Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Tuesday as his team enters its bye week following the 24-3 win at Arizona on Monday Night Football.
Did you deliver some good news to your guys about the amount of time they have off?
“Yeah, that was a deal we made. ‘Let’s make a deal.’ From the TV show, Let’s Make a Deal, with Monty Hall. Not a lot of them knew who Monty Hall was or what the show was. But, just wind back three weeks ago, we said for every win they get before the bye, they would get one more day off than the four that you get under the rule. So, we’re good. We’re good for it. They were good for it. We were good for it.”
Last year, did you learn a lot about your team from the bye week? A lot of guys stayed here. And those who didn’t were doing what they were supposed to do and getting a lot of work done. Did that tell you a lot about this group then and maybe that you can apply now?
“Do we have a lot of trust in our players? Absolutely.”
One game in 23 days and a lot of players off. You look at the Detroit Tigers apparently the long layoff between series hurt them. Do you worry about getting stale with such a long layoff? I mean, 23 days between games and getting stale?
“The approach is just - they have a bye. We’re going to take a small breath right now. And then trust that we’ll do the right thing over the break. Guys will continue to work out and we’ll get back to work next week.”
Do you have any preference or issue for a player about when you wanted that bye? This is the midpoint of the season, right in the middle. Do you like them now, or wish that it was a little bit further down the road in terms of freshness? That sort of thing?
“No. Not really. Just the way the schedule falls, I guess if you had to pick where a bye comes, right in the middle would be good.”
“Do we appreciate a guy being a great player and a team player? Absolutely. Vernon has been that. And there are some things that some defenses are doing, there’s no question about it. Just look at the tape, look at the action. They’re focusing a lot of attention on Vernon Davis, even before he gets into a route. Defensive ends are disengaging in their pass rush and making sure that they chip Vernon on the way out, stay with him for three, four, five yards. Which doesn’t allow them to get in their pass rush lanes. So, that’s something that is affecting him getting the ball. But, it’s also opened up some other options. So, it’s pretty plain to see.”
On that subject of other options, were you as pleased as you’ve been this year with just how you transition the start of the game, running game, then going to pass? And then working around options that didn’t necessarily include Vernon?
“We’re pleased at a lot of things, yeah. And there are other things that are correctable. And there was a lot of good. There were some things that you’d like to improve on. But, great game for our wide receivers. That’s always a point of contention. Why aren’t the wide receivers more involved? Well, they were very much involved in this game. And the way they caught the ball, the way they ran routes, the way they blocked for each other. When [WR] Michael [Crabtree] had the ball, or [WR] Randy [Moss] had the ball, some very aggressive down-field blocking. And some excellent run after catch turned into big plays.”
We have the advantage of knowing what’s going on because of the stats and watching the game and at halftime QB
“No, I was not conscious of what his statistics were.”
Not until the end of the game and you found out it was 18 out of 19?
Were you surprised?
“Yeah, yeah I was. Yeah, I was.”
So it didn’t register he was on a hot streak at the time?
“Yeah, that registered, that he was on a hot streak. Did I know exactly what his statistics were? No, I wasn’t. That it was only one incompleted pass? Yeah, I was surprised by that.”
Did any of those passes stand out when you went back and watched it on film?
“Did any of them stand out?”
Anything specific that you didn’t see last night that just kind of jumped to your, and say, ‘Oh jeez, I didn’t realize that pass was right on the money?’
“Yeah, realized that. Yeah. There was a lot of fantastic passes, both seeing it live and watching it on the film.”
“It was really evident in this ball game, just two guys really being on the same page. On the first touchdown, perfectly thrown ball and great hands catch. Great strong hands catch by Michael on the stop fade. And then Michael’s second touchdown, just two guys again, making a play, being on the same page. Knowing body language. Seeing body language. Made eye contact and the two of them made a play. I think that evidence speaks for itself, two guys on the same page.”
On that play particularly, were those routes run? It looks like WR
“No. That’s what I’m saying, the two guys were on the same page. Michael really broke off his route. Alex read his body language. Michael came back inside. Alex hit him and then Crab found the lane to the end zone.”
I see what you’re saying, it was an in-route adjustment. Kyle was running one way but Michael was going back.
“Right. They both were on the same page.”
Have you seen LB
“Yes. Ahmad has been outstanding all offseason, all season. He’s just one of those guys that continually gets the job done, in the weight room, in the meeting rooms, on the practice field. He’s had great games, but he’s had great practices too. Good in practice, good in games, that shows up once again.”
Do you enjoy watching the pass rush when you’re up a couple of touchdowns and LB
“Well, I think they’re all working so well together. [DT] Ray [McDonald], [DT] Justin [Smith], the linebackers, the inside guys, the secondary, everybody’s playing really good team defense. But yeah, they’re accomplishing some great things. You look back over the last five games, four of those games have been without the opponent scoring a touchdown That’s really impressive, really hard to do in this league.”
