Harbaugh, Carroll exchange more verbal jabs

The SportsXchange

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh declined to comment further on Monday after saying that he reached out to the NFL on Friday to voice concerns he had that the Seattle Seahawks got away with several defensive holding or illegal contact penalties that were not called during the 49ers' 16-9 victory on Thursday night.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told ESPN 710-AM radio in Seattle that he was surprised at Harbaugh's stance a week after the 49ers' coach claimed New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was attempting to "influence officiating" by saying San Francisco defensive lineman Justin Smith regularly holds offensive linemen.

Carroll added, "I'm surprised that he felt like their receivers were so overwhelmed."

San Francisco's wide receivers had only six catches for 63 yards Thursday night.

"Well, I'm not going to comment on, or get paraphrased, or let somebody quote somebody else, and then have a reaction to it," Harbaugh said. "I think you pretty much know that we're from the 'sticks and stones' school of approach. So, calling us names isn't going to hurt us."

Harbaugh said he hasn't heard back from the league, and wouldn't discuss the response when he does.

For his part, Carroll doesn't expect the league to take any action.

"If the officials look at it, they won't have anything to even look at," Carroll said, per 710-AM. "I don't think they even need to. It's a regular game ... I don't think a guy should be able to speak out and they can go ahead and cause an investigation. That's too easy. I don't think that's going to happen."

--The 49ers are healthy coming off their bye week and excited about the production of their ground game, which is now averaging 176.6 yards per game and a staggering 5.9 yards per carry.

While running back Frank Gore's 103 carries through seven games is down from most of his previous seasons, he still leads the 49ers with 601 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground, while averaging 5.8 yards per carry.

Kendall Hunter has 50 carries as Gore's primary backup, and Anthony Dixon has chipped in eight carries, mostly in mop-up duty.

The backfield depth only figures to improve when running back Brandon Jacobs is deemed fully recovered from his knee injury and the coaching staff works him into the gameplan. The free agent signee from the New York Giants has yet to log a carry this season, although he feels he's healthy enough to play.

"I think that's all decided on the field," head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Brandon came here, in training camp was doing very well and got injured. Then he is working his way back. That's a process that's going on and simultaneously you have some guys who have played very well at that position. So I would say it's a process."

It's difficult to see where Jacobs will fit into the mix, but the 49ers do want to keep Gore fresh throughout the season. And it doesn't seem to matter who the team puts in the backfield considering the strong run-blocking from the offensive line.

Pro Bowl center Jonathan Goodwin is flanked by guards Mike Iupati and Alex Boone, who are both coming off strong games in Thursday night's 16-9 victory over the Seahawks in which the 49ers racked up 175 rushing yards against one of the league's top run defenses.

"I thought the guard play this past game was top notch," Harbaugh said. "Both of those guys, Mike and Alex Boone had their best or close to their best games, which is saying a lot because they've had good games.

"The way the three of them worked together, I thought it was outstanding. Upon further review we had to really look at it and say that both Mike Iupati and Alex Boone had excellent games. The more you watch the tape, the more you appreciated that aspect of it."

While both are strong run-blockers, they have taken far different paths to their NFL success. While Iupati was a first-round pick, Boone has had to climb the ladder as a former undrafted rookie free agent.

"To his credit, he's taken his opportunity, his talent, his work ethic, and also a great attitude," Harbaugh said. "And then he's got it. And I think it's a great lesson for all the young players, individual players, that working hard, doing it with a great attitude, a team attitude, you figure it out. You get it. And he's a wonderful example of that."
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