In case you needed any reminder of the significance of the moment, Van Halen’s “Right Now” blasted over the practice speakers at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara.
On the final day of open practice in the Bay Area for Super Bowl XLVII preparations, San Francisco’s players reflected on the unique week at the 49ers facility.
“It’s not every year you get a chance to do this,” the 49ers tight end said on Friday. “Some guys go their whole career and don’t even get an opportunity to play in this game. You can’t take it for granted… I’m extremely excited about this.”
The 49ers coach’s enthusiasm is hard to match, but it did go up a tick after a morning conversation with Hall of Fame former coach John Madden.
During Madden’s morning radio show, Harbaugh called in and asked for advice to a first-time Super Bowl coach. Madden offered sound advice to the 49ers coach, telling Harbaugh that the team over-celebrating a conference championship, or complaining about Super Bowl Week, typically winds up losing.
Harbaugh listened closely to Madden’s words and later shared them with his team following a morning walk-through.
“Some of the advice he gave,” Harbaugh began, “thought it was really good insight, some that I have never heard before.”
The ‘no complaining’ advice really struck a chord with the 49ers coach, long known for his “Who’s got it better than us?” post-game rallying cry.
“I did like that,” Harbaugh said of Madden’s guidance. “Yeah, some people could say what’s there to complain about, you’re in the Super Bowl, right? Well, I know where he’s coming from.”
Another well-known coach with Bay Area ties has given Harbaugh advice, that being former Major League Baseball manager Tony La Russa. Harbaugh wouldn’t share the details of their discussions, but said “he’s been a very valuable resource and asset to me. I really appreciate it.”
Harbaugh never reached the ultimate NFL competition in 15 seasons as a quarterback. He did, however, make it in 2002 as part of the Oakland Raiders coaching staff. Harbaugh and other players with Super Bowl experience have shared their wisdom with the team this week.
“The greatest share is just here,” Harbaugh said. “Our ideas as an organization, our coaches. Some with our players and mainly the people here in the building.”
But more than anything else, Harbaugh wants his team to feel prepared for the ultimate examination in professional sports.
“The things that we always emphasize as a team, and that’s studying for the test,” the 49ers coach said. “Preparing for the challenge and the task at hand. What we’re going to do today. What our expectations are for today. And that’s to have the best day that we could possibly have, meetings and practice. I want them to enjoy. I want them to enjoy every minute and especially enjoy the competition. And that’s the most exciting thing to look forward to, is playing the game. That ball being kicked off and working together, fighting together, playing together for a chance to win a championship.”
Competitive messages like that are well received by the 49ers. Davis said players look at Harbaugh as “exciting.”
“Everyone on the team, they love Harbaugh,” Davis continued. “He brings a lot of energy to this team and that’s what we like most about him, his energy is so high. He keeps is that way which is a good thing because we can all feed off that.
“I think it does when you can relate to your coach like that. You can play with him, you can joke with him.”
With Harbaugh’s steady leadership, players have been able to keep focused on the ultimate goal.
“Everybody’s enjoying the moment, but nobody is missing out on the task at hand,” defensive tackle
San Francisco’s fourth-year reserve lineman is returning to the Superdome, the same place he’s won several football games – from BCS bowl wins during his time at LSU to a 10-point win over the Saints this season.
Jean Francois, personable as anyone on the team, has enjoyed the Super Bowl process thus far. He’s not complaining one bit.
“There’s nothing wrong with the media coming up to us and talking with us, we’re having fun with them the way they’re having fun with us,” Jean Francois said. “We’re enjoying the moment, having fun with it. And with this moment, who could have it better than us?”