Harbaugh sticks up for quiet Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is notoriously short with the media, and got some support from his head coach Friday after his quarterback's most recent media scrum.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Colin Kaepernick is rarely forthcoming during his weekly media sessions, particularly when the 49ers aren't playing well. And after a 19-3 loss to the rival Seahawks where the offense gained just 164 total yards, he was especially succinct this week leading into Sunday's game against the Raiders.

Kaepernick answered 32 questions with a total of 87 words. Just two of his answers went longer than one sentence.

Here's a three-question stretch that highlighted the quick interview session (full transcript below):

Q: When you went back and looked at tape from the Seattle game, what struck you about the offense?

Kaepernick: “We didn’t play well.”

Q: Why?

Kaepernick: “Didn’t execute.”

Q: Any explanation why you didn’t execute?

Kaepernick: “Didn’t play well.”

Head coach Jim Harbaugh Friday defended his quarterback after he continued to receive criticism this week for his brevity.

"I saw that there was quite a bit of sport made of Colin Kaepernick. People were even tallying his responses. It’s sad really because you don’t know him," Harbaugh said. "And, he’s a determined person. He’s a spiritual person. He’s a very hard worker and he wants to do well and 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 and I appreciate that. I appreciate that he is who he is. I’m around him every day. He is his own person too."

Harbaugh was asked why Kaepernick responded the way he did during his media session Wednesday.

"He’s very professional," Harbaugh said. "He always stands up. He never dodges or deflects criticism. He takes accountability. He’s honest. He tells the truth. The questions you were asking, he was telling the truth. You’re not going to just be at somebody’s beck and call or bidding.

"He’s going to act the way he acts. He’s his own person. I appreciate the honesty. That’s who he is. His jaw is set. He’s a team player all the way. That’s what he’s doing. He’s working. He is working. He loves this time of year, loves this kind of football, these big games. And I appreciate that. It’s all a person can do. They do their best. If that’s not appreciated then you do your best anyway. That’s who he is. That’s what he does."

The criticism facing Kaepernick often stems from the idea that a franchise quarterback should act like the CEO of an organization, which might include lengthy and thoughtful interview sessions, as many quarterbacks have throughout the league.

But that's never been Kaepernick's gait since becoming starter in 2012. And Harbaugh doesn't have any problem with it.

“Face of the franchise quarterback should be a great leader by example, the way he works. A team player all the way. What’s in his heart is about the team. It’s not about himself. And then, you get the raw honesty. He is telling you. You ask him what his mindset is, it’s to work. That’s his approach."

Harbaugh was asked if Kaepernick wouldn't be true to himself if he provided longer and more thoughtful answers to the media.

"Wouldn’t anybody be? If you want someone to be wordy and that’s not who they are, that’d be phony to be that. That’d be passive aggressive. That’d be being somebody that he’s not. The jaw is set. He wants to win this football game. He’s going to work his way to get there," Harbaugh said.

“He’s doing everything that I expect, and I appreciate it. He’s a team player all the way. He’s a great leader and he’s a tremendous worker. He’s got goals and he likes this time of the season and he wants to do well. I appreciate it."

Below is the full transcript of Kaepernick's media session from Wednesday (Questions in bold):

How was practice out there? A little wet?


How’s the team coming back, bouncing back right now? Where’s the focus at?

“The Raiders.”

What about you personally?

“The Raiders.”

What do you see in the Raiders as far as what they bring to the table and what you’re seeing on film?

“They’re a good team.”

When you went back and looked at tape from the Seattle game, what struck you about the offense?

“We didn’t play well.”


“Didn’t execute.”

Any explanation why you didn’t execute?

“Didn’t play well.”

Was it mostly you guys or what Seattle was doing?

“It was us.”

Growing up here in this region, if you could share with us just growing up playing the game, this Raider-49er rivalry, just if you followed it or?

“I was a Packers fan.”

You almost became a Raider, though, back in the draft. How many times did you visit with the Raiders before the draft?


And did you meet with former Raiders owner and general manager Al Davis back then?

“Hue [Jackson].”

And what kind of vibe did you get from Hue and knowing how much he would want you?

“A good one.”

Did you work out at the facility there?


Did they work you out all?


No work out? Just a meet-and-greet?


What’s the confidence like with the team right now? Did Thursday’s loss take its toll on you guys confidence-wise?


And why is that?

“We know what we have to do. We played bad.”

When you have a game like that, is it one of those things where man you just can’t wait until the next one?


How are you guys able to compartmentalize all the outside drama and rumors and stories about head coach Jim Harbaugh potentially not being here next year? And not only that, but whether it’s the Raiders, Michigan, different places like that. How are you able to keep that all out of your heads?

“I don’t pay attention.”

Is that hard, though? I mean you guys are human.


What do you think about the rumors that are surrounding Harbaugh?

“Look at his resume. You’ll get your answer.”

Do you want him to be your head coach next year?


What are you looking forward to on Sunday?


Are you curious to see what the black hole is like in person, just being in the Raiders stadium?

“I’ve been there before.”

As a fan or just as exhibition? As a fan?

“Punt, pass and kick.”

How old were you then?

“I don’t remember.”

How did you fare?

“Second and third.”

In what categories?

“Two different years.”

Sorry if you’ve been asked this, I just got here, but TE Vernon Davis, as you probably know, he had 16 catches of over 20 yards last year. He just has one this year. He’s dealt with injuries. Is he physically OK or what’s going on with him and why hasn’t he been as big a part of the offense?

“He’s physically fine.”

Can you put your finger on why he hasn’t been…his numbers are pretty dramatically down?

“Couldn’t tell you.”

No idea?


Were you about 11 when you did the punt, pass, kick?

“I don’t remember.”

Next story:

Davis still dealing with concussion symptoms

E-mail Niners Digest: NinersDigest@gmail.com

Follow Editor-in-Chief Chris Biderman on Twitter.

Get updates from Niners Digest by following here and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and analysis.

Niners Digest Top Stories