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20 Thoughts from Jim Harbaugh on 'Ascending' 49ers

Posted Oct 6, 2014

The head coach singled out a number of players for praise in the wake of their Week 5 win at Levi's® Stadium.


You probably saw from his postgame, locker room speech, but Jim Harbaugh has given his San Francisco 49ers players Monday and Tuesday off from work.

This doesn't mean Harbaugh and his coaching staff are treating this week any differently. The 49ers leading man was back in Santa Clara bright and early Monday morning, less than 24 hours after the team's Week 5 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent the hours before his midday press conference studying up on the Week 6 opponent St. Louis Rams.

Here are 20 other takeaways from Harbaugh's day-after-victory talk with reporters...

1. Harbaugh said he had a "typical" morning conversation with team CEO Jed York that went well per usual. "Everybody in the organization is working hard," Harbaugh said. "Everybody is doing their darndest right now."

2. This was the impression that Jack Harbaugh, Jim's father, came away with after spending the past couple of weeks working with his son and the staff. Jack saw the want and will of the players, Jim said.

3. Harbaugh asked one reporter not to ask the players to defend their coach, reiterating his point from Sunday afternoon. "It's not their job to," he said.

4. Expounding upon the "coaching talent" on his staff, he also gave credit to head and assistant strength and conditioning coaches Mark Uyeyama and Kevin Tolbert for keeping the players in good enough shape to brave Sunday's high temperatures.

5. The 49ers committed only two penalties against the Chiefs. Harbaugh connected the decline in misfractions to his players' smarts. "They realized it was hurting us," he said.

6. While he was happy with the team's tackling overall, Harbaugh said he'd like to see more hang time on Andy Lee's punts and better coverage by the unit when it came to allowing De'Anthony Thomas' 28-yard punt return on Sunday.

7. Another room for improvement: Of the team's five scores, only one was a touchdown. With all due respect to the perfect execution of kicker Phil Dawson, Harbaugh said he'd like to see more touchdowns.

8. On one series in the red zone, Harbaugh said he called for a "QB keeper" play because Kansas City pass-rusher Tamba Hali had over-pursued the previous snap. Hali adjusted to Kap and kept him at bay. "I got out-smarted on that one," Harbaugh admitted.

9. Harbaugh went off on a tangent a few times, throwing out the names of players he believes to be "ascending" on defense: safety Antoine Bethea as well as outside linebackers Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks and inside linebacker Chris Borland.

10. Borland recorded three special teams tackles by Harbaugh's count, while Kassim Osgood continues to be the unit's "best player."

11. Harbaugh and special teams coach Brad Seely took Craig Dahl's 57 high school touchdowns into account when they put him in position to execute that fourth-quarter fake punt.

12. Of his decision to approve Seely's trick play, Harbaugh said, "Can't play scared. Refuse to coach scared."

13. "Ascending" on offense, according to the coach: tight end Derek Carrier and center Daniel Kilgore.

14. Carrier, who entered training camp fourth on the depth chart, has impressed in particular, earning the "trusted agent" moniker. Harbaugh complimented the ex-basketball player for his "great grab," a 10-yard reception on a naked roll-out by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The coach also likes the tight end's improved blocked in the running game. 

15. Kilgore deserved a "special mention" for handling a "special player" in Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe, who recorded 0.5 of the Chiefs two sacks.

16. The number three wide receiver competition continues to be fluid. Stevie Johnson has caught touchdown passes in consecutive weeks, but Harbaugh said the coaching staff decided to make Brandon Lloyd a bigger part of the game plan against the Chiefs. 

17. Of Lloyd, who led the team with 76 receiving yards including that fourth-quarter acrobatic catch, Harbaugh said, "I can't recall seeing anyone do it better" in terms of re-gaining "leverage" on a cornerback in mid-air.

18. Earlier this year, offense coordinator Greg Roman made a highlight package of 80 to 90 of Lloyd's career highlights, Harbaugh said: "What showed up continuously was his play outside the numbers, contorting his body."

19. A reporter compared Lloyd to Pro Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann and, even though Harbaugh often detests juxtaposing players, he said, "That's a fair comparison."

20. Of number two wideout Anquan Boldin's incomplete pass to number one wideout Michael Crabtree on a first-half trick play, Harbaugh wished Boldin ran with the ball. Often skill players want to pass the ball so they forget they have a run-pass option, he said: "Come hell or high water, they want to throw it."
 


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