Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed media on Wednesday at 49ers headquarters as his team prepares for its Week 13 matchup against the St. Louis Rams.
“Want to start off and just say how saddened we are as a team with the passing of Chester McGlockton. Chester’s been a very close and dear friend over the last four years. Was a part of our team here with the 49ers and also at Stanford. Chester worked with the defensive line this past training camp. It was a shock and just sad, sad today with the news of his passing. Chester was a good guy, a good man. Doing the right things. He was helping people, he was coaching. Great husband to Zina and great dad to his children. We were saddened by that. I want people to know that Chester is a good man and was doing the right thing and helping a lot of people. I’m really going to miss him.”
How was he as a coach? Did he have a lot of promise as a coach?
“Very much so. To say that he was coming in to his own as a coach would be understating it. He was already blossomed. He was so positive with the players and with the other coaches. He just always had coaching advice or spiritual advice; a smile for you. He was my racquetball partner when we were over at Stanford. Just a positive, huge presence on the football team at Stanford and the month that he was here. I know he had been to three games of ours this year. Never failed to get a text of encouragement from him, as well as some of the coaches here as well. Dear friend and I loved him.”
Did he still have the quickness on the racquetball court?
“Yes, he was very quick on the racquetball court. Steve Wisniewski, Chester and myself would play racquetball, so you had to make sure you had your goggles. You were fighting for survival inside the racquetball court with those two men.”
Did you ever consider bringing him on this staff full time?
“Yes. It was something that would have been inevitable if we would have had the opportunity.”
Just shifting gears a little bit. Just from an amateur looking at things, it seems like the offense you had was very unique the first part of the year. Are defenses starting to figure that out a little bit?
“I’m sure that there are some things that they’ve figured out. That’s why we have to constantly look to evolve and continue that. That’s something we self-scout and you try to evolve as an offense and something we have been doing.”
When you’ve had some uncertainty at the receiver position because of injury, I know it’s next player up, but do you try to get them more reps or do you try to rotate them in different situations? How do you coach up and try to build that continuity with QB
“Both. There’s rotation, there’s extra reps, and it’s something that has been taking place with the receivers that are on our team. Understanding this week’s game plan, getting reps with those players that are going to execute that on Sunday, I think that’s very important.”
You talked about WR
“I have and we have a plan. We’re looking at it really one week at a time like we always do. These are sprints. These are critical games. We’ll approach it (with) this week’s plan.”
It seems like you’ve always liked to get your tight ends involved in the offense, but having
“They’re definitely not average tight ends, so I don’t feel like I’m comparing it to anybody else. They’re dynamic, excellent players. What you can do with them is they have the ability to be pass catchers, which in this modern era of football, the tight end position has evolved in many ways to a position that catches passes. Those two guys block as well. It’s important to them in the run game as well as in the pass protection. Those are two tight ends that are great players and have the ability to really open up the entire playbook and utilize their skills.”
Vernon’s got a big personality. His numbers aren’t huge this year. Has he been okay with that? Have you had to manage him in any way because his numbers aren’t bigger or is he being a good soldier?
“I think anybody on our team would probably take it as an insult, in my opinion, if they thought they had to be handled or managed or treated with kid gloves. Said it before, Vernon has been the consummate team player. He understands his role. That role is of a playmaker, somebody that’s critical to our offense. He’s made plays when they’ve been presented. He’s also attracted multiple defenders to open up others. His contributions are widely known and appreciated on our football team. Not just the statistic of catching passes. I don’t even know if he’d be aware. If you ask him, I’d be interested to know if he knew.”
A lot of the guys in this locker room have never been on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot. Do you allow the word playoffs to be spoken this week because one win will secure that for you guys and can you imagine what that would mean to guys like RB
“Sure, not just allow it but encourage it. How do you know where you’re going to get to if you don’t know what the goal is or where you stand?”
I’m here from NFL Japan. For our viewers in Japan, please tell us what have been the biggest reasons for your team’s turnaround this year?
“I would say that it’s been player-driven, first and foremost. We’ve had success on the field and it’s the players that are leading that. Their work, their sweat, their dedication, their discipline, their intelligence, their study habits. Probably a thousand little things or things that all add up to make a difference in the one big thing.”
I’ve also heard that you never, ever like losing at anything. I wonder if that rubs off on the players?
