On my mid-2010 mac mini, also removed the 26 mm T6 Torx standoff during this step instead of step 12. Having completed the steps, it appears my hard drive is from mid 2011, so maybe the production line for mine had changed.
With all the good comments above, I was extra cautious, my two connectors have solid black covers and I couldn’t find the tabs for the needles. So I read ahead a few steps. I was able to skip this step 13 and steps 15 and 16 and take out the drive without force. Step 14 worked as described. I have a mid-2010 without an optical drive so there was only a hard drive connector.