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NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - INSIDE SLANT
In a way, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck to thank for his present-day situation.
Or is it the other way around? For now, Harbaugh is taking the high road.
If not for Stanford's impressive rise to dominance -- with Luck at quarterback -- Harbaugh doesn't make the jump to the NFL. Maybe he would still be at Stanford or somewhere else, but the Cardinal's rapid rise clearly paved the way for Harbaugh to San Francisco.
"There's no question that the association with Andrew, I feel like we all drew the long straw in his contributions to the Stanford University, not only the football team, but everybody that he came in contact with," Harbaugh said.
Luck was the first big-time recruit Harbaugh landed at Stanford and it was clear in the early stages Harbaugh believed he was destined for great things. The original plan for Luck's career at Stanford was for him to redshirt his freshman year -- the usual play for quarterbacks, especially what was then the Pac-10.
A few games in, Harbaugh had seen enough from the Texas native to change his mind. He brought him into his office and told Luck he decided it was time to burn his redshirt and get him on the field.
"I don't feel like I've earned it," Luck said.
Harbaugh was confused, but granted begrudgingly Luck's request to let him keep his redshirt intact.
When Luck finally got on the field, Stanford's fortunes turned around.
The Cardinal went 8-5 in his first season on the field and followed it up with a 12-1 season, culminated in an Orange Bowl victory. That second season is what turned into a sure-fire No. 1 pick and Harbaugh into one of the hottest coaching prospects in the country.
Luck decided to pass; Harbaugh returned to the league he played in for 15 years.
Pep Hamilton, a Harbaugh hire at Stanford, rose to offensive coordinator when Harbaugh left for the NFL. In the offseason, two years after his promotion, Indianapolis hired him to the same role with the Colts. Hamilton kept the system Harbaugh installed at Stanford, meaning Sunday's game at Candlestick Park will feature a lot of the same offensive concepts.
Yes, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's skill set has allowed Harbaugh to adjust more significantly, but the same verbiage is used in both play books.
"There is some carryover in the basic shape of everything," Luck said.
"But this is a different ballgame. The players on the Niners defense are unbelievable. A lot of Pro Bowl players out there. A lot of studs.
We know we're going to have our hands incredibly full."
Harbaugh still holds Luck in high esteem.
"He came in with a lot of talent and a lot of things taught by his mother and father, and other God-given ability. "But, he's one of the top players in the league, which is no surprise," Harbaugh said. He does so many things extremely well and it's going to be quite a bit of a reunion this week with some of the guys that played at Stanford that we know well. Not necessarily a good thing."
SERIES HISTORY: 43rd regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 24-18. The bulk of the series took place before 1970. Since playing twice in 1969, the teams have played just eight times with the 49ers winning five of those. Indianapolis has taken the last two meetings (2005,
2009) with the 49ers' last win coming in 2001.
NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - NOTES, QUOTES
--In addition to Luck, Colts TE Coby Fleener, WR Griff Whalen and S Delano Howell all played for Harbaugh at Stanford. Harbaugh said there is a reunion of sorts played between other teammates.
"(Former Stanford OL) Andrew Phillips had texted me and I think they got something brewing where quite a few of the fellas that played with Andrew and (Colts WR) Griff (Whalen) and (Colts S) Delano (Howell) and Coby (Fleener) are kind of orchestrating something to be at the game,"
--TE Vernon Davis will be on the opposite sideline of his younger brother, Colts CB Vontae Davis, Sunday for the first time in their careers. Vernon is four-and-a-half years older and the siblings have never participated in the same football game before.
Harbaugh hasn't offered any advice for what it's like going against a
sibling: "No, not really that I can think of right now. Everybody's got their role, their job and go out and fill that to the best of your God-given ability."
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 - Years the Andrew Luck was coached by Jim Roman at Stanford.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a great quarterback, very intelligent, very intuitive. Knows what he's doing on the field." -- QB Colin Kaepernick, when asked what he remembers from first meeting Andrew Luck at the Manning Passing Academy while still in college.
NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--RB Frank Gore passed Roger Craig for No. 2 on the franchise's all-time list yards-from-scrimmage in Week 1 vs. Green Bay. He sits at 11,565, which is still 8,307 behind leader Jerry Rice.
--QB Colin Kaepernick ranks 20th in the NFL is rushing and is the No.
2 QB behind Oakland Terrelle Pryor.
--WR Anquan Boldin ranks No. 9 in the NFL with 213 yards receiving.
--RB LaMichael James (knee) practiced Thursday for the first time in the regular season. His status against Indianapolis remains unclear.
--TE Vernon Davis (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. His status against the Colts is unclear.
--DT Ray McDonald (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. His status against the Colts is unclear.
--DL Justin Smith (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. His status against the Colts is unclear.
--LB Navorro Bowman (wrist) was limited in practice Wednesday. He is expected to play against the Colts.
--S Eric Reid (concussion) was limited in practice Wednesday. He is expected to play against the Colts.
--LB Aldon Smith (back) was limited in practice Wednesday. He is expected to play against the Colts.
--G Mike Iupati (shoulder) was a full participant in practice Wednesday, but listed on the injury report.
--QB Colin Kaepernick (foot) was a full participant in practice Wednesday, but listed on the injury report.
GAME PLAN: The 49ers have to get back to basics a week after get embarrassed on the road at Seattle. For a team that garner a reputation as being one of the league's top running teams over the past two years, that facet of the offense has been completely missing in the first two weeks. It'll be important to establish RB Frank Gore to take pressure off Kaepernick and the passing game.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: 49ers DC Vic Fangio vs. Colts QB Andrew Luck. The two overlapped for a year at Stanford and during that time they developed feelings of mutual respect. Luck joked he wished he spent more time in Fangio's offense so he would have a better idea of what the experienced defensive coach might have up his sleeve.
49ers run defense vs. Colts RB Trent Richardson. Indianapolis'
acquisition of Richardson Wednesday threw an interesting dynamic into the game, as it'll be hard to gauge how well verse the former Alabama star will be with the Colts' system. When he's on the field, the play calls will likely be pretty straightforward.