SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh spoke in the defensive meeting room Monday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
Just, health-wise, how did you come out of yesterday’s game, specifically CB Carlos Rogers?
“Carlos is getting an MRI.”
Will you have to sign anybody as an insurance policy?
“We signed [CB] Perrish Cox.”
You did? And, what was the corresponding move?
“We had an opening. [WR] Mario Manningham was on IR last week.”
Was that a reflection of possibly how serious Rogers’ injury is?
“Once we saw Perrish was released we knew we were going to make that move, before the game.”
If Carlos is out, who slides into that slot-cornerback position?
“[CB] Eric [Wright].
How’s he played so far?
“I think he’s done good.”
How do you approach the prospect, I know you take one game at a time, but you are looking at several road playoff games if this continues. Is that something that you throw out there as a challenge to your guys? Is that something that you just accept? How do you approach that?
“Well, in terms of a challenge, our guys know what the challenge is. Being in the playoffs is a chance at the ultimate chance. And, our guys have been in that position before, so they understand the magnitude of the challenge. And what was the other thing that you said?”
Just how you’re approaching it? You are going on the road. You’ve started at home. You’ve started with byes actually the first two years. Is it different planning for you? Is it different the way you speak to your players about this?
“I don’t know if there’s a different way to speak about the ballgame. The approach is that we’re going to be playing at Lambeau Field next Sunday. And, what time they play, what day it was, we have no control over that. You control how you play.”
Is there anything you guys can do to prepare for the cold weather, here, or anything you can do?
“I don’t know. I don’t know if there is a way. Is there a way to prepare for the cold weather?”
I don’t know. You’re the coach. You’re in charge of preparing the team. Is that something you even think about? This team hasn’t played a playoff game in super-cold weather under you. Will it be a factor?
“I think we’ll play. We’ll play when we play, where we play, who we play. What the weather’s like won’t control how we play. We’ll go out and play hard. Keep our bodies warm by playing hard.”
You played in a lot of cold-weather games yourself. Do you enjoy it? Do you like that kind of environment?
“Football weather is any weather.”
What’s the biggest adjustment that QB Colin Kaepernick might have to make playing in that extreme cold? Does it affect touch if you wear gloves? Does that change anything in the passing game for a quarterback?
“I think once your body gets running around, whether it’s, personally I played in a zero degree weather game and it didn’t feel any different than 30-40 degree weather game.”
In the NFC, the bottom three seeds have more Super Bowl experience than the top three. Have you thought about that, and is there any meaning, is there any advantage for the lower three seeds in having that kind of experience, over let’s say Carolina?
“I think everybody has the opportunity that they have. It’s a chance to have the ultimate chance. I don’t have a percentage for you of who has more of an advantage. Just like I don’t have a way to prepare for the cold weather.”
I understand what you’re saying. I guess I was asking in an awkward way if experience matters at all at a time like this in the postseason?
“I think when you play good you give yourself the best chance to win. If you don’t play very good then your chances are much more limited.”
Do you remember, you were on that 1988 Chicago Bears team that played the 49ers in the Championship Game, and the 49ers were supposed to be a finesse west-coast team that was going to just freeze and crumble and fumble those brutal weather conditions. Do you remember that game and do you remember if the Bears kind of thought the weather was to their advantage?
“I remember the game.”
And the second part? Do you remember–?
“I don’t remember if we thought it was an advantage.”
Were you surprised at all that the 49ers, a west-coast warm-weather team, was able to play the way they did?
Has there been any thought, there’s a chance that you could play at Green Bay and then the next week at Carolina. Has there been any thought about the logistics of perhaps remaining in Youngstown or somewhere else so you don’t have to make back-to-back trips?
“I’ve given it some thought.”
And, have you arrived at a decision?
“No. I’ll keep you posted.”
You’re going to go out Friday to Green Bay?
“Yes. We’re going Friday. We’re going to play Sunday.”