“I think these men are, that’s who they are. They’re very competitive men. They’ve put so much into it: physically, mentally, emotionally. When you have a lot in to something, you have a lot at stake, your will to succeed and to overcome is great. You don’t like to lose.”
Is Golden State Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson coming today? He tweeted at about midnight last night that he was thinking of bringing his staff here today to watch you.
“Yes he is. Look forward to his visit, coach and his staff.”
Have you met him?
“I have not. Very much looking forward to it.”
Cal women’s basketball coach, a coach up at UC-Davis is telling his team ‘I need you guys to improve by one percent every day.’ Your methods have spread through the Bay Area and beyond. Does that mean something to you that Jackson wants to bring his team here and other coaches are learning from you?
“We’re probably trying to learn from him. Like I said, I’m looking forward to that. Hopefully exchange some ideas. Hopefully we’ll get the longer end of the straw on that.”
You guys didn’t have any sacks last game but how would you evaluate how the overall pressure has gone from the pass rush this season?
“Been very pleased. The past game, I thought we had good pressure with our four. Thought we played very well at the nose. [DT] Justin [Smith] was extremely good in this past game. So was [LB] Aldon [Smith]. [LB] Ahmad [Brooks] has been stellar all year. They’re playing very well together. They’re doing their jobs-plus, in so many areas. That group has been consummate team guys. Hustle plays, effort plays, physical plays. They’ve taken care of themselves and they’ve been out there every time they’re called upon. It’s been an outstanding group.”
You don’t want to tip off the Rams I understand but can you give us an update on C/G
“No real update to give out yet on that. We still haven’t practiced on the field yet.”
Who’s going to play (Steven Jackson) on the scout team this week? Is it going to be RB
“It’ll be Ian Johnson and Kendall Hunter.”
What do you see in this Rams team?
“All you really need to look at is the New Orleans Saints game to get an indication of what they’re capable of. They’re playing very well on defense. They’ve got an outstanding quarterback. He’s been very productive with [WR] Brandon Lloyd. Offensive line has been beat up. They’ve done a nice job shifting their personnel. They’ve done a nice job acclimating themselves. Excellent running back. Tough scheme that we face offensively playing their defense. A team that’s capable and puts a lot into it as well. You see the kind of effort that they play with. [DE] Chris Long as an example. They’re going to put a lot into it and they’re going to come in here and do everything they can to not be unsuccessful. It’s two opposing wills like it is every week. It’s up to us to prepare and get ready for this game and play our best. That will be what we’re striving for in this game.”
What stands out about their pass defense? Despite their record, that’s ranked really high since.
What stands out about their pass defense to you?
“They’re playing extremely well at the safety positions. They’ve been banged up at the corner but the guys that are in there now are pro players, they’re good players. They’re making plays. They’ve done a real nice job of backing their scheme with the personnel that they have and the two safeties are playing outstanding football.”
“So many things that Brian Jennings brings. First of all, he’s a technician at what he does. His job, he’s like a Jedi Knight of snapping the football. He brings a leadership, too. An experience, a calmness, a guy that understands making good decisions. Cool under pressure. He’s somebody with a lot of dynamic perspective on football. I think that guys are showered with those kinds of virtues around here. I know I am. So many things.”
What do you mean by Jedi Knight?
“He’s not a Padawan learner. He’s not an apprentice. He’s a full-fledged Jedi Knight.”
Has he said anything that has stuck with your or with players or is it all just what he does on the field?
“Things that have stuck with me is he’s a voracious reader. He reads on many topics, but quite a few on leadership. He’s shared those with me. Trying to get me better. I appreciate that. We’ve had discussions on Genghis Khan to Patton. I try to take time out of my day to make sure I get a little piece of Brian Jennings as much as possible.”
So you heard he shaved off his eyebrow during the bye week by accident?
Were you surprised by that?
“It could happen. Doesn’t make him a bad person. He took some kidding. There was some joking around.”
Are you a voracious reader, too?
“I like to read, yes.”
What do you like to read?
“I like to read history. I like to read factual things.”
War stuff or any history?
“That’s my favorite. 20th century. World War II and Civil War. World War I, too. And football history.”
Have you borrowed any principles from Genghis Khan or Patton?
“And Sun Tzu as well.”