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49ers Have Three-Game Focus

Posted Dec 31, 2012

The agenda for the playoff bye week has been set by San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

It’s all about rest and relaxation for the players.

The coaches, however, will be hard at work studying up on three potential opponents for the NFL Divisional Playoff game set to be played on Jan. 12 at Candlestick Park.

“Players, I’d like them to rest their minds and rest their bodies,” Harbaugh said on New Year’s Eve.

The players will be off until the team meets up for Thursday and Friday workouts, and off again over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the coaching staff will be at the team’s Santa Clara headquarters throughout the week studying up on the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins, who could all visit Candlestick Park as the lowest remaining NFC seed in the Divisional Playoff round.

“We need to prepare equally,” Harbaugh said of the preparation for the three teams, two of which the 49ers have defeated this season.

As for the Redskins, the team the 49ers have not played in 2012, Harbaugh said, “We’ll need to run more computer data on them.”

In the mind of the 49ers head coach, there’s really no preference on which team San Francisco faces in the postseason. Harbaugh believes his team is battle-tested and prepared to face whoever advances to the second round.

“Not making predictions on who we’re going to see,” the 49ers coach said. “Getting prepared for all the teams across the board.”

The 2012 postseason will feature two quarterbacks with playoff experience in the NFL. Colin Kaepernick, does not fall in that category, but nonetheless, Harbaugh likes how his second-year signal-caller has acquitted himself to tough surroundings in the second half of the season.

Harbaugh also noted that the quarterbacks who’ve advanced their teams into the postseason all have quarterbacks who feel right at home on the big stage.

In Harbaugh’s mind, Kaepernick is no different.

“One of the things that stood about Colin from the very stats was that he was poised beyond his years,” Harbaugh stressed about his first ever offensive draft choice.

The 49ers coach went on to discuss his assistant coaches potentially interviewing for vacant head coaching opportunities. Harbaugh wouldn’t delve into specifics on if the team had been contacted about potential interview requests, but he did say all three of his coordinators, Greg Roman, Vic Fangio and Brady Seely, all desire to become head coaches.

“I’ve always tried to have coaches with that ambition,” Harbaugh said.

The 49ers coach also informed the media that Brandon Jacobs would likely be released later in the day and that the team would try out kickers to potentially compete with David Akers for a spot on the postseason roster.

“We’ll evaluate what’s the best plan going forward,” Harbaugh said.

“David’s certainly in it,” Harbaugh said of a potential kicking competition. “He’s done a lot of great things for us... He knows it, we know it.”

Akers has made at least one field goal in all 32 regular season games of his 49ers career, but has been inconsistent in the second half of 2012, including two misses in Sunday’s win over Arizona.

Other situations to monitor heading into next week include the status of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Justin Smith.

According to Harbaugh, the veteran’s left elbow continues to strengthen in the two weeks he’s been inactive.

“He makes significant progress each week,” Harbaugh noted.

It’s not yet known if Smith will be back in time for the Jan. 12 playoff game, but it is known how Harbaugh feels about his replacement, fourth-year defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois.

“He did a good job,” the 49ers coach said. “He’s always been a solid player for us.”

Jean Francois led the 49ers on Sunday with six tackles and one sack.

Harbaugh also spotlighted the efforts of cornerback Tarell Brown, who recorded his second interception of the season despite battling flu-like symptoms on gameday.

“He stepped up for us,” Harbaugh said of Brown.

The starting cornerback’s illness is another reason why Harbaugh wants his players to rest up before Thursday’s workout.

“Now, it’s a new focus, a three-game focus to get to the ultimate goal,” the 49ers coach said.

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