Programming note: Catch 49ers Press Conference Live with Jim and John Harbaugh, tonight at 8:30 p.m., on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
NEW ORLEANS -- Brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, coaches of the 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, respectively, held a joint press conference on Friday, two days before Super Bowl XLVII.
Here is a transcript from the 25-minute question-and-answer session:
John: "Welcome, thanks for coming. I just want to start by saying what an honor it is for both of us to be here with each other, no question about it. What a very exciting moment it is, but even more than that, for our families to be here. For our mom and dad, sitting right over there, Jack and Jackie and for Grandpa Joe – 97-years-old and going strong – grandpa Joe Sepidi and Bob Sepidi, our uncle, and Chad, our cousin. Any other family members out there? Thanks for being here and just as far as our team goes, we will be doing a normal Friday practice. We're going to head over to the Saints facility, which Jim has been great about and the Niners organization, giving us an opportunity to get over there and take advantage of that facility, which has been good for us. We'll be early, a little earlier than normal, and we'll be long gone before they get over there. It will be a normal Friday practice with things we do on Friday, and we'll be moving on from there."
Jim: "I concur."
On which brother took more risks growing up:
Jim: "My memories of this season right now and what got us here, and how hard it was to get here, tremendously excited to be here. Looking very much forward to the game, the competition, but as I look back on the season, the greatest share is how our players played. Going back to our very first game in Green Bay, Randy Moss catches a big touchdown, Alex Smith has a great game, David Akers kicks a 63-yard field goal. We were down here just a couple of months ago playing in New Orleans and Ahmad Brooks, huge interception in that game that really turned it. Donte Whitner had an interception for a touchdown. Colin (Kaepernick), the way he was prepared and ready to step in in the big Monday night game against Chicago, and has done such a terrific job. Really happy for his success. The way our players have played, that is why we're here, not because of any coaching decisions or any way that we were when we were kids. Really a credit to those men, and looking forward to the game."
John: "I concur."
On whether they could work together as coaches:
Jim: "Definitely, I would work for him."
John: "I concur. No question about it and we've had that conversation in the past. It just never really worked out timing-wise. I'd love to work for Jim, I'd love it. It would be the greatest thing in the world. We almost made it happen at Stanford at one time. It would be an honor to have him on the staff, he's a great coach. You always try to get great coaches, and there are none better than Jim Harbaugh, and I mean that seriously. There's no better coach in the National Football League than this guy right here."
Jim: "Well, Jack Harbaugh."
Jim: "I got a chance to work for my dad at Western Kentucky. My dad worked with us at the University of San Diego as our running backs coach and also was our running back coach at Stanford when Willie Taggart took the head coaching job at Western Kentucky. He left before the bowl game, and my dad coached for us for three weeks at Stanford as well, so I definitely know we could do it."
On what it's like sharing the Saints facility this week with the 49ers:
John: "It was just a plus going over there. Tulane had done a good job. They're in the process of rebuilding their football stadium. They're building a brand-new facility there for their football program. It's under construction right now. They're doing a great job preparing their facility as it stands, but we needed to be on the grass. We needed to have 100 yards, and we really wanted a field. It was a big plus for us over there. It's good for player safety, it's good for their health and to get in the game feeling like they need to feel."
On whether they've had a moment to think about the disappointment that would come on Sunday if they lost:
John: "Yes. You do think about that. Obviously, in any game that's something you think about. It's not really about, Jim was pointing this out before, but it's not really about how we're going to feel. Every coach, every player, everybody in the organization, when you win, it's jubilation. And when you lose, it's just bitter disappointment. So much goes into it, and it will be no different in this game, probably even on a greater scale because of the opportunity to win the championship. A lot of hard work has gone into this. A lot of plays have been made. A lot of sacrifices have been made. Great competitions have been won and adversity has been battled through by both teams. For the side that comes up short, it's going to be a bitter disappointment. That's how football works. That's how life is, and we understand that."
On whether John wants to protect Jim as the older brother:
John: "No, not at all. I suspect he feels the same way. It's about the teams. We are fiercely loyal, there's no doubt. We all say that. Not just of one another and we always have been. That's definitely not ever going to change, we will continue to be fiercely loyal and protective of one another, but also of our teams. Jim had mentioned earlier in the week, he talked about the band of brotherhood, the brothers that will take the field. St. Crispian's Day speech, he's got it memorized, it's unbelievable. It's brilliant. That's true; the band of brothers will be the brothers on the sideline. It will be the Ravens sideline; it will be the 49ers sideline. That will be the band of brothers in this competition."
