Harbaugh: “I thought Crab was the guy that really got us going.”

SAN FRANCISCO – Here’s the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s postgame press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.

What does it feel like to be the first 49ers head coach to lead this team to a winning record since 2002?

“First of all, congratulations to our players on this win. They’re the ones who are leading it; I just want to make that perfectly clear. We’ve had success on the field. We’ve won games like we did today. It’s a great win for us. The players are the ones that are doing it, there’s no such thing as a tough coach. We give advice. We stand over on the sideline. We don’t block or tackle anybody. These strong men, these guys are the ones who are leading it.”

Going up 23-0, is there any temptation to rest your starters, given the short turnaround you have this week?

“Yes and we did.”

You rested RB Frank Gore but it looks like most of the defensive starters were out there throughout.

“You understand, there’s only so many guys that can come out of the game with the roster the way it is. Plus, it was always a three score game. We did the best we could. We were able to rest [WR] Braylon [Edwards, we were able to rest [WR Michael] Crabtree at points and even [RB] Kendall [Hunter]. Those guys stepped up. It started with [WR] Kyle Williams. A tremendous job by Kyle coming off the bench. I thought he made a spectacular catch the first grab he made. He was really good with the ball after the catch. Also, [RB] Anthony Dixon, tip of the cap to AD. Strong running there at the end. That was something really positive that our offense did. Being able to hold the ball, all game, but especially at the end of the game. That was huge. [TE] Justin Peelle, when [FB] Bruce Miller went out, Justin had to step up and play his position and the fullback’s position. Really good by those guys coming off the bench and contributing.”

Did Kyle Williams earn more playing time throughout the game just by the way he played?

“Yes. We were targeting him, yeah.”

Did the relative few number of plays your defense had to play, was that the reason that you were able to keep your starters in the whole game?

“It was contested. Our defense played extremely well. We won that game on the strength of a lot of things but none more important than turnovers that we were able to get in the kicking game and with our defense. [S] Donte Whitner interception, [S] Dashon Goldson interception, [LB] Patrick [Willis] caused a fumble and had an interception. Those were big. Then, we got the one in the kicking game. That was big, that contributed to great field position. Our offense, I think we ran in excess of 80-some plays.”

What was the problem in the first half when you settled for trying for a lot of field goals, I think it was six, as opposed to going in for touchdowns?

“We got stopped on the drives. Chose to kick the field goals.”

How high is your team’s confidence right now?

“Our guys have always been a confident group. You have to be confident. If you don’t have confidence, you don’t have a chance of winning these kind of games. I think it’s good. There is definitely going to be some areas to improve off of today. It wasn’t as clean as it should have been, as you point out. You like to get touchdowns, you’d like to make those field goals and that operation to be flawless. We’ll keep chasing perfection in terms of finishing off drives. There was definitely some really good drives by the offense that you don’t come away with points and satisfaction on those drives for one reason or another.”

How about QB Alex Smith? There’s so much talk about him being this so-called ‘game manager’ but obviously he’s done a good job of managing your offense.

“That offends my sports sensibility, to call a quarterback a game manager. There’s a manager in baseball, but if you’re going to make a football analogy, a player to another sport like baseball then the quarterback’s  more like the pitcher. That just offends my sports sensibility.”

Given what you said about your defense and your opponent Thursday, do you think we’re looking at a really low-scoring game on Thursday? As you approach that, is that what you think we’re going to see or what’s your take on that?

“I don’t have a take on that. From an offense perspective, we’ll try to go on to score every time we get the ball in some form or fashion. Defensively, we want three and outs, you want to get the ball on turnovers. So those are the things we’ll be shooting for.”

What did you see on the play in which Goldson got ejected?

“I saw Dashon get hit, get punched in the back of the head while he was sitting down and then he got up and retaliated. We talked about it in the locker room after the game and we all saw what happened to Dashon. He’s remorseful about it. Talked to the team about it and understands that you can’t retaliate.”

Are you noticing that maybe there’s a trend developing that you’re getting under guys’ skins? In the Redskins game, it looks like they got ticked off, too, at you guys? And do you like seeing that?

“Can’t comment on what’s under other people’s skin other than my own.”

Will you contact the league, though, to see if Dashon will be available for Thursday’s game?

“I don’t think that will be my place to do that. We’ll be accountable for our actions and hopefully that will be taken into consideration. I don’t know, was it seen on TV the way I saw it? I don’t know. Sometimes not everything is seen.”

