You could tell Jim Harbaugh was itching to say something today. Near the end of his press conference, Matt Barrows asked him a question about the defensive line. Harbaugh shook his head as if clearing the vapors from an eerily realistic daydream and said, “I was just thinking about something else. Can you repeat the question?”
Hey, it’s hard to focus on Ian Williams when you’re upset about the media coverage from Monday and Tuesday. And at the end of this afternoon’s session, Harbaugh took a question about new wideout Jon Baldwin and took the opportunity to respond to those who spent the last couple days poking a little fun at Harbaugh’s comments from a year ago deriding the “scribes, pundits, so-called experts” who were, in his mind, too quick to judge a rookie receiver.
“I know a lot of people have been making some sport of A.J. and Jonathan and my comments and that type of thing. And I really feel the same as I did a year ago when I made those comments. I don’t think it’s fair to bully or label a young player. Though I fully understand people are entitled to their opinion and their perspective, however, I prefer the criticism — or appreciate — if the criticism is directed toward me. I’m responsible and I certainly accept it. Actually, I welcome it.”
CSN Bay Area replayed Harbaugh’s Jenkins defense on numerous occasions yesterday, and a look at the headlines also shows what probably led to today’s mini-rant.
There were several articles like this, and Harbaugh may have taken a glance at each and every one. He called everyone out for ripping an unproven player last year and he’ll stick by those words, even now, because there’s no reason to admit he was wrong and/or out of line. Until Jenkins is out of the league — which could happen in a year or so, at this rate — Harbaugh can claim the great work habits, mental fortitude and athletic gifts he praised after the 49ers drafted Jenkins still exist.
There was no reason to expect Harbaugh to admit a mistake today or at any time in the aftermath of Monday’s unexpected trade of Jenkins for Baldwin, but his unprompted diatribe today shows he reads, watches and listens to as much news about the 49ers as any diehard. And with writers marking the Jenkins trade as proof that when Harbaugh backs a player it’s nothing but a calculated way to motivate his “trusted agents” until he no longer has any use for them, he felt the need to let the world know that the so-called experts still know next to nothing about football, the draft, Harbaugh or his players.
When Harbaugh goes off like this, we all watch because it makes for interesting theater. Not only because it’s uncommon for a coach to call out the media for “bullying” a player, but because it’s further proof that he watches what everyone says after we watch him.
About a half hour after Harbaugh ended his press conference, Kaepernick was asked what he thought about having a head coach who’s so willing to publicly defend his players.
“I think it’s great when your coach is going to take your side, the players side, and do anything he can to make you comfortable and be successful on the field,” Kaepernick said.