Harbaugh Q&A -- locked, loaded for Detroit

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Harbaugh Q&A -- locked, loaded for Detroit

SANTA CLARA -- Here's a transcript of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's meeting with the press before the team left Friday afternoon for Detroit (courtesy of the 49ers' public-relations department):How would you gauge the pulse of the team a couple days before this game?
Harbaugh: "Good week of practice. Locked, loaded, ready to leave fully loaded for Detroit."A lot of people are calling this NFL's game of the week. Does that alter your approach at all since there's no reason to hold anything back?
Harbaugh: "We do that every week. Every single week, we go into these games with one intent and that's to do everything we can to prepare ourselves to win and go out and execute and win the football game. That's all that's ever on our mind."

Does the team take on a different mindset, do you try to foster a different mindset when you guys go on the road with the hostile environment and the odds against you?
Harbaugh: "I wouldn't say that's a big percentage of what we do. We go on the road, you deserve to win, if you've prepared yourself to win, then you put yourself in a better position to win. You win on the road because you deserve to."A lot of guys spoke last week of practices leading up to the Buccaneers game, good practices led to a good game. Similar practices this week?
Harbaugh: "I'd characterize them as very good, especially Wednesday. I thought we had our best Wednesday practice of the season. Guys are focused; they understand what's at stake."When you say a team has a good practice, what is it about that practice that makes it good?
Harbaugh: "Especially on Wednesday, you can hear it. When the pads are on, you can hear a good practice. Guys are fronting it up, they're banging, they're where they're supposed to be, they're fitting it correctly, bringing energy, and they have focus, a purpose. The execution is at a high level because Wednesday, that's the first day, sometimes there can be a learning curve of the week's assignments and alignments, plays, etcetera. I thought all those things were really good for us, that's what made Wednesday a really good practice."After the first game you talked about coming home and watching and there weren't any 49ers highlights. Is there any difference of instilling in the team that everyone's going to be paying attention to this game?
Harbaugh: "We want to play in big games. This is an opportunity, no question about it. The better you play, the more opportunities you have like this. It's where we want to be."If you had the choice of making it one-dimensional, would you have it be a running team with Jahvid Best or would you try to figure you're going to stop Best and take your chances with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson?
Harbaugh: "That's not something that you could just sit up here and play the what if,' hypothetical game. You have to go out and take something away if you can. They're solid in both, good in both, so therefore we have to defend the run, we have to defend the pass. We're going to have to play at our best."On challenging Calvin Johnson when the ball's in the air.
Harbaugh: "I think you're darn sure going to do that at every position. A lot of units are going to be the challenge player in this game. We know our secondary will be challenged on a significant number of downs, and Calvin Johnson will be doing the challenging and we've got to respond and be up for the challenge."How did CB Shawntae Spencer look this week in practice?
Harbaugh: "Good."Will he be up and available for you on Sunday?
Harbaugh: "Yeah just like last week."But was he available last week?
Harbaugh: "Yes."He could have played?
Harbaugh: "He could have."So how do youhas CB Chris Culliver won that job then?
Harbaugh: "Tune in on Sunday and find out."Jim, is this game a gauge of where you guys really stand among the better teams in the league?
Harbaugh: "I don't have any real thought on that. Haven't seen every elite team in the league. Haven't studied every team in the league. This is game six for us. We know we're playing against a very good football team. And what's important now is the Detroit Lions. And I feel like our team is up of the challenge, ready to go, and we'll go there with a mindset and attempt only one thing. So, can't comment on where that stacks us up with the rest of the league, and I don't know how relevant that is on game six."Have you liked what you've seen from Michael Crabtree downfield blocking, and the things he does in that area?
Harbaugh: "All you have to do is watch Michael and he was outstanding in the ballgame last week in terms of blocking. Very pleased with the way he's blocking downfield."Is that something you saw from him last year was when you looked at the tape or was that something that he's embraced more this year with your philosophy.
Harbaugh: "I think all our receivers have embraced it more, and are doing it. And doing it better this year."With Joshua Morgan out and the trade deadline coming up at the end of this month, how interested would this team be in adding a starter-quality wide receiver?
Harbaugh: "Again, not speculating on potential guys that are out there. We're always looking and assessing the perils and merits of anything that can help our football team. So, everything always with one purpose, and that's to help make us a better football team. Not going to speculate on anything."

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.”