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Jim Harbaugh talks offensive game-plan, officiating, adjustments

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media Monday afternoon. We've got a transcript of all he discussed.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When you look over the stats at the end of the game and see that RB Frank Gore had only had six carries and RB Carlos Hyde only had three, what do you think?

"It was a different part of the game, a different game plan. We used five receiver sets, four receiver sets at times. Anticipated that there would be less carries for the running backs."

Did it carry out the way you wanted it to from that standpoint, as far as the run-pass differential?

"It was a limited possession game. When you look at the first half we had probably 31 plays and got the two touchdowns, two very good drives. The second half, was not as good, but we moved the ball and positive from that standpoint. Your question is how much do you look at the run-pass ratio and analyze that. For us it's got to be about moving the ball offensively, scoring points."

Were you encouraged to see how QB Colin Kaepernick fared and the receivers fared in the four and five wide look?

"Yeah, there was some real positives there. I thought the receivers played extremely good. Some strong catches, run after the catch. Did a great job with ball-security. All those guys that were touching the ball. Colin, the whole team was competing. They played extremely hard. Colin made some big plays, extending plays, running with the football. There was, again, many good things."

How much of the game plan was because you just didn't have TE Vernon Davis and TE Vance McDonald in the lineup? Was that the impetus for going with that type of game plan?

"Yes, most of it."

You knew early on there was a good chance that neither of those guys would be in there. Is that something that you could do, you would do even if you had those guys healthy?

"Yes, certainly. Can be, yes. And we showed some real positives out of that set."

Was the locker room just the angriest you've seen your players? It just seemed like they were not just angry, but also in disbelief and exasperated not knowing how they're supposed to play certain plays. Not knowing the officials call them on penalties and they don't know how to explain them. What's your take on how they accepted the loss?

"Yeah, there's definitely frustration and not feeling good after a loss. But, the mindset has got to be, going forward is to fix. You push against something until it's upright. That's the process that our team uses and we have total belief in all of our, and everybody associated with, our program. Coaches, players, everybody involved. Some ebbs and flows to the season. We're in one of those right now and close down the ranks and things we need to get fixed and I have great confidence that we'll do that. In terms of what you're expressing. What the players are expressing after the game in terms of officiating. We never point any finger of blame or make excuses in terms of the officiating. Sometimes the football gods can be unforgiving. And I say gods with a small ‘g'. But, you work to fix it and I'm confident we'll do that."

WR Anquan Boldin certainly pointed the fingers at the officiating. One of the things he said was, "It's going to be the same story. We send our complaints to the league. They'll come back and say we were wrong." Your thoughts on Anquan's statement?

"Well, my thoughts are just what I said. There's frustration. It can appear that something's working against you. I term it the football gods with a small ‘g' not a capital ‘G', and we work to fix it."

Did you talk to Anquan Boldin about football gods with a small ‘g' not a capital ‘G', so he could maybe readjust his thinking? He did a lot of complaining about the officials to all of us last night.

"Again, you were there, you were in that conversation. You get that kind of access right after (the game), within 10 minutes of an emotional time. So, I think cool heads will prevail."

Does that mean you will talk to him or have talked to him?

"We'll address it as I said. We'll work to fix things. There's things that need to be fixed and have great confidence we'll get them fixed."

Not just in the locker room but during games when that type of adversity happens, you get what's perceived to be a bad call or whatever. From the outside it can seem maybe the guys haven't handled it that well. I'm somewhat theorizing, getting into their heads. What are your thoughts? I mean, have they dealt with that type of adversity when there is a bad call and been able to move on and forget about it and go on to the next play?

"Moving forward, as I said, we're going to build on the positives. You want to do the things that are going to help your team win a football game. If it's something that's helping you, you want to keep continuing to do it. If it's something that's not helping you, it's not helping you win, let's not do it. We got a week to get it fixed. Sunday at 1 o'clock, that's the challenge for our ball club. We've been in this position before, where there is an ebb or a flow to the season. We're in it now. That's the great challenge for our football team and have great confidence that we'll attack it."

That business with Anquan on the sidelines there, is that something that the officials pick up on during the game? Maybe sense that somebody's, you know, not happy with a call?

