Jim Harbaugh 49ers Press Conference: Clearing Up Misconceptions

Earlier today the 49ers conducted their official press conference to introduce Jim Harbaugh as the new head coach. They sent out the transcript of the press conference and I've posted it after the jump. If you want to watch video of the press conference, go HERE. It's filled with a lot of the normal cliches we should be used to hearing. I think new GM Trent Baalke used the phrase "Take it one day at a time" in at least three separate instances.

However, amidst the cliches and platitudes, we received some information that could help us slowly piece together some of the last three days. The way I look at it, much of what went down the last few days will be like the missing 18 minutes of the Watergate tapes. Who knows when we'll actually get the truth, if ever. However, I think some inferences can still be made from the comments.

The Power: There were some tweets a few days back indicating that Harbaugh wanted more power if he was going to accept a deal. Some folks figured this was one more reason Baalke got the promotion to GM. However, it was announced today that Baalke retains control over the draft and ALSO the final 53-man roster. Baalke indicated he would have final say but it would be a cooperative effort. It makes sense that we'd see some level of cooperation, but it's very interesting that Baalke appears to be retaining a lion's share of the power.

The Money: The final deal is said to be five years, $25 million. Prior to that the amount of information swirling around was insane. We heard the Dolphins were offering $7M to $8M. We heard Stanford had a bigger deal than the 49ers. We later heard the 49ers were going to go up to $6+M. It really was crazy. And at the end of the day, the final deal would indicate things might not have been nearly as crazy as they were portrayed in the media. I don't see how we'll ever really know the truth, but I'll make certain assumptions.

As we close out Friday, it really has been a good day. I know not everybody enjoys hip hop but I really felt Ice Cube hit the nail on the end (apologies in advance for some [site decorum] violations in the song!). I was trying to decide between this and Friday, but went with this. I can't believe...today was a good day.

General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Introductory Press Conference
January 7, 2011

President and CEO Jed York's Opening Statement:

"Good afternoon 49ers faithful. We are very, very excited today. I want to first of all apologize for not introducing [general manager] Trent Baalke in person. Obviously, Trent has been working very hard this week to find the right man for the job and I think you will see that he has been successful in that. I want to make sure that people understand that this is a very happy day, but our work didn't end today, it just begins today. Without further adieu, I'd like to introduce the new general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, Trent Baalke."

General Manager Trent Baalke's Opening Statement:

"First of all I would like to thank everybody for coming. I'm honored, I'm humbled to be standing here as the general manager of the 49ers. The tradition, the franchise, what the logo stands for, not only for what it stands for in the NFL, but across the sporting industry. It's an exciting time for me, but it should be an exciting time for all of us. If you are a 49er fan, this is the start of a new generation. You know 2011 started seven days ago and here we are, we're prepared to name the next head coach of the 49ers. When I set out and talked to the ownership of the type of person we were looking for, we had some qualities in that person that were very important to us; character, humility, were some of the things that were paramount to this decision. As I looked at it and I looked around, I met this man about six or seven years ago at a college all-star game and I kind of fell in love with his energy, he had a passion. In order to succeed in this business I think you have to have that. That was really something that I focused in on and I started to watch him throughout his years in San Diego and then his time at Stanford. It really became evident that this guy had the "it" factor. He had what we were looking for. Without further adieu, I'd like to call up the next head coach of the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh."

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh's Opening Statement:

"Thank you very much Trent. This is a great day for me as well. These have been great days, going through this process. It's a perfect, competitive opportunity for me and the rest of the San Francisco organization to be part of a team, a team that has a chance to win with the San Francisco 49ers. I have much appreciation to [President and CEO] Jed York and [General Manager] Trent Baalke, two men that I have had the great privilege of getting to know over the last couple days. I'm excited about the San Francisco 49ers, one of the legendary franchises in all of football. I'm excited to meet the players. I can't wait to be around those guys. Those professionals, those strong men, those leaders and start building a team. I have unshakeable confidence and a great faith in the human agency and human beings in their desire to be part of a team, wanting to be part of something great. Whether it's building a great cathedral or winning a Lombardi trophy, I can't wait to get around those men. I have heard a lot of great things about them, I've watched them. There are guys that are Pro Bowl players, marquee players, guys that have been there before. Hard workers, you know guys that have given their bodies and their minds to be a part of that team and to win for each other. The first order of business will be to contact them and hopefully, whether it's on the telephone or in person, just start to get to know those guys and start to get ready to hire a staff and hit the ground running. I'm extremely excited for this press conference, for tonight's work, for tomorrow's work, and get started on knowing this football team, knowing the National Football league, knowing our division, knowing our conference and with great excitement and enthusiasm. I can feel the enthusiasm coursing through my veins right now. Thank you very much, thank you to the York family, thank you to Trent and the 49ers organization and family. I am proud to accept this. I accept this competitive challenge willingly and I look very much forward to it, thank you."

