Coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Monday as his team returned from the bye week to get ready for the St. Louis Rams.
How was your bye week?
“It was good. You hope that everybody had a chance to spend time with their family and take some time for themselves. Every now and then everybody needs to take a knee and sip water. But, need everybody back full strength for the second half of this campaign.”
A lot of the players seemed to go all sorts of different places. What was it like here at the facility? Did the coaches stick around as well and work on the game plan? How often were they here? Can you sort of set the scene of what that was like?
“Pretty much Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and then off on Saturday and Sunday.”
Is this kind of the last chance to really catch your breath before the buildup to the stretch run?
“Yes. Yes. This is starting the second half of the campaign.”
How do you feel about just where this team is right now with that second half of the campaign in front of you?
“Excited and looking forward to the preparation this week, another division game. And getting our players back and on the practice field tomorrow will be a good thing for us.
There was a report out of Missouri about LB
“Well, I personally tend not to believe everything I read on the internet, to start with. [49ers General Manager] Trent Baalke talked to Aldon.”
Are you fine with what’s happened? Or what’s been relayed to you?
“What’s been relayed to me is, and any conversations are just that, private conversations.”
Are you saying that what was reported on the internet is false?
“No. Just exactly how I said it. It was pretty clear. I tend not to believe everything I read on the internet.”
Overall, in terms of Aldon and Aldon’s standing with this team, the team’s fine with Aldon and any off-the-field incidents?
“What Aldon said to us was the same as what he said publicly. And you also tend to take a man at his word. So, I don’t know that there’s anything more to add.”
When you guys did a lot of self-scouting this past week, what were some highs and lows that you saw from the first half of the season?
“There are a lot of things that you could talk about there, but that’s a pretty broad question.”
OK, offensively what did you learn?
“Again, don’t have any story to write or tell about the first half of the season.”
Did you learn anything specific this week about your team, by self scouting?
“The fact that we just need to keep striving to get better. A simple approach to how we understand success is to get better today than we were yesterday. Be better tomorrow than we were today. Feel like improvement will lead to wins. And wins will lead to championships. It’s an improvement equals success theory. And I know that it sounds simple, but possibly so simple that it might work.”
You guys have been off the past few Sundays. Have you had the chance to watch some of the games around the league?
And how they might impact your guys’ playoffs seeding and things like that down the road? Or divisional opponents?
“I had a chance to watch games, sure.”
Did you watch Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck play yesterday?
“Some of the highlights, I didn’t actually see the game.”
How do you think he’s done? Just he’s halfway through this rookie season, I know he’s on a different team. But, your connection with him. How impressed have you been by what he’s done at this point?
“He’s done great. No surprise.”
The way the weeks aligned with the bye week and with the San Francisco Giants parade, just a rare chance during the football season to just do something enjoyable. What was that experience like for you? What’d you take away from all that?
“Great experience. Tremendous showing of support for the team. And knew how just the Giants fans felt. Just wanted to tell those guys, ‘Job well done.’ And a million or so people or more showed up to do that. It was a neat experience.”
Did Giants first baseman Brandon Belt really tell you he was a Cowboys fan, he said that to you? He admitted it to you?
“Yeah, we had a great talk about where he’s from, Lufkin, Texas. And when I asked him where he was from he told me that I’d probably never heard of it. I said, come on, Lufkin, Texas. Everybody’s heard of Lufkin, Texas. That’s the bible belt of football. Had been there to recruit and loved it. Love Lufkin, Texas. I could live in Lufkin, Texas. It’s just a Friday night lights kind of setting. The water tower has the high school emblem on it. And just a great sports town and football town. So, we talked a bit about that and their year. And again, just how else that I can say it, just a job well done and so excited to follow you guys and so happy for their success.”
Did you experience a lot of 49er love out there, too?
“What do you mean?”
Well, just the fans sort of intertwined. The Giants fans also expressing optimism or wishing you well on your season?
