49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media Friday afternoon for his usual day-after-game press conference. After two straight losses however, coming off a win brought out a slightly more enthusiastic Coach Harbaugh. He spoke for nearly 18 minutes, discussing all sorts of topics, some quick one-offs, others lengthier forays.
Someone brought up Colin Kaepernick's twitter activities, and it gave Coach Harbaugh a chance to discuss his own history with Twitter. If you were not aware, Jim Harbaugh was actually on Twitter for a brief time back at Stanford. I highly recommend reading Peter Hartlaub's look at the best tweets of @JimHarbaugh. It's some amazing stuff. Unfortunately @JimHarbaugh has since been deleted.
Coach Harbaugh did actually get a chance to explain why he was no longer on Twitter. According to Coach, he found it to be a drain. With only so many hours in the day, it makes sense that a coach might run out of gas on Twitter.
Harbaugh discussed Twitter in the context of Kap using negative energy to motivate himself. It is not surprising he did not have a problem with that. This is a man who talks about how the opposition lulls you into a false sense of security by talking you up. He enjoys a little "us against the world" to motivate his team. I imagine he used plenty of that this past week.
"Hello. Good to see everybody made it back. Well, not everybody I guess, but for those who did good to see you."
Good to see you too. When you reflect on last night's game, how do you feel about how the team dealt with the adversity with a lot of important guys missing?
"Very well. I thought the team stared adversity in the face with a lot of grit and determination. It was a good team win."
Could you see maybe a refocus of attention in just that short week? Could you sense that they were pretty determined to not let that one get away?
"Really saw that this week, yes. And the group has been really good the entire year. Been very, consistently good in terms of their preparation and their focus week-to-week, which bodes well for us."
Is that a phenomenon you see sometimes, when you lose a good player like LB Patrick Willis or LB Aldon Smith? Everybody else feels compelled to step up a little bit and the collective stepping-up, I guess, makes the team play better?
"Yeah, you want that response. And that was really, a good team win. When you look at the defense, very good team defense. Several guys to highlight, many already have been. Also [DL] Glenn Dorsey played exceptionally well. [LB] NaVorro [Bowman] you know. [CB] T [Tramaine] Brock, another guy that came in and caused a big play, interception that [S] Donte [Whitner] got in the end zone. So, a lot of key guys, but overall very good team defense."
Will that be an ongoing competition, the number three cornerback role? If Brock plays well, continues to play well, could he be the number three guy from here on out?
"Well, the thing, ongoing good team defense, of course you want that, yes."
Do you sense that in practices, Jim? Do you see the competition out there? Guys like Tramaine not satisfied with his role, and trying to bump it up to that next level?
"With everybody, this past week especially, was not so much physical competition on the practice field as it was mental. Meeting time, there was extra meeting time, less practice time just because of where the guys were physically. But, the attention to detail, the focus was outstanding."
Is there an update on WR Quinton Patton at all?
"Yeah, looks like he's going to have a fracture in his foot, a metacarpal, and he's going to miss some time."
What about T Joe Staley?
"I think possibly dodged a bullet there. So, we'll see in the next couple days, but appears that he was able to walk that off."
You guys won one game by passing like crazy, won a game by running like crazy, does it benefit you guys to be somewhat unpredictable like that? Seems like it would be hard to scheme against you when you don't know how the 49ers are going to come at you.
"Yes, I think it's just a necessity in this league."
Did this game kind of reaffirm who you guys are as a team? The tough run defense, the tough run game, those have kind of been staples of the team since you arrived here. Does this kind of reaffirm who you are as a team?
"I thought the guys played with great energy and great toughness. I don't know about reaffirming, to who we're reaffirming that to. I feel like our guys are that way."
I mean the formulas that you guys won by is kind of what I mean?
"So, you're changing the--?"
No, does it reaffirm who you guys are? The formula you guys use to win?
"The formula as it relates to offense, defense or special teams?"
