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Jim Harbaugh talks Deion Sanders, injuries, play clock, defensive performance

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Monday. He got plenty of questions about the locker room, but he also discussed Sunday's injuries, play clock issues, and the team's strong defensive performance. We've got a transcript for you.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Have there been any further observations with TE Vernon Davis and T Anthony Davis?

"No. Nothing official yet."

Do you have any sense of how severe Anthony's injury is?

"I'd hate to comment on it right now without anything official. Like I said, I'd hate to comment on anything before it's official."

You don't think it's too severe?

"How severe, too severe, it's probably best not to comment on it until some official information."

Current NFL Network analyst and former NFL DB Deion Sanders last night on NFL Network, owned by the league, said that the 49ers players don't want to play for you anymore. Do you have any reaction to that? Do you at all believe there's anything to this?

"Personally, I think that's a bunch of crap."

Does it bother you to hear it?

"No. People say what they say."

There's been other reports, mostly from the NFL Network, other reporters who have reported various indications of this. ‘Lost the locker room,' I think was one of the reports. Do you think there's somebody in the organization who's saying these things?

"Well, I think [San Jose Mercury News columnist] Tim [Kawakami] whenever you're talking about unnamed sources - when somebody's got a good story to tell they want to put their name to it. If you had a good story to tell you'd put your name to it. If I had a good story to tell I'd want to put my name to it. So, I don't put a lot of credibility into the unnamed source."

After that first game you talked about your open door policy with players. In the three weeks since then, have you had any players come in and voice some disapproval with the way things are going?

"Nothing specifically, no. But, there's conversations and we never really talk about those. Like I said, players have good ideas. Coaches have good ideas. Equipment managers have good ideas. Trainers have good ideas. Strength coaches - welcome that. Or if we're not doing something right or if there's a better way to do it then let's get it out in the open, let's talk about it. We're willing to do anything to fix something or make it better. That's the kind of relationship that we have. And I include all of those coaches and staff and players in that. There's conversations like that yeah, weekly."

Have there been any conversations with growing discontent in the locker room?


Current ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL QB Trent Dilfer this morning was saying that the atmosphere is almost toxic here.

"Really. I haven't seen Trent around here."

What's that?

"I haven't seen Trent or Deion around much."

You get no sense from your locker room that there's problems inside there?

"I talk about this because I was really pleased with this and it's a joy to coach. You take the ballgame that we had yesterday. We've got some things that went against us. A lot of things in the first quarter were going against us and then more things in the second quarter. And, what I love about our ball club is there's no finger pointing, there's total belief in each other. Offense lifting up defense. Defense lifting up the offense and both doing that with the special teams. That's a joy to be around. That's a joy to coach. Now, they're playing for each other. That's what they should be doing. I'm not taking any credit for that. I'm just expressing that's a joy to be around these fighters, these men."

Is there a veteran or two you go to that you check in to see ‘hey how are things going with players, kind of what's the mood,' that you check in with them periodically?

"Yes there is. And I'm not going to give this any more credibility than we already have. This is way too much along those lines."

You saying a bunch of crap, you usually don't come out and say something quite that strongly. Does this tick you off?

"No. You asked me a question and I answered it."

Is it important for players to like a coach?

"Again, this has gone on way too far in my opinion. We're talking about unnamed sources."

Were there more problems getting the plays in this game than maybe the last few weeks and can you put a finger on why that happens?

"Yeah, that's something we have to keep addressing and stay on top of. There were a few too many times when they play clock was ticking down close to zero. We all got to do a better job getting back into the huddle, getting the plays in quickly and early and managing the clock."

When it gets down to zero almost, is that giving the defense an extra advantage because they can basically jump the play clock now knowing you've got to snap it at zero?

"Yeah, that's part of it. That's a factor."

How much can your secondary and the defense altogether build off a game like that and keeping those guys in check?

"Defensively, continuing to talk about that. That was a great defensive effort. A no-huddle offense and to, I think nine out of the 11 times, to stop them with no first downs in a series or only one first down, nine out of 11, that's great work. I thought they did a great job, all 11, playing together. And that was really the theme. I thought [defensive coordinator] Vic [Fangio] and his staff did a great job of getting the calls in quick, our players understanding them, getting lined up, playing the defense down-after-down was critical. Again, all 11 guys playing together and playing the defense, and there were some real standouts. [S] Antoine Bethea - 10 tackles, PBUs, forced fumble, interception. [CB] Perrish Cox played extremely well. [DT] Justin Smith and others. It was a tremendous game by our defense."

After a couple of frustrating weeks, can you describe just kind of the tone and the demeanor in the locker room yesterday after the win?

"Yeah, it was good. I think our team understood that they were in a position that we had to win a game and responded. Great competitors. Even when things were going against them. It's like, ‘Okay, what more are you going to put on us? We're just going to keep competing and playing together.' And I thought it was typical of our guys, you know? Kind of their trademark."