“There was some of that, yeah. Some waves and some pointing and “Who’s Got It Better Than Us,” and shirts and things like that. It was mainly just loud. It was loud from the start of the parade to the very end. It just seemed like it just kept getting louder. Wasn’t a whole lot of working I don’t think. There were people up in office buildings looking out. It was a pretty neat thing. I know, just could tell, Brandon Belt and his wife were blown away by it. They had a blast. I think they were very moved.”
He said afterwards that you got more claps and if you win a championship, he’d like a spot in your parade one day if that happens.
“No, I did not get more claps than Brandon Belt. He’s exaggerating. Erroneous.”
What do you think of the job Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has done since taking over that team?
“Team’s playing very good football. I think it’s an improved team. Seems like they’re doing a very good job.”
Did you watch film of them this week, last week?
What new challenges do they present your team as opposed to last season?
“What new challenges? What, schematically or health wise, or personnel wise?”
“Personnel wise I think they’re a much healthier team than they were a year ago. There’s some things that are new schematically and some new personnel.”
Did you see a lot of your guys who did stick around here last week and get some work done?
“Oh yeah. The usual suspects were here.”
Alex was talking to Peter King about yards after the catch and how important it is to hit the receiver in stride, specifically in this type of offense. Was that a point of emphasis last year, this year and how has that evolved for him, that specific aspect?
“I think it’s been good - last year, this year. And I think he’s understood that. I don’t know if it’s gotten better, evolved. Evolved seems like it was nothing and now it’s something.”
It seemed to look really good this last game.
“Yeah, it was. The receivers in particular, they did a great job of running with the ball after the catch and did a great job blocking for each other. It was certainly one of the best we’ve had in terms of yards after the catch for wide receivers, that I can remember.”
I have a Bo Schembechler related question for you. The team speech, that you’ll never have that team experience that you had in college just because of money and whatnot in the NFL. Do you agree with that?
Did you find when you first became an NFL coach, did you think that would be more of a challenge than it has been?
“To build a team?”
To create a team atmosphere, selflessness?
“No, I can’t remember thinking that.”
Is your experience in the NFL similar to what it was at Michigan, as far as that specific aspect?
“At times it has been yes.”
What have you seen from Rams QB Sam Bradford this season? How has he improved?
“He’s always been a pretty top-notch guy. I know we didn’t see him last year, he was inactive for both games that we played against them. But, all the things you look for from a top notch quarterback in this league. He’s got a calm demeanor in the pocket. Excellent technique, footwork, arm strength, real good location. Good football player.”
When you’re watching film of the opposing offense, do you go sit in with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and try to find little tips that help him out or is that more of the defensive coaching staff?
“That’s more of the defensive coaching staff’s responsibility. There will be times where it could happen either way, we’ll ask Vic a question or [defensive backs coach] Ed Donatell or [defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula or [assistant secondary coach] Greg Jackson, [linebackers coach] Jim Leavitt. Sometimes we’ll actually sit down and watch multiple games with a similar defensive structure. That could happen on the other side too, with a similar style offense, a west coast team. We kind of mentor each other that way, but it’s not an every week kind of thing.”
When you have extra days to prepare like this, like you’ve had, what’s the sense among the coaching staff about how to seize those extra days, prepare more?
“What’s the sense among the coaching staff how to seize the extra days to prepare more?”
Do they spend a lot of extra time preparing the gameplan like that or do they actually have a couple extra days to take off on their own?
“Yeah, there’s days to do both.”
Did you take the full weekend off too?
“Yeah, Saturday and Sunday.”
Had it been a year since you’ve done that? How long has it been since you took a weekend off?
“I don’t know, five months, three, four months.”
Do anything fun?
“Yeah, did a lot of fun stuff with my wife and kids. Just visiting with them around the house. A train ride, went to a toy store. Fun stuff.”
We wanted to ask, how was it being in the parade driving the cars for the big Giants parade?
“It was great, a big thrill and it was a nice way to say job well done to the players and staff of the San Francisco Giants.”