On why leave Stanford with QB Andrew Luck coming back for his senior season:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well like I said up at the podium, I view it as a perfect opportunity, the perfect competitive platform with these pro's with the level playing field, the chance to be part of a team that goes after the highest award in all of sports and that's the Lombardi trophy. You know, I leave Stanford and those players which I look at and probably will look at for the rest of my life as signature years, wonderful years, got married there, had two children in Palo Alto. The love that I have for those players and that we all had for each other. Remarkable things were accomplished and it's with humility and a little bit of a heavy heart that I leave Stanford and our football team, but the chance to compete at the highest level. To compete at this level was overwhelming to me."

On how much of the staff will he be taking with him from Stanford to the 49ers:

[Jim Harbaugh] "There's guys off of our staff that I would love to bring to the 49ers, there's also excellent coaches on the 49ers. I look forward to talking to those men who've done, along with their families, who've done a great job for the organization and looking forward to sitting down with each of those men and talking football with them and letting them hear my vision and my plan, and hearing theirs, and together we will put together a great staff. The 49er organization will put together a great staff, and really can't mention anybody's name that's not on the staff already until somebody signs a contract. You know job one will be talking to our players this week and simultaneously trying to hire a great staff."

On what options he was weighing the last four days and what was important to him in those options:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well it was with a great humility that I tell you that I had some options at the college level and pro teams, and two that I like to highlight are Stanford and Michigan, both of whom I consider my universities. They have great leaders at those schools and will hire great coaches. I just felt like it was what I wanted to do at this time was coach in the National Football League. The San Francisco 49ers, with the two men that I talked to in Jed York in Trent Baalke, getting to know them, just talking football with them, hearing their vision, hearing their plan for the organization and how they are going to go about winning. So much you know was the same that I thought about work ethic and integrity and doing it with class and doing it as a team. You know with broad shoulders, everybody fighting for who takes the accountability was just something that I felt strongly about that gave me the competitive opportunity to win, and that's something that you have to do at this level. I mean, without excuse, without hesitation, losing is not an option and that's what we aim to do."

On whether he will use the West Coast Offense:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Absolutely. We will install the West Coast Offense in San Francisco, the birth place of the West Coast Offense, and I'm excited about that."

On whether he made his decision to come to the 49ers this morning or last night:

[Jim Harbaugh] "It was a process this week from the time we landed, coming back from the Orange Bowl and after talking to Trent to Jed on Wednesday, a six or seven or eight-hour meeting and it was just natural. It was just talking ball and I felt like I knew then that was the direction that I wanted to go. So all along the process, I was making my mind up I think."

On the reputation of college coaches having trouble succeeding in the NFL, and whether both Trent and Jim had considered it:

[Trent Baalke] "Well, certainly you look at, you always look at history, but in this situation, there are, there have been coaches that have come from the college ranks and had great success in the NFL. I have no doubt in my mind that Jim will be another one of those."

[Jim Harbaugh] "I don't really ever make any comparisons between myself and other coaches, or really comparing anything, but I hope to be very underestimated. I've always found that to be a wonderful competitive advantage and try to cling to that advantage as long as we can."

On how the league has changes since he was a player and then an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders, whether he will have catching up to do and whether he can make an impact right away:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well, I definitely think that there's going to be learning. With any new job that you take there's going to be a learning curve. I heard [former NFL coach] Dick Vermeil say that when he went from the St. Louis Rams to the Kansas City Chiefs, same league, different one the next year, but he talked about a learning curve of six months to a year. So, I'm excited about it. I'm excited about starting that process and working at it and feeling like I have talented people around us in the organization. And I'm excited about tonight and tomorrow and we'll be working both those times continuously, with continuous effort."

