SANTA CLARA -- Coaching the 49ers in their third straight NFC Championship game doesn't quite satisfy Jim Harbaugh's postseason appetite.

A return Super Bowl trip would be nice, of course. But Harbaugh went wild Wednesday in declaring how badly he wishes he could play in Sunday's NFC Championship game at Seattle.

Having played in only five playoff games in his 15-year career as a NFL quarterback, Harbaugh's desire to suit up Sunday sparked a lively back-and-forth with the media:

Harbaugh: "I think of the things I would trade to be able to compete as a player in these games, in this game. It's pretty significant. It's a lot."

Reporter: "Would you trade a house?"

Harbaugh: "Oh, easy. Yeah. I thought you were going to make it tough like a body part. Could I do without my left arm, or one eye? I was going to those extremes."

Reporter: "Would you be like Ronnie Lott and trade a finger?"

Harbaugh: "Oh easy. That would be an easy decision. Could I play with just one eye? That kind of thing."

Reporter: "Would you trade Frank Gore?"

Harbaugh: "Nooo. What I would give up myself personally?"

Reporter: "Would you give up your (Michigan) college degree?"

Harbaugh: "To play in this game? (Pause.) Yes. I was thinking like body parts, could I do without an arm?"

Reporter: "What would you get from playing that you don't get from coaching?"

Harbaugh: "There's nothing better than playing. Coaching is the second-best thing, though, because you are competing."

Harbaugh is the first coach in modern-day NFL history to reach conference finals in each of his first three seasons.

As a player from 1987-2001, he went 2-3 as a postseason starting quarterback, highlighted by his leading of the 1995 Indianapolis Colts to the cusp of the Super Bowl. His final appearance in a playoff game: the 1996 Colts' wild-card loss at Pittsburgh, 42-14.

As a coach, Harbaugh still knows how to compete and dodge reporters' questions like an onrushing linebacker. He declined to entertain a reporter's question when told that Randy Moss considered himself a decoy last season. He would not allow another reporter to follow up a third time on a question, saying: "You've already had a few."

Harbaugh did offer many game-related comments, doling out special praise to such key players as Colin Kaepernick, who he said "has that special ability that the great ones have to elevate their game in those situations."

Harbaugh reiterated a belief that running back Frank Gore is a "mystical man who sees things we don't see."

Then there's his long-running rivalry with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whom he disputed having an ongoing personal feud. Said Harbaugh: "Any animosity? No. Erroneous, erroneous. It's football. It's competition. It's winning."

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.