When you look at the Eagles defense, they were able to get a lot of pressure on QB Colin Kaepernick, especially early in that first quarter. Was it more the Eagles scheme or was it more a lack of execution maybe from the 49ers offense?

"They do a great job of coaching their defensive line. That is one well-coached defensive line. They did a fine job. Now, we have some things that we can do better and we'll strive to improve there."

Why was it a good matchup or how did it workout that you guys played base against their three-receiver sets and were successful doing that?

"I thought it was really good communication, everybody doing their job, playing their assignment, all 11 on the same page, stopping the run and making plays in the backend. Everybody where they were supposed to be, in places, everybody. And then a lot of real extra effort and good play."

Vic was saying two of the plays they practiced for the goal line was to get prepared for that situation. And it looked like everybody on that fourth down play, every guy was blanketing their receiver. Did you go back at film and look at that and just appreciate what that looked like?

"Yeah I did. And Antoine Bethea set that up, too, with the tackle on second down, stopping him at the 1-and-a-half, 2-yard line there. Yeah, you talk about the plaster by our linebackers and secondary was outstanding in the end zone."

Did you see that in practice? Was it unfolding like that in practice, too?

"Yeah, I thought our guys were really locked in and understanding their responsibilities all week."

The touchdown pass to RB Frank Gore, it kind of goes against  the grain of everything a quarterback's taught to do, throwing back across the field like that. Is that an example of just how with Colin maybe the conventional doesn't always work? I mean, he can do things other guys can't do.

"Yes. You can say that because you don't see that too often. It was a great job of him keeping his eyes down field, great job by Frank putting that ball into the end zone. That was a heck of a run."

Do you have to sometimes say you can't go with the conventional with him or allow him to do things that you wouldn't have other quarterbacks do?

"Quarterbacks have to play their game. They have to play their own game sometimes and I think Colin does a great job of playing within our scheme and making plays that you don't coach as well."

What are the main issues on special teams that need to be addressed?

"Two real big, bad plays. The blocked punt and the return for the touchdown. The return, that was a perfect storm of getting knocked out of bounds, we don't front up the returner and the gunners didn't break down. It was a perfect storm of about five or six guys all at the same time not getting that return corralled."

When LB Aaron Lynch is rushing, is he right into basically LB Aldon Smith's slot? I noticed he was rushing from the left side also a lot yesterday. Is it kind of a mix and match when he's in there?

"It is."

And what did you see from him, was it in practice this week, was it in games, that made you think, or you and Vic, made you guys think that he could get a larger role?

"Well, he's been earning that and he's been coming along and did some very good things and has got things to improve on and get better at. But, he's playing very physical. He had a nice athletic play on [Eagles RB Darren] Sproles, when they tried to hit Sproles out of the backfield in the two-minute drive. Running that down, that was a huge play. So, he's doing good things. Keep coming along."

Have you thought about game planning for Chiefs QB Alex Smith? I know that you're still studying film from yesterday and also watching tonight's game with a scouting eye, so to speak.

"Yes. We know it'll be a big challenge. We know what Alex is capable of doing and we're just beginning that process right now."

You mentioned Colin keeping his eyes up on the throw to Gore. He also did that on the touchdown pass to WR Stevie Johnson. He seemed to be doing more of that in this game than perhaps previous ones. Was that a point of emphasis at all during the week, keep your head up as you're escaping the pocket, look for Frank in those situations?

"That's a basic coaching point, yeah, but there was no more emphasis put on it this week. And it was a great play by him. Put the ball on a dime and Stevie, that was a great play. Great play keeping his feet in like a statue pose with both feet in. Hope we have a good picture of that. But, it was a tremendous big play in the game."

In the offseason after all the Cleveland stuff, you talked to a reporter and said that your relationship with general manager Trent Baalke is great, relationship with the front office is great. At this moment, how would you say your relationship is with CEO Jed York and Trent Baalke?

"Very good. Everybody on the same page. Everybody focused on this season making it the best it could possibly be. Working well together."

Have they raised any questions about what the locker room mood is to you recently?


Do you notice a difference in terms of the tone of the locker room from this year to years' past or do you think these reports are two guys that are--?

"I think I've answered the question really thoroughly. And as I said, to give the unnamed sources 10 follow-up, 12 follow-up questions, I think I've answered it thoroughly. To the best of my ability."

WR Michael Crabtree left the game yesterday with a foot injury, went into the locker room. Was there trepidation of putting him back out there? He didn't seem bothered by it as the game went on, but considering his foot history, how concerned were you about his status?

"Again, there's great trust you have in the doctors and the trainers and Michael."

Did Michael check-out OK? He seemed to be fine today?

"Don't have the official information yet."

Is he getting a test?

"Not that I'm aware of."