INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Harbaugh is not an animal, but at times, he can think like one.
When asked how it feels to get back to evaluating college players at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, the San Francisco 49ers head coach shared a glimpse into how his mind works, at times.
“It feels like you got your paw in the ground, scratching, ready to go,” he said.
Yes, the 49ers lost Super Bowl XLVII to his brother’s Baltimore Ravens. And yes, it was a challenging experience for the head coach. But ultimately, it’s one that will make him better in the long run.
The Harbaugh brothers spoke a few days after the Super Bowl, when Jim reached out to John.
“We talked about the game and some other things… Yeah, we discussed some facets of the game and some other football talk,” the 49ers coach said, unwillingly to dive into the conversation any further.
The relationship between the two remains unchanged.
With the franchise’s Super Bowl defeat in the rear view mirror, Harbaugh’s eyes lit up when asked about the team’s potential draft picks.
The 49ers hold 11 picks in the 2013 NFL Draft and expect three more compensatory selections between rounds 3-7.
If San Francisco selected 14 players, Harbaugh said it’s not out of the question.
“Do I see it? Do I envision it?” he asked rhetorically. “It’s certainly possible. We’re here to draft the best football players that we can. We feel good about having these picks.”
Harbaugh takes extreme pride in helping each player on the 49ers roster reach their maximum potential, but in the same token, he also knows there is a potential to help transform 14 incoming rookies.
“Anything’s possible,” he reasoned, “but we’ve also got a lot of good players on our team. Just as a point of fact, we take all of the players on our team and you’d love to see them develop and coach them to be the best player they can be, so there’s no way 14 players could come in and make the roster. And then simultaneously at the same time, we’re going to find 14 players who can beat out 14 guys who are currently on the team.
“That’s working at the same time, it’s that iron sharpening iron effect. I could imagine it both ways.”
To even be considered as a draftable player in Harbaugh’s eyes, the 49ers coach looks back at how a player performs on tape, but also how they’ve treated everyone they’ve come into contact with in their football careers. That includes coaches, teammates, equipment managers, trainers and others.
Harbaugh is interested in hearing the truth from players though. He doesn’t want to hear any lies.
“Someone that’s not truthful, that’s big to me,” the 49ers coach explained.
It’s a lesson that dates back to one of his favorite TV shows.
“I’m a big fan of the Judge Judy show,” Harbaugh said with a grin. “And when you lie at Judge Judy’s courtroom, it’s over. Your credibility is completely lost. You stand no chance of winning that case. So, I learned that from her. It’s very powerful and true because if somebody ever lies to you, how can you trust anything they ever say after that?”
The 49ers coach will spend a great deal of time this week getting to know the nation’s best players. He’s eager to find out more about the players he’s briefly seen on tape or coached against back at Stanford.
“I think it’s a very good draft,” he said.
San Francisco’s offseason could be quite interesting with respect to how the team handles its own free agents and backup quarterback
Harbaugh understands the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft wants to start, but the 49ers also feel good about their depth at the position.
“It’ll be a process – that’s the reality of it,” Harbaugh said of Smith’s status on the team in 2013. “That’s the way it’ll play out over the next so many weeks or months.
“We think we’ve got the best quarterback situation in the National Football League,” Harbaugh went on to say. “I feel strongly about that. Again, that’ll be a process that plays out. Alex Smith continuing to be a 49er or if a trade occurs in the next weeks or months – those are the two possibilities, the most likely possibilities.”
Another possibility the 49ers coach discussed is the availability of wide receiver
Harbaugh, however, is a football coach. And, he’s one that thinks outside the box.
It’s helping him get ready for his third year at the helm of the 49ers. Harbaugh’s not looking back at the Super Bowl loss, but ahead to what could be another strong season for his team.
“The lens I choose to use, we choose to use, is look at yourself, ‘How can you get better?’ And we’re forging ahead with a new day,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a new day, the paw’s in the ground and we’re attacking with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.
“That’s our attitude with it.”