By the time this posts I'll be sitting on a plane getting ready to fly down to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. No it's not that kind of Vegas trip. Get your minds out of the gutter!
Coach Harbaugh spoke with the media earlier today and naturally most of the conversation dealt with facing off against his brother. That's going to be the common theme all week long. This is a matchup of two great football teams, but the brother matchup is sufficiently historic that it is not remotely surprising that it will be the big talking point.
For those actually concerned about football, Ray Lewis sat out practice today and is a bit questionable for Thursday. He missed yesterday's Ravens-Bengals game and folks seem to think he might miss multiple games with a toe injury. The 49ers don't need any excuses for victory, but an absent Ray Lewis isn't the worst thing in the world.
If you're looking for some evening reading, we've got the press conference transcript after the jump. You can also check out a transcript of John Harbaugh's conference call and Ray Rice's conference call.
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - November 21, 2011
San Francisco 49ers
Did you get a chance to hear your brother's national conference call?
Didn't know if you had any rebuttals to anything he said.
"I'll get a chance to take a look at it at some point maybe if I have time."
What are you going to say to him on the field before the game?
"I don't know. Haven't thought about it."
Will you talk to him on the field before the game?
In the whole coaching hiring process, how soon did it come to your attention that the 49ers would be playing your brother's division this season?
"Not during the hiring process."
When did it first come to your attention that it would be on the schedule?
"Sometime after I was hired. Can't remember exactly."
He went over a list of the things that you've taken from him, blue collar shirts, some other things. Anything going back the other way that he's borrowed from you?
"I don't know. I'm not really into adding them up."
What about the sign above...
"Blue collared shirts was definitely his idea. Thought it was very good."
Didn't he take a sign that you had over your door...
"Maybe. I don't know specifically. We definitely share ideas and we have since we were kids."
John said about your personality basically, you're a real nice guy and you like to have fun, and you basically lead us on, which of course is true. In other words, you play with us. Sort of when we ask a question or people challenge you. That was his thought.
"Hmm. (laughs from the room). Everybody always laughs at me when I'm really not trying to be funny. I just try to answer the questions."
What coaching traits or principles do you guys share in common?
"Core, fundamental, principle beliefs?"
"Many. I think we're cut from the same cloth."
When did you start game planning for the Ravens?
"Did some in the offseason. We've done some during the bye week and in earnest last night and today."
After dinner when you got back to the office, did you go over the Arizona game or did you go right into Ravens?
"Went over the Arizona game first."
And then into Ravens?
Did you end up sleeping in the office last night?
"No. Got home and slept at my house. It was good."
Is this a big deal for you? This week?
"Yeah it's a big deal. It's a big game. Biggest game of the year in a lot of ways because it's our next game. We're going against a team that is, in our opinion, the best team we've played this season. May be the best team we play all season. The best defense without question that we've played. In so many ways it's a big challenge. The shortness of the week is another big challenge there. A lot of things to overcome this week."
That's a very impersonal answer that you just gave. This is a big deal. You and your brother have two of 32 jobs on the planet. It's got to be a big deal for your family, your parents. From that standpoint, is it a big deal to you?
"You probably want to peel back the onion some more and get into my soul, but this week my brother is just somebody we're trying to beat. Doing my job as it relates to our team preparing for the game is first and foremost. I think it'll probably be a big deal for my parents. If it is or isn't, that's not relevant to what we're trying to accomplish this week either."
You won't allow yourself to step away and sort of note how unique this is?
"It's unique. It's the first time in history that two brothers have coached against each other. This will be the first time since they went to a 16-game schedule that a team has traveled three time zones to play a Thursday game. Those are first. We definitely want to win. There will be a lot of things to focus on other than getting real nostalgic."
Do you think the NFL has put you at a disadvantage because of the whole Harbaugh versus Harbaugh thing on Thanksgiving?
"I definitely think it was very considerate of the NFL to reunite the brother's on Thanksgiving. I think that's going to be very difficult for our team. There's no question that we drew the short end of the straw on this one."
Have you and your brother ever competed against each other before in certain situations?
Any ones stick out in your mind?
"There's just so many. So many times. There was one time when we were on two different baseball teams. I think they beat us 1-0. We were the Sherriff's All Stars and they were the Baskin Robbins. They had the nice uniforms, the recruited players. We were kind of a band of misfits that didn't make the Baskin Robbins teams. We were kind of the younger ones. We had a heck of a pitcher named Jim Phelps. Phelps kept us in that ball game."
Who was faster, by your recollection, of when your dad would time you guys going up the stairs to bring him a refreshment during a timeout in a game you're watching or something?
"It depended what age we were. There's just different times when we were growing up that I was bigger, stronger and faster. Then he'd get a growth spurt and he'd be bigger, stronger, and faster. It just kind of went that way. He started out bigger, stronger, faster and then I got bigger and stronger and faster, then he took back over."
It seemed like John was always so supportive of you. You were the superior athlete...
"See if you can spread the word on that a little bit. Don't keep that to yourself."
