Harbaugh: Red sky in morning, sailors take warning

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Harbaugh: Red sky in morning, sailors take warning

SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh met the media Thursday to answer questions with the 49ers' NFC Championship Game looming Sunday against the New York Giants.Have you had meetings with him after games? What's the relationship there this season with Jed?
Harbaugh: "It's been shoulder to shoulder along with General Manager Trent Baalke and Owner John York. Everybody in the organization doing their job. I can't do Jed's job and I can't do RB Frank Gore's job. Everybody kind of doing their job. Weekly, sometimes daily."

He's obviously a young guy running the franchise. What was your first take of him when you were interviewing for a job?
Harbaugh: "Very smart. Very quick-minded. Had the ability to make cool decisions. Had seen evidence of that over and over. Just all really positive. Set up a structure here to be an organization that's a top organization. Stand the test of time in all regards. Felt like he'd be a good skipper of the ship."
If you had to identify your team in a word or two, what comes to mind for you? Secondly, what has K David Akers meant to this team? What kind of year has he had?
Harbaugh: "In a word or two? Define the team? I'll use six: The Team, The Team, The Team. With this team, that's not just a mantra, that's who they are. David Akers really could be our most valuable player. Maybe our most talented player. Really going along with who we are, DT Justin Smith can't do David Akers' job. David can't do Frank Gore's job or QB Alex Smith's job or DT Ray McDonald's job or S Donte Whitner's job. It's that kind of group that it's really who they are. They're a team. They all understand what they had to do. Specifically David Akers, he's probably the most talented guy at what he does, not only in the league this year, but it may shake out that he's the best of all time."Talk about the offensive line. Alex's development has been credited far and wide. What have you seen from the day of the start with the offensive line to where they are now?
Harbaugh: "They've gotten better and better. I think that's a group that really has taken to heart being better today than they were yesterday and being better tomorrow than they are today. It's helped that they've all played together. They've all stayed healthy. They've all played 17 games. It's a pretty expansive question, what you're asking. Let's go back to day one and detail out every way that they've performed. They're 14-3. That's how they've performed. That's the kind of offensive line that they've been. They've been a 14-3 type of offensive line."With the six comebacks this season, we talked about the 95 comebacks of the Colts, what common traits do those teams have that make such comebacks possible?
Harbaugh: "I hate to compare. You can't compare. It's so hard to compare. You're talking 15 or 16 years ago, my goodness. It's like baseball. Who's the greatest baseball player of all time? It's such a tough argument. I like to say Willie Mays, but you have other people that'll say Babe Ruth, because of what he did in his era. That he had more homeruns than any other baseball player, than some other teams hit at that time. He was hitting 65 and other teams were hitting nine. It's really tough to make comparisons. I think Willie Mays, too. Don't you, Art? Five-tool player. Lot of baseball people disagree with that. They've got a heck of an argument in Babe Ruth. Maybe that's a discussion for another time."But Babe Ruth didn't play at Candlestick though.
Harbaugh: "But Willie Mays didn't pitch. This could go on and on."What tools do the modern-era 49ers possess?
Harbaugh: "If you are going to make a comparison to players that played in the 90s to the ones that are playing now, I think the players now, and you have evidence of this, are bigger, they're stronger, they're faster, they're smarter. There are just so many qualities that they are."What are the most important traits of a comeback team? What's the most important trait of a team that can come back?
Harbaugh: "I don't know that I'm the expert of knowing that. Really, I kind of just answer that with really we're not in to answering questions. We're really not looking to write the magazine article or the book. Or anything like that. We're still asking questions as a team. That's what we are. That's how we have been doing this all along. There's no reason to veer off of that. Do we have what it takes to find a way to win? If we're in that situation again this week, are we focused enough and diligent enough to study the way we need to, this team that we're playing this week? Will we be as physical as the Giants in this ball game? Are we tough enough to play with this team this week? There's just so many questions that we're asking. Just no time to be answering questions right now."When Alex ran in the touchdown at the end of the game, there was some discussion that maybe it would have been better if he stopped before the goal line, run more clock, kick the field goal. Would you have preferred that if you could have done it that way or are you more take the touchdown when you can get it?
