Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Friday before the 49ers boarded a plane to Atlanta for the NFC Championship game.
“I can tell by the audience that we’ve probably ploughed through all the ground there is to plough through.”
You don’t want to answer any questions today?
“No, I didn’t say that. I said judging by the sparseness of the crowd, we probably have covered everything.”
Keeping the farming reference going, have you guys, is the hay in the barn at this point?
“No. No. We try to take the approach that it’s never in the barn”
How would you characterize the week? How things went? Were you happy with the way everything went?
“Really happy. Really happy. Our Wednesday, our Thursday practices were outstanding. Our Friday practices have been really good the last three, four weeks. I think today was as good as those, or better. So, good preparation.”
Looks like you guys have been finishing early? Have you been working through the script with a good tempo?
“Yeah, we have been working at a very good tempo. And we had a couple extra ones today. There was a few times when a defensive player’s asked to have the play repeated because they wanted to get it right. And I thought that was good, taking ownership on their part.”
Any different feel this year going into the Championship game than there was last year?
“No. I don’t know about the feel. Just other than what it is now. Talk about how it feels right now and it feels like our team is determined, focused. Ready to get on a plane and get ready to play a football game.”
What is the plan after you guys get to Atlanta? Tomorrow and everything like that?
“There will be more meetings, practice, meetings.”
Everybody going to get checked as probable like last week?
“Yeah, that’s something that the trainers and doctors release through [49ers Public Relations Director] Bob [Lange].”
Let me ask you a question about WR
“Good. Good. The more reps after [WR] Mario [Manningham] went out is the way that correlates. And he’s been good.”
He’s obviously nearing the end of his one-year contract. Will you approach him and ask him if he wants to come back next year?
You want him back?
Has that conversation taken place?
“No it has not. I can, for official publication, I for one definitely want Randy to come back. Hope he feels the same way.”
What do you tell them on Sunday morning? How is that speech different from any other speech?
“I don’t give speeches. I give information. I’m not a speech giver.”
How were the players handling, and you handling, the added media hype and playoff hype? Cover of Sports Illustrated, things like that?
“Speaking for myself, and I know just the evidence of the way a lot of the guys on our team have handled it. The next game’s the most important game. Doesn’t change anything that we have to do in regards to our task. It’s a big challenge. It’s a big task. Going to play the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC Championship game. So, people have said some nice things about us. That’s nice. Cover of Sports Illustrated, very nice thing. Says a very nice thing about our team. Put it in a frame. Put it up on the wall. Says something nice about you. But, doesn’t change anything about what our job is.”
What will you be doing on the plane flight to Atlanta?
“Is that relevant?”
Do you do more prep work? Is the hay in the barn as you like to say? Do you have more work to do on the flight out there? That sort of thing.
“Yeah, it’s a long flight. So, get a little bit of that.”
One of your linebackers said there is a completely different level of confidence in the locker room this year. As you guys prepare, leaving the locker room in a couple minutes here. How would you rate the level of confidence?
“I’d say it’s good. Rate it how? Like in terms of high, low, medium, percentage wise?”
Yeah, well you don’t want to be overconfident. You want to have a healthy confidence going into it?
“Well, I’d like it to be the highest it’s been. I’d like our focus and concentration to be the highest it’s been. I’d like guys to go out and play the best game they’ve ever played here. That’s the hope. That’s the expectation. And then we’ll find out all those things on Sunday.”
Do you like the dynamic of just bringing your 53 guys into that stadium in front of 70,000 people rooting against you?
“Yeah, yeah. I like that dynamic.”
Will you guys walk through at the Georgia Dome?
Pep Hamilton got hired by the Colts to be their offensive coordinator. What are your thoughts on him and are you happy to see him get that job?
“I am happy to see Pep Hamilton get that job. Congratulations to Pep.”
Do you count him in the Jim Harbaugh coaching tree?
“Well, the first and best is [49ers offensive coordinator] Greg Roman. The job that Greg has done this year I think is really in so many ways been just one of the best I’ve ever seen. And we’ll talk more about that later. We’ve got a job to do right now. But, he’s the shining star in my book.”
Is there any risk that your team may be over confident? You’re favored to win, expected to win? Is that always a danger in these circumstances?
Is there any risk your team may be overconfident? Favored to win. You’re expected to win. Do you have to counteract that in some way?
“Two questions there. Is there risk? Sure, there’s risk in everything. Secondly, counteract that. We’ve been doing that by just preparation and studying for this test. And then, go out and play the ball game. And we’ll be excited to do that. And that’s the most exciting thing waiting to happen is that game starting. And our guys just getting a chance to play. And I’m very much looking forward to watching our guys compete.”
Have you talked to your brother this week about the possibility of both of you winning and going head to head in the Super Bowl?
You haven’t? Not at all?
“No, no we didn’t talk this week.”