Harbaugh lauds Luck, Griffin III

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh congratulates running back Frank Gore after a touchdown against the...

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh congratulates running back Frank Gore after a touchdown against the Buccaneers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif., Oct. 9, 2011. (BECK DIEFENBACH/Reuters)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:31 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS - San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, the quarterback that Peyton Manning displaced as Colts starter in 1998, was asked Thursday to weigh on the player likely to displace Manning Andrew Luck.

Harbaugh is all too familiar with Luck.

He recruited him out of high school to play for the Stanford University Cardinal and coached him into the overall No. 1 draft pick he's likely to be. Harbaugh coached the Cardinal for four seasons before jumping to the Niners last year.

Harbaugh didn't exactly hold his cards close to his vest in raving about Luck.

"You ever played spades? Trump games?" Harbaugh asked reporters at his NFL Scouting Combine news conference. "He's holding a lot of aces in a lot of suits.

"Hes got all the qualities, really. Mentally, physically. Hes as prepared as anybody that youre going to find ... Hes really good. How about that one? Hes got a lot of talent."

Harbaugh seemed hesitant to keep answering questions about Luck, a player he has virtually no chance to draft in San Francisco, but he eventually elaborated.

"Hes one of the finest football players Ive ever been around. Is that good enough? And an even better person. One of the top five guys Ive been around.

"So hes just a joy to coach. Not going to like playing against him. Not looking forward to that."

As it happened, Harbaugh made a hard recruiting pitch when he was at Stanford for Robert Griffin III, everybody's No. 2 quarterback in this year's draft.

"Robert was a 4.0 student, had great parents and comes from a great home. He has had great success at Baylor. You know, past performance usually indicates future success, and hes had nothing but a history of success. So you would predict great achievements in the future."

It was not one of his best days at Stanford when Griffin called him to tell him he was going to attend Baylor University instead.

"I was really fond of Robert through the recruiting process, and he made that decision," Harbaugh said. "I think youve all had a chance to get to know Robert so far and understand him a bit. He makes good decisions. He makes cool decisions. Hes very conscientious in everything that he does, and I respected his decision and wished him well."


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