SANTA CLARA — Here’s the transcript of Ricky Jean-Francois’ locker room Q&A from this morning.
Q: Would you say yesterday’s game was especially emotional?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah it was emotional because it was right after the game. Before the incident, before I started looking over, we were shaking hands and saying it was a good game. But once your emotions get put inside that and all that hitting and all that, anything could happen. Anybody could start saying something.
Q: You guys thrive on that with this coach, don’t you?
JEAN FRANCOIS: It’s almost like he’s still playing football. He’s with us. Just to see a coach fired up, to see him jumping with you, slapping five, patting you on the back, telling you good job and stuff and he’s into the game, that’s our energy right there. We thrive off of him. It seems like he’s still playing football but he’s just doing it from the coach’s position.
Q: Vic Fangio called the defense’s performance the best he’s ever been a part of. Did you feel that as the game was wearing on.
JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah, as the game was wearing on it was like, basically we need to man up. We know they’ve got a good offense. We know they’re going to start passing that ball, and eventually Calvin Johnson is going to get that ball or they’re going to try to give it to Best. We knew they were going to come up with a scheme. Vic was just like, “You’ve got to stay together. Don’t matter what breaks down. At one given point, when Alex threw an interception, when he overthrew Crabtree, we were like, “It’s just another down. Get the ball back for Alex. Keep them from scoring and make sure we get the ball back to Alex. As you see, he came through.
Q: What’s your schedule this week?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Come in today. Meetings. Lifting weights. Special teams. Offense and defensive meetings, and then we have another meeting that I don’t know. Then we come back in tomorrow and I think we’re going to do just a few breakdowns on the Browns.
Q: And then you’re going to get out of town on Wednesday?
JEAN FRANCOIS: I’m catching the red eye.
Q: I saw you out here first thing in the morning pulling that sled with a bunch of weighted plates on it. Is that just part of your regular work or was that some extra work?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Getting extra work. I’m just trying to get everything in before I go back home. The type of weights I lift I don’t lift back home. Our conditioning coach doesn’t want you to go back home and do some crazy and he’s not overlooking what you’re doing. I come out here and I try to be the first dude in, try to get my weight lifting in and see if I can space more workout time before the next week.
Q: What was the plane ride like on the way back? Was it any different than the plane ride back from Philadelphia?
JEAN FRANCOIS: It was more high than the Philadelphia game, because everybody was saying we were going to lose the game. They’ve got Megatron. They’ve got Ndamukong Suh, all great players but at the end of the day we knew the only way we were going to beat this team is if we stuck together. It didn’t matter – we were going to have ups and downs, but we had to stick together. When we got back on that plane, most people say that’s a long trip but it felt short because everyone was on the plane smiling, still giving each other high fives. It felt like we were in the locker room but we were in an airplane at 45,000 feet in the sky. We were still enjoying it. We can hold on to this just for this time, but tomorrow once we’re looking at the Cleveland Browns we’ve got to leave the Detroit game alone.
Q: Did Harbaugh give up his seat again?
JEAN FRANCOIS: I think he did because he was back there with us. A lot of the guys were looking at the film, trying to see what they did wrong, and he was back there just giving people tips, like DBs, linebackers, some of the D-linemen, some of the O-linemen he was giving compliments too.
Q: What does that mean to you guys?
JEAN FRANCOIS: He’s got his heart set. At first I knew a lot of people were talking about, “He’s a new head coach. He has a new staff. How quick is the offense going to learn his offensive terminology? How quick will the defense learn Vic’s defense? And the biggest thing I was always telling people on the team was don’t use that for an excuse, because I know that’s going to be the first thing everybody’s going to be bent on: “Well, it’s a new coach. He’s kind of struggling. First year.” Nah, we couldn’t do that. If coach is willing to put his heart into it, you’ve got to be willing, too. We’re doing it, and we’re just driving with it.
Q: Joe Staley said that on the plane you guys were talking about the skirmish and you were kind of amused. Did you notice that?
JEAN FRANCOIS: He didn’t talk about. He didn’t want to talk about that situation. All he was really trying to talk about was the win, that was his main focus. He was mostly into the game, he just seen his guys win, we played all out, he’s happy, he’s jumping up and down. Like you said, he shook the coach’s hand a little too hard. He probably thought he was shaking one of our hands or something like that, and it got taken the wrong way. I understand they lost, and your emotions are going to be different if somebody is to shove you in your shoulder, you’re going to take that the wrong way.
Q: Were you amused by it or should he have given a more proper hand shake?
JEAN FRANCOIS: I just laughed. The games was over with, the coach got over excited, and just leave it at that. Coach handled that the best way – just walk away, there’s no point. We’ve got a long plane ride home to sit and talk about it and laugh about the situation. There’s no point in trying to react, because then everyone will have Fedexes inside their lockers.
GC: Was it surprising to you that it was coaches that got over excited after the game and not players?
JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah, it was shocking to me. The coaches were more excited than us. But just to see that, that shows us the coaches got their heart in it. They’re not just doing this for a pay check. He’s actually into it. They want to see us win. To see that, you’ll go out there every week and do what it takes to win for those coaches. Just to see them coaches that happy, to see them coaches jumping up and down, getting on a four or five hour plane ride and have a good time talking to you.
Q:The national media is overshadowing the win with the handshake? Disappointing?
JEAN FRANCOIS: That’s disappointing. They’re blowing that out of proportion. All the man did, he shook the hand too hard. He didn’t try to shove the man out of the way, it wasn’t like he was trying to pat the man on the back. He’s just overemotional, his guys just won, he’s happy. One minute you probably thought he was a player, you thought he was back in the game with us again. They’re blowing it out of proportion. Talk about the game, don’t talk about negative stuff like that. We’re finally on a roll. We’re finally 5-1 for the first time since ’98. Talk about that. Don’t talk about what was going on with Coach Harbaugh. He was happy. He had seen his guys win. He was happy because we beat Detroit. Everybody had the odds against us. ESPN and all the national media are overtaking that. You’re focusing on the wrong thing. Focus on the 5-1 record, focus on the game we just won, focus on what we did right and what we did wrong in the game, that’s all.
Q: Speaking of 5-1, is Harbaugh the biggest reason behind that?
JEAN FRANCOIS: He’s the biggest reason because he actually got all the guys to buy into him, actually become a family. And start trusting in one another, don’t have a doubt. If something goes wrong, somebody go over there and pick that guy up. If you see him down on the ground, pick him up, cheer him up, say, ‘We’re going to get the ball back, we’re going to score this touchdown, we’ll catch this ball, make this tackle.’ Do that. That’s our biggest thing. Now you see guys in here smiling, goofing around, basically not uptight. They’re loose. It’s different from last year at 0-5, walking around with your head down and you’re not really saying much. Now you’re walking around and everybody’s conversing. We’re joking around with everybody, equipment guys, training room staff, PR guys. It’s just a better feeling. The one thing everybody needs to realize: Have fun with this, it’s the bye week but come next week — probably come tomorrow you’ve got to let that go.
Q: Bay Area resurgence and buzz for NFL a year after the Giants were the talk of the town?
JEAN FRANCOIS: I’m happy for the Raiders to have that going. Rest in Peace, Al Davis. I wish he was there to see his team keep going on. It’s a great buzz. Now everybody’s coming out to the games. You might see the games more packed on Oakland’s side than our side. It’s just a plus for the Bay Area to see both teams winning. Now you’re going to see more fans in it.