SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
Has there been any decision on LB NaVorro Bowman?
“We’re going to discuss that this afternoon. Let all the medical weigh in today and then make decisions.”
The window closes tomorrow or today?
“Correct. Tomorrow, I believe.”
You figure Seattle would love nothing more than to effectively end your season. With that said, how would you gauge this team’s competitive spirit right now? Your team.
“Well, you take great love and pride in being a professional. That’s every day, that’s every week, that’s every game, that’s every play until the whistle blows, that you take pride in snapping on the film the next day and showing that you play with every ounce of effort that you have and because of the love of the game and the pride you have in being an NFL football professional.”
When you were looking at film, last night or today, what’d you see from yesterday? Did you see guys who took pride in their jobs?
“I did. And there’s many, and you have love and pride for them. The effort is there. You look at the way we played the run game, defensively. There’s examples – special teams, offensively. The guys are doing that, absolutely.”
You mentioned that you thought QB Colin Kaepernick was playing great a couple weeks ago. Clearly, the statistics don’t show that the last few weeks. Can you just say, generally, what has happened to the passing game and Colin’s performance the last few weeks?
“It’s had a rough patch the last couple games and definitely things to improve and correct.”
Is it possible he’s trying too hard? Do you believe a guy can try too hard?
“When you talk about professional, he is that. Giving it every ounce of energy that he has.”
But can you try too hard? Is that a possible thing?
“I think it’s a combination of being loose and focused, yes.”
When you talk about correcting things, from a coaching standpoint it seems a lot of his passes have been overthrown. How do you correct that and have you noticed any flaws in the fundamentals and why those passes are sailing?
“No, haven’t noticed fundamental flaws. You just keep working at it. As a professional coach, that’s what you do as well. Use every ounce of energy that you have.”
Have you considered QB Blaine Gabbert at all over the last few weeks or into the future. Could he get some playing time?
“Colin’s our quarterback.”
I think there were 33 passes versus 18 runs in the game, and RB Frank Gore’s averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Why not more running, overall, and specifically in this game, this season?
Yeah, this game.
“I thought it was brought up yesterday, ‘why’d we go away from the running game,’ but when I looked at the film I didn’t feel like we went away from the running game even into the third and fourth quarter.”
But the stats suggest that you did. Almost two to one ratio, pass to run.
“We got down by two scores. That was necessitated.”
Can that make things easier on Colin if you did more running? Could that take some of the burden off of him? Do you think there’s too much on his shoulders right now?
“I think he can handle it, yes. And again, there’s things to correct from an offensive standpoint and we’ll continue to attack that.”
Saw you had a chat with Oakland owner Mark Davis before the game. How was that? How did that go?
“Fine. Just said hello.”
Do you know him very well?
“Little bit, yeah, from when I coached at the Raiders.”
You’re not making any changes to your coaching staff or anything to shake this up offensively?
On LB Ahmad Brooks, was that a one-game thing where maybe he didn’t play? Do you expect to use him this week? He said he kind of got mixed up on the off days on Tuesday and owned up to his mistake. What’s his status?
“He was in a backup role this past game and we’ll address that this week.”
Did you make that decision? Does defensive coordinator Vic Fangio make that decision? Who makes that call, what his discipline is going to be?
“Playing time and rotation is made by Vic.”
But when he misses or is late to a meeting, who decides what is going to take place with him?
“Vic and I talked about that and it was (determined) that he would be in a backup role based on the week that he had and the week that other guys had. That was the decision that was made.”
You mentioned that other guys had a better week. Is Ahmad, essentially, a backup linebacker right now?
“We don’t have the controversy at that position. We don’t ever go into controversies at other positions.”
When you kicked that field goal in the third quarter, was there any thought about going for it from the two yard line and maybe springboard the offense that had been struggling to score recently?
“Yeah. I thought about it and made the decision to get the points on the board and get the go-ahead three at that point.”
You mentioned that your priority is to win a game. I assume you would think everybody in the organization’s priority is to win a game. Do you think the players, that’s where they’re all at or do you think some of this might of, some of the outside discussion about your status or other people’s status might have gotten in there and caused some of the trouble right now?
