You can’t argue that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has the back of his players.
You also can’t argue that people are snickering behind the back of the second-year coach after yet another rambling diatribe.
After having previously declared Alex Smith the smartest quarterback he’s ever seen, Michael Crabtree the owner of the best hands ever, and denying the 49ers ever had interest in Peyton Manning (and you’re diabolical if you think so), it’s becoming easy to tune him out when he gets into this mode.
But the latest player to benefit from Harbaugh’s unsolicited defense is first-round pick A.J. Jenkins, who some have already declared a disappointment.
In what Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com described as an “unscheduled trip to the podium,” Harbaugh ripped the critics who ripped his rookie receiver.
“A.J Jenkins was an outstanding football player when he got here,” Harbaugh said. “His progress has been very, very good, and exceeded expectations.
“For those — the scribes, pundits, so-called experts — who have gone so far as to say that he’s going to be a bust, should just stop. I recommend that because they’re making themselves look more clueless than they already did.
“I’ll go on record: A.J. is going to be an outstanding football player. So far in camp and what he’s done in the offseason has led us to believe nothing but he’ll be an outstanding football player in the National Football League.”
Harbaugh went onto say: “And, yeah, I’m going to keep track of some of these names of so-called experts who were making these comments. And there’s going to be an ‘I told you so.’ I foresee that happening.”
Listen Jim, we get it. You’re there to shield your players, to make them feel loved. To make sure that if the world doesn’t believe in them, you do. And of course it’s too soon to declare a rookie a bust.
But this protest-too-much act is growing old, fast.
The Jenkins defense, like the Manning denial, was unprompted, which does nothing but make the coach look thin-skinned and reactionary, and worried too much about the voices outside his building.
As long as they win, it’ll be fine. But the moment things slow down, who knows who Harbaugh’s going to choose to lash out at.