The San Francisco 49ers were winners twice over on Sunday.
First, the club defeated the New York Jets 34-0 in dominant fashion while playing in the franchise’s first ever game at MetLife Stadium. Second, the team returned to its Santa Clara headquarters to discover a brand new weight room all set for players to utilize prior to a Week 5 home game against the Buffalo Bills.
“Good to be back, back here in our facility and back in California, and 3-1. It’s good, positive,” Jim Harbaugh said to open his annual Monday press briefing.
In a matter of minutes after stepping off the team bus late Sunday night, Harbaugh, along with several players and staff members joined him in walking immediately into the weight room to soak up its splendor.
“[Head strength & conditioning coach] Mark Uyeyama and [assistant strength & conditioning coach] Kevin Tolbert were the first two over there,” Harbaugh detailed. “A bunch of players got off the bus and walked through it, several coaches, and [Chief Executive Officer] Jed [York] and [General Manager] Trent [Baalke].
“Everybody was just looking at it and admiring it, thinking about all the possibilities. It’s a great gift for our players.”
With Uyeyama leading the team’s strength program over the past two seasons, the team has worked outside in a temporary outdoor weight room adjacent to the team’s practice fields. When the team elected to re-design the practice fields this offseason, space was allotted for a new workout facility.
On Sunday, the players discovered the completed weight room upon returning from a 10-day, three-state road trip.
By Monday morning, players were already lining up to get in the first workouts inside of the building.
“That building,” Harbaugh began, “think it’ll make us better, make us stronger. It’s a good symbol of that. Guys were in there cranking it out today, throwing the iron around.”
Harbaugh couldn’t recall who lifted the ceremonial first weight, but there were several players at the facility to check out the scene on the team’s day off.
Harbaugh confirmed that nobody lifted in the weight room Sunday night, but that players were “eyeballing it and thinking about the possibilities.”
Even with a new workout setup in place for the remaining 12 regular season games and beyond, Harbaugh maintained that his team would continue its hard-working ways, with humble hearts, of course.
Harbaugh told his players postgame to move on to Buffalo preparation with a humble approach and explained to reporters that the message was simple in nature.
“The message is, ‘we’ve attained humility,’” he explained. “I couldn’t really say when that is for each person. Personally, it was a long time ago. But, that carries with it no loss of true pride. And the idea of - nobody’s walking around here like we’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.
“And you’ve got to get better, you’ve got to improve. The single most important thing is winning the game. Fundamentally, the single most important thing. But, also you want the feeling of improvement, otherwise it’s short-lived.”
Sunday’s result might be short-lived in the mind of the 49ers coach, but the lasting images of his defense and offensive line, among other standouts, remained in his mind on Monday morning.
Harbaugh called the team’s four-turnover, shutout performance, "a gem.”
He praised the unit for playing within the framework of the defense which enabled San Francisco to hold New York to just 145 total yards of offense. Harbaugh also said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio called a tremendous game.
As for the offensive line which paved the way for 245 rushing yards and three touchdowns, Harbaugh called it an excellent performance by the mauling linemen.
“Up front, that group did a fine job,” he said. “It was a job well done. And for an offensive lineman, I think that’s one of the highest compliments that you would want as an offensive lineman. Did your job, did it very well. It was a fine day’s work. They earned their pay. Put in a solid, good day’s work. And that speaks volumes for that unit that we have and where they’re coming and where they’re going.”
In Harbaugh’s mind, the 49ers have room for improvement across the board. Although the team possessed the ball for 36:56 on Sunday and picked up a season-high 26 first downs, the team converted on 33-percent of third-down conversions.
Asked what can be improved after a dominant win, Harbaugh simply said, “Everything.”
“As we said it earlier, you want to keep improving,” he added. “I think we did that in this game and we’ll set out this week to do the same.”
The team will do just that with a new workout facility at its disposal.