SANTA CLARA – Here’s the complete transcript of Harbaugh’s Monday press conference.
Q: What was the plane ride like?
HARBAUGH: It was good. Good. That was a fun plane ride back. The fellas enjoyed themselves and it’s just a great feeling. Great thrill of victory. Wonderful feel of winning.
Q: We hear you give up your first-class seat and sit with your players…
HARBAUGH: Yeah, I don’t feel comfortable up in first class. I’m a coach guy.
Q: A coach coach.
HARBAUGH: Coach coach, yeah.
Q: What do you do back there in coach?
HARBAUGH: I watch the tape on the laptop. Walk around, talk to the fellas. Watched a little bit of a movie. It was a long trip.
Q: Who did you give your seat to?
HARBAUGH: Jonathan Goodwin. Not a big deal.
Q: Part of what we do is try to get to know the coach. You’re very hard to get to know – you may not know that.
HARBAUGH: I’m moody and complicated.
Q: I think you’re moody and uncomplicated, but anyway, Carlos Rogers told us you grew up in a 1,000-foot house sharing a room with your brother. What was that like?
HARBAUGH: There was just a little saying around the house my dad would always use: ‘Who’s got it better than us?’ We’d all respond, ‘Nobody.’ We could be driving in the car, just whatever we were doing, he’d say it and we’d respond ‘nobody,’ and we really thought that. We didn’t think there was anybody else who could possibly have it better than us. And then as you get older you realize people do have it better than you do but in the case of the house, it was a really small house. I had a chance to go back there and look at it when I was scouting players at the University of Iowa. It was like two bedrooms, three kids, a mom and a dad, living room, kitchen. All was the same. I don’t know how many square feet it was. I looked at it and said, ‘This is the smallest house I think I’ve ever seen.’ But we didn’t think so as kids. My dad would say: ‘Isn’t this great, you and your brother get to share the room, you can talk philosophy, you can share each other’s dreams. Who could possibly have it better than you two guys?’ We thought nobody. That was kind of the idea. Sometimes you’d walk out of the house and there would be a car there and sometimes there wouldn’t. When there wasn’t, it was, ‘Hey, we’re walking today,’ get the basketball and start dribbling it. Just realized that, as you look back on it, the message there was not having things handed to you, things not coming easy are really the blessing because you’ve got to overcome some things. If it’s harder then it makes you better in the long run. I really wanted to be a major league shortstop growing up. I had a glove. I had baseball diamonds to play on. There are kids down in the Dominican Republic who are making gloves out of milk cartons. I didn’t stand a chance to be a major league shortstop. Those guys had to overcome so much more that made them better players in the long run. We just try to find ways to make it harder on ourselves. How can we make things suck more than they do?
Q: Are they sucking enough now?
HARBAUGH: We’re getting there.
Q: You tell your players this so they know it’s not a bad thing to have to overcome whatever they’re overcoming? Is that the point?
HARBAUGH: I think that’s the point, yeah.
Q: Where was this house?
HARBAUGH: Iowa City. Tarwin Court.
Q: Can you spell that for us?
HARBAUGH: Not really.
Q: Can I make it up?
HARBAUGH: You can make it up.There’s a T-A and then there’s a W. R-I-N is my best guess. I was only 6 (laughs).
Q: You and your brother were talking about philosophy in your room when you were six?
HARBAUGH: That’s what my dad was selling, yeah (more laughs).
Q: You said the irony of Stanford’s 24-23 win over USC in 2007 … is there some echo there as a program-changer?
HARBAUGH: Yes, yes, and really not the kind of guy that thinks about the good old days or has remorse or regret about the past, don’t really think about it either way. Always just thinking about planning, saving, working, preparing for the future. There was a moment there that that ballgame reminded me personally of that 2007 game, and the score was identical.
Q: You’ve been close on the road so many times, now 2-0 on the road, why’s it working?
HARBAUGH: Well, people keep bringing that up, the record before on non-divisional road games, things like that. I guess we just look at that as that’s for the people with the computers. People like to look in the deep past of football history. We like to look at it as we’re 2-0 against non-divisional road opponents, not in our conference or division – something like that.
Q: But what’s the key?
HARBAUGH: They’re getting better, they’re playing better. They’re getting stronger, they’re growing closer together. Not where we want to be but we’re working at it. I told them the other day they’re good and the longer it takes them to figure that out the better off we’ll all be, because when people start thinking they’ve arrived that’s when they stop working and doing the things that got them there. We’ll keep pretending we have a long way to go, and we do. We don’t have to pretend. That’s what we need to keep doing, keep working hard.
Q: Is part of your task this week making sure they don’t get too high?
HARBAUGH: Yeah, that’s one. It comes back to you’re getting better or getting worse, you never remain the same. We’ll keep that blue-collar mentality.
Q: Your fourth quarters lately have been your best. Is that because of adjustments? Is that persistence?
HARBAUGH: I don’t know what word you want to use. Relentless, I like better than persistent. I feel like our guys, they’re not… they’re not letting it… they’re not doubting. They’re not… they’re not letting go. The game, the game of football is in doubt until one side thinks it’s not. Our guys, they’re playing the full 60 minutes and then some. And they’re finding a way to win. There’s no getting scared that I’ve sensed from our football team. They’re believing that they can and will be successful. And trusting that they’re good and they’re good enough. And plenty good enough.
Q: Would you have called it differently in the third quarter if the Eagles’ lead was bigger at halftime?
HARBAUGH: Would there have been? I can’t say that there would’ve been.
Q: Frank Gore says as long as we follow our leader, we will be great. He’s not the only one saying similar things.