How do you feel that Alex played today? A little more inaccurate than we’ve seen him some games here?

“I thought we played well. Made some big time throws again, bought time with his feet. There were things, not going to talk about them here, but we’ll talk to our players about that wasn’t as on point as we would have liked it to have been. That’s the reaction of watching the game. We missed on some assignments and we had some error. Now, we also had multiple position switches during the game. When a starter, like Bruce, goes out, and there’s not a backup fullback, don’t have one dressed for this game. When you say ‘put in the backups, put in the backups’, sometimes at these positions there aren’t backups. In the case of Peelle, Peelle had to start playing the fullback position. Some of that was being coached up on the sideline. But anyway, he did an outstanding job. He’s not who I’m thinking about right now. We’ll attempt to get that corrected and glad we can do it with a win.

Talking about your offense, in terms of when you spread out like that, the challenges you cause defenses when you’ve got guys like Kyle and Michael doing what they do, how hard it is to defend?

“I thought Michael Crabtree, first of all, got us really going as an offense. Just his extra effort, third and fourth effort when he got his hands on the ball. That really sparked our unit. Kyle sparked our unit. Yards after catch by our wide receivers was really good today. Got their hands on balls and then made plays. Kyle, that was big. I thought Crab was the guy that really got us going and got those two big drives after halftime when we made some adjustments and came back and got the touchdowns in the second half. That was big in a lot of ways. Our offense was driving the ball and performing well and as you pointed out, sometimes we didn’t get the points at the end of those drives. It was big. I thought Crab and a few of the other guys got us going. I thought our line was on point most of the ball game. You don’t have the ball for the amount of time we had it in this game without your offensive line playing extremely well. The defense was stifling today and that was the difference in the game.”

You mentioned you were able to get Braylon Edwards some rest today. Is he right physically?

“I don’t think he’s 100%, but there was improvement this week. Toward the end of the week he was starting to feel pretty darn good. That decision toward the end of the third quarter, was ‘let’s keep that progress coming.’”

Is there any concern, you’re in the right formations, receivers are getting open in the routes, and Alex is doing a good job, however, consistently over the weeks, those balls are sailing and they’re missing targets. Is there any concern there?

“I wouldn’t agree with you on that. I wouldn’t agree that balls are consistently sailing. There’s times we had guys open and we missed, and there’s times when we threw a good ball and we didn’t catch it all the way to the ground. Wasn’t as clean and as good as we want it to be, but I wouldn’t consistently… I don’t see that anyway. Maybe we differ on that.”

You talked about, you mentioned to Dashon about temperament on the field, I don’t know what you call it. In a game like this where things are getting chippy, how do you approach that with your team while the game is going on to keep things under control? Do you talk to them about that?

“Yeah, it’s a delicate balance. There was the whistle and then there was shoving going on after the whistle. From my perspective, maybe I’m seeing this through rose-colored glasses, but I thought our guys kept their composure. I didn’t think that once the whistle stopped, that we were the ones that were shoving and getting the extra shove in. It comes to a point where you can’t always concede the last shove. Like we’re just always going to give you the final shove. You can’t do it that way, you can’t play it that way. You can’t get emotionally hijacked either. We talked about all those things.”

What makes you so selfless? What makes you want to give credit to everyone else and you don’t really want to take any of it?

“Like I said, what we do as coaches, give advice. Sound advice, hopefully. These guys are the ones that are out there laying it on the line. It takes a lot of courage to do that. I respect these men that play this game on both sides of the ball. Move on with a humble heart, that’s the way we approach it.”

You talked about it takes several hours to enjoy wins…

“We’re going to cut that in half this week. Usually six hours, we told the fellas we’ll cut that to three. Coaches will be even less. We’ll go home and get a bite to eat with the family, maybe two hours. Then go into the building and start working on Baltimore.”

Will you usually on a Sunday night be able to take it off?

“Yeah, usually. Usually I’ll take the full six hours after a win, but tonight we’ll cut that in a third for the coaches and hopefully the players will cut that in half.”

Will you stay all night there tonight?

“We’ll see. We’ll see how much work gets done. See how good we feel, how much work we’ve gotten in by midnight and if it needs to be more and goes past that, I’ll stay on my couch at the office.”

Did you watch any of last night or was it so late that you had to worry about this game?

“Yeah, we have meetings on Saturday nights, so us and the fellas were doing that. I was able to catch the very end. Saw that the axe stayed in Palo Alto. So I was happy about that.”

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