JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "All right, we had a big practice out here today, as you guys saw. It was more mental than anything else, but the guys are back at it. Obviously, we're what, 24 hours removed from our game? And I was very impressed with the attention to detail, the enthusiasm for the challenge ahead. Guys had already been into their iPads, they'd already been studying the upcoming opponent and did a real good job."
What are the challenges that come with a game so close, in terms of the physical aspect of it, and also the mental aspect, needing to learn so much about a team so quickly? (Dan Kolko) "Well, it is a challenge. It'd be hard to do this every week. It would be almost… I'm sure it would be impossible, actually. But, I think we can do it in a week. Teams do it. Every now and then, they give you a Thursday game and they give you a short week, and I think it's kind of exciting. It's a little bit different. It's more condensed, and you have to go to work both as far as taking care of yourself physically and the mental part of it. And you pack a lot more information into a lot fewer days."
We've seen Jim [Harbaugh] give the handshake. There's going to be a hug, I would presume, before and after the game? Or will it be the traditional handshake? (Jerry Coleman) "It's unpredictable, Jerry. (laughter) I don't think it's something that can be predicted. My mom might have the best insight into that one."
What have you seen from Frank Gore in terms of tackle-breaking? (Aaron Wilson) "Well, Frank Gore is a premier back. And as far as their run game goes, he's the straw that stirs the drink, without question. He makes those plays go. They run a bunch of plays; they run just about every scheme that you could possibly run, and for a back to be able to understand those schemes and see them as well as he does says a lot about the kind of player he is."
John, you mentioned yesterday at the post-game press conference that you were going to go right back to the office and start watching film. What was that like? What was it like to do that on a Sunday, and how different was that than what you usually do? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It was cool. I took a stop through McDonald's though, so that was good. (laughter) (Reporter: "What'd you get?") They have a new thing now, it's like a double-burger. What's it called? You guys… (Reporter: "Double-double.") (laughter) A double-double, very good! (laughter) It's excellent. It's excellent. But no, it was good. It was good to get back to football."
Jim was talking about the fact that he has to take his team across the country, wanted a little pity and everything, maybe from you. Do you sympathize a little with him having to go from San Francisco to Baltimore and play this game within a four-day period? (Dave Ginsburg) "I think that they are 4-0 on the East Coast. They have made this trip four times and they have won four times. So, I would say advantage, 49ers, in that case."
Just your thoughts on [49ers LB] Patrick Willis and what he does for them up the middle… (Ryan Mink) "Another guy that is a premier player – one of the premier players at his position. And you know, [49ers LB] NaVorro Bowman as well. Those two inside linebackers are a great tandem in there. I think they are they bell cows in that defense. They set the standard in the middle for those guys. They are sideline-to-sideline. It's one of the best defenses in football right now. It's just impressive to watch them."
On the other side of the ball, what have you seen from [49ers G] Mike Iupati as a drive-blocker? (Aaron Wilson) "Physical. The left side of their offensive line, I think, is really good. Their whole offensive line has played very well, but those two guys on the left side, [Mike] Iupati and [Joe] Staley, have been special pass protection-wise, run blocking-wise. Again, they run a lot of different schemes. I think [49ers offensive line coach] Mike Solari does an excellent job with that offensive line."
[Tom] Zbikowksi only got one kick return yesterday, but he is a guy that runs north-south, and he took care of the ball after that big hit. Do you think he can bring you what you are looking for in that aspect? (Dan Kolko) "Yeah, we like north-south guys, always have. We like guys that can run past people and break tackles and all that. But, 'Zibby' did a nice job, and we'll just have to see how it goes from here on out."
It looked like you guys did kind of like a walk-through thing, but some guys that couldn't do this today… Or was everybody pretty much able to? (Aaron Wilson) "Everybody is pretty much able to."
Another big, strong defensive line, similar to Cincinnati… The offensive line did a great job yesterday and gave Joe [Flacco] a lot of time to throw the ball down the field. Will that be another big key? (Jim Forner) "Well, it's going to be an issue. Their defensive line, their front-seven, the pressure they get. I think they have really good pass rushers. It's a pressure defense in a lot of ways – bringing 'backers, playing different coverages in behind it. Pass protection will be a big challenge for us."
What have you seen from Alex Smith? It seems as the year has gone on, he is making more and more plays in the passing game, whereas early in the year, they were relying more on the run and he was just kind of managing the game. (Luke Jones) "Managing the game? That offends my football sensibilities. Managing the game. You guys know where that came from? (laughing) (Reporter: "The San Francisco 49ers.") That was Jim's [Harbaugh] quote, right? *(Reporter: "And [49ers offensive coordinator] Greg Roman's.") *It was Greg Roman's as well? OK. I think he has done a great job. He is 9-1. I guess the production has improved. The games that we have watched, he looks like he can throw it to me. He is making every single throw. He is making the throws on the deep sideline, from one hash to the other hash. He is making throws downfield. It is very much of a downfield-passing attack. They have playmakers everywhere, first-round picks everywhere, stretching the field up field, and he is making all those tight throws."
