San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh participated in a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Saturday afternoon after the team announced its initial 53-man roster.
Harbaugh declined to comment on star linebacker Aldon Smith’s nine-game suspension, handed down the day before, saying he did not think a comment by him would be “productive” while adding that he was still trying to figure out what Smith could do with the team under the terms of the suspension. Harbaugh did, however, say that Smith participated in the team meeting on Saturday, which he can reportedly do while serving his punishment.
Following is a sampling of other topics broached in the 11-minute call…
On going with only seven healthy offensive linemen, plus injured rookie backup center Marcus Martin: “Well, we went with the eight number again, and Marcus Martin was planned on being [out] six weeks, that was what we’d been told by the doctors. So, we’ll assess as we go.”
On guard/center Dillon Farrell, a somewhat surprising inclusion on the 53: “He’s done a fine job. He’s been versatile. He’s played well in the games and felt like he earned a position.”
On releasing special teams standouts like Kassim Osgood, C.J. Spillman, Kevin McDermott, Darryl Morris, Bubba Ventrone and if the younger players that stuck can fill their shoes on special teams: “There are young players that are going to have to rise to the challenge. It’ll be a challenge for our whole football team -- the veteran players, young players, to get our special teams where we’re used to them being.”
On why the 49ers kept three quarterbacks, rather than two, in Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert and Josh Johnson: “We all felt like [they] had earned it -- all three quarterbacks. It’s typically what we’ve done. We’ve been a three-quarterback team. If you look at our roster, we’ve mainly been three quarterbacks.”
On Jonathan Martin’s versatility making him more appealing: “Jonathan, another example of someone who’s really earned the position. He’s been mainly playing tackle, but he has the ability to play guard, and going forward, that will be something that he’ll continue to learn and be good at. I feel very good about it. He’s done an excellent job of getting the job done.”
On if new longsnapper Kyle Nelson’s ability to play tight end helped him make the team: “Just felt like he’s earned the job. He earned it.”
On strong safety Antoine Bethea’s condition after suffering a concussion 13 days earlier and if receiver Brandon Lloyd is available: “Yes, to Brandon Lloyd. Antoine Bethea was doing the final protocol today and did that on the field. And we’ll see if there are symptoms tomorrow. If not, he’ll be cleared.”
On if right tackle Anthony Davis will play in the opener at Dallas: “We’ll see.”
On if James McCray’s performance on special teams on Thursday propelled him to a roster spot: “Yes, we do expect him to be very good on special teams. Yes, the game on Thursday, he did a very fine job and we thought in the games leading up to that -- the Baltimore game, Denver, San Diego, he was making his case, he was stating his argument and finally felt like he earned the job.:
On keeping veterans Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd with young talent also at the position: “Well, there’s only one football so that’s not going to change. Nothing will be given. There’ll be no layups. Guys will be competing and it will be competition at the highest level. There’s no question when you look at that group, it looks extremely good. But the competition won’t be self-centered. Knowing our guys, it’ll be something that’ll be very good for our team.”