Har-Bowl -- the Insiders' story


Har-Bowl -- the Insiders' story

With the Ravens and 49ers playing Thanksgiving night in the much-ballyhooed meeting of the Brothers Harbaugh, CSNBaltimore.com's John Eisenberg and CSNBayArea's Matt Maiocco exchanged their thoughts on the opposing coaches:

I must admit, Ive been around Jim Harbaugh daily since the last week of July, and I cant quite figure him out.

Hes a very emotional coach. In a very short period of time, he has built a tight-knit outfit with the 49ers. He loves his players. And he is wildly popular inside the locker room because of the passion he demonstrates every day.

Yet, Jim Harbaugh claims to have no emotions about facing the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving.

He recognizes that its the first time two brothers have ever faced each other as NFL head coaches. But the historical footnote that, he says, is the most relevant to him is that it is unprecedented for a West Coast team to play on Thanksgiving on the East Coast.

There's no question we drew the short end of the straw on this one, Jim Harbaugh said.


I don't know if John is quite as popular in the Ravens locker room. He has been around longer, been through some ups and downs on a variety of issues, including the coaching. Jim and his players have only experienced success. They should enjoy the ride. Things are never as easy over the long haul.

Don't misunderstand, the Ravens have a ton of respect for John. He has brought a level of consistent success to the franchise that it never had before. And he has done it with an intense style that players like. The 49ers can relate, I am sure. John breathes fire on game days. He is still pretty wild-eyed in some of his postgame press conferences.

He also preaches a family environment. There is a side of him that gets that entirely. But another side preaches tough love. After David Reed fumbled two kickoffs and basically blew a game in Seattle, John didn't cut him, just deactivated him last Sunday. Sent the tough message but also had his back.

His response to the time-zone issue was typical. Asked about it Monday, John said Jim and the 49ers are 4-0 on the East Coast, so get over it. It does appear to me to be a tough draw on a short week, but John is not buying.

The one thing about Jim Harbaugh that hasnt taken long to figure out is that the guy can flat-out coach.

He turned around college programs at the University of San Diego and Stanford. And what he has done with the 49ers without the benefit of an entire off-season to implement his plan has been nothing short of amazing. He could take a vacation for the next six weeks and still be the NFL Coach of the Year.

Harbaugh brought most of his Stanford staff with him to the 49ers, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He got to know Fangio when the veteran coach was on Johns staff with the Ravens. Jim tried for several years to add Fangio as his top defensive assistant at Stanford before finally succeeding before the 2010 season. He did it, of course, with Johns blessing.

Offensively, the 49ers feature a power running game and a passing game that has maximized the production of quarterback Alex Smith. After six seasons of having a defensive-minded head coach, Smith is having far and away the best season of his career under Jim Harbaughs tutelage. That is no coincidence.

The Ravens agree about the 49ers being well-coached. Chris Carr, one of their more analytical players, said this week that the San Francisco offense was the best the Ravens had seen all year.

"Everything they do is so solid," Carr said, and when asked to identify the key to it all, he added: "It looks like really good coaching, a great scheme."

If and when Jim is named NFL Coach of the Year, that will give him a leg up on his brother in that battle. John has never won the award. But John has set a pretty high standard in terms of consistent success. He has a 39-18 regular-season record and has gone 4-3 in the playoffs, all on the road. The Ravens are the only team in the league to have reached the postseason in each of the past three seasons, and it's looking like they'll make it four in a row in 2011.

The brothers are a lot more alike than different, that's for sure. No surprise, I suppose, but listening to Jim's conference-call interview on Monday was just like listening to John's. Neither likes comparison questions. Neither likes questions about injuries. They exude confidence and competitiveness. They're both successful, and they hate to lose.

The loser of Thursday night's game will be in no mood to wax on about what a great occasion it was.

Jim Harbaugh certainly wants no part of the warm and fuzzy storyline. He had this to say about John: This week, my brother is just somebody we're trying to beat.

He downplayed it to the media. And he hasnt even mentioned it to his team.

What Jim Harbaugh continues to stress is that every game is the most important game because its the next one on the schedule. One of the 49ers mantras this season has been to use every practice and every game to get better. The 49ers can clinch a spot in the playoffs this week with a victory and a Seattle loss.

It might not happen this week, but soon enough the 49ers will wrap up the NFC West. That will guarantee at least one Harbaugh will be coaching a team in the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

I don't think the players are really into the Harbaugh Bowl thing at all.

Terrell Suggs was asked about it and said: "It's going to be fun to be part of a sibling rivalry." But Suggs gets the media, and it felt like he was just saying what he thought he should say. When Joe Flacco was asked if the players wanted to win the game for their coach, he said: "We want to win it because we want to win the game. Obviously, it's a little extra for him, but for a team, it's an important win for us right now, just as important as any win. That's how we're looking at it."

Not exactly a "win one for the Gipper" speech.

John is not mentioning it to his players, either, and he has been careful from the outset to try to lateral the focus to them, not that he can pull that off when the league and media are playing up the family story for obvious reasons.

But, honestly, despite what they say, in the end I think both brothers will find it weird to be standing across the field from each other. It will be more emotional than they expect.

