Harbaugh: 'I want (players) to enjoy the competition'
Jim Harbaugh celebrates after the 49ers' victory over the Atlanta Falcons in last week's NFC Championship game. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Editor's Note: Jim Harbaugh held a media session Friday at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara. Below is a transcript of the press conference.
“New haircut there, [Bay Area News Group beat writer] Cam [Inman]?”
I got it in Atlanta. I like to go to barbershops on the road. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.
“High and tight, looks good.”
What resonated with you from your chat with John Madden on KCBS Radio in San Francisco this morning about getting ready for the Super Bowl?
“Some of the advice he gave. Thought it was really good insight. Some that I have never heard before. And shared it with the team just a few minutes ago.”
The no complaints one?
Did you like that one a lot?
“I did. I did. I did like that. Yeah, some people could say what’s there to complain about, you’re in the Super Bowl, right? Well, I know where he’s coming from.”
Along those lines, do you remember and can you use what you went through in 2002 with the Raiders to kind of help you along in this Super Bowl trip?
“I think everybody’s, anybody’s experiences we’ll all use to cumulative affect thing, yeah.”
Does anything jump out at you from that 2002, from that Super Bowl?
“Yeah, a great team. Really well-coached team. Great players. Record-setting season. We learned a lot of football that year.”
Are you giving any general instructions to your guys? Like have fun for the first few days, or buckle it down at a certain time? Is there anything like that you’re telling them?
“The things that we always emphasize as a team, and that’s studying for the test. Preparing for the challenge and the task at hand. What we’re going to do today. What our expectations are for today. And that’s to have the best day that we could possibly have, meetings and practice. I want them to enjoy. I want them to enjoy every minute. And especially enjoy the competition. And that’s the most exciting thing to look forward to, is playing the game. That ball being kicked off. And working together, fighting together, playing together for a chance to win a championship.”
Have you established any off-field rules for next week yet? Or will you let your captains do that? Or what will that, how will that, what approach will you take there?
“Yeah, we’ll have a schedule. We’ll have rules.”
Can you share them with us?
“No. I don’t think they apply to you. Do you want a curfew? Are you going to have a curfew?”
I need rules.
“Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. Protect the outside world from the media and protect the media from the media, yeah. We could come up with a few.”
The 8 a.m. interview sessions will take care of a lot of them…
Media wise you’re going to be asked to cover a lot of ground you’ve plowed a lot this season. You’ll have a lot of media obligations, obviously. Is that something you can enjoy as far as trying to appreciate and enjoy the Super Bowl experience?
“Not quite understanding your question.”
Well, you generally don’t like to cover a lot of questions that you’ve answered time and time again. Obviously, that’s going to come up quite a bit I would imagine. Super Bowl week you have a lot of media obligations. You talked about Madden saying no complaints. Is that something you can enjoy as you try to appreciate the Super Bowl experience?
“Yes. I don’t know where you’ve gotten the impression that I don’t enjoy talking to the media, or the fans. I do enjoy these sessions.”
Can you expand just a little bit on what Colts QB Andrew Luck told you about QB Colin Kaepernick after the Broncos QB Peyton Manning passing camp and just what you were hearing from him at the time?
“That they were friends and they hit it off. And they really enjoyed each other’s company. That was the main thing. He said who he liked. Who he liked hanging around with.”
And did he tell you anything about his physical skill or what have you? And just pitching off of that and what prompted you to kind of go down and visit him down in Reno?
“Well, let me say this that now’s not really the time for all that kind of talk. Because all those questions, all those answers are going to lead a lot of self-promotion and somebody trying to take credit. And the one that has the greatest share in that is Colin Kaepernick. What he’s accomplished, what he’s done. We’re so happy for his success and the kind of young man that his parents raised and his family, his hometown and his high school coaches and college coaches. This is his time and his teammates who’ve done so much for him. They’re the ones who protect him. They’re the ones who catch the balls. And defense that gets the ball back for him. Those kinds of things. So, I’d really take a pass on some of those other questions.”
I too enjoy these sessions and I wanted to ask you a question about WR Michael Crabtree.
“Why did you scoff then when I…?”
I laughed heartedly in agreement. May I ask you about Michael Crabtree?
He’s an outstanding receiver. What attributes does he have that are so outstanding?
