Harbaugh: “I was thinking of the things I would trade to be able to compete as a player in this game.”

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the 49ers’ media tent Wednesday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers P.R. department.

 

In talking to people about this game there are some people and I guess a lot of fans that believe there is some lingering animosity between you and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.  Is that false?  What are your impressions about Pete as a person?

“Animosity, no, erroneous, erroneous.  It’s football. It’s competition.  It’s winning.”

 

Obviously you’ve had chances to have conversations with Pete.  Do you guys get along well?  Do you have any impressions about what makes him tick?

“We’ve had football, competition, winning. That’s the sport, that’s what we have had, great competition.”

 

Obviously QB Colin Kaepernick is a very good quarterback.  Aside from the measurables, is there an intangible, an “X” quality that makes him unique, that makes him stand out?

“Yes.  A-plus in all those regards in terms of intangibles.  Poise, big stage never seems to bother him, and his leadership ability.  Players love him, coaches love him. Work ethic off the charts. A-plus, plus.”

 

When you say that big games don’t bother him, does he have the same composure, the same attitude in a big game like what’s coming up, as opposed to a regular season game?

“Just noticed it watching him play even going back to college when I first started watching him play, the big games, the big challenge, the big task. He has that special ability that the great ones have to elevate their game in those situations.”

 

Do you have to have a stronger emphasis in the playoffs in terms of protecting the ball and avoiding turnovers, which he’s done these last couple months?

“We do that with the whole team in terms of protecting the ball, daily, hourly.”

 

How so?

“Remind them to protect the ball, daily and hourly.”

 

When it comes to protecting the ball and all those things going against a very good Seattle team, what are the biggest challenges against their defense?

“The Seattle defense is looking to get the ball at all times. Create turnovers in any situation, generate them on all downs, to looking to take the ball away.”

 

Can you go back and look at some of your previous matchups and see why they have had success in taking the ball away?

“Well, some they have, some they haven’t in previous matchups.”

 

You took some criticism for playing LB Aldon Smith a couple days after he got arrested. He comes back. Do you feel justified that his performance and his behavior kind of justifies the way you handled that?

“I feel very good for Aldon and he’s carried the water, the biggest share himself. There have been a lot of people that have helped. He’s got a great family, his mother, father, A-plus, plus. And he’s handling his business. We all tend to forget that the reason we got smart is because we learned from our mistakes and that’s how you get smart, by learning from your mistakes.  He’s been really good as a teammate. And on the field he’s been outstanding.  Teams that want to block Aldon Smith one-on-one are whistling Dixie. That’s the way he’s playing right now. Therefore, he’s getting quite a bit of double-team chips, help from the backs and the tight ends, and he’s really playing well.”

 

With the two games against Seattle, Colin has had a few struggles. What in your mind makes you believe that this one is going to be different?

“Our preparation is what we’ll lean on for every game that we play. And having a great day at practice today.  Meetings have been outstanding.  We’re going to try to make those the best of the season. Make our practice the best of the year. Make our drills the best drills we have had all season. That’s where we get confidence from.”

 

Jim, how early on did you notice WR Anquan Boldin taking a leadership role on this team, or amongst the receivers?

“How early on?  I don’t remember exactly, but early on.”

 

Is that rare because you had veteran leaders on this team, is that rare for someone to come into a team like this and kind of assert that leadership right away?

“Anquan Boldin is a valuable, valuable player and every player should aspire and practice and play the game of football like Anquan Boldin. So, it doesn’t take guys long to see that. It’s not saying anything, it’s the actions of him doing. And yeah, you’d be pretty unaware not to notice it right away.”

 

Is it being the tough guy kind of important to be at the receiver spot, especially competing for this team? I mean, you hear defensive players talk about admiration for Anquan being tough. Is that a different thing in him?

“Different than?”

 

Another receiver.

“Well, there are a lot of tough receivers out there. There are a lot of good receivers, a lot of good players. He’s a great player as well.”

 

Last year, former 49ers WR Randy Moss said he wasn’t, even at the Super Bowl week, he said he wasn’t that happy with his role, he felt like he was kind of a decoy. Has that role changed because of Anquan? That having a receiver other than WR Michael Crabtree, has he kind of made you change the way you throw to or target that position?

“Well, first of all, I don’t even know what you’re referring to back with—.”

 

Moss said that.

“I don’t remember him saying that. He never said that to me.  So, I can’t—maybe he just said that to you, but he didn’t say it to me. So, I don’t even know to go any further. Anquan Boldin, my goodness.  He’s been a valuable, valuable player.  He’s a real football player. Of course we’re going to utilize him.”

 

Your offense has a lot of motion and shifting pre-snap before you get into your audibles. How tough is that in the environment in Seattle and the crowd noise to communicate all of that effectively?

