SANTA CLARA – Coach Jim Harbaugh on Wednesday tried to stay away from the Miami Dolphins locker-room hazing controversy that has dominated NFL headlines this week.
But he did share his support for Miami offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, whom Harbaugh recruited at Stanford.
"There's only one thing that I can intelligently comment on and that's knowing Jonathan Martin. I know him to be a fine person ," Harbaugh said. "Epitomizes the student-athlete model and (is) a personal friend. I support Jonathan."
Martin played at Stanford before being drafted in the second round by the Dolphins in 2012. He left the team last week after allegedly being bullied by his teammate, Richie Incognito.
The 49ers have a long-standing policy against rookie hazing that dates back to when Bill Walsh was the head coach. Harbaugh said that policy is "well-discussed" and "well-understood" by the players, but he declined to talk about it Wednesday.
"I don't think it's the forum for that type of discussion," he said. "But bring it up to me at some point when it's not related to this story. Anything else is hearsay on my part. If you want hearsay, just tune into ESPN. They roll it in all day long."
First-year nose tackle Glenn Dorsey said when he arrived in Santa Clara, he noticed that the veterans made rookies feel "as comfortable, as confident" as possible.
"The older guys, the veteran guys – they try to look out for the younger guys and the new guys," said Dorsey, who played five seasons in Kansas City before signing with the 49ers. "We don't really partake in all the hazing stuff. We try to help our young guys as much as we can because we're going need them throughout the year. So we want to make a smooth transition into the locker room, into the NFL."
Aldon's role – Harbaugh was customarily vague when asked whether outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who recently returned to the team after more than a month in treatment, would play against Carolina on Sunday.
"We'll assess that," Harbaugh said. "It's been clear – and Aldon has been, too – that this is something that's being taken day to day."
Smith started the team's first three games and played 95 percent of the defensive snaps. He played 100 percent of the snaps – as well as a few on special teams – in his last game Sept. 22, which came two days after his second DUI arrest.
On the mend – The 49ers must open a roster spot when wide receiver Michael Crabtree is ready to play later this month. Harbaugh, however, seemed to take one of the candidates, rookie receiver Quinton Patton, off the table.
Patton suffered a broken foot in Week 4, and the team could have placed him on injured reserve, which would have ended his season and opened a roster spot.
Harbaugh said he expects Patton to play again this season. Patton has been out of a walking boot for two days and Harbaugh said he was ahead of schedule.
When will he be back?
"Soon," Harbaugh said.
Injuries – The 49ers are a healthy group coming out of their bye week.
Every player on the active roster, aside from Patton, practiced Wednesday.
Both Crabtree (Achilles') and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (shoulder) were in blue, no-contact jerseys.
Read Matthew Barrows' blogs at www.sacbee.com/ sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.