Harbaugh: 'Crab' and others saved Christmas

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Harbaugh: 'Crab' and others saved Christmas

SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh held a 20-minute session with reporters Monday, two days after the 49ers' 19-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.Harbaugh spoke about that game, the team's injury situation, and his reaction to comments made by former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, now a member of the Seahawks personnel department.Here is what Harbaugh had to say:

Opening Statement:
"Hello. Good to see everybody. Great win for us. Extremely proud of our football team on a lot of different levels in this ball game. Probably the biggest factor is they didn't flinch. It reminded me a lot of ways of games we played at Detroit, at Philadelphia, a few others, where similarities in the ball game, but you find a way to win. Even after the blocked punt, the demeanor on the sideline was outstanding. Offense, defense, special teams, nobody was hanging their daubers. It was just a matter of getting back out there and making the necessary plays to win. To do what it took to win, that was that attitude that I noticed on the sideline. And on another level felt like Seattle coming into the ballgame everything about their season, it had started slow. Momentum was building for them and this was their opportunity to have a good season and keep themselves in the playoff hunt. In a lot of ways it felt like a heavy weight fight that they were trying to knock us out early, ambush style. And our guys didn't flinch in that regard either. Stood toe to toe, nose to nose, and it was a hard football fight and our guys found a way to win. So, extremely pleased about that."RB Frank Gore had just said in the locker room that that's one thing this team does, doesn't panic, and he admitted it has in years past. . .
"I don't even really have an answer for you on that. The reason I don't have an answer. How do you get your players not to panic? That's your word. It's not mine, panic. I don't want to address that. I have no comment to that. These are strong men. I don't see panic in them ever. So, nothing to coach about it."Frank was referencing how in the past on the road you guys have been right there and not gotten over the hump.
"Whether it's Frank saying panic, or you saying panic, I don't see panic."How come this team has been able to get over the hump that it needs in these tough road environments?
"Well, I think there's a lot of reasons. The biggest thing that I'd point to is a lot of little reasons that a lot of people think are the minutia that aren't important that add up to make all the difference. And our guys continually do the little things. And they stack on each other and they build on each other. And lo and behold, you win games in high pressure situations, or find ways to do enough things right to win games and get better. And those things lead to wins. Those things, enough of those things lead to championships."What were some of the little things we didn't see on the go-ahead drive?
"Well, there's the big play by WR Michael Crabtree. In a lot of ways, Crab saved Christmas. Thought LB Larry Grant did as well. K David Akers - in that mix. Made it a lot merrier."Jim, obviously a lot of concern about TE Delanie Walker, did he need surgery? What's his status?
"He's going to be out for a period of time. We don't know exactly how long. We'll have more information, but there's also a possibility that he would be back some time during the postseason. So, we'll really be able to know more in a week or 10 days. But, that being said we're going to have to make some decisions. We're planning, we're preparing and we'll address it like we always do, what's best for the football team."Can you confirm he had a fractured jaw and surgery?
"I can't confirm anything, no."Will you replace him? Will there be a roster spot that you'll have to fill?
"Well, those are all decisions that we have to make. And like I said, we're thinking them through. We're preparing. If there's a shot that he's going to be back in the postseason, we'd rather not make a roster move with him. It'd be our hope that if he can be back he will be back. And leave that option available. Now, we won't know that really for another seven to 10 days. How he's healing, how he's progressing. I think that's a good insight. A lot of information there."How much will the result of tonight's Monday night game affect what personnel you use against the Rams and how much? Will it have any effect?
"It could. It could. I've always been learned to hope for the best, expect the worst. And the one thing that won't change is that we'll prepare to win this game against the Rams. It's going to take that mindset. It's going to take that mentality. And that's how we'll approach it regardless of what happens. So, that's all we really need to know right now. It won't change our approach in that regard."Has it felt as if you've been in playoff mode these last two weeks, as if the playoffs have already begun for this team?
"Yes."Do you think that's a good thing? Do you like how your team has reacted and do you like how that sort of sets you up for the playoffs?
"I think it's a good thing, yes. And I've said that. Said as much as that. That they've been previews to what the playoffs would be like. That pressure to perform. Both teams with a lot at stake. That's what the playoffs would be like. So, I do think in that regard it is."With WR Kyle Williams injury, is it serious?
"Well, I think all of them are. I'm not even going to debate the semantics. He got banged up in the game, yes, for everybody to see. And Kyle's a tough kid. You wait and see. It's all in the hands of the doctors and Kyle."You don't even subtlety ever criticize a player in the media, obviously not all coaches necessarily do that or subscribe to that, is that shaped by your experience as a player, or is that something your dad passed on, or where does that come from?
"Well, basically it's a belief. You coach, you teach. You tell players what to do, how to do and then you let them do. And then you tell them what they did right, what they did wrong and then you let them do again. So, I don't see the benefit of telling the media, and have them read about it, when they're already hearing about it from us."Did you ever have a different experience as a player?
"That's my philosophy on it. No stories to support it, or bullet points."WR Joshua Morgan just said he feels that he's ahead of schedule and encouraged. Nice to see him around a little bit and back on the sidelines and contributing?
"Yeah, he's just a great youngster. Everybody respects him. Everybody enjoys his company. And the more he's in the building and the meetings and on the sideline the better it is for us."Jim, I'm going to ask you about some of the guys who may or may not be available for you. At this stage in the season, is it unrealistic to think that somebody can come in from outside of the building and suit up and make a contribution?
"I don't think that that's unrealistic, no. All options will be looked at. And like I said, decisions will be made with one thing in mind, what's best for the team, what helps the team win. And what's best for the team."Jim, when Kyle Williams got hit, both teams piled on top of him and you got right out there and ordered people off. What went through your mind when you saw the pile and have you ever had to do anything like that as a coach?
"What went through my mind was get people off so the doctors could get in. Let the professionals tend to Kyle."What was your view of that play? Do you view it as a clean play?
"No, Kyle had given himself up. Should have been tagged off on him."

