** Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Friday at 49ers headquarters before Sunday's matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
What's been the difference between the RB Frank Gore of the first three games as opposed to the Frank Gore you've seen the last three games? He seems a lot more protected and effective.
"I don't know that there's been a major difference in him that I can tell."
Do you think that RB Kendall Hunter, the different kind of change of pace he presents kind of helps Frank? The 49ers have never really had a back to compliment Frank such as Kendall, he's kind of helped Frank's production in that kind of unrelated way.
"I think Kendall's doing a very good job. I think he's been a very good addition to the ball club. I think the unit's striving to get better."
How many of those guys on Sunday will be game day decisions for you?
Which ones? Does WR Braylon Edwards fit into that mold or do you expect him?
"That'll be probably a game-time decision. It's not a right now decision. We'll see where he's at tomorrow and Sunday. To actually get the crystal ball out and start predicting is hard to do, didn't do that with Frank in the Philadelphia game. As it got closer to game time, didn't really think that Frank was going to play. Then game day he goes out and warms up and plays and has a heck of a game. Difficult to accurately predict."
Yesterday we were talking to the coordinators and we got into the whole West Coast Offense and how it's evolved over the last 30 years or so. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio was saying that what's being ran now isn't really what Bill Walsh ran. Scheme-wise, what kind of similarities do you still have from the old Bill Walsh West Coast Offense? Or is it just there's the schemes and there's also the philosophy and preparation, too?
"There's a philosophy, a preparation, there's the terminology and there's principles that are similar and different."
What about Browns FB Owen Marecic, I know you've said I believe it was the biggest overachiever you've coached.
"No, I never said that."
Yeah, it was in the preseason NFL guide in a questionnaire.
"I don't think I ever said that."
Okay, well I'll take that up with the NFL. What about him? How do you think he's fitting in as far as what you see on film with the Cleveland Browns?
"He's doing an excellent job at whatever role that he's given. Playing a core special teams player and starting fullback. He does his job, play in and play out."
When you turned on the film this last week, did you take special notice of what he was doing?
"Oh yes, yeah."
Have you had any contact with him since last season, since training camp started?
"We texted a few times, can't remember if it was training camp or right before training camp."
When you look back on draft day, was that one that you really wish could have worked out here?
"Well, I love Owen. Owen and I are always going to be friends. There's nothing that could take that away. Doesn't matter where I might be or where he might be, we made friends right off the bat. Look forward to seeing him Sunday, look forward to competing against him. Not going to be friends on Sunday for about two, three hours but we sure will be afterwards."
How much have you seen of Browns OT Joe Thomas on film and what makes him so good with the Browns offense?
"He's just a really good player. He's always in there. He's a steady, excellent player. He's got all the things you'd want in an offensive lineman: tough, strong, athletic."
You've talked a lot about guarding against complacency and making sure these guys are as driven as ever, whatever your record is. How has that been this week? What have you seen coming out of the bye in terms of their motivation level and all the positive reviews you guys have gotten given your 5-1 start?
"It's been good. It's in the eyes. It's always in the eyes, cheerful and undefeated, cold and restless. I think our guys really missed the roar of a Sunday crowd, they missed competing. They put a good week of practice in and we're all excited to get back out there and play."
Is there anything you do or can do to make sure that complacency doesn't set in? Is it just like you said, looking in their eyes? Is there a leader of the team you can check with to make sure everybody is still on the same road?
"Week in and week out we strive to get physically ready, get physically prepared, mentally prepared, emotionally ready to play, motivated to play in the game. Those are the key things that everybody has to do. Then, the consummate team player, whether they're a coach, a player, a trainer, a staff member, they look for ways to contribute to the team. Sometimes creatively, what can I do that's going to give our team a chance to be successful this week? Draw from different motivational things. Some guys go to chapters out of books. All you've got to do is really go to last night's baseball game, what a classic that was. Just a team effort from the Cardinals, never letting go, persevering. They're down in the seventh, they're down in the eighth, they're down in the ninth, they're down in the tenth. It wasn't [Albert] Pujols or the superstars that won the game, it was every guy on the roster. We draw a little bit of motivation from anywhere we can and that's definitely something that's right there in front of us that we all witnessed last night."
Did you mention that game to the players?
"I might have mentioned it. I might have mentioned it to the fellas."
When you're 5-1, how do you make things suck more? Is there anything you can come up with to make life a little more difficult? It seems like 5-1 is kind of cushy.
"Pushing the tempo, pushing the tempo in everything we do. Going out of your way, going out of your way to creatively see what you can do to help the team get better. Maybe not just your job description, but what can you do to find a way when you're on the roster to contribute? Sometimes you have to go out of your way to do that."
Were there guys who were showing up a lot earlier than they were required to show up this week?
"We have had a lot of guys doing that. It was dark, it was about 6:15, 6:30 out here and some of the fellas are out here pushing sleds and they're underneath the tent working out, getting their lift in and pushing the sleds back and forth on the field. Then you walked into the weight room and there's about seven or eight other guys in there. Guys getting their treatment, two, two and a half, three hours before they were supposed to be here and asked to be here. Then you see [QB] Scott Tolzien stay overnight, I've seen him sleep in the building. There are coaches that sleep in the building time and time, but I've never actually seen a player sleep in the building."
I don't think he has an apartment, does he?
"Yeah, he does. He's got a place. [NT Ian] Williams has done it, too. He's not just cheap, he loves football."
When you're talking about guys that are here that early, are you talking about Monday or just any day?
"That was Tuesday or Wednesday. It's a unique group. There's just about any day, the guys are in here early preparing for their day, going over their day, previewing it physically, mentally, getting ready for the day's work."