HARBAUGH: Yeah, we’ve got some great leadership on our football team. It starts with Frank, you know? Justin Smith, Alex Smith, Joe Staley, Donte Whitner. I think the fellas are on the right track there. There’s so many of those type of guys on our football team that are displaying that kind of leadership. Encouraged that bodes well for us.
Q: He means you.
Q: They believe in you.
HARBAUGH: Well… that’s great to hear. I believe the team’s growing stronger. It’s growing stronger in its belief in each other and in us. We look at that as us, ours, our identity, who we are, how we do things. It’s just the guys you have and the ways that you do things. I think our guys are growing stronger in that belief.
Q: You said the team was still looking for its offensive identity, 50-50 run-pass. After yesterday, are you guys close to finding it?
HARBAUGH: We’re getting closer, you know? We’re still growing. We’re still part of the process.
Q: When I first learned how to drive, my parents wouldn’t let me drive on the highway… In a similar way, have you been limiting the offense to start this season?
HARBAUGH: Well, to speak for myself, my parents let me drive on the highway right away when I was 16. Probably two months later I got in an accident. So… I only speak for that driving record. Your parents were a little wiser. We’re doing everything we can. This is… it’s always been … the plan is to do the best we can this year. We look at these games as 16 one-week seasons. Going into every game, the only goal is to win those games.
Q: You weren’t more careful with the offense?
HARBAUGH: Careful is not something we attach to our mentality. That’s not a word we would use.
Q: How important is resiliency to an athlete and are you seeing that in Alex Smith?
HARBAUGH: I think resiliency is really important. It’s a very important thing to have. It’s kind of like the guy in the movies who, no matter what you do to him, blow him up, shoot him, knife him, you know, you can’t kill him. He just keeps coming back and bouncing back and those types of things. You’d prefer to be the guy in the movies that’s the relentless guy, he’s resilient and he always finds a way to kill you, as well. The enemy. That’s where we’d rather go. We’d rather go from resilient to relentless.
Q: Are you saying Alex has been blown up and shot at?
HARBAUGH: He’s been very resilient. I think, like our whole team, we’re moving… that’s the intent.
Q: One play you got Kaepernick in there. Do you have a package for him? Are we going to see him in there more?
HARBAUGH: Could be. That’s all very possible and something that we’ve been building and practicing.
Q: Is Adam Snyder still at right guard?
HARBAUGH: There is no right guard controversy in football that I’m aware of. I mean, I can understand a quarterback controversy. I can understand us talking about that. But as it pertains to… I’m not aware of any right-guard controversies or how many times the defensive linemen play in a certain rotation or how many snaps running backs play, is there a rotation. That’s all part of football. I don’t think there’s a guard controversy.
Q: What went right with the offensive line Sunday?
HARBAUGH: Well, they got a lot of things fixed from one week to the next, in terms of pad level, I thought, was a lot lower in this ball game, the timing, the angles were better, just getting off on the snap, the pre-snap penalties were much improved. Just on point. Much better. That’s a group that’s felt challenged and wanted to do something about it. There’s a couple parts in that game that just really stand out to you as a coach. One is when you get that fumble and the entire bench erupts, just everybody on the squad is so enthusiastic and jumping around. You see it even on the coaching tape, right in the middle of it, trying to get everyone back, but that warms your heart that guys are into that, and they should have been. That play that Justin made was just a hustle play. I can’t say enough great things about him. I’m around him every day, he’s what I think about when I think about John Wayne. He’s a John Wayne kind of guy around our building here. The other one was, right there at the end, when the offense had the ball and knocked out the two first downs, you see Sopoaga and Iupati and Anthony Davis celebrating that 4-yard gain that Frank got that meant that we could take a knee and the game was ours. That makes you feel good. Their confidence is growing, and that all bodes well for us.”
Q: Are your long practices in training camp paying dividends now in games?
HARBAUGH: No, I’m starting to get the feeling like there’s too many nice things coming our way here. My coach in college said, whenever people start talking nice about you, kick ‘em in the shins. Let’s stop. Let’s stop. We got to get back to work here and start concentrating on this football game. I feel exposed when people are saying flowery things about us. We would rather prefer that all that’s written is written against us.
Q: OK, well, then, you suck.
HARBAUGH: Thank you. Thank you. Go back to yourselves. Go back to the list of everything that’s negative. Play the negative quiz show.
Q: So, that helps you?
Q: So that’s how you want it? You against the world?
HARBAUGH: We just feel a more certain assurance of success when all that’s written is written against us. It’s when honey words of praise are flowered upon us that we begin to feel exposed before our enemies.
Q: I believe, actually, that you’re the greatest football coach that I’ve ever been around (laughs).
Q: Did you feel as if you had to build up Smith’s confidence?
HARBAUGH: No, he’s always struck me as a very confident guy, very tough guy, very mentally tough guy, physically tough guy. He’s been easy to coach, he really has. He’s extremely bright, book smart and football experienced. So, it’s been easy coaching him. He’s done it all.
Q: With Aldon Smith playing so much against the Eagles, was that because he has earned the time or because of Mike Vick at QB?
HARBAUGH: Aldon, because he’s deserves it. He’s earned those snaps. He impacted the game, made a couple real nice plays in the ball game. It was one of those games where the entire roster was contributing and needed to. He stood out. NaVorro Bowman stood out big time in this ball game. He made huge third-down plays. When you look at the third-down stops on Vick out in the open field, he was spying him on a few of those occasions. Good, physical tackles. Goldson, as well, contributed there. Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, again, were outstanding. Ahmad Brooks, the first four games of the season have been outstanding play. Sometimes, at times, taking us on his back like he did at Cincinnati on that goal-line stand where he made all three plays from the 5-yard line. There’s good team defense.