Coach Jim Harbaugh spent a lot of time – and used a lot of words – defending Colin Kaepernick’s news conference Wednesday, which was curt even for the notoriously taciturn 49ers quarterback.
Kaepernick’s 87 words in response to 32 questions drew criticism locally and was the subject of national radio and television sports talk this week.
“I saw there was quite a bit of sport made of Colin Kaepernick, and people were even tallying his responses,” Harbaugh said Friday. “It’s sad, really, because you don’t know him. He’s a determined person. He’s a spiritual person. He is a very hard worker, and he wants to do well. And (he) works extremely hard at it. And you get the honest person when you deal with him. If he’s not chatty, he’s not going to be chatty. He’s single-minded when he’s playing the game of football and preparing for the game.”
Kaepernick was terse in press conferences almost as soon as he took over the starting role in 2012. He’s said in the past that he’s leery of reporters twisting his words out of context and that he keeps his answers short so that the meaning isn’t distorted.
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Wednesday’s session, which followed perhaps a career-bad performance against Seattle, was clipped even by Kaepernick’s standards. A sample:
When you went back and looked at tape from the Seattle game, what struck you about the offense?
“We didn’t play well.”
Any explanation for why you didn’t execute?
“Didn’t play well.”
Harbaugh always has backed his quarterbacks. He said Kaepernick would be “phony” if he stood in front of the media and gave long-winded answers.
“If you want somebody to be wordy and that’s not who they are, that would be phony to be that,” he said. “... It would be passive-aggressive and somebody that he’s not. Jaw set, he wants to win this football game.”
He also said Kaepernick, who signed a six-year deal worth as much as $126 million in the offseason, didn’t need to be more accommodating because he’s the face of the 49ers franchise.
“A face-of-the-franchise quarterback should be a great leader by example, by the way he works, a team player all the way,” Harbaugh said. “What’s in his heart is about the team. It’s not about himself. You get the raw honesty. He’s telling you. If you ask what his mindset is, it’s to work. That’s his approach.”
Injury watch – Right tackle Anthony Davis has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Raiders because of lingering concussion symptoms, which will give Jonathan Martin his eighth start this season at the position. Davis worked out this week but has not practiced since suffering the concussion in the closing minutes of the team’s Nov. 16 game against the Giants.
Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (arm) and tight end Vance McDonald (back) also have been ruled out. That means that for the second consecutive game, the 49ers’ tight ends will be Vernon Davis, Garrett Celek and undrafted rookie Asante Cleveland (Christian Brothers High).
In addition, cornerback Tramaine Brock (hamstring) and special-teams standout Bubba Ventrone (groin) are listed as questionable. Neither, however, practiced this week, which typically signals a player will not be on hand for Sunday.
In positive injury news, rookie wide receiver Bruce Ellington practiced all week after missing three games with an ankle injury. That means starting cornerback Perrish Cox won’t have to return punts. Michael Crabtree also practiced every day despite the knee injury that slowed him during the recent Seahawks game.
Et cetera – Left tackle Joe Staley said the Raiders linebacker he’ll face Sunday, rookie Khalil Mack, reminded him of longtime Packers adversary Clay Matthews. Staley said he admired Mack’s style, especially “the way he plays smashmouth” football.
▪ Staley practiced in full Thursday and Friday after missing Wednesday’s practice with a stomach illness. “Bad soup,” he said.
▪ At a technology summit at Levi’s Stadium on Friday, owner Jed York gave the team’s new venue a “B” grade for its first year. York said the team needed to improve parking and foot traffic in coming years.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.