49ers 2017 UDFA tracker: Southern Miss QB agrees to terms

49ers 2017 UDFA tracker: Southern Miss QB agrees to terms

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are reportedly adding a fourth quarterback to their 90-man roster.

Nick Mullens a four-year starter at Southern Mississippi, agreed to terms with the 49ers after the conclusion of the Saturday’s NFL draft.

Mullens posted a drawing on Twitter from his childhood of "Joe Montana, Football Star." He wrote, "I've known about the @49ers since 2nd grade & now I can't wait to be apart of the organization! Ready to get to work in San Fran."

Draft picks, players who sign as undrafted rookies and other rookies invited for tryouts are scheduled to report Thursday for the 49ers' rookie minicamp. Practices will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

As a senior, Mullens (6 foot 1, 196 pounds) completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 3,272 yards with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Mullens joins a quarterback group that includes starter Brian Hoyer, backup Matt Barkley and third-round draft pick C.J. Beathard.

Other reported 49ers free-agent agreements include:

--TE Cole Hikutini, Louisville: He began his career with one-season stints at Sacramento State and City College of San Francisco before transferring to Louisville. Hikutini (6-4, 247) caught 50 passes for 668 yards and eight TDs in his final college season. Hikutini missed the Cardinals’ bowl game, the Senior Bowl and combine workouts due to a knee injury. He returned from the non-surgical injury to run at his pro day. Hikutini announced his signing with the 49ers via Twitter.

--DB Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis (PA): Jerome, a Senior Bowl invite, was named first-team FCS All-American. He intercepted six passes in 2016 with 59 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 11 pass break-ups. He added a touchdown on a kickoff return. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay ranked Jerome as the top undrafted player. Saint Francis announced the contract agreement.

--RB Matt Breida, Georgia Southern: In three seasons at Georgia Southern, Breida rushed for 3,740 yards and 37 touchdowns while averaging 6.9 yards a carry. Georgia Southern announced Breida's decision to sign with the 49ers.

--OL Erik Magnuson, Michigan: Magnuson (6-6, 305) was a first-team All-Big Ten performer who started every game at right tackle. He announced on Twitter that he has agreed to terms with the 49ers.

--WR Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington: He caught 211 passes for 3,130 yards and 27 touchdowns in his four-year career. Bourne (6-1, 203) had his best season as a senior, with 79 receptions for 1,201 yards and seven touchdowns. Eastern Washington announced Bourne’s three-year contract.

--OT Darrell Williams Jr., Western Kentucky: Williams (6-5, 315) started 41 games. He played his final two seasons at right tackle after moving from right guard. Western Kentucky announced the contract agreement with the 49ers.

--WR KD Cannon, Baylor: Cannon caught 195 passes for 3,113 and 27 touchdowns in his three-year career. He turned pro after a junior season in which he caught 87 passes for 1,215 yards and 13 touchdowns. He announced his contract agreement with the 49ers via Twitter.

--WR Victor Bolden, Oregon State: Bolden played four seasons at Oregon State, catching a total of 170 passes for 1,863 yards and seven touchdowns. Bolden (5-8 ¾, 178) ran 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine. (Bolden via Twitter)

--LB Jimmie Gilbert, Colorado (Colorado Football)

--OL J.P. Flynn, Montana (Flynn via Twitter)

--DE Noble Nwachukwu, West Virginia (@WVUSports247)

--LB Donavin Newsom, Missouri (Columbia Daily Tribune)

--OL Bret Treadway (Treadway via Twitter)

--DB Jihaad Pretlow, Fordham (Instagram @la_rivers)

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

Lynch: TE McDonald to return to 49ers after being on trade block

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers explored trade options for veteran tight end Vance McDonald during the three-day draft, but he is scheduled be back with the team when the club reports Monday for the fourth week of the offseason program.

“I think that’s the reality of new regimes coming, new schemes,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Saturday at the conclusion the seven-round draft. “That’s not to say that he can’t fit into our scheme. Frankly, we received some interest from some other people, then we did explore some options throughout the league with Vance. Nothing ended up happening, so Vance will come back and have an opportunity to compete.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he called McDonald on Friday night to keep him updated on the team’s though process in pursuing trade options. McDonald was at his brother’s wedding, Shanahan said, so he left him a long voice message. McDonald responded Saturday morning with a text. Shanahan said the two men will speak on Monday in Santa Clara.

“We did take over a 2-14 team,” Shanahan said. “We don’t feel all the answers are here right now. We have a lot of work to do. We need to improve in any way possible. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do that from an organizational standpoint. How can we improve the building? How can we improve the coaching staff? How can we improve the personnel department? How can we improve the players?

“Just from Vance’s text back, I think people understand that. I think it does make sense. I don’t think that’s something personal.”

Former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke signed off on a five-year contract extension for McDonald in December that consisted of a $7 million signing bonus. McDonald appeared in 11 games last season, catching 24 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers acquired McDonald as a second-round draft pick 2013. In 48 career games, McDonald has 64 receptions for 866 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 49ers signed veteran tight end Logan Paulsen in the offseason. On Saturday, the 49ers selected Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round of the draft. Kittle joins fellow tight ends McDonald, Garrett Celek, Paulsen, Blake Bell and Je’Ron Hamm on the 49ers’ 90-man roster.