Yeah, tough run defense, tough running game, I mean kind of a tough team--?
"Yeah, definitely want to be about that. I feel like our guys are."
How did you feel about the penalty that was called on Whitner near the end of the game? Seemed like it was a pretty legal play.
"Going over this, probably a bunch of times already, that we can't comment on that."
The K Phil Dawson free kick, was that your idea or how did you come about deciding to send Phil out to try that 71-yard attempt?
"Yes, was planning that scenario out as the clock was ticking down, and using the timeouts to try get that type of scenario. Been better if the ball had been closer to midfield, but Phil gave it a good run. And had that been a little bit more on-line maybe it would have had a shot. But he gave it a good run. [CB] Darryl Morris did a real nice job covering on the play, getting in his first action as a pro. Had a few other nice plays where he was the gunner on the punt and it really showed his speed. And that particular play was a one-on-one tackle in space, so appreciate that effort by him on that play. And also Phil."
Was the free kick something you might have wanted to try throughout your coaching career and that was maybe the best opportunity for it?
"Well, it wasn't that. I was just trying to get three points."
Was WR Kyle Williams instructed to fair catch it with that in mind?
Was the intent yesterday that Quinton Patton would be the number two receiver, would get the second most number of receiver snaps behind WR Anquan Boldin?
"I don't know if that was, no, that wasn't planned out or any kind of intent."
Were you ramping up his snap count though?
"Yes. And also [WR] Jonathan Baldwin and Kyle. And [WR] Kassim Osgood got more snaps at receiver as well. And Anquan, an outstanding game. There were some plays where he blocked in the run game, three examples where he blocks two. Just real savvy. One time just takes a guy covering him man to block a man. The other time he takes his man and blocks him into another defender. Just real good, savvy play by Anquan in the run game."
You just said yesterday after the game that you had a good feeling about Jon Baldwin. What did you mean by that? What was the good feeling that you had about him?
"He's got a competitive heart. I had that feeling about him."
Where did you see that?
"Just see it. Just see it."
Was he amped up for the game in his uniform for the first time?
"I wouldn't call it being amped up, but I don't know how to explain it. It's just something that you see. I guess a bird watcher knows the gist of a bird by just watching it fly. I feel like sometimes I got an eye for a competitive heart. I see it. I see it with Jon."
How do you feel he played last week?
"Good. Did good. Made a couple of tough catches. Handled it. There'll be more action for him."
Does he have the potential to move up and be that number two guy?
"Everybody's got that license. There's, I feel like they're all, it all means so much to them. Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton, Jonathan Baldwin, [WR] Marlon Moore, Kassim Osgood has been a fabulous contributor in this past game and since he's been with us these past three games, so a real ascending effort for our team."
Is Quinton the guy that you can keep alive on the 53?
And you will?
Can you rate the performance of RB Frank Gore last night?
"Sorry. Thank you. Yeah, A-plus-plus. It was outstanding. Very Frank-Gore-like. Nobody does it better. Pure attitude."
How much does having TE Vernon Davis back set things up for other guys, particularly Anquan after watching the film? I know you guys missed him on Sunday.
"Yeah. There's just examples. I mean the touchdown pass that he made tracking down the corner route, creating space, separation, and he's got to be accounted for. Did well in the run game. Missed a couple, but there'll be things we can clean up. Overall, outstanding. Vernon is just ... I guess a special creation. He has different kind of blood flowing through him than you or I do for sure. The way he had never been sidelined for a game. Had a tear in his hamstring and then all of a sudden it just heals back together. He's got, his muscle structure, his DNA, blood flow is different somehow, someway."
Did he look 100 percent to you?
"I don't know if it was 100 percent, but it was darn good."
You tap into the outside world, at least through CSN Bay Area Matt Maiocco's reports we know that. Do you ever marvel at the mood swings of the fans and the media in regards to your team?
"I don't catch much. Especially on as short a week that we had. It probably was a good thing, a short memory in a short week. We had those two things going for us."