Was there ever a time where he was jealous of that or he always seemed to be pretty supportive of your athletic career?
"No question. There were so many times when he knocked down hurdles for me. I'd get to hang out with him and his friends or he'd put in a word to the Baskin Robbins baseball coach, ‘wait ‘til you get a look at my younger brother, he's really good'. Didn't make the team that year. Then when he went to Miami of Ohio, did the same thing. Coaches there, talking about the quarterback on the team and ‘well, if you like him, wait ‘til you see my younger brother, wait ‘til you get a load of him'. Then I got recruited by Miami of Ohio. He's knocked down hurdles for me my whole life. Still doing it today, the way I look at it."
Did you ever get on that Baskin Robbins team when you got older?
"I think the following year, maybe. Then John and I played a year of high school football together when he was a senior and I was a sophomore. We've always been in each other's corners. That's my brother. Next to my wife, my dad and my brother are my best friends. There's that, there's all those things. I'm proud of him, I love him. I'm his biggest supporter, right next to his wife. This week he's just somebody we're trying to beat."
What kind of impressions did you get from watching him coach? You've been to a couple Ravens games the last couple years and been on the sideline. What did you take from those games?
"Just how good he was. How good their organization was. How good their players were. What a strong, mighty team they had. Always impressed."
Do you feel like you probably have a better understanding of them than any other team in the NFL just by having been around watching them a little bit the last couple of years?
"No, I wouldn't think so. I wouldn't know that for sure, but I wouldn't think so. I think the teams that play them in their division probably have a much better..."
No, but do you personally in terms of all the other teams?
"In terms of what?"
Just knowing their personnel and their strategies.
"No, I think the team's that play them. Steelers would come to mind. Those teams know each other really well. History with their head coach, yes I've got a lot of that. Probably more than anybody else."
Have you watched the Ravens this year as anything other than a coach? Have you watched them as a fan at all and rooted for them?
"Yes, I've rooted for them. Every time they play one of our division teams, even more than normal."
Has there been a time where they've been playing at a time slot when you can actually watch them on live TV?
"Yes. I've caught series and things like that on television, sure."
You guys have obviously been very good against the run this year. What special challenges do Ravens RB Ray Rice and the Ravens present in that regard?
"They present a lot of challenges. Very good, multidimensional running back in Ray. They do a nice job with the play action. [Ravens QB] Joe Flacco's a tremendous pocket passer. They have a lot of weapons and they've done a really good job with their receiving corps, bolstering that. There's speed that they can threaten you with down the field. Very good offensive line, [Ravens T Marshal] Yanda has helped them getting back in the lineup. It's an outstanding offense as well."
What makes Ray so effective do you think?
"I think that he's able to do anything that you would want a running back to do. He can run the assortment of all runs. Extremely good out of the backfield catching the ball. He's a very good blocker."
This is a little sentimental, too, but your parents are going to reach their 50th anniversary. That's a number that a lot of couples strive for, it's hard to do in this day and age. That's falling on Friday. Is that pretty special to you this week, too, or can you think about that after Thursday?
"Really proud of that. Really proud that my parents will be having their 50th year, celebrating their 50thyear of marriage. What kid could possibly have it better than having two parents that love each other and provided the kind of example that they have. It'll be a great celebration for them."
Will you be able to stay in Baltimore and celebrate with the family?
"I'm planning on flying back with the team."
Do you have any status update on FB Bruce Miller? Did he come back out in the second half?
"No, he didn't."
So he stayed in the locker room for observation?
"Did he come back and play or did he step foot back onto the field?"
Onto the field.
"I'm not sure if he stepped back out of the locker room onto the field. I did not see him come onto the field in the second half. He didn't play in the second half."
How's he doing?
"He's doing alright. He's doing good. I thought he was doing pretty darn good at halftime, too, when I checked on him. It's getting better. So, he's clearing up and I think he'll be fine."
You have a longstanding relationship with Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron. Is that somebody you've kept in touch with since college through the years and had an influence on you?
"Yes, very much so. Cam was my college coach at Michigan. Always have kept in touch with Cam. Did a quarterbacking video with Cam right after I graduated, when I was playing in Chicago. John coached for Cam at Indiana. Know his family, his kids, his wife. Been really good friends with Cam. When Cam came to San Diego, I remember, he came for an interview. I picked him up at the airport and he interviewed with Marty Schottenheimer. Got the job. Then a week later, he was back in town looking for a house and he drove out to where my kids had a little soccer game or something going on. He said ‘hey, I'm going to be living right next door to you' so he rented a house right next to the one I was living at in San Diego. Those were good times, too. I don't remember how many years it was, three or four years, where he was a next door neighbor."
Vic Fangio came from your brother's staff to join you at Stanford. How did that whole process come about and was your brother supportive of Vic leaving Baltimore?
