The NFL released their final practice pool reports on Saturday from New Orleans. Courtesy of Brian Allee-Walsh and Matt Maiocco, we were able to get a closer look at the San Francisco 49ers' and Baltimore Ravens' final Super Bowl preparations.
As you'll see, the Harbaughs tried to create a family-type atmosphere the week of the Super Bowl, probably to relax their players before the biggest game of their lives. Both units appear to be heading into this game with a loose but focused state of mind.
Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013
San Francisco 49ers Practice Pool Report
By Matt Maiocco
Pro Football Writers of America
NEW ORLEANS- The lights of the Super Bowl appeared a little brighter for 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, as the team went through 15 minutes of stretching and playing catch at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The 49ers held their final get-together, a light workout on the eve of Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens, in front of 11 bus loads of family and friends. As the coaches and players walked onto the playing field, one person in the crowd prompted the group to perform the 49ers' traditional victory cheer. The man shouted, "Who's got it better than us?" And hundreds of 49ers supporters replied in unison, "Nobody!"
That brought a smile to Harbaugh's face and he applauded the fans' efforts. Afterward, the large contingent was invited onto the field to pose for pictures and get autographs. The brief walk-through practice had a football purpose, too.
"We wanted to come over," Harbaugh said. "And the football part of it is getting used to the lights. They looked a little brighter than the last time we were down here."
The 49ers played Nov. 25 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a game in which quarterback Colin Kaepernick made his first career road start in a 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Harbaugh said he wanted the players to visit the locker room and put on their game cleats to check out the playing surface with "pat-and-go" drills. Harbaugh joined the three quarterbacks in throwing passes to players at all positions.
"Also, wanted to get a stretch, get the blood moving a little bit," Harbaugh said. "And get some new blood going. Then, afterward, enjoy it with your family. Get some pictures and make it possible for everybody to come down to the Super Bowl field."
The most popular player on the field was Kaepernick. He was surrounded by a large circle of people seeking photos. Harbaugh said Kaepernick appears to remain unfazed by his new fame.
"I don't see any change, one way or the other," Harbaugh said. "He is who he is. He has been pretty steady with his demeanor."
The 49ers are scheduled for their normal night-before-game routine of meetings at the team hotel, Harbaugh said.
"I feel good," Harbaugh said. "The preparation has been outstanding, very focused. The players care about winning. They care about this team, and that's complimentary to the players and the way their focus has been. And that's not something that's been just this week. That wasn't just created this week. That's been all season and the offseason. It speaks very highly of the players."
Baltimore Ravens Practice Pool Report
By Brian Allee-Walsh
Pro Football Writers of America
NEW ORLEANS-Fifteen minutes of football. A lifetime of memories.
That sums up the Baltimore Ravens' final on-field appearance Saturday in preparation for Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Although footballs were involved, the 15-minute work session inside the Superdome hardly constituted a practice. It more resembled a pep rally and backyard social than a serious walk-through the day before a game.
Approximately 600 family members connected to the Ravens' organization were on hand to help create a festive atmosphere, including Hall of Fame running back Lenny Moore of the Baltimore Colts. Cameras, video cameras and cell phones worked overtime capturing the big picture for posterity.
Running back Ray Rice playfully tackled his mother, Janet, on the sideline. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin went through his paces wearing an Orioles cap. Guard Marshal Yanda sported a a video camera attached to the top of his Ravens' cap.
Safety Ed Reed concluded the session with the Saturday tradition of leading the entire Ravens team and a few coaches through a few conditioning drills.
Unquestionably, the Ravens are happy, healthy and hungry, not to mention being extremely loose, heading into "The Big Game.''
And that's exactly how Ravens' coach John Harbaugh scripted it.
"It's the kind of foundation of everything we do,'' Harbaugh who walked onto the field with his daughter, Alison. "That has been the whole story line of the whole week. In a sense that's how we did it growing up, when we were kids. We grew up around dad's teams.
"Most of the time in the NFL it's not that way. Most of the time there is the separation of families and it's considered to be a distraction. I just think the opposite. For me, it's a distraction when people are more worried about their families not being allowed to be a part of it. When the families are included, the kids get to the know the players, and I think guys have a better sense of well being. I think this is a good example of it right here.''
Asked to summarize his team's work week in New Orleans, Harbaugh said: "The word I would use is effective. We have been very effective. We've gotten everything we've needed to get done, that's the No. 1 thing.
"But it what was not without some adversity, which is always a good thing. With all the stuff we've been through this year, it just seemed like a minor bump in the road. Nothing you can't plow right through and make it work. Usually when stuff like that happens it works out better. I think in some ways it worked out better for us. It has benefited us in some way.''
Harbaugh was referring to his team's initial practice venue in New Orleans, Tulane University, where the Ravens worked only once on a makeshift football field at the school's baseball stadium.
Ultimately, Harbaugh and his Ravens shared the New Orleans Saints practice facility with brother Jim and his 49ers on Thursday and Friday.
"The league has an obligation and a desire to make sure the competitive playing field is fair,'' John Harbaugh said. "I appreciate Jim cooperating with us. He was great about it. We were great with each other about it. Tulane was great about it, and the league was great about it and, ultimately, made it fair for everybody.''
Harbaugh confirmed that the team would remain at their same hotel Saturday night.
"Everybody will be involved in our message tonight (at the team meeting),'' Harbaugh said. "That will be us being us. We have great Saturday night meetings. I think the message we deliver will tie together the season, it will tie together where we've been and we'll also make a statement about where we're going in this 60-minute football game.''