Coach, how much of your experience as a player in the playoffs help you as you prepare this team for their playoff run?
"I don't know. I don't know how much."But do you feel like anything that you've picked off is some kind of advice that you can tell them as they prepare for it?
"I'd like to think so. Kind of what we do. We're in the advice-giving business. Hopefully it's sound advice."Jim, did you pay attention to there was some it must have been the day before the game, Former 49ers GM Scot McCloughan was quoted as saying what Seattle was going to do to the 49ers, did that hit your radar at all?
"Yes."And was that used as any sort of motivation for the game?
"No, it was not. I didn't mention it to any player. And I knew some of the players had known about it because they mentioned some things to some of the other coaches. But no, it wasn't used in front of the team, or put up on the bulletin board or anything like that. It didn't feel like that person would have any effect on the game whatsoever. So, it seemed very irrelevant."Did it ruffle your feathers at all?
"No, no. It was irrelevant to me. He wasn't participating."Punter Andy Lee, I think that was his third blocked punt in his career. What went wrong on that? What can you do to prevent it from happening again?
"Well, continue to coach it. It was read by a couple of our guys as a hold up, as a punt return. And you have to stop the feet of the rusher whether it's hold up or rush. It was a mistake on our part."Tomorrow Pro Bowl is announced. Will you expect a pretty big haul?
"I would, yes. I think it's legitimate to say there's probably going to be, there should be, deserving to be nine, or 10, maybe 11 guys on our team would be the number I estimate, given there's a lot of good players out there in the National Football League. A lot of people voting who have agendas. Who knows when it comes to voting on things. I think it's good to recognize individual performance within a team group. I think we have that many guys on our team that are deserving of that recognition and keep our fingers crossed for our guys that it goes that way."And then tonight the game that has some ramifications, how in tune are you going to be during the course of that, the ramifications to you guys?
"Oh, in tune, in tune. Like I said, hoping for the best, expecting the worst. And regardless, preparing to beat the Rams. That's the most important game on our schedule because it's the next one. And then the division opponent on the road. And that's what we've got to do. We've got to get prepared for it and handle the pressure of it, and the circumstances around it whatever they might be."Jim, you talked about the post-punt sideline demeanor, how you liked it. What was it about the sideline demeanor? I mean, I guess how did that express itself?
"Body language, look in their eye. That kind of steely-eyed look. Nobody hanging their heads. No finger pointing whatsoever. And that was a big shift. You go from, boy it looks like we're controlling the football game to now we're down,' in very short fashion. And we gotta rise to that challenge and that's what I sensed from our team to a man, that that was their mindset."What was the best thing you got for Christmas?
"Best thing I got for Christmas? I've got to try and remember now because I've got to get the birthday and the Christmas presents there. It was that four of my children were there. So, the look in their eye. My wife had assembled this beautiful tree and there were lots of presents underneath it. Just watching them open the presents. And then actually played with them, with the presents. Just that look in the eye. Those three daughters and one son, the joy that they had on Christmas morning was really good. That was my present."Were you able to take the whole day off, or most of it?
"Yeah, most of it. And my wife was pleased with me. We went for a nice walk, walked The Dish' over there on the Stanford campus with the girls and my wife. Put together some play sets. A princess play set. Took some time. My wife was happy. Got on the floor, played some puzzles with my daughter and changed a few diapers. I think what really won it for me, the day, was my dad and I were watching the football game and I could hear my wife kind of starting to come down the stairs and we flipped it over to Peppa Pig and got down on the floor and started playing with the puzzle. So, that won some points. That was a good move, good strategic move. She was very pleased with me."Where does your dad live these days?
"Milwaukee, Wisconsin."Is he ever there?
"You know what, he's rarely there. Either that or there's two or three of him. He's got a couple doubles because Kentucky basketball, Kentucky and Indiana are playing. Indiana gets the big win, I see my dad right behind the bench, and man, there must be two or three of this guy. He's in Baltimore. He's in San Francisco. He's in a lot of places."Was he in Seattle?
"He was not in Seattle. No, he and my mom were with my kids. My wife went with me to Seattle. But, they're everywhere. They really are. So, they're rarely in Milwaukee. They said they had to get home and pay some bills."They were at the Monday Night Game?
"They were at the Monday Night Game. Sure were, yeah."So, did you flip back to the Packer game once you got done there?
"No, never did get back to see how it finished up. So, went from that to put my daughter to bed. But, it was a good strategic move."So, you did not come in here yesterday, or did you come in here at all yesterday?
"No, I did some things out of the office yesterday. Didn't come into the actual office."The Packers ended up winning the game.
"Yes, yes I am aware of that. I am aware of that. But, then they had some other things. I read some of the comments about the great play that Crab made. Michael made a terrific play in the ball game. It was a great concentration on the ball. Great play by Michael and clean play all the way. Any comment that it was not is baloney. Yeah, that there was anything illegal about that play, full of baloney, bunch of baloney. That was a great play by Michael and a great throw by Alex Smith."
(Transcript provided by the 49ers public relations department.)

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”

 

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”