Harbaugh on Matthews: 'Come with some knuckles'
Jim Harbaugh met with the media after the 49ers' Week 1 win over the Packers. Here's a transcript of his press conference, courtesy of the 49ers media relations.
If you had a vote for NFC Offensive Player of the Week, who would get your nod?
“I’m partial so it’d probably be a 49er player.”
How do you differate the job that QB Colin Kaepernick had, the game that WR Anquan Boldin had? What did anything jump out at you when you reviewed those guy’s performances?
“I think it, they spoke for themselves. Everything we saw yesterday and talked about after the game it was A-plus-plus. Colin and Anquan, terrific, wonderful, wonderful game by both those men and [TE] Vernon Davis and the play of the offensive line. A lot of guys to highlight after yesterday’s game.”
Were your struggles relatively speaking on a running game mostly due to maybe what Green Bay was doing defensively? Were there some issues there?
“Yeah, I mean there was, I think it’s kind of the way that some of the ways they were playing it was to stop the run, and then we passed.”
Can you assess NT Ian Williams’ first performance starting at nose tackle?
“I thought really the interior guys played very well. The four down lineman, we were in nickel most, almost the entire day. They did a good job stopping the run, tackling, getting pressure on the quarterback and they threw the ball very quickly. I thought all of our defensive lineman played well.”
What about CB Nnamdi Asomugha, he played quite a bit?
“He made some fine plays. Also, the thing that’s been striking me about Nnamdi, I’ve been watching him all through training camp and the offseason is just what a pro he is, how he works his hands, works his feet really the entire practice, even when he’s not in there he’s constantly striving to improve. There’s never any horseplay or anything. He’s all serious. He’s all about business. I thought that he had some good plays in the game, a couple of tackles that maybe he would like to have back, but I feel good about Nnamdi.”
Do the tackles have anything to do with his injury, collarbone injury?
“No. As a group we weren’t pleased with our tackling. We talked about it after the game. It’s not what we’ve been accustomed to in the last couple of years with our defense. We had a few too many missed tackles.”
Do you attribute that to just coming out of the offseason? Not a lot of those guys played very much in the preseason games.
“Well, I just attribute it to it’s an area we’ll seek to improve in. And there were a lot of good tackles. [S] Eric [Reid] made some fine plays, open-field tackling and also real fine play in special teams, a big play, two good tackles there. Something that we’ll seek to improve.”
What can you guys do to correct the issue on offense that you guys have of having to use timeouts getting the play clock way too low and the delay of games?
“Another area we can improve, and we’ll seek to do that. Get the play in faster. There’s some things that happened. There’s a high volume of plays and sometimes there’s a give and take there. So many, so much volume there that, there was a few times where guys came out of the huddle and they didn’t know where to line up. That bled some seconds off the clock and we ended up having to take a timeout, but we’ll continue to strive to improve in that area.”
Did you guys have to change any things at the line of scrimmage because of Packers QB Scott Tolzien being on the other sideline?
“We’re changing things pretty constantly, and you really have to these days. With the players that are mic’ed up, especially during the game, teams that you play next week, the week after, the week after that, they get that TV copy and they hear your communication at the line of scrimmage which is your snap count, certain audibles and calls. So, there needs to be continuous change and there will be.”
Did you talk to your brother? Did you call him? Did you thank him for sending Anquan your way or anything along those lines?
“Yes, I have done that.”
“No, not this morning or yesterday, but in the previous months yeah. Just thrilled about Anquan Boldin. I know a lot of our players have talked about, our coaches have talked about, what he brings to our team as a player also a leader. You talk about the analogy of a salesman out there who sell their product. They meet their quota. And then there’s other salesmen who meet their quota, but also coach up other salesmen on how to meet their quota. It’s a multiplying effect, guys like that have that are leaders and care about other guys doing well. Anquan Boldin is one of those types of guys.”
We’ve all been talking about, we the media have been talking about the Seattle game for a while now. Now that it’s here, how do you approach it? Is it a little bit bigger than some other games because it’s a rival because it’s a team that you guys have been looking at for a while now?
“Well, we always look at the next game as being the most important game of the year. Winning that game, whenever the next game is, is the most important game on the schedule.”
What was your reaction to the aftermath of the whole Packers LB Clay Matthews hit with NFL Official Bill Leavy being downgraded?
