Praising Luck brings out the strange in Niners’ Harbaugh

INDIANAPOLIS — Trying to understand the mind-set of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh sometimes can feel like an exercise in futility. Case in point: His media session Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

It seemed at first that Harbaugh was in the mood to praise his former pupil, Andrew Luck, after a reporter asked what was so special about the Stanford QB who figures to go No. 1 overall in April’s draft.

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh faced the inevitable Andrew Luck questions Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. (Gary A. Vasquez/NFL)

“He’s got all the qualities, really,” Harbaugh said. “Mentally, physically, he’s as prepared as anybody you’re going to find. That’s my opinion.”

Then things got strange — Harbaugh strange.

A reporter began his next question about Luck until Harbaugh cut him off and continued on.

“He’s really good,” Harbaugh said. “How about that one? He’s got a lot of talent.”

Moments later, another reporter followed up, wanting to know what “specifically” makes Luck great. Harbaugh looked at her and provided a curt response.

“Well, many things,” he said — and nothing else.

A brief awkward silence ensued until the reporter pressed on emphasizing the “specifically” part of her question.

“I know you’re looking for bullet points, but I mean, uh, a lot of things,” Harbaugh said. “What specifically?”

Yeah, coach. Confidence? How he acted as a teammate? The way he developed on the field?

“Yeah, all great,” Harbaugh said before spewing a line of clich├ęs. “Like I said … he’s one of the finest football players I’ve ever been around. Is that good enough? An even better person. One of the top-five guys I’ve ever been around, you know. A joy to coach.

“(I’m) not going to like playing against him. Not looking forward to that.”

Wait, what just happened?

— Simon Samano

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