Harbaugh: “This is as much fun as you can possibly have in football and as much fun as you can have in life.”

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

 

How do you feel about just the state of the team coming after the game and going forward health-wise?

“I feel good. I think we’ll be close to full strength.”

 

Where do things stand with CB Carlos Rogers?

“Some things, we’re still healing and treatment. It’s a process.”

 

Forecast of 60 degrees for this game. Does that factor into a guy with a hamstring strain whether that makes it easier for him to come back off that injury than zero degrees?

“That’s awful technical. Good to get a doctor’s report on that.”

 

Was that a factor in Green Bay for a couple of your guys?

“Who specifically?”

 

CB Eric Wright and Carlos Rogers.

“Yeah. Carlos was not ready to play in the Green Bay game.”

 

What about Eric?

“Yes. He was cleared and ready to play and did some, yeah.”

 

You obviously, you and your players were at a real high emotional point after winning that game. Have you had to try to get players to kind of come down from that? Have you seen signs of that? Was that happening even on the plane maybe, just trying to, ‘OK there’s another game,’ kind of get away from the emotions of that win?

“We have a way of doing that. It’s not our first time coming off of a big win and getting ready for an even bigger game the next week.”

 

When you saw QB Colin Kaepernick go make that tackle after his interception, did you hold your breath a bit and what are your coaching points to him about that sort of situation and what did you think of his form?

“Yeah, definitely I was holding my breath a little bit. But, he’s a football player making a play, reacting. Dodged a bullet, would be my thought now. I’m glad we did.”

 

You don’t instruct him – don’t do that right? Do you have instructions to your quarterbacks about that stuff?

“Dodge bullets. Make plays and dodge bullets.”

 

What did you think of his form?

“It was good. It was good.”

 

Did you have to do anything, when Colin was getting ready for his first playoff game, a lot has been made that Panthers QB Cam Newton doesn’t have playoff experience, how did you get Colin ready and is there really anything that you can do to get them in a mental state ready for the playoffs?

“I don’t have that list in front of me, what we did to get Colin ready for the playoff game.”

 

Is there a mental change in players? Do you see that as a coach when you go from regular season to playoffs?

“Is there a difference? I suppose there is. I don’t know what the amount is right now.”

 

Preparing for a big game like this and then playing in it, is it fun for you?

“Yes.”

 

What’s the nature of the fun?

“You can’t have any more fun. This is as much fun as you can possibly have, playing in the playoffs.”

 

When you say as much fun as you can have, do you mean in football or even in life?

“This is as much fun as you can possibly have in football and as much fun as you can have in life, yeah.”

 

Do you ever experience a moment of self-doubt as you go into a game like this?

“Yeah, worry. I would call it more worry. Definitely, most tended to worry about things before something happens rather than wait until you’re actually in the moment and something happens. I find that to be a better way to prepare.”

 

Meaning the worry is that you’ve covered all of your bases, that you’ve anticipated whatever a person could?

“I think it starts with what’s the worst possible thing that could happen. When going into a situation, what’s the worst possible things that could happen, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. And then, ticks down a subset of questions that are in the hundreds and thousands.”

 

What kind of challenges are there just as far as the total preparation, when you have some assistant coaches now who are reportedly getting interviews for jobs, just to keep their focus on what their job is right now?

“I know our people. So, their focus is right here on this game.”

 

Did offensive coordinator Greg Roman, was he away at any point during the game-planning part of it for interviews?

“We plowed that ground pretty thoroughly two days ago. You know how I feel about our assistant coaches that are here. I could think of all the head jobs that are out there and those teams would be lucky to have Greg Roman or any of our other assistants which I named the other day.”

 

Did senior offensive assistant Paul Wulff, did he accept a job at Central Florida?

“At Central Florida? No, not Central Florida.”

 

At South Florida, I’m sorry.

“Again, as you know, I don’t talk about other people’s jobs. I don’t speak for other people, so that’s a double one right there you’re throwing at me. That’s a double-negative issue.”

 

You did issue a release with offensive line coach Tim Drevno.

“I’ll let other people comment on their job status and other programs. Go through their process without interfering. That’s always kind of been a principle of mine.”

