The 49ers get back to full-time work on the practice field today, as they will be conducting their first normal practice of the week. The team apparently did a good job making their midnight curfew last night, after DL coach Jim Tomsula conducted bed checks. Patrick Willis spoke about the temptations of New Orleans during Media Day and basically said this was a responsible team. He talked about how he had spent most of his time eating with family and not getting down to Bourbon Street.
Coach Harbaugh met with the media Wednesday morning and you can tell he is anxious to get out to the practice field. Thus far, the team has been conducting meetings, learning the game plan and reviewing film. According to Matt Maiocco, the team conducted a brief 30-minute practice at the Saints facilities where they will be the rest of the week. The return to a full practice on Wednesday will also include daily reports from a pool reporter. John Clayton will be at 49ers practices Wednesday through Friday, and Matt Maiocco will be there Saturday and both will send out reports from the field. I'm sure Jim Harbaugh loves having that. At 49ers practices this year, the media could stay for individual work, but had to leave for team activities. That will not be the case this week.
Coach Harbaugh addressed the media this morning. Here are his thoughts on a variety of subjects:
HEAD COACH JIM HARBAUGH
(on his first impressions of the Saints' facility) "It went well. A great facility over there. Saints personnel, coaches, owner, everybody, the staff has been extremely hospitable. Looking forward to a great day. As Brian Jennings said earlier this morning, we've been anticipating this day for three days. Everything here at the hotel has been wonderful, wonderful. Kind of like it is here, it's a beaver dam being built over in the coaches offices just downstairs. Very excited. Everybody is attacking this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. Every coaching room is aglow with video on from earlier this morning. Was really fired up when I walked by the running backs room this morning at 7 a.m. Tom Rathman was in there teaching and coaching football to Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Bruce Miller, Anthony Dixon was in there. I was inspired. There's a lot going on. Brad Seely, his room was going strong. Just fires me up. I'm very fired up this morning to get over there to the Saints facility with our team and practice. So many good stories along those lines."
(on the challenge to keep today's practice as close to a normal Wednesday as possible) "I don't know that it has to be a normal one. It can be an exceptional one. It can be an extraordinary Wednesday for us. That would be our intent, and really our expectation, to make this the best Wednesday of the entire season."
(on the conversation he had with his brother about Vic Fangio when he was in search of a defensive coordinator at Stanford) "The history of that? When I first met Vic through the Ravens, I was just so impressed by just talking football with him. So every time I visited, it was great to talk football with Vic. I'm sure that two years before we got Vic, when we were looking for a defensive coordinator, I asked Vic if he'd come to Stanford and be the defensive coordinator and he declined. The following year he declined again. As soon as Vic became available, then we offered him the position and he ended up taking it. That's the truth of how it happened."
(on whether he has to monitor Colin Kaepernick's competitiveness and intensity on gamedays) "No, I've never seen anything where he's rubbed anyone the wrong way. Everybody, in my eyes, watches him back it up. He does it in an all-football manner."
(on what he saw in Colin Kaepernick's first start that convinced him to stick with him) "What we all saw. Very good play, very poised beyond his years. He's continued that in every game that he's played."
(on how the rest of the offense has adjusted since the quarterback change) "Everybody has done extremely well. Michael Crabtree continues to catch and catch and catch the football. Does a tremendous job running after the catch, very knowledgeable with his assignments and what people are doing around him. Randy (Moss) has been outstanding. Vernon Davis, as well. All of the offensive weapons have been extremely good. I'd like to talk a little bit about our offensive line, if that's OK. That's been a phenomenal group for us, and I'd call them offensive weapons as well. Joe Staley, a very talented player. Tremendous leadership within the group. How exciting for Jonathan Goodwin, being back at the Saints facility yesterday. Memories had to be thick for him. I know he visited with Sean Payton and some of the staff there. What he's meant to our football team when he first arrived here, we were void at the center position. Jonathan Goodwin has stepped in and started every game, been a great player for us. Anthony Davis' emergence at right tackle from a toughness standpoint, from a strength standpoint, and just the way he continues to grow and grow and grow as a player. Also, Mike Iupati has gone to the board as one of the top guards in the National Football League. Really excited for Alex Boone as an ascending player, as a tough player, as a leader on our football team. Finally, just the way they have all stayed healthy. They've all played well together. It's really been a strength and a center for our football team. Also, Leonard Davis and what he's brought to us along with Daniel Kilgore as the sixth and seventh linemen. They've been instrumental all year in our extra O-Linemen packages, contributions on special teams. The way they have plugged in at guard, tight end and at the extra tight end position has been huge for us."
