enter the game next.

Asked if Kaepernick's No. 2 status would carry into the regular season, Harbaugh said, "Everything's fluid and ongoing, but as of today, yes, that's the way it stands."

Harbaugh said that injured running back Brandon Jacobs has shown enough to make the 49ers' final roster. Jacobs suffered a knee injury in the first quarter Saturday and is unlikely to take part in any more preseason games.

That Jacobs' roster spot is assured is bad news for Anthony Dixon, who took over short-yardage duties after Jacobs left Saturday's game.

-- 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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