SANTA CLARA – Here’s the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
Last week you said you didn’t want to overcook it. Is that the same message this week?
“Yes, I mean we prefer not to overcook it. Burnt meat, stale bread doesn’t taste real good. Like to get it just right. Not undercooked, not overcooked.”
How much have you looked at the weather reports for this weekend?
“Been looking at it. Chance of rain.”
Does that change anything or does that make any extra points of emphasis for you this week in practice?
“Yeah, it’s worth following and looking at. There’s a possibility of rain tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Wouldn’t mind getting some work in those kind of conditions if it does play out that way.”
You said a couple weeks ago that this is Greg Roman’s offense. How do you guys work together and does he suggest the plays? You were at Stanford together, I just wondered how it works?
“We all work together. Pretty much suffice it to say, Greg’s calling the plays and coordinating the offense.”
Do you think there’s any correlation at all, there’s been so much made of QB Alex Smith and the improvements he’s made this year. I’m just curious as to your experience having been a professional quarterback. There aren’t a ton of coaches that have had that experience. Do you feel like that has helped him at all or have you been able to work with him at all personally?
“Yes, been able to work with him. Hopefully given some sound advice. (I am) not a quarterback anymore, just a coach. Your question doesn’t resonate with me any further than that.”
I guess when you first came in, I’m sure there are people that were wondering if he would be your preference as a quarterback coming up, what did you see or were there things that you thought that you saw in him that you thought going forward would work as opposed to some of the naysayers?
“Well, we’ve plowed this ground pretty thoroughly and it’s pretty well documented. Watched the tape on Alex and felt like this could be a fresh start for him. Loved the toughness, loved the intelligence and the leadership ability.”
Are you still the voice that he hears in his helmet?
So you had mentioned Monday about Quarterbacks Coach Geep Chryst calling the two-minute drill plays. Why is that how you use that for the two-minute?
“We’re all connected through headphones. Press box, field, me, Geep, [Wide Receivers Coach] Johnnie Morton. Everybody on the offense is connected. Everybody on the defense is connected.”
So in that situation, Geep relays it to you and then you relay it to Alex?
TE Delanie Walker told us he expects to play. Any update there? He announced it, sort of, that he hopes to put the pads on Sunday.
“Yeah, that would be our hope, too. We’ll have to wait and see. Today will be the first practice. You see how he responds to today’s work, today’s treatment. We’ll know more tomorrow, more the next day. Ultimately, it will be in the doctor’s hands.”
What does your offense lose when Delanie is not out there?
“We would much prefer to have Delanie out there. He is a great football player, first and foremost. Smart, physical, intelligent, play-making ability. That’s not to say that the next guy that steps up doesn’t have some of those same qualities. Certainly [TE] Justin Peelle has filled that role very well.”
Just to be clear, you do expect Delanie to practice today?
“Just to be clear, I said I didn’t know. We’ll see. We’ll see. Today is his first day of practice. I thought I was very clear about that. We’ll see how he responds to today’s treatment. We’ll see how he comes back tomorrow after running around out there. Then the doctors will make that decision. That’s about as clear as I could possibly be about that.”
With the six comebacks you guys have had this year, and you said you had given Alex some advice from your quarterback days, what kind of stuff did you give him at the beginning of the season on how to handle those situations in the fourth quarter when you guys are down?
“There’s a lot of situations that you go through. Not going to specifically talk about that one. What did we say to him at the beginning of the season about how to handle fourth quarter comebacks? Him knowing the situation, that’s key. The understanding that he can’t take a sack, we can’t have a penalty as a unit, and you can’t have a turnover. Those three things will absolutely bring down the percentages of executing a two-minute drive and winning the football game. Understanding what the defense is trying to do in those situations. Executing the offense, playing focused and loose at the same time. Alex does a tremendous job of doing that. Then you let the chips fall where they may. You either will or you won’t. I think he’s got that kind of mentality as well. There’s times that no-conscience throws have to be made. He’s done a spectacular job with that all season long. I don’t know how many comebacks we’re up to now, fix or six. Is it six? That’s a lot for any team, for any quarterback. Speaks volumes about how he’s understanding those situations.”