On what arrangement Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh have in re-signing the 49ers current free agents they may lose and who will have the final say regarding who is on the 53-man roster:

[Trent Baalke] "Well, I think I can answer that Mindi [Bach, from CSNBayArea]. The final say of those decisions will rest in my hands. But I've said this before and I say it with great confidence that in order to be successful, it's going to both of us, and all of us, working together to make decisions. So, regardless who has the final decision, it's going to be a cooperative effort including all of us, especially between Jim and I."

On whether he will have the final say on the 53-man roster at the end of training camp:

[Jim Harbaugh] "No, Trent will have the final say on the 53-man roster after training camp."

On what former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh means to him and getting the opportunity to come back to the birthplace of the West Coast Offense:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well, he is the most important person. I had a chance to meet him when I was at Stanford and when I was a player in the National Football League. I have a picture of him that I look at every day, it's on my computer screen, legendary coach and a great man. There's really no sentence that you could put Bill Walsh and Jim Harbaugh in the same sentence as. I have a long way to go and a lot of work ahead of me before any comparison can be made."

On whether there was ever a point during the week that he thought he wouldn't be able to get the deal done:

[Trent Baalke] "Never [laughing]. Obviously, it was a tough decision for Jim. He had to weigh a lot of options and he had to do some soul searching. I expressed to him through the time, and I encouraged him to take it's time, so that he understood when he made the decision that it was the right decision for him. And I think that was very important in giving him the time to make that decision."

On whether the decision to go back to the West Coast Offense was a joint decision which was discussed on Wednesday, and whether it was similar to what he did at Stanford:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well, it'll be similar in some aspects. I think the West Coast Offense is a very broad system. It has the ability to encompass the talents of a lot different kinds of athletes, and evaluating our team is going be, you know, what I'll be doing here over the next couple of weeks, and getting to know those guys and putting together the staff and getting a feel for what we can do. And as soon as we can get together with those guys then we'll start installing it."

On whether he had any reservations about entering the NFL with regards to the uncertain collective bargaining agreement and pending labor negotiations:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well nobody really knows exactly what's going to happen with the CBA. Everybody would be under the same parameters though. All obstacles can and must be overcome and that'll be our approach without excuse. You know, losing is not an option and we'll win at what we can win at each day and we'll look at what's important now. We're going to go out and do that and that'll give us a lot to work on, whether it be the draft, it'll be preparations for this season. Any and all obstacles, you just have to overcome it."

On whether he has talked to his brother John, the current head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, and what it will be like to coach against each other next season:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Yeah we did. We did talked about it and, you know, John said they'll probably make it the Thursday night kickoff game for the opener. So, you know, it'll be great. And that's part of the reason to, you asked me earlier about making the jump to the National Football League and I said it's the opportunity and the perfect competitive challenge. I look forward to coaching against, you know, John Harbaugh, Bill Belichick and the many great coaches in the National Football League. That kind of challenge; I willingly accept that and I look very much forward to it."

On what the process of the last few days was like and whether he came close to taking a job elsewhere:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well the thing I've learned this week, and as we've all known for a very long time, if it's on the internet, it's true [laughing]. But like I said earlier, you know, I'm very humbled and feel fortunate that there were teams that were interested, both at the college level and the pro level. And I'm not at liberty to talk about, I don't think I'm at liberty to talk about any of those situations, so I won't. Other than to say that after really analyzing it, doing my homework, calling people around the league that I trusted, including family, including people that are in the business that I know and trust; when I went through the process and finished the process and made the decision, I knew in my heart and my gut that the right decision was the San Francisco 49ers."  

On what he needs to accomplish in order to implement change:

[Trent Baalke] "I think it starts right now. What we have to do is bring back the culture of winning, and that's going to work every day, taking it one day at a time, getting better today, which we can try to do even tonight, coming to work tomorrow and getting better, and every day we come to work, that's our goal, is to get a little bit better, do things a little bit better, do it with class, represent the organization, represent the York family with class. And that's our number one objective, that's what we're looking to do."

