49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh took part in a conference call at lunch time today to discuss what he did over the bye week and how the team is getting ready for the Cleveland Browns. You can read over the transcript or you can listen to the audio.
Apparently Coach Harbaugh spent the time off checking out "the cat and boots." I'm guessing he means Puss in Boots? It comes out October 28, but he must have gotten into a sneak preview. Overall it sounds like he and the coaching staff were able to enjoy some time off. While we all love the fact that the team is 5-1, it is possible the energy and momentum of the last six weeks could wear down even the most energetic of people.
Coach Harbaugh provided an injury update and for the most part it looks like just about everybody will be good to go by this Sunday. Braylon Edwards was able to work out a bit last week and is expected at practice tomorrow. The team is also hoping Moran Norris, Adam Snyder and Parys Haralson are back and ready this week. When asked about who would start at fullback, Coach Harbaugh said about Miller:
He's done a great job. We're really pleased with what Bruce has done, and he's improved every week too, which is really good. As far as when Moran is back and healthy and they're both in there and competing at the same time, we'll see who's playing better, who's practicing better, who gives us the better opportunity to dictate who will start.
The team gets an extra day of practice this week due to the way the bye week days off worked out. That means they will start implementing the Browns game plan Tuesday and continue with their Wednesday through Friday practices.
It sounds like the coaching staff used the bye week to both prepare for Cleveland and to also prep some things for the coming month of November. The 49ers have a big run of games in November, including road games against the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens, and home games against the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals.
We have been talking about important stretches of games. The next three games against Cleveland, Washington and New York are another important stretch. After that the 49ers play five of their final seven games against divisional opponents. If the 49ers can knock off a 2-1 or 3-0 stretch these next three weeks, they will be in prime position to lock up a playoff bid and start to consider positioning.
This is not entirely about looking ahead to the playoffs, but rather, winning as many games as possible. The by-product of continuing to win is that the team puts itself in a better and better position for later this winter. The 49ers are in a position to maximize those wins with their coming schedule.
There is really no need for the team to get caught looking ahead because each win is suddenly incredibly valuable. I mentioned earlier about how this coming week's game against the Browns could be considered a trap game. The flip side of that is that the team could be so focused in on winning each game that they don't fall into that trap. Fingers remains crossed for that to be the case.