“Well, there are tough things about communication in a loud stadium, on the road that the offense will strive to be very precise at. But tough, this is only for the tough. This kind of game, this kind of point in the season. And our guys are very happy about it. They’re very excited and very much looking forward to this being a lot of fun. This kind of game, I was thinking of the things I would trade to be able to compete as a player in these games, in this game. It’s pretty significant.”

 

What would you trade?

“There’s a lot. There’s a lot.”

 

If CB Carlos Rogers is healthy, does he go back to his old role of starting at corner and sliding to nickle?

“There is a subset questions other than the question, “will Carlos start if he’s ready to play.” In terms of do you come back at a 100 percent, 90 percent, 95 percent, that’ll all be determined out on the practice field. Those subset of questions will be answered out there.”

 

So, those four cornerbacks, there will be competition to figure out those roles?

“Yeah, we’ll practice and the players that we feel give us the best opportunity in certain situations, nickel, dime, base, we’ll play in there.”

 

Would you trade your house?

“Oh, easy, yeah. I thought you were going to make it tough like a body part. Could I do without my left arm or one eye?  I was kind of going to those extremes.”

 

Would you go Ronnie Lott and trade a finger?

“Oh, easy. That would be an easy decision, yeah. Could I play with just one eye? It was that kind of thing.”

 

Would you trade RB Frank Gore?

“No, what I would give up myself personally.”

 

Would you give up your college degree?

“To play in this game?”

 

Yeah.

“Yes. I was thinking like a body part. Could I do without an arm?”

 

What would you get from playing in the game that you can’t get from coaching in it?

“Well, playing, there’s nothing better than playing. Coaching is the second-best thing though because you are competing.”

 

What commonalities do you see in your game, when you were a quarterback and Colin’s? And granted, you were a high pick anyway, but, do you think the NFL has evolved in a way that your skills would be even more valued if you were coming out now?

“There is a lot to think about there. Too many layers for me right now. And I don’t think it’s that relevant to what we’re trying to do this week. So, maybe for a later time address that question.”

 

In general, the regular season and the playoffs, your team is very good on the road. But,   what has been missing in the last two games in Seattle the team has had on the road?

“We’re spending time getting ready for this game and preparing to play our very best and that’s what it’s going to take. We’ve got to play our best football against a real quality team in a tough environment. So, we’re spending more time thinking about that, answering those questions than going back six months or 12 months or 13 months.”

 

You obviously have done something no coach has ever done, three straight years in the NFC Championship, when you look at the totality of this year, if there is a disappointing last-second loss heaven forbid in Seattle Sunday for you, does it make the season less than a great year or a good year? How would you characterize the year if you don’t win on Sunday? We know what it would mean if you do win, but if you don’t win?

“Well, we’ve always taken the approach that no matter what you did and no matter how good it is, how good what you did last week or two weeks ago or yesterday, if you’re still talking about that then you haven’t done anything today. So, we’re trying to do something great today.  We’re trying to do as much as we possibly can fit into today to make ourselves better so tonight when our head hits the pillow that we look back on the day and feel joy in that, that we made today better than tomorrow.  We’re better today than we were tomorrow. Our goal will be better tomorrow than we were today.”

 

You’ve spoken about your admiration for RB Frank Gore a lot. Did you develop that right away when you took this job? Or how soon did you realize that how much you admired this guy, number one. And number two, you said I think one time you called him mystical. What’s the most interesting question he’s ever asked you?

“The very first time I talked to him was right up on that balcony right there, and never forget that.  It was about a half hour conversation.  I really felt like I walked away knowing a lot about Frank Gore. And then it’s been daily, hourly since then.  So, my admiration is as high as my admiration can be. But then every time I think he’s 10 out of 10 in that regard he finds another wrung on the ladder. I think he is a mystical man. I think he sees things that we don’t, I don’t, we don’t see.  He’s got a spiritual connection and he can be inward, he can think about things, or he can walk up and down the sideline and talk to anybody that’s on the sideline. We’re showered with his attributes and his character and just the kind of man he is.”

 

What is the most interesting question he’s ever asked you?

“I’ll think about that. I’ll think about that and let you know.”

 

You have a great running back in Frank. Can you tell us about Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch in Seattle?

“Outstanding. Consistently been great game after game. Huge task for us and challenge for our defense. That’s the kind of competitive struggle that we all anticipate and that’s what makes it just so much darn fun.”

 

Recently defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said that Aldon Smith’s attitude has been really great since he returned. Have you noticed a difference in his attitude since his return to the team?

“Yeah, I would have to agree with that. I’d concur. It’s been very good, as a teammate, as a friend. Been a strong guy.”

