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Harbaugh Unveils “Forty Niner Way”

Posted Jul 26, 2012

In 2011, a simple saying dominated all things for the San Francisco 49ers. From appearing on t-shirts to rally towels to homemade signs inside of Candlestick Park, it was all about Jim Harbaugh’s family saying: “Who’s got it better than us? – Nobody!”

The popular saying will undoubtedly stick around this year and for some time after. However, there’s a new phrase being used around team headquarters: “Forty Niner Way.” No surprise, Harbaugh is at the center of it once again.

The verbiage can be found on a street sign, conveniently placed in between the players’ walk from the locker room to the practice fields.

The message, though simple in nature, has everyone’s attention now that veterans have officially reported to 49ers training camp.

“It’s a matter of getting people on the same page and having an attitude that’s going to result in winning games,” said Pro Bowl long snapper Brian Jennings, the longest tenured player on the 49ers roster.

Current day training camp is a far cry from the specialist’s first experiences with the 49ers. Back then, Jennings’ first camp was held at the University of Pacific in Stockton.

Jennings also didn’t know how long he’d be able to last.

“For sure, (I was) scared to death,” recalled Jennings, a seventh-round selection in 2000. “The thing that jumps out to me the most my first training camp, I remember six or eight days into it, thinking, ‘I can’t do this for six months.’”

Jennings, however, settled down once he realized every practice during the regular season wouldn’t be a two-a-day like they were in training camp.

“I really remember honestly thinking, ‘I don’t know if I’ll cut it. This is too hard,’” Jennings recalled with a laugh. “That’s kind of funny to me. Even at the time, I told a couple of my buddies, ‘This is too hard, you can’t do this for six months,’ and they just laughed at me and said, ‘It’s not like this the whole year.’”

Good thing Jennings got over his early fear; he’s been to a pair of Pro Bowls with the 49ers.

Jennings might be entering his 13th camp in the NFL, but he certainly can recognize the value of motivational tools like Harbaugh’s popular rallying cry and newly installed street sign.

“I think capturing your attention, capturing your imagination, narrowing your focus is one of the jobs of a leader,” Jennings said. “I think Harbaugh has a very unique way of doing it and a very effective way of doing it. I really appreciate it and I think it works.”

Younger players on the roster like last year’s leading wide receiver Michael Crabtree also understand the significance of Harbaugh’s sayings.

“Coach gives us some good motivational speeches,” the fourth-year wideout said. “He tries to keep everybody up. He’s really good at having something new for you every time. He’s not repetitive about his speeches; he’s real creative about every meeting. That’s a good thing. It keeps your eyes and ears open.”

Second-year safety Colin Jones couldn’t miss the green sign when making his way into the locker room on Friday.

“Every time you turn the corner you have something exciting and new to get everybody fired up,” Jones, the special teams contributor said. “You have that sign out there, the fields look really nice, you’re just ready to get out there and play some ball.”

For most, the wait has been long enough. Crabtree and company are ready to hit the field.

“This is what I love to do, so you can’t wait to get back here with the guys and go out there and compete and have fun at the same time,” Crabtree said. “We’re ready, ready to ball.”

That is, of course, ready to ball “The Forty Niner Way.”

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