Will the Niners man up?

SANTA CLARA — Yesterday’s loss was the toughest loss of the season for the Niners – no question about it. They were supposed to beat the Cardinals and they didn’t, and now it’s looking doubtful that they’ll get a first round bye in the playoffs.

During today’s Monday press conference one reporter asked Jim Harbaugh how the Niners will deal with this adversity.

“You man up with broad shoulders,” Harbaugh exclaimed right away. “You take accountability.”

He corrected himself, “You rush in to take the accountability.”

Here’s the scene from the locker room this morning. You tell me if the Niners manned up on this day, the twelfth of December.

Andy Lee was the only player who spoke.

Patrick Willis turned down an interview request because, as the the P.R. assistant explained for him, he’ll only talk when he gets back on the field.

Adam Snyder declined an interview because he had to get treatment.

The following players made sub-ten-second walkthroughs: Alex Smith, Braylon Edwards, Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin and Isaac Sopoaga. They did not talk.

Kendall Hunter peeked his head through a locker room curtain for about five seconds but he never walked in or talked either.

Here’s who wasn’t there at all: Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers, Dashon Goldson, Tarell Brown, Anthony Davis, Ted Ginn Jr., Delanie Walker, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant, Aldon Smith, Kyle Williams, Ricky Jean Francois, Anthony Dixon and Colin Kaepernick.

What the players did today – was that manning up?

To be fair, Monday is the Niners players day off. But today was the emptiest the locker room has been on a Monday morning all season. Frank Gore always talks on Mondays. So does Vernon Davis, Donte Whitner, and Carlos Rogers. Alex Smith usually does, too. But not today.

Surely the head coach manned up, right? Here are some quotes from his press conference. You be the judge.

Q: After reviewing the game and sleeping on it, what are your thoughts the day after about where things went wrong?

HARBAUGH: “There’s a lot of thoughts. There’s thoughts about what went right. A lot of things.”

Q: With the red zone, do you guys need to find a go-to person? Someone who Alex can rely on and just really look to feed when you get in those situations?

HARBAUGH: “Um, I mean, we, based on the play called, the situation, that’s all 11.”

Q: Do you have a role in the red zone play calling?

HARBAUGH: “We all do, yes.”

Q: Will you look to take on more of a role?

HARBAUGH: “Um, we’ll be as hands on as we’ve been.”

Q: Greg Roman said that the extent to which the Giants loaded the box against you was comical. Have teams been doing that to your offense since that game?

HARBAUGH: “(Long pause). Um, have the Giants stuffed the box more than any other team that we’ve played?”

Q: Since the Giants game, have other teams done what they did – load the box?

HARBAUGH: “Yeah, teams are aware of our running game. They’re scheming and attempting to stop the run, yes.”

Q: Frank Gore scored a touchdown early in the third quarter and had just two carries after that. Why so few throughout the game? It seemed like you were getting something going with the run game.

HARBAUGH: “(Pause). Um, why so few carries for Frank after…?”

Q: Also carries in general – he only got ten total.

HARBAUGH: “Ummmm, I don’t have any answer for you.”

Q: Is he healthy?

HARBAUGH: “Uhhh, yeah he’s got some things. He’s not 100 percent, and we have other backs that got carries in the second half.”

Q: Have you guys thought about using Anthony Dixon in short yardage situations?


Q: Why hasn’t that materialized yet?

HARBAUGH: “Umm, well, I mean it’s, it just hasn’t. (Long pause). Hey look, I mean, we know (giggle), we know there’s going to be criticisms. We know that there’s going to be ‘whys.’ ‘What happened? What took place? Why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you throw the ball here? Who’s your go-to guy?’ And we’re not going to talk about it. We’re going to talk about it to our players, to our team, and make a real effort as we always do – every single day this is what we do – try to address problems and get them fixed. Smart guys – we’ve got those as coaches, we’ve got those as players, and we’ll work together to get them fixed.”

If that’s manning up, I don’t know what manning down could possibly be.


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