“I think there’s a lot going on on that play or series of plays. You had the third down play where we got stopped short, would have brought up a fourth and one. We get called for an illegal formation. Packers choose to take that penalty and make it third and six when they could have had the fourth and one right there. We would have gone for it on that fourth and one and maybe they anticipated that and that’s why they backed us up. Then Colin scrambles out of bounds and you get the personal foul. The play, the launching, you talk about launching, you talk about a clothesline to the neck area when our quarterback is six, seven feet out of bounds. I was standing there, I was kind of struck. It was like, ‘I’ve seen this play before.’ I thought of [former Packers and Giants LB] Emlen Tunnell, you all know who he is, number 45 of the Giants. Back when that was legal, he would stand there in the middle of the field and wait for receivers to cross and clothesline them and their legs and feet would fly up in the air and their backs would hit the ground. I was struck, ‘I’m seeing Emlen Tunnell.’ Then [T] Joe Staley jumps in and locks him up and then somehow Joe Staley gets a personal foul called on him. I looked at it with my own eyes I could see two punches throws to Joe’s head, well one punch and one open slap. Which, if you’re going to go to the face come with some knuckles, not an open slap. I think that young man works very hard on being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap. But, then Bill Leavy’s crew, is in my opinion, one of the best in the NFL. Well, first of all it should have never been offsetting penalties in my opinion. That being said, whether it should have been a fourth down we would have gone for it anyway. The next play it’s a third down, we come back we hit Anquan Boldin for the touchdown. So, all in all there was a lot of things going on in that stretch. The other one was the entire Packers bench cleared. Practice squad players, coaches, members of the Green Bay Packers are all out of their bench area down along the goal line. That wasn’t chosen to be, there was no repercussion for that as well. All in all a lot going on in that stretch of plays.”
The league came out today and said Staley shouldn’t have been penalized. Have they relayed that--?
“Should have been penalized?”
Should not have.
“Should not have. Well that’s the way I saw it.”
Have they told you that or talked to you at all about this?
“No, I haven’t talked to the league yet.”
You had said in the run up to the game that all the tough talk was tantamount to targeting your quarterback. Does that hit on Kaepernick kind of bolster that sense that they had it in for him from the start?
“Like I said last week, usually a man will tell you his bad intentions if you just listen. That certainly was a cheap shot, launching, clotheslining to the neck-head area. That was a bad play. Now back in Emlen Tunnell’s day, that was legal. In our day, that’s not legal.”
A couple of your players, Staley and FB Bruce Miller, said they still have a lot of respect for Clay Matthews. He plays sideline to sideline. He’s a hard player. Staley even said he just didn’t think he could hold up. That was his opinion. You seem to share a different opinion. I guess do you have the same respect for Clay?
“I don’t really have any more comment about it. I talked at length about it.”
The one thing that Colin said after the game was, ‘if intimidation is your gameplan, you better have something better.’ Do you like hearing that from him?
“Colin competes like a maniac. That’s what I love about him. It was interesting, the other night we talked, somebody asked, I don’t remember who, but what a steal we got in Anquan Boldin. I feel great about that acquisition and also feel great about Colin Kaepernick and drafting Colin Kaepernick and what a great thing for our team that is. Just everything about him, talent, leadership, toughness, intelligence. Everything is A-plus-plus.”
In yesterday’s game, how many plays did Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman typically send Kaepernick over the headset for him to call in the huddle? Two or one or three at a time?
“Oh the volume that goes in? Yeah, that’s really something that we don’t discuss publicly.”
When he sends them in, does he say the full play or does he say a code for the play? Does this process take a long time and is that why you’re having so many delay of games and timeouts and getting to the line of scrimmage with 10 seconds left?
“Yeah, both. Sometimes we send in the entire play, sometimes we send in a coded number.”
When you go back to the two Seattle games last year, one didn’t work out so well, one was a pretty tough game here, what do you take out of those? Do you take out evenly match rosters? How do you view those two games and how do you take it to this one?
“It’s football, it’s competition, it’s winning. There’s good football teams that we’re playing right out of the blocks here. Seattle’s an outstanding football team and will be a great test for our team. We know the challenge that’s ahead of us.”
Is it too early to talk about playoff implications in week two?
Really? So we shouldn’t?
“It’s a free country, you can talk about whatever you want.”
It seems like you guys were able to exploit the Packers inexperience, especially at safety. Obviously, Seattle represents a whole different set of challenges with their experience. Can you talk about what stands out about their safety position in particular?
“Some of the finest secondary players in the league.”
DT Justin Smith came out of the game a few times. Was that by plan or was that something, as the game evolved, he needed a breather? How did that go about?
“There’s a rotation in there. One thing I would like to highlight and compliment our guys on was their conditioning, their sustenance through the entire game. Mark Uyeyama, our strength coach, and [assistant strength and conditioning coach] Kevin Tolbert do a great job, this offseason and in training camp. That was a hot day out there. There was a lot of plays, no-huddle, hurry-up offense, etc, and I thought our defense played at a high level the entire game. Now there’s points scored on us and drives mounted, but of the 13 drives they had, we really count 12, not counting the last drive. Five of those were three-and-outs and another three they only got one first down and then had to punt, which is something we take a look at and our defense can get off the field and get the ball back for the offense. That was a real positive. Also, I thought our conditioning was a real positive for us.”