(on how well his defense has forced turnovers and whether the defense gave him an honorary wristband) "No I have not gotten one of the honorary wristbands. Our defense has been exceptional for us. One of the top teams in the league. There's always a feeling when our defense is on the field that they can will a turnover, that they can make it happen. You'll watch it and you can anticipate it, I know our offensive units do. I know our defensive guys believe that they can get the ball back for the offense. I know every drive isn't going to end in a turnover but it's been something that has fueled us this season and in the past."
(on whether he understands if Alex Smith needs to be a starter again in the NFL) "The way we've described it also is that we have a left arm and we have a right arm. That's something that is very good for our football team. Of course you understand the desire to play and to start. Alex, we expect that and we talk about that and he has provided that. He goes into every game with that mentality, preparing like a starter and ready to play. Before every game I talk to him about it, ‘Be ready to go today.' It's obvious through his preparation during the week that he's ready to go."
(on if he had a conversation with Colin Kaepernick regarding being thrust into the spotlight) "It's just natural that this guy can handle this. There was no conversation about his life changing. He's a great kid. Well, he's a fully-grown man now. He's got a lot of talents from mom, dad and God. He's been raised really well. No, complete confidence in how he handles himself."
(on how important Alex Smith's attitude has been) "It's been exceptional. He's been a role model in team sports, especially for high school and youth sports. I think the proof there is when you hear Scott Tolzien talk about what kind of role model Alex has been in the quarterback room. When you hear (Quarterbacks Coach) Geep Chryst talk about contributions that Alex has made, and (Offensive Coordinator) Greg Roman talk about his contributions to the game plan. Nothing has changed. And to hear Colin talk about what Alex has meant to him through this process. It's been a tremendous example."
(on how important it is that Colin Kaepernick has had two weeks to prepare for the Ravens) "What's gone on in those two weeks were we have had good preparation so far. Very excited for today's practice. Feel the enthusiasm, feel the energy from our coaches, from our players. We're up early; we're walking around the coaches offices. We're meeting with coaches and getting amped up for today. I'm very excited about that."
(on the factors that elevated Michael Crabtree's play this season) "He's always been a great player. That's always been our world view of it. What we see in practice and what we see in games, he's always been a great contributor to our football team. But talent, character and a great desire to be good; very high level of willingness to compete. He has contact courage and toughness. He's a football player. That's probably the best way you can say it. Michael Crabtree is a football player."
(on the offensive and defensive lines being strengths of the team) "That's what our football team wants to be about. Talking about our offensive line, talking about our defensive line, I think on a football team that's the character of your football team. There's no statistical agenda with those guys. They're about playing the game, playing it tough, playing it strong, playing for a win and playing for a level of respect. That's what drives our football team. It's also evidenced by what you see in the Baltimore Ravens-how they play, what they stand for. It's evident on the film and the tape. We want to be about that."
(on whether he believes the read-option and the pistol will be in the NFL for a while) "It's possible that it is here to stay; don't make any predictions on that. I think that it's been successful for us because of the players that we have executing it. I think they're extremely good at it. Also from a schematic standpoint, I think Greg Roman has done a job that is revolutionary in football. I think the way he's mixed the trap, the power, the wham plays into the pistol offense and into the conventional offense has been revolutionary in many ways. I think it would be a combination of those two things."
(on if he ever convinced his dad to pass the ball at Western Kentucky) "I think there was one time where he called a pass when I was at one of his games and it did work. It went for a touchdown."
(on if his dad influenced his play-calling at USD) "Yes. He very much influenced play-calling at USD when he was our running backs coach there. It was toward the power, it was toward the running game and the toss sweep. It was very effective. We had a back there by the name of Evan Harney who excelled under Jack Harbaugh's tutelage."
(on whether he shared play-calling duties with his at USD) "Yeah, there were times when he'd jump in there and get a run call, absolutely."