Deconstructing the Harbaugh Smile

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers play their third preseason game Sunday night in Denver against the Broncos, and it’s well known that the third preseason game is different from all other preseason games.

Typically, the starters play the entire first half, and the coaches create a game plan geared to what the other team does – they don’t do this in Games 1, 2 and 4; in those games they run “vanilla,”  generic schemes.

Today, I asked Jim Harbaugh if he will game plan specifically for the Broncos – if he will game plan more for them than he has for the 49ers’other preseason opponents.

He hesitated and then he stared into space.

“Umm…we’re…” he stammered, as if he was searching for the perfect word. And then he grinned and said: “Maybe. Maybe a little more, maybe exactly the same. It’ll be pretty close to what we’ve done in the last two (games). That’s the actual answer.”

Another member of the media tried to ask Harbaugh a question on a separate issue, but Harbaugh cut him off. The coach wasn’t finished: “Maybe just a little bit more,” he continued, “but maybe exactly the same as the previous two.”

Then he smiled a big, incomprehensible smile and said, “I’m not trying to be funny,” and lots of people laughed.

Despite Harbaugh’s reluctance to give away any definite information, he almost surely will use Sunday’s game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Most head coaches do.

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