On being from Toledo:
Jim: "(To John) Were you born in Toledo, too? I was born in Toledo. We know the Maumee River. We know the Ohio Valley. That's where we're from. The week has not been any different from my standpoint or our standpoint than a normal week of football during the season. The players may have a different opinion on that but coaching-wise it's been very much the same. You're in a dark room; you're watching tape, watching the Baltimore Ravens, studying them. Then get with the players, getting out on the practice field. That's been wonderful. We've had great practices. Meetings have been really crisp. We're getting a good understanding of what our plan is going into this game and all the while just thinking about the most exciting thing, when that ball is kicked off on Sunday for the game. We understand it'll be a great challenge, it'll be a great task. If we were to win this game it would be well earned. That's really all we're thinking about and focused about and can't wait for. I'm really excited to be here."
On how the players will rise to the moment to win the game:
John: "Because they have to if you're going to win the game. You made the point. If you look at the Niners games their whole season, look at the Ravens playoff games and the whole season it is about the players. It's about the players playing well, playing their best, not just making big plays. Big plays are going to be a determinant of every single game, but who makes those plays those will be the memorable moments. But it will be all the little plays in between that make the difference. Guys that are in the right gap. Guys in the right place in coverage, spacing, assessing the route correctly, blocking, tackling, handoffs, quarterbacks center exchange, throwing. Every little thing kicking, covering kicks, every little thing that goes into football is going to determine the one true champion and who wins this game. It's going to be 60 minutes of great football, because you've got two fundamentally very sound football teams playing whose total focus is on this one moment, this one game. Within that plays will come. Plays will come to guys and guys will make plays. The guys that make those plays will end up winning the game."
On their commonalities and differences in philosophies:
Jim: "Philosophical commonalities? I would be hard-pressed to spell philosophical right now."
John: "I know he can't spell commonalities. I would hope that you see it in the way our teams play. To me that would be the biggest compliment and the biggest return. Just watch the two teams play. Watch the way the players conduct themselves, the things they say. Watch the way they practice. Jim talked about their practices, ours have been the same. Meetings have been phenomenal. They've been that way all year, nothing has changed. We've come out here and had the same week we had every single week, hopefully just a little bit better."
On whether there will be a post-Super Bowl bear hug:
John: "I've given absolutely no consideration to the postgame hand shake or bear hug or anything else. I haven't thought about that for one second. Have you, Jim?"
Jim: "I have not."
On Jim's son, Jay Harbaugh, working for the Baltimore Ravens this season:
Jim: "I'm really really thankful and proud at the same time that Jay is doing what he loves to do. That is a real blessing and he's doing it with the Baltimore Ravens with a tremendous organization, great coaches around to mentor him and to teach him, especially John being there and hiring him and I hear he's doing a phenomenal job which again I'm really proud of. This week I haven't been talking to him or calling him or anything. I've sent him a few texts just letting him know how I feel about him and I don't want to give reason for people to think I'm talking to him. I'm really proud of what he's doing, I've heard he's done a great job and that means the world."
John: "I'm appreciative that Jim allowed Jay to come out. I've obviously known Jay his whole life. He did a great job at Oregon State. He was trained by Mike Riley there as a student coach for all those years. He's far better than we've anticipated and I knew he would be great at what he does. The way we looked at it, we talked about the philosophical difference or whatever; I think that may well tip the scale that might be our edge, Jay. He's really good. He's a hard working guy. I guarantee he's excited about the game and competing and all those things just like he should be."
On whether the teams are gaining energy from New Orleans:
John: "I think our guys really understand the whole dynamic here, just like everybody does. Everybody in America understands (Hurricane) Katrina and New Orleans and the renaissance as you put it and all those things. We drive the buses to all those different places and we get a chance to look at some of the neighborhoods and things like that. You can tell guys are looking at it. It is important and I have a great respect for the people of New Orleans. More than that though is the people that we deal with in the hotel and things like that. The people who are working with us, the security and the people who work at our hotel, they're just great people. They have smiles on their faces, they're excited to be doing and really building relationships with these people because we're with them all week. To me, that's when we get a chance to talk to the people of New Orleans."
Jim: "I would say the same thing. Just meeting people here with the hospitality has been tremendous. I like the way they talk. There have been a lot of great Super Bowls here – you look back at the highlights of the 10 Super Bowls that have been played here. Big, big games. We're understanding it – players, coaches, and me personally. Just the enormity of it. The world's biggest sporting event each year and what it has become – a vision of the fathers of this game and the vision they have for this spectacle. They have mastered that. We're just proud for the awesomeness of every effect that everybody does such an amazing job. It's great to be a part of. Now, we want to win."