On his thoughts on the team moving to Santa Clara:

[Jim Harbaugh] "I don't know what you're talking about.  I feel comfortable commenting on the previous question. What is it going to take and what we're excited about doing? And that's building a team. And that process has been going on here in San Francisco; has been going on in the right way. I've watched it from 18 miles down the road. It's an outstanding organization, an owner that's committed to winning, a front office that has the ability to get good players, and I saw the way coach Singletary coached his football team, with class, with integrity. I thought they had great chemistry amongst the team, and building on that and be a part of a team that can accomplish something remarkable, that's what I'm excited about."

On what he will look for in a starting quarterback:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well, I mean there's so many qualities that go into that position and I'm excited to get started on the process. And that process is going to be evaluating the guys on the current team, and talking to them, and maybe it's going to be on the phone, hopefully it will be in person, hopefully I'll be somewhere where they're going to be or they come into the facility and we have a chance to sit down, talk and get to know each other, talk about the quarterback, all the men on the football team. And also see the avenues to upgrade that position - like we want to do with every position, by coaching the players that we have, and then through the draft and free agency, those avenues. Those are ways to improve any football team. Better players. And it's our job to coach the ones we have, coach them up, that they are so good that there's nobody that we could bring in that could be better, and at the same time, the job is to draft, recruit free agents, and make the team as strong as possible, because that's what wins in the national football league."

On the specific characteristics he looks for in a quarterback:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Athletic instincts, accuracy, timing, decision making, leadership, intelligence, and you could keep going on and on here, and they're all important. They're important like to a carpenter, the hammer, the saw, the nails, the ruler - you need ‘em all. So we're trying to find those men and develop those characteristics and those abilities."  

On what kind of value he puts on the quarterback:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well all the positions are important on a football team, everybody's role is important, but the quarterback does touch the ball every single play, so maybe I'm a little biased, but I think it's the most important position on the football team, and I think it's the most difficult in all of sports. If you ever had the opportunity to go to a practice, and you can't really do it at a game, just to stand ten yards behind the line of scrimmage and ten yards behind the quarterback where he's taking the snap, and watching as he drops back and the chaos that is going on all around him and in front of him and all the things that he has to think of simultaneously, and in a split second, real time, you realize that that is the toughest position in all of sports."    

On whether he will continue his rivalry with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll:

[Jim Harbaugh] "You know, I'm excited about tonight. Tonight, going to work. You know when this press conference is over, you know, and after Trent and I bedazzle the media (laughing), we'll go to work on dazzling the NFC West and those people that we're going to play, but I'm excited about tonight's work, tomorrow's work, and pretty much going to be working every day after that, so that's the plan."

On how hard the Stanford officials tried to keep him and what they talked about:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Like I said at the top, I really feel like two universities that I was a part of, University of Michigan and Stanford University. Stanford University, the signature years, and as I said before, I loved them and they loved me back. There were meetings with the President and Provost, and they made it quite clear that they were 100 percent behind me, and our staff, and our football program, and going forward and happening, and I was never in doubt of that and it really comes down to this is the level I wanted to be on. And this - the shot and the organization that I wanted to do it with, and it's the perfect competitive opportunity, and I willingly accept it."

On whether he has talked to Stanford QB Andrew Luck about his decision to not enter the draft and talked to the other players:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Yes, I've been in touch with Andrew, and some of the other players, through text. Definitely going to meet with them, and I want them to know I'm going to be right down the road, and this is not going to be a relationship that is going to end. Hopefully, we're always going to be in each other's lives, and it's like family for me, it doesn't change that way."

On what were the topics discussed in the six hour meeting, who was there, and what was the most important five minutes of that discussion:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well maybe Trent can comment on that, but mainly Trent was the driving force of that meeting and it was a lot of just talking football, talking philosophy. You know Jed was also there and talked about his vision, his plan as I mentioned earlier. It was productive and sealed the deal, that's when I knew that these were two guys that were knowledgeable, confident, kind of cool cucumber kind of guys. I really felt that this was the best situation."

