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Morning Tailgate: Jim Harbaugh Eyes Happy Flights

Posted Jan 8, 2014

The 49ers coach knows his team has done its job on the road when he can enjoy the airplane trip homeward.

How soon does Jim Harbaugh move from the opponent he and the 49ers have just beaten, in this case the Green Bay Packers, to the opponent, the Carolina Panthers, he and the team aspire to beat next.

“For me, it’s by the time we land,” Harbaugh said.

Actually, before the team is back in the Bay Area.

If the coach has his way, San Francisco will be the most-traveled team this postseason. As the NFC playoffs’ No. 5 seed, players and coaches must travel to Charlotte, N.C. for the Divisional round and potentially to Seattle for the conference championship game. From there, another east coast trip to New York, the site of the Super Bowl.

That time spent on airplanes might as well be spent well, studying.

“Everybody’s experienced a happy flight in their own way. For me, it’s talking to the players and having some conversations on the plane and then I sit there in my seat and I’ve got the video of the game that I’m watching. And then also, our planes have a TV, so you could watch some of the highlights of the other games and a highlight comes on I want to see, I can press the pause on my video,” Harbaugh explained. “I’m just sitting there, just me. All I need now is a cup of coffee and just happy as I could possibly be doing those things.

"And then when I run out of the video to watch, then start watching the Carolina tape and my mood starts to change as we start to land and start focusing on the Carolina Panthers. It’s a happy flight for me. Other people may experience that happy flight in a different way, but that’s how I do it. It’s very nice.”

What did Harbaugh see in his earliest preparations for coach Ron Rivera’s Panthers?

“A very good and dominant front seven. Excellent in the secondary, very physical. They’ve added very nice players at the safety position and they’ve done a nice job at the corner position,” he said. “Free agent or draft, they’ve put that defense together really well and they play well together. They lead in top five in several defensive categories, with very well coached, sound schemes and very good players.”

For more storylines surrounding the team, check out this edition of Morning Tailgate links, presented by State Farm.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com provided another edition of Beat Writer Breakdown.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle covered the suddenly intriguing nickel corner battle.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News wrote about the rematch at large.

Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group checked in on Vernon Davis’ mindset for Carolina.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com noted that others beyond Davis didn’t factor into Week 10.

Bill Williamson of ESPN.com checked in on the career prospects of an assistant coach.





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