Did you watch the Green Bay film yesterday with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Packers WR Randall Cobb returning to that unit?
You watched it? Did he look at all, obviously he threw the two interceptions early, but just at this point with his time being out, how did he look?
Is there any relevance, I mean, your game against the Packers was so long ago, obviously Week 1. Is there any relevance from that? What can you learn from that for this game?
“I think the things that you could learn from all the games that you watch on tape or want to watch that game, all the games since, we’ll watch them all. We’ll go back and watch games from last year. Does it have relevance? Yes, obviously it does have relevance.”
Even that far long ago?
You said last year, you’ll look at the game specifically against the Packers last year?
“Yeah, all the games. Look at a lot of games. They all have relevance.”
Does that give you an advantage that you’ve played each other, I guess there’s no advantage to either team, but this will be the fourth time in two years. Does that make preparation easier or…?
“I think both teams will be, I can’t find an advantage for either team right now.”
With their running game, they’re probably more balanced at this point than at any other point that you’ve played them. How much does that help Aaron Rodgers against you guys?
“Definitely helps. [Packers RB] Eddie Lacy’s done a nice job. They’ve done a nice job with their running game. It’s helped in their production, their play-action.”
Where have you seen QB Colin Kaepernick make the biggest strides in his first year as a starter? The last six weeks, he had a quarterback rating of over 100 in five of the last six that you won. Just how did he grow and develop throughout the regular season?
“I think he continues to do that. I’ve said that before. He’s played extremely well. Been there for, been durable. Been there for every snap. Makes the throws when the throws need to be made and he did that again on Sunday.”
Do you consider this a budding rivalry or is it already a good rivalry with Green Bay, given how many times you guys have seen each other recently? Packers LB Clay Matthews has been vocal. What’s your take?
“I think they’re an excellent football team and we have great respect for them as a team. I don’t know about any other way to determine it than that, but that’s what it is.”
Is it an advantage that you’ve beaten these guys three times in a row?
“I don’t know that I can say that it is. This game will be played on its merits.”
How do you look at how the pass defense has done the last two games? They’ve given up big yardage totals to Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Cardinals QB Carson Palmer and not being able to get to those quarterbacks with any degree of success as far as quarterback sacks and hits.
“Well, I wouldn’t agree that we haven’t had degrees of success. Certainly when you do get sacks and you get pressures, pass breakups, interceptions, you’re having a degree of success, some amount of success. Think we’d agree with that. We’re always looking to improve. Number one, win the game. Just win. Then, always looking to improve any phase of the game that we can.”
How do you feel just about what WR Quinton Patton was able to do yesterday? Big timing. Colin hasn’t necessarily spread the ball around a whole lot, but to have somebody else step up who hasn’t been much of a factor as a pass catcher, what does that do for the offense to find another guy step up at a big time?
“I was very excited for Quinton. He injured his foot the fourth game of the season and that was a good eight-nine week, almost 10 weeks of recovery there to get that healed up. And then, to come back and practice and work the way he’s done has been really good to see and then to make the impact in the ballgame that he made yesterday. Just very excited for him and excited for our team that way. He had a nice run on the reverse. I love the way he cut up inside, got his head down and just tried to get every yard that was blocked for. The big catch at the end was a great play. The ball he caught on third down was a tough, contested catch as well. He makes two really good catches, both contested, highly contested. And then, on [WR] Anquan’s [Boldin] long run that set up a touchdown in the first quarter, Quinton had a wonderful block. Came from the opposite side of the field and really sprang Anquan for the big yardage. So, I was really excited to see that. I like the way he competed. Liked the way he came through. Like the way he made the tough catch. I’ve always liked that about him. I really think he’s a competitor. Competing for balls. Competing to get in position to make a block. Competing when he’s running with the football. I think all those things were very good. Very excited for him.”