 

You had called WR Michael Crabtree the greatest catcher of all time the other day. You’ve called him that before. I’m wondering, who else is in that competition as the greatest catcher of all time? Who else would you put in, that he’s beaten out?

“That would call for a lot of comparing. Again, you have my quote. I don’t know that we can, I think that ground’s been thoroughly plowed as well. About as well as that ground can be plowed, we plowed it. That I’ve seen, yes, and I’ll say it again. That I’ve ever seen with my eyes, yes.”

 

Really?

“Really. There’s not much further we can go with it.”

 

You guys had used timeouts early in each half that game. Is that a problem, or is that simply the right thing to do sometimes when you’re not in the right play against the defense you’re seeing?

“That’s the way that we’ve looked at it. That it’s, depending on the situation, if it’s the right time to use a timeout then we’ll call it. There’s times when we haven’t and taken the penalty. Sometimes taking the penalty is the right situation. You see it and you saw it in some of the other playoff games too. You just make the decision, battlefield decision of whether it’s the right thing to do or not.”

 

Were there any times in that game when you felt the play was getting into Colin later than it should have to help him?

“Like we talked about the other day, each one of those circumstances had a little different flavor to it, as to why we had to use the timeout. I’d give us an A for our overall handling of the situation, the noise, the environment and winning the game. I won’t call it a 100 percent, but somewhere in the 90s, on the A-grading scale. What would that be 91-97? I wouldn’t give us an A-plus. I wouldn’t give it an A-plus-plus, no.”

 

When you look back on the Carolina game earlier this year, did you think you generally played all right in that game?

“All right, what’s the scale there?”

 

Fifty percent or above I would think.

“We didn’t win the game. And, that’s the criteria that we judge ourselves on how we play as a team. Just win.”

 

Did you think you physically matched up well with them?

“Physically matched up? Yes, yes.”

 

What do you guys need to do to neutralize kind of what Panthers LB Luke Kuechly can do on defense?

“Neutralize him? Again, he’s one of those players that, I don’t know that neutralize is a possibility. He is a fantastic football player and we definitely got to get him blocked and do a great job of blocking him and sustaining. Really, fundamentals and technique are going to give us the best chance to do that with a player of his caliber. Again, we’ll shoot for A-plus-plus, but don’t know if that’s realistic in his case because he’s a fantastic, fantastic player.”

 

How does that defensive front, how are they so effective at sacking the quarterback, getting the quarterback? Because you’ve faced some pretty strong fronts this season. What makes that one?

“As I stand here today, I really believe that they are the most talented front seven that we have played. And, that’s in large part a great share of what makes them so effective. Putting pressure on the quarterback, stopping the run. Again, you look across the categories that they measure defensive success, and they’re in the top, top five, top six, top.”

 

So, scheme-wise—?

“Very good, very good scheme.”

 

Earlier this season you said Houston was scheming, you didn’t know how they were able to bat down passes while getting pressure on the quarterback. Does Carolina bring anything unusual to film that way, or schemes? It’s just pure talent?

“Very sound. Very sound. No, I’m not saying it’s just pure talent. It’s a share, like I said. Definitely their scheme and their understanding of it, how it’s coached, how they play together as a unit. All those things are a part of that share that makes them extremely effective.”

 

A lot of Colin Kaepernick’s long runs the other day you saw RB Frank Gore way out ahead of the play getting guys on the ground and clearing a way for him. Are you impressed with the way that Frank is able to not just pass block, but also run block when he’s basically acting as a fullback for his quarterback?

“Yeah, no question about it. Frank does it as good as it’s being done out there in all those phases. That’d be like pickup basketball, the guy that’s just going to hit the 30-foot jump shots isn’t necessarily the best player. You all the time you want the guy that’s going to go in and compete. Set a hard pick. Go in there with the elbows and do the dirty work and compete and help your team win. And Frank does that as good as or better than anybody in the league.”

 

What do you think of the Ric Flair drama?

“What drama are you referring to?”

 

Well, they think you stole him. He was their guy, you guys got him. So, now they don’t like him anymore, Carolina.

“Yeah, I think Ric Flair’s a fantastic guy. I had a chance to spend quite a bit of time with him, half hour, hour or so on Saturday. And then of course he spoke to our team. He spoke very highly of Carolina and his friendships with the Carolina Panthers.”

