Last week Niner Noise was invited to attend an event part of the National Salvation Army Week in San Francisco. FedEx donated a custom Disaster Response Unit (DRU) to The Salvation Army, Golden State Division, the first vehicle of its kind to be used in San Francisco. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was on hand at the Civic Center Plaza event to present the DRU to The Salvation Army. After the presentation coach Harbaugh was kind enough to give a short interview to Niner Noise.
Q. Right guard is one of the few positions the 49ers still need to fill with a starter. Does any player have an edge over others to become the starter?
Harbaugh: The inside track and huge advantage is Alex Boone. He has been a real steady performer for us in the past. We predict that will continue well into the future, whether it’s at right guard, left tackle. Through five weeks of workouts he definitely has the inside track.
Q. What excites you the most about A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James?
Harbaugh: Numerous things, number one both A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James don’t act like guys that are first-rounder’s or second-rounder’s. There is a great work ethic that has been instilled in them by their parents and a great humility that has been instilled in them by their families. And a real energy about liking football. So those two things to start with. But the talent in undeniable. We are not a team about fueling the hype. Those are two really outstanding players we got a look at first hand at our (rookie) training camp. A.J. Jenkins, LaMichael James, both are going to be outstanding and will do just fine.
Q. Which rookie impressed you the most at the recent rookie minicamp?
Harbaugh: There were numerous guys. To start with, A.J. Jenkins was very impressive. So was LaMichael James, Trevor Robinson, safety from Michigan State, Jason Slowey who we moved to center, he will be an outstanding player. Garrett Celek, tight end from Michigan State, Jason Palmer wide receiver and Joe Hamilton was very good. It’s a real long list of guys who did well at camp.
Q. Which NFC West rival presents the biggest threat to the 49ers this season?
Harbaugh: They are all really good no question about it. We have been watching what all of the other teams in the NFC West have been doing in the offseason. There is no question we will be fighting for our lives next year.
Q. Last offseason after you were hired most 49ers fans thought it was time to move on from Alex Smith and start over with a new quarterback. What was the biggest factor to you in bringing Alex Smith back?
Harbaugh: The biggest factor was his ability to play the quarterback position. Alex’s level of play speaks for itself. He did an outstanding job last year and he is working very hard to get better this year. And I got to say, you know, again I hate to over promote things and create hype but he has been outstanding this offseason and he has matured. This is still a young guy, a 28-year old young man, physically seeing him maturing before our eyes. He is much stronger this offseason throwing the ball. He has more velocity, more accuracy.
In terms of his knowledge of the system he is now an expert and is on par with the offensive coaches on our staff. So he will continue to grow and is the unquestioned leader on our football team. He is our guy, it’s been well documented. We are excited to go into week six of the off-season and to see how much better we can get.