Harbaugh defends Kaepernick

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh took exception to the response toward quarterback Colin Kaepernick following his somewhat brief media session on Wednesday.

''It's sad, really, because you don't know Kap,'' Harbaugh said Friday. ''You get the honest person with him. If he's not chatty; he won't be chatty. He has a single-mindedness about him that I respect.''

Kaepernick's weekly session included one-sentence responses, which included a nod of the head, to 30 of the 32 questions asked. The other two answers were two sentences long.

National sports shows picked up the interview, poking fun at the brevity. Harbaugh did not appreciate Kaepernick being used as fodder.

''He's very professional. He never dodges or deflects criticism,'' Harbaugh said. ''He takes accountability. He's honest. He tells the truth. His jaw is set. He's a team player all the way. You can only do your best, and if that's not appreciated, you still do your best.''

Kaepernick was the target of criticism involving his being the face of the franchise, and that someone of his stature needed to explain his positions.

Harbaugh thinks otherwise.

''He's a great leader by example,'' the coach said. ''What's in his heart is about the team and not about himself. He's doing everything I expect and I appreciate that.''

The 49ers are getting ready for a stretch run they hope will lead to a playoff spot, beginning with Sunday's game at the Oakland Raiders (1-11), the league's worst team.

''We all still think we're rolling,'' Harbaugh said. ''The guys had a great week of practice. We're preparing ourselves for this big game.''

San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis, hampered by back spasms and an ankle problem most of the year, isn't looking at stats or lack of production. He's trying to keep things positive and moving forward.

''I stay in my lane and leave it up to the coaches,'' Davis said. ''To help the team game after game, I would love that. As a competitor and contributor, I'd love to get my hands on the ball. Right now, I just want to win. I want to do my job.''

Davis is on pace for 31 receptions and 280 yards, which would be the worst year of his career since a rookie season in which he had 20 receptions in 10 games. His longest play of the year is the 29-yard touchdown pass he caught during the 49ers' opening win over Dallas, and the 44 yards receiving that game is a season high.

''It can be any number of teams,'' Davis said. ''It could be how teams are playing me. I don't know what it is.''

Davis said he doesn't plead his case to the coaching staff or Kaepernick.

''As far as me demanding the ball, I just can't do it,'' Davis said. ''I don't want to add any stress. Any time you lose, guys are going to be upset, they are going to be frustrated. As far as this week, guys are motivated.''

Harbaugh said Davis continues to work through things.

''He had a tremendous week of practice,'' Harbaugh said. ''He's done a tremendous job of blocking.''

49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley said the team anticipates having success for the rest of the season.

''There are no excuses for past performances,'' he said. ''We're trying to move on. If we win the next four games we'll be in the playoffs, and I honestly believe we will.''

NOTES: T Anthony Davis (concussion), DT Glenn Dorsey (forearm) and TE Vance McDonald (back) were declared out for the game. CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring) and S Raymond Ventrone (groin) are questionable. ... The 49ers are playing in Oakland during the regular season for the second time since 1979. ... San Francisco has won 11 of its last 14 regular-season games against AFC opponents. . The 49ers are also 11-3 in December under Harbaugh.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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