 

Will you guys try to help him get in the game because it’s unclear now whether they’ll let him in the stadium?

“I don’t know. What’s the matter with having two favorite teams? Is that a crime? [Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist] Lowell [Cohn], is that a crime? Does it make you a bad person if you like—?”

 

Apparently in Carolina it does, yeah.

“My opinion would be that it doesn’t make you a bad person to have two favorite football teams.”

 

Do you feel that RB LaMichael James has given the kick return game a spark in recent weeks?

“Yes, yes. A very admirable job on Sunday. A blue-collar effort on his part. Catching the balls in the elements and the wind and the factors that were there. I thought he did a great job and was able to set up a 37-yard kickoff return to help us answer the scoring drive of the Packers. He was rock solid.”

 

Losing two tight ends early in that Week 10 matchup, was that a good learning experience for your guys in terms of adapting and do you feel like you’re better for it now knowing you might need to play without some of those key guys?

“Yeah, I suppose that we learned something from that and understand how to adapt to that better than maybe we did going into the game.”

 

Would that be a worst-case scenario?

“What’s that?”

 

Would that have been a worst-case scenario? Going into your game?

“I don’t follow you.”

 

Losing two tight ends, you say you always prepare for the worst-case scenario?

“That’d be up there. That’s a worst-case.”

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  1. I know I’m ahead of myself but let’s talk a little draft. What do you guys think we do with our 1st round this season? Throughout the year I thought it was a no brainer that we go WR, but seeing how Kap operates and how well boldin and crab are together why should we do that this year? I’m assuming we resign boldin for a year or two. A rookie wr wouldn’t touch the ball in our offense. I believe we go CB or SS. Seems to me we may part ways with Whitner, which I don’t agree with but I didn’t agree with the goldson decision either. If we go CB I’d like to see us get Verrett. The guy has lock down potential and is FAST. Plus he’s a friend.

    Grant any insight on the subject?

    1. I’m thinking a little like you are. Unfortunately Whitner will be gone. He is having his best season ever which means he will get his money… elsewhere. That leaves a big hole at safety. Would the 49ers spend two first round picks in a row on safeties?

      If they don’t resign Boldin then they need to spend a 1st rounder on a WR. I like Watkins but he may be too early to trade for. I wouldn’t mind trading up again but I don’t want to pay a Julio Jones ransom for Watkins.

      In my opinion they should be busy as all get out on day one and two. Trade up in every round. Don’t bother using their last 5 or 6 picks. Trade them to move up. Get all of their picks done in rounds 1-3 unless they have some absolute sleepers they love in the later rounds.

      If you think about it, next year they already have two first round talent players ready to go in Lattimore and Carradine. Thats like have 2 extra first round picks on a DL and RB. Lots of young potential talent coming through the ranks.

      1. There is no need to have so many late round picks. Only 3-4 draft picks will make our roster anyway. I agree with you on that.

    2. CB, SS are good ideas but don’t discount WR. Sometimes it takes a while for a guy to come around especially at that position. Also Crabs will enter the final year of his contract and Boldin is 34. If we resign him for a year or two(and hopefully Crabs longterm) they can impart all that wisdom on our talented 1st rounder and after Boldin retires(or leaves) we have a stud who’s ready to take over being Crabs right hand man.

      My prediction: Baalke will trade up or down for a guy he likes at a position of need.(could I have been more vague?)

      Also thanks Alex for pick #55.

        1. I doubt they keep Rogers. I guess the 49ers low-ball Brown and he looks elsewhere, but he could come back if no one gives him a better offer.

      1. CB, WR and safety should all be taken early in my opinion. They’ve enough draft picks they can get all three in the first 2 rounds if they wanted to, either staying pat or moving up.

        Wouldn’t be surprised to see a 2nd CB taken later on either.

        A QB and C/OG are also likely be taken at some point, and even with getting a fully healthy Tank and Dial next year I wouldn’t be averse to drafting another pass rush capable DL relatively early either.

      2. Aaron Colvin or Chris Davis would be attractive CB options in rounds 3 and 4 if the team does draft a second one.

    3. They have to draft a QB and WR
      We don’t have a backup and Kap is a liabillity.
      Boldin might have another year, it might be good to break in a young one.

