Jim Harbaugh breaks down football to its most basic form

Brian Bahr

We break down some of Jim Harbaugh's comments about statistics and winning.

Jim Harbaugh spoke with the media yesterday and may have provided the greatest pair of answers in his year and a half with the 49ers. When he opened the press conference, after greeting the media, he had the following exchange:

Question: Anything new?

Answer: Ball

Question: Ball?

Answer: Football practice. Looking forward to a good day of practice today. A good day of preparation.

I kinda wish he had just football practice and stopped talking. See how people would respond. Coach Harbaugh has said a few times that he tries to answer media questions to the best of his ability, but sometimes it really does seem like he is playing around a little bit with them. I don't think he's the kind to play games, but maybe it is part of his competitive drive to try and tell them as little as possible while still technically answering their questions.

The other good answer was in regards to statistics. Somebody brought up that the 49ers are 17-0 when they run the ball at least 25 times a game. The reporter asked whether that was a telling stat, or simply a reflection that the team is winning and thus running more. Coach Harbaugh's response:

"Well, I think the most telling stat is how many points you have, how many points they have. And turnovers, another telling statistic and then there's other statistics that you could pull from, point to, extrapolate, etcetera. Do they have meaning? Some cases they do, some cases they don't."

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - October 25, 2012
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Anything new?

"Ball."

Ball?

"Football practice. Looking forward to a good day of practice today. A good day of preparation."

You going to have everybody out there?

"Think so. We'll be pretty close to full force today."

Do you get the sense that the Cardinals are, have been or are a big-time rival for the 49ers?

"Division opponent, I really believe that your next game is your most important game and that's how we've approached it around here."

We spoke about this on Friday but S Dashon Goldson seemed to have a really good game against the Seahawks, both against the run and the pass. Could you talk a little bit about him and how he's produced well and what a key component he is to what you do on defense?

"Yeah, talent, work ethic, he's got a real toughness about him. He's built up a real callus when it comes to physical contact courage. The going from point A to point B, and go hit somebody. Mentioned it, so far this year we've seen some of the best front-up tackles that you're going to see. It's an all-out style that he plays Played the deep ball very well. Gets his hands on ball, tracks the deep ball, does everything that you'd want a safety to do."

Do you typically see that toughness from a free safety, the guy who's in charge of the deep passing game? Do you typically see that run stoutness from those types of guys?

"Well, I think that everybody that plays this game is tough and has contact courage and he's one of the top professionals at what he does."

How much information can you glean from - they have Cardinals G Adam Snyder now on their team, you have LB Clark Haggans on your team. How do you combat that or take advantage of that?

"I think both obviously have knowledge of previous systems, so you have to take that into consideration."

The last couple of weeks, you guys have had the number one pass defense in the NFL. Looks like you're a little bit better, specifically in that area. Can you point to something that the secondary or the pass defense is doing better than last year? Is that something you've seen visibly?

"I don't know that I'd compare to it last year. We're playing well, finding the ball, tackling. I think anytime you look at a defense, if you want to understand if they're a good defense or not, tackling. In particular, backs that tackle and our guys do that. As well as play the deep ball, break up on short passes or in the run game and hard, tough, rough tackling. That's what you want to see."

Have you been impressed with the way LB Aldon Smith has used his long arms against the run and just the way he's developing as an every down linebacker?

"Yes. He's been consistently good. I think that is something that really stands out, the ability he has with his wingspan. I know they talk a lot about that in basketball. But it sure shows up in his play and he uses it to his advantage. There's been several times where you think that you're outflanked by a runner or a quarterback that's scrambling out of the pocket and Aldon has the speed, quickness and arm length to get those plays turned back in or stopped."

Since last year you guys are 17-0 when you run it at least 25 times a game. In your mind is that a telling stat or is that more a reflection of you guys are winning, so you're running the ball more?

"Well, I think the most telling stat is how many points you have, how many points they have. And turnovers, another telling statistic and then there's other statistics that you could pull from, point to, extrapolate, etcetera. Do they have meaning? Some cases they do, some cases they don't."

You don't go into a game with a benchmark of "we'd like to run X amount of times?"

"No, nothing that we talk about prior to a game, publicly."

What kind of asset has senior offensive assistant Paul Wulff been on the staff this year?

"Been outstanding. Tremendous work ethic, very team oriented guy, very creative. Good guy. Something needs to be done, he does it and he's got the capability to do it. We're really fortunate, happy with all of our coaches, and Paul has been a great addition."

You were blown away with the physicality against the Seahawks. With the long rest now, do you expect that level to be increased with the long rest you had?

"Well, we hope and expect really to have a great day of preparation today. That's what we're placing our expectations on. See if we can't have a great practice, great meetings. Hopefully the best of the year. That would be outstanding."

How do you have the best meeting of the year?

"They're interactive. They're prepared well by the coaches. Players are full speed mentally, asking good questions. Have answers on the tip of their tongue. An interactive, high energy meeting."

How often do you guys do team meetings, like the whole team, rather than position groups?

"How many times a week? Off the top of my head, to give you an answer, a couple of times."

How's the quote of the day board going?

"Good."

Any good ones recently during the month?

"Sure, been a lot of good ones.

Anything specific?

"[TE] Vernon Davis had a good one today. Talking about habits, creating good habits."

What habit do you need to keep when you're defending Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald?

"What habit do we need to keep?"

What habits do you have to have to stay true to the plan?

"You have to have a good plan. We have to play our best team defense all the way. Especially in the secondary. He's somebody that's going to get your attention, every single snap. He's a top, top player in this league and made some big plays against us last year."

We haven't asked you about going to London next year. Is that something that you wanted to see, playing overseas?

"My opinion on those, are that when they're scheduled, where they're scheduled, we'll show up and play them."

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