Harbaugh implements 49ers' newold system

February 9, 2011, 8:35 pm
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Editor's note: This is the final part of a three-part series taking a look at Jim Harbaugh's first month as 49ers' head coach.Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comBill Walsh's so-called "West Coast offense" made a brief return to the 49ers in 2005 when coach Mike Nolan hired offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy.But McCarthy was gone after one season, leaving to eventually become a Super Bowl-winning coach of the Green Bay Packers. Now, after a five-year absence, coach Jim Harbaugh is bringing back the offensive system to its NFL birthplace.Walsh endorsed Harbaugh as Stanford coach in 2007, and the men spent time together before Walsh's death later that year. Harbaugh has followed the same career path as Walsh, who left Stanford for the 49ers in 1979.REWIND: 49ers get their man -- Harbaugh hired
Harbaugh was busy hiring coaches and evaluating his 49ers' roster during his first month in office. When things slow down a bit, Harbaugh is eager watch video of Walsh, mostly from the 1980s, installing the offense and holding team meetings.The 49ers recently received a shipment of tapes and DVDs from NFL Films that contains videos of Walsh and some of his offensive coordinators through the years installing the offense. The 49ers' library of videos at the team's offices in Santa Clara had been decimated through the years with numerous coaches "borrowing" the resources and failing to return them.RELATED: 49ers 2011 coaching staff at a glance
But through the years, NFL Films backed up many of the tapes. The 49ers taped all meetings during Walsh's time with the club. The 49ers are currently cataloging the contents of the box, and soon Harbaugh and his staff will have a chance to view the videos."We're all very excited about that," Harbaugh told Comcast SportsNet. "(Receivers coach) John Morton, myself, (quarterbacks coach) Geep Chryst, we're all kind of champing at the bit to get our hands on that."Harbaugh spent a lot of time during his first month on the job watching more recent video. He has viewed every snap of the 49ers' 2010 season, familiarizing himself with the talent he inherits from a team that went 6-10 and missed the playoffs for an eighth consecutive time.NEWS: NFL 2010 season final standings
"It's never really completed," Harbaugh said of the film study. "I watched all the games, broken it up into run game, pass game, offense, defense, special teams. I've looked at a good amount."I think we got talent. We got experienced guys. We got guys who have been there before. It's exciting to work with this group."Harbaugh said he has spoken to the vast majority of the players on the team. One player told CSN he felt Harbaugh was "picking his brain" for what the team was lacking in the locker room from a year ago."I've had 10, 20 minute conversations here and there, and I've gotten to know people," Harbaugh said. "I'm impressed with the guys, the character on the team, the competitiveness, what their vision is for the football team and this year. They're hungry. That comes across in just about everybody I've talked to."RELATED: 49ers roster
Harbaugh was the only college coach pursued for an NFL head-coaching job this offseason in large part because of how he accomplished success at Stanford. While rolling to a 12-1 record, including a victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, Stanford was one of the few college programs that ran pro-style offenses and defenses.But don't expect Harbaugh's 49ers to be an exact replica of Harbaugh's Cardinal."There are definitely things that carry over, but I'd say more like the vision we have for this football team: physical, smart, disciplined football team," Harbaugh said. "Those things are always what we're striving for."As it relates to scheme -- offensively, defensively and special teams -- there are core beliefs there and there are schematic things where we put the players in the best positions to be successful that may or may not carry over."Harbaugh will devote most of his time to offense, of course, while defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and special-teams coordinator Brad Seely, and their staffs, will have autonomy over those units."I get involved, but he (Fangio) is the expert," Harbaugh said. "I don't know if anybody would be an effective head coach by being the overriding voice -- and having autonomy -- in every phase of the game."As the Harbaugh begins his second month as head coach, he and his coaches are continuing to implement their offensive and defensive plans. Offensively, that means the coaches are starting at the beginning, devising the mechanics of the huddle. They are creating and naming their different formations and motions while piecing together all aspects of the playbook."This is the nuts and bolts of everything we do schematically," Harbaugh said.Harbaugh has already mapped out the team's offseason schedule, beginning with the workouts scheduled to begin in March, along with minicamps -- both mandatory and voluntary. Of course, all this is contingent on the owners and players' union agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement to ensure a normal offseason."Everything is planned to go as if there will not be any interruption or work stoppage," Harbaugh said. "I think that's the only way to do it. And then we'll just have to adjust if there is one."

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