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Jim Harbaugh Holds Himself Accountable in Defeat

Posted Nov 18, 2013

Jim Harbaugh looked at his role in the 49ers road loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Jim Harbaugh wasn’t pleased with his contributions in a 23-20 road loss to the New Orleans Saints.

In fact, San Francisco’s head coach didn’t feel good in the morning after his team’s fourth loss of the season. So what did the 49ers leader do? He remembered an old adage.

“I know that as a coach, if you want to feel better, coach better,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “That’s what I tell myself.”

Harbaugh was not pleased with how two first-half challenges were lost by the 49ers coaching staff.

The 49ers challenged a Drew Brees pass without video footage in the coaching booth. New Orleans’ quarterback was close to throwing the ball over the line of scrimmage, but his entire body had to be over the line and Brees’ body was just behind the line of scrimmage at the time of his throw. Harbaugh said after the game that Senior Offensive Consultant Eric Mangini has a role in helping Harbaugh decide which plays to challenge.

San Francisco later challenged a Jon Baldwin end zone catch that was ruled as an incompletion. Baldwin did an excellent job of dragging both feet on an 11-yard throw from Colin Kaepernick, but the third-year receiver bobbled the ball as his body crashed into the turf on his landing.

“We had the video evidence,” Harbaugh said of the second challenge. “We knew he was in bounds. We knew the ball got juggled, but we were hoping that it would be reversed.”

Harbaugh and the 49ers coaches were wrong on both challenges and the team was without the red flag for the rest of the game.

“I was kind of biting my nails on that,” he said.

In retrospect, Harbaugh will be more cautious on throwing the challenge flag.

“I was hoping that doesn’t come back at bite you,” Harbaugh said. “Fortunately it didn’t, but I don’t want to put our team in that position again.”

The 49ers could sit and stew about a lackluster, 196-yard offensive showing against the Saints, but that’s not going to help the team make a push for the postseason.

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Harbaugh has turned the page.

“We have to do the next right thing and that’s attack today and get ready for the Washington Redskins,” he said.

Harbaugh, however, will continue to evaluate his role in helping the team succeed in the remaining six games.

“I feel like if you don’t feel good then coach better,” the 49ers coach said. “I’m trying to find every way to do that.”

How so?

“Win games,” Harbaugh replied. “Put the players in position to be successful.”

The 49ers are still in a wait-and-see mode on star receiver Michael Crabtree. Harbaugh said Crabtree is “close” to returning to action, but didn’t declare the fifth-year wideout ready to play against Washington on “Monday Night Football.”

That being said, the team will look to do more to help Kaepernick.

Harbaugh applauded his quarterback after a fourth defeat in 11 weeks, but noted that there can be more support coming – Crabtree, or not.

“I thought he did some incredible things,” Harbaugh said of Kaepernick’s outing in New Orleans. “He played with great poise. I thought he threw the ball, made some great throws.

“He was operating good, we’ll continue to give him more help.”

Crabtree’s health will be monitored closely this week. So, too, will be San Francisco’s confidence.

The two-time defending NFC West title holders are in new territory under Harbaugh, they’re now considered to be the hunter and not the hunted.

“It’s a situation that we’re in,” Harbaugh said. “And for us, it’s always the next game. That’s the most important game. That’s the must-win game. That’s how we look at every game no matter what position we’re in – doing the next right thing.”

The next right thing is stopping the team’s current two-game skid with a better showing in our nation’s capital.

“There’s some adversity with the club and I’ve always liked that and saw that as an opportunity to show the mettle of your team,” Harbaugh said.

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