"It came about because Vic was coaching in Baltimore and I got to know quite a few of the coaches. Vic was somebody I was really dazzled by from the first time I met him and talked to him. Talking football, his knowledge, his experience. The reports he did, the game plans, hours and hours of football talk. That was - trying to get him, trying to get him, trying to get him. Tried to get him the year before, tried to get him that year or tried to get him the year after. It fell into place a year ago."
Was your brother supportive of that?
"He approved. I wouldn't have done it without asking."
You said John has kept knocking down doors for you or something...
"Hurdles is what I said."
How would you say he's doing that now?
"I think in a lot of ways, his success in the NFL. I felt that. Taking his team to the playoffs three straight years in a row. I think in a lot of ways I was looked at as a better coach. Look what John has done, here's his younger brother, etc. Not too different than when we were in high school and every teacher ‘oh, you're John's brother, John's such a great youngster, we all love John'. Who wouldn't love John in that way? There's many hurdles he's knocked down for me."
What did they say after you left?
"I was always glad when my dad would take a job and move somewhere else, because by the time I went through there I'd pretty much worn out my welcome."
Have you heard from the league on S Dashon Goldson and whether he's getting any disciplinary action?
"Not yet, not yet. Haven't heard yet."
You've been a player in this league, can you talk about how you think fatigue will impact this game given that it's three days of rest versus six?
"Right. I played in some Thanksgiving games. I don't know how many, one or two. And they're fast, they go fast. Before you know it you're getting on a plane and we'll be going to make that six hour flight. And it happens fast. The recovery time is so important to football players especially when they've come off a physical game as we did, as Baltimore did, to let your body recover. So, they're going to have to use their super-human powers of recovery this week, and do the best they can. But, it's a big challenge there's no question about it."
With the way T Alex Boone played do you feel like if he needs to step in and start at right tackle he'll be able to handle that chore?
"Yes, oh yes. We have tons of confidence in Alex Boone. Get his hands lower. We got to get his punch and his hands lower. And there will be a lot of good coaching. In teaching today there will be a lot in bullet points because you want to get on to the Baltimore game plan and getting that taught and learned in a short period of time. But, there's quite a few things that we can get better from coming off the ball game we just had. And to be able to do that after a win, I always like that better. I'd prefer that. I think the fellows do as well. But, we shouldn't be kicking six field goals in a football game. We should be finding ways to get those balls in the end zone, and we had good chances too. Where the throw we missed that was one that probably would have been points. And thought Alex had a really good game, missed on a couple. Thought we did a good job with the receiving corps. Great job with [WR Michael] Crabtree, [WR] Kyle Williams as we talked about yesterday, [TE] Vernon [Davis]. But we also dropped a couple. Offensive line though did play extremely well. And just an overall team statistic, if you can have the ball for 44 minutes in a game that is a team statistic. Really offense and defense predominately, defense getting off on third down. The three and outs, the turnovers, five turnovers, and the amount of plays that they limited Arizona too. And then the offense, controlling the ball, knocking off I think it was 24-25 first downs in the ball game. So guys, that's a great accomplishment, but there was more out there, more points out there. There should have been somewhere in the 40's that our team scored. And some things, some penalties that we had in the special teams that we want to get corrected. And we've got to do it fast. So, hopefully that gives you a little insight on all the things that we have to do as a team this week in a very short period of time. So, there's just not a lot of time to really even think about the warm and fuzzy reunions, or the nostalgia of it all. There's just work to be done. And the other thing too is just on as it relates to Dashon. Dashon was punched in the back of the head and then retaliated. What I think needs to be addressed is this mindset that you can't retaliate. You can't-obviously they're not going to see the first one. It's always the second guy that gets caught. And that's the one who's going to get flagged. Had Dashon not thrown the punch, then what we're going to be saying was there would have been no flag, there had been no fine, we would have moved on to the next play. But, the first one needs to get addressed. It needs to be officiated and that needs to be a foul. Otherwise, and you wonder if people do it, as soon as the whistle's blown, hey get the first shot in. The mindset is, ‘it doesn't matter the first one, it's the second one. So, turn your back, get the first shove in, or the first punch in, and then turn your back and see if you can't get a 15-yard penalty.' I'm sure that's not what anybody wants who watches football, who is even associated with the game of football. But, you do see it. Not just at the pro level but at the college level, and down to the high school level. How many people in this room got a cheap shot or got hit in the back of the head, or forearmed in the back of the head and nothing happened. It's just the mindset to me is so, ‘you can't retaliate, you've got to walk away,' but let's get the first one. Let's see if we can't watch out for those."
Can you challenge that? Can you ask the officials to go back and review?
"No not challengeable to my knowledge. But, anyhow that's a little editorializing there on my part."
You mentioned the six-hour plane can you do any coaching on the plane? Will you take that as an opportunity to?
"I thought of that, I really did. Can we wire up the monitors for some video and maybe section off parts of the plane to get up and hold a meeting, etc. And we'll do that individually with players looking through their notes, reviewing their playbooks. And the coaches do that. They circulate throughout the plane and coach their guys and talk to them. So, we're going to have to definitely use every minute this week."