Skip to main content

Coach's Notebook: Dec. 31


Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Monday following his team's 27-13 Week 17 win vs. Arizona which helped the 49ers earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

What's on the itinerary for this week for the players and the coaches?
"Players, I'd like them to rest their minds, rest their bodies. They'll have today, tomorrow and Wednesday. I just ask them and suggest, almost insist, that they just stay close here to Santa Clara and rest the mind, rest the body. Make the body feel better. A lot of guys are in here doing that today, getting treatment and lifting. They'll come back on Thursday and Friday. Get work in. Coaches will be working today, tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and next Monday."

Same schedule as last year, similar scenario?
"Yeah, pretty similar. Similar."

Do you guys compile three different plans of attack basically these next few days?
"Yeah, yeah. Two of the teams we've played. One team we could possibly play that we haven't played."

Are you preparing more for the Redskins because you haven't faced Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and RB Alfred Morris and you have faced the other two teams, the Seahawks and the Packers this season?
"Yeah, I think we need to prepare equally. But, they're the ones we haven't seen yet. We have to run more computer data on them that we already have on some of the other teams. So, not making any predictions on who we're going to see, or that kind of thing. But, we'll get prepared for all the teams across the board. But, yeah we're going to have to run more data and log some more time on Washington. I think it just makes sense."

They have I think one of the four quarterbacks in the NFC playoffs haven't played in a playoff game before. Only Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Falcons QB Matt Ryan have. How does the dynamic of the quarterback position change in the playoffs, especially for a young one who hasn't played in the playoffs before?
"I can't quantify that for you."

The bigger stage, shouldn't affect them at all. Is that what you're saying?
"I think that's more of an individual thing. And most of these guys that are playing this position are accustomed and feel right at home on the big stage. All the ones you're referring to there I think are that type of guy."

Including QB Colin Kaepernick?
"Yeah, yeah."

By him playing in New Orleans and New England and Seattle, do you feel he's battle tested and ready to go here in the playoffs?
"Yes. One of the things that stood out about Colin from the very start was the poise beyond his years. That he was able to handle many and all those situations like a guy who looks like he's been playing that position for a long time. And you could say the same for the other quarterbacks as well."

Have you factored into the possibility that some of your coaches might not be able to work all seven days? That they might get an interview with all the head coaching vacancies out there right now?
"Yeah, that's a possibility."

Have you received requests yet to talk to any of your assistants?
"I don't think we say whether we do or don't. So, won't say one way or the other. But, definitely we've got some guys who would be great choices. I've always thought that."

Specifically the three coordinators, what makes you say that? That those guys are ready for that?
"Well, if I just said they just are, that probably wouldn't suffice? 'The I'm just telling you' argument. No, their body of work really speaks for itself I believe in all three of those cases, and their body of work here and elsewhere. I'm talking about three talented coaches, professionals, teachers."

But when you talk about body of work for your offensive coordinator, I could be wrong, but my impression is he only designs the running plays. So, there would be some gaps in his body of work. Is that so?
"I don't think so, no. I'm not going to argue with you though."

I'm not arguing. I'm asking a question. I'd like clarification. Some of your players have said that he only designs really the running plays. So, if that's the case, it seems to be that there may be some gaps. I'm not arguing, asking.
"OK, well. I answered. I said I don't think there are any gaps."

Do all three coordinators want to become head coaches, do you know?
"Yeah, they do. I've always tried to hire coaches that had that ambition. I like guys like that. That have those ambitions, those hopes, those dreams."

What is the team's plan for RB Brandon Jacobs? I think the original suspension was three games. That's over. Will he be rejoining the team for the playoffs?
"No, he will not."

So, what officially does the team do? Just outright release him?

When will that happen?
"I believe later today."

Your kicking game, what's your evaluation of K David Akers' status as of today?
"He's still our kicker and we'll evaluate what we think is the best plan for moving forward in our next game."

Will you bring some kickers in this week?
"Yeah, we'll probably bring a few in and have some tryouts and some competition."

Is that a decision you want to make quickly just to get that guy in and accustomed to your holder and your snapper?
"Well, we want to make the right decision. David's certainly in it. He's done a lot of great things for us. He's made a lot of great kicks, a lot of big kicks. And he knows it, we know it, those kicks in the games, you've got to make those kicks. There will always be a level of competition around at any position to find who gives you the best chance to win the next game. Knowing the competitor that Dave is, I don't think he'll have a problem with that."

You've been very supportive of Akers throughout the year. Have you been surprised that he just hasn't been able to kind of snap out of it?
"Kickers go through at times slumps. You've seen that and they'll go through it and maybe come out of it quickly. Sometimes it lingers a little bit. But, have I been surprised that he hasn't made those kicks? Yeah, we understand that's the job of the kicker, put it through the uprights. But, understand the difficult nature of the job as well."

Will he be involved in the competition? Are you allowed to have him out there to compete against these guys that you bring in?

So, what can he do to keep that job right now?
"Well, if we had two on the roster at the same time, then they can kick in practice. And that's an option. That's a possibility. I think there are three options. We go forward with David. We bring in a new kicker. Or, we have two and let them compete for the job. We'll make that decision as we go."