"What somebody's doing on the sideline? Can't say that somebody is--"

When Anquan was jawing there on the sideline. Was that related to any of that?

"No, I don't see how that could be with the officials."

Is DT Ray McDonald OK? He left the game in the fourth quarter and didn't come back into the game.

"He had a dislocated finger."

Any other injuries?

"We'll assess it more today, but I don't think that there were."

Of the guys that were upset, Frank Gore seemed to be at the top of the list, couldn't continue his press conference or his interview with us. Did he express anything to you? Have you guys spoken to him about his role in that game and his role going forward?

"Having played, having coached, having been around a lot of guys and a lot of locker rooms, and I'm sure you have. You've been around it. You men and women in this room have been around as much as I have. It's an emotional time after a loss. What's said or not said, or somebody chooses to or not say anything, I wouldn't read that much into that, at that time."

Did you get a good look on replay at LB Patrick Willis' hit that drew the flag on the quarterback in terms of where he hit him and why that was against the rules?

"I've seen the coaches' copy, yeah."

We didn't see a good look so I'm trying to find out. What did it look like to you on film?

"No matter what I say right now, it's the day after the game, we're not making excuses."

That's not what I asked.

"I know you're not, but you are. I know that you're not, but I think you are." (laughter)

He didn't lead with the crown of his helmet? He did not?

"It looked like his face was up. It looked like he was making a tackle that was seeing what he hit."

Which is what you coach them to do?

"We do teach that, yes."

Could you talk about WR Stevie Johnson's play yesterday? It seemed like he definitely emerged and came through on some very big plays.

"He did. He had some real strong catches, good runs after the catch. Ball security was very good. He was a very good example of that. He played well."

After two losses, there are many theories and hypotheses floating around about what's wrong with the 49ers. In some way, do you enjoy being in these situations where there's a lot of adversity, a lot of doubters, a lot of critics?

"Well, you understand that that's going to be the case. It gives us the opportunity to tighten down the ranks, tighten down the circle. And our challenge is to get it fixed. So, that is the process that we believe in and that'll take place. Very confident in that."

In your coaching career, you've been associated with tight ends and a power running game and a very run-oriented attack. Why shift for this game? Was it because you thought that your previous offenses weren't versatile enough and you wanted this element to be able to turn to if you needed it? Why go against what you have done to this point in your coaching career?

"Part of it because we thought it would work and there was personnel to consider. We went over that a little bit earlier. Both those things."

What were some of the adjustments the Cardinals defense made at halftime? Did they start sending more guys in on pressures than you could handle or how did they adapt their game plan?

"It was pretty aggressive from the beginning. They did get us on two very good blitzes. They were critical downs. It was all-out. We got them a few times and they got us a few times on them."

Just looking at how you guys have fared in the first half as opposed to the second half, are you comfortable with the way, I know comfortable is not a word you use, but as far as how the opponent adjusts to your initial game plan, are you then able to counter-adjust? How do you feel about that aspect of your coaching staff?

"Well, I feel good about it. Like I said, I feel really good about our coaches' process of how we do things. I feel good about our football team, everybody that's in that locker room. And continuing to strive to fix, to improve, to get better is what we'll do."

You referenced former coach Bo Schembechler a bit last week or I think it was Friday. What would he think of five-wide receiver formations?

"I don't know. I've never seen him in a five-wide out."

How about four?

"Four, we did four, yeah."

Had you ever done five before?


University of San Diego?

"Yeah. Stanford. Here. We've had it in the plan before."

On the defensive side, how do you address the illegal hands to the face? It's been happening over and over. It's pretty frustrating to watch. I'm sure it's killing you as well. Specifically, how are you going to address it? It just keeps coming up it seems like.

"Yeah, one of the things that ... as we said, there's some things to fix and that's part of it."

Are there things to fix as far as communication in the secondary? It looked like they got you guys on a couple blown coverages where guys were on different pages.

"Again, there are things that we're going to need to get fixed by Sunday and that's a great challenge for our football team and I'm sure our guys will be up for it."

Do you have a feeling where Vernon Davis might be on Sunday?

"Optimistic. Very hopeful that he'll be able to play Sunday."