Jim told the story about the baseball game, and he said that you guys had the better uniforms and you recruited. What do you remember about that? (Casey Willett) "I remember that we had the Houston Astros uniforms, the old ones with the rainbow stripes. They had the Milwaukee Brewers, with the Columbian blue, light blue, jerseys. We won; that's what I remember about it. (laughter) I think I had the game-winning home run, too, if I remember correctly. At least as far as everyone here knows, right? (laughter) (Reporter: "Pitched a complete game shutout, too, right?") *I did, that's right! I hit Jim [Harbaugh] right between the shoulder blades I think. *(laughter) He was the only one that got on base."
I know you just like to focus on a game, but do you kind of sense that this week… You understand why everyone is asking about the family and everything? (Casey Willett) "Yeah, I think it's really cool. It's exciting. I'm very proud of Jim and what he's accomplished; I always have been throughout the years. Even in junior high and high school and when we were playing together, I've always been really proud of him. I've been proud of my sister Joani, too. I'm excited for my mom and dad. It's a neat thing. But the NFL has tied this thing in with Thanksgiving, and if it's a little bit of a message that talks about family, that's what we really try to have this program be about. You guys know, kids are around here all the time. Coaches' kids, players' kids are around here all the time. That's the way we grew up. That's the way our dad… The football programs we were in, he had us around. It was really impactful. I think it'd be encouraging, maybe in some way, parents' businesses or whatever, to bring the kids around. Let them be a part of what you're doing. Take them to work with you. It's really meaningful to be along with your dad or mom and be around them and be a part of what they're doing. I think that's something that our parents did for us. So if there's a message out there, great. Other than that, you're right, it's a football game against a really good football team. And these are two really good teams that are going to play one another. It's going to be about those players that take the field. It's a fun story line, but really what it's going to be about is a bunch of football warriors going out there and getting after it – two teams that play a very similar style of football, two teams that are going to want to win that football game on Thursday night."
You understand why your dad won't come out to practice this week and why he won't be at the game… Do you understand his reasoning for that? (Jerry Coleman) "You know, I think I do. I really respect where he's coming from. I don't think that's something I could even comment on, putting myself in his shoes. We've got a great dad, got a great mom. I appreciate them very much."
Is your sister coming to the game? (Gary Mihoces) "No, I think they've got a basketball game going. They've got Butler."
Are you still recruiting your dad at all, or have you given up hope in recruiting him to stay at the game? (Ryan Mink) "You know, I had a talk with Mr. Bisciotti about that today. His advice was just let mom and dad decide what they want to do, what they need to do, because I was recruiting him. But, I think it's good advice."
How many tickets are you responsible for? (Jerry Coleman) "Oh man, I can't even count. My wife, Ingrid, is in charge of that. It's going to be an expensive weekend. (Reporter: "More than 20?") More than 20, yes. We're at home, so the scale is weighing heavily on my side as opposed to Jim's side. (Reporter: "They give the visitors tickets; you reminded him of that right?") (laughter) I haven't talked to him recently, in all honesty."
Just for entertainment, because you did it for HBO, could you tell the story of Jim the pitcher with the Mad Hungarian [Al Hrabosky]? (Kevin Byrne) "Well, we're in about… Jim is nine or 10 years old. I'm a couple years older. So, he's playing baseball and he's pitching. On Monday night baseball… We watched it, and the St. Louis Cardinals had a pitcher named Al Hrabosky, 'The Mad Hungarian.' And Hrabosky used to turn his back and get all fired up and then turn back around scowling, and he had a Fu Manchu. In that game, he had his eye taped open, something was the matter with his eye, and he had his eye scotch-taped open. You remember that? Yes you do, I figured you would. So, we thought that was the greatest thing in the world, taping your eye open and intimidating the batter, so we laughed about it. Tuesday night was a Little League night. I'm standing behind the screen watching Jim, and he's going to pitch. And I see him go back behind the mound and I just, 'Oh my God, I can't believe he's going to do this.' And he turned around, he had a scowl on his face, and he had his eye taped open with scotch tape. (laughter) Kathy Berry, who lived around the corner from us, she was a little girl – boys and girls played together – and she was batting. She was a right hander, and he winds up – he was bigger than most of the kids – and he threw one right in the middle of her back, right between her shoulder blades. He plunked her. She started crying. All the parents were like, 'Get him off the mound! He's a bully! Get him out of here! How could you hit a girl?!' After the game, we went home, and I asked him, 'Why did you hit Kathy Berry in the back?' He said, 'She was crowding the plate.' (laughter) And that's how he tells the story today. It hasn't changed."