Just for clarification, if you allow your coordinators to interview for a head coaching position what's the last day they do that in the BYE week?
"I don't know that."

Is there a date you'd like them to be done by so then the focus is here?
"Yeah, I'd like them here on Thursday and Friday for the practices."

Will your players be off Saturday and Sunday as well?

Come back Monday?

What's your relationship with director of player personnel Tom Gamble? How does what he does interface with what the coaching staff does?
"All year long we interface with the scouting department, with Tom, with [general manager] Trent [Baalke]. Offseason evaluations for the draft and free agents. During the season, evaluations on someone that might improve our football team at a position, or somebody that might be able to run down and cover a punt better than somebody that we have. Or, fill the need on kickoff coverage. So, you're always looking and seeing what's available."

What are your thoughts, how much of an impact that week for the BYE makes, specifically on how it relates to Justin Smith?
"My thoughts are that you watch the strength and how that comes back and if he can play, do his job, defend himself and be effective. He's made progress each week. Significant progress, so hopeful would be my thought."

Will that ultimately be his call if he feels like he's ready?
"Yeah, nobody knows their body like the player himself, but also the doctors."

You're feeling Justin Smith will probably feel like he's ready?
"I'm hopeful."

How did DT Pierre Garçon do in this last game?
"He did a good job. Ricky did a good job. He's done a nice job filling in. He's always been a solid player for us. [DT] Ray [McDonald] had a good game as well. [CB Tarell Brown] T. Brown, I like to talk about guys that suck it up. He was ill on Sunday - fever, the sickness, the flu, the whole works and played through it, had a couple of pass breakups and an interception. Stepped up for us, that was impressive."

Last year at this time there were only a handful of guys on the roster that had playoff experience. Now you have almost every starter has playoff experience on your team. How do you expect that to translate into this playoff run? It seemed yesterday talking to some of the guys, they were really eager to make amends for how last season ended.
"I think we talked about this last year. 'What's the effect of nobody being in the playoffs? How does that affect you?' I don't know for sure. I don't know the exact percentage or that anybody does. Now we go into the playoffs where a great majority of the team has been to the playoffs. Again, I don't have the 'how much.' I guess you're looking for a quantity or a percentage, that I don't know."

Do you get the same sense from the guys that from that experience last season, is carrying over into their motivation for this playoff run?
"Yeah, I think there is a possibility of that. I think there is an experience that's good. Our guys have played in a lot of big games, just this season against a lot of good teams, a lot of important games, a lot of laying it on the line, every single week. And they acquitted themselves very well. No other team I'd rather be going into the playoffs with than our team, our group of guys and coaches. So, excited as heck to get it started. I hope the fellas, hope the players feel the exact same way. And I hope they rest, I hope they rest their minds, rest their bodies these next couple of days. I think that will be real important. The celebration will be after the Super Bowl, not New Year's Eve, that's when we need to celebrate. So I hope guys are smart, I hope they're tame tonight. I hope that happens, tried to ask that, encourage it, almost insist it, but you can't make people do things. But if you players are listening, be tame, be tame, let's rest. I think we need it. I think just watching our team the last couple of games, we need the rest and it'd be good for us. Hopefully we take advantage of it."

Do get a sense from guys like LB Joe Staley when you say stuff like that, do you hear him kind of echoing what you say in the meetings?
"We have great leadership on our team. Talked to our team yesterday about that after the game, just to congratulate the players, the leaders of our team that do do that. That have the message and live the message too, not just say it and do something different. But all those kind of guys, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, [QB] Alex Smith, [RB] Frank Gore, [T] Joe Staley, [S] Dashon Goldson, [S] Donte Whitner. I could really go on and on here for quite a while. Those guys have driven this. To be back-to-back division champs, worthy champions of arguably the best division in football again this year, I think is quite an accomplishment. And congratulate those players that have led the way and continually done the right things. Now it's a new focus, a three-game focus to get our ultimate goal."

Where is WR A.J. Jenkins in his development? Do you think he could contribute in the playoffs?
"Yes. Do I think he can? Yes. Will we need him to? Yes. We need him to step up and we definitely think he's capable of doing that."

The way you've used your running backs this year, is Frank a lot fresher this time of year than he was at the end of December a year ago? Do you see that in him?
"I hate the word fresh, I think strong. How about strong, can we go with strong? I think he is stronger than he was at this time last year. I know his legs were tired the Seattle week. I think he felt a lot better this week. I think our whole team could use some rest, mind and body."

You mentioned Jenkins stepping up, but obviously WR Michael Crabtree has really dominated the targets and been Kaepernick's main guy. Do you need someone else to kind of step up alongside him to take some pressure off Crabtree?
"I think we have that. I think we have guys - [WR] Randy Moss, [TE] Delanie Walker, [TE] Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, just to name a few. Now, A.J. Jenkins, capable? Yes. Step up? Yes. I definitely think he can do that. [RB] LaMichael [James], same situation, and he's been doing a nice job in that regard."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.