Trent Baalke follow up:

[Trent Baalke] "Going back to follow up on that, I don't know if there was a five minute period on that. Like I said in the opening, what we were going for, what I was looking for was the fit. A guy that I know I can work hand and hand with, come to work every day with the same type of passion, the same type of drive, the same type of competitiveness, and I think he exudes it. I think you can see that as he sits here and speaks to you, that's basically how the five or six; it was six hours of this. He definitely has a passion and I definitely can see him coming in and talking ball and I don't know if it was five minutes, I think it was six hours.

On one thing that Jim said to you that sealed the deal:

[Trent Baalke] "Nothing jumps out. I think more than what he said was how he came across, just the passion and the energy, he's a ball coach. He loves the game, you can tell he loves the game and that's important. He was definitely in our minds and certainly in our minds the guy that can lead the San Francisco 49ers franchise back to where it rightfully belongs."

On who are your other influences in coaching and what you think of Andrew Luck deciding to stay at Stanford:

[Jim Harbaugh] "Well the last question first, I told Andrew Luck from the beginning of the season to do what's best for him, for his family, for himself, and if he did that, he'd be doing the right thing. I respect his decision very much, I wish him great success, which I know he will have. He is a unique, wonderful young man, who is a great football player, student and teammate, and I love him. I've taken a lot from him. There's been times that have come out of his mouth some extraordinary things, learned football from him, a lot of things. There's been others, my dad, my brother, family, different coaches that I played for, you know, really taken things from all of them and all of them had the genuine common theme that they all had. The thing that I respected the most about all those men were that they loved football and that they had a deep abiding respect for the game of football, and I have that as well. I love coaching, I love football, and the respect that I have for the game, the respect that I have for the 49er organization demands that I give it my best and that we give it our best, us, and that's what we intend to do."

Will you hire someone to replace you in your position of Vice President of player personnel:

[Trent Baalke] "We are going to make some changes and right now I am not prepared to address those, but there will be an addition to the staff at some point and there will most likely be some movement. We will address that when the time is right."

How important in finding a coach was the ability to develop a quarterback:

[Trent Baalke] "Well I think the first part of that question, I think without question it had an impact on that decision, I too believe that the quarterback position is as important if not the most important position on the field. That's not to take anything away from any of the other players or the positions, but that guy does touch the ball on every play on the offensive side. So it's extremely important, and what I saw in Jim was the ability to develop quarterbacks, obviously his vast experience as a player at every level was important. He obviously understands the position, but yet, it isn't always the "X" players that play the position that can coach it, because sometimes what they can do naturally, some of the other guys can't do. He's a great teacher, I've watched him. Being in the Bay Area and being so close to the campus I've had a chance to go to a lot of the games. I've had a chance to watch him interact at practices with the quarterback and he's just got it. I don't think you can teach it, some guys just have it. His ability to relate to them, to get them to play with confidence, play with passion, understand the game. I have seen all that and he's developed and he developed one in QB Josh Johnson down in San Diego, obviously has a great one at Stanford. That did play an important part, but that wasn't the only draw."

On what advice his brother, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh gave him during the process:

[Jim Harbaugh] "To do your research, and you know, there's other things that he told me about, his experience, what he was going through in the same process, and tips like that, and there were others. And I don't know how much more advice my brother is going to give me after this probably (laughing), I think I'll just leave it at that."

On how much money was a factor in making his decision:

[Jim Harbaugh] "You know, I don't really ever talk about money, and it wasn't a factor. I like a buck just like the next guy, but I love coaching, and I love winning, and I love football. And the factor that dictated my being here was that Trent and Jed and the 49ers organization wanted me to be here, and I wanted to be here as much or more than they wanted me. So here I am, and couldn't be more excited about that."

On what teams see in him that made him hot commodity:

[Jim Harbaugh] "No, humility prevents me from saying I'm the best the candidate that anybody could have had, and I wouldn't say that. But I'm comfortable, I'm confident. I go forward with this unshakable confidence and great faith, and guys that play football that want to be a part of the team and eager to build that team, and had a lot of experience being a part of that team. Being a part of it, leading it, and the kind of faith that makes the ‘what-ifs' irrelevant."

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