This is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.
What jumped out at you on film of Washington before we move onto Seattle? What did you like, especially about that game?
“Several things. Probably the biggest thing is what our team’s accomplished over the last three games, winning three games and they’re as close as you can possibly have games be. And have our team prevail, I think it’s a great credit to the players.”
What does your team gain, you think, from playing such tight games?
“You make a deposit in the toughness account and you’ll be able to make withdrawals from that later down the road. We want to keep making those deposits. There’s a lot of great examples in the ball game. And we’ll start with special teams. I thought [P] Andy Lee had a tremendous effort, tremendous game. Was it five punts, six punts? 50.5 gross and a 48-point-something net, two inside the ten. Thought he really had an outstanding game. Another guy to mention is [LB] Dan Skuta, who played in five phases in the special teams and three were not on the menu – the field goal, the kickoff and the punt return. He was not scheduled to be in those two phases. He was supposed to be in the kickoff return and the punt. Pretty darn impressive and he stepped up and did a heck of a good job. And then the other guy, and this is rare for a guy to play in all six phases, was [LB] Corey Lemonier. There was lots of good efforts. Our secondary, I thought they played a really good game. We gave up a 32-yard pass, but this was also a team that leads the league in 40-plus-yard passes in the entire NFL. We gave up none of those. We let the one get out. Pretty darn good job there. Nice to see us getting pressure on the quarterback. The sacks. [LB] Aldon [Smith] had two. [DT] Ray McDonald and [DT] Justin Smith played extremely well in this game. Each had a sack, multiple hurries, played very good against the run. [LB] Ahmad [Brooks] played well. Really good there. Other guys just stepping up when they had to. I thought there’s no bigger three yards that were gained in the ball game than [RB] Frank Gore picking up the fourth-and-one. There he is. Frank Gore, again. Hall of Famer. And I’ll tell you another guy who’s inching very close to the Hall of Fame is Anquan Boldin. Nobody makes plays like that guy. And others.”
Did Skuta have to play those extra special teams phases because TE Derek Carrier was hurt?
How is Carrier and what’s the state of your tight end position going into this next game?
“We’ll see. Haven’t talked to Derek yet today.”
What about TE Garrett Celek? Is he close to being able to bring back to the 53? He’s an option this week?
The sequence at the end of the first half, you guys seemed pretty calm. Was that something that you guys have been working on as far as letting the clock go down, knowing to take the one shot on fourth-and-two?
“We work a lot of end-of-game scenarios. We had not worked on that particular, well, let me take that back. We have worked on that, yeah. But that particular sequence, we have end-of-the-half scenarios, but that was a particularly unique one. Just made a battlefield decision to – it’s fourth-and-two, let the clock run down to about 13. I thought I called a timeout at 13. I was shooting for 13 seconds on the clock. It ended up being 11. The idea was take our shot to get the first down and still had a timeout left if we happened to get enough yards, once we got a first down, to get a throw and a timeout in and get a field goal. The object was to get a field out of the half. The risk was leaving them the ball at their own 48-yard line with time to throw a Hail Mary themselves.”
But not allow them enough time to run a play and get a field goal?
“That was the idea. And it worked out good. We’re going to get our shot, they may get a shot but that’ll be the risk if our shot doesn’t work. Worked out. Players made it right.”
Do you remember being in that situation before and doing that?
“No. Think it was a first timer. Nice adjustment, [WR] Michael Crabtree and [QB] Colin [Kaepernick]. Michael adjusted his route and Colin really threw a beautiful, beautiful throw and one of Crab’s better catches. And staying in bounds was a great play. That were important points for us right there before the half in a tight scoring ball game.”
Aldon said postgame that he feels like he’s continuing to make good progress but left some plays —
“That was fun. I’m sorry, [Associated Press writer] Janie [McCauley]. That was fun talking football, talking situational football. Kind of a little back-and-forth there. We haven’t had a lot of that this year. It’s always been on other topics.”
Let’s do it again next week [laughter].
“Absolutely. I like those kind of [conversations]. Feel like we’re talking football. It’s great. Thank you for that. Sorry, Janie.”