“Well, long documented his ability to catch the football. He just keeps catching and catching and catching the ball. And next his ability to get open, his route-running ability. And none of these are in order. Great receivers have these qualities. They’re like a carpenter that has a lot of tools. Can’t say the hammer or the saw is more important than the other. And his ability to run after the catch. Runs very much like a running back. And his ability to block. And his mind. He does a great job understanding his assignments and those around him. He’s very much a complete player.”
Regarding K David Akers, what have you seen him doing to try to get out of his slump? And are you or the coaches involved in that?
“Well, to try to answer the question I’d (have to) agree that he has something to get out of. He’s a competitor. He’s a football player. We all have great faith in David. He’s done a lot for our team. I believe he’s really hitting the ball well, consistently now for weeks. So, I can’t go to agree that he is in a slump. And all we can do is he can make the snap, make the hold, give great protection and him keep hitting the ball. And we all have confidence that those will go in. So, from a coaching standpoint, we’ll sure up the protection. And that’s the big part of what we do as coaches.”
About month ago, you talked about how much you leaned on former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa occasionally for guidance and advice. And he’s obviously been in the baseball version of the Super Bowl several times. Have you talked to him at all this week? Is there anything he can share that will help you prepare for this?
“Yeah, we have talked. And nothing that I would share. Tony doesn’t quite like that when I do that. So, he has a great amount of humility. But, he’s been a very valuable resource and asset to me. I really appreciate it.”
How many resources have you sought out to sort of give you the idea how to organize this time before the Super Bowl? And has this time so far, gone about how you’ve suspected? Are you satisfied with how it’s going so far?
“Well, that’s another one of those words, satisfied, that we don’t really put into our football usage. But, the greatest share is just here. Our ideas as an organization, our coaches. Some with our players and mainly the people here in the building.”
What’s the concern level with LB Ahmad Brooks’ shoulder?
“Can’t put a real level on it.”
Do you expect him to be able to play?
OK. He’s made every start I think for the last two years under you guys since he became a fulltime starter. What has he shown you in these two seasons at his position?
“Well, been fantastic for us. Played at a really high level. His opportunity to be an every-down player this year and last year, well documented the season he had last year. This year, he’s been fantastic. [Defensive coordinator] Vic Fangio made the comment the other day that smartest thing we did as an organization was pay Ahmad Brooks and keep him as a 49er. And we would all concur with that. He’s done it with very little fanfare, in terms of how he talks about himself. But, he’s been a tireless worker. Go back to the first days of the offseason program, don’t know if he ever missed a day. And been a great contributor, great leader. And really fine performer on the field.”
What did RB LaMichael James show you for the several weeks he was inactive?
“Quite a bit. His work ethic, number one, was really evident. He was taking as many reps as he possibly could. And predominately, they were on the scout team. But, he would do it as a running back. He would do it as a receiver. And really improved his hands a great deal. And route-running ability with all the thousand reps he took on the scout team. But, just great work ethic and deep desire to improve as football player and get on the field. And he’s gotten on it from the first time he’s stepped on the field. He’s been dynamic.”
What have you seen from the changes of the Ravens offense with Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator? What have you seen as impact wise and from the film study?
“Yeah, we’re not going to get into a lot of scheme talk, what’s new, what’s different, what we expect then to do.
The way you guys use TE Vernon Davis in the passing game, how much of that is predicated on what you see the other defense do? And how much of it is his chemistry with Kaepernick?
“Can you start that again? Will we use Vernon Davis in the passing game?”
Right. How much of that is predicated on responding to what the other defense is doing? How much of it is Kaepernick just having a chemistry with him and reacting to what he sees?
“Yeah, Vernon Davis always has been, always will be a big part of our passing game. And a big part of our running game. So, that hasn’t changed or will change.”
I’m asking because obviously he was a bigger part of the offense last time in the passing game in the game against Atlanta than he had been in the previous games.
“I think in all of our routes everybody’s running, everybody’s alert. Anybody can get the ball. And the quarterback’s going to throw it to the open guy.”
Can you talk about your personal intensity level and how that translates to the team? Motivational slogans, things like that. How intense do you want them to be? Do you want them up at your level, or do you want them…?
“I think we’ve got a pretty good feel for who we are as a team and how we need to prepare. And that’s where our expectations are. Our expectations are to have a great practice today, have the best meetings we possibly can. Hopefully the best of the season today.”
You’ve had some celebrities that have come in to talk to the team. Anybody you plan on for next week?
“No. Nothing’s planned.”
Courtesy San Francisco 49ers Media Services