Harbaugh: "That's a great question. Now you're going to get some debate here because there would be two schools of thought on this one. First of all, we didn't heads up him' to do that. Because it was a third-and-eight play and we were back there at the 30-yard line. We're trying to get thefirst down. You certainly wouldn't put any thought in his mind of that at that point. The other thing was, he scores and you're still outside the two minute warning. You're still up there around 2:10, 2:15, 2:20. With them having one timeout, you kick that field goal at about 1:20 and that gives the Saints or the opposing team 1:20, only needing a field goal to beat you. I think you weigh out all the percentages and odds and you'd rather have the touchdown at that point. I think, right decision by Alex. Made the battlefield decision and took it into the end zone. I think it was the right one."Can you talk a little about confidence and how that plays into everything you're talking about here? Really when you think about the beginning of the season until now how that's evolved with this team? You do something and you do it again, you're in a situation and you come through, where does that fit?
Harbaugh: "It's one of those words. Confidence is a funny thing. Love is a funny thing. I think with these players, you've got to darn sure be confident. You just don't stand a chance if you're not. I think all these men are. They're those kinds of guys that play professional football. They're confident, strong-willed men. That confidence can grow. We've seen that. We've seen evidence of that on this team. I think it comes from the belief that they have in themselves, but also they see how other guys are working, preparing, playing. That confidence has the ability to grow that way."What about the fact that you actually get something done and it's tested. Does that add to that resolve, add to that confidence?
Harbaugh: "I think it definitely grows that way. You see evidence. You see that the training, the hard work, the study pays off for yourself and that's evidence. Or you see that in somebody else, like look at the way he's doing things, look at the way he comes in here every morning at 6:15.' T. Brown's on the treadmill every single day until about 6:45, 6:50. Just using him specifically as an example, but there's other guys like CB Tarell Brown that do that. Then he goes into the meetings and studies. Then you watch him on the practice field work. Then you see him in games having success. Then the other player, the younger player perhaps, sees that and, that's the way to do it.' It's just a matter of pushing each other. Each confidence has the ability to go up that way."It's a very fundamental skill, tackling. You guys seem to do it extremely well. Have you been associated with a better tackling team as far as defense?
Harbaugh: "I can't think of a team that I've been associated with that's a better tackling team than this."Is there some secret to it or is just the talent you inherited here?
Harbaugh: "Probably both. There are some secrets and there's a lot of talent here."You're not going to tell me the secrets are you?
Harbaugh: "No, no, no. No questions on the weather?"Are you taking any special precautions because of the weather?
Harbaugh: "Interesting you'd ask that. I know I was standing on my balcony today at about 6:20, 6:30 that area. Looked out and saw a very red sky. That means that 'red sky at night, sailors' delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.' I anticipate that we'll have some precipitation today. Some weather. That'll be a great thing for us. Admiral Bull Halsey once said, 'If you're going to fight in the North Atlantic, then you've got to prepare in the North Atlantic.' They're anticipating some rain on Sunday. We won't know until Sunday morning when we can check the sky. Excited that we may get some rain today at practice. Might help us to prepare for the ball game on Sunday."This might be too technical of a question, but if it rains today or rains tomorrow can you simulate what Candlestick is going to be like? Do you have the same grass here as Candlestick?
Harbaugh: "It's a matter of, it's not just today or tomorrow. This team is built for just about any weather conditions. You simulate that through the months, through the years."(Transcript provided by 49ers public relations department.)