What happens with DT Demarcus Dobbs now?
“What will happen?”
Yeah, what will happen with him?
“He’ll come back and be at meetings tomorrow and practice this week.”
Do you have to make a roster move though?
Do you know what that move is going to be?
“No. Not yet.”
I see the Super Bowl logo there. Is that the sweater you wore in the Super Bowl?
“Yeah, I think so.”
Is that the one you’re wearing all the time now?
“It’s in the rotation. There’s five or six of them that hang there and I grab one each day.”
There was a report yesterday that you had to switch your clothes at halftime. It said you were not wearing NFL official gear.
You were wearing Reebok and had to go to Nike?
“That’s correct, yes. That was a mistake. Grabbed the wrong one yesterday.”
Will you get fined for that?
“I might, I don’t know. It was an honest mistake, there was no malice intended. It won’t happen again.”
I talked to S Eric Reid. One of the things Eric Reid said was if he makes a mistake, he obviously doesn’t want to make it again. How have you seen him progress in that? How quickly does he learn, especially in his first real NFL game?
“That’s a great question. He’s been really diligent, on it from the time he got here. It’s just the way he’s wired. He’s not an error repeater. He takes great pride in his own personal performance and he’s really smart, lot of good qualities there. I really like that about him.”
You see him pick things up--?
“Yeah, quickly. Ever since he’s been here he’s picked things up extremely fast and it’s early on. We’re not going to have to worry about Eric Reid in terms of picking up the defense, where his alignment should be, what his assignments are. He does a great job in that regard. Very smart. I had a chance to, it was interesting, I was walking out the tunnel as we’re getting ready to start the game, and walking behind Eric Reid and Justin Smith and the last thing Justin told him was, ‘stay back, stay the heck back. Today we’ll take care of everything up front.’ He was coaching him right there to the end and he did a nice job.”
Is he adjusting to angles pretty well? I mean obviously these are the first NFL receivers he’s ever faced.
“Yeah, he really did well. There was an open field tackle that was missed, but he was back on the deep ball when we jumped offside on the third and 20, which wasn’t good football. He made the play and at least didn’t give them the touchdown there and actually made an interception. And did some other really good things, had some good open-field tackles. I think no doubt he belongs and he’s going to get better and better as we go.”
Whatever the implications may or may not be, clearly a rivalry with you and Seattle, people are interested. Do you like that? Do you like having an intense, passionate rivalry with a team like that?
“Yeah, always have. I think it always raises the bar for both teams. ”
Talking to Joe Staley last night after the game, he said he’s going to protect his quarterback in a situation like that.
“I would expect that.”
But also said he does need to weigh losing his cool in a situation like that. How do you coach that situation that you may face again this year with somebody going after your quarterback and the lineman--?
“It’s pretty much explained how we coach that. When guys are going at each other and after the whistle and looking to push and shove people, just lock up and protect yourself. We’re not going to back down from it. We’re not going to just get pushed all around after the whistle. When it’s not being called, when the first offense isn’t being called then you have to have a plan. For us it’s not to go pushing and throwing punches. It’s to lock up and protect yourself, and Joe did that about as well as you could do it. That’s about it. If you call somebody for that then you’re going to have 30 flags, 30 times. That’s happening all the time in our league. After the whistle people are shoving, pushing, grabbing each other, so that’s the best I know how to tell them.”
What did you see on the LB NaVorro Bowman penalty across the sideline?
“What I saw there was [Packers QB] Aaron Rodgers scrambled out of bounds. Bowman doesn’t touch him, he goes out of bounds, but he chased him out of bounds and then it looked like he was four-five yards deep into the sideline there and NaVorro was trying to just walk straight back onto the field. I saw a player that wasn’t even in the game jump in front of him say something to him and he got by him and then another one jumped in front of him and then he just kind of pushed him out of the way. Two guys that weren’t even in the game getting in Bo’s face and he shoved him out of the way. That’s a personal foul that resulted in 15 yards and some of the other stuff that was going on really didn’t, so that’s what I saw.”
There was also a play where Clay Matthews appeared to engage in a little bit of taunting right after a tackle. Your thoughts on that particular play?
“Taunting or whatever. I guess you could say it was. That happens a lot. I see that happen a lot. You’d have multiple flags on multiple plays. Like I said, Bill Leavy’s crew does a great job.”
You were satisfied with the no call then?
“Yeah because I saw that going on other times, their guys doing it, our guys doing it.”
As a player did you ever throw a knuckle-punch to the helmet?
“Never. Nor practice. I would never.”
Were you ever engaged in a fight like that or did you just lock up? I assume you may have engaged in a fight as a player, what would you generally, what was your tactic?
“I don’t know. That was so long ago.”