The story behind Harbaugh's hug and kiss

Harbaugh reveals itinerary on 'happy flight' home from Green Bay

The story behind Harbaugh's hug and kiss
January 7, 2014, 11:30 am
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That’s when Harbaugh wrapped his right arm around my neck, pulled me tight and yelled -- I mean, YELLED -- “Thank you, Matt! I love you!”
Matt Maiocco

If coach Jim Harbaugh was “as happy as a pig in slop” -- his words -- after the 49ers’ playoff-clinching win against Atlanta, he was as playful as a snowshoe hare in frigid Wisconsin on Sunday.

Esteemed NFL scribe Peter King in his wildly popular “Monday Morning Quarterback” wrote about Harbaugh’s “giddiness” after the 49ers’ 23-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers:

When he finished his post-game press conference, he hugged one veteran beat man, Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area and said, “I love you, Matt!” And he kissed another one, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, on the top of the head and said, “I love you too, Matt!”

[RECAP: 49ers 23, Packers 20]

Because of the national attention and the examination of Harbaugh's softer side from colleague Ray Ratto in “The Miserablist,” it’s probably relevant to explain Harbaugh’s random act of randomness.

Immediately after Phil Dawson's winning field goal went through the uprights, I was under the impression I had to be included in an escort through the 49ers’ locker room to our live hookup. But when I reached the other side, I learned I made a mistake. In order to be on 49ers Postgame Live, I had to go back through the locker room to the side from which I originated.

It was a madhouse in the locker room. And my first thought was that I did not want Harbaugh to see me in the locker room amid his players before the doors were opened to the media.

I put my head down and ran. I looked up and saw Harbaugh just as my earpiece cord got hooked onto something and got yanked off me. I ran back, grabbed it off the floor and continued to zig-zag through the chaos, careful to avoid collisions with celebrating players.

After making it back to the other side of the locker room, I breathlessly went on live TV with CSN anchor Dave Feldman to talk about the 49ers' 23-20 victory over the Packers.

Harbaugh, of course, was ecstatic. Ten minutes later, during his press conference he was smiling and joking and effusive in his praise of the team’s effort, toughness and performance.

I figured I had to say something to him after he stepped down from the podium in the interview room to explain why I was in the locker room. I walked with Harbaugh back into the locker room, which was now open to the media. I apologized for being “discombobulated” and finding myself in the locker room during a time when only players, coaches and team officials were allowed in there.

He noted that he saw me “drop my wire” but he did not seem too interested with my explanation. After all, he was glowing after the hard-fought playoff victory.

Having gotten my explanation out of the way, I nudged him with my left elbow and said, “Hey, congratulations.”

That’s when Harbaugh wrapped his right arm around my neck, pulled me tight and yelled -- I mean, YELLED -- “Thank you, Matt! I love you!”

Then, Harbaugh saw Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee just a stride or two ahead of us and he continued. “I love you, too, Matt.” Harbaugh then planted a kiss firmly on Barrows’ bald head.