Harbaugh's first month in office a juggling act


Harbaugh's first month in office a juggling act

Feb. 7, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOEditor's Note: This is Part 1 of a three-part series taking a look at Jim Harbaugh's first month as 49ers' head coach. This installment looks at how he prioritized his time during his first 31 days on the job.Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comAs Jim Harbaugh prepared Stanford for Pac-10 Conference games in October, there was a fad quietly sweeping through professional football.Harbaugh, who has held the title of 49ers head coach for a month, is just now discovering for himself what he missed last season in the NFL.
"There was a pass play that was making its way around the league from Week 4 through 8," Harbaugh said. "Several teams hit it for a big play. It was a bootleg throwback. It was interesting to see. I saw six or seven teams that used it. They saw it from another team and then used it."And what happened later in the season?"It got covered," Harbaugh said, laughing. "After about Week 10, it made its way through and people were defensing it."Harbaugh officially left his job at Stanford on Jan. 7 to accept a five-year, 25 million contract with the 49ers. And he's had no problem keeping busy during his first month on the job, he told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.REWIND: 49ers get their man -- Harbaugh hired
There has been so much to accomplish in such a short period of time that Harbaugh has been forced to perfect the art of multitasking. He has often worked on multiple projects at the same time. Case in point: He is discovering league-wide trends while simultaneously evaluating the crop of prospective NFL free agents through his film research.
During his first 31 days in office, Harbaugh put together most of his coaching staff. He has watched every 49ers game from the 2010 season and evaluated the roster he inherits. He has also engaged in lengthy conversations with nearly every member of the team.Harbaugh is also getting familiar with the rest of the NFL. He is completing his evaluation of prospective free agents. And he is spending plenty of time on X's and O's, too, as the 49ers' coaching staff has started piecing together its playbooks for the coming season.The work is only just beginning. Harbaugh has not spent much time evaluating draft prospects, he said. But he still has more than 11 weeks to prepare for the draft, which is scheduled for April 28-30. The 49ers own the No. 7 overall pick.RELATED: Matt Maiocco's 2011 NFL mock draft
During his first month on the job, Harbaugh could set his own pace. But his second month will feature a lot of uncertainty.With the league's collective bargaining agreement set to expire March 3, the owners and players appear to be bracing for a work stoppage and possible postponement of the usual openings of free agency and trading.But that has not kept Harbaugh from making sure he is prepared for the possibility that player movement will commence March 4, as if it were a normal NFL offseason."We're going about it and leaving no stone unturned," Harbaugh said. "Anybody who's an unrestricted free agent, I want to make sure that I've looked at him and familiarized myself with him and understand what's available and how that relates to our own football team."When asked if he expects the 49ers to be active once the gates of free agency swing open, Harbaugh answered, "I'm not really going to get into too much of that. Sometimes you have to keep your cards close to your vest."Harbaugh's cards have been scattered since taking over as 49ers' head coach, as his skills at multitasking have been challenged.While he watches film of players who might be available to help the 49ers, whether by free agency or potential trades, Harbaugh also is watching the big picture to analyze the teams his 49ers will face next season.Thus, he was able to recognize some of the trends around the league, such as the pass play that was copied with great success for several weeks last season before defenses began adjusting. In fact, Harbaugh has organized film cut-ups of such observations on a tape labeled, "Trends."Harbaugh spent most of his first month grinding away for hours at the team's offices at 4949 Centennial Boulevard in Santa Clara. He did not travel to Mobile, Ala., for the three days of padded practices last month at the Senior Bowl -- a gathering that has turned into a quasi-convention for NFL coaches and out-of-work coaches.RELATED: Q&A -- What 49ers coaches are missing at Senior Bowl
Harbaugh traveled to North Texas on Friday for a weekend at the Super Bowl. There, he caught up with his brother, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, for the first time in more than a year.It was a rare luxury for Harbaugh, who found it difficult to escape during his first month on the job because he had so much work waiting for him in the office.His first priority was putting together his support staff. Harbaugh hired 13 members to his coaching staff and retained 49ers position coaches Tom Rathman (running backs), Mike Solari (offensive line) and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who served one game as interim head coach after Mike Singletary was fired.RELATED: 49ers 2011 coaching staff at a glance
Harbaugh hired five individuals from Stanford, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Harbaugh said his staff is nearing completion, as he still plans to hire a defensive backs coach to assist Ed Donatell."I really feel good about the coaches we've hired and the staff we've put together," Harbaugh said. "Since doing that, we've been able to work on a number of things, including schemes -- both offensively, defensively and special teams."On this particular morning, Harbaugh worked with his offensive staff on devising the run game that will be installed once the team is back together. Offseason workouts are scheduled to begin in March -- if there is no work stoppage.In the afternoon, more film study of prospective free agents was scheduled. Harbaugh said he expects to have all the free agents fully evaluated within the next two weeks."You got to picture this as doing a lot of things," Harbaugh said. "The day can be broken up into sections. Sometimes you're doing two or three things at once. So we're doing as much as we can do in the course of the day." In Part 2 of the three-part series, Jim Harbaugh gets to know Alex Smith, as he forms his own opinion about the 49ers' quarterback situation.

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.”