“Well, besides anything, it’s being a professional. You signed up to be a professional whether it’s a coach or a player. And you take great pride in being a NFL professional football player. You pull your car into the space and the day is about giving it every ounce of energy that you have. Whether it’s the day, the week, the play – from snap to whistle. And, you emulate the guys that are doing that and you have great love and pride for the guys that are doing it that way. And you want to emulate that for yourself because you’ll have love and pride for how you go about your job and your professionalism.”
Do you find this season humbling for you?
“I can’t remember when I found humility. It was a very long time ago though [Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist] Lowell [Cohn]. But, I know I found it. That doesn’t take away any true pride or love that I have for the game and the job that I do. But, as far as being humbled, it’s been many times and I can’t even remember when it’s been so long ago.”
Yesterday the NFL Network reported that the University of Michigan had reached out to you and you had expressed either directly or indirectly a desire to remain as an NFL coach. Did that occur?
“As I’ve said, as a principle I don’t talk about any other job other than the one that I have. And I’ve answered this question many times, even recently, so you’d know exactly what my priorities are. I get this from the Marines, ‘leaders eat last.’ My number one priority is winning football games. Second priority is the welfare of our players, our coaches, all our staff, for the welfare of our team. And lastly is my own personal professional future.”
Speaking of eating last, did you chip a tooth?
“Saturday night, yes. Bit into a piece of meat. There’s not much of that tooth left. It’s mainly bonding. I got that tooth knocked out in a football game.”
What was the meat?
“A two dollar steak.”
How did you get it knocked out?
“Who did it?”
How did it happen?
“It happened against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game. One of the first three plays of the game. Stepped up and I think Mr. [former Steelers LB Greg] Lloyd hit me right in the mouth.”
When helmet-to-helmet was legal?
“Yeah, went helmet-to-helmet was legal.”
You weren’t wearing a mouth guard?
“I was, yeah. Went right through it.”
Was that the close one you had against them with the Hail Mary at the end or the other one?
“That was the other one.”
You mentioned the team has gone through a rough patch. You know the pickle the team’s in as far as the playoffs go. You coached a while now. Your family obviously has a lot of coaching background. Anything specific you can draw on to move ahead here in terms of facing this stuff, but something’s happened in the past you can draw on? Either you or your dad or your brother has had to do that you can use here?
“Yeah, as my father-in-law Merle Feuerborn says, ‘It’s always darkest before the dawn.’ So, this could be the first minutes of our finest hour. That’s the way we approach it.”
Obviously you still want to win out, but does some of the situation practically play into maybe a decision like for NaVorro or maybe some of the other injury that, OK, you can’t push it in this situation? Is that all a factor in this?
“Could you be (more specific)?”
Yeah, the fact that it looks very difficult for you to make the playoffs. Would that play in the decision whether you’re going to activate NaVorro Bowman with an injury that could be a borderline play or not play situation?
“I think it’ll be based medically on where his status is and what’s best for his football career, now and in the future.”
Have you got preliminary reports on C Marcus Martin and the extent of that injury?
“Yes, some. I’m waiting for all the medical (information) to come in, but it’s been positive on Marcus, so far.”
Both he and CB Chris Culliver?
Why the decision to go with WR Quinton Patton instead of WR Brandon Lloyd in that game?
“I felt based on the week that he had, and has been having, that was the move. A gut decision. Based on the way he’d been playing.”
One of your themes seems to be about being a professional and all that. Is that a message that you already have shared or will share with the team this week?
“I think it’s just what I’m feeling. That’s a message that is a daily, weekly message. What a player should strive for, yeah. Or coach. Or a media professional. All of us.”
Do you think that relates to the team’s mental toughness? Maybe you have to dial that back up? That used to be this team’s calling card it seems. Maybe you lost your way there?
The team is just as tough as it’s always been?
There is a belief out there that all the reports about locker room dysfunction, your future, how you get along with this person and that person the organization is coming from someone or some people in the front office. Do you share that belief?
“I don’t know that.”
Do you think those reports have impeded the way you’ve been able to do your job or just the team this year?
“No. And we’ve talked about the reports before and I’ve answered them. I tell you what my mindset is and how I’m going to coach and what our team is going to strive for.”
You’re satisfied with professional behavior throughout the organization then?
“We’re a team.”