Harbaugh uses high school photos to motivate 49ers

Harbaugh's unique motivational tool

Harbaugh uses high school photos to motivate 49ers
January 16, 2013, 11:00 pm

Around the time of the National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama, Jim Harbaugh and a handful of his players -- Justin Smith, Frank Gore, Ricky Jean Francois and Ray McDonald among them -- were eating together when the topic of conversation turned to their recruitment out of high school. Someone in the group pulled out his phone and was able to find his scouting photo off the internet much to the amusement of the others at the table.

“I think it was Ray,” Jim Harbaugh said. “And from there was born the idea, ‘Let’s do one for everybody.’”

The morning after the Crimson Tide crushed the Fighting Irish, the 49ers players walked into the locker room and found their personal scouting sheet out of high school posted above their lockers. Each sheet featured  a photo, overall national ranking, national position ranking, state ranking and overall star rating.

“It’s kind of unique and different just to see what everybody looked like and what they were ranked in high school,” said tight end Delanie Walker.  “I laughed just to see how young we looked back then. Going around I see that Randy Moss has a black & white picture.”

Other players did as Walker did, went around and checked out where everyone ranked. Starting right cornerback Tarell Brown ranked fourth in the nation in his position out of high school and had a four star rating.  A ranking couldn’t be found at all for starting left corner Carlos Rodgers. And some of the photos are just dang hilarious. Harbaugh’s scouting report, however, was spared.

“They didn’t have the internet back in 1982 that I’m aware of,” Harbaugh joked. “In my day, I was a fantastic player. But for some reason people just couldn’t see it. The college scouts and the scribes and pundits just for some reason did not see it."

The players are enjoying their scouting sheets with the photos of skinny kids and bad haircuts, and that was the only point.

“Everything doesn’t need a purpose. It was a fun thing,” Harbaugh said.

But the scouting sheets have served an unexpected purpose. With the NFC Championship looming, they are a reminder to these 49ers of how far they’ve come.

“To me, as I look through every single picture of every single guy, I was moved by the eyes, Harbaugh said. “It’s always in the eyes. They’re cheerful and undefeated.”

As the 49ers hope to remain throughout the rest of the playoffs.