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Chris Culliver Gives Interception Ball to Jim Harbaugh

Posted Nov 16, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers cornerback used his second interception of the season and fifth of his career to make a public statement toward his head coach on Sunday.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Chris Culliver used his second interception of the season and fifth of his career to make a public statement toward his head coach on Sunday.

When Culliver intercepted Eli Manning early in the fourth quarter of a 16-10 road victory over the New York Giants, the San Francisco 49ers cornerback headed directly toward his head coach and handed him the football.

“It’s our little ‘twang, what we got with each other,” Culliver explained, referring to a friendly inside joke between the pair. “We work good together, just say that.”

Culliver was asked directly if his hand-off was a message of support to his embattled coach.

“Oh yeah,” the fourth-year cornerback said. “It can be that.”

Harbaugh’s team had his back on Sunday. The victory over the Giants helped the 49ers improve to 21-9 on the road under Harbaugh’s watch. It’s the best road record in the NFL since 2011, too.

“He’s our coach,” Culliver went on to say. “Whatever he say, we rock out with it, and we go to war with him leading.”

Harbaugh, who said he would give the ball back to Culliver, was nonetheless moved by his cornerback’s gesture.

“I loved it,” Harbaugh said. “That was great. That has happened a few times in my career in college and pro, but that was great. I was just happy for him, and a tremendous play by him. I was touched.”

San Francisco’s defense, Culliver included, had a big hand in the Week 11 road win. The unit victimized Manning five times in a six-point victory. Culliver’s interception, like many others, helped the defense keep New York from scoring in critical moments of the NFC clash.

Culliver credited the 49ers coaching staff for an excellent game plan against Manning and the Giants. Besides Harbaugh, the cornerback called out his defensive coordinator and secondary coach.

“Coach (Vic) Fangio was putting me in good positions,” Culliver said. “Coach Ed (Donatell) was trusting me, and Coach Harbaugh (was) trusting in me, and I competed every single play. That’s all it is, competing.

“When the balls in the air, you gotta go attack it. You gotta go get it.”

All of the turnovers played a big role in helping the 49ers win their 10th 10 a.m. PT kickoff under Harbaugh. The team is now 10-2 in such games.

Sunday’s early start was the last of its kind for San Francisco in 2014. It was also the first of seven games the defense will have Aldon Smith on the field. The pass-rushing phenom returned from a nine-game suspension and added much-needed pass-rushing support to the 49ers defense.

“Aldon was balling,” said Culliver, a fellow member of San Francisco’s 2011 draft haul. “He’s on that right side, which is my side. We both compete together.”

San Francisco’s stingy defense remains as one of the NFL’s best. That’s also without the contributions of several household names. For his part, Culliver remains positive about how the unit is reaching its full potential and playing well for its coaching staff.

“We play good as a whole 49ers team and we came out with a ‘W’ in New York,” Culliver said, “and that’s what we planned on doing.”



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