Jim Harbaugh has gained a reputation as a coach who’ll stick up for his players at all times, particularly his quarterbacks. He was vague during his Monday afternoon press conference about what specifically went wrong with the 49ers’ offense on Sunday night, but he was clear about who he thought deserved the least blame: quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Jim Harbaugh Colin Kaepernick Week 1“He made the most amount of the plays we made on offense. We didn’t make enough, but I thought Colin competed and played hard and played well at times. Probably was the most productive person we had on offense,” Harbaugh said.

“I’m not disappointed in the way Colin played at all. He did what he could.”

Kaepernick led the 49ers with 87 yards rushing, but also threw three interceptions, completed fewer than half his passing attempts and averaged only 4.5 yards per attempt — easily his worst performance statistically since becoming a starter. Harbaugh gave Seattle’s defense credit for making life hard on Kaepernick.

“There was good coverage. There was pressure at times. Go back and looking at the tape, Colin competed, was seeing the field, made plays,” Harbaugh said.

In the spirit of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” Harbaugh didn’t mention any of the receivers during Monday’s presser. Instead he focused on what Seattle did well, although in today’s NFL even the most talented, physical defensive backfields are at a disadvantage when going up against elite receivers. Just don’t tell that to Richard Sherman.

And here's Richard Sherman slapping Jim Harbaugh's ... on Twitpic

Sherman’s postgame comments and how he patted Harbaugh’s butt after the game took some attention to the way Sherman played in the game itself. Sherman didn’t allow one catch to Anquan Boldin, and there was a montage NBC showed of Sherman playing Boldin on several snaps where Sherman was attached to the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver while also getting under Boldin’s skin — almost like a tick.

I asked the following question:

“Richard Sherman was very physical near the line of scrimmage, a lot of clutching and grabbing. Do you think he was playing within the rules because he was in that five-yard window, and how do you combat that to get open?”

Harbaugh neither answered the question nor took an opportunity to either complain about Sherman’s physical play (like he did about Seattle’s secondary as a whole last year after the 49ers beat the Seahawks at home) or talk about what adjustments a receiver like Boldin must make. All he did was say nice things about Sherman.

“He did a very good job. The coverage was tight. He was an excellent player,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh refused to answer questions regarding who gets the blame for Frank Gore’s lack of production thus far. At least publicly, he sounded like someone who wanted to avoid making comments that the media could seize on while complimenting a group that has allowed only 29 points to the 49ers in their last three meetings.

“Seattle’s got a good defense. They played extremely well. As the game flowed, we don’t get points on the first drive. We come away with nothing after a good drive. Then, momentum plays were made by Seattle’s defense. The hole in the dyke got a little bigger, a little bigger and then finally caved in,” Harbaugh said.

More Monday Notes

– Ian Williams, who broke his ankle on Sunday night, is “going to be out for the year,” Harbaugh said. “It’s disappointing, and he’ll have surgery today.”

– Eric Reid is going through the NFL’s concussion protocol. “Good news is he’s not symptomatic today,” said Harbaugh.

– No news on Ray McDonald (ankle) or Vernon Davis (hamstring).

– Harbaugh on all the penalties (23 in the first two games): “It’s an obvious area that we need to improve on. Hopefully we’ll see significant improvement this week. That’s something we’ll zero in on.”

– The 49ers will also zero in on how to stop, or at least slow, Andrew Luck next Sunday. Harbaugh talked about how Luck is even better than he appears on TV.

“The ball comes out quicker than it looks like it comes out. The velocity on the throws is more than what it looks like. As good as he looks and as physical as he looks in the pocket and tough to bring down, he’s even harder to bring down than you think. When he’s out of the pocket he can make a throw on the run, or when he’s running he’s faster than he looks,” said Harbaugh.

“It’s the third week in a row that we’ll play one of the top quarterbacks in the league. There’s not a lot of weaknesses that he has. He’s a top notch player.”