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

The 49ers have graduated back to the phase of the offseason when offense-vs.-defense drills are allowed.

Because of the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were allowed an additional “voluntary” minicamp before the NFL draft. That meant the 49ers were permitted to skip from the two-week conditioning phase of the offseason straight to what is allowed under Phase III.

But after the three-day minicamp in late-April, the 49ers were forced to retreat back to Phase II, when on-field drills but could not include offense vs. defense.

Beginning Monday – and over the next three weeks -- the 49ers can get back to conducting the standard one-on-one, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 "non-contact" drills. The 49ers have the maximum number of 10 organized team activities scheduled. The official offseason program concludes with a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 13-15.

The real competition does not begin until the pads go on during training camp. but here’s a look at the team’s most notable offseason competitions (one position you will not find is quarterback, where the depth chart of Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard appears clearly set):

Running back: Carlos Hyde, entering the final year of his original four-year contract, has a lot of competition to hold onto his role as the featured back. He is coming off his most-productive season, finishing just 12 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark when he sustained a knee injury with one game remaining. Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner lobbied for Utah running back Joe Williams in the draft. They clearly see a fit for him within the system.

Pass-rush end: The 49ers’ pass rush was among the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Arik Armstead will be given an opportunity to see if he can adapt to the “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch must earn the confidence of the coaching staff and front office. The 49ers added explosive, 243-pound pass Pita Taumoepenu in the sixth round.

Tight end: The 49ers confirmed Vance McDonald was available for a trade during the draft. After finding no takers, the 49ers brought back McDonald and he rejoins the competition among rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson is the obvious choice to start on one side. And assuming Jimmie Ward remains at free safety, the 49ers have no other player on the roster who has started a significant number of games at cornerback. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, will have a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, as long as he displays a willingness to stick his nose into the action and play with the requisite level of physicality. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Will Redmond should also be in the mix to replace Tramaine Brock, who was released shortly after his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last month.

Center: Jeremy Zuttah, a Pro Bowl performer, was added in the offseason via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has been the 49ers’ center the past three seasons but injuries have limited him to just 23 starts over that period of time. Zuttah has position flexibility. The 49ers could determine the best thing for the offensive line is to move Zuttah to one of the guard positions – to challenge Zane Beadles or Joshua Garnett -- if he is not clearly better than Kilgore.

Weakside linebacker: The 49ers signed veteran Malcolm Smith on the first day of free agency, providing him with $11.5 million of fully guaranteed money. The 49ers ranked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft. They traded up to select him at No. 31 overall. Assuming Foster is ready to compete at the beginning of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, it appears likely he would line up in that position and compete with Smith. The 49ers’ medical staff does not believe Foster will require any additional surgery, and Foster said he expects to be cleared for the opening of camp.

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spent last offseason working with Tom House and Adam Dedeaux on his throwing mechanics.

Ryan went on to set career-bests in completion percentage (69.9), yards passing (4,944), touchdowns (38), interceptions (7) and passer rating (117.1).

New 49ers quarterback Matt Barkley worked with House and Dedeaux for the fourth offseason in Southern California before reporting to Santa Clara for the team’s offseason program.

“Kyle (Shanhan) is on board with what House and those guys are doing – I think, really, because of the year Matt Ryan had,” Barkley said on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” on NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He’s a believer in that. He saw the benefits of what Matt did with some of his drops and the timing on routes, how he changed his feet on some things. So we’re kind of sticking with that plan. Everyone is a little different, but for the most part we’re all on the same page when it comes to what our drops are looking like, our footwork and how the ball is coming out.”

House is a former major league pitcher and pitching coach who founded the 3DQB training facility in Los Angeles. Dedeaux pitched at USC and is the grandson of USC baseball coaching legend Rod Dedeaux. Former NFL quarterback John Beck is a motion mechanics instructor.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer are among the NFL quarterbacks who have worked with 3DQB.

“I believe in those guys and what they’re doing,” Barkley said. “They’re at the top of their game, working with Brady and a bunch of other guys. They’ve helped me.

“He won’t change your throwing motion or really tweak how the ball comes out, but he’s going to try to maximize velocity and ground force production and torque -- a lot of sports science terms. But, really, just maximizing efficiency with your motion and making sure you’re sequencing is right.”

Barkley had never played for Shanahan before signing a two-year contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency. But there are two obvious connections. Barkley’s offensive coordinator last season with the Chicago Bears was Dowell Loggains, Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Shanahan was the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator. The other connection is House.

"It’s kind of funny, he worked with Atlanta’s staff all of last year, helped Matt Ryan, kind of build his base from the ground up and helped him a lot and he had an MVP year," Barkley said of House.

"There may have been talks down the pipeline, who knows. I don’t think that was the deciding factor by any means, but it never hurts.”