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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