On a day where John Harbaugh was parading around Baltimore on a military tank, celebrating his team’s Super Bowl victory, Tuesday was not so sweet for some other members of the Harbaugh family. While John was raising the Lombardi trophy, his brother Jim had to stand at a podium and answer questions about losing the biggest game of his life…and losing it to his brother. It captivated what was another fantastic Super Bowl week for most, but also an awkward and bittersweet moment for John and Jim.
Jim was asked 42 questions at the press conference, and answered everything from play calling questions on the 49ers final drive, to the roster questions the team faces heading toward 2013, and even questions about his passionate sideline etiquette. Here are some of the highlights:
The last four plays are going to get scrutinized a long time, I’m sure. What are your thoughts after processing that for a day, maybe even more, about how that went were the right plays called in that situation?
“What my thoughts are now? We came up five yards short. Certainly, knowing how it ended up, how it finished, we didn’t get the ball in, yeah, would’ve liked to have tried a different play call, a different scenario. That’s the way I always feel. If you do something and it doesn’t work, yeah, would’ve liked to have done something different, at least tried it. But you can’t. The would’ve, could’ve, should’ve is undefeated. That’s never failed.”
They’re so good in the red zone and have been all season. Was it something that they were doing to take away QB Colin Kaepernick’s outside runs, those types of things that kind of pigeon-holed you in what you could call?
“They’ve been exceptional in that area of the field, 10-yard-line in, all season, and have been in the playoffs. That’s something they’re very good at. It was a cover zero, bringing the house. In the end, we felt our best way was to throw it in.”
On QB Colin Kaepernick’s interception, it looked like WR Randy Moss stopped his route. He’s been criticized for not having a great effort on that. Is that a fair criticism? What happened on that play?
“He was running a crossing route. I felt the ball was throw too high, it wasn’t catchable, and I think that’s one Colin would’ve liked to have back. But, Colin was fantastic in this game. He was fantastic the entire season. From the beginning, right to the end, I thought he played extremely well, coming right out of the box on the first throw, put it right in there for a big gain and made big plays the entire game. The stage was not too big for him. He competed at the highest level and played extremely well, showed a lot of poise, a lot of leadership throughout the entire game, can’t say enough, really. With Colin, it’s always just appropriate. He’s got the appropriate amount of competitive fire, when you need competitive fire. He’s got the appropriate amount of happy and joy, when it’s the right time to have that. He plays the game. You just really feel him playing the game. Upset when it’s the right time to be upset, and he does that with his own personality, and I really believe that’s how people should play the game. But it’s genuine and it’s honest of a guy who’s just out there playing the game and competing.”
What did you learn about yourself and the team playing on the NFL’s biggest stage?
“When you look at what could you do better? Could we have played better? Was it our best performance? In some ways we’ll have regret there. It’s a tough loss. It’s a devastating loss to lose in that game, but when you’re down by 22 points and it’s 28-6, 90 percent of the teams will lose by 40. Our team clawed and competed almost all the way back and didn’t lose their faith, didn’t lose their will to compete and that’s something you couldn’t live with if that happened. So, forever proud of the way our guys do that. Somehow they found a way to overcome and then overcome again and overcome and that’s something you can live with.”
Your brother called you the best coach in the NFL and noted what you’ve been able to accomplish the last two years here. What do you think you’ve done in the last two seasons and this season as well?
“Well, I think they’ve done a tremendous job. You look at what the Ravens accomplished this year and a lot of the adversity that their ball club went through. It was an incredible job of team on their part. They had a three-game losing streak at one point in the year, and really should have been four. And did an unbelievable job of team and leadership. So, you acknowledge that and that’s my brother. So, proud of him and happy for him.”
Being the competitor you are, can you describe at all the difference between when you are a player and you lost the AFC Championship game, that disappointment and the disappointment Sunday? Just the different mentality from being a player to now being the head coach?