      1. Yeah,

        Dee Phiant is a big Alex Smith fan. Kap is headed to the Super Bowl again. Where is your boy again. That’s right, on the couch. Thanks for pick # 21 or 22 Alex. We appreciate it.

    4. Tough to say Adam. I had been thinking that the team might go after a CB in the first round, but that was before this past weekend when Brown got the nod over Wright in place of the injured Rogers.
      Boldin has helped the offense out tremendously but he will be near the age of 34 by the beginning of next season and the team may want to give Patton and/or another young WR the opportunity to claim his position. Also do not forget that he has a history of asking for a big contract and that Crabtree will most likely want to be paid like a top 10 WR despite only having one full year of health on his NFL record.
      Then we take a look at the CB situation. The breakout season for Brock eased this area of concern but did not fix it. Rogers is due for a big salary next season and the team will probably want him to redo it or they will just release him. Up next is Brown. This was practically a no-brainer that he would be allowed to leave in free agency given the failure to negotiate a way to get the money he lost in the offseason back and that he also lost his starting job to Brock during the season. But if Rogers is let go, then that would leave a CB roster of Brock (who is more of a #2 CB) and Culliver as the only two guys on the roster if Brown also departed. The team will most likely resign Wright in the offseason, but much can he offer, especially when Cox was given the starting nod over him this past weekend? And finally there is Culliver. It is not known how effective he will be after coming back from an injury that ended his season before it even began. Losing both Rogers and Brown would give us a platoon consisting of Brock, Culliver, and Wright. NOT GOOD.
      At last there is the SS position which Whitner currently holds. He has had a great bounce-back year, has formed one of the best safety combos in the league, and is the QB of the defense. But Whitner turns 29 in July and struggles at times in coverage ergo the team might let him walk. This is a double-edged sword because although it would be great to get younger at the position, you run the risk of setting back Reid if the rookie SS struggles since Reid underperforms if he doesn’t have a strong supporting cast around him. It also begs the question of who would take over as QB of the defense.
      Taking all of this into consideration, I believe that the team will draft a CB in the first round what with the depth at WR in the upcoming draft. Jason Verrett makes the most sense because of his ballhawking skills and is a strong defender in both pass and run support.
      The team will draft both WR Davonte Adams and Jordan Matthews in the second round because Boldin will go elsewhere and it will give them some much needed insurance if Crabtree demands too much for his new contract.
      I believe that the team will resign Whitner but will draft either Craig Loston or Hakeem Smith as his eventual replacement.

  2. “I think it starts with what’s the worst possible thing that could happen. When going into a situation, what’s the worst possible things that could happen, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. And then, ticks down a subset of questions that are in the hundreds and thousands.”

    That pretty much answers everyone’s questions.

    1. I agree with that. Rogers will be gone. I bet they offer 3 mil for Brown. Grant how much is the tag for a safety. That could be too pricey for Whitner

  3. Grant since Greg roman could be leaving after this year do u think the 49ers could pick up Chris ault from chiefs to help out or even replace roman on offense?

  4. I think the niners will draft a Center and a nose tackle and also a CB We will be a later round selection and safety would be a 3rd round selection as well.

    1. I hope this doesn’t seem too cliche, but as I look at this roster, I’m really intrigued with who is available, regardless of position. I could live with Q & Crabs as the main focus going forward, and adding who we can. Sure, OC/OT. The WR from Clemson will be gone. The guy from SC? OK, maybe. I could actually buy in to BPA.

  5. I like Marqise Lee WR -big fast deep threat ;Justin Gilbert CB Ok. playmaker;Ahmed Dixon Big Strong Beasty SS Baylor;Oh and QB J Garoppolo East Illi small school whiz; so far.Won’t be surprised if we pick a Center -Tyler Lawson Utah or Travis Swanson Ark.

  6. speaking of getting knocked out of the playoffs…

    Enjoy it while it lasts, fellas.
    ” You have my quote. ”

    “This is as much fun as you can possibly have in football and as much fun as you can have in life, yeah.”

    AND SOMEWHERE FURTHER DOWN THE LADDER…
    ” Nice to know where we fit in, huh?”
    (Mrs. Harbaugh #1 speaking to wife #2…)

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