Harbaugh: 'The players are the ones we should be talking about'
Jim Harbaugh: "Both teams will have that advantage and you like your opponent to think about all the possibilities. So we'll leave all those open as possibilities." (USA TODAY IMAGES)
The 49ers return to their Santa Clara practice field on Wednesday for the first time since securing the franchise's sixth trip to the Super Bowl.
And if you want to know the exact details of the 49ers' schedule over the next two weeks, well, coach Jim Harbaugh is not going to make it public.
And that's because he does not want his brother, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, to know the 49ers' plan for the week.
My guess is that the 49ers' coaches will have a large portion of their game plan installed by the time the team flies to New Orleans on Sunday. Once they're in New Orleans, the plan will continue to be tweaked and adjusted as the offensive staff gets a better handle on how the team is responding to any subtle alterations.
Greg Roman, the 49ers' offensive coordinator, was not asked to interview for an NFL head-coaching vacancy when the 49ers had a bye week at the start of the playoffs. He said Sunday that there is no way he would've been able to make all of the adjustments in the 49ers' run game against the Green Bay Packers if he'd been pulled away from his job to sit down for an interview.
So will the 49ers come up with something new, something the Ravens have yet to see from the 49ers on film this season?
"Very possible," Jim Harbaugh said. "And both teams will have that advantage and you like your opponent to think about all the possibilities. So we'll leave all those open as possibilities."
As far as the adjustments, we're talking about the offensive side of the ball -- mostly with the run game. On defense, the 49ers rarely get fancy.
On Sunday evening after the 49ers' 28-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, I wrote about how the 49ers remained patient and stuck with the game plan, crediting them for remaining poised in coming back from a 17-point deficit.
The same could be said for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
The 49ers are not a blitzing team, as I'm sure you've figured out by now. The recipe for the 49ers' success is getting heat on the quarterback with a four-man rush and still devoting seven players to pass coverage.
Even though the Falcons tore up the 49ers in the first half, Fangio did not change his philosophy in the second half. As the game went on he brought a linebacker on occasion and dropped a lineman into coverage, still maintaining a four-man rush. The 49ers brought five pass rushers on only five of Matt Ryan's dropbacks.
But the reason the 49ers did not change is because they chalked up the first half to Atlanta's doing everything perfect, rather than the failures of the 49ers' defense.
"We had good calls, we felt," Harbaugh said. "And our players were in the right position to make plays. And Matt Ryan made some great throws to receivers who have a wide bull's-eye-of-a-catch radius. And he knew right where he was putting it. And made tremendous plays.
"So it was that kind of day. It was a real battle. And we made some plays of our own. And, fortunately, that was enough to turn the tide and get us the win."
Outside linebacker Aldon Smith did not record a sack, but he definitely had a big part in the win with two quarterback hits and five hurries. He was able to throw off the timing of some plays while the 49ers' secondary had the back end covered. The 49ers' defense pitched a shutout against the Falcons in the second half.
Blitzing is certainly not the elixir some people want to think it is. Just ask the Falcons.
Colin Kaepernick was blitzed repeatedly on more than half of his pass attempts. He completed 9 of 12 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown while being blitzed, according to Pro Football Focus. That's why you saw Vernon Davis in so much single coverage. And his 23-yard scramble came on a blitz, too.