 

You said you’ve been having great drills and practices this week—

“The best, the best of the season. That’s what we’re looking for.”

 

What can you tell us about what you’re preaching and what you’re emphasizing to your squad this week?

“No, not so much. Don’t see any advantage to saying that right now.”

 

What kind of tone would you like to set in Seattle?  What kind of tone do you think is necessary to set for you to be successful?

“I don’t know about tones. Setting tones. What is that exactly?”

 

That means do you need to come in and be physical right away?

“No desire to talk about what our plan is.”

 

I have one more for you.

You’ve already had a few. Share. Let’s share.”

 

Going to the tough road environments the last two weeks, how has that helped maybe the rest of the team prepare for this tough road environment, just specifically the Green Bay and Charlotte situations?

“Tough situations I think builds a callous for a football team.  We’ve been in a lot of situations. Been in a lot of venues and I think that helps build a callous on the football team.  We’ve been everywhere, man. (Singing)  Been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto.”

 

Going back to I guess when you said Colin’s college career, the Boise State game specifically, do you remember what you saw in that tape and you thought this guy could be the guy that could play here?

“Yes, that was one of many games that I saw him play in that was really impressed. But, that kind of stage, that kind of big game, cream rising to the top. Definitely.”

 

Can you describe your relationship at all with Seahawks CB Richard Sherman? You coached him in college.

“Yeah, I have great memories of Richard Sherman of when we were teammates at Stanford University. And now we’re adversaries, competitors. But, I still wish Richard great success and happiness in his career. I can’t wish him luck this week because we’re playing him. But, yeah I have great memories, fond memories, of Richard when we were teammates.”

 

Can we just ask about Sarah Harbaugh’s phone call yesterday to the radio station?

“Yeah, I heard about that. They were making quite a bit of sport of me. But, problem solved there. Well, the Levi’s and the Nike and the Dickies makes a flat khaki so happy wife, happy life.  As far as tucking in the shirt though. If I’m the last person that tucks in their shirt, that will be great. I will feel like an innovator.”

 

Those don’t cost $8 then?

“These Dickies cost $23. But, they were on sale that day.”

  1. Are you guys watching the NFL network! they were talking about Boldin and a few of the Ravens players were breaking down why Boldin is such a great WR and they looked at the camera and told Boldin that they would be happy to have him back in Baltimore!!! Man, we must keep AB with a two to three year deal. He is a huge play maker and a must sign to my opinion.

  2. As fan there are times when I am convinced that coach Harbaugh is nuts, but when listing to him as an athlete, that is the coach who you would give up a body part to play for.

    1. Speaking of nuts: I’m surprised that Harbough didn’t proverbially cite his left one as something he’d trade to play in this Sunday’s game :-)

      1. Good point, Rusty. But – “That’s why a right-handed guy offers only one – and that one always the left one,” said the missus, snapping the scissors in her hand.

  3. Those don’t cost $8 then?

    “These Dickies cost $23. But, they were on sale that day.”

    Damn that’s funny…

      1. >>So when the 49ers shut down the Seahawks passing game and win by more than a touchdown on Sunday, don’t blame Wilson.

        Grant, that’s your prediction? Can you be a little more definitive? That can also be construed as “when the 49ers DON’T shut down the Seahawks passing game and DON’T win by more than a touchdown on Sunday, DO give credit to Wilson, and not their piss-poor OC.”

        1. I will be amazed and appalled if the 49ers don’t win this game. The Seahawks’ passing game is in a downward spiral. Their only chance is if Bevell has a great game plan and he calls the best game of his career. But if the past five games are any indication, Bevell will continue to slump and Fangio will outcoach him. Fangio was the first defensive coordinator this season to take away Bevell’s shot plays, and since Week 14 everybody has been copying Fangio’s approach to the Seahawks, Bevell hasn’t adjusted and Wilson has completed just 3 passes longer than 20 yards since then. Maybe Bevell has been saving a bunch of unscouted plays for this game. If so, the Seahawks have a chance. Otherwise, the 49ers will handle them like they handled the Panthers.

      2. OK, thanks Grant.

        How about the Niner’s penchant for turning it over in SEA, general discombulation at the noise intensity, the legion of boom shutting down the Niner’s passing attack, Lynch’s uncanny ability to make a big play at the worst possible time for the Niners.

        You don’t think those factors will have much of a bearing on this game? And the outcome rests entirely on the Seahawks crippled air-game?

        (disclaimer: as a Niners fan I personally don’t think so, but a neutral observer might)

      1. That was awesome. Who wouldn’t give everything they had for a guy like Tomsula? Just a terrific personality as well as coach….

      2. My buddy is a Jets fan and played D end in college. I sent him that video and he loved it. Coach Tomsula is top notch.

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