“They’re same. Really they hurt. They’re devastating. They’re tough. And I think everybody that plays this game, or coaches this game, believes that you give it your very best. That way you can look back and feel good about what you accomplished. And always to strive to do that. Make sure you have given it your very best, that way you can feel good about what you’ve accomplished. And I heard that from a coach. It’s from [former University of San Diego defensive coordinator] Dave Adolph. And I believe that.”
What do you consider the biggest issue facing the Niners this offseason?
“Well, I think probably the biggest issue is that going forward, we’ve had a lot of success here. We’ll even have a bigger target, teams are going to, especially in the division, they’re going to draft, they’re going to study us and want to beat us. So, continuing to improve, that’s our formula.”
How critical is this offseason for continuing your success?
“Well the thing next for our team is some R-and-R. I think our players, our coaches, have spent everything that they have at this point and take a couple of weeks to recharge the battery, but also thinking while we’re doing that on how to get an edge, what our edge will be, individually looking at ourselves and seeing how we can get better. I think that’s always the hardest lens to look at it through. Everybody’s going to want to have a lens to look at this season or look at this last game, or the final plays of the game. But our lens really has to be, and it’s the toughest one to look through, is ‘How can I improve?’ Accountable for our own edge and improvement in those areas. So, critical? Yeah, vitally, vitally critical.”
What do you want to see from WR A.J. Jenkins when he comes back? When he reports for Mini-Camp next year, or this year?
“Well, like I said earlier, I think that the next thing for all the guys is getting some R-and-R. Recharging the batteries. And while they’re doing that, really start thinking about how they can get an edge. For receivers, same as quarterbacks, they’ve got to train and make sure they’re really training. And when they throw, really be throwing with a purpose and getting together. Just like the offensive line, and defensive line. And lifting and working and training with a real purpose. To have a career best year, that in mind. That the next year will be a career year for them.”
S Dashon Goldson would like a long-term contract and I’m sure you can understand that. Do you want to elaborate a little more on what he’s meant?
“What he’s meant? Yeah. He’s somebody that I think that you reward. Plays every game. Can find the ball. You know that he’s out there. And opposing offenses know that he’s out there. And he tackles and does everything that you’d want a safety to do. And yeah, I feel like you reward those type of people. Who do you reward if you don’t reward those type of people
This will be the last time for a while, so here’s a good one for you. There’s been a lot of discussion nationally about your behavior on the sideline during the Super Bowl. Have you considered altering it in the future?
“In terms of what? My etiquette? Is it an etiquette question?”
Yeah, acting out, etiquette, that kind of thing, sure.
“We fight to win. And if you’re asking does my personal etiquette need to be changed, more catatonic on the sideline. I don’t anticipate that happening.”
So you think the two goals are?
“I think it’s coached and played by emotional people.”
Do you think that there’s an advantage to be gained, though, by asking the refs, by being animated with the refs? Do you feel like calls might go your way, the more you press the officials on the sidelines?
“No, there’s no strategy there and in my feeling, unprofessionalism. I’m asking questions. And yes, sometimes it does get emotional. I think the game is played and coached by emotional people, like I said, and people do that within their own personalities.”
How would you characterize this team, this group of people. The guys that you’ve been coaching, how would you characterize their ability, their effort?
“Well, not to use character in the definition of character, but it’s a strong character team. And very talented. And they’re together. They are a team that’s very much a brotherhood here. And a joy to coach and work with. And look forward to the coming weeks and months because improvement is what we believe leads to success.”
With the Ravens parade Tuesday, accompanied by Jim’s presser across the country, we close the book on this year’s NFL season. Like always, the league has left us filled with both incredible joy and devastating heartache. Sit tight however NFL fans, because although we are still 212 days away from the defending champion Ravens opening the 2013 season by raising their banner on the annual Thursday night opener, the NFL combine is just two weeks away. The madness never stops, but at least for the next 8 months or so, every team is in first place.