No, it’s OK. I thought you were done with that thought. What strides can Aldon continue to make? He felt like he left a handful of plays out there that he should’ve made. Are you liking his progress after just two games?
“Yes, I am. As we talked about yesterday, from my vantage point and the defensive coaches’, felt that he played extremely well. Keep going. He’s a very talented player. He gives great effort and made plays. I thought he added 10 percent to our defense in creating that pressure and the sacks, the hurries. If he feels like he can bring more, all the better.”
He talked about how he popped his finger back in himself. Were you witness to that?
“No, I wasn’t a witness to that but heard about it after. That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty cool. If I did that I’d tell somebody, too.”
Have you ever done it?
“I did. I have done that before.”
Take us through that.
“I dislocated my finger and pulled it back in. That’s a good battle scar to have.”
Are you noticing other guys on the defensive front being put in more advantageous situations, matchups, with Aldon back on the field?
“They’ve been playing really well – Justin, Ray. You go back to the last so many weeks, they’re playing extremely well. I think better and better, too. Ahmad Brooks has been playing very well. [LB] Aaron Lynch has been playing very well. And they played very good in this game, the two. Yeah, I think it adds. It’s addition by addition, absolutely.”
Starting Thursday, you have this series of really formidable opponents, really good teams. Why are you confident that your offense can continue to get better or get better to be able to compete in these games?
“Excited about the matchups. We’ve been talking about how we’re playing these as playoff games for some time now. And we’ve played quite a few teams that are going to be in the playoffs this year, are projected to be in the playoffs. Now we’re going to be in a stretch of playing more of those type of teams that you project to be in the playoffs. Excited about that. If we’re good enough to be in it then we’ll know. We’ll know soon enough. So, that gets the motivation up, gets the energy up, gets the awareness going. Playoff-type of games against playoff-type of opponents. It’s as good as it gets. Let’s go.”
You added a couple of receivers in the offseason, WR Stevie Johnson, WR Brandon Lloyd. Do those guys give you something that you haven’t had going into a Seattle game? Do you have more at wide receiver and do you feel like that puts you in a better position to take on that defense?
“I feel good about the way our wide receiver position has played all year. I feel good about all of our wide receivers. The execution in the passing game I feel good about. So, yeah, glad we’re going through this stretch that we have a very healthy and productive receiving corps.”
You talked in the offseason about augmenting that group. Was the Seahawks part of that, beating them, beating that defense? Did you feel like you needed more at that specific position to get up, get over the hump against that team?
“I get the feeling like you’ve got the story already written here and you’re trying to get me to fill in a few blanks here. I feel good about our receivers. That was specifically to make our offense better. No more, no less.”
Was anything learned with LB NaVorro Bowman’s visit with Dr. James Andrews and what’s your plan for him this week?
“Yeah, (we’ll) take it week-by-week with NaVorro. And, this week will be another week of rehabilitation and continuing to do what he’s been doing. Don’t anticipate any practice for him this week.”
How do you feel about having two games against the Seahawks in three weeks and also one of those being a Thursday night game? Does it matter to you?
“Good. Feel good. Excited.”
As a scheduling quirk or whatever, they’re obviously trying to get you guys to play later in the season. It’s kind of cool you guys are playing two out of three weeks. But, I’m wondering as a coach if it’s easier or harder or if you’d rather have it spread out somehow?
“No opinion on it. Excited about the game. We’re taking it one game at a time, one play at a time.”
If you had your druthers would you play on Thursday nights?
“If I had my druthers would I or wouldn’t I play on Thursday nights? Everybody plays one Thursday night game a year.”
Do you like them?
“I do. I like them.”
What do you like about them?
“Thursday night. Monday night. Sunday night. Sunday afternoon. Sometimes Saturday.”
“Yeah. Anywhere, anytime. Get to play football.”
I hate to ask what could be perceived to be a negative question.
“Why do you hate to do that?”
It hurts me a little.
Because I know it hurts you.
“Let’s see what your question is and then we’ll see.”