On how often they communicate during a season and any insight that they provided one another that they wished they had not:
John: "I know Jim hasn't provided me with anything that I can remember (laughs). I don't think it really applies. Whatever we talked about, he's been very helpful. We've run into some things, whether it might be schematic or just being a head coach and being in position. Even beyond that, just the normal personal stuff that any two brothers would talk about in terms of life and family. Just all those kinds of things. That's probably, by far, 95+ percent of our conversation. I think too much has been made of that – really nothing that would apply to the game. It just goes back to the players, Jim is exactly right. It's going to be the guys out there on the field, whose faces are marred with blood, sweat, and dust. Those will be the guys who will determine the outcome of this game and nothing we talked about over the last couple of weeks will change anything."
Jim: "I can't think of anything that would give us an advantage that we had talked about over the past couple of years."
On what they have learned from their mother that they apply to their coaching career:
Jim: "There is no one in the family who has more competitive fire than my mother. She competes like a maniac. She has just always believed in us, and I think that is the most important thing to me. She believed in me, John, and Joanie, and took us to games and played catch with us, shot baskets with us, and just believed in us."
John: "She was not happy with us when we made a goal out of chicken wire when we were about 13 years old, and we shot all of the windows out of the garage door. Remember that? They were glass. She called dad in on that one. All the things that Jim said are absolutely true. No one would fight harder for us than our mom, no matter what the situation was, or teach us how to have each other's back and be there for one another, whether it was a little scrape in the neighborhood or something like that. She basically made it very clear that we were to have each other's back no matter what, and that was our mom. She was with us every day. Dad worked a lot. When he was around we would hang out with dad, but mom took us to practices and all that. Mom was with us all the time. The other thing is that she is a highly intelligent, very thoughtful lady. We grew up with those kinds of conversations. We may have been talking football with dad in the basement, but mom was talking about other things. There were a lot of things going on in our world during the ‘70s, and mom was always tuned in on those kinds of things and brought up conversation that helped make us well-rounded people as we grew up."
On how Jim Harbaugh's stint under Mike Ditka helped mold him into what he is today:
Jim: "Those were formidable years for me and signature years to be in Chicago. To be drafted in the NFL, and play for the legendary Mike Ditka, doesn't get any better than that. I spent seven years – a lot of great years and a lot of great games. A lot of high highs and a lot of low lows. Doesn't get any better than this kind of feeling. In some places, big disappointments. There were a couple that were top five in my life, but that's football and that's life. I look back on that, and what do they mean to me with shaping the rest of my life with the Chicago Bear organization and the people I met there and what the organization and Coach Ditka did for me? I don't think there is a percentage to put on it. Those were signature years for me."
John: "Just as far as my prospective on it, when you're watching your brother compete at that level. I have a video that Morgan Cox has that one of his brother's buddies took of his brother when he was snapping the ball for the winning field goal against Denver in ‘86 there in Mile High. He was a nervous wreck, contorting himself in every direction you can imagine until the ball went through the uprights and celebrating like crazy. It brought back memories for me, and I can just remember living and dying, along with our parents and Jonnie, with every single snap that Jim ever took as an NFL football player, whether it was Chicago or Indianapolis, or all the other places he was at. That is how it is when you're family. To watch a family member play, I think you are far more nervous than they are by far. That's how I always felt. I was just always completely and enormously proud of what he was doing as a player and how he was competing. Even in the moments you just mentioned. I think the greatest moment for me through that whole thing was, maybe a couple years later, gaining so much respect for Coach Ditka. Now, I don't know him that well and I just know what Jim says about him. Now, we're all a fan and when he came out and said it was the wrong thing and he said didn't handle it the right way, it probably cost him his team a little bit there. As a coach, we all learn so much hearing another coach talk about something like that. And the way Jim handled that moment and he was just rock solid. He just came back and kept competing with the respect for all that, even in a situation that isn't all that fair. I learned a lot at the time, and I think would think a lot of players would, too, if they understand handling that situation."
Jim: "It was more than fair. I shouldn't have thrown the interception. Still kicking myself for that."
On whether building relationships with their players is what got them this far:
John: "That's part of it. What brought us here is guys playing really well and playing good football games. Just like they do, we have a rough, tough, hard-playing football team that made plays when they had to. That's really what got us here. Good coaches coaching really well. We learned growing up that if you're going to be a teacher, all great teachers make it about their students, right? Our dad told us that coaches are teachers first, which I know that they are. I know Jim has a great relationship with his players. You would always like to think, as a coach, that you'd strive for that and that's really important. Any time a player knows that a coach is in his corner, has his back, and wants what is best for him and wants him to do well, you're going to be more effective and players are appreciative of that."
Transcript courtesy of the NFL.