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March 26, 2014
Harbaugh notes: Coach to scout QBs Fales, Carr; says 49ers seeking No. 3 WR

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hotcakes with Harbaugh went well this morning. Like the other NFC coaches, Jim Harbaugh spent about an hour at a breakfast table with members of the media and, as you might expect, covered a lot of ground. Here are my notes from the session:

*As he had in the past, Harbaugh spoke highly of receiver Quinton Patton and noted that the then rookie made an impact last season despite dealing with a broken finger in training camp and then a broken foot that cost him eight games during the season. But Harbaugh also made it clear that the team is looking to augment the position and give Colin Kaepernick a better No. 3 option. He said Kaepernick's inability to spread the ball around, especially early last season, was largely due to his receiving corps.

What's he looking for? "A No. 3 receiver, a third guy that can get open, make plays, another option for the quarterback to go to. A chance to attack all areas of the field. A playmaker. That's what we're looking for."

* Harbaugh already has taken a look at Eastern Illinois' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas. He said he wants to check out a couple of California products next - San Jose State's David Fales and Fresno State's Derek Carr. He said this year will be similar to 2011 when he scouted "five or six" quarterbacks, including Blaine Gabbert and Kaepernick.

* Asked specifically about Johnny Manziel, Harbaugh said, "He sees the field like no one who's seen the field in college football." That's a bit like the lavish quote he gave about Cam Newton - he called him "plutonium-grade raw material" -- in 2011. It turns out the 49ers had no intention of drafting a quarterback in the first round that year. They are very unlikely to have a shot at Manziel this year.

* Frank Gore is entering the final year of his contract and, at age 30, what many believe will be his final season with the 49ers. Harbaugh, however, said, "I really think Frank has three more good years. I truly believe that." Then he paused. "But we're in a game of taking it one year at a time, so ..."

* Harbaugh said that Kaepernick suffered a foot injury in last year's season-opener against Green Bay. The quarterback never missed a practice, but Harbaugh said he could tell Kaepernick was hindered a bit in both throwing and running early in the season. Kaepernick had a 129.4 passer rating against the Packers. He had ratings of 20.1 and 49.9 in the next two outings, losses to Seattle and Indianapolis.

* Harbaugh also said the 49ers were banged up coming out of losses to the Panthers and Saints in November. Both Mike Iupati and Tarell Brown were injured against the Saints and Kaepernick was on the injury report with a back ailment. They played the Redskins on Nov. 25, which turned into a lopsided win. The 49ers didn't lose again until the NFC Championship game. "They played that (Redskins) game like it was a playoff game and every game after it like it was a playoff game," he said.

* Harbaugh has received good reports on NaVorro Bowman's ACL rehabilitation from Trent Baalke, who talked to Bowman last week, and from Bowman's agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "Apparently, NaVorro's doing really well," Harbaugh said. The coach said last month that Bowman likely will begin the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, just as Michael Crabtree did last year..

* Can Jonathan Martin play guard? "That's a good question," Harbaugh said. "Coming in, it will be backing up tackles -- the job he'll be competing for. But you wonder if he can play guard as well. And we'll take a look at that." The question is intriguing because the 49ers risk losing left guard Mike Iupati, who becomes a free agent next year.

* Asked what it was like to come so close to the Super Bowl or a Super Bowl title for three straight years, Harbaugh turned to Greek mythology. "It's like Sisyphus," he said. "All the way to the top, and then the season ends and the boulder rolls all the way back to the bottom. We're going to start pushing that rock, that boulder and see if we can't get it to the very top."

* The 49ers expect to start laying the grass at their new stadium Aug. April 5, an event that Harbaugh eagerly anticipates. "It will be like a pool table, a billiard's table. Matt Greiner's the finest groundskeeper there is. This will be like Augusta's fairways."

* The Bears ended up signing long-time Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Allen is from Morgan Hill and the 49ers initially inquired about him. But Allen's contract demands exceeded the 49ers' salary-cap space, and talks never became serious.

* Always competing? Harbaugh woke up Tuesday feeling sick. Asked if he had a 24-hour bug, he said he "walked it off in 12 (hours)." Harbaugh 1, rhinovirus 0.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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