T minus-10: Harbaugh, Aug. 25

With Stanford's season opener against Sacramento State on Sept. 4 growing closer by the day, several position competitions are starting to come into focus. Following practice on Wednesday, Coach Jim Harbaugh named a leader in the right tackle competition, discussed the wide receiver hierarchy, and touched on several other topics in his post-practice media session. Read on for the details…

Do you think the four returning starters on the offensive line will be playing on Sundays when they're done here and what's the confidence you have in them?
Well, I think the powerful thing about the group is the way they interact together, the way they're a tightly knit group. They were last year, and this year is a new year, but I see the same thing developing with them. When you start talking about Phillips, I think his future in football is unlimited this year and beyond. DeCastro, I think the same thing. Jon Martin, the same thing there and Chase Beeler, I think he has that ability too. And then Derek Hall has had a very strong camp and is continuing over the next couple of weeks can eve get better and more consistent. Right now the group is shaping up very well.

Is Hall the right tackle now?
He's definitely the leader. I wouldn't cement that in stone but yeah, he's had a very good camp.

At running back, you were saying in a television interview that Taylor and Stewart have a leg up for the 1a and 1b?
Yes, I would say that.

Gaffney was back out there today?
He was back today but I didn't get a sense that he was full. But he looked good, he's missed some days and kind of went to the bottom in terms of those four guys.

How is the Corey Gatewood to offense transition going?
It's going okay. He's done some good things and has brought some fresh legs and some speed to that position. We'll see how it works out.

Are there any positions you feel like you really need some answers?
I think we're getting pretty dialed in. But there's competition that's ongoing and there always will be. I'm pleased with quite a few positions. Really pleased with the tight end position. We have five tight ends on this team and all five are playing a role and being utilized and playing well. We can go right through them. Toilolo is doing a great job and he's in a starting position. I'd consider Ertz or Fleener as a starter. Then Hewitt as well is right there behind Owen and giving us a lot of good quality reps. And Konrad before he got a little banged up, he's back now, but he's doing a good job as well.

Does a development like that cause you to rethink a little bit what role the tight ends will have in the offense?
Of course, any time guys are really standing out and playing well you try to find ways that you can utilize their skills.

When does fall camp transition into preparation for Sacramento State specifically? Is that next Monday or are you already doing it?
We've already transitioned.

Are you planning to play Loukas against Sacramento State no matter what?
We'd really like to get him some quality work at quarterback in that game and it remains to be seen. He'll be part of our plan every week.

Is there a clear No. 3 quarterback or is that still between Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo?
There's not a clear No. 3 yet. They've both really had their moments in camp. I think Josh Nunes really started out well and hot, and had a lull a little bit in the middle of camp, and is really surging again, whereas Picazo kind of started out a little slower, had a really good middle, and had a couple days where he fell off a little bit, but now he's back playing pretty well. Statistically it's amazing because we chart all their throws and in completion percentage they're dead even. They're both at 60% on the money. It's still a tight battle there and that's an important one.

Any update on the punting competition?
Soon, soon I think we'll be able to say soon who the No. 1 guy is. It's been really tight. Like anything, they'll both have a really good day, the next day one will have a little better day and they've both had their off days, too, so it's very tight.

How's Sherman doing?
He's fine.

So he'll play in the opener? I would guess he will. If I have my crystal ball exactly right, yeah.

How's Owusu?
They're both doing fine and working through some things physically.

Do you expect Owusu to be ready for the opener?
I expect everybody to be ready for the opener.

Anybody sticking out as a possible punt returner?
Doug Baldwin is a trustworthy guy, we have candidates there.

If Owusu doesn't practice then who is the No. 3 receiver? I would assume Baldwin would step in along with Ryan Whalen but who after that?
It's Ryan Whalen, Baldwin, Griff Whalen, those are the top three guys. The next two [sic] guys are Jemari Roberts, Drew Terell and Jamal Patterson. I don't think I left anybody out there.

But physically we're doing well. It's been a really good camp. It's been a tough, physical camp. We've had no season ending injuries and we've looked statistically, the guys that are working through things and working their way back to the field, it's more than half less of what it was this time last year. Those are all good things.

Do you think there's a reason for that or is it just good luck?
You have to have a feel for things, but it's been a very physical training camp. What always helps determine that, there's some things that are just bad luck or good luck, but the preparation that the guys did in the summer, that's the one thing you could point back to and say our guys really prepared well and worked hard therefore they get into awkward positions physically and they don't get injured. Also when something does happen the time that it takes for them to recover is a lot shorter. So case in point for guys like Richard and Chris Owusu and Drew Terrell and others.

Going to the stadium tomorrow do you have any sense of the state of the field?
Yeah, it's really good. We saw it a week ago maybe and it looked good it was like a billiards table and it's just right, it's just right. Really pleased about it. I had nothing to do with it, but the guys who did, did a great job.

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