Was there any reaction on the plane or when you guys watched the highlights, when WR
“There was a lot of reaction to it on the sideline, and there was a lot of reaction in the film room when Randy got the block that got Michael a few more yards. Randy just works extremely hard, cares a lot about his teammates. When you see a guy have success and then you see the reaction that the teammates have for him, you know that he’s a respected and well-liked guy.”
Even when he could have gone out of bounds, gotten the first down on the touchdown, he cut it back in. Do you appreciate that?
“Got a couple of really good block too. Do I appreciate that? Oh yes. That was fantastic. There were multiple receivers doing that in this game.”
When you evaluated Randy, did you see blocking in his repertoire?
He’s always been a good blocker?
“Saw it in his repertoire, yeah.”
Did you have to convince him at all or did you have to state to him that you can’t just be running nine patterns the whole time? That you are going to have to get in there and mix it up in the run game and blocking for your teammates?
“No, didn’t have to explain that. Randy really knows football.”
Four sacks seemed to be the only question mark. Overlooking it together, do you see a trend, it looks like a couple times Alex pulled it down something wasn’t there right away and he had no other choices. What accounts for the four sacks, was there an overall theme that linked them together?
“One for sure was we didn’t give him a very good play call. Another we got covered and glad he didn’t throw the ball to where he was supposed to throw it. And then another one, he looked to the wrong side of the field. The read should have taken him to the right instead of the left and I can’t remember the fourth.”
Was there an emphasis in case anything, just pull it down, take it, forget it? Was there an emphasis not to throw blind at all, in this game more than any other game?
What do you hope to get out of this week as a coaching staff when your guys maybe aren’t here every day? What’s your list of to do?
“Two things mainly. Do some self-scouting, some self-evaluation of all three of our phases. Then secondly, prepare for the Rams, that’ll be another big, division opponent.”
You’re “gobble-gobble turkey line” has gone viral. Have you gotten any amount of feedback on that?
“Not really. Not too much, no.”
Is it a line you’ve used before?
“I think anybody that watched a lot of TV shows in the 70’s could relate to it, could understand it.”
Weren’t you one holiday early? It’s Halloween first, before Thanksgiving.
“Sometimes, you get people talking and there’s a lot of low content-to-word ratio. Got to call that out, I guess.”
Low content-to-word ratio, is that like a quarterback rating for scribes?
“Yeah, we’re in the same ballpark.”
Is it cool to see the San Francisco Giants pull it off and win the World Series?
“Great. Fantastic. All of our guys were watching Game 4 the night before the game. Yeah, just fantastic. The team’s really gained a lot of inspiration from what the Giants have done this year. So many great team stories. So many great individual stories. And just Champions. These leagues, I think the baseball, maybe it’s the same as the football league. But, it’s a process as the season goes on. There are just so many ways that there’s an attack on the team mentality, the team concept, from so many different directions. To a process to pull the team apart. And the team that won’t be divided, that stays together, fights for each other - that one team at the end of the season, they’re the champions. They get called champions. And I think that was really evident with the San Francisco Giants team. They’ve got a great morale. It’s just evident. The way they enjoy each other’s company. The way they care for each other. The way the fight for each other. And it’s most impressive. And just as a fan watching it, very, very inspired by it and moved.”
Have you ever met San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, or any of the Giants?
“I’ve met [Giants pitcher] Matt Cain.”
At the golf tournament last year?
“Yes. Yes. But, I’ve not met Bruce Bochy. I’d like to.”
You guys traded messages at one point didn’t you, he said?
OK. Will you try to reach him?
“I’d like to, yes.”
The San Francisco Giants were pushed to adversity. They were down 3 to 1 against St. Louis and then they kind of just melded and they ran the table. Is there any correlation to that in your football experience, as a player, as a coach, at any time where a team was really stressed and then boom, they hit the hot streak and ran the table at the end?
“Can’t think of one like that. No. But that’s great momentum, the momentum that a ball club has. I think it comes from being such a strong team.”
But it seems like the pressure pushes them together and it makes them better or something to that effect. Did you sense any of that?
“I don’t know. I’m not probably the best one to talk about peeling back the onion on every single facet of the season of the Giants. But, the thing that really stuck out to me was just what a strong team they were. What a great morale they had and a lot of talented players and great coaching, managing. That was phenomenal.”
Defense, the other team doesn’t score, both teams.
“Good. Good, yeah. Good football analogy and baseball analogy. Be good up the middle. Great catcher, great pitcher. Pitching, shortstop, second baseman, center fielder. A lot like football. Great running back, great quarterback, great center, great linebacker, great safety.”
You’ve got to have shortstop.
“Didn’t I say shortstop and second baseman?
How’s Jack Jr. sleeping?
“Good. He’s doing great.”
Sisters are adjusting to that?
The big sisters are adjusting?
“Oh yeah, they love him.”