The 49ers will take center stage today on the first day of media availability at Lucas Oil Stadium. General manager Trent Baalke will take the podium at 8:15 a.m. (PST) and head coach Jim Harbaugh will follow at 9:45 a.m.
“You know there were stories about Steve Spurrier – the last thing he thought he’d do when he was playing was end up being a coach. And he kind of came to coaching once his playing career was over. I think Jim knew all along and so he was trying to get the most out of those situations.”
Harbaugh is the millionaire ex-quarterback who didn’t go into broadcasting – among the league’s top-75 in career pass attempts, he is the only NFL coach. Chryst is the Ivy League graduate who didn’t go to Wall Street – he played football and baseball at Princeton and went on to add a master’s degree from Wisconsin.
Jim Harbaugh — and the coaches he brought from Stanford – either coached or coached against 13 percent (44 of 329) of the prospects who will be at the NFL Combine during this past season.
“We’ve been tracking it down through NFL Films and trying to retrieve some of that intellectual property that belongs to the San Francisco 49ers. So we’re trying to build that library back up and that legacy back up. I can’t wait to watch it. So we’re making progress.”
But Brian Murphy saved the obligatory Alex Smith questions for last so here are Harbaugh’s latest public comments on The Quarterback Who Inspires Quite An Emotional Response (the full audio is already up here, scroll down on page). Also, I’ll blog more highlights of the interview after getting out of bed, guzzling some coffee …
Jackson, 44, was a safety in the NFL for 12 seasons, the final four (1997-2000) with the Chargers. Harbaugh and Jackson were teammates in San Diego from 1999-2000.
In 2001, when Greg Roman was a Panthers assistant coach and Jim Harbaugh was in his 15th and final season in the NFL, Carolina’s veteran quarterback told the bright young assistant that their paths would cross again.
Harbaugh has twice had running backs returning after 1,000-yard seasons. In each case those backs have ranked among the top three in the nation in carries per game, averaging more than 26 a contest (perspective: Kansas City’s Larry Johnson set the NFL record for single-season carries in 2006 with 416, or 26 a contest).
Well, whatever the case, there is one thing on which all Pac-10 defensive coordinators can agree: Harbaugh, the former quarterback known for developing signal-callers, also has a thing for running backs.
Vernon Davis (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) and backups Delanie Walker (6-0, 242) and Nate Byham (6-4, 268) are the type of big-bodied, athletic and versatile tight ends that Harbaugh targeted at Stanford: The Cardinal’s tight-end trio this past season featured Coby Fleener (6-6, 244), Zach Ertz (6-6, 249) and Konrad Reuland (6-6, 257).
Banker, who served for one year as the Chargers defensive coordinator, described Stanford under Harbaugh as a smash-mouth running team with a sophisticated NFL passing attack that made effective use of its tight ends.
In other words, when Harbaugh said he thought Alex Smith could be a winning quarterback in the NFL he meant this: He thought Alex Smith could be a winning quarterback in the NFL.
On Friday, Harbaugh reiterated that the Niners “would uncover every stone” in finding a quarterback. But he also indicated that he’d started his evaluation of Smith. And his initial review was favorable.
Baalke said Harbaugh knows how to maximize a quarterback’s talent because he did it himself as a player. In other words, the first quarterback Harbaugh developed was Jim Harbaugh, who parlayed average physical ability into a 15-year NFL career.
When asked about being a first-year NFL coach and dealing with the uncertainty regarding the league’s labor situation, Harbaugh busted out one of his mottos, coming, perhaps, to a T-shirt near you, “All obstacles can and must be overcome.”
No other assistant or head coach in the league has dropped back and examined an NFL defense more than Harbaugh, who ranks 46th in NFL history in pass attempts with 3,918. None of the other 45 quarterbacks ahead of him on the list is an NFL coach, assistant or otherwise. In fact, Harbaugh is the only NFL coach among the league’s top 75 in career pass attempts.
USC wide receivers coach John Morton, 41, will join Harbaugh’s coaching staff, presumably with the same job description. Morton and Harbaugh were assistants with the Raiders in 2002-03 and Morton worked under Harbaugh as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at the University of San Diego in 2005.
In last week’s blog (click here), I included some of Mortensen’s thoughts on the offense. But he said much more about playing in the system and playing for Harbaugh. It was good stuff — so good that I’ve included a transcript below featuring the highlights of the 30-minute conversation.
George Seifert, 70, who had a 98-30 record and won two Super Bowl titles in San Francisco, had Niners offensive coordinator Greg Roman on his staff and coached Jim Harbaugh during his career-ending, three-year tenure in Carolina from 1999-2001.