The last three games you guys have allowed two 100-yard rushers which is unusual. Obviously, you’re missing some key guys in the middle. As well as those guys have played, does that just speak to the absence of guys like DL Glenn Dorsey and NT Ian Williams and Bowman and LB Patrick Willis?
“I like the way our guys are playing up front. As I said, Ray and Justin Smith had very fine ballgames. [DT] Quinton Dial has added quite a bit. [DT] Tank Carradine’s getting snaps. And [DT] Tony Jerod-Eddie, he does a very good job, especially against the zone schemes. So, I’m excited about that. This is a good matchup for him. But, you don’t have to hate to bring up the negatives. Actually, we take it as a compliment. What this organization has accomplished, where it’s built itself to, is a credit to all of the men and women in the organization. Even if a win isn’t enough and there’s criticism or negativity associated with that, really we should take that as a compliment because we built it to where the expectations are very high. So, I think that’s a compliment to everybody in the organization.”
Well in that case …
“I think I’m out of time. Aren’t I?”
There were two third down, third and short, third and five and third and six, that passes were completed to TE Vernon Davis and stopped short of the first down. I know the second one was pretty darn close. But is it his job on those to know where the sticks are and make sure he gets beyond the sticks for Colin?
“No. We don’t change the route depth or the timing based on where the sticks are. We’re trying to execute the play and catch and if we call the route or play that’s going to be caught before the sticks then you’re hoping for the run after catch. Both of those were pretty darn close right at the sticks. But no we’re not asking him, or any receiver, because of where the sticks are to change the timing or the depth of the route.”
Have you been places where they do it when you were playing, is that common that you wouldn’t have a guy be cognizant of where he has to get to for a first down?
“I’ve seen it done that way and seen others done that way. I believe that is not something that you want to do to change the depth and the timing. That throws off that part of the execution. Others can do it differently. There’s probably two different ways to do it there. That’s my view of it, my argument on it.”
What stage is T Anthony Davis in in his concussion protocol?
“I believe he is still reporting symptoms today.”
So, his availability is still up in the air?
The Seahawks are known as just kind of playing their defense, it’s not terribly exotic. Is it easy them being a division opponent? And if that’s true about their defense, is it in that sense easy to prepare for them on a short week just because you’re fairly familiar with what they do?
“No. I would never associate easy, preparing for the Seahawks as being easy. I would never associate that. They’ve been more multiple in their scheme this year than in the past. But, no I wouldn’t associate easy with the Seahawk defense.”
When you guys were preparing to face the Giants I figure you saw the Seahawks tape on them from the week before. What jumped out at you about Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch? He had four touchdowns that game and just how he carries that offense.
“Great football player. ‘Beast Mode.’ I’ve heard him referred to that complimentary. He is a ‘football player.’ Hard. Aggressive. Tough runner. Talented.”
What are you going to eat on Thanksgiving after the game?
“I don’t know. Haven’t thought of it. We’re in discussion on that right now. We were watching the Sunday Night football game, Dallas and New York last night. We were planning on having turkey, but then they showed this piece where they were showing all the turkeys and everything and my son Jack and Katie and Addie, ‘Look at the turkeys. Look at all the turkeys there.’ And they were getting excited looking at the turkeys. And then the next shot was they had loaded the turkeys onto a truck and they were driving them away and the kids were like, ‘Where are they going?’ And we kind of thought maybe we won’t have turkey this year for Thanksgiving. So, we’re in discussion on that. We’ll have some tofu or something.”
Do you consider the Seahawks your primary rival or do you not categorize teams like that?
“You know, we’ve been categorizing them as every week. That’s the way we’ve got to play. However you look at it. If you look at it as this is your playoff game, think of it as your college rival what that felt like. Stanford versus Cal or Michigan-Ohio State or at LSU. The guys at LSU told me they’re Alabama and Auburn, etcetera. If that’s the way you think of it. If you think of it as a playoff-type of game. That’s how you’ve got to think of it though. I mean, every single week and that’s how we’ve been approaching it each week.”