After the game, Quinton kept referring to Anquan, ‘Anquan told me this. Anquan told me that.’ Did you see Quinton in practices through this season be more influenced by Anquan or were those some of the natural abilities he had when you drafted him as well?
“He’s obviously a smart guy. I think we’re all influenced by Anquan. The kind of person he is, the kind of player that he is. How serious he is about winning and being good at what he does and obviously Quinton’s seen that. He’s open to being good. Shows you that he wants to be good. Shows you he has a desire to be the best like Anquan.”
This might get a little bit into the game plan, tell me if it is, but you had the reverse, you had the throw to T Joe Staley, you had a lot of things that seemed to definitely challenge the perimeter with different kind of movement stuff. Is that because you’ve got a better compliment of players you can do stuff like that, or was it just a thought, let’s just do some more stuff like that?
“Yeah, that was that thought based on what you see on tape. And, they were, they’re very committed to stopping the run inside of the tackles. And, we had to have ways to attack the perimeter, and we did and we were successful doing that. And, I’m sure any of us could make the argument that we could have used a few more ways, especially on the short-yardage plays, the third and shorts and the fourth and shorts. Think you’d have a valid argument there.”
The Packers leading up to the start of the season said that they focused a good chunk of their offseason on stopping the read-option. Have you ever spent an offseason focused in on something as specific as that to where that was a major issue that you had on the list?
“I don’t know exactly how much they focused in compared to what we’ve focused in on in the past. Would you say they focused in on it a lot, exclusively? I don’t know.”
Well, after Colin ran for 181 yards against them it became a pretty good focus for them to not let that kind of thing happen again is what they said.
“A pretty good amount of focus?”
I don’t know how much, I wasn’t there.
“I don’t either. Neither one of us can. So how can I answer the question?”
Six straight victories to close the season, I know you’re thinking about the next one, but—.
“I was just winking at [Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist] Lowell [Cohn].”
I like when you wink at me.
“I like to make eye contact with him. Lowell’s my guy.”
I can’t even remember the question now. Six straight wins to close the season. I know you’re always thinking about the next one, but do you consider yourselves playing the best football of the season right now?
“I don’t know. I have been noticing that in this league I think everybody bases that on your last four quarters of play. It’s very much how you’re playing at the moment and that’ll be judged this week. I like our team very much in the regard that they’re a very competitive group. They’re fiery competitors that every single week they bring that competitiveness and that desire to win and the desire to prepare to win to put themselves in the best position possible. And then, on Sundays, they fight. And, they’re prepared to do it for the entire game. And, what more could you ask as a coach. What more can you ask of your team than those things?”
You’ve said that a lot about the fight, the competitiveness.
“A professional group. A competitive group. Very, very good in those regards. And a group that fights, so I like them. What more could I ask of them?”
Can you cite an example just from the game where it was exemplary where you said, ‘man that is an example that shows this team is a little different than others?’
“I think there’s been a lot of plays like that, from this game, the game before. Every week I think those things have surfaced. They’ve been doing what they need to do when they need to do it.”
Have you noticed that more and more as the season’s gone on, or was this the same from the beginning?
“I think our team, I’ve seen it every week.”
What’s the biggest thing that you attribute to LB NaVorro Bowman’s season in having such a good season obviously a career-year for him? You see him in practices and meetings. What’s different about him this year?
“I don’t know what’s different about him.”
He’s just elevated his game. I don’t know. Is he just playing faster because he’s just–?
“He was pretty darn good last year and the year before, too. He’s very talented. What do I attribute it to? Very talented. Has a great desire to be great. And, has a wonderful work ethic and he’s got all those things. Very smart.”
Have you talked to your brother since yesterday?
“Have I talked to him? No.”
Just wondering. Do you take anything out of, Super Bowl champions one year, not making the playoffs the next year. I mean, any lesson out of there, maybe how quick these opportunities can close?
“I think we all understand the wonderful opportunity we have to be in the playoffs and the task in front of us, the challenge that we have. We take it very seriously.”