Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Friday before his team's NFC West showdown with the St. Louis Rams.What did the four-star general [Bob Cone] have to tell the team afterwards?**
"He had a great message for the fellas. Talked a lot about what his soldiers do in Afghanistan and how much they appreciate what our soldiers do here, our players do. And how big of fans they are of the National Football League. And a couple other really inspiring messages that I know our players really appreciated. Just the dedication of his soldiers and their loyalty to their country and to their team and to the fight that they're in. So, it was a great message for us."
Some teams sometimes try to avoid military themes.
"Some teams do?"
Yeah. Did he sort of embrace those, the comparison between the military and what football teams do?
"Yeah, he very much talked about the correlation. And I think I know where you're going with that. We don't compare what we do. We honor the military. We know that their fight is life and death. It's different from what we do. But, if we try to emulate or in any way espouse to be like the military, it's strictly as something that honors them."
What was the correlation for them that he brought up?
"Talked about training, repetition, some things that they're doing in terms of concussion-prevention detection. Some things that the NFL are, in conjunction with the armed forces, in research and development. Interesting conversation about their use of video and video games simulating duty and warfare. And definitely think there's a correlation there with football players."
Has it been an easy week just going back to football after the long break? Has it been a smooth week for practicing?
"It's been a good week. Players are excited to be on the practice field and looking forward to playing. I feel really good about our preparation this week."
Can you speak about the importance of winning divisional home games?
"They're very important. It's a win for you. It's a loss for them, or vice versa. So, it counts as a game and a half, or two-game swing, however you look at it. But, you keep track of them and at the end of the year, those are huge in determining who wins the division."
It's been a while since you played. Any correlation in talking to the general, did he talk much about keeping an even keel, not getting too hyped up, too over excited or anything like that? Keeping an even keel and not getting too excited and focus on not getting too over excited to get back to play?
"Well, not specifically."
Will you expect RB Brandon Jacobs to have a role in Sunday's game?
"We'll see. We don't really talk about who we're going to dress and what their roles are going to be from week to week."
Your defense last year, obviously, was excellent. This year through a half, it might be kind of even better. Can you just talk a little bit how that you've matured together as a group and maybe become a little bit tighter and stronger as a unit together being together this long now?
"Yeah, I think [defensive coordinator] Vic [Fangio] did a good job talking about that yesterday. It's a veteran group, talented players. You see upward trajectory really in all their play. I don't see anybody that's falling off, or decreasing in their effort or their performance on the field. And then how they're playing together as a group, all those things, we're seeing good improvement and high level."
What would be at the top of the second half checklist for that defense of things that need to be done by the defense, need to be accomplished? If you had a checklist for the defense for the second half of the season?
"You want to be good at everything. I don't really have a checklist. The biggest thing is keeping the teams out of the end zone. Not allowing points. That's a team goal, not just a defensive goal because other things factor into that, special teams, offense, field position. But, number one is keep the other team from scoring, as few points as possible. And also getting the ball back for the offense, whether it's three-and-outs, drive stoppages at some point and turnovers."
A few teams have been fined by the NFL for injury report violations. Are you just being careful this week listing everybody that could possibly be listed to comply to avoid those types of fines?
"Not that I'm aware of. This is strictly how we do it. It's strictly done by the doctors and the trainers. The list is made up of doctors' input and then ultimately by our trainer [director of football operations and sports medicine] Jeff Ferguson. So, I absolve, I wash my hands of all list making. That's strictly done by our doctors and trainer."
Wednesday you said Friday is your best day as far as questions. Now that you've seen the tape and studied on the Rams, what are some of the things you've observed from them?
"A great team. We have a lot of respect for the Rams. We had two tough ball games with them last year. And you see a very aggressive, tough, hard-hitting team. Really, really good everywhere you look. Situational football, offense, defense, special teams. Really talented players and a good, well-coached team. Even understand even better how much of a challenge this will be this week."
Were you surprised at all that they traded away the number two pick so that the Redskins could pick QB Robert Griffin III instead of them?
"Was I surprised?"
"No. I don't really comment on that. That seems like it was a very good deal for both teams."