You may not be into the labeling of #1 receiver, #2 receiver, but is WR Michael Crabtree in your mind of that level, a #1 type receiver? What kind of year do you think he’s had?
“Michael’s had a 14-3 year as a receiver. All of our receivers have had that kind of a year, in terms of executing their job. I would say that about our offense, about our defense, about our special teams. I’d say the same thing about the New York Giants receivers. They’ve had a Super Bowl contender year. Everybody’s good at this point. Both teams are good.”
He hasn’t had that many big yardage plays, though. Do you need to see more of that from him at some point or is that just the way the offense has gone this year?
“We’d love to see a big game from Michael in this game, like he’s given us in many of the games this year. Hope he has a big game for himself. I know he’s going to prepare to do that this week and that will be his mindset.”
It seems like a lot of teams best layed plans get derailed with an injury, like Jay Cutler with the Bears. What is your plan B if Alex got hurt?
“Colin Kaepernick would be the quarterback.”
How involved have you been with Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio, I know you talk about all of the communication you have on the offensive side of the ball, but will you look at the defensive game plan for the Giants, how involved are you with Vic in that?
“Very little. Vic runs the defense along with other coaches on our staff. I have complete confidence in Vic Fangio. I’ve always had great respect for him before I had a chance to work with him. I think he’s one of the best defensive coordinators in the history of the NFL. That’s what I want his legacy to be. He’s doing a great job.”
Justin Smith had that play where he drove Bushrod back into QB Drew Brees. I’m wondering, it was such a dominant play, can that set a tone for a defense or have any sort of residual effect beyond that?
How does it do that? What message can that send, a play that’s so dominant like that?
“It’s wicked fight. It’s just that. Other people see it and feed off that and want to rise to that level. Whenever you have a leader like Justin Smith, one of your best players, your hardest worker, your fiercest competitor, that bodes really well for your football team. So whether it’s a play like you mentionedm or the five days that Justin will get a workout this week. Everybody sees it. Their antennas are up and they watch the way he practices. They watch the way he prepares for games. They watch the way he plays through some nagging hurts. It sets a tremendous tone. A tremendous example for our football team.”
Arizona and Dallas are really the only two teams with comeback wins against you. Did you guys learn anything from the Dallas game?
“From the Dallas game?. I don’t know what we learned from that game to be honest with you. A lot of things we knew going into it. Anybody on our schedule has and had the capability of beating us. We have the capability of beating anybody on our schedule. You prepare the best you can, you strive to get better and you go out and give it everything you have and then you see if that’s good enough.”
Have you heard from some of the former 49er greats this week?
“Yes, I did get a phone message from Ronnie Lott. I saw Steve Young, too, at school.”
Any message from them that you’re willing to share?
“Very positive, very positive. Good luck. They loved the way the team’s playing. There was some advice, too. Very positive, very excited for the fellas. Genuinely want to see us succeed.”
TE Vernon Davis clearly wears his emotions on his sleeve. He gave the team a speech during halftime last Saturday. How has his leadership role evolved with this team?
“There are some situations where he does wear his emotions on his sleeve and lets those out, like all the ball players do. It’s a game that’s played and coached by emotional people. He’s not like that all the time. His leadership has been through actions. It’s been through support of other teammates. It’s been through his willingness to contribute to the football team in ways that don’t show up on the stats sheet. All those things are noticed by everybody. Everybody’s antenna perceives that Vernon is a guy that’s about us and not about himself.”
When you look at the game tape from when you played the Giants earlier this season, what is that that you see in that Giants team, how they were playing then and how they are playing now?
“How they were playing then and how they are playing now, they were playing really good at that time and they’re playing really good now. I think they’re a healthier team than when we played them. This is a Super Bowl contending team. That’s who they are, offensively, defensively, special teams. Class, class team that also is a cruel team. They don’t give you things. They don’t let you have what you want. They don’t make mistakes and turn the ball over to you. They’re the opposite of that. They’re an opportunistic football team, they’re a hard-working football team, really at every position group. They are where they are because of all those things.”