With QB Colin Kaepernick last week, I don't know if you're familiar with Twitter, but he favorites a lot of negative type of tweets. He says that gives him motivation seeing what other people are writing about him. What do you think about that? Is that healthy for a quarterback to draw motivation from outside sources?
"It can be, yes. Energy is energy. There's positive energy, there's negative energy. Sometimes a person can get more energy from negative energy. Sometimes that can be a gift. Thank you very much. As long as all that's written is said against us then you feel a certain assurance of success. People are heaping flowery words of praise upon you, then you feel exposed before your enemies."
Did you ever use that or did you try to shut that stuff out?
"I'm just quoting [American poet] Ralph Waldo Emerson there."
But you've said it before, are you similar? Do you use negativity, outside negativity, to fuel you and drive you?
"Prefer it, but really just concentrate on coaching the team. I'm just saying that's a big enough job as it is."
Playing without two All-Pros on defense, four of your top 12 defensive players, yet you put together a pretty outstanding defensive performance. Can you talk about how you were able to do that and regroup without four of your top 12 defensive players?
"A huge piece of that is NaVorro Bowman. A huge piece of that is a well-coordinated plan by [Defensive Coordinator] Vic Fangio and the defensive coaches, Donte Whitner and his presence and leadership and guys that stepped up, [LB Dan] Skuta, [LB Corey] Lemonier, [LB] Ahmad Brooks responded much like the way Matt [Maiocco] was referring to earlier. Glenn Dorsey, [DT] Ray McDonald, [DT] Justin Smith always consistently gritty and tough. [CB Tarell] T Brown battled, came up with some big plays, T Brock as well. But if you talk to Vic and you talk to the defense coaches what they thought was the most impressive was just the way the guys played together as a unit. Good team defense."
Following up on Matt on that sort of thing, when you played, you talked about when you coached, but when you played, did you use any of that when you would hear negativity or whatever you call it as fuel or did you shut it out, when you were playing?
"Basically, I think probably the same as it is now. When I played and when I coached, personally I really don't hear the noise. I don't hear the screaming and the yelling and the dust and the sand and the noise. It doesn't serve a useful purpose, just in my own experience."
Why are you no longer on Twitter?
"I found it to be a drain of time and haven't been there for quite a long time. But when I was over at Stanford and that Twitter, Tweeter, Twitter-er became popular, there was stress that we as coaches needed to be on Twitter to be able to communicate with recruits and fan base etc. I tried it for eight or nine months and just found it to be way too time consuming."
You were pretty good at it, weren't you?
"Well, anything you try and be good at. Bosses want you to do something, play it like they want to play it. Try to be good at it."
Now that you know it can be this well of negative energy though, do you feel like you want to tap back into it at some point?
"The time, you only have so many hours in a day, so many minutes, so many hours in a day and you try to fill the hour with, every second, [English Poet Kenyard] Kipling said it pretty well. Can't quite recall exactly, but really concentrating on just coaching the team."
You could get PR Director Bob Lange to do it for you and just do it under your name?
"Give me some Cliffs Notes maybe."
What do you guys do now? You have 10 days until your next game. Are you giving the guys a few days off?
"Regroup, retool, making the bodies feel better, that's what our players are doing. Many of them have been in, just making their bodies feel better. Workouts, coaches, strength staff, trainers, doctors will be here all weekend basically at the availability of the players. And then we'll come back on Monday. But our guys, they've got the day off and then they all show up. That's just who they are."
You guys got back to the run game. Can you talk about why it was so successful last night?
"I thought the precision was there. It was there with all 11 more times than it wasn't. That produced some very good results. The line working with the fullback, the receivers that we mentioned, Anquan's effort, the tight ends, [TE] Vance McDonald was key in several big blocks, so was [TE Garrett] Celek on the touchdown run, [T] Anthony Davis. When you look at play after play and slow it down, there was a lot of precision with the 10 blockers."