Jim Harbaugh wasn't too interested in talking about the Seattle Seahawks today, though I did try, I really did. And the 49ers are playing the Seahawks on Sunday — which is probably why Harbaugh went Seattle silent.
He had no interest adding to the build up.
But on other topics, most especially the back-and-forth between Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Joe Staley — and the resulting penalties — Harbaugh was incredibly verbose and interesting.
And Verbose Harbs is Good Harbs, at least for a look into what motivates and energizes him and the 49ers as a whole.
Here's the transcript, and note: I moved many of the questions and answers to get the same topics together and I moved the entire Matthews-Staley soliloquy to the top even though it wasn't the first thing addressed...
-Q: What's your reaction to the aftermath of the whole Clay Matthews hit and the off-setting personal fouls?
-HARBAUGH: I think there was a lot going on on that play, or series of plays. You had the third-down play where we got stopped short, would've brought up a fourth-and-1, we get called for an illegal formation, the Packers choose to take that penalty to make it third-and-6 when they could've had the fourth—and-1 right there.
Would've gone for it on the fourth-and-1 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, talk about a close line to the neck area when our quarterback's six, seven feet out of bounds...
I was standing there, I was kind of struck. It was like, 'You know, I've seen this play before.'
I thought Emlen Tunnell—you all know who he is, No. 45 of the Giants. I mean, back when that was legal, he could stand there in the middle of the field, wait for receivers to cross and close line them, and their legs, feet would fly up in the air and their backs would hit the ground...
I was struck. 'I'm seeing Emlen Tunnell here!'
And then 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 thrown to Joe's head and well, one punch and one open slap...
Which... you know, that was just... if you're going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, you know? 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... you know Bill Leavy's crew is in my opinion one of the best in the NFL. Well, first of all, it should've never been off-setting penalties, in my opinion.
That being said, whether it should've been a fourth down, we would've gone for it anyway. The next play was 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. Another 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 of going on in that stretch of plays.
-Q: The league today said Staley shouldn't have been penalized.
-HARBAUGH: Staley should have been penalized?
-Q: Should not.
-HARBAUGH: Should not. That's the way I saw it.
-Q: Has the league told you that?
-HARBAUGH: Nobody's talked to me yet.
-Q: You said the week before that all the tough talk was tantamount to targeting Kaepernick. Does that hit bolster the sense that they had it in for him?
-HARBAUGH: You know, 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, close-lining to the head, neck area.
That was a bad play. Now in Emlen Tunnell's day, that was legal. In our day, that's not.
-Q: Staley and some other of your players said they still respect Matthews. Do you have the same respect for him?
-HARBAUGH: I don't really have any more comment about it. I mean, I've talked at length about it.
-Q: Kaepernick said after the game that if intimidation is your game plan, you'd better have something better. You like to hear that?
-HARBAUGH: Colin competes like a maniac. That's what I love about him. That was interesting the other night, somebody asked, can't remember who, what a steal we got in Anquan Boldin. And feel great about that acquisition.
Also feel great about Colin Kaepernick and drafting Colin Kaepernick. What a great thing for our team that is. Just everything about him. Talent, leadership, toughness, intelligence. Everything's A-plus-plus.
-Q: Staley said maybe he shouldn't have reacted like that. How do you coach that?
-HARBAUGH: 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, protect yourself, you know?
They're not going to back down from it. They're not just going to 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. And 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 there'll be 30 flags 30 times. That's happening all the time in our league, after the whistle people pushing and grabbing each other. So that's the best I know how to tell them.
-Q: What did you see on the Bowman penalty on the Packers sideline?
-HARBAUGH: What I saw was Aaron Rodgers scrambling out of bounds, Bowman doesn't touch him, he goes out of bounds. But he chased him out of bounds.
And then he looked like he was four or five yards deep into the sideline there. And NaVorro's just trying to walk straight back onto the field, saw a player who wasn't even in the game jump in front of him, say something to him. And he got by him, then another one jumped in front of him.
And then he just kind of pushed him out of the way; two guys who weren't even in the game getting in Bo's face. He had to... shoved them out of the way.
Now 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.
-Q: And there was a play where Matthews seemed to engage in some taunting...
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, I mean I guess you could say it was. That happens a lot. I've seen that happen a lot. You'd have multiple flags on multiple plays. Like I said Bill Leavy's crew does a great job.
-Q: You were OK with that no-call?
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, saw that going on other times. Their guys doing it, our guys doing it. Just...
-Q: As a player, did you ever throw a knuckle-punch at a helmet?
-HARBAUGH: Never. No. Or in practice.
-Q: Or did you slap-hit?
-HARBAUGH: I would never, ever.
-Q: Did you get in a fight like that? What was your tactic?
-HARBAUGH: I don't know. That's so long ago.
-Q: We've been talking about this Seattle game for a while. Now that it's here, how do you approach it? Is it bigger than some other games because of the recent rivalry?
-HARBAUGH: Well, we always look at the next game as the most important game of the year. Winning that game, whatever the next game is, is the most important game on the schedule.
-Q: When you go back to the two Seattle games—one loss up there, one win here—what do you take from them and how do they apply to this game?
-HARBAUGH: It's football, it's competition, it's winning... there's good football teams that we're playing right out of the blocks here. And Seattle's an outstanding football team and it'll be a great test for our team.
We know there are challenges ahead of us.
-Q: Is it too early to talk about playoff implications in Week 2?
-Q: So we shouldn't?
-HARBAUGH: It's a free country, you can talk about whatever you want. (Laughs.)
-Q: What stands out about Seattle's safety duo?
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, some of the finest secondary players in the league.
-Q: Do you like having a rivalry with somebody like maybe you have with Seattle?
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, always have. I think it always raises the bar for both teams.
-Q: If you had a vote for NFC offensive player of the week, who would it be?
-HARBAUGH: Uhh. I'm partial, so it'd probably be a 49er player.
-Q: Going through it on tape, how do you evaluate the games that Kaepernick and Boldin had?
-HARBAUGH: I think 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 Vernon Davis. And the play of the offensive line. A lot of guys to highlight after yesterday's game.
-Q: What accounted for your struggles running the ball—was it something Green Bay's defense was focused on or were there issues on your offense's part?
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, kind of some of the ways they were playing it was to stop the run, and we passed.
-Q: How do you assess Ian Williams' performance?
-HARBAUGH: I thought really the interior guys played very well, the four down linemen.
We were in nickel almost the entire day and 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 linemen played well.
-Q: How did Nnamdi Asomugha play? He played quite a bit.
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, he had some fine plays. Also, just the thing that's been striking me about Nnamdi, from watching him all through training camp and the off-season, 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, constantly striving to improve. Never any horseplay or anything. He's all serious, he's all about business.
I thought he had some good plays in the game. A couple tackles maybe he would like to have back, but I feel good about Nnamdi.
-Q: Do the missed tackles have anything to do with his collar bone injury?
-HARBAUGH: No. I mean, 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 the last couple years with our defense.
We had a few too many missed tackles.
-Q: Do you attribute that to the first-teamers not getting a lot of snaps in the preseason?
-HARBAUGH: Well, I just attribute it to, it's an area we'll seek to improve in. And there's a lot of good tackles.
Eric Reid made some fine plays, open-field tackling, and also a real fine play in the special teams, a big play. Two good tackles there.
Something that we'll seek to improve.
-Q: What can you do to improve the issue you're having getting offensive plays in and beating the play clock?
-HARBAUGH: Another area we can improve, you know? And we'll seek to do that—get the play in faster, there's some things that happen.
There's a high volume of plays. Sometimes there's a give-and-take there. So many, so much volume there that there's a few times where guys came out of the huddle and they didn't know where to line up. And that bled some seconds off the clock and we ended up having to take a time out.
But continue to strive to improve in that area.
-Q: Did you have to change any of the signals because Scott Tolzien was on the other sideline?
-HARBAUGH: We're changing things pretty constantly. You really have to these days—with the players that are mic'd up especially during the game.
The teams that you play next week, the week after, the week after, 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.
-Q: Did you call and thank your brother for sending Anquan over? Anything like that?
-HARBAUGH: Yes, I have done that.
-Q: This morning?
-HARBAUGH: No, not this morning or yesterday. But in the previous months, yeah. Just thrilled about Anquan Boldin.
A lot of our players have talked about it, our coaches have talked about what he brings to our team as a player, also a leader.
You talk about the analogy of the salesman out there who sell their product, they meet their quota. And then there's other salesmen who meet their quota and also coach up other salesmen and how to meet their quota.
It's a multiplying effect that guys like that have, that our leaders, and care about other guys doing well. Anquan Boldin is one of those types of guys.
-Q: How many plays did Greg Roman typically send into Kaepernick yesterday? Two, one, three?
-HARBAUGH: The volume that goes in? That's something we really don't discuss publicly.
-Q: When he sends them in, does he send in the full play? Lots of words, maybe that's what's delaying it?
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, both—sometimes we send in the entire play, sometimes it's a coded number.
-Q: Justin Smith came out of the game a few times. Was that planned or did he need a breather as the game went along?
-HARBAUGH: It was 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 Kevin Tolbert, do a great job—this off-season and in training camp.
It was a hot, hot day out there, there was a lot of plays, there was no-huddle, hurry-up offense, etc... And I thought our defense played at a high level the entire game.
Now there were points scored on us and drives mounted, but of the 13 drives they had, really count 12 because not counting the last drive... but five of those were three-and-outs and another three they only had one first down and then had to punt.
And that's something we take a look at—our defense can get off the field and get the ball back for our offense. That was a real positive. And I also thought our conditioning was a real positive for us.
-Q: What happens with Dobbs now?
-HARBAUGH: What will happen?
-Q: What will happen with him?
-HARBAUGH: He will come back and be at meetings tomorrow and practice this week.
-Q: So you'll have to make a roster move for him?
-Q: Do you know what that move will be?
-HARBAUGH: Well, not yet.
-Q: See the Super Bowl logo on your sweater. Is that the sweater you wore during the Super Bowl?
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, I think so.
-Q: You wear it all the time?
-HARBAUGH: It's in the rotation.
-Q: Any reason today?
-HARBAUGH: Just... five or six of them that hang there, I grab one each day.
-Q: There was a report that you had to switch your clothes at halftime, that you weren't wearing official NFL gear?
-HARBAUGH: That's correct.
-Q: You were wearing Reebok, had to change to Nike?
-HARBAUGH: Yes. It was a mistake. Grabbed the wrong one.
-Q: Are you getting fined?
-HARBAUGH: I might, I don't know. It was an honest mistake, there was no malice intended (smiles). It won't happen again.
-Q: What did you think Eric Reid played? How quickly has he picked things up?
-HARBAUGH: It'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. A lot of good qualities there that I really like about him.
Ever since he's been here he's picked things up extremely fast. Early on, we're not going to worry about Eric Reid in terms of picking up the defense, where his alignment should be, what his assignments are. He does a good job in that regard.
It was interesting, it was one of those moments, I was walking out the tunnel to start the game. I was walking behind Eric Reid and Justin Smith and the last thing Justin told him was, 'Stay back, stay the heck back. We'll take care of everything up front.' He was coaching right there 'til the end and he did a nice job.
He really did well. There was an open-field tackle that was missed. But he was back on the deep ball when we jumped offsides on third-and-20 which wasn't good football. He made the play, just didn't give them the touchdown there. And actually made an interception.
No doubt he belonged and he's going to get better and better.