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Jim Harbaugh Discusses SB XLVII

Posted Jan 21, 2013

In the mind of San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, Super Bowl XLVII should be all about the “fighters in the fight” and not the corner men.

San Francisco’s second-year coach is set to face his older brother John and the Baltimore Ravens for the second time in as many seasons, only this time it will be in the biggest game in professional sports.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” the 49ers coach said when discussing the task of facing his brother in the Super Bowl. The two haven’t spoken over the phone just yet, but text messages have been exchanged.

Harbaugh, a 15-year veteran NFL quarterback, played for the Ravens in 1998. He’s built relationships with players in Baltimore’s locker room and understands how much of a challenge lies ahead for the 49ers.

“I have great respect for the organization,” the youngest Harbaugh brother detailed, before moving on to the cursed side of the matchup.
“Less time the players are going to be talked about,” Harbaugh said.

“I feel like the fighters are first, the ones who are playing in the game are the ones to talk about.”

A number of Harbaugh-family questions were presented to the 49ers coach Monday, one day after his team reached the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl and first in 18 seasons.

To his credit, the low-key coach kept it about his team and not about himself or his brother.

“I have great respect for them and their team,” Harbaugh said. “Happy for them and for us to get to this point.”

Both the 49ers and Ravens were able to shut out their opponents in the second half of their respective conference title games. Furthermore, both teams managed to do it on the road.

As a result, both Harbaughs have reached the pinnacle of professional football to become the first brothers to coach against each other in the Super Bowl.

Both teams also knocked off their conference’s respective No. 1 seeds on their way to New Orleans. Baltimore, the AFC North Champions, finished the regular season 10-6 and defeated the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots to reach the franchise’s second Super Bowl.

Led by emotional linebacker Ray Lewis, who plans on retiring at the end of the season, the Ravens defeated the 49ers in the 2011 regular season 16-6. Lewis, a 17-year veteran and teammate of Jim Harbaugh back in 1998, was inactive in the brother’s first meeting, but as Jim Harbaugh put it, both teams have changed since the Thanksgiving primetime contest.

“This is completely new business,” he said. “Different personnel and schemes on both teams.”

For San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick’s emergence stands as the biggest difference from last year’s meeting.

Against the Falcons in the NFC title game, Kaepernick completed 16 of 21 passes for 233 yards and lofted a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis. The second-year quarterback also posted a 127.7 quarterback rating in his ninth career start.

Start No. 10 will take place at the Super Bowl.

No matter, Harbaugh believes his quarterback is prepared to handle the stage and all the attention that comes along with it.

“At every phase he’s acquitted himself very well,” the 49ers coach explained. “He played great in this last ball game.”

Kaepernick, the same quarterback who rushed for a single-game NFL record 181 rushing yards in the Divisional Playoff win over the Green Bay Packers, only carried the ball two times against Atlanta for 21 yards. He still, however, found ways to impact the game with smart decision-making and laser-like throws.

“Both teams played great in that game,” Harbaugh detailed of his team’s come-from-behind win that saw them out-score Atlanta 28-7 to win going away. “We’re happy we won the game. It was a great competitive football game.”

Although the Falcons defended the perimeter on zone-read option plays to negate Kaepernick’s breakout running ability, the young quarterback continued to make “piercing” throws according to the 49ers head man.

Accuracy was Kaepernick’s most dominant trait.

Of his 16 completions, 15 of them came on first and second downs.

“He threw the ball exceptionally well,” Harbaugh said.

With Kaepernick’s running lanes being taken away by Atlanta’s defense, Frank Gore made the most of the interior running lanes that opened up. He finished the game with 90 yards on 21 carries, including two touchdown runs.

“Outstanding performance by Frank Gore, one of the all-time competitors in the National Football League,” Harbaugh commented.

The 49ers coach complimented the efforts of many players in the locker room. Unsung heroes like Ahmad Brooks and Michael Wilhoite were commended for their roles on defense and special teams, respectively.

Harbaugh also supported his kicker, who missed a 38-yard attempt off the top left upright.

“The decision has been made, David Akers is our kicker,” the coach detailed.

So while the 49ers coach is feeling good about his team’s mindset and approach heading into the franchise’s biggest game in nearly two decades, he couldn’t help but mix in a little humor in his first pre-Super Bowl press conference.

Asked about ever dreaming of coaching in a Super Bowl, Harbaugh said he had another hilarious premonition.

“The way Colin Kaepernick runs, the ground that he covers, it reminds me of how I run and then I wake up,” Harbaugh joked.

The 49ers coach won’t have to race any time soon. For now, he’ll be focused on preparing for the Ravens and making the best use of the extra week of preparation before the big game.

Jim Harbaugh holds his brother in great regard.

“That’s pretty well-documented,” he said, reiterating his stance of John Harbaugh having a real grasp of all three phases in the game. “I’m very proud of my brother.”

In addition, he’s pleased with the hard-working individuals who helped the 49ers reach New Orleans for a second time this season. (The 49ers beat the Saints 31-21 back in late November, coincidentally Kaepernick’s first road start).

“Just appreciative to our players, our coaches, our organization, everyone who has their fingerprints on this thing,” Harbaugh said.

The 49ers coach now aims to have his prints on something else, a Vince Lombardi Trophy.

“Let’s go to work,” he said, summing up his approach to the Super Bowl. “Forever proud of the fighters on the team. Happy to still be playing and working.”

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