Jim Harbaugh Q&A

640400.jpg

Jim Harbaugh Q&A

Head Coach Jim HarbaughPress Conference January 12, 2012San Francisco 49ersQ: Was today a Friday practice schedule for you?
Harbaugh: Yes.

Q: So, usually you have the walk-through then you go to practice, it wasnt that open window today. Did practicedid the walk-through go long, or?
Harbaugh: No, no.

Q: Thats the way you had it scheduled?
Harbaugh: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you guys wereIm surprised you guys werent out there, but you were welcome out there through the 12:25pm... Did Director of Public Relations Bob Lange try to blame me for that? Sounds like there was some...
Yes.

Harbaugh: Yes? Tried to throw me under the bus on that, Bob?

Q: Did everyone practice that you expected to practice? Everyone but TE Delanie Walker?
Harbaugh: Yes, I believe so.

Q: Have you sensed any change in your teams mood this week, or has it been business-as-usual type approach?
Harbaugh: I dont know about business as usual, but its been focused. Its been loose. Both of those at the same time. Pleased with our preparation. Confident in our plan. Happy the way the players prepared.

Q: Have you done anything to keep it loose, to make sure that theyre loose going into this game?
Harbaugh: No, I think our guys do a great job of that themselves.

Q: Jim, what would you ideally like to see out of your offense on Saturday?
Harbaugh: A lot of things, a lot of things. Score more points than the Saints, number one. Execute, move the ball, not turn it over. And then quite a few other things.

Q: Jim, this team worked really hard to get home-field advantage for the playoffs. When youre taking a group, many of whom have never played in the postseason, into a playoff scenario for the first time, how important is it to have that home field where everything stays the same during the week, the preparation, theyre going to their own stadium, how important is that going to be for them?
Harbaugh: Well, I think its an advantage. They work very hard for it. They earned it. And they get the benefit of that. So, its not to say that teams dont win on the road in the playoffs, because historically they do. But, I think our team goes into this game confident and bold and with a great amount of respect for the New Orleans Saints team as well. Great amount of respect for who they are, what they do, and what theyre capable of.

Q: WR Michael Crabtree said that your advice was dont overcook it this week. Is that accurate?
Harbaugh: Yes.

Q: What does that mean?
Harbaugh: Well, the analogy would be like not to overcook it like a burnt piece of meat. That doesnt taste real good.

Q: Like preparation? Dont spend too much time thinking about it?
Harbaugh: That and just go into this thing and trust their own instincts. Trust their gut. Make it about the team. Trust the team. A guy doesnt have to do too much. Hes got to do his job and has the ability to trust his team because hes on a good team. Prepare and understand the Saints as well as possible. Focused and loose at the same time.

Q: Did you sense any more energy level from the team just from the fact that they had a week of rest?
Harbaugh: Theres been great practices. Its been a tremendous week of preparation and practice, and our guys have been high energy. And I think some of that is definitely a result of having that week off.

Q: Are you focused and loose?
Harbaugh: I am. I feel like I am. But you know what, it just never really matters that much how I am, or just a coach. Just going to be standing over there on the sideline. To me its the players. Where are they at in their preparation, their understanding of this game plan, and what their morale is, how they feel physically. If they feel good, I feel good.

Q: But dont they take cues from you? If you seem tense and uptight wouldnt they be?
Harbaugh: I kind of go off them. Like I said, I ask guys all the time, how do you feel? And they say, well how do you feel coach? And I say, well how do you feel? You feel good, I feel good. Thats kind of how I look at it. Doesnt matter how I feel, its how they feel.

Q: But how does QB Alex Smith feel? Alex is pretty clear hes not in it to out-stat Saints QB Drew Brees. Thats not the point of this. How important of a step was that do you think for any quarterback, particularly Alex? That its not you versus the other guy, its not about you putting up 300 yard games. Just win the football game.
Harbaugh: How important is that? I think thats very important. I think theres a confidence there. Theres a confidence in your own ability. Theres a confidence in your team and confidence in your preparation and your plan, and again, your teammates. That youre part of it. Youre part of it. Youre a cog. And hes a big one. The biggest one on the team because he handles the ball every single down. And its no different on our team than it is on other teams. He does the most out there. Hes got a lot on his plate and probably by the nature of the position, he touches the ball every single play. And I think that its not a feeling, its a confident feeling in your team that you dont have to do more than what the team asks you to do.

Q: It was about a year ago that you met Alex Smith for the first time I would imagine. Do you recall any of those meetings? And do you remember sitting down with him and looking for certain things in him that you wanted to see before you committed to him as your quarterback?
Harbaugh: Yes. I wanted to get to know him. I had never met him before. I was kind of just looking in through the key hole. But I guess the things I wanted to know, boil it down to one thing was did he want to start. Did he want to be in the fire, or did he want to wear the ball cap backwards and backup somewhere. And I really felt that he had the competitive drive, the wanting to prove himself, and wanting to do it here. And thats the thing that probably intrigued me the most. That character of wanting to come back and do it here in San Francisco, which is pretty rare. Probably somewhere between rare and extinct, not just for football players but for just about anybody. Most guys would say, the heck with that Ive had enough, time for a fresh start somewhere else. And I thought we could really work with that kid. To me that was special.

Q: In a year across the league where the running back, his role wasnt diminished, but it was greatly reduced because of great passing. Frank Gore was kind of rock steady for you guys. Was that an anomaly? Is that just the way Frank Gore has been for this franchise over the years and you saw that in him? That you can count on this guy to be a consistent back and help your offense move the chains?
Harbaugh: What are we talking about?

Q: You have Frank Gore in a year where the running backs were not the stars in the league. It was wide receivers and tight ends. Frank Gore has 1,200 yards and he pushed the ball for you guys this year. Is this an anomaly? Are you guys different than other teams? Or is it Frank Gore?

Harbaugh: I dont know that Im ready to agree with you that somehow the running backs are insignificant in 2011. I dont think they are. The team that passed for the most yardage, the New Orleans Saints, has a tremendous running game. Frank Gore is one of the elite backs in the National Football League. Hes had a tremendous year. Were lucky to have him. Then theres the leadership that hes provided this football team. It has been phenomenal. He has stepped up. He has been a consummate team guy the entire year. Hes been a big key to our success.

Q: The theme overcook it, did that go to your coordinators, too? Maybe dont put too much in there? Dont layer it up too much? Or was it not for them?
Harbaugh: Its pretty much for everybody.

Q: Do you think this is, youre not going to tell me, I know this
Harbaugh: Were not going to get into scheme and talk about what were doing to do or what were not going to do.

Q: Do you think there is a risk of trying to do too much in a game plan for a playoff game?
Harbaugh: I think every game is different. Every game has its own separate identity. Its own season almost. 16 game plans, 16 different games. Now this is 17. Our approach to it as a coaching staff was to try to get to know the Saints as well as we possibly could. Do the best job that we could of putting together a game plan, in all three phases, that our players would be the most successful in. I feel confident in that. Also, in the fact that our players have understood and practiced it. Combed through it. Troubleshot it pretty thoroughly. Feel confident. Feel like our players can therefore go out and just play. Not have to think as much. Theres a lot of thinking, theres no question about it, but when they know it, they practice it, then they can play and react at a fast tempo.

Q: Former Saint C Jonathan Goodwin brings some playoff experience with Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. How important is that to this team where you have so many guys who have never been in a playoff game before?
Harbaugh: I dont know. We havent really made that monumental of a deal out of it. Whos been in the playoffs, who hasnt? Is that a good thing, is that a bad thing? How much does playoff experience count? Weve got guys that had never been there, thats for sure. But, maybe thats a good thing. They havent been there. Its like kids that havent played a game in a long time. Theyre excited to do it. Like I said, I think where were at right now mindset that they can go into this game confident and bold and theyre ready to play. Theyre ready to go.

Q: What has Jonathan Goodwin brought to this team so far this season?
Harbaugh: Hes been a tremendous player. First of all, hes played 16 games for us. Hes started 16 games at, you could argue, the second most important position on the offense. Hes been a block of granite up there for us. Hes done a great job communicating calls and understanding defenses as its happening on the field and communicating that to the coaching staff on the sideline. Hes just been a rock for us.

Q: Given the emotional intensity that comes with a playoff game, have you as a coaching staff and the players emphasized whatever youve done to minimize turnovers this year? Have you emphasized that in practice?
Harbaugh: Oh yeah, always try to do that.

Q: Has it been ratcheted up at all now? Because theres so much emotion around, has that been ratcheted up at all this week? Maybe you returned to it more as you did in the beginning of the season?
Harbaugh: No, we havent overcooked that part of it. There have been no threats of bodily harm. Is that what you were asking?

Q: Has TE Delanie Walker been ruled out for this game?
Harbaugh: Dont think Delanie is going to play this game.

Q: TE Vernon Davis talked a little bit yesterday or the day before that there was a lot more to this offense for him to do as far as reading defenses and stuff. Can you maybe share whats been your view of his progression along the way and how its manifested itself? I know your red zone percentages have improved late in the year.
Harbaugh: Vernon? Vernons been tremendous. A lot of the things that dont show up on the statistic sheet, like the way he has blocked for us in all situations in the run game, and in the pass game. Hes been explosive catching the ball for us as well. Made a lot of big plays for us. Hes just an excellent football player.

Q: You had said throughout the season that the offense was going to be a progression. Was there a time that you saw a big jump in the players as a whole? When they really started getting that step ahead that you can share with us?
Harbaugh: Not one inflection point that I could refer back to. I think its been a steady pursuit of getting a mile an hour faster, a percent better, every day. I think that was the goal. Thats what actually transpired with our guys.

Q: Vernons specific quote was that, it was almost like he wanted to quit. It was too much information early on. Did you sense that from any of the offensive guys early on that they were overwhelmed by the playbook?
Harbaugh: No, I didnt. I did not visibly see that, where they hit a wall or anything. Ive seen that before in other teams, been on or coached. I didnt sense that with our guys. I think the biggest reason is that these are smart, smart guys. This group especially. Very football savvy, very book smart, football smart group. Thats been very fortunate for us to have a group like this.

Owners of No. 1 overall pick, Browns still searching for franchise QB

Owners of No. 1 overall pick, Browns still searching for franchise QB

CLEVELAND -- Finding Bigfoot has been more productive than the Cleveland Browns' search for a franchise quarterback.

This flawed football quest drags on.

For nearly two decades, the Browns, once a standard of NFL excellence and now a league punching bag, have been running in circles as they try to find a quarterback to lead them from the darkness to relevance and respectability. Since the franchise's inglorious expansion return in 1999, they've started 26 quarterbacks, a roll call of names that haunt even the most loyal Cleveland fans holding out hope the team will one day get it right.

From Tim Couch to Trent Dilfer, from Derek Anderson to Cody Kessler, and let's not forget that year of fun with Johnny Manziel, QBs have cycled through Cleveland like tourists, with none sticking around for long.

It's been a running joke.

And until the Browns find that long-term answer at quarterback, they'll continue to be looked at as a laughingstock.

They'll have another chance to perhaps end this long pursuit in this week's NFL draft. With the No. 1 and No. 12 overall picks, and four more selections in the first three rounds, the Browns are positioned to finally fix the most important position on the field.

This could be the year Cleveland fans have longed for, the one when the Browns find their Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger. But as fate would have it, this year's QB class isn't highly regarded. Many draft experts feel there isn't a quarterback worth a first-round selection and that Cleveland should wait until 2018.

That's just so Browns, whose experiment with Robert Griffin III backfired last season, resulting in the latest QB confusion.

"We're going to keep searching," coach Hue Jackson said recently. "I think we all understand, no one's really claimed this position yet on our football team so we need to do everything we can to continue to add a player that we feel, as an organization, really good about, that can lead our football team and we'll continue to chase that."

The chase continues Thursday when the Browns try to find that elusive, essential piece. Or fumble again.

Here are some quarterback tidbits to chew on when the Browns go on the clock:

UP TOP: Cleveland seems locked in ON Texas A&M defensive stud Myles Garrett at No. 1, and while he's proficient at sacks, there are no three- or seven-step drops in his future. The Browns are impressed with North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky, a former Ohio Mr. Football, despite his inexperience (only 13 college starts), but probably not enough to take him first. Landing Garrett and Trubisky would be a dream scenario, but Cleveland may have to trade up as the rebuilding Jets have sent out vibes they prefer Trubisky.

WHY NOT WATSON? Clemson's Deshaun Watson would seem to fit Jackson's profile of the ideal QB: mobile, dynamic, successful. The Browns, though, don't seem enthralled with Watson - not in the first round anyway - unless their silence is a smoke screen. There are other good options like Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, Texas A&M's Patrick Mahomes or California's Davis Webb, who may all be available after Round 1.

DRAFT DEBACLES: The Browns' track record drafting QBs - or any position - is abysmal over the past decade, which is why many Cleveland fans fear the team will mess up again. Since 2007, only OT Joe Thomas and CB Joe Haden have proven to be good choices. Eight other first-round picks are no longer on the roster.

Along with Couch, the No. 1 choice in '99, the Browns have used first-round picks on Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Manziel, who was Johnny Goofball in an orange helmet. Those mistakes shouldn't deter the Browns from selecting a QB early, but they are grim reminders that there are no givens.

WAITING GAME: Would waiting one more year be so bad? Draft experts point to the 2018 QB class, led by UCLA's Josh Rosen and USC's Sam Darnold, as being more talented than the 2017 group. That wouldn't preclude the Browns from taking a quarterback later in this draft, just not in the first round.

HOMETOWN HEROES: Trubisky is the latest in a long line of Ohio-born QBs tabbed as the Browns' next savior. Quinn, Charlie Frye and Brian Hoyer all grew up as Browns fans, but none was able to lead the turnaround. If Trubisky is picked, the pressure on him to be the team's leader and face of the franchise will be immense.

BYE-BYE BROCK?: The Browns made a shocking move in free agency, acquiring QB Brock Osweiler, his $16 million guaranteed contract and a 2018 second-round pick from Houston. Cleveland made it clear Osweiler was not part of the future, but he's still on the roster and could be part of a fall-back plan if the Browns don't get their desired quarterback.

 

Report: 49ers strongly considering QB at No. 2

Report: 49ers strongly considering QB at No. 2

General manager John Lynch and the 49ers have created the desired intrigue about what the club will do with the No. 2 overall pick in this week’s NFL draft.

The team remains “open for business,” in the words of Lynch, to trade the second pick. If the 49ers are unable to find a trade partner, the team can do any number of different ways with that pick. The first round of the draft is scheduled for Thursday evening.

After edge-rusher Myles Garrett, widely projected to go to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 overall pick, there does not seem to be much separating the next dozen prospects on the board at a number of different positions.

Now, there is buzz the 49ers could go with a quarterback – likely, Mitchell Trubisky of North Carolina – with the No. 2 pick. That possibility gained steam Monday morning with a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, citing “several sources,” that the 49ers are “strongly considering” selecting a quarterback with the second pick.

One league source last week told NBC Sports Bay Area some around the league believe the 49ers would draft Trubisky or Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

“If the 49ers are waiting on Kirk Cousins, just remember that Trubisky is a better prospect now than Cousins was coming out of the 2012 draft,” the source said.

Cousins, who is set to play his second consecutive year as Washington’s franchise player, was a fourth-round selection under then-coach Mike Shanahan, New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was his father’s offensive coordinator when Washington drafted Cousins.

Lynch has been open in his scouting and praise of this year’s draft class. He has attended workouts of top quarterback prospects: Trubisky, Deshaun Watson (Clemson), DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) and Davis Webb (Cal).

"I think most of this quarterback class should be later down the line, whether it's first round or second round,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said recently. ESPN’s Mel Kipier and Todd McShay had Trubisky as the first quarterback selected by the Browns at No. 12 overall.

“I think these guys are somewhat getting a bad rap,” Lynch said at the NFL scouting combine. “You turn on the film, and there’s a lot to like.”

The 49ers head into this week’s draft with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley as the only two quarterbacks on the roster.

The 49ers have shown no interest in re-signing any of the top three quarterbacks